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How to crank an old car

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In response to the OP,s question How much difference does the speed at which you turn the crank have to do with whether the motor starts?

It depends entirely on what type of ignition system the car has.Single cylinder Cadillac with battery and buzz coil just ease crank over TDC and it will start.Low tension mag pulling from 7 o’clock position to 12 o’clock moderately will start. High tension mag ie DU4 from the 7 to 12 position give it all you have and then some,with high tension mags speed is important in order to produce spark.The Bosch manual states that you must advance the timing in order to start by hand cranking,what this does is opens the points when the armature is cutting the lines of magnetic force at the optimum position whereby the most electrical current is produced at low rpm. Magnetos are something that you have to study and read up on to get the full understanding.I do have cars that have these 3 types of systems and the high tension mag can be the trickiest to start sometimes.Bosch went with the dual DU4 to overcome problems with starting at low rpm such as hand cranking. I never spin the crank when starting only 7 to 12 .Hope this answers your question,Dykes’ encyclopedia has very good reading on this subject,the 1918 issue I find is the best

cheers pete

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The Model T and other cars with the same type of ignition, create a continuous buzzing spark. Think of an old fashioned doorbell or telephone ringing with each ding being a spark. If the piston is at top dead center and there is gas in the cylinder it will fire. If such an engine is in top shape, all you need to do is pull the handle until one cylinder hits TDC. If the engine is warm it will often start without cranking, especially if you advance the spark slowly.

 

Luxury cars like Pierce Arrow and Rolls Royce had 2 complete ignition systems with 2 sets of spark plugs. A battery powered coil ignition for starting and low speed, a magneto for high speed. The old type spark coil is strong for starting but  poohs out around 2000 RPMS. The magneto is not so good for starting but gets stronger the faster you go.

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interesting topic

 

i have a 1929 Chevrolet while it has a battery & electric starter and such one of my goals is to learn how to crank start it correctly and efficiently with out harm to myself or the car

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BeearsFan315 as I said earlier "On my Pontiac I pull the choke out full, pull the engine over three times (from 8:00 to 12:00 on the crank,) push the choke about half way in and the throttle about 1/3 out and then one pull up on the crank".  This of course is on a cold engine.  When warm or hot perhaps 1/4 throttle and one pull.   Perhaps a slight difference in choke and throttle lettings and a 29 Chevrolet in proper tune should start the same.

Something to remember though is that three big strong guys (much bigger and stronger than I am) that I worked with couldn't crank start my Pontiac when I had set the choke and spark.  They couldn't seem to get the idea that you need to pull the crank up sharply.

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If you get everything set right sometimes a car will start itself no cranking needed.

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On 5/29/2019 at 11:27 AM, Restorer32 said:

 

That bumper caused me 3 days in hospital with a seriously broken right arm. We restored a '28 Autocar 3 Ton truck. I was the only one in the shop with enough a** to crank start the thing. I started it dozens of times with no problem but finally it bit me. No kick back or anything. I would start the pull at the 7 o'clock position and it usually started by the 9 o'clock position.  Apparently after I let go of the crank it continued around 360 degrees and smacked my arm HARD. That bumper meant you were standing directly above the crank with no way to get your arm out of the way in a hurry. At the emergency room the trauma doc just could not understand how you "crank start" a vehicle. Finally I sent him to the medical library to look up "Chauffeur's Fracture". I wear the 10' scar on my arm as a badge of distinction. Are you a real old car guy if you never broke your arm cranking one? Al Pruitt told me that when he worked at the Zimmerman Museum near Harrisburg they were trying to crank start a Stutz. Out of frustration one of the shop guys tried to kick start the car. It backfired, driving the fellow's knee into his jaw and breaking it. Be careful out there.

Knew that Bumper ;looked like trouble !

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This is the procedure my father told me his older brother used to start his T-model in really cold weather.

 

Put a kettle on the stove so you will have hot water.

Jack up one rear wheel so it will act a a large flywheel to help prevent kickback when cranking the car.

Set the spark and throttle for starting.

Pour the hot water over the intake manifold until it's warmed up.

With the car in gear start spinning the engine with the crank until it starts.

 

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