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View Full Version : TR2/3/3A Cant get my Tr3 engine to start. any advice?



hermanmaire
05-23-2012, 12:13 AM
I am finally at the point where I am trying to get my TR3A running. The engine was fully rebuilt by the previous owner with larger pistons and cylinders. This engine was never started .

I have been struggling for 2 days trying to get it to start. I am turning the distributor while cranking and it just cranks and cranks and never catches. After charging up the battery for a 3rd time, I try to start it again and a miracle happens, it fires up instantly and revs up pretty high. I rush to shut it off !!

I have not been able to start it since. I am just not familiar with these cars. Things I have done-

- checked for spark - appears to be very strong
- fuel pump seems to be working fine
- I checked the carburetor float bowls and they seem full of fuel ( the float is about .5 inch from the top of the float bowl ) . Is that correct?
- added carburetor damper oil ( I used the small cap from a quart oil bottle, I put one full cap)
- I checked the valves and set them to .30mm
- tested with a test light ( both terminals on the coil light up the test light. the small wire to the distributor also lights up the test light very brightly)


I cannot understand how the engine fired up . Its seems like no fuel is being sucked into the cylinders when cranking. The spark plugs barely smell like gas after 2 days of cranking.

any suggestions really appreciated. Its nuts how such a simple car is giving me such a difficult time.

TexasKnucklehead
05-23-2012, 01:07 AM
Do you have the choke pulled? Have you turned/moved the distributer since it started? If you hold your hand over the carb while you turn it over, you should be able to feel it sucking against your hand (drawing gas and/or air thru the carb).

martx-5
05-23-2012, 06:26 AM
Do you have the choke pulled? Have you turned/moved the distributer since it started? If you hold your hand over the carb while you turn it over, you should be able to feel it sucking against your hand (drawing gas and/or air thru the carb).

Yes, this is beginning to sound like a serious vacuum leak. I had the same problem when I first went to start my car after the resto. If I poured some gas into the intake, it would momentarily fire up. I had a set of tubular headers installed, and forgot to remove the studs on the bottom of intake manifold. They interfered with the header and wouldn't allow the intake manifold to seat properly. Check out the small dent in the right exhaust header tube.

TR3driver
05-23-2012, 06:40 AM
First thing, instead of blindly twisting the distributor around, use your test light to set the static timing then leave the dizzy alone. It should start with the timing anywhere within plus or minus 10 degrees of the nominal setting (of 4 BTDC) but you don't want to be trying to adjust both mixture and timing.

Also verify that both valves are closed when #1 fires. (Another way to do this is to remove the spark plug and hold your finger over the hole. The engine should blow your finger off the hole when #1 is coming up on compression.) I once spent several days standing in the snow trying to figure out that one!

Hard to start plus dry plugs plus the sudden revving sounds very much like a major vacuum leak. Easiest way for that to happen on a newly assembled engine is for the intake manifold to be hung up on top of the locating pins, rather than fitting down over them. If the head has been modified to increase compression, it's sometimes possible for the bottom edge of the intake manifold to foul on the edge of the cylinder block. (If that happens, just grind away a bit of the bottom edge of the manifold.)

If you can't find a vacuum leak, pull the carbs off and double-check that the throttle plates are closing completely (with the idle screws backed off).

I don't know if this would apply in Canada, but down here the stuff they sell for "starting ether" won't hardly burn. I find that spray carb cleaner works better. Give it a brief (~ 1 second) shot down each carb throat, then immediately try to start the engine. If it starts and dies, you've got a fuel delivery problem, like maybe the jets are clogged.

Good luck.

mustang22363
05-23-2012, 11:19 PM
I would start as with any motor. Bring the no 1 cylinder up on it's compression stroke. Mark the no 1 plug wire and see where the distributor rotor is pointing. This will at least tell you where you are at as far as timing. Change if you have to. Check compression on each cylinder. Retry starting procedure. Check plugs for fuel reaching them after trying if the engine doesnt try to start. If the fuel isnt reaching them check the fuel filter since you say pump seems to be working. Good luck. Hope any of this is helpful.
Scott

hermanmaire
05-24-2012, 08:22 AM
Thank you all for the reply's, I got back late yesterday and decided to try using my test light like you all suggested instead of " blindly twisting the distributor around " like I was doing for 2 days.

Randal, I am assuming what I did was "static timing" . I manually hand cranked the engine so the timing marks on the engine pulley lined up. With #1 at top dead centre and with my timing light hooked up to #1 spark plug wire, I slowly twisted the distributor until I saw the test light blink. I tightened the distributor at the exact point I saw the timing light blink.

I try to start it..... it fires up right away it works , it works .

It worked for maybe 10-15 second until I lost all spark.

Checking with my test light, I have power on the POSITIVE terminal of the coil but not on the NEG .

The small wire that goes to the distributor body also has no power.

It still has the original points and condenser so maybe those failed??

Since I dont know what was done to the engine in the rebuild, I will also check the compression. I had trouble with the push rods being too long. I was unable to get the correct valve adjustment, I had to remove the push rods and shave a little off the tops of the push rods so I could get the correct valve adjustment.


Thanks again for all the help.

sp53
05-24-2012, 09:20 AM
I would try a different coil and condenser. I guess I am just confused on the push rods being too long. Something does not sound right there.

Geo Hahn
05-24-2012, 09:30 AM
...It worked for maybe 10-15 second until I lost all spark.

First thing I would check after that is whether I still have a points gap. i.e. do the points open as the engine turns the distributor?

If they were not tightly screwed down they could lose the gap in a few seconds and then nada.

Geo Hahn
05-24-2012, 09:32 AM
...I am just confused on the push rods being too long. Something does not sound right there.

Could be that the rebuilder shaved enough off the head to cause that... could be other things too. Sounds like something to be explored further if Herman had too remove very much as the geometry of the pushrods and valves is more complex (I think) than simply making it all fit.

hermanmaire
05-24-2012, 09:39 AM
believe me, I am also confused. Again, all I know is that the engine has the larger piston and cylinder kit installed.

I dont know if it has a high compression head gasket or if the head was shaved. All I know is that even if I loosened the valve adjustment screw on the rockers as loose as they would go, they were still too tight.

TR3driver
05-24-2012, 02:07 PM
If the point gap looks OK, try pulling the point wire off the distributor and connecting a test light between the wire and ground. If the light doesn't come on, your coil just died. If it does, there must be a short inside the distributor someplace, most likely the condensor.

By "shave a little off the tops", I hope you mean you removed the cup from the end of the pushrod, shortened the tube and then re-installed the cup. In any case I would investigate further, as that would be a huge amount to shave off the head. The adjustment normally has a lot more range than is required. It sounds more like incorrect parts somewhere. Or if it was only exhaust valves that were too tight, you might have a severe case of valve recession.

https://i258.photobucket.com/albums/hh260/TR3driver/TS39781LO/DSCF0023_reduced.jpg

sp53
05-24-2012, 09:38 PM
Ye something is not correct, as Randall stated there is plenty of adjustment. I would look at the actual mounting of the rocker assembly. Those aluminum pedestals could be wrong or shaved or whatever. I am out of the country or I would measure one. I would not even try and start it until I had that pushrod thingie sorted out. Just go on ebay or the classified on the forum or talk to Marv G. and purchase old stock set, so you know where you stand. Or join a local club and ask someone before you toast something.

hermanmaire
05-25-2012, 08:21 AM
You guys were right again, the points somehow lost adjustment and were not opening. I dismantled everything, all the parts were still in good condition so just a cleaning and reseting the points was all that was needed.

I connected everything up and after a few cranks it started right up. The Engine sounds surprisingly good and idles around 1200 rpm, it still need some fine tuning but I am very, very happy and I am crossing my fingers that this rebuilt engine holds together. I dont need any more problems.

I checked the valve adjustment again and they all held there adjustment 0.30mm. Since you all have me worried about the push rods, I will remove them again and measure them. I will also measure the pedestals for the camshaft rockers.

I will take a picture today to better explain, all the valve adjustment screws are all pretty much backed out as far as they will go.

Can anybody help me with todays problem. The ignition coil is getting very hot , I have the white + that runs to the + on the coil . Then the small - wire that runs to the distributor body. Why is my ignition coil getting so hot.

To make matters worse, yesterday , I had to suddenly leave to go find my dog, it decided to wander off. When I left to go find it, I forgot the ignition on.... when I got back an hour later ( still didn't find my dog) I come back to the car and there is oil every where. THE COIL BLEW UP!! Does this stuff only happen to me.

I cleaned up the mess and it seriously stinks..... it smells seriously toxic . I put a new coil from a old range rover motor I have . Why are the ignition coils getting so hot?

A few hours later, my dog strolls down the drive way covered in mud. Thanks

I will also say that I am surprised how quickly this engine warms up.... its seems like in no time the engine coolant gets very hot.

I really apologize for all the rookie questions and thanks again for all the help.

TR3driver
05-25-2012, 11:02 AM
Could it have been the wrong kind of coil? The TR3 takes a coil that runs directly on 12v, without a ballast resistor. Practically all cars made since about 1970 take a coil that does require an external ballast resistor. (TR6 didn't switch until 73, but most American cars switched before 1970.)

Another possibility is a inter-winding short inside the coil.

Geo Hahn
05-25-2012, 11:38 AM
...I have the white + that runs to the + on the coil . Then the small - wire that runs to the distributor body...

That is correct if your car has been converted to negative ground.

An original positive ground car would have the white wire to the negative post.

Reversing those connections will shorten the life of the points but I don't think that alone would cause the coil to blow up.

Coils do get hot in operation though.

A quick test to see if you have the correct coil (w/o a ballast) is to measure the resistance across the two small terminals on the (disconnected) coil.

Someone help me here -- I'm thinking the correct coil should be around 3 or 4 ohms, not, say, 1.5 ohms.

TR3driver
05-25-2012, 12:01 PM
Reversing those connections will shorten the life of the points but I don't think that alone would cause the coil to blow up.
Nope, won't hurt the coil at all. It doesn't even damage the points, just "shortens their life" in the sense that the engine won't run quite as well when the points start to go naturally.

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:]Someone help me here -- I'm thinking the correct coil should be around 3 or 4 ohms, not, say, 1.5 ohms. [/QUOTE]
Yup, you nailed it. It's best to start by shorting the meter leads together though, to see what it reads. Many of them will read higher than zero and you need to subtract that value from the reading you get with the coil.

Don Elliott
05-25-2012, 01:07 PM
My coil is still the original one that came with my 1958 TR3A when I bought it brand new. On a few occasions I have been working on the TR and the wife calls me to come for lunch. And you guessed it. Those times it happened that I left the key in the ignition and it was turned "ON".

After lunch, I noticed the red light on the dash was still lit and the key was on. Even though the coil was too hot to touch, it has always worked after these events.

hermanmaire
05-29-2012, 09:33 AM
Hope everybody had a good weekend. I had a chance to work on the TR3 and you guys were right again !!!

I was using a modern coil that came with a MSD ignition kit, I would have never though there was any difference. The BOSCH coil that I took from my Range Rover engine clearly put a label on the coil that I never bothered to look at, it requires a resistor. So, I need a correct TR3 coil. Thanks again for that info, I would have probably blown up a few more coils before I figured anything out

Heres a picture of the blown coil-
https://i920.photobucket.com/albums/ad44/hermanmaire/IMG_5530.jpg


Heres a picture of the adjustment screws, you can see that they are all pretty much backed out as far as they will go!!
https://i920.photobucket.com/albums/ad44/hermanmaire/IMG_5533.jpg

I measured the pedestals does this measurement seem right?
https://i920.photobucket.com/albums/ad44/hermanmaire/IMG_5535.jpg

Also measure the push rods, any thoughts
https://i920.photobucket.com/albums/ad44/hermanmaire/IMG_5537.jpg

hermanmaire
05-29-2012, 09:39 AM
My coil is still the original one that came with my 1958 TR3A when I bought it brand new.

Wow.... that is impressive. You rarely come across the original owner, the fact that its still the original coil says a lot about the quality of the components .

Do you still drive the car much?


Since I am posting, I have another question. When I turn the ignition key off, the engine stops but then it continues to sputter. It will continue to do this unless I block the carburetor intakes to kill the engine.

Thanks for all the help.

angelfj1
05-29-2012, 10:30 AM
[quote=hermanmaire]

When I turn the ignition key off, the engine stops but then it continues to sputter. It will continue to do this unless I block the carburetor intakes to kill the engine./quote]

Herman: This condition, sometimes called, "running on" has many causes. It can be caused by too far advanced timing and low octane fuel. In extreme cases it can be caused by a build up of carbon. The carbon gets very hot and acts as a glow plug in the absence of a spark and provides an ignition source. Thus the engine continues to run. Because this condition is random, it occurs in different cylinders at different times and exerts tremendous stresses on the connecting rods, bearings, etc.

What I would do:

Use the highest octane you can buy. Yes, this is expensive, but and engine rebuild is VERY expensive! I run 93 in the TR250 and TR3A.

Check your timing.

When you have done this, go for a drive and while in 4th gear, press down on the gas pedal and you should NOT hear any pinking sound. If you do, try backing off on the timing advance vernier and you should be good to go.

Good luck! :smile:

TR3driver
05-29-2012, 10:54 AM
Since I am posting, I have another question. When I turn the ignition key off, the engine stops but then it continues to sputter. It will continue to do this unless I block the carburetor intakes to kill the engine.

Generally, it's best to start a new thread with a new question. There may be folks that are interested or have something to contribute; but didn't read this far because they looked at the start and decided they weren't interested.

In addition to the possible causes Frank mentioned, just having the throttles open too far can aggravate the problem. My TR3A didn't like to idle below about 1200 rpm and would frequently run on if conditions were right (hot weather, high underhood temps, etc). The fuel we had in CA back then seemed to also aggravate the problem.

So, I learned to leave it in gear, with my foot firmly on the brake, and let the clutch out just after turning off the key. Takes a bit of practice to get the timing just right, but it will stop the engine from running on without hurting anything else. And if you time it just right, it's so smooth that no one (including you) will know if the engine would have run-on or not :smile:

TR3driver
05-29-2012, 11:01 AM
Do you still drive the car much?

I can vouch for that. Don lives in Montreal, but I have bumped into him at TR events on both coasts of the US. And his car looks (and runs) great!

First time I saw Don in the flesh so to speak, he was cradling a dead generator like it was a baby. Of course the fact he was nearly 3000 miles from home with a dead generator probably had something to do with the concern in his face :laugh:

TR3driver
05-29-2012, 11:13 AM
I was using a modern coil that came with a MSD ignition kit, I would have never though there was any difference.The MSD requires a 1.5 ohm coil, used without a resistor.
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:] So, I need a correct TR3 coil.[/QUOTE]
If you are in a hurry, another alternative is to pick up a ballast resistor at your FLAPS. Discrete resistors were common on cars in the 70s, and they are pretty much all interchangeable for cars with points. Even some Triumphs (like my Stags) used discrete resistors. Just wire it in series with the coil, doesn't really matter which side. Mine is secured with a long screw through where the heater hose would go through the firewall (if I had a heater).
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:]
I measured the pedestals does this measurement seem right?
https://i920.photobucket.com/albums/ad44/hermanmaire/IMG_5535.jpg[/QUOTE]
Seems right to me. I measured three pedestals in the parts bin, and they were all between 2.050 and 2.070.
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:]Also measure the push rods, any thoughts
https://i920.photobucket.com/albums/ad44/hermanmaire/IMG_5537.jpg[/QUOTE]
Again, that seems to match the ones in the bin.

LexTR3
05-29-2012, 01:23 PM
hermanmaire,

As for your engine running on (dieseling), Randall and others have given you a lot of good information on what causes it and how to deal with it.

I'll add my 2-cents worth. A mechanic once told me that having the idle too high can be one of the causes of dieseling. With my car, I have found this to be the main cause of occasional dieseling. If I have the idle too high, it diesels; and when I reduce the idle a bit, the dieseling goes away. -- Just another thought...

Geo Hahn
05-29-2012, 04:32 PM
...Heres a picture of the adjustment screws, you can see that they are all pretty much backed out as far as they will go!!
https://i920.photobucket.com/albums/ad44/hermanmaire/IMG_5533.jpg...

If it was just the exhaust valves I would be thinking 'recession' (not the one President Obama's dealing with, but the sort that soft heads can suffer with no-lead gas).

Since it sounds like all valves are involved I wonder what would cause that. Possibly the head thickness has been reduced (but it would have had to have been reduced a lot which would raise compression and possibly contribute to run-on... hmmm).

bgbassplyr
05-29-2012, 09:58 PM
Leave car in gear, clutch pedal pushed in, turn the key off and, as the engine dies and just before it stops, let the clutch out. This will stop the engine rotation and the ensuing running on.

CJD
05-29-2012, 11:53 PM
It sounds like a PO shaved a lot off the heads to raise the compression. It's a standard hot-rodding trick...and unfortunately there is no cure once it's done. To lose that much off the head deck, it is not just a few thousandths every now in then, but an intentional shave.

At least that's what I'm thinking...

John

martx-5
05-30-2012, 05:59 AM
... To lose that much off the head deck, it is not just a few thousandths every now in then, but an intentional shave...

Easy enough to check, the original head thickness is 3.330".

LexTR3
05-30-2012, 06:56 AM
Hermanmaire,

I mentioned earlier what a mechanic once told me about engine run-on, dieseliing. I failed to quote him entirely. What he said was that "the main cause of dieseling is too high idle and too lean mixture." For what it's worth....

There is a great article on engine run-on, dieseling at "The MGA with an attitude" at https://mgaguru.com/mgtech/engine/ro101.htm

You might want to take a look at it along with all the good advice and information you've gotten from members of the BCf.

sp53
05-30-2012, 10:43 PM
Yes the over running or dieseling is more than likely carbon buildup that is glowing and igniting the fuel. My experience has been the problem is in the ignition rather than the carburation. Any number of variables can cause a weak spark and leave carbon deposits. I would over haul the ignition system with a totally new stock set up: distributor, coil, condenser, wires, points, the whole 9 yards. I saw a case once where the rings did not seat on a new engine that coupled with some oil coming up from the oil rings actually caused the engine to diesel with this black carbon oily mix. Furthermore, the first principle of the problem with this new engine disappointed was a poor ignition, creating a weak spark and not burning the fuel and washing out the rings; the knee bone is connected to the angle bone.