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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
My friend joined the army to be a mechanic and hasn't started his automatic el camino in 3 years. When he left it it ran and now he's back for a week and can't get it started. The engine is a 350 from a 82 chevy 1500. Just put a brand new edelbrock performer intake\edelbrock 750cfm carb\hei distrib. He's not gonna put a new cam in it until he's out of the army. We had a neighborhood guy who works on cars give us some ideas as to solve this put we\he can't figure it out.

So far we have:

Timed it to TDC
Replaced the oil and filter.
Squirt transmission fluid into the cylinders
New battery
New starter
New battery wires
New spark plugs (No plug wires yet because it isn't running)

We took the spark plugs out and let the engine turn over when we squirt transmission fluid in it. Then when we put them back in it only turns about an inch then stops. Turn the key again and it only moves an inch then stops. Hold the key down and it moves an inch and stops then 5seconds later it moves an inch and stops. So I took spark plugs 1-4 out and it started turning over and sounded like it wanted to start so I put the plugs back in and it moved about an inch and stopped. Nobody can figure it out they just keep saying the same thing check the wires check the starter check the battery. We moved the ground around and used a wire brush to clear the contact surface. We have done everything we can think of to just get the starter to turn the engine over while the spark plugs are in and it just wont. Any ideas?


edit: I forgot to mention it only has headers on it and there not on it all the way so there's nothing blocking the exhuast from coming out.
 

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With all the plugs in and the coil wire disconnected crank the motor over. If it turns over reasonable your fighting a ignition timing issue, too retarted, or plug wires routed incorrect.

If it still doesn't turn over free then verify it does with all the plugs out. If so then internally things are free and it's a starting system issue. If it doesn't turn over free with all the plugs out it still could be a starting system issue OR something internal tightened up, requiring a teardown.

Prior to that though I'd do voltage drops on the starting system. Lots of info on that via a web search or I'm sure in this site somewhere.
 

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Doc here, :pimp:

Well, If you never had plug wires installed, It's not a timing issue..

And you say it turns over almost normal with the plugs out? correct?

This is assuming the Battery has been charged for 10 hours at 10 amps AND load tested...

Given that, I'd say your starter brushes are beyond runout..Pitted Armature or burned pickup pads..This will produce enough cranking current with no resistance (mechanical) to the starter..when you load the starter (plugs in) the current that is provided to do useful work is converted to heat instead causing the starter to turn slowly. The solenoid can also be an issue if the contact shoe is pitted and carbonized..

My suggestion is remove the starter and rebuild or replace it..I think your problem will be solved.

Doc :pimp:
 

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Or there is too much tranny fluid in there and it hydrolocked.... but I'm going with doc. Its quite possible, even probable that the starter is fried.

As you turn it by hand with the plugs in, does it turn and then just get progressively tight, or does it turn until it *clunk* hits something?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
There's only 2-3 squirts of tranny fluid and then we turned it over while the plugs were out so it pushed most of it back out. It turns over like a champ with no plugs in and it turns over like a champ with only 4 in. It's hard to turn by hand with the plugs in there's no clunk and no signs of anything hitting the plugs. We thought it was the starter and thats what we were being told we took it out had it tested told it was good but a little low so we got a new one just to rule that out.
 

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docvette said:
Doc here, :pimp:

Well, If you never had plug wires installed, It's not a timing issue..
Doc :pimp:
He screwed with the timing, that's the reason ignition needs to be ruled out.

Rather than parts replace I think it's best to diagnose this issue, which isn't that hard of a process. I'm sure there is a potential the new starter is bad and with a voltage drop test that will show up. Easy enough to check cranking voltage as well across the battery.
 

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Rick WI said:
He screwed with the timing, that's the reason ignition needs to be ruled out.

Rather than parts replace I think it's best to diagnose this issue, which isn't that hard of a process. I'm sure there is a potential the new starter is bad and with a voltage drop test that will show up. Easy enough to check cranking voltage as well across the battery.

Doc here, :pimp:

Right now, the Ignition is not relevant to the problem, If you Have NO PLUG WIRES..the engine can not fire..and can not pose a counter load on the starter system..

Agreed , when this problem is solved, he will need to address any timing issues related to drivability issues..but for now it isn't an issue.

If the battery has been fully charged, at 10 amps for 12 hours, and a proper load test has been done, The cables replaced, with the proper gauge, are properly bonded with burnishing and star washers, The starter replaced with a known GOOD new starter and solenoid, then the only thing it CAN be is mechanical, probable suspect is the valve train..

Pull the valve covers, pull the cap, and crank it over with no plugs installed, do the valves move up and down does the rotor turn on the Dizzy? If not, the timing chain may have broken..

If the dizzy turns, check to see if you don't have some stuck valves, and mashed pushrods...If it sat for 3 years several could have rusted shut..(no compression release) Open headers at the head for 3 years can invite moisture into the valve stems..

Was this engine froze to begin with? if so just a few hours or days with a little ATF won't totally un stick it..you need to add some each day and crank it over for about a week straight, depending on how bad it was locked up..

And we assume it was running when he parked it..

Doc :pimp:
 

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Johnx64 said:
So far we have:

Timed it to TDC
New battery
New starter
New battery wires
New spark plugs (No plug wires yet because it isn't running)

So I took spark plugs 1-4 out and it started turning over and sounded like it wanted to start so I put the plugs back in and it moved about an inch and stopped.
This led me to believe that A) he cranked on the distributor and B) he attempted to turn it over with 4 plugs out and 4 connected. It fired on a few of the holes that had plugs, he put the rest of the plugs back in, with the wires connected, and it would not turn over.

I assume based on this that although there are no NEW wires on the car there are plug wires connected to the distributor and the new plugs.
 

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Doc here, :pimp:

We all may be having a syntax problem here..

This is where 10 people can read a post 10 different ways, and have 10 different answers...

See, I read it as he installed a new manifold, and a new 750 CFM Carb, and a new HEI distributer...

johnx64 said:
. Just put a brand new edelbrock performer intake\edelbrock 750cfm carb\hei distrib.
And the old wires tossed, in lieu of acquiring / installing New wires..

johnx64 said:
New spark plugs (No plug wires yet because it isn't running)
So I think we should ask Him what the real story is for Clarification..

IF he never HAD plug wires attached..and I think that is what he was trying to say..Then you can NOT get fire to the plugs so it COULD be 180 out and not matter a bit..you'd have 40 KV all dressed up and nowhere to go..

If he actually has plug wires, then , Yes, It COULD apply..HOWEVER, Given that, and all else were all good..he could have just pulled the WIRES on 1 to 4 Cylinders and It should have cranked just fine with the plugs in..Again Speculation..ALSO,

I have never had a timing issue that would only allow the crank to turn 1 inch, and freeze.then again, 1 inch and lock..Not to say it couldn't happen I guess..

johnx64 said:
We took the spark plugs out and let the engine turn over when we squirt transmission fluid in it.

Then when we put them back in it only turns about an inch then stops.

Turn the key again and it only moves an inch then stops.

Hold the key down and it moves an inch and stops then 5seconds later it moves an inch and stops.

So I took spark plugs 1-4 out and it started turning over and sounded like it wanted to start so I put the plugs back in and it moved about an inch and stopped.
Electrically, it is usually a Starter, Solenoid, poor bonding, bad battery, that is the culprit..It seems he has addressed those issues and eliminated them as suspect.

Mechanically, It can only be Internal binding, Hydraulicking Cylinders, broken timing chain (no valve action with plugs in) Frozen Valves (closed, no compression release) and bent or mashed push rods..possibly too much end play at the crank binding the rotating mass under load.

If the engine was locked up before, the ATF added may have loosened it up enough to bring it to the ragged edge, without load (plugs out) , but not enough to crank under full load..but he does not say it was locked up before..so thats speculation..

So , let's ask him to Clarify , and proceed basied on that..

Doc :pimp:
 

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my guess is threres too much tranny fluid in your cylinders this happend to me one doign that i had to literally raise eash cycinder to top dead center and get a small vacume hose and suck all the tranny fluid out of each cylinser for it to turn over again it would turn about 5 inches and stop 5 inches stop and so on with plus in, also exhuast valve may be stuck on some cylinders....hope it works

also if yur engine has high comp..... 11:1 or above the stock style starter may not being able to cut it i run 10.5:1 and a stock starter will not start it...jsut another option
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
OK what I ment was no new wires yet we still have the old ones which have only been used for a few hundred miles we just dont have power going to the distributor. We tried it with the distrib getting power hoping maybe it would fire and help turn it over but it didnt so we left the distrib unplugged. It is timed to tdc hand turned the crank and checked twice. Valves move. The engine is a rebuilt with a few hundred miles on it and the it looks new under the valve covers\intake. I believe the compression is 9.5:1


"This led me to believe that A) he cranked on the distributor and B) he attempted to turn it over with 4 plugs out and 4 connected. It fired on a few of the holes that had plugs, he put the rest of the plugs back in, with the wires connected, and it would not turn over."


Yep. Thats what happened. But we can't reproduce it now. The new starter is refusing to turn the engine over even with all the spark plugs out so we returned it and had them order a high torque one.

Were gonna goto a car show\swap meet www.turkeyrodrun.com and see if we can find a high torque starter cheaper than discount offers and hope this gets it running and that after its running for a little bit that it wont have a problem starting. He leaves monday morning to go back to germany and he doesnt want it sitting till he gets out which is about a year and a half so he really wants it to run so someone can start it up every month.
 

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Doc here, :pimp:

OK. My misconception..on plug wires, but if you left the HEI Power wires off, then it is the same result .. Still no fire..Sorry RICKWI and Johnx64:( , this is what I meant when I said 10 people can read a post 10 different ways.. :spank:

Yes, NEW starters have an abysmal out of the box failure rate...Very little QC in Mexico and / or China....This is why I always advocate REBUILDING your old electric equipment where applicable..

You know the The components will fit back on without a problem (Starters & Alternators) where shims and alignment can be a nightmare on installation, But also you will get a better unit then an off the shelf unit today, when you do provided you do not have a non rebuildable problem. ( like toasted windings or physically broken cases.)

I also advocate TESTING at the store on Modules, Starters, Alternators, and Batterys..I hear many story's, about buying a module , getting it home and in place , and after another week of troubleshooting , find the module was DOA out of the box. Some times two or three times in a row (Bad Batches)And after you leave the store, at most places It becomes your problem..

We had one guy here that bought a new battery from NAPA, because it seemed the old one was dead..(which it was) ..got home and put it in , and had the very same problem, played around with it for like a week..asked here what the problem could be..first answer was "Get a new battery" and his response was " It was brand new" and kept blowing it off..After some 3 weeks of troubleshooting..He had it load tested..It was no good..

Took it back to NAPA and got another, did not bother to test it either..got home, and , same problem..after a non~believing day or two of screwing around with it , had it load tested also..NO GOOD..Took IT back to NAPA, and this time The Parts man checked the full stock of Batterys..ALL were shot!! They had to ORDER him a new battery from another store to get him a new one..

This can really screw up your trouble shooting , because we all have the "It Can't BE Bad, It's Brand New !!" Mindset..and don't bother to second check it..until, all possibilities have run out..Low and Behold: that was the problem!

I hope the new starter is the curative for you..Hoping to hear it was!

Sorry for the confusion on the Plug wires too..My bad :spank: .."I call's them as I reads them" :D

Be sure to tell your Bud that the Hotrod Community is grateful for his service to this county in some uncertain times and support his patriotism to protect the freedoms of this country :thumbup:

Keep us updated..

Doc :pimp:
 
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