View Full Version : TR2/3/3A Another TR3A Starting issue

11-05-2012, 07:22 AM
Hey Guys,

I have a 1959 TR3A, and as of about three weeks ago it ran fine. I just had the carbs rebuilt, I have a new Pertronix Distributor,and it has a new starter. Like I said the car ran perfect and I actually got to drive it for about 20 miles a few weekends ago. Now the weather has gotten colder and it does not want to start. I can get it to run for a second with starting fluid, but then it immediately dies. I pulled a few of the spark and you can smell fuel on them. I also pulled the plug to make sure I was getting spark and I am. I am sure the timing is a little off, but like I said it ran perfect, and started every time three weeks ago. I am open to suggestion, and I appreciate everyone's help.


11-05-2012, 08:12 AM
It could well be not rich enough to run now that its colder. When the weather cools here I richen at least two flats on each carb, even on the tri carb cars. Will it start when you choke it? Does the choke mechanism drop the jets? The TR3 has a poor lever action and isn't always adjusted well enough to work. I converted to a T handle cable that an early MGB uses so it could be fully pulled. Kevin

11-05-2012, 08:20 AM
That's was my thought as well, and I brought the nuts on the bottom of the carbs up a few turns. It didn't seem to help much if at all. As far as the choke it is connected, but does not move much. I tried starting it by pulling the choke inside the engine bay, but didn't seem to help much either. I'm kind of at a loss for what it could be. Thanks for the suggestions

Marvin Gruber
11-05-2012, 08:36 AM
Just to check something, do you have the original type fuel pump? If you do, hand pump it a few times to see if the pump is working. If not, disconnect the ign wire to coil, then remove the short rubber hose to the carbs. Motor the engine over to make sure you have fuel. Have something to catch the gas when you motor it over.


11-05-2012, 08:42 AM
You said that you brought the nuts on the bottom of the carbs "up a few turns." If you were trying to richen the mixture, you sould bring the nuts "down" a few turns. .... If I understand correctly what you have said.

Also, (1) be sure all the choke connections are lubricated, and (2) before you pull the choke out all the way, pump the accelerator a couple of times, and then pull the choke out...

Just a thought.

11-05-2012, 09:00 AM
Ohhhh that is good to know about the nuts. I may have leaned it out to much. I will give it a shot and see if it helps. Thank you!

Geo Hahn
11-05-2012, 09:07 AM
I agree -- sounds like you leaned the carbs a bit.

If you imagine you are viewing the nut from above... R=Richer L=Leaner

You do want maximum action from the choke as even here in the desert Southwest a properly tuned engine needs the choke to start in all but the hottest weather.

In addition to adjusting the cable position so it's ready to move the linkage when pulled & lubricating as suggested -- it is also not unusual for a prior owner to have connected the linkage in a non-original fashion which may cause some binding. The correct set-up is rather counter-intuitive, in fact it just plain looks wrong. Thus it is often changed.

I will look for a picture of the correct connections in case you do not have the 'Practical Hints' manual in hand.

... before you pull the choke out all the way, pump the accelerator a couple of times, and then pull the choke out...

Perhaps this is to limber up the movement on a cold morning? There is no accelerator pump or anything else happening that would help the engine start (pumping the pedal just wiggles the throttle plates (butterflies).

Geo Hahn
11-05-2012, 09:16 AM
Here's a pic of the choke linkage. Note that the yokes (on each end of #11) do not straddle the operating arms (as one would expect) but rather are offset to one side:


In my experience you may have to experiment with this to find the arrangement that allows the best movement w/o binding. You may also need to adjust the length of the connector #11 to get action in the rear choke when the front choke is operated.

Finally, since this may be new to you, the choke itself is a 2-part action. The first movement of the choke knob slightly opens the butterflies (basically operates the throttle linkage a bit) and further movement of the choke knob pulls down the jets to richen the mixture. The latter movement can be stiff, especially if it hasn't seen action in a awhile.

11-05-2012, 09:30 AM
Thanks for all then info. When I reinstalled the carbs I used the picture in your post to make sure the choke was hooked up correctly. I reinstalled it per the picture, but when I pull the choke it barely moves the bar that is connected to the plate that when pulled moves the throttle linkage up. Currently the plate on the side of the carb has three holes in it and the shaft goes through the second hole on the plate. The choke is next on my list of things to take a good hard look at. I will try adjusting the nuts and I will report back.


11-05-2012, 09:33 AM
The choke action is a poor leverage situation , if not adjusted properly the cable travel will only take up the slack and just move the fast idle cam , not drop the jets which enrichen the mixture for starting, which should fire the engine immediately.

11-05-2012, 10:34 AM
What is the best way to adjust the choke? If my memory serves me there are not a abundance of adjust points. Thanks

11-05-2012, 11:02 AM
Loosen the pinch bolt so the cable moves freely, or remove the cable for now. Move the mechanism by hand , it should drop both jets together and return them with its own spring action if adjusted properly ,( the jet head should come to rest on the bottom of its adjusting nut). The cable need move freely without any binding. Re-attach to the mechanism and adjust so that the lever is pre-loaded under cable tension ( take out all the slop and then a bit more). If you don't do this you will run out of cable travel before you drop the jets and only actuate the fast idle ! I found the effort too great with the small knob on the original choke cable. It is much easier with the MGB locking T handle cable assy. Moss # 331-490 $21.00. The engine should start instantly with a little choke ( jets dropping). Kevin

11-05-2012, 11:10 AM
What is the best way to adjust the choke? If my memory serves me there are not a abundance of adjust points. Thanks

Main adjustment areas are:

1) The choke cable - it should be possible to pull the cable so that the fast idle cam works before the jets move.

2) The choke interconnect - not much to fiddle with there, but some adjustment is possible to get the jets down equally on both carbs, say 1/4-3/8" pulled down on each carb.

3) Related to 1) - make sure your fast idle screw is set so that the cam operates quickly. For me, that is the best use of the choke, often I just need to run at slightly higher idle before it warms up and I can do that with the choke cable without actually moving the jets.

11-05-2012, 12:05 PM
The reason for "pumping" the accelerator a bit before pulling out the choke is, as I have found, it makes pulling the choke open easier. Perhaps, George, as you suggest: this "limbers things up a bit." It certainly makes a big difference for me.

And, my mechanic, also, has installed a "T" knob from the MG on my TR3 because the old TR3 choke knob was murder on the fingers. Not "stock," but sure makes things easier.

Also -- a thought -- I put new return springs on my carbs when I rebuilt them, but the springs I received from one supplier were much too stiff. I ordered springs from another supplier and have not had a problem since (with the choke, that is...).

Geo Hahn
11-05-2012, 01:13 PM
...2) The choke interconnect - not much t'so fiddle with there, but some adjustment is possible to get the jets down equally on both carbs, say 1/4-3/8" pulled down on each carb...

Maybe it's because my linkage is worn but I get enough slop in the various connections that I get little jet lowering on the rear carb until I lengthen that connect rod to take up all the slop in the 2 yokes at each end.

That T-handle instead of the choke knob leaves me with an image of the driver pulling with 2 hands and his right foot braced against the dash. With some fiddlying (linkage) and polishing (jets) and lubing (everything) the choke can work easily and effectively.

BTW -- a correct cable will hold any pulled out position and then release when the knob is twisted 1/8 turn CCW, but only if the little half-moon piece is still in place inside the works (that piece will fall out if cable is fully withdrawn and is thus often lost).

11-05-2012, 01:32 PM
Hi, George,

The T-handle just makes it a little easier. And, in fact, it looks good on the dash (not stock, but what the heck).

11-05-2012, 02:37 PM
BTW -- a correct cable will hold any pulled out position
So those notches every 1/4" or so don't do anything?

I don't recall ever having a working original cable, but the broken bits all seem to have those notches. My aftermarket cable doesn't, though.

I agree about the T-handle, though. If everything is right, it doesn't take much force at all to pull the choke out. But it seems that such things are rarely right on these old cars. A lot of choke cables seem to bind internally, much harder when they have tension on them.

Geo Hahn
11-05-2012, 03:17 PM
BTW -- a correct cable will hold any pulled out position
So those notches every 1/4" or so don't do anything?...

Ooops, you be right -- should hold at any of the notched increments.

As you probably know, there is a little curved piece held under a springy incomplete cylinder on the shaft. The flat side of that little piece (shaped sort of like and arc & its chord) engages the notch. When the knob is rotated the piece is forced out of the notch and the choke releases.

The little piece is just visible thru the gap in the springy bit --


Because the only thing really holding the little piece in there is the presence of the shaft below -- it can and will fall out if the cable is withdrawn. Easy enough to make a replacement... if you know what it looked like in the first place.

11-05-2012, 07:02 PM
To enrich the mix, bring the nuts down, not up.

11-06-2012, 12:47 AM
Getting back to the "no start" issue; for starting in cold weather you must use the choke. While you are using the choke, the mixture nuts do absolutely nothing, so they are not the problem here.

If you can't figure out how to make the choke linkage work, disconnect the return springs and pull both jets down by hand. 3/16" should be about right if it isn't below freezing where you are; more if it is colder than that. Also hold the throttle open just a bit, to imitate the fast idle cam. Keep it running with the throttle, and push the jets back up a bit at a time when the mixture gets too rich. Once the engine has warmed up a bit, you can reconnect the return springs and go for a drive.

11-06-2012, 07:45 AM
Sounds great I will give it the ole college try. Thanks for all the good suggestions.