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1928 Buick (6) Engine stalls and then dies.


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1928 Buick (6)

Engine stalls and then dies. This has happened 3 times and always following about a 15 minute drive.

At about the 12-15 minute mark it will sputter at which point I will pull the choke and it will continue running for a few more seconds then die. After sitting for about 15-20 minutes, it will start right up and is good for another 15 or so minutes. Sounds like maybe something to do with the float? I pretty new to Buicks of this age and not familiar with the Marvel carb at all. Another issue I’ve seen is it runs very rich.

 

Rod

68823683-770-0@2X.jpg

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Rod,

I don’t know the answer to your issue but I’m selfishly glad you ran into it because:
1) I may have been having the same issue with my ‘18 - though it’s hard to know since so much else was going wrong.

2) I got to see another picture of that car! Boy those colors are tastefully done. Just checks all the boxes for me.

Good luck and I eagerly wait to hear the answers from the experts,

Ben P.

 

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Not that I noticed, but something for me to look for next time. I doubt that it is lean as there is considerable soot.

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Nice car.  If it's running very rich but doesn't stall right away it could be the vacuum tank on the firewall.  You don't say how familiar you are with them but the vacuum line from the engine sucks gas into the vacuum tank until it reaches certain level where the float in the tank shuts itself off and the gas drains by gravity into the carb.  If this isn't working right gas get sucked into the vacuum line going to the intake manifold causing black smoke and sputtering.  In your driveway disconnect the line at the manifold plug the fitting.  it will run a short while off the gas in the vacuum tank .  Take pictures of your vacuum tank and post them here. I don't know any vacuum tank user that this hasn't happened to.  Once you get it right it works fine.   I don't think it's the carb  float cause it would happen sooner.  Gas isn't pouring out of the carb, is it?   Make sure that there isn't an electric fuel pump hidden somewhere under the car.  If your vacuum tank is hooked up this probably isn't so .  Get yourself  a Dykes repair book off eBay.  It's a thick blue covered book.  Get one at least a year later than your car.   They made one every year.   

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I hesitate to throw more confusion in, but I think bubba’s on to something there.

Rod, you mentioned it sputters then dies. Have you heard the sound coming from the carb. when it truly runs out of gas yet? Mine makes a very distinctive and unmistakable sound - clucks like an angry old hen: “CLUCK!” With a little gulp at the end.

Might be worth running the car a min. and then shutting off the valve after the vac-tank just to hear what it sounds like. Might narrow this down a bit.

Good luck

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Rod, 

   It sounds to me as if it is either your vacuum tank operation is not working properly, or more likely clogging of  the screen on the fuel pick up line in the gas tank.  The gas tank may not be clean as well.  It may be that things work fine at idle.  As fuel use increases with speed, then the fuel is starving getting to the vacuum tank .  Then the vacuum tank runs dry.  Then fuel usage is low again as the tank refills as you idle by the side of the road.  You should look into how clean your gas tank is and consider pulling the tank filter to inspect it.  There is also a drain plug on the gas tank and on the vacuum tank.  If you can get them out, replace them with brass ones.  There is a 3rd plug on the top of the vacuum tank.  Next time your car stops, bring a quart jar.  If you remove the vacuum tank drain plug, you should have about a quart of fuel in the tank if all is working properly.   Bring a tiny funnel and some fresh gas to refill the vacuum tank.  What you drain out may not be clean.  

 

If this were my car, I would go thru everything fuel related and ensure there is no trash anywhere and that all of it is in working order.  Posting some fuel stuff for you to look at.  If you don't want problems on the road, it is best to go thru all the components and ensure everything is sorted out rather than wait for the trouble to start.        

 

This is a procedure to walk you thru the process to rebuild the carburetor.  

https://forums.aaca.org/topic/322950-1927-buick-carb-removal/

 

This is what the fuel pick up screen looks like , below that is a vacuum tank rebuilding procedure.    Hugh   

1526909766_Fuelpickup5.thumb.JPG.0c0cafd61579892f5b0f00a5b339d85d.JPG

1614342630_vacuumtank1.thumb.JPG.6ad022f596217230c48905dbdb3540d9.JPG1776311952_vacuumtank2.thumb.JPG.835217b63cfca44001c366526811902a.JPG812918813_vacuumtank3.thumb.JPG.b0616bad4c89fd9be04983e2a2b6da03.JPG1512977340_vacuumtank4.thumb.JPG.9f734ea060a6b74ed50724a3664d5b4e.JPG988013265_vacuumtank5.thumb.JPG.6497d2900beed9ba42a5d095d1ab1512.JPG

 

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1. Runs fine for 15 minutes, can't be the vacuum tank.

2. Sits 15 minutes and then runs fine again. How would a vacuum tank do that?

 

The car is overheating, dude. Pistons expand and seize in the cylinders, engine stops. Cools and starts again.

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20 minutes ago, Morgan Wright said:

1. Runs fine for 15 minutes, can't be the vacuum tank.

2. Sits 15 minutes and then runs fine again. How would a vacuum tank do that?

 

The car is overheating, dude. Pistons expand and seize in the cylinders, engine stops. Cools and starts again.

 

Seized pistons don't sputter and die. They STOP. Violently.

 

However, that doesn't mean that Morgan is wrong and this isn't heat related. I would also check your carburetor float level to be sure there's sufficient fuel in the carb. It's always possible that the fuel is boiling in the line between the vacuum tank and the carb (this is where engine temperature would be a significant factor), but there should be enough fuel in the vacuum tank that it would be impossible to boil at ambient temperatures, even underhood temps. If it's boiling, it's boiling in the carb. 

 

Black soot indicates a fuel delivery issue. When fuel boils in my 1929 Cadillac's carburetor, which it has done on 100+ degree days, the car sputters and blows black smoke and dies. Fuel should be moving through the vacuum tank without restrictions, which can lower the fuel's boiling point even more. I agree with the others who suggest that you clean out your entire fuel system and make sure that your vacuum tank is working properly and is completely sealed.

 

Also check the coil, condenser, and plugs. Remember that 90% of fuel problems are ignition. Coils fail when they get hot and can act exactly like this. When they cool off, they're fine.

 

 

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Mr. Wright could be on to something here.  In 15 minutes worth of time the vacuum tank will more than likely 'cycle' more than once.  In my humble opinion the fuel delivery system seems to be doing what it is supposed to do.  It might be a good thing to have an IR Thermometer and take a look at the cylinder block in several places.

 

Terry Wiegand

South Hutchinson, Kansas

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Posted (edited)

Yep on the possibility of an ignition issue. I’ve heard all my life that ‘an ignition problem can mimic a fuel problem’ but when I had gas pouring out of the carb’s air intake and even (I kid you not) out the exhaust pipe I didn’t think it could possibly be an ignition problem but it was.

 

There were other problems though and I just know that old Marvel is waiting for me when the engine comes back from the rebuild shop....
That and there was some sort of electrical event there at the end involving that wire that runs between the coil and the distributor but this isn’t the place for that story. The little mushroom cloud of smoke was rather incredible though.

Edited by Ben P. (see edit history)
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1 hour ago, Terry Wiegand said:

 In 15 minutes worth of time the vacuum tank will more than likely 'cycle' more than once.  

 

Terry Wiegand

South Hutchinson, Kansas

 

With my glass bowl fuel filter I was able to watch the gas. It swirls around for 15 seconds as the vacuum tank fills, and it just sits there for about 2 minutes. This is at idle speed. If you are driving, the 15 second interval stays the same but the 2 minute part gets less. But if the car runs for 15 minutes at operating speed, the vacuum tank has cycled dozens of times.

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Lots of good suggestions above, but I forgot to mention that the car has a working electric fuel pump. I'm new to this car and am not real conversant with it's fuel system especially the modified fuel delivery. I have no idea at this point if the vacuum canister serves any function. Their is an adjustable fuel pressure regulator and it is set at 1/2 psi. I will check to see if it is pumping gas to the canister or straight to the carb?

 

Rod

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Not to take this over, but the discussion of heat as a potential issue has me wondering just what kind of stress an overheating engine could put on something like cotter pins securing something like a wrist pin.

Rod’s first description of the symptoms sounded hauntingly familiar....

The thing never did boil over or lose a lot of water though. Hrmm.

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5 hours ago, Matt Harwood said:

 

Seized pistons don't sputter and die. They STOP. Violently.

 

 

Expansion of steel is around 0.1% for 80 degrees C (144 F) according to this chart. If the cylinder is 3.375 inches, the circumference of each ring is 10.604, with a .010 inch gap that would be 10.594 inches circumference. If heat expands that by 0.1% you get 10.605 which is bigger than 10.604,  and too big for the cylinder. When it overheats, the pistons would get tighter until the engine stops.

 

 

.https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=WSCi%2bNUJ&id=9F32ACBA28237E04575C1F087E04C78A56DED579&thid=OIP.WSCi-NUJQfTGblffW1LWuQHaG-&mediaurl=https%3a%2f%2fwww.engineeringtoolbox.com%2fdocs%2fdocuments%2f782%2fpipe-thermal-expansion-diagram-degC.png&exph=394&expw=418&q=expansion+of+steel+with+temperature&simid=607998134274820040&selectedIndex=3&ajaxhist=0

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Posted (edited)

You're not wrong, Morgan, but the symptoms don't match your cause. If an engine gets hot enough to expand the pistons and/or rings sufficiently to seize them in the bores, it happens quickly. It's not like there's a lot of clearance in there to allow it to sneak up on you, it's fine and then it's not. And a car in which this happens doesn't start and run normally 15 minutes later. If his car is running hot, it's affecting fuel delivery or spark generation, not destroying its internals.

 

This is what an engine looks like where thermal expansion has caused the pistons to expand and lock in the bore:

 

ttk-image-engine_05_03-1.png


So yes, I'll acknowledge that it CAN happen. Is it the problem here? I don't believe it is. You're talking a lot more heat and a lot more damage than he seems to be facing in his Buick. 

 

 

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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I would like to go back and clarify something that I said in my earlier posting about this issue.  Mr. Wright thinks that heat is the issue.  I can agree with that and that is why I said what I did.  Matt chimed in and related how heat can cause problems with the coil.  I can also readily agree with that comment and that comment can somewhat give credibility to what Mr. Wright is thinking.  I have a 1920 6-Cylinder Buick that up until a couple of years ago had its original ignition wiring still intact.  The car got to the point that the engine ran terrible.  I replaced the coil and plug wires and that engine runs beautifully now.  As Ben P. stated, ignition issues can have a person going almost insane thinking that the carburetor is the culprit.  I know all about that because I experienced it first hand.

I can readily see where heat will play into how these old engines function.

 

Terry Wiegand

South Hutchinson, Kansas

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This car should not be run on an electric fuel pump. That said, I would bypass the entire fuel system safely, and provide a gravity feed fuel supply to the car while it’s stationary, and run the engine at 1/3 throttle for fifteen or twenty minutes. It will tell you if you have a fuel supply issue, overheating issue, or most likely an ignition issue. It should be very easy to diagnose. Do NOT guess. Diagnostic skills are what you need to apply, not conjecture or guesswork.

 

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I had exactly the same problem with my 1928 standard.  It would start fine and run a short  time and them fuel would start running out of the air intake.  After rebuilding the carburetor twice, the vacuum tank twice and sending the vacuum tank to a professional rebuilder, getting it back and reinstalling it the car still would not run correctly.  At that point I did a vacuum test and noted a low vacuum reading.  The engine had been rebuilt a long time ago but had only been run a very short amount of time.  I checked the valve clearance and found it way off.  I set it to factory specifications and now the car starts and runs perfectly.  I am convinced the problem was both a faulty vacuum tank and incorrect valve adjustment. 

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Posted (edited)

I would like to share my experience for I have had the same exact problem on my 29 Buick Standard. But the 29 does not have a vacuum tank, after a number phone calls, e-mails etc. these were the consensus of ideas/opinions and this is what I did:

  1. Installed an electric pump.

  2. Cleaned/dissembled/readjusted the carburetor

  3. Installed a new coil.

  4. Readjusted the valves.

As you talk to more people you receive more ideas and become more knowledgeable, good luck

Edited by Michigan40 (see edit history)
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Posted (edited)

Throw parts at it, rebuild the carburetor  for the third time. Do the same thing someone else did on their semi similar car twenty years ago. It’s all ridiculous. Use a proper diagnostic routine, using a process of elimination, to determine what the problem is. It can only be three things. Yes, it’s that simple.It’s either mechanical related to the engine, fuel related to the ENTIRE system, or ignition related to the entire system. You need to figure out what the problem is, and then service the entire system, not try and spot fix what you think is the issue. Most often, cars have multiple issues. There are no short cuts, tune up in a can won’t make it run. Take your time. Fix it right. Fix everything you find that isn’t as good as new. “Good enough” is just an excuse to save money and time. Make the effort. Old cars are great.......but they do take time and money.......two things that everyone is short on today. Good luck.

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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On 5/25/2020 at 7:07 PM, Matt Harwood said:

You're not wrong, Morgan, but the symptoms don't match your cause. If an engine gets hot enough to expand the pistons and/or rings sufficiently to seize them in the bores, it happens quickly. It's not like there's a lot of clearance in there to allow it to sneak up on you, it's fine and then it's not. And a car in which this happens doesn't start and run normally 15 minutes later. If his car is running hot, it's affecting fuel delivery or spark generation, not destroying its internals.

 

This is what an engine looks like where thermal expansion has caused the pistons to expand and lock in the bore:

 

ttk-image-engine_05_03-1.png


So yes, I'll acknowledge that it CAN happen. Is it the problem here? I don't believe it is. You're talking a lot more heat and a lot more damage than he seems to be facing in his Buick. 

 

 

 

 

Pistons expand until the thickness of the film of oil between ring and cylinder drops to zero, at which point there is no lubrication, so the engine stalls.

 

I do think, however, that for this to happen, the coolant in the radiator is mostly boiled away, and if he has this happen 3 or 4 times the radiator must be pretty much empty. Did you check the radiator?

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On 5/25/2020 at 9:09 PM, edinmass said:

This car should not be run on an electric fuel pump. That said, I would bypass the entire fuel system safely, and provide a gravity feed fuel supply to the car while it’s stationary, and run the engine at 1/3 throttle for fifteen or twenty minutes. It will tell you if you have a fuel supply issue, overheating issue, or most likely an ignition issue. It should be very easy to diagnose. Do NOT guess. Diagnostic skills are what you need to apply, not conjecture or guesswork.

 

Really? How? Does it tell us in English or just point to which one?

 

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I was just being funny there, but that actually was a serious question. What would bypassing the fuel system (which has an electric fuel pump) tell us exactly.

I have one of those cars which had ‘multiple issues’, as you say, in all 3 systems. “Diagnose it... Process of elimination...” I heard that a thousand times. Just a bunch of words on a page, and what to do to ‘diagnose’ it actually WAS the question in the OP.

What no one who said that was how and I’ve not really heard that in this thread either. I failed to sort out my car myself so it went to 2 different shops. Each found things that the other did not and eventually multiple problems were found and fixed. I’m pretty sure neither knew or discovered which problem was causing which symptom or even if any one symptom led them to any one problem and I know this because I asked and they each said the same exact thing word verbatim: “Well, it was ‘mumble mumble mumble’...”

Basically they ended up going through each system entirely and found different problems to fix. That isn’t exactly diagnosis is it?

Now the engine is being rebuilt. The reason for that I later found in the oil pan.

Ben P.

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Electric fuel pumps often push fuel past the float, flooding the engine, causing a much too rich mixture, washes oil down off the cylinders, increases the KV's load on the coil...............also, incorrectly installed electric fuel pumps can overheat, causing pressure and volume loss. I have made my living for twenty five years fixing things that others could not, or would not. You need a baseline to start with. After working on tens of thousands of cars......you get good at it. 

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Posted (edited)

Ed might not have any personality (or looks),  but getting him to comment on a mechanical problem in a prewar car is GOLD. 

 

Also,  using an electric pump on any car not designed for it is asking for trouble.  You can mitigated the risk of burning your car up by having a return line or an on/off switch.   The on/off should only be used to prime the system when the car has sat.  The return line should send any unneeded fuel back to the fuel tank.

Edited by alsancle (see edit history)
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Yes it’s GOLD, why I teased that out. Had only a vague idea of why elect pumps on these cars is a bad idea. Also, I personally have no baseline - why I’ve been paying shop rate for all of this on mine (and have no excuse for getting upset with the numbers, though one number almost made the teeth fall right out of my head).

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Ben .....send me a PM with your phone number and a good time to call.....I'll get you going in the right direction. Ed

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Sorry for the delayed response. I see there are many hopefully good suggestions above. I'll try and sort out the grain from the chaff. The engine is definitely not overheating, if anything it barely gets up to operating temp before the incident occurs. In the coming days I'll have some time to try a few things, 1st is I have a new coil and will swap it to see if that is the problem. I'm guessing that this will be a process of elimination to get to the bottom of it. I suspect that the previous owner lost interest in chasing it down, ergo the sale. there's always a reason for these sales, but then that is how I've managed to accumulate a number of cars, no harm no foul!

I'll keep you informed as to what solves the issue.

 

Thanks for all the input

Rod

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Apparently it was a bad coil! I changed to a known good coil, drove the car for about 30 minutes and all was well, no sputtering and it never died, 😁😁 engine temp via dash gauge was a steady 160 f.

 Thanks for all the input.

 

Rod

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