Engine won't start for break in - Vintage Mustang Forums
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-20-2018, 08:35 PM Thread Starter
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Engine won't start for break in

Hey all,

I finally got everything together enough to finally try and start my engine which was professionally rebuilt by the PO. It has been sitting a couple of years, but from what I've read and the mechanics I talked to that should be ok. Here are the major steps I took before starting the engine:

1) Changed out old oil and used lucas break in oil
2) Tested all the electrical connections to ensure I was getting voltage at the coil
3) Used a drill to prime the oil system while turning the crank shaft 2 turns
4) Filled the fuel line from the carb to the pump
5) Turned over the engine with #1 spark plug out to get cylinder 1 to a compression stroke for timing. At the same time I made sure the fuel pump was sending fuel.
6) Installed the distributor set to cylinder 1 at 10 BTDC. I later pulled out the spark plug and made sure it was sparking when I rotated the distributor housing.
7) Verified all the spark plugs wires were installed correctly
8) Cranked the engine 2 times, about 3-5 seconds each time. I could hear the cylinders firing, but not consistently and it would not start up.

Components that are new include the spark plugs, ignition coil, wires, fuel pump, carb (rebuilt professionally)

So my two major questions are:

1) At what point do I risk wiping the new cam shaft while trying to break it in?
2) What would be a good place to start and how should troubleshoot without cranking the engine?

Thanks in advance.

Last edited by massmustang69; 10-20-2018 at 08:36 PM. Reason: added info
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-20-2018, 08:38 PM
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How old is the fuel/gas?


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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-20-2018, 08:38 PM
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wouldn't worry about wiping the cam just turning it over .Did you fill the float bowls with fresh fuel?

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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-20-2018, 09:05 PM Thread Starter
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All the gas is new, just bought it today and I did fill the carb with the new gas. I connected a hose to the fuel inlet to the carb and gravity fed it in before connected the hose the fuel line to the pump. I've seen people fill it through the vent holes, but figured this should work too.

I thought that excessive turning over engine could damage the cam. Is it just during the initial running that I should be worried about that?
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-20-2018, 09:06 PM
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Are you sure of what the firing order is for the cam thats in the engine? I would try advancing the dist a little , clockwise to see what happens. It is an easy mistake to get the dist in 180 degrees off even though you are sure it is not, but it would be backfiring which does not seem to be what your engine is doing...Sometimes you just crank away trying to get it to cough to life.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-20-2018, 11:40 PM
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Spray a little starter fluid / brake cleaner / carb and choke cleaner / whatever is your fancy down the carburetor while cranking. Just a few squirts should get it to fire if everything else checks out.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-21-2018, 04:53 AM
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If the carb has gas in it I would pump it a couple times. And advance the distributor a bit.

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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-21-2018, 07:02 AM
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I'm not a fan of starter fluid, call it a last resord. Check to see if your accelerator pumps are working by looking down the bores and working the throttle. My car takes 2 full pumps to start cold and some pedal finesse to keep it running for the first 5 seconds and that's with a choke. While not optimal, cams routinely survive the situation you are in. I like to use a timing gun on #1 to insure there is a solid spark.

Good luck
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-21-2018, 07:13 AM
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2 cranks for 3 to 5 seconds may not have filled up the carb with fuel. I use B12 as a starter fluid. Works fine.

If it still seems like the timing is off, go back to at TDC compression #1 and I would suggest not depending on the timing marks to find it. Use a pencil or some other something and once you feel the compression coming out the #1 hole and it is close put the pencil in and turn it the rest of the way manually. When the pencil tops out it is at tdc. I never bump the starter doing this. I always turn the crank by hand because bumping the starter it will inevitably not land exactly at tdc. Drop the distributor in with the rotor pointing to your #1 on the distributor. Then turn it so that the distributor rotor is just short of half way between 1 and 5. That should be close enough for it to crank up ok. It helps to remember to put the #1 plug back in. Done that more than once.

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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-21-2018, 03:15 PM
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A friend of mine once had a problem of getting his new engine started, ended up that he had adjusted the valves (hydraulic lifters) too tight and it wasn't getting enough compression. Readjusted the valves and it started right up. Might want to check your adjustment. Just another system to check out if all else fails.
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-23-2018, 01:01 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for the feedback. I checked the cam and I do have the correct firing order there. I'll try checking the timing like MACSTANG suggested and see if my timing marks are off. Otherwise I guess I'll just fill the carb all the way and make sure the accelerator pump is working and go from there.

One question on the valve adjustment. If I have the shouldered rocker arm stud, is there anything I need to do other than torquing the nut to "adjust" the valves?
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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-23-2018, 01:59 PM
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You can dry-time the engine before starting. Set the timing mark at 6BTDC on the compression stroke. Connect the timing light. Slightly loosen the distributor clamp so the distributor can be rotated. Rotate the distributor until it is clearly retarded (you can peek at the rotor inside the cap to be sure). Turn the ignition on. Advance the timing until the timing light flashes. You are now set at 6BTDC.
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-23-2018, 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by massmustang69 View Post
One question on the valve adjustment. If I have the shouldered rocker arm stud, is there anything I need to do other than torquing the nut to "adjust" the valves?
Sounds like stud mounted Rocker arms, if so you are not supposed to torque them down. You find the base of the cam and usually turn it 1/4-3/4 of a turn to set preload and thats it.

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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-23-2018, 02:18 PM
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I dunno Op, maybe plugs got wet

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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-01-2018, 06:50 PM Thread Starter
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So it turns out that carbs were not full enough the first time and after that I had a sticking float valve which was flooding the engine... I noticed as I was cranking it its was getting harder through one part of the cycle when it reached the rear cylinders which were the lowest ones. I guess the excess gas was accumulating there. So after I deflooded the engine and got the timing set again it fired right up. Break in is done, and as far as I can tell the camshaft seems alright so on to the next thing! I will say, I was pretty scared about wiping the camshaft based on what I'd read but it seems to be more resilient than I originally thought.

Thanks again for all the help!
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