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Old 08-06-2018, 09:11 AM   #1
29Cabriolet
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Default Occasional Hard Starting

Hopefully someone will have hint on how to troubleshoot this. Sometimes the engine will turn over hard pretty much the way it would with a weak battery. But if that were the problem, it would be all the time. With multiple tries it will finally turn over enough times and quickly enough to start. This has occurred from dead cold starts and hot engine starts where it was shut down anywhere from a couple minutes up to an hour or more. Very sporadic. Occurrence intervals have been anywhere from a couple days to a couple of weeks. Battery is about 3 years old and has a good charge. Cables are relatively new and clean. Starter is not a complete rebuild but had brushes replaced 1-1/2 years ago.
Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 08-06-2018, 09:31 AM   #2
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Default Re: Occasional Hard Starting

Bendix ?
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Old 08-06-2018, 09:47 AM   #3
Patrick L.
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Default Re: Occasional Hard Starting

How are all the battery connections, especially the ground ? Have they been removed and really cleaned ? Are the cables the proper size ? I'm one that likes to use a second ground cable to the transmitter or bell housing, just in case.
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Old 08-06-2018, 09:51 AM   #4
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Default Re: Occasional Hard Starting

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Originally Posted by Patrick L. View Post
How are all the battery connections, especially the ground ? Have they been removed and really cleaned ? Are the cables the proper size ? I'm one that likes to use a second ground cable to the transmitter or bell housing, just in case.
Battery connections are good. I recently redid all to add a kill switch. That was done quite a while before these symptoms appeared.
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Old 08-06-2018, 09:54 AM   #5
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Default Re: Occasional Hard Starting

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Bendix ?
I haven't removed the starter yet. When I do, what would I be looking for to determine if the bendix is the cause?
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Old 08-06-2018, 10:44 AM   #6
Marshall V. Daut
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Default Re: Occasional Hard Starting

Firstly, follow Patrick's advice and determine if you have the proper battery cables. I am not referring to length here. I'm talking about the correct gauge for a six volt system. Ill-informed owners often just buy 12 volt cables (to the starter and possibly as a ground) at the their local auto parts store and think they are sufficient. They are not! They are too thin and will degrade the current, causing your symptoms. Either take a photo of your cables and post it here or compare what's in your Model A to your modern car battery cables. If the same diameter, they are the wrong ones. You can only get the proper battery-to-starter cable from a Model A parts dealer. The local auto parts store will not have these.
Also as suggested, make sure the ground strap anchor point on the center crossmember is shiny bare metal. You can't expect a good ground if paint or rust is between the ground strap end and the crossmember. This area must be surgically clean in order to achieve the strong ground so necessary in a six volt system like ours.
Anyway, check these items first before going deeper into the problem.
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Old 08-06-2018, 01:57 PM   #7
29Cabriolet
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Default Re: Occasional Hard Starting

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Originally Posted by Marshall V. Daut View Post
Firstly, follow Patrick's advice and determine if you have the proper battery cables. I am not referring to length here. I'm talking about the correct gauge for a six volt system.
If that is the problem, why is hard cranking so sporadic/intermittent? Nevertheless, what is the correct gauge? (number)
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Old 08-06-2018, 02:31 PM   #8
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Default Re: Occasional Hard Starting

If the ground at the crossmember is questionable, then moist, humid air can create a block to the electrical flow. In rainy weather, the same applies: what works fine one day may be intermittent the next. The incorrect gauge cable could contribute to this random go-no go situation. It's best to check that the cables are correct and the ground is clean so that you can confidently eliminate them from equation and then look elsewhere for the cause of the problem.
Don't rely upon the relatively new battery age (three years) to determine whether it is still good or bad. Batteries made these days don't last worth a darn. Three years in my experience is pushing the expiration date. Have the battery checked to ensure the cells are still good. Taking a re-charge is not always indicative of a healthy battery. It may TAKE the charge, but if a cell is weak or the plates have gone bad, the charge will drop by itself, causing cranking problems. This is especially telling on hot days or when the engine is warm.
If none of the suggestions about the electrical flow pan out, you might be back to questioning the starter, especially considering only new brushes were installed during the "rebuild". Lots of other reasons a starter is intermittent, such as a loose terminal or failing solder joints. Do you have another known good starter or can you borrow one to try?
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Old 08-06-2018, 03:53 PM   #9
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Default Re: Occasional Hard Starting

I suspect the battery. On Model a Ford 6 volt systems, ya gotta have full wattage capability getting to the starter. On starting the draw can be 175 amps. I would suggest getting a voltmeter, ground the + and clip the - to the starter cable, and have someone press the starter . What is the reading? If it is down to less than 5 volts something between the starter and battery or the battery is not good. Start checking your power working from the battery on out. If you have a hydrometer, look for a weak cell. Let us know.
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Old 08-06-2018, 04:44 PM   #10
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Default Re: Occasional Hard Starting

I just went thru this. Would act like a bad battery then all of a sudden spin like normal. Found out I had a loose connection at my disconnect switch. Looked okay until I put another half turn on the nut.
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Old 08-06-2018, 05:08 PM   #11
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Default Re: Occasional Hard Starting

While on vacation my modern was having issues like yours. We where headed up to Rocky Mountain National Park, stopped for gas and no start, wiggling cables got it going. Stopped at a parts store and they checked out the charging system. Replaced the battery and that didn’t help keeping the old battery. Heading up fall river road about to the tree line we all raised the electric windows at the same time :-( and killed the engine. Jumping the battery didn’t help, guessing that the starter I installed two before might be the problem. Started with the starter cable I remember that it went on hard, nut to post. Well if I broke the post the starter was coming off anyway so I turned the nut maybe 1/8 of a turn and bingo no more problems :-). Clean and tight !
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Old 08-06-2018, 07:31 PM   #12
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Default Re: Occasional Hard Starting

In order to help troubleshoot, I would get the hand crank out and get used to the general torque it takes to turn the engine over with the key off. Then when you have troubles with the starter pull out the hand crank and you will be able to feel if the engine is truly turning harder than it should or if you have a starter issue. If it proves to be a starter issue I would put a voltmeter right across the battery and check what your typical voltage drop is when cranking. Then move forward to the starter lug to starter case, should be pretty close to the same as the battery drop. That will tell you if you have a bad starter or cable issues.
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Old 08-06-2018, 10:15 PM   #13
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Default Re: Occasional Hard Starting

Had the same trouble with intermittent cranking issues. I'm with 62pan in suspecting your cut off switch. Mine was the one with the green plastic knob. Removed it and have not had any troubles since.
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Old 08-07-2018, 05:35 AM   #14
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Default Re: Occasional Hard Starting

If new cables are needed, they can usually be found at tractor/farm supply store or welding stores.
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Old 08-07-2018, 07:12 AM   #15
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Default Re: Occasional Hard Starting

guy on here recently with this issue had very low water in his battery
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Old 08-07-2018, 11:38 AM   #16
Ernie Vitucci
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Default Re: Occasional Hard Starting

Good Morning...Proper battery cables for our Model A's are 00 size and are almost as large as your middle finger! I use two ground cables. One to the frame and the other to the transmission. I have also seen this problem and found that it came from the little main fuse connector that many of us have on the starter post. I have replaced a couple that were riveted together and the rivet relaxed and became intermittently non conductive and would work when wiggled. Replaced them an all was well. They did cause many bad small words! Ernie in Arizona
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Old 08-07-2018, 02:46 PM   #17
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Default Re: Occasional Hard Starting

Thanks to all for the ideas! I got a bunch of stuff to check and others to re-check!!
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Old 08-08-2018, 07:05 AM   #18
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Default Re: Occasional Hard Starting

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ernie Vitucci View Post
Good Morning...Proper battery cables for our Model A's are 00 size and are almost as large as your middle finger!
I have been unable to find any vendor (Model A or modern) with 00 gauge. Bratton's offers a 1 gauge calling it "original". But I've mounted a kill switch under the driver's seat and can't use the stock 19" cable. (I need 32" Battery to switch - 60" switch to starter)
Tractor Supply offers 1 Gauge in the lengths I need. Could 1 gauge be the modern equivalent of the 00 you mention?
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Old 08-08-2018, 07:29 AM   #19
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Default Re: Occasional Hard Starting

Quote:
Could 1 gauge be the modern equivalent of the 00 you mention?
No, they are 2 different sizes, 00 (aka 2 ought) is almost twice as big as 1

https://www.tedpella.com/company_htm...uge-vs-dia.htm

Try bypassing your new "kill switch".
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Last edited by katy; 08-09-2018 at 08:10 AM. Reason: Addition
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Old 08-08-2018, 07:40 AM   #20
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Default Re: Occasional Hard Starting

Be sure to check the flange area on the starter to housing . Paint or rust and you have this type of problem I know. Been there done that
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