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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys, got a 1980 454 motor in my 59 apache. Its got starter kickback 99% of the time I start it. Checked timing with advance disconnected and set at 10 deg BTDC, kickback happens whether is ported or manifold vacuum.

I got to the point where I figured it was the starter, replaced it and its better because its tighter on the block and starts much much quieter with no grinding ever but still get the kickback. A lot of the time ill get a "click" and thats all (one single click), press the gas pedal once or twice, then itll turn over quickly when I turn the key again.

What do you guys suggest I do?

Im running a MSD blaster HEI coil, procomp 7000 series HEI distributor. Edelbrock 750cfm rebuilt last week professionally. New plugs and wires, new intake manifold gaskets (no vacuum leaks found anywhere) runs AWESOME while cruising, idles rough when ported vacuum, idles perfect when manifold vacuum is used.

The motor builder said it was a high output motor but forged steel internals, no massive cam or anything, probably just a much better stock style cam.

Should I lower the initial timing? Should I be running it ported vacuum even though it idles better with manifold vacuum? How to fix the kickback?
 

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Kind of sounds like too much initial advance alright.
The problem is probably worse with a warm start, right?

You may have to inspect that harmonic balancer to make sure that the outer ring hasn't slipped.

You can buy a TDC-checking tool (or make one from an old spark plug and a bolt) to find the *REAL* TDC, and then see if the timing mark is at 0°.

I'd also suggest that you make sure that your battery is fully charged, and that all battery and ground connections are in good shape. I like to have a very good ground connection from the battery directly to the engine block itself, not bolted to an accessory (ie alternator) bracket as was common in the 60's and 70's Chevy's
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
definitely worse when its hot but I do have a high quality starter heat shield on the solenoid.

The negative cable goes from the terminal to a bolt on the block.

At idle connected to ported it acts as though it needs more timing, and when hooked up to manifold it runs like a new car.

Just to verify it was not the battery I hooked up a 50amp charger and started it, same thing with the single click deal and then a couple gas pedal presses and turn the key and it starts up.

Are you recommending that I retard the distributor a little also less than 10 deg (assuming the balancer is correct)?
Should I be running the advance at ported or manifold vacuum? I really like the smooth clean idle but hate the kickback
 

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Well OK ... does the engine seem to "fight" against the cranking? ("ruh ... ruh ... ruh")
Can you hear an audible spark knock?

My suggestion was to make sure that your timing mark was an accurate indication of TDC, so that you KNOW that you are timing it to the correct value.

I'd try backing it off to about 8° BTDC and see if the situation improves or not.

Compression ratio and fuel type might make a difference as well. Run your tank down low, then try a fresh supply of 91 octane.

I'm kind of hoping that someone like Cobalt chimes in here with some advice on initial, total, and locked out timing advice for your combo. I'm sure I've read a few posts in regards to this.

Also ... pull the plugs and read them to see what is happening in the combustion chamber. Running rich can leave carbon deposits that can cause preignition. Also inspect for signs of detonation. You don't want to be burning holes in those pistons.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
when theres no kickback the engine doesn't fight, when there is kickback sometimes it cranks quick and kicks and cranks quick and kicks...like its easy to turn but kicks, then other times I feel like the engine is fighting past the kick.

I know it sounds weird but thats the best I can describe it.

Thanks for the info so far, ill do some checking on the balancer ASAP and retard it a little and see what happens.

I have been running 87 with how prices are lately but maybe I should go 89 or 91
 

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Other than what's been suggested, one problem I spotted right away is "procomp" Speaking for me, I wouldn't use any of their parts.
When I need a distributor, I simply rebuild a GM HEI.
One thing you can check is the mechanical advance, it can sometimes stick in the open position causing too much advance which causes the kick back problem. As stated vac advance has no effect on it because the engine isn't pulling vacuum until it's running. However you should be using manifold vacuum (vacuum that pulls full time including idle)
I'll also ask is your 454 stock? if any mods have been done please tell us.
As for now, pop the cap, grab the rotor and move the mechanical advance back and forth and see if you feel any rough spots in the curve. Next remove the rotor and repeat the same motion with your fingers and see if you feel any rough spots. In some cases if your running the lightest springs in a advance curve kit they sometimes don't have enough tension to fully pull the advance back all the way so they stick open slightly. This is why I always use one light spring and one medium spring. If you feel any rough spots then I recommend pulling the distributor, removing the distributor gear and pulling the shaft out. Next remove the advance from the shaft. Take some fine grit sand paper and polish the whole assembly on the shaft and the advance removed. Once the whole thing is polished, lube the shaft only where the advance rides with grease. don't let any of the grease get on the advance or where the weights and springs ride, as if you use grease on them it can cause the advance to stick open. I usually use a light oil like 3 in 1 oil to lightly lube the advance.
 

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make sure where the starter bolts on is clean and by hand move the gear on the starter out to engage the flywheel and see how much clearance between the teeth you have a paper clip is about right.
also check to see if the flywheel is turning straight when you turn the motor over.
make sure your ground has star washers or clean area to make connection.
but try the timing like the other guys said first
 

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Make sure you have engine ground to frame. Another ground from frame to body. Be sure and follow all the instructions for the cheap distributor. It would be wise in the future to do research on parts before you buy them instead of after when they are causing problems. I had a 454 new rebuild 11.1 compression, mechanical roller cam, reworked oval port GM heads, Eagle rotating assembly. I used a GM hi-torque mini-starter because of the headers. Initial timing was at 12* BTDC and 38* total timing with a MSD Pro Billet distributor, never had a problem cranking.
 
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