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Old 06-11-2021, 06:34 PM   #1
Garcia
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Default Any help for a new guy?

I'm a new owner of a 31 roadster, and I'm in trouble. Despite doing everything Les Andrews told me to do, my engine runs about like Jack Benny's Maxwell. Is there anybody in the Spokane area who might be able to help me out? Although it's great fun to sit behind the wheel, I'd also like to maybe drive it around the block once or twice.
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Old 06-11-2021, 06:42 PM   #2
The Master Cylinder
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Default Re: Any help for a new guy?

Not trying to be a smart A$$ but how did it run before you "tuned it up"? We need something/somewhere to start. What exactly did Mr. Andrews tell you to do? What is the condition of the engine, etc?

Oh, and welcome to the Barn.
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Old 06-11-2021, 08:11 PM   #3
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Default Re: Any help for a new guy?

You'll get plenty of help. Just start typing out a description.
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Old 06-11-2021, 10:57 PM   #4
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Default Re: Any help for a new guy?

Please explain more in detail by what you mean "my engine runs about like Jack Benny's Maxwell". Then we can begin to help you out.
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Old 06-11-2021, 11:00 PM   #5
Garcia
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Default Re: Any help for a new guy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Master Cylinder View Post
Not trying to be a smart A$$ but how did it run before you "tuned it up"? We need something/somewhere to start. What exactly did Mr. Andrews tell you to do? What is the condition of the engine, etc?

Oh, and welcome to the Barn.
Thanks for the welcome. It ran fine around the block a couple times before I bought it, but the auto transport trailer was too big for my neighborhood (he said), so I had to pick the car up at 10 pm at a truck stop eight miles away. Along the way home, it kept stalling and backfiring. A guy who seemed to be knowledgeable about cars in general monkeyed around under the hood, and followed me for the whole trip. We managed to get it almost all the way home, except it died for good at the end of my alley and we had to push it the rest of the way.

Since then, it has been somewhat on and off. I drove it around the neighborhood once with no problem, then tried again a couple days later. That time, the engine just died and I was lucky to meet up with a guy with a pickup and a tow strap.

I figured the best thing would be to set the points (it has modern points) and timing and adjust the two adjustments on the carburetor according to Andrews, and since then some days it will start and some days it won't. It's the kind of thing that can't really be described in a forum post, which is why I was hoping somebody locally might be willing to help.

Tomorrow, I intend to work through the roadside troubleshooting steps from the Andrews troubleshooting book and maybe find something glaringly wrong and easily fixed.

If there's anything I can specifically address that might make things clearer, please let me know.
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Old 06-11-2021, 11:14 PM   #6
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Sounds like it could be a fuel supply issue.
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Old 06-11-2021, 11:16 PM   #7
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Default Re: Any help for a new guy?

Did you turn the fuel shut off valve on? Following Les info, where did you have the GAV set?
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Old 06-11-2021, 11:25 PM   #8
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Default Re: Any help for a new guy?

Any vehicle new to me will get all of the fluids changed before I try to drive it. Then I will usually put a charger on the battery and slowly charge it up while I take a compression test. Depending on the results I may take the head off or put some Marvels Mystery oil in each cylinder and hand crank it over to get a feel for how it feels to me while listening for any strange sounds such as something loose. Then I bring the timing up on compression until the timing pin slides into the hole in the timing gear, check that with a flashlight and a mirror to be sure the hole is centered, timing advance lever up all the way. At this point I make three marks, one on the front pully and two on nearby bolt heads, using white paint, so I can glance at the front of the timing case as I crank to fint top dead center from now on. Check point gap and undue the fuel line to check how quickly the fuel flows to fill about a cup or so vessel. Make whatever adjustments I think are necessary then try to start the car. (While the plugs were out for the compression check I will clean and gap them before replacing or reinstalling the old. If it starts and runs I feel I now have a starting point and will work from there before I take a ride very far from the garage. These days I have also taken to pulling the fuel valve and installing one of the pencil filters the then go up into the tank when I reinstall the shut off.

Last edited by daveymc29; 06-12-2021 at 02:41 PM.
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Old 06-12-2021, 07:31 AM   #9
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Default Re: Any help for a new guy?

Garcia, I have modern points in my '30 town sedan too. Your problem sounds much like the trouble I had a couple years back. Mine was solved with a new condenser. Get the good one from NAPA. The number was FA-82. Just a thought.
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Old 06-12-2021, 07:50 AM   #10
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Default Re: Any help for a new guy?

The condenser is a good place to start. You can check it with an ohm meter but it is often easier just to replace it.

Other new Model A owners on the forum have found the carburetor full of crap. Assuming you have a Zenith, they are easy to open up. Take some carburetor cleaner to it without taking it further apart and blow out all the jets and passages with compressed air.

Check the timing and the point gap (0.020 inch) but it is likely that they are OK.
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Old 06-12-2021, 12:12 PM   #11
Garcia
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Default Re: Any help for a new guy?

Quote:
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Please explain more in detail by what you mean "my engine runs about like Jack Benny's Maxwell". Then we can begin to help you out.
Sorry, but I thought Jack Benny's Maxwell was world famous. Here's a link to a YouTube audio with Mel Blanc as the Maxwell.
https://youtu.be/17N2g2Ryqi8
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Old 06-12-2021, 12:57 PM   #12
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Default Re: Any help for a new guy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Garcia View Post
Sorry, but I thought Jack Benny's Maxwell was world famous. Here's a link to a YouTube audio with Mel Blanc as the Maxwell.
https://youtu.be/17N2g2Ryqi8
I "well" remember Jack Benny's Maxwell
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Old 06-12-2021, 01:11 PM   #13
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Default Re: Any help for a new guy?

How old is the gas in it?
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Old 06-12-2021, 02:16 PM   #14
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Default Re: Any help for a new guy?

Here is another thought, albeit a long shot. After verifying the above check to see if you have a wireless distributor. Sometimes the contact arm wears a grove in the lower plate of the dist. Or if it is a stock dist. Check the wire from the lower plate to the top plate as it might be grounding out. Even, the armored cable that goes into the dist. Could be screwed in to far and grounding out-it only needs about 2 turns or so. Again these are long shots.

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Old 06-13-2021, 05:10 AM   #15
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Default Re: Any help for a new guy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Garcia View Post
Sorry, but I thought Jack Benny's Maxwell was world famous. Here's a link to a YouTube audio with Mel Blanc as the Maxwell.
https://youtu.be/17N2g2Ryqi8
Yes, I am very familiar with Jack and his Maxwell. I just needed you to explain to us in detail what exactly is going on so that we could help you.
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Old 06-13-2021, 12:18 PM   #16
Garcia
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Default Re: Any help for a new guy?

Thanks for all the comments. This weekend, I checked and re-checked the point gap and timing, and even got my wife, who has a finer touch, to verify the point gap. I used the test light, and it came on at the second notch of the spark advance. The coil wire sends a blue-white spark more than a quarter inch to a head nut. There are four new Autolite 3076 plugs gapped at .035, but they are now black with carbon. (If it matters, I have a B or Police head.) I got the engine going fairly smoothly but I still have problems starting and running. On starting, I get a few chugga-chuggas before it finally catches, and while running I get muffler backfires that could wake the dead.

Among those offering suggestions, stevests, redmodelt, and 700rpm all were concerned about the gasoline. There wasnít much gas in it when I got it, and I neglected to fill it before my eight mile trip from the truck stop to my house. Since then, Iíve added about five gallons of non-ethanol gas, figuring regular gas might work but wanting to remove the ethanol as a variable until I get the rest sorted out. There was a paper/plastic filter installed, which I replaced, again to remove a variable. The gas is flowing freely, and when I start the engine, I have the spark fully retarded, the throttle down to where itís horizontal, and the GAV open one quarter turn.

On the advice of marty in Ohio and nkaminar, Iíll either be checking the condenser or just going to NAPA for a new one. Also, I checked the carb and itís not clogged. Although 1930artdeco said it might be a long shot, Iím going to check the lower distributor plate and armored cable.

Also, daveymc29 suggested putting a charger on the battery and taking a compression test. I installed a new Optima battery, so thatís good, and I have to get a compression tester. He also had a great idea about finding the timing dimple. I followed his example, but besides the white marks, I also scored the pin when it was in the dimple so I could see that was in.

Iím probably not mentioning the prime symptom that would take care of everything, but Iíll keep trying.
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Old 06-13-2021, 01:35 PM   #17
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Default Re: Any help for a new guy?

Does it pop back through the carb at all in addition to the exhaust backfire?
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Old 06-13-2021, 01:58 PM   #18
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Default Re: Any help for a new guy?

There are 12 Model A Clubs in WA. Perhaps one is close to you for assistance? I sent you a PM on how to contact them.

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Old 06-13-2021, 07:07 PM   #19
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Default Re: Any help for a new guy?

A simple way to check the compression is to turn the engine over with the hand crank. It should pull with the same resistance on all cylinders. A really good engine will not leak compression on a slow pull. Sometimes you can hear a hiss from the crankcase if the rings are worn or from the intake if an intake valve is leaking, or from the exhaust manifold with the exhaust pipe removed if an exhaust valve is leaking.
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A is for apple, green as the sky.
Step on the gas, for tomorrow I die.
Forget the brakes, they really don't work.
The clutch always sticks, and starts with a jerk.
My car grows red hair, and flies through the air.
Driving's a blast, a blast from the past.
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Old 06-13-2021, 09:57 PM   #20
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Default Re: Any help for a new guy?

Backfire out the exhaust and black plugs sounds like it is too rich and fouling the plugs. Of course, as some suggested, if the spark is not always as strong as your test showed, you could get the same results. When in doubt, replace the condenser.
When it won't start, pull a plug to see if it is wet. Do you smell raw gas under the hood or out the exhaust pipe?
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