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1923 DB Roadster 4 Cylinder Engine Starting Problems


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My 1923 DB Roadster is a frame off restoration which has been sitting since, at least, 1976. The two previous owners invested a lot of time and money into rebuilding all parts of the drive train, including the engine. I now have the car in a condition that the engine should start, and run. It had a bent intake valve, which I replaced, and lapped, adjusted and checked the seal of all valves. The engine has good compression, intake and ignition, and I’ve dropped the oil pan and checked the bearing clearance of the rods and mains They were tight, but acceptable for a newly rebuilt engine, average .006 inch clearance. The pistons are new, the bores have been honed, and they are tight, but move as the pistons would in a rebuilt engine. But, with the spark plugs in, the starter will not turn the engine over, and when cranked by hand it will hit a few licks, smoke a lot, I’ve soaked the engine in oil, and stop. When cranked by hand the engine feels tight, but can be rotated 360 degrees without freezing. I suspect that the binding problem has something to do with the clutch disk, also new, and am ready to drop the transmission to check it out.

Does anyone have any advice or information on this car, or experience with other DB 4 cylinder engines with similar problems.

Jack

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Ring gap?

I cant see it being a clutch, but you could check that by jacking up the back of the car (probably one side) and have some one step on the clutch in gear while you wrestle the lifted wheel.

I would oil the cylinders and crank it with the plugs out just for fun if you haven't already.

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9 hours ago, JACK M said:

Ring gap?

I cant see it being a clutch, but you could check that by jacking up the back of the car (probably one side) and have some one step on the clutch in gear while you wrestle the lifted wheel.

I would oil the cylinders and crank it with the plugs out just for fun if you haven't already.

 

9 hours ago, JACK M said:

Ring gap?

I cant see it being a clutch, but you could check that by jacking up the back of the car (probably one side) and have some one step on the clutch in gear while you wrestle the lifted wheel.

I would oil the cylinders and crank it with the plugs out just for fun if you haven't already.

I have jacked up a rear wheel, and the drive line spins free. I have replaced the starter/generator with one rebuilt by Rodger, Dodger, Hartley, and it has a new battery and all new cables/wiring. I have jacked up the front of the engine, and then the back of the transmission in case there was a alignment problem between the engine and the pilot bearing. No change there from either end. I got a ton of clutch parts and a couple of transmissions and I don’t know if this is residue from a clutch/transmission rebuild or just the left over from the previous owners swap meet goodies. Regardless, I am wondering if the engine (drive) side of the clutch isn’t binding. I have used two batteries, fully charged, in parallel, to see if that would help. It didn’t. I cranks with two of the four plugs out, but still won’t start. I’ll get a neighbor to step on the clutch and see if it still turns fee from the back wheel. Thanks for your input.It is appreciated, and anything else you have to offer would be appreciates.

Jack

 

 

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“.................... checked the bearing clearance of the rods and mains ................. average .006 inch..........”

”tight” ????  “for a newly rebuilt engine” ?????   TIGHT (!) ?????       -    Carl 

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I agree with C Carl,  0.006" is HUGE.    Clearance should be about 0.002"   Also agree with Mark,  check the cables and make sure they are about as big as your fingers and no corrison.

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Seems odd that a presumably rebuilt never started engine would have a bent valve.

I cant figure that into the mix.

I also don't see how any clutch problem would give a tight engine symptom. On that note are you sure that the clutch will disengage after being parked for that long?

This is partly why I suggested that you try to drive the disengaged clutch from the rear by trying to turn a rear wheel with it in gear and clutch depressed.

You know that the rear wheels will turn the driveline, but what about from the front? I suppose a bad input bearing or some other mechanism in the tranny that is on the engine driven side could cause a bind. I guess you could have someone hold the clutch down and try cranking to further eliminate transmission problems.

I am sticking with my original idea that some one forgot to fit the rings properly.

Trouble is you would have to remove the head and pan to pull a piston out to check the gap.

You said that the pistons move like they would in a rebuilt engine, this is good, and the pistons aren't locked to the rings so they could move and still have tight rings.

Other idea might be a tight and/or dry rope seal if this engine has one of those.

I don't suppose the starter generator could be tight. Not questioning Rogers work, just a thought.

Does this engine have bearing inserts, I have seen a tight thrust bearing cause hard cranking. What about cam bearings are they new as well and possibly dry?

Did you pre oil the engine by driving the oil pump? I usually will try and roll the engine over slowly while driving the oil pump with a drill motor.

 

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A 1923 dodge brothers car has a 12 volt system around 1926 they went back to 6 volt. I have owned serveral of these cars what voltage is the battery?  The starter on the 12 volt system is also the generator and runs by a chain inside the motor They were called silent starters.

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Hi Jack,

Have you tried backing off the nut on the crankshaft that holds the pulley tight to the crank? When my engine was rebuilt, the machine shop was off a few thousands on the thrust bearing so I had to vary the thickness of the shim washer behind the nut in order to get the engine to turn freely?

Each of my spare engines had a different thickness washer behind the crank nut. 

Maybe loosen the nut a bit and try using the starter to spin the engine?

 

Good luck

 

Keep driving the ole WK and stay safe,

 

Bill

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Bent valve - Valve could hit the head if the head was planed too much, or the lifter was not adjusted first to give space before the head was put on or the lifter was stuck in the up position. Then the valve could bend when the motor was turned over.

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Posted (edited)

As A beginning, I want to thank everyone that responded to my question. This whole car is an enigma, apparently a complete restoration was started by one person many years ago, and I suppose, sold to another in about 1976. I get the impression that he worked on the car, actively, until about 1992. Then the work, mostly body and fender, was apparently abandoned. The engine is immaculate, has .030over size aluminum pistons, and the bore is honed and perfect.I d did drop the pants, and pulled the rod bearings in men’s. These are answers, and have not been replaced, but it appears the crank has been ground. The .006 clearance, to me anyway, it’s a bit close for this engine, but that was uncalled engine and average for plastigauge.

I had reassembled the engine, complete with the radiator and fuel system. The problem, even after I had soaked the pistons and bores in oil, and sprayed oil inside the engine over the camshaft and lifters and main journals, still would only make one revolution with the starter and then refuse to turn over again until the starter button was bumped several times. Even then it would turn one revolution and then stop again.

Over the past week I pull the head off and stripped the covers off of the timing gears. On this Dodge engine the crankshaft timing gear mark is hidden behind a spoke on the starter/generator drive gear, and is virtually invisible, even with a bright light. I spent the day looking for this mark with no luck. And then I remembered my old school mechanic days in which used the keyway on the crankshaft as timing mark. I went back to the owners manual and found out another way of establishing the crank timing was to use a line drawn diagonally across the timing gear one side being the left keyway, and the other being the right keyway. Doing that established the timing mark on the crankshaft behind the spoke, and was done without removing the starter/generator drive gear. I found the distributor timing mark on the cam gear exactly where the book said it would be, and I also found the two timing marks on the cam gear where they were supposed to be. Having called Roger (Dodger), who told me how to establish the timing using the number four piston, and number three exhaust valve I ascertained that the engine was one tooth out of timing between the camshaft and crankshaft.

I have reassembled the engine, with the exception of the head, and I have to re-thread six stripped head stud bolt holes, and reinstall the head.

The engine can now be turned over by touching the starter button with just my thumb, and it spins free and smooth as long as I hold the button depressed.

I think there was a number of valve springs putting too much pressure on the camshaft for the starter to kick it over, and it was felt as a binding on the crank.

I am hoping my next post will be regarding how well the engine runs, and the process progress I’m making with the interior upholstery.

Edited by Jack Bennett
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Slap me if I am wrong,(please consult your manuals), but I would expect bearing clearance range to be something like .0015 - .0030 to be within spec tolerance. IMHO .0060 is goose loose.   -   Carl. 

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Thanks for the reply Carl. I am in total agreement with you, and I expected to find someplace between .0010 and .0015, but that was not the case. I dropped the pan looking for either seized, spun bearings, but found neither. The bearings do have some shine, and they are not new inserts, but the wear is evenly across the bearing, and there is no sign of burning. I did not drop the mains because to lower bores, piston pins and cam looks good. I am disappointed because as you said earlier, Rebuilt????. We used to call it “Repaint” because some folks consider a oil change, and this time with a new filter, a “Rebuild”. I do believe they expended a lot of money and a great number of hours in replacing some stuff on this engine, but the cotter pins in the rod bearing bolts are cheap, too small, and reused pins.The valve timing seems to have been carefully laced in one tooth away from being right, I have 7 head bolt studs which have no threads, and the valve did not have a bent stem. It looked like a mushroom someone had stepped on and bent its head. Regardless, I bought a car to work on as a hobby, and I surely got my moneys worth.....I called it quits for today, and will finish up the head tomorrow. And then I’ll find out if the valve timing was the problem....or it should have joined the cars classified as “rare”. Meaning, of course, they died off years ago and are no longer available.

Jack

 

 

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On 3/1/2021 at 4:59 PM, wmsue said:

Hi Jack,

Have you tried backing off the nut on the crankshaft that holds the pulley tight to the crank? When my engine was rebuilt, the machine shop was off a few thousands on the thrust bearing so I had to vary the thickness of the shim washer behind the nut in order to get the engine to turn freely?

Each of my spare engines had a different thickness washer behind the crank nut. 

Maybe loosen the nut a bit and try using the starter to spin the engine?

 

Good luck

 

Keep driving the ole WK and stay safe,

 

Bill

 

Hi Bill. I had to do a double take there to make sure I was on the AACA page and not the WOKR page. It’s good to hear from you again, and I’m glad we were able to hook up on the subject of a old Dodge, rather than a old Willys.

My Willys is as near to a daily driver as a 1927 vintage car can be, and it rests comfortably under one of my car ports quietly smiling as I bust my knuckles on the Dodge. Anyway, on this vintage Dodge the tube which serves as both the front motor support as well as a for the crank to align with its pins on the crankshaft, is bolted with three bolts through a triangle shaped bracket which is bolted directly to the cars front frame cross member. There is no bolts, in front of the timing gears, anyway which is suspect of putting a drag on the crankshaft. I suspected the ring gaps as being wrong, or even the bearings too tight, but this appears not to be the case......well, maybe....but if it is, it will have to wait until I get the engine started, at least once, before they get fixed. I am nearly certain that the valve timing is a big part of the issue. I have fire, I have compression and I have combustion. It just translates into a bunch of huff and smoke, not power. If I put 125 pounds of compressed air into the piston, near 8 degrees after TDC, which should begin the power stroke, I get one heck of a kickback. But, using the crank, I move to piston to about 15 degrees on the power stroke, I get a good downward movement of the piston. But, the problem on this little engine is that the exhaust valve begins opening at 45 degrees on the power stroke....so if power starts at 15 degrees, rather than 8 degrees, and the last 15 degrees is bled off as a exhaust,,,,,,well you see why I believe it is the valves. In fact, I’m so sure it is I bought the stuff to finish the floorboards, and a new respirator to get busy on the paint.

Jack

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1 hour ago, C Carl said:

Slap me if I am wrong,(please consult your manuals), but I would expect bearing clearance range to be something like .0015 - .0030 to be within spec tolerance. IMHO .0060 is goose loose.   -   Carl. 

To continue my earlier book length reply. Since I am relatively new to the hobby of antique car restoration, any information and assistance is greatly appreciated. And, the only mistake I can make so far as messing with this old Dodge, is just NOT doing it at all. That said, I have the “Book of Information, Dodge Brothers Motor Vehicles” for the 1923 Dodge Roadster as provided by the Dodge Bros. with a (mouse eaten) publication date in 1923. This book doesn’t use terms like torque and measurements. It says “tighten” the nut and “shorten” the shaft. However, Carl, if you have ever seen any authorative information, in writing, giving specifications in mechanical terms, please point me in its direction because I sure need it.

Jack

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On 3/5/2021 at 6:06 PM, Jack Bennett said:

Carl, if you have ever seen any authorative information, in writing, giving specifications in mechanical terms, please point me in its direction because I sure need it.

Jack


Hi Jack, 

I am away from my manuals , am just cruising on memory from checking mid’20s Cadillac bearing clearances which should be typical. So I went to my Marks’ Mechanical Engineers Handbook, 2nd Ed. 1924. Here in writing in mechanical terms are the spec’s you need. While I was there this afternoon, I also copied something else you need to wrap your head around , considering:

On 3/5/2021 at 5:46 PM, Jack Bennett said:

 

 I am nearly certain that the valve timing is a big part of the issue. I have fire, I have compression and I have combustion. It just translates into a bunch of huff and smoke, not power. If I put 125 pounds of compressed air into the piston, near 8 degrees after TDC, which should begin the power stroke, I get one heck of a kickback. But, using the crank, I move to piston to about 15 degrees on the power stroke, I get a good downward movement of the piston. But, the problem on this little engine is that the exhaust valve begins opening at 45 degrees on the power stroke....so if power starts at 15 degrees, rather than 8 degrees, and the last 15 degrees is bled off as a exhaust,,,,,,well you see why I believe it is the valves. In fact, I’m so sure it is I bought the stuff to finish the floorboards, and a new respirator to get busy on the paint.

Jack


Here, looking at the range of valve timing operation for automotive engines of the mid ‘20s, it is clear that you do have a problem with your valve timing. You should not have a kick back if in fact you are introducing 125psi air 8 degrees after tdc. So actually you must be pressuring slightly BEFORE tdc, rather than 8 degrees after, right ? It is also apparent that you have some disconnect in visualizing exactly what is happening as regards valve timing over 720 degrees of engine rotation. You may be reading from some incorrect source. Marks’ is base rock.
 

Let me give you this  “thought fodder” from Marks’ for now. Please draw a diagram or two if it will help visualize. It may also help if you start picturing the full 720 degrees at 4-15 degrees after tdc, of the intake stroke, that being the point where the intake valve opens, and the exhaust valve closes. You will see the light quickly at some point. I will come back with a bit more downloading of what is left of my head. I will also make a pitch for your acquisition of a copy of Marks’ 2nd of 1924. Perhaps also 3rd of 1930.    Enjoy !    -   Carl

 

 

 

 

40552F20-EDFF-4849-B9FB-5583CB13248A.jpeg

3B92A067-8C21-49B7-BF6D-0D7C342C9282.jpeg

Edited by C Carl
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Let's start by saying valve springs or timing on an L head engine can't effect the engine rotation.  You have a bunch of good info here but systematically checking things as you assemble it is the key.

First with the crank in the block- no pistons - does it spin freely ?

Same with timing parts and cam installed.

pistons:. Need some ring gap. 3 thous per inch of cylinder diameter so with a ring square in the cylinder you should have 10-12 thousands gap between the ends. assuming a 3.5 inch approx. bore.

Next I would put the pistons in one at a time with no rings and tighten up the crank bearing. Check that the piston is not being pressed against either side of the cylinder. it should "rock" slightly just pushing on the sides of the piston top. 

If everything is good individually, it should all work. 

One thing to consider. If the rings are old stock - Hastings probably the biggest culprit, and the cylinders freshly honed there can be a LOT of friction between the rings and the cylinder. Modern rings have less pressure and better finish so slide better.

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On 3/1/2021 at 8:05 AM, Mark Shaw said:

Jack,

    Did you replace the battery cables with heavy 6V cables or 12V cables you can buy at a local auto parts store?  

Hi Mark, sorry it took so long to reply, but I am a very busy retiree and it takes a lot of my time looking for stuff to do. I have replaced the ground cable with the heavy 6 V cable, put on a new positive cable, it has a brand new battery, and a newly rebuilt starter generatorI bought from Roger dodger Hartley. I have checked the ignition switch contacts, and the starter switch contacts, and both are in excellent condition. I have disassembled the engine again, checked each valve individually, and rechecked the bores for any grooving or wear. They are in excellent condition, and should be fine.

I’m starting to think the engine is being used by the Car Gods to test my patience, and have decided to put it on the back burner while I do the floors and upholstery.

I’ll post more as new developments develop.

Jack

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On 3/7/2021 at 5:30 PM, Oldtech said:

Let's start by saying valve springs or timing on an L head engine can't effect the engine rotation.  You have a bunch of good info here but systematically checking things as you assemble it is the key.

First with the crank in the block- no pistons - does it spin freely ?

Same with timing parts and cam installed.

pistons:. Need some ring gap. 3 thous per inch of cylinder diameter so with a ring square in the cylinder you should have 10-12 thousands gap between the ends. assuming a 3.5 inch approx. bore.

Next I would put the pistons in one at a time with no rings and tighten up the crank bearing. Check that the piston is not being pressed against either side of the cylinder. it should "rock" slightly just pushing on the sides of the piston top. 

If everything is good individually, it should all work. 

One thing to consider. If the rings are old stock - Hastings probably the biggest culprit, and the cylinders freshly honed there can be a LOT of friction between the rings and the cylinder. Modern rings have less pressure and better finish so slide better.

Hi old tech, I finally have a chance to answer your very informative post, and have only to say I’m sorry it took so long. I have reconsidered what you just said about the valve springs, and you are correct. The camshaft has the same number of lobes, And there are the same number of valves, lifters and springs regardless of what the crankshaft timing is. My remark regarding valve timing was more related to compression being bled back into the exhaust and intake manifolds through the piston with out of sync intake or exhaust valves. I have removed the head again, drilled out and tapped the five stripped head bolt studs, and installed a new head gasket. I had lapped the valves, and thought I had straightened the head on the bent #2 intake valve. Just to be absolutely sure, since it is beyond my scope of ability to check the seal of a valve from below, replaced the valve with a new one. 
The engine was assembled, to the extent of being a short block, when I bought the car. It had been immaculately painted, and all gaskets were super sealed. I ultimately did drop the pan, and using plasti gauge, did verify that the rod and main bearings were neither binding, nor burned. The bearing inserts were NOT new, they had wear patterns, but showed no signs of oil starvation or heat damage. Only as a last resort, and the next anticipated step will be complete replacement of the engine, will I consider removing the pistons and dropping the transmission to free up the crank. The car has no wiring of any sort, and I am trying to crank the engine with the start switch Jerry rigged to a place I can crank the engine and evaluate the problems without sitting in the car, pushing the switch with my foot. I have called a truce with the engine for a while, since it has every reason on earth to run, but still refuses to do so, it has personal issues I am not getting involved with. So, I have decided to finish up all other things which influence engine performance, such as the throttle and spark control, the loose heat stove pipe extending between the exhaust manifold and carb, and hard wiring the complete car before I play engine again.......And, your the information you’ve provided regarding the old school rings and the cylinder being newly cross hatched rings true and clear in line with my own way of thinking. When I had the pan off and the rods disconnected, were the pistons within book specs, they should have slowly sank in the bore under their own weight. This just isn’t happening.....they do require quite a bit of help to move down the bore. But I am not about to take this to mean they are too tight or the ring gap is wrong. These are new pistons, in a newly honed bore, in a cold engine, with a splash type lube system, which has never been allowed to work. In other words....they are exactly what I’d expect in a newly rebuilt.....or repaint, anyway, engine, so I will give it the benefit of the doubt it is OK.

Sorry about the verbiage diarrhea, but I have never been a man of a few words. Thanks for your input, it is welcome and very much appreciated.

Jack

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Posted (edited)
On 3/6/2021 at 8:35 PM, C Carl said:


Hi Jack, 

I am away from my manuals , am just cruising on memory from checking mid’20s Cadillac bearing clearances which should be typical. So I went to my Marks’ Mechanical Engineers Handbook, 2nd Ed. 1924. Here in writing in mechanical terms are the spec’s you need. While I was there this afternoon, I also copied something else you need to wrap your head around , considering:


Here, looking at the range of valve timing operation for automotive engines of the mid ‘20s, it is clear that you do have a problem with your valve timing. You should not have a kick back if in fact you are introducing 125psi air 8 degrees after tdc. So actually you must be pressuring slightly BEFORE tdc, rather than 8 degrees after, right ? It is also apparent that you have some disconnect in visualizing exactly what is happening as regards valve timing over 720 degrees of engine rotation. You may be reading from some incorrect source. Marks’ is base rock.
 

Let me give you this  “thought fodder” from Marks’ for now. Please draw a diagram or two if it will help visualize. It may also help if you start picturing the full 720 degrees at 4-15 degrees after tdc, of the intake stroke, that being the point where the intake valve opens, and the exhaust valve closes. You will see the light quickly at some point. I will come back with a bit more downloading of what is left of my head. I will also make a pitch for your acquisition of a copy of Marks’ 2nd of 1924. Perhaps also 3rd of 1930.    Enjoy !    -   Carl

 

 

 

 

40552F20-EDFF-4849-B9FB-5583CB13248A.jpeg

3B92A067-8C21-49B7-BF6D-0D7C342C9282.jpeg

Hi C Carl, thankfully my mind is not as slow as my hand is at responding to much appreciated information regarding my problem. Thanks a lot for the specification data, it helps a lot. I did re-time the camshaft as it syncs to the crank. The book I use is more inclined to use pictures than it does to describe a situation. It appears that the timing gear mark on the crankshaft is hidden by the spoke on the starter generator drive gear, which means you can’t see it. So using the crankshaft keyways as a straight line, which also indicates the crankshaft gear on which the timing mark appears, I determined that valve timing was one gear out of sync with the camshaft. I have since removed the camshaft gear, and re-timed the camshaft to match the timing gears on the crankshaft year. The engine is back together again, and everything below the spark plugs check out. I have new spark plugs, new plug wires, have verified distributor timing, how to check the points gap, have check the spark to make sure number one was firing where it should in conjunction with engine timing, took the carburetor apart and check to make sure the float level is correct and all the valves were working properly, I am in the process of checking clutch adjustment, and have installed all the linkages for the spark and throttle controls. I have a new battery, new battery cables, and checked all connections, and switch contacts, And everything seems to be perfect. And today I’ll probably work some more on my top. When that engine is ready to run it will start regardless of whether I am in the shower or sitting at the dinner table.

Thanks again for the information and your input I sincerely appreciate it, and look forward to talking to you more in the future.

Jack

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Posted (edited)
On 3/5/2021 at 11:54 AM, hwellens said:

Bent valve - Valve could hit the head if the head was planed too much, or the lifter was not adjusted first to give space before the head was put on or the lifter was stuck in the up position. Then the valve could bend when the motor was turned over.

Hi hwellens, the valve issue is a major concern in that the pistons, , the bore, the manifold, and the engine paint all speak of an engine rebuild. However, something as important to major operation, and as routine as it is to check as the valve train, just doesn’t make sense to have a bent valve installed. The valve itself is not bent at the stem as would be expected. Rather the head of the valve is tilted at an angle whereby, regardless of whether it rotates or not, it will not seal in the seat. There are no marks on the valve, or on the head to indicate that the valve has ever been struck during engine operation. This can only mean that the valve was defective when installed, and overlooked by shabby work, or struck when the head was placed on the deck. But since there was no head on the engine when I bought the car, but the valves were installed, just makes it more puzzling. Regardless, a new valve from Myers was $34 plus postage and handling, and a new head gasket from Olson’s was $165 including excellent packaging and postage. The valve has been replaced, and within my ability all check out to seal properly. However, I would sincerely appreciate information from anybody with knowledge of this four-cylinder Dodge, non-fast, engine regarding how you check the seal of the intake valves since there is no intake manifold to allow access to the valves from below.

Thanks again for the input, and I look forward to hearing more from you in the future.

Jack

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Posted (edited)
On 3/5/2021 at 8:41 AM, jan arnett (2) said:

When we had a tight Model t we used to tie a rope to the front end and pull it around with a truck to loosen it up.  I don't understand how you get a bent valve on a rebuilt engine.

Hi Jan, I must begin by saying I do apologize for the length of time it took to respond to your kind offer of information. But, since both of us favor old cars, instead of new high speed machines, I must also believe you like things to move slowly too. I am at the point I believe that running this engine to operating temperature, and allowing each part to remember how the other works, is the only way I’ll ever get it working. I do believe the cylinders are tight in their bores, and I also know that all lubrication of this engine is provided by a drip/splash system as a result of oil pressure. This engine has set up, disassembled, for at least 50 years, and I am certain there are places in the engine that could only be reached for lubrication by a complete disassembly. But, I believe that more damage is done to a machine through unnecessarily fixing it rather than allowing the machine to return to its own level of comfort without us messing with its innards. I sure wish I had this Dodge assembled to the point that I could safely tow it, with enough confidence that I wouldn’t bust a rod or snap a camshaft, to pull it to start it. I have redirected my attention toward getting all of the vehicle systems connected, meaning the clutch, brakes, fuel and ignition systems, and the body bolted down before I really start concentrating on getting the engine running again. I have since replaced the bent valve, and installed a new head gasket. So, these two obstacles have been relegated to history, and I am moving toward finishing up the floorboards and interior upholstery.
Thanks again for your helpful input, I’m hoping to hear more from you in the future.

Jack

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On 3/1/2021 at 3:03 PM, 29tons said:

A 1923 dodge brothers car has a 12 volt system around 1926 they went back to 6 volt. I have owned serveral of these cars what voltage is the battery?  The starter on the 12 volt system is also the generator and runs by a chain inside the motor They were called silent starters.

Hi 29 tons, the car does have a 12 V, albeit, positive ground system. I invented the equivalent to the starter generator as a student in high school, and I abandoned the idea as being impractical. I sure wish Dodge Bros. had done the same on this particular model. I have installed a brand new battery, replaced all cables with new cables, disassembled, cleaned, and checked all switches. I have taken the heavy duty cabin battery out of my motorhome and tried it thinking it may be poor battery amperage. This was a lot of work, and established absolutely nothing. I am thoroughly convinced the only way to loosen this engine is to start it and remind it it’s not a solid block of steel.

I do appreciate your helpful advice, and look forward to hearing more from you in the future.

Jack

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On 3/1/2021 at 11:45 AM, hidden_hunter said:

How does the starter engage and disengage from the engine? Is it possible that’s not lined up properly?  Might explain the not turning over and odd behavior when hand cranked

Hi hidden_hunter, in this case, I must admit that a late response is only slightly better than no response at all. But, being a full-time retiree, I have a lot of goof off stuff which interferes with my productive use of time. If you’re familiar with the starter system of the 23 dodge, non-fast four, four-cylinder engine, it has no starter. This being the case, there is no Bendix or starter drive gear to engage or disengage the starter drive from the engine. Instead it has a combination starter/generator, which is chain driven by a dedicated gear at the front of the engine. It employs a switch which would normally be the starter button, but in this case, it is a dual purpose switch that, once the engine starts, and the starter/generator starts producing amperage, it is redirected back to the battery as a charging current. This surely must have seemed like a good idea, to somebody, at some time, but it sure lacks any semblance of common sense in regards to practicality. Either the mechanism is driving the engine as a starter, and consuming electricity, or being driven by the engine, and producing electricity. The device alone adds a good 50 pounds to the engine weight, as well as another 10 pounds in the chain required to drive it. I didn’t weigh the drive gear so I’m not going to include that in energy consumption, which can barely be afforded by the tiny, four-cylinder engine, to carry the weight of a super heavy starter or generator and spin a massive armature to produce 10 or 12 amps. Regardless, the gear ratio between the drive gear at the front of the starter/generator, and the diameter of the driving gear on the engine, is totally out of whack for either affective production of generator produced energy, or energy produced by electricity used to turn armature of a starter.Not to complain though, this is what keeps working on these old cars more interesting than dealing with a 283 or a 327.

Thanks for the input, I’ll enjoy hearing more from you in the future.

Jack

Edited by Jack Bennett (see edit history)
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On 3/1/2021 at 8:08 AM, Old buicks 2 said:

I agree with C Carl,  0.006" is HUGE.    Clearance should be about 0.002"   Also agree with Mark,  check the cables and make sure they are about as big as your fingers and no corrison.

Hi Old Buick’s 2, thanks for your input, I do appreciate your help. The .006 plasti gauge measurement of the rod bearing clearance is an average. It came up slightly less with a horizontal and vertical plasti gauge measurement. I was trying to ascertain if excessive bearing tightness was the cause of the engine refusing to crank with the starter. The, fairly uniform, measurement of .006 let me know that I can expect the engine to turn fairly free without throwing a rod, or flattening a crank, if it does start. I have installed the 6 V cables normally used on a tractor, even though it is a 12 V system. And this car, which has no accessories, has the battery cable routed through the start switch, directly to the starter generator. So the only connection points are at the battery, the two terminals on the switch, and the lug on the starter generator. These are all tight, and I have tried a heavy duty 12 V battery, which powers the cabin of my motor home  without problem, and it was exactly the same. I thought it was electrical, but I am nearly convinced it is the seal of the old style rings, on a newly honed cylinder bore,  which hasn’t seen any lubrication for the past 50 years. I am going to go ahead and concentrate on hooking all the systems up and getting the car ready to drive, including the new top and interior upholstery  before I worry a whole lot more about the engine. That does not mean I don’t welcome any helpful information from anyone with suggestions as to how I might get the thing running, short of pushing or pulling it.

Thanks again for the helpful input of information, and I do look forward to hearing more from you in the future.

Jack

Edited by Jack Bennett (see edit history)
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And just for kicks, this I my primary fun car which I use for daily drives and fulfill the neighbors need for old car photos. She is a 1927 Willys Knight Coach, 99% original, with the original Silent Knight Sleeve Valve engine.

3F2607D4-85EF-41F1-A798-CE8546A1022A.jpeg

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5 hours ago, Mark Shaw said:

So, did you know Mike Larsen?

Hi Mark, no I don’t.  Ishe a local Willys guy, or just a member of WOKR?

I’ve nearly finished up the village and it is my go to, tool around town old car.

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15 hours ago, Jack Bennett said:

Hi 29 tons, the car does have a 12 V, albeit, positive ground system. I invented the equivalent to the starter generator as a student in high school, and I abandoned the idea as being impractical. I sure wish Dodge Bros. had done the same on this particular model. I have installed a brand new battery, replaced all cables with new cables, disassembled, cleaned, and checked all switches. I have taken the heavy duty cabin battery out of my motorhome and tried it thinking it may be poor battery amperage. This was a lot of work, and established absolutely nothing. I am thoroughly convinced the only way to loosen this engine is to start it and remind it it’s not a solid block of steel.

I do appreciate your helpful advice, and look forward to hearing more from you in the future.

Jack

I looked at a wiring diagram on line and it looks like it is 12 volt negative ground you said that you had it hooked up 12 volt positive ground could the engine be rotating the wrong direction?

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11 hours ago, Jack Bennett said:

Hi Mark, no I don’t.  Ishe a local Willys guy, or just a member of WOKR?

Mike passed away about 3 years ago.  He was very active in several car clubs and ran errands around town in his Willys Knight.

 

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On 3/1/2021 at 8:46 AM, JACK M said:

Seems odd that a presumably rebuilt never started engine would have a bent valve.

I cant figure that into the mix.

I also don't see how any clutch problem would give a tight engine symptom. On that note are you sure that the clutch will disengage after being parked for that long?

This is partly why I suggested that you try to drive the disengaged clutch from the rear by trying to turn a rear wheel with it in gear and clutch depressed.

You know that the rear wheels will turn the driveline, but what about from the front? I suppose a bad input bearing or some other mechanism in the tranny that is on the engine driven side could cause a bind. I guess you could have someone hold the clutch down and try cranking to further eliminate transmission problems.

I am sticking with my original idea that some one forgot to fit the rings properly.

Trouble is you would have to remove the head and pan to pull a piston out to check the gap.

You said that the pistons move like they would in a rebuilt engine, this is good, and the pistons aren't locked to the rings so they could move and still have tight rings.

Other idea might be a tight and/or dry rope seal if this engine has one of those.

I don't suppose the starter generator could be tight. Not questioning Rogers work, just a thought.

Does this engine have bearing inserts, I have seen a tight thrust bearing cause hard cranking. What about cam bearings are they new as well and possibly dry?

Did you pre oil the engine by driving the oil pump? I usually will try and roll the engine over slowly while driving the oil pump with a drill motor.

 

Hi Jack, I had to wait for a Sunday to have time to answer your many fine and appreciated points. Please understand that I look at this car as nothing other than a hobby,  and a mental distraction from daily life. I say this at this point because what I may say regarding anyone involved in the cars history is not intended to be a negative reflection on them personally. Rather it is my only way of pointing out why the car may be having the problems it is today, and that is our topic of discussion only. This car, looking at the bottom of the car, from the rear forward, seems to have been piecemealed together from two or more cars. I have done some research on ownership of the car, and find that the lineage of the car is not exactly as was presented when I bought it. That is not bad, except that The saying “too many chefs in the kitchen can ruin the soup”,  and I think, in this case, there was at least one too many chefs in the kitchen. I have the two previous titles issued on the car, and Roger (dodger) Hartley knew both owners. When I talk to him about the problems that I found on the car so far he said he didn’t understand either because neither of the two men he knew would do something so obviously wrong to the car. However, I have found a third person, who was titled the car some years previous to the owners who took possession of the car in the years before I got it. I’m beginning to believe this person started a restoration, plastered and painted over many problems, and overlooked others, and this may be what doomed the restoration the two owners started. Regardless, I have found that the clutch is bleeding RPM off the starter, and I’m beginning to believe it was either assembled wet and rusted, contaminated, or just never adjusted after assembly. It is extremely difficult for me to locate problems such as this because it is impossible to work the clutch, watch the engine, and push the starter button by myself. I had extended the battery cables to the start switch to act as a remote starter to set up the engine for running. The grinding sound was obvious as the engine turned, both with the spark plugs out, and the head off. I had looked online, checked the manuals, and had been informed by Roger dodger Hartley that even though the engine has a oil pump, and a pressurized system, all bearings in the engine are still lubricated by a drip splash system. So, even pressurizing the engine with a oil pressurization unit still did not effectively lubricate all bearings, or any of the bores simply because the oil was just dripping, and not being slung. So, considering that the engine had set, partially assembled, for 50 years, a certain amount of friction would be understandable. I have now replaced the missing floor boards and am able to properly wire and install the start switch, and have completed upholstery to the point I have a seat to sit on while I push the starter and clutch. I have found that by doing this, with the clutch now depressed, I can gain possibly 30 or 40 more revolutions per minute on the cranking speed of the engine. Also, before the clutch is depressed there is a audible grinding sound, and this soundDisappears when it is depressed. I don’t know if this is a frozen throw out bearing, pilot bearing, or the clutch discs (and this is a huge clutch ) are simply binding or are out of adjustment. I noted, while I had the rod bearings freed that the pistons were tight in their bores, and did not slowly drop unassisted, as stated in the manual that they should. But they were free, with some help, to travel the full length of the bore, and I attributed that to having old style rings in a newly honed bore, with no lubrication from below, and my added oil being wiped from the top by the upward travel of the piston. The pistons are new, stamped .030, and I see that Meyers sells pistons and rings as a set, so I’m supposing the ring gap should have been established as they fitted the rings to the piston. As a last resort, and Roger (Dodger) Hartley has cautioned me regarding making a knee jerk decision to do so) I will take the engine out of the car and do a pan to head rebuild. But, as Roger has said, that IS a last resort and ever other source of my problems needs to be explored prior to doing it. And, out of respect for my feeling that you have other things to do than read my posts, I will discontinue this book for now, and continue it later. I do want to say that I appreciate the time it took you to prepare your post, and the informative material you have provided. Without folks like you, others like you, and yes, including myself, this forum would be nothing but a bunch of blank pages. Thanks again.

Jack

Edited by Jack Bennett (see edit history)
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12 hours ago, Jack Bennett said:

Hi Mark, no I don’t.  Ishe a local Willys guy, or just a member of WOKR?

I’ve nearly finished up the village and it is my go to, tool around town old car.

I’m so sorry I interpreted “did” as a present tense, rather than past. I have lost so many friends and acquaintances during the past few years I can’t recall who has passed and who is still with us. I don’t recall Mike Larsen, as either a friend or acquaintance, but I have only been associated with the Willys crowd for little more than a year. I am sorry that you have lost a friend.

Jack

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