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Old 08-18-2018, 03:20 AM   #1
Fbks_Cruiser
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Cranks but won’t start

350, HEI, edelbrock 1406.

Truck has always started easily. Press pedal once to set choke, crank a second or two and she fired right up. In colder weather 2 pedal pumps. Then Last week I had to crank for several seconds before it would start. But then it ran good, started fine and started fine the rest of that day.

Now today I jumped in the truck press pedal to set choke and crank away but it never fires. I press pedal again. Still cranks but no fire. Pedal full to floor no fire.
So I pull the air cleaner, open choke butterfly and work the throttle, see good fuel spray. I then check power at HEI 12.5 volts key on (12 gage wire from ign unfused). I do note that voltage drops to about 10v when cranking, too low?
I tried a ignition tester that goes inline between spark plug and wire, showed a flash as I cranked the engine so it appears I am getting fire to the plugs.

I had a spare ignition module and coil so I swapped em just to rule that out. Same symptoms.

If I hold pedal to floor and crank a long time I get occasional pop out the exhaust, so I am thinking timing is goofed up? But how? It ran great when I parked it last week.

Ideas?
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Old 08-18-2018, 02:01 PM   #2
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Re: Cranks but won’t start

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fbks_Cruiser View Post
350, HEI, edelbrock 1406.

Truck has always started easily. Press pedal once to set choke, crank a second or two and she fired right up. In colder weather 2 pedal pumps. Then Last week I had to crank for several seconds before it would start. But then it ran good, started fine and started fine the rest of that day.

Now today I jumped in the truck press pedal to set choke and crank away but it never fires. I press pedal again. Still cranks but no fire. Pedal full to floor no fire.
So I pull the air cleaner, open choke butterfly and work the throttle, see good fuel spray. I then check power at HEI 12.5 volts key on (12 gage wire from ign unfused). I do note that voltage drops to about 10v when cranking, too low?
I tried a ignition tester that goes inline between spark plug and wire, showed a flash as I cranked the engine so it appears I am getting fire to the plugs.

I had a spare ignition module and coil so I swapped em just to rule that out. Same symptoms.

If I hold pedal to floor and crank a long time I get occasional pop out the exhaust, so I am thinking timing is goofed up? But how? It ran great when I parked it last week.

Ideas?
Dumb thought I'm sure, but did distributor loosen up?
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Old 08-18-2018, 04:30 PM   #3
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Re: Cranks but won’t start

Not dumb. I checked to make sure it was still tight. Mechanical advance is free (not bound and spring right back when moved by hand).
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Old 08-18-2018, 04:33 PM   #4
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Re: Cranks but won’t start

I’m kinda wondering about fuel even tough I saw it spray when moving throttle.

I don’t have a helper right now but think I might disconnect fuel line at carb and run it to a container and crank for a few seconds and see how much gas I get.
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Old 08-18-2018, 05:38 PM   #5
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Re: Cranks but won’t start

Look inside the cap for traces of High Voltage arcing and pitting on the cap contacts and rotor. While I've gone thru similar gripes
on the distributor on my '71 GMC Jimmy's 350, and replaced each component ala-carte, I've found a fresh [US-made if available] whole HEI distributor is cheaper to replace.

[A buddy of mine had an FJ40 with a 327.]
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Old 08-18-2018, 05:58 PM   #6
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Re: Cranks but won’t start

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fbks_Cruiser View Post
350, HEI

If I hold pedal to floor and crank a long time I get occasional pop out the exhaust, so I am thinking timing is goofed up? But how? It ran great when I parked it last week.

Ideas?
Do you have a compression tester?
Doesn't take long to do.
That would narrow things down.
Compression test good (ok now what).
Compression test bad (Ah-Ha).
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Old 08-18-2018, 06:40 PM   #7
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Re: Cranks but won’t start

Didn’t see any tracks inside the distributor cap and the contacts look good. Cap, rotor, wires, plugs new about 2000 miles ago.

I can get compression checked once I have a helper!

Just sold the FJ40 to my friend. Had it for 20 years and had done a complete mechanical rebuild but never got into fixing all the rust and other body repairs. Friend is gonna finish it.
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Old 08-18-2018, 07:15 PM   #8
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Re: Cranks but won’t start

Are you sure you have spark ?

Sounds like a loss of spark...

Go back to basics...

Remove Cyl 1 spark plug
Bring cyl 1 uo to tdc on compression
Hint: (put your thumb over the plug hole to feel pressure build up)
Set the balancer timing mark to 12 BTDC
Loosen the distributor
Put cyl 1 plug back on the wire and ground the body of the plug
Turn on ign but dont turn to Start
Turn the distributor body backwards about an inch, then forward until you here the spark plug fire...lock distributor down.
Turn off ignition.

Replace the plug and wire
Check firing order 18436572

Now start the engine...

Obviously if you cant get spark this way, you will need to figure out where the issue is...

Start with supplying 12V direct to Batt terminal ...on HEI...have seen those original wires crap out so many times...
Also have seen timing chains wear so much they jump a tooth and give similar symptons...

Let us know how you go

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Old 08-18-2018, 07:29 PM   #9
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Re: Cranks but won’t start

"Also have seen timing chains wear so much they jump a tooth and give similar symptons..."

^ Bingo , I'll bet a donut this is what happened .

Post a picture of the engine ,Pictures always help .
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Old 08-18-2018, 08:40 PM   #10
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Re: Cranks but won’t start

have you checked the ignition switch?
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Old 08-19-2018, 11:07 PM   #11
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Re: Cranks but won’t start

It runs!

Not 100% sure what the problem was but I think these threads are more useful if not left hanging without resolution.

I am leaning towards bad ignition module. When it first would not start I verified fuel delivery and 12 v at the distributor in both run and start key positions. So that left spark. Knowing that I had replaced the cap, rotor, plugs and wires just 2000 miles ago I figured they were pretty good and likely wouldn’t cause it to not fire at all. So since I had to go to the parts store anyway, I pulled the ignition module to test it and also buy one of those ignition test lights. The old module tested okay. Hmmm. But I put in the new one anyway. Along with a spare coil I had.
Here on reassembly is what got me. This time around when I pulled the wires off of the distributor cap I didn’t pay as much attention to where the number 1 plug wire was beforehand. So on reassembly I put number 1 wire on the post pointing at cylinder 1. Then the rest in correct firing order. I put in the ignition test light on plug 1 and tried to start. I was getting a flash so knew I was getting spark. But it still wouldn’t fire, just the occasional pop from the exhaust.
Next step back to square one. I pulled plug 1 and had wife bump the starter until I was at TDC compression on #1. Then pulled the distributor cap and guess what? Rotor wasn’t pointing at cylinder 1! Apparently when the previous owner installed the HEI distributor he got it a couple teeth off. Rotor was pointing towards the post just counter clockwise. ( for cylinder#2). So I moved all the wires counter clockwise one post while maintaining correct firing order. Touched the key and she fired right up before the engine even cranked a full revolution!
Took it out for a test drive and ran great...... for about 5 minutes. Then it just stopped running. Not like no gas, it didn’t sputter and die, it just quit. I turned the key and it started up again. It did that 2 more times then ran great for an hour. WTH?... Ignition switch and wiring were replaced a few months (1000 miles ago). Even so while running I jiggled the key switch and wires and it all seems good.

This leads me to believe there is still something not quit right in the ignition system. Maybe a bad/intermittent connection to the pickup coil?
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Old 08-19-2018, 11:38 PM   #12
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Re: Cranks but won’t start

I’ve heard of intermittent problems like that caused by the coil ground.
Some info and a few other useful things here.
http://www.crankshaftcoalition.com/w...EI_distributor
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Old 08-19-2018, 11:45 PM   #13
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Re: Cranks but won’t start

Thanks. I did check the ground strap in the distributor cap. But it may not be making as good of contact as it should. The coil mounting screw at the corner where the strap is felt like it was about to strip the plastic before it really snugged down. I may see if I can replace with a slightly bigger screw or else I will need a new cap.
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Old 08-19-2018, 11:53 PM   #14
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Re: Cranks but won’t start

one thing you could try is ‘hot wiring’ it. run a lenth of wire from your battery + directly to your hei red terminal. this bypasses the key and all the wiring. once installed start as normal but this time the only thing the key does is crank it. the temp wire will be what keeps it running. if it runs you know its in the key or wiring. if you continue to have the problem you know its in the
distribtor.
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Old 08-20-2018, 01:33 AM   #15
'68OrangeSunshine
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Re: Cranks but won’t start

The white grease is important. It is NOT the same dielectric you smear on all the plugwire contacts. It's a heat sink grease, it insulates the base of the module. Not sure we covered that earlier?
Also you might have to reset the distributor on #1 @ TDC and reset plug wires off the cap correspondingly. Otherwise your valves are out of phase by a couple of distributor teeth.
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Old 08-20-2018, 02:10 AM   #16
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Re: Cranks but won’t start

Yes I used heat sink paste under the ignition module (not dielectric).

I verified that with the plug wires moved as I described base timing is again at 12* just as I had it before the no start issue.

Having looks through this:
http://www.crankshaftcoalition.com/w...EI_distributor

I now am wondering if my intermittent problem may be the wires to the pickup coil being flakey.

Rather than continuing to through parts at this old distributor that I don’t know the history of, maybe I would be better getting a new one.
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Old 08-20-2018, 11:32 AM   #17
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Re: Cranks but won’t start

There is a resistance check for diagnosing the pickup in the link Geezer#99 posted. If you don't have an ohmmeter you can just leave the truck running and cycle the vacuum advance to see if that causes it to run poorly and/or quit. I will say though that I've only ever replaced one pickup on a GM vehicle Vs hundreds of rotors and a handful of modules.
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Old 08-20-2018, 06:10 PM   #18
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Re: Cranks but won’t start

Okay. I think I am zeroing in on the intermittent stall problem. I just replaced the distributor cap due to the nearly stripped hole where the screw goes through the coil and clamps against the ground strap. So I feel that is good.

I also tested the pickup coil as described here and other places:
http://www.crankshaftcoalition.com/w...EI_distributor

I had about 900 ohms across the leads and no short to body which sounds good but as soon as I wiggled the wires resistance changed a bunch. Then just leaving the meter probes connected I moved the vacuum advance by hand and the resistance also changed. Sounds like flakey wires to pickup coil.

I won’t be able to do any more with it for a while but I’ll let you know how it turns out.
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Old 08-20-2018, 07:16 PM   #19
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Re: Cranks but won’t start

Looks like that is a problem. It's fun to replace- you have to take the drive shaft out of the distributor. While you're in there, clean up any excessive gap per section 10 of that link.
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Old 09-09-2018, 06:43 PM   #20
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Re: Cranks but won’t start

So I promised I would get back to you guys when I knew more. Had some other irons in the fire and didn’t have time for this for a few weeks.

I pulled the distributor and found 2 issues that were likely the cause of the intermittent stall problem.
1) One of the wires going to the pickup coil had broken insulation allowing it to short. So I got a new ACDelco pickup coil. Went to install it in the distributor and found it fit loosely in the body. ( much looser than the original). Got out the calipers and found that the inside diameter of the new pickup coil was .006 inches bigger than the original. The extra slop meant I could never adjust the pickup so the “star points” could rotate without making contact. So much for buying ACDelco to get better quality! I took the guts out of the new pickup and put them in the body of the old pickup assembly.

2) The plug on the harness that goes from the ignition module to the distributor cap had a bad connection. The red wire terminal was not tight in the plastic plug so it got on the wrong side of the terminal in the cap. Easy fix.

I spent so much time farting around I would have been better off just getting a new distributor. But I figure I learned a lot so that is worth something.

Put it all back together and it runs fine now. Will take a few trips to ensure that I fixed the intermittent problem.
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Old 09-09-2018, 07:04 PM   #21
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Re: Cranks but won’t start

Are you sure you don't have a Ford?.....I would recheck to just to make sure.

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Old 09-09-2018, 07:08 PM   #22
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Re: Cranks but won’t start

HaHa. Mostly previous owners screw ups. Seems like I am fixing more things that he messed up than are actually in need of repair due to age or wear.
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Old 09-09-2018, 07:55 PM   #23
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Re: Cranks but won’t start

And this is why I love my ‘67 GMC. My wife got home after driving her ‘03 Nissan Murano about 40 miles...after five minutes she got back in it and it would
crank but not fire. I google the problem and get possibilities - air mass flow sensor, camshaft position sensor, coolant temp sensor, crank angle sensor, or perhaps some other sensor that’s sending fubar data to the all-powerful computer. Turns out it was the 6 year old battery in the car - the voltage was dropping down to 10 volts and the thing was still cranking like nobody’s business, but wasn’t sending sufficient voltage to the sensors. A new battery got her going again.

With our trucks a person can check the usual suspects and fix the problem, since there’s no all powerful computer controlling everything.

I love my truck!
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Old 09-09-2018, 09:50 PM   #24
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Re: Cranks but won’t start

Quote:
Originally Posted by jabborabbo View Post
And this is why I love my ‘67 GMC. My wife got home after driving her ‘03 Nissan Murano about 40 miles...after five minutes she got back in it and it would
crank but not fire. I google the problem and get possibilities - air mass flow sensor, camshaft position sensor, coolant temp sensor, crank angle sensor, or perhaps some other sensor that’s sending fubar data to the all-powerful computer. Turns out it was the 6 year old battery in the car - the voltage was dropping down to 10 volts and the thing was still cranking like nobody’s business, but wasn’t sending sufficient voltage to the sensors. A new battery got her going again.

With our trucks a person can check the usual suspects and fix the problem, since there’s no all powerful computer controlling everything.

I love my truck!
Indeed. We've bought some econoboxes in the last three years that can't be fixed pretty much anywhere but the dealer. Extended warranties are taking care of that. All I'm buying from the dealer is oil changes and the occasional tire rotation. Once the tires are replaced, that'll be CostCo's job, and I'll be doing the brakes. I won't even be doing struts or any of that stuff. Once they are out of warranty, they'll be sold. I'm too old to work on most vehicles, and these things, if something breaks, cost $1000 bucks, easily, each time.

My wife has a Kia Soul, and the batteries, according to the service manager, last about 2 years. Her car was sidelined for a week, until they could get to it. I ended up getting annoyed and had the battery checked- sure enough, tango uniform. Now I know to check it often, after it is a year old. I have (had- I slammed the truck hood on it one day, by accident ) an inductive ammeter that showed a 6 amp draw, even after half an hour (which the dealer said it could draw for that amount of time). It still had that drain the next day. Crazy electronic stuff on these new cars.
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Old 09-09-2018, 11:36 PM   #25
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Re: Cranks but won’t start

i had a similar prob starting and it turned out to be a fuel pump push rod was wore out
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