View Full Version : Start me up!

06-22-2005, 10:48 PM
This has been a rough few weeks and I'm still no closer to getting my engine running. Three weeks ago, I tried to start the engine for the first time since a complete hi-performance re-build over the winter and found the original starter wasn't up to snuff. Bought a gear reduction type, installed it the following week. After swapping that out, I got the engine to run (and it started easily) only to find that it was overheating. So I had the car towed to my house so I could flush the cooling system (dirt driveway and a sill **** nearby). Did that this past Saturday and nothing was clogged (except for the heater core, which took about a half hour of flushing and back-flushing until the water was running clear).

Everything is back together and all I did was flush the system, I swear! and now the motor won't start! At first, I had no spark; found that the earth lead wire inside the distributor was fraying. Re-soldered a new wire in place last night and got my spark back. It still won't start. Checked the fuel pump and it is pushing gas up to the carbs (dual downdraft Webers).

I have checked the following: correct firing order and spark plug wires are in their proper place; fuel pump appears to be working; ignition switch continuity test shows it's working properly; starter spins when the key is switched on; coil tests shows that it's ok (tried a spare to make sure and it didn't make a difference; I have a new one coming just in case.) Electronic ignition seems to be working, as it is sending a spark to the plugs; I bought a new rotor button and have swapped out a couple of distributor caps; still nothing. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/crazyeyes.gif

The funny thing is it was running a couple of weeks ago, although overheating, and now it won't even catch. Maybe I'm missing something obvious here. I'm almost to the point of having this thing towed to a mechanic, figuring he would have the experience and the proper diagnostic tools to solve this mystery. I'm getting anxious to take this thing out for a drive and my wife is looking at me with a look that says "That was $6000. well spent".

06-22-2005, 10:56 PM
Fouled plugs maybe? I'd put in four new ones. Don't even mess with cleaning up the old ones.

Also, have someone crank the engine when it's dark...look for any "stray sparks" near the ignition system.

And: did you try starter fluid? (and be sure to have a fire extinguisher handy if you do)

06-22-2005, 10:57 PM
what's the voltage at the coil with ignition on? maybe spark is there but weak.

06-22-2005, 11:59 PM
I concur on the starter fluid.
If it starts even briefly then you know its a fuel issue.
If not then its surely an ignition issue.
Let us know

06-23-2005, 12:02 AM
Did you actually drive it till it overheated or was this just a driveway phenomenom. Could be they're set too lean and not getting enough air through the radiator let it overheat. Check the color of those plugs. Give me an SU every time. If everything else checks out recheck the thermostat. NAPA sold me a bad one last year for my nissan.

06-23-2005, 01:01 AM
The temperature issue was strictly a driveway phenomenom; I didn't dare drive it until I had the problem figured out. We opened up the housing and the thermostat was fully opened. I also took it out and tested it on the stove in a pot of water and a meat thermometer; it worked perfectly. However, I have since put in a thermostat that has the copper core removed until I'm sure this temperature thing is no longer an issue.

The spark plugs are brand new Bosch platinums, gaped to .025. I took them out on Saturday after flushing the cooling system. Numbers one, two and three looked a bit "furry"; so I thought slightly rich. However, numbers four and five looked like they hadn't even been fired. There was some soot under the electrode, but the front part of the ceramic tip was still white and the electrode was brite. Number six was like the first three. But keep in mind the engine only ran for about 20 minutes the day we had it going.

I re-set the air-fuel mixture on the carbs according the set-up routine in a Haynes Weber manual. It's possible I did something there, so the starting fluid idea is a good one-same with the fire extinguisher.

Last night, after I got my spark back, I turned the work light out and held the number one plug while I cranked the motor over and I thought the spark looked weak. Did the same to number two and three and the spark didn't seem as bright as they should have been. Didn't do the rest.

I was going to do a voltage test to the coil but got off on a tangent and forgot to do it. I did however do an ohms test and it read 6, I believe, on the multimeter.

I was wondering how to test the electronic ignition module. I have the Crane X700 unit that was installed two summers ago. Is it possible the module is bad (I guess anything is possible! Right?).

06-23-2005, 10:55 AM

You may want to look at the wiring connections between the starter solenoid, coil, dizzy, and the ballast wire. Your new starter may be drawing more amps than the old one, this combined with a weak connection could cause a weak spark. Also, Is your battery in good shape? I had starting problems on my Spitfire. New wiring harness, charged the battery, no more problems.



06-23-2005, 11:13 AM
Since your first symptom was lack of power to the original starter, I'd start back at the battery. Swap it for a different one, fully charged and re-verify the tightness of the connections including battery ends to cables, especially the ground wire. If you have a spart contact plate & points, change that next but remember that every time you make a change, if it doesn't fix it, you have to change it back before moving to the next change or you may end up introducing move problems.

Dave Russell
06-23-2005, 01:39 PM
I concur on the starter fluid.
If it starts even briefly then you know its a fuel issue.
If not then its surely an ignition issue.
Let us know

[/ QUOTE ]
Not necessarily so. One of the "advantages or hazzards" of starting fluid is that it will compression ignite with very little spark.

06-23-2005, 01:49 PM
My experience with the electronic ignition is that it either works or is out, completely. I am betting on the coil(s) being bad. Was the 6 ohms on the primary side or the secondary side of the coil? A very little dab of starting fluid can eliminate fuel questions.

06-23-2005, 04:23 PM
I tried the Bosch Platinums, they didn't work very well - weak spark. I went back to a new set of NGK's and all was well. Just a thought.

Geo Hahn
06-23-2005, 07:36 PM
Well since we're all guessing at this point, I'll guess too.

In my experience with TR3A... the battery can be strong enough to crank the engine but too weak to produce adequate spark for starting. So I'm in the "check all battery connections, charge that puppy, maybe get a new one" camp.

06-24-2005, 02:11 PM
Happy days are here again!

I received a new Lucas Sport coil yesterday and installed it after I got home last night...and after a quick squirt of starting fluid, it fired right up! Took it out for a short spin and everything seems to be working ok, except for some minor timing and carb issues that I will be trying to resolve this weekend.
Temp was normal; I'm not exactly sure why it overheated to begin with. All I did was flush out the system and filled it back up, first through the heater valve hose and then through the thermostat housing in the hopes of eliminating any air pockets. That still left the large hose that goes from the thermostat housing to the radiator empty of coolant, but apparently it didn't cause a problem.

I want to thank everyone who pitched in to give me their thoughts; I have incorporated a few of them. Ngk's, instead of Bosch platinums; Water Wetter goes in this weekend and I've got a nice shiny spot on my firewall where the negative battery cable connects.

Geo Hahn
06-24-2005, 03:44 PM
...Water Wetter goes in this weekend...

[/ QUOTE ]

Be aware that WW will 'help' you find any small leaks in the cooling system... i.e. you may get some leakage where before there was none.

Since you live in Maine (not Arizona) adding this may be overkill for normal driving.

06-24-2005, 03:56 PM
Great news Dave! Hope to see it (amd you) over here soon so I can check it out! Peter

06-25-2005, 09:51 PM
Tell us about the specific performance mods you made and the differences you can tell when you drive.

Geo Hahn
06-25-2005, 11:14 PM
...flush out the system and filled it back up, first through the heater valve hose and then through the thermostat housing in the hopes of eliminating any air pockets. That still left the large hose that goes from the thermostat housing to the radiator empty of coolant...

[/ QUOTE ]

I always drill an 1/8" hole in the thermostat (unless there is already one there) and then I can just fill the radiator and go.

06-27-2005, 12:10 AM
Well I took the TR out today, with the wife, for my first fairly long roadtrip (100 + miles) since the re-build and I must say I am definitely pleased with the results. It pulled strong all the way to 3500 rpm and it still had more to go but with a new engine I didn't want to push it to the limits just yet.

It's been unusually hot here in central Maine these past few days-low to mid 90's and high humidity and the temperature gauge did climb towards the upper end but never got into the red; depending on the air temperature it would hover between normal and high...in town it would start to climb, out in the country where it was somewhat cooler, it would hover near normal. At the moment, all I have in there is the thermostat with the core removed. I always drill an 1/8" hole in the seat if it doesn't already have one. But I need to find a way to install the radiator shroud, as I think it would help in this one area of concern.

As for the mods I've done: Good's GP2 cam; tubular pushrods; competition valve springs; hardened seats; bronze valve guides; valve seals; original head magnafluxed, ported, polished and flow-bench tested; compression raised to 9.5 to 1; block zero decked; harmonic balancer, crank and flywheel balanced; flywheel lightened to 18lbs.; bored to .020; pistons and rods balanced; thrust washer pinned a la Revington TR to the main bearing cap; block line-bored and cam bearings installed; s.s. headers(wrapped)and exhaust; gear-reduction starter (wrapped); drilled and slotted front rotors; new calipers; EBC greenstuff brake pads: stainless steel brake and clutch hoses; Gunst throw-out bearing...I think that's it. The suspension was built when I did the original frame-off nine years ago. That included: Spax shocks in the front; regular lever type in the back; up-rated springs; 7/8" sway bar in the front and 3/4" bar in the rear; 205/65-15 tires on Panasports. I also replaced the Z-S carbs (after a $600. total rebuild) with dual downdraft Webers. I still have to install the oil cooler...and the radiator shroud if I can find a simple way to do it.
And how does it go you ask? Sweet! It's quick and powerful, pulling all the way to 4000 rpm ( /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/driving.gif I had to try it!) with no effort and I'm sure it would go to 5000 without falling off, but its way too soon to try. It runs smooth and has this sweet growl that is intoxicating. I am having a bit of trouble with the idle; it doesn't want to go below 1100 rpm. The air/fuel mixture I finally got right- the sparks plugs have this nice even brown color to them; timing seems to be ok but I'm not sure where it need to be to run optimally...it's going to be trial and error.

06-27-2005, 09:10 AM
I've got the almost the same setup that you have except that I'm running Richard's triple carbs and headers... trust me at 4000+rpm it's a beast.