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Old 07-13-2017, 04:24 PM   #1
NightTruckFoods
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Stepvan - not pickup - but I need help!

Hi everyone. I am new to this forum and new to the classic chevy truck scene and somewhat by force. I am own a small food truck business that I have rebuilt from scratch... Well, except the things that still don't work. Im struggling with the vehicle, which is a pretty important part of my mobile food business, wouldn't ya say?
Its a 1968. Grumman Olson aluminum body stepvan sitting on a chevy frame and drivetrain; 292 in-line 6, Manual. Used to be a bread or milk truck.

Long story short, I'm a broke 23 year old kid fresh out of college this past May, who has put everything into this business, my american dream... I just put a new kitchen into it myself (had to do it, as the old one crumbled to bits) and now that everything inside is ideal, the truck won't run. Just my luck... Until recently it just ran a little rough (stalled out kinda easily) and I know my clutch is on its last legs... But now I cant even move my kitchen to go make sales and recoup my costs! yikes! I have had no income with it for over a year and the expenses so far already took up everything I had... I'm in desperate need of help.
Im not a mechanic but I am familiar enough to know what parts are what, but not experienced enough to fully grasp the mechanical movements and electrical signals that make everything run as they should. I need help diagnosing the issue(s) If some of you on this forum may be so kind as to lend me some of your knowledge on the organs inside my classic stepvan, it would literally change my life. Sincerest thanks in advance.
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P.S. I also am not familiar with how to use this/any forum so guidance on simply directing my future posts would be much appreciated.
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Old 07-13-2017, 04:55 PM   #2
bigrigpardo
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Re: Stepvan - not pickup - but I need help!

Well first off welcome to the forum and cool truck. Your issue can be a number of things and it's hard to diagnose exactly what it is without seeing it but the 2 basics are spark and fuel both needed to run. Your 292 probably has a single barrel Rochester carb that may need a rebuild and a points ignition that may need to be serviced. Can you describe what it's doing or not doing?. Does it crank over and fire at all or just crank away or not cank at all?
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Old 07-13-2017, 10:09 PM   #3
NightTruckFoods
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Re: Stepvan - not pickup - but I need help!

Thanks bigrigpardo for your response. Fuel and Spark work.
Here is the short version of todays story: Got it "running" but not well... again just my luck, as I post on a forum for help the thing figures itself out....
Long version: Battery read 11.3V so i thought it was not ideal but fine, engine wasn't turning over. I began to suspect a bad starter motor but i decided to take the battery to the shop just for a check up. Turns out it was only getting 140 Cold Cranking Amps instead of the usual 800... got it home, full of juice, fixed a lose connection to the starter, hooked it all up, then vroom. HADN't HEARD IT VROOM IN 2 MONTHS. guess im an idiot...
HOWEVER there's a catch. 2 issues with stalling that may or may not be related
1. The truck will stall out VERY easily. i have to feather the manual choke and become an artist with gas pedal play to keep it from stalling and it still inevitably will stall without my complete attention to both. This is not driveable. Im afraid of stalling while on the road. How do I fix this?
2. Once it stalls out, it does not want to turn over on the first few tries. Turning the key yields a single click sound (coming from the starter) but not turning over at all. no movement. holding they key on "start" position yields long silence. After several turns of the key, between 3 and 10 tries (one right after the other / 5 second wait between) it will start up again and so again begins the dance of avoiding the stalling... Is this starting issue related to the first stalling one?
I have a few additional concerns with the truck.
1. Disconnecting the battery, engine stops running. Is this the desired effect or is this bad?
2. When running, especially frequent with choke all the way off, a pop and a flame will spat out of the pipe reaching the ground about a foot away! is there something wrong or is this fine? there is no muffler in this system. just a skinny cat and straight pipe.
3. I modified the clutch linkage. last year, the truck wouldn't go into gear at all, and i had places to be... it would grind when trying, even after bottoming out the clutch pedal. the factory threded adjustment in the linkeage was maxed out already, and im told by the last mechanic that looked, the adjustment inside the bell is maxed out already... SO - my mod. A shaft comes through the floor, the pedal lifts this shaft higher. I made the side of the clutch pedal, opposite the pivot point taller using a bracket, so that the shaft would sit up higher to start with, pulling it extra high when pushing in the pedal. my question is, based on people's expertise and experienced, given the apparent state of my clutch, how many miles with this modification get me? what parts are bad? whats the long term repair solution? cost?

also just in general WHAT on earth should i do to improve the health and reliability of my drivetrain? Nothing seems to work as it should at all and this keeps me up at night when i know i have to move the thing to go make any sales to stand a chance at meeting my costs. this darn thing is supposed to be my livelihood...
thanks again in advance.
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Old 07-14-2017, 06:45 PM   #4
bigrigpardo
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Re: Stepvan - not pickup - but I need help!

well wish you were closer to nj because you need someone to dial this thing in.

1 first and foremost if you disconnect the battery and the engine dies then the alternator isn't working. that truck if original will have an external regulator wither that or the alternator or a bad connection in between will be causing it to not charge. that's probably what killed the last battery.

2 if you need to play with the choke and have stalling and flames out the carb or exhaust than its time for a rebuild on the carb. probably years or crud built up.

3 there are other things that need to be addressed like checking the points for proper setting and cleanliness. checking for vacuum leaks and overall compression on the motor. I have made many tired old motors run very well for many miles it just takes a person with patience experience and an ear for these old rigs.

4 the click you hear is the starter solenoid clicking. there may be a dead spot on the starter or you may have a bad ground or bad connection somewhere.


I hate to be negative but it really seems like you need a better trained set of eyes. if you were local I would come by and take a look but being so far away you are going to have to find someone who knows there stuff to look it over. and doing that on a slim budget is hard. I know this I am 25 and have been a wrench turner for years and have gone through the ups and downs of making a name in the business. I am still very small potato's but my clients are very happy and continue to come back.
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Old 07-17-2017, 06:49 PM   #5
Steeveedee
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Re: Stepvan - not pickup - but I need help!

A charged battery is 12.6V. 11.3V is dead. Whether or not the alternator was good before you pulled the battery cable off while it was running, you probably fried it when you did that. It also sounds like your carb needs work. It's quite likely that the accelerator pump is worn out or the transfer circuitry to the jets is clogged. That can also cause a backfire due to a lean mixture. And you need a clutch, if the adjustments are maxed out. Good luck!
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Old 07-17-2017, 08:19 PM   #6
NightTruckFoods
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Re: Stepvan - not pickup - but I need help!

Thanks for your detailed response again bigrigpardo, and thanks also for your input steeveedee.
First of all I 100% agree that a better trained set of eyes would be my best way out of this mess. So far no luck with the folks I've reached out to... I'll keep up the search for sure.
In the meantime I MAY be on my own here... hopefully with some advice I can force my way through this. (just cleaned up a generator carb and got the engine running again after over 5 years of sitting. I know this is a whole other ball game but just referencing that I can potentially tinker with some of this stuff enough to suffice. I guess the folks on here will let me know what to bother with and what not to.

1. Quick follow up about the charging system. I hope the alternator isnt fried. Wish i had known not to risk it, the dang autoparts place advised me to do this test... maybe he wanted me to buy a new alternator the next day... conspiracy. anyways the bigger question is:
-How do I test to make sure the charging system is working properly? Not sure how / where to meter it.
NOTE: I put in a new voltage regulator last year under suspicion that the old one was contributing to some other wiring issues. it was pretty corroded. new one may have solved some problems. Had a pricy pro shop fix some wiring in the dash (new key cylinder, wiring harness etc. lights wiring.) so its hard to say which things were the real gremlins at the time. maybe they're still lurking... Also I did have that alternator tested a year ago at the parts place and it tested ok... the alt seems only a handful of years old, definitely not original.
2 is this a rebuildable carb? how much more difficult will it be for me than the little generator carb i just did? Cleaning? new parts kit also? or just skip straight to new carb?? price?

3. previous owner had his shop redo points, coil, a couple other things in that realm, in Fall 2015. Im not sure where on the block to look for vaccum leaks. I know there has been and therefore probably still is an oil leak. theres a caked up layer of oil on most of the block. valve cover area down so maybe replace this gasket? not sure if the vacuum you meant pertains to oil tho or perhaps air intake / exhaust. exhaust manifold may need new gasket also as the oily engine surface sort of bubbles near the manifold when engine runs.

4. I suspected it is starter making the click. not sure if its the pinion not meshing or other mechanical issue, or an electrical insufficiency of sorts. Where would i look for bad ground connection? Big connections from battery to body and block seem solid. Smaller ground connections?

Sincerely thanks to anyone who replies as my degree of inexperience coupled with the size of my mess is a bit much for most. I understand that everyone probably has better things to do and no one owes me any help. Wish me luck at least!
Thanks again.
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Old 07-17-2017, 08:43 PM   #7
bigrigpardo
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Re: Stepvan - not pickup - but I need help!

well yes the carb is rebuildable. take it off go buy a rebuild kit and give it a shot put some pic of the inside up so I can see how dirty it is. the click is the starter solenoid it clicks when it engages the pinion. there are issues with them going bad. if you are sure the connections to the starter are clean and tight and the ground from the battery to the engine is clean and tight then it may be time for a starter. as for charging systems. get a volt meter and put it on the battery start the truck anything between 13.5 to 14.5 is good charging. anything around 12 is a no charge. check to see that the connection on the voltage regulator is clean and tight wiggle it while the truck is running and see if it starts to charge. and vacuum leaks will mostly be from the hoses off the carb or intake check them all it dried out replace them. again some pics around the carb and intake might show me some things to tell you. good luck and lets see if we can get this thing going.
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Old 07-17-2017, 08:52 PM   #8
NightTruckFoods
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Re: Stepvan - not pickup - but I need help!

Thanks again bigrigpardo. I'll follow your advice. If you can view and advise remotely that would be amazing. I might upload a video to youtube of it running in general and get the camera real close to a few key sports if that would help. let me know. Cant thank you enough.
ps. my situation is there is a gentleman holding a spot for me at his big flea market. wants me there every sunday. My food's there best there would be. But between the blasted truck reliability issues and the generator (which now the engine runs but not producing power) I'm not ready to show up. (its like 2 miles away!) my luck is poor. one thing after another. So believe me your efforts are making a big difference
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Old 07-17-2017, 08:56 PM   #9
bigrigpardo
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Re: Stepvan - not pickup - but I need help!

well lets see what we can do. post up a few pics of the engine. take the air cleaner off so I can see the carb and lets go from there. I check the forum everyday so lets make some magic.
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Old 07-17-2017, 08:56 PM   #10
truckster
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Re: Stepvan - not pickup - but I need help!

Starter solenoids work intermittently when the copper contact plates inside get carbon buildup on them. It's possible to open up the solenoid and clean the contacts, or you can just replace the solenoid.
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