drdon

Why wouldn’t my 37 CE start?

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Ok this was one of the worst exercises in futility in my life. My newly restored Coupe Express just quit starting. Yes I figured it out but dang this problem was really well hidden- especially since I am not a mechanic. So what hoops did I jump through?
1. I replaced the carb with a spare. Nada Went back to original. 

2. I, one at a time, replaced points, rotor, condenser, cap and coil. Checked points gap and adjusted. 
3. when I had it at top dead center on flywheel ( late in the game) the rotor did not point at #1. ?????
So what did I ignore?
i will tell you in a day or two but who knows what was wrong?

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No . I forgot to say I did that. Turned over normally- just did not even try to start. A good friend and former dental patient who overhauled an engine for me gave me the tip- “ if it is like an old Willys then check this”. 

Edited by drdon
Added more (see edit history)

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Do you have a strong spark at the plugs? 

Gas squirting down the carb throat when you floor the accelerator pedal?

 

Check these and report back. 

 

 

 

 

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I did not know the distributor timing adjustment and hold down could move. It is a ring right below the vacuum advance ring and if slightly loose can move. Moved it around distributor base to have rotor pointing at #1 while at just before TDC (UDC for purists),  and viola. I just assumed that it could not would not move. Does this make sense?

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Glad you found the problem!  If you mean the distributor clamp then if it is loose it will move but it should not be loose.  Some Autolites (and maybe others) had an octane adjustment for minor timing adjustments to compensate for fuel quality.  If that comes loose your timing will bounce around a few degrees. 

 

Your troubleshooting steps were a bit, um, troubling.  If a car will not start I use these steps:

  1. Check spark.  Bright blue spark means ignition primary and secondary circuits work.   
  2. Check static timing
  3. Check gas.  Quick and dirty test is to pour a little in the intake.  if the engine coughs time to check further into the fuel & carb
  4. Check compression

I try to always assume the problem is in the ignition.   Then when I am convinced it must be the carb I check ignition again.   I find spark problems to be a LOT more common than fuel problems.   A bad carb or carb adjustment will make the car run like crap but rarely will it not run at all.  That goes double if the car was running recently.  Carbs usually get worse over time, not stop working over night.  A coil wire on the other hand can break any time...

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Sounds silly but a 37 ce is a 6v positive ground system. I have worked a few cars that cranked normally but didn't start, do the the fact that with the battery hooked up negative ground. Which is conventional after 1956 in American cars. The engine was rotating in a reverse rotation. Which causes a no start condition do to timing and reverse cam rotation. 

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