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Old 06-26-2019, 08:39 PM
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Oil Pressure dropped to ZERO, Car Died

Bit buffaloed. Chevy small block in 76 camaro. No work done to the motor in years, ran fine for a long time. Today got in the car (been about four months). Car would not turn over at all. Thought maybe i did not have clutch engaged all the way, maybe that was it because it fired up. Drove about five miles, car at operating temp, and oil pressure dropped to Zero. When that happened, heard no knocking, saw no smoke out the back. Brakes got real hard, and could sense the motor losing power, right before it died. Looked underneath the car expecting to see 5 quarts of oil on the ground, but it was not there. Only saw a slight oil drip...I was really puzzled. Tried to start the car and it would start for one second then kill itself. Got a rid back home to get my trailer and truck and brought back home. Have not diagnosed it yet because its 9PM and i'm worn out. But before i get into into, any thoughts out there on what i might have going on?? Assuming I've still got quarts of oil in the motor--Bad oil pump? Its almost like the car had a kill switch, like if oil pressure hits zero, the car shuts off, but surely there was nothing like that back in 76.. Anyhoo, again, any thoughts out there or advice before i start diagnosing this thing? Thanks,

Bobby

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Old 06-26-2019, 08:58 PM
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Any kind of noises when it restarted....did you "air it out" when this happened. Broke the pump or dist gear pin....sleeve holding pump drive shaft broke and driveshaft came off. Lost a rocker arm and caused a pushrod to come out and a lifter to eject....losing oil pressure....

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Old 06-26-2019, 10:03 PM
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You're correct, no oil pressure/ignition kill switch back then.

Zero pressure on a aftermarket mechanical oil pressure gauge, or on a factory in-dash gauge??
If factory gauge, it could be an electrical gauge which will read screwy if the electrical system acts up.
With an electric gauge, the zero reading could be as a result of other problems, rather than the cause of the engine stalling.

Go to the basics.....fuel in carb, at correct level and not blowing past the needle and seat??
Got spark at the plugs??
Remove and check a couple plugs...wet with fuel, or dry??

Verify oil pressure is zero using a mechanical gauge if the current gauge is electric.

The "start and die, start and die, start and die" points more to either ignition module or coil problems(distributor) or fuel delivery, either too little or far too much.

Valvetrain could be an issue, as previously posted.

Distributor drive pin broken was also posted, it is a possibility. Check rotor rotation while cranking starter....although this test may not be conclusive, as friction between pin remnants and gear/shaft may still turn it but not turn it correctly at higher speeds..
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Old 06-26-2019, 10:17 PM
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Usually death by oil starvation is a hot, smoky, oily process not just it quit running like it got turned off. I suppose it could be, but the first thing I'd suspect is electrical.

Bogie
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Old 06-27-2019, 06:15 AM
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Do you have points and/or a ballast resistor? A bad resistor or something in that line can cause it to stall as soon as you stop cranking. It will do it the second you let off the key.

What boggles me is the brakes getting hard, assuming they are power? Your vacuum hose fell/broke off creating a giant vacuum leak?
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Old 06-27-2019, 03:05 PM
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First off want to thank you guys that responded, lot of good feedback. To answer a few questions:

No knock that i heard when all this occurred.

HEI distributor, so no balast resistor as in a points set up

Oil Pressure gauge is Mechanical. The most recent and only thing i've done to the car is gut the factory dash, fab an aluminum dash, and install brand new Stewart Warner gauges.

Agree that i could very well have two things going on and it was just my ******** luck the numbers decided to hit at the same time, lol (I hate diagnosing problems)

Good news is i've got 6G of parts, so i had intentions of pulling this unknown motor (which has been good for past few years) to build a street/strip 383 (just waiting on block to come out of machine shop). However, i want to try and diagnose what the crap is/went wrong first and it may very well come down to the devil in details by gutting it down to bare block.

Think first thing i'll do is pop valve covers, make sure valve train appears kosher. Next pull distributor, check gear on it and see if oil pump rod is intact. If it is, think i'll put my drill on it, spin and see if i have oil pressure that way. Will check for spark too. Appears i've got a lot of things to do, glad i've got the bud light on Saturday when i get to it. Will keep everyone posted on what i find as i go. Again, much appreciated

Bobby
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Old 06-27-2019, 03:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigMo View Post
Any kind of noises when it restarted....did you "air it out" when this happened. Broke the pump or dist gear pin....sleeve holding pump drive shaft broke and driveshaft came off. Lost a rocker arm and caused a pushrod to come out and a lifter to eject....losing oil pressure....

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Big Mo, not sure what you meant by 'air it out.' Every time i restarted it, starter did its job, motor fired up for all of one second then quit. When it did quit though, it sounded for a few seconds like someone who has a starter that is not shimmed right if that makes sense.
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Old 06-27-2019, 03:26 PM
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Hey man, "air it out' is an old slang term for goin thru the gears, hot rodding it down the street. Im in agreement w others on electrical or similar. If there arent any obvious noises then maybe a sender or ignition prob. Check plugs for sure, like others said, check for spark, fuel. Basic gotta haves.....will help track it down. If it was out of oil it would seize and/or make some rattling for sure

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Old 06-27-2019, 04:49 PM
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If your grinding bearings it will crank hard as heck. Real slow cranks then it will fire. Sometimes they rattle sometimes they dont(at first) . Been off camber enough to starve a few engines.

Your gauge reading zero and the thing loosing power slowly makes me think the gauge is reading correct.
If the thing just quit then I would say electrical.
One electrical thing it still could be is alternator bearings fried. Have that tested. But that does not explain why a mechanical gauge would read zero unless it reads 0 with the key off.
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Old 06-27-2019, 05:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigMo View Post
Hey man, "air it out' is an old slang term for goin thru the gears, hot rodding it down the street. Im in agreement w others on electrical or similar. If there arent any obvious noises then maybe a sender or ignition prob. Check plugs for sure, like others said, check for spark, fuel. Basic gotta haves.....will help track it down. If it was out of oil it would seize and/or make some rattling for sure

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Appreciate it Big Mo. That's given me another possible idea provided what i find on spark/voltage/and other checks. Would take me 5 minutes to rig up a remote start ignition, so that could help me eliminate whether the current turn key ignition that's in it, is faulty or not. definitely need to remember to check oil sending unit
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Old 06-27-2019, 05:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cerial View Post
If your grinding bearings it will crank hard as heck. Real slow cranks then it will fire. Sometimes they rattle sometimes they dont(at first) . Been off camber enough to starve a few engines.

Your gauge reading zero and the thing loosing power slowly makes me think the gauge is reading correct.
If the thing just quit then I would say electrical.
One electrical thing it still could be is alternator bearings fried. Have that tested. But that does not explain why a mechanical gauge would read zero unless it reads 0 with the key off.
You're post coupled with others has indeed got me to thinking...think i will test electrical out first. It all happened so fast yesterday (sounds stupid i reckon), literally, and i was going down about a 5% grade hill on highway. I remember the car felt like it lost power like i said, oil gauge was first thing i looked at, it was at zero. I was pretty close to a guys driveway and pulled in there. My power steering was gone at that point when i turned in....In going back and tracing my steps, when the car 'felt like it lost power' perhaps it did as in the motor did indeed shut off on me which would explain zero on gauge and no power steering....if that was the case, then electrical really does put itself first and front. Will need to get under there nonetheless. I did have a small leak when i got out and checked but nothing significant. Much appreciated.
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Old 06-27-2019, 05:58 PM
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Reading through your additional posts, I'd say your last one is on target, motor had already quit by the time you looked at the gauge....no power steering assist and no power brake assist at the same time both point to that.

Check electrical but also check fuel, either lack of enough or way too much/blowing over the vent...as ethanol in gasoline is really starting to cause a rash of problems especially for older cars that haven't had the carbs and fuel systems rebuilt with gaskets, O-rings and hoses that are alcohol resistant.
More and more reports of "out of nowhere" carb and fuel pump failures caused by the ethanol finally eating up a gasket or o-ring.

Check the oil in the pan for heavy gasoline smell too, as a ruptured mechanical fuel pump dumps right into the crankcase.
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Old 06-29-2019, 02:39 PM
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Think I've figured out some things today but would appreciate some more thoughts and perspectives. Keep in mind, this motor has ran good but is 'unknown' as i did not build it but am close to pulling it for a build i have soon.

One thing i did not mention and should have, car has MSD 6AL on it.

First, confirmed i've got fuel, and i've got it.

Looked into some spark/fire things: Did not have power at the coil, but i thought (memory hazy) i should not have expected to see power at the coil since i was running MSD.

My test knowledge of MSD boxes are limited, but think i floated enough to come down to something. Disconnected the MSD magnetic pick up wires (purple and green) from the distributor. With the key on, i ran a jumper on this pick up wire (coming from the MSD box) and pulled it in and out, and did not have any spark. I should have seen spark. Next, i took the coil out and put a known/good coil in. Still nothing, no start, no spark at MSD box. I checked the small red wire on MSD box (believe that would be my turn key ignition wire running to the box but have not confirmed, but its got to be) to make sure i had 12 volts going to the box and confirmed that i have 12 volts going to the box. Assuming all my wiring is tight, no shorts, and secure, running from MSD box to ignition, and with these tests i've done today., I'm leaning that the MSD box is at fault. Thoughts?

Only other thing i know to do, which I'm going to do it, is take a good distributor (with IGN module inside it set up (non MSD set up)) and drop it into the car. Since i know with an MSD box, the ignition wire would route from the turn key ignition to the box--once i put this other distributor in, i will run a jumper from the coil direct to the battery, thus eliminating my car's turn key ignition and the MSD box itself since i think the magnetic pickup wire coming off of the MSD box to the distributor is the only other thing that links the box and IGN to the coil. Thoughts?

Thanks!

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Old 06-29-2019, 03:12 PM
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to test the MSD box, verify you have 12v on the small red wire from the IGN switch, and 12v on the ignition red wire usually to the battery, leave the wires on the coil but remove the spark wire from the district cap and place near a ground source like the intake, momentarily touch the White wire to ground, you should get a spark with every contact.
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Old 06-29-2019, 04:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lmsport View Post
to test the MSD box, verify you have 12v on the small red wire from the IGN switch, and 12v on the ignition red wire usually to the battery, leave the wires on the coil but remove the spark wire from the district cap and place near a ground source like the intake, momentarily touch the White wire to ground, you should get a spark with every contact.
Imsport, the way i tested things seems to stand. I know what you're saying w/the white wire but what you're saying is not the setup i have. The white wire is only used for a points or igintion amplifier which i don't have, thus i'm not using the white wire, only the red wire which runs from IGN to MSD box. From what i've gathered, when you test MSD for spark, you either test it with the white wire, as you stated if you're running it/that setup, or you test it at the magnetic pickup if just using the red wire (IGN to MSD Box and no white wire).
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