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ignition problem

This is a discussion on ignition problem within the Bullet Birds [1961-1963] forums, part of the Thunderbird Model Years category; I replaced the spark plugs and coil and did something wrong with one of those replacements. Unfortunately, I didn't try ...

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  #1 (permalink)   IP: 72.228.10.39
Old 05-04-2019, 07:57 PM
 
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ignition problem

I replaced the spark plugs and coil and did something wrong with one of those replacements. Unfortunately, I didn't try to start it between replacing the spark plugs and replacing the coil, so I'm not sure where I went wrong. I gapped the plugs, connected each spark plug wire to the correct cylinder, and I rewired the new coil just as the old one was.

It was a cold start after sitting for a week so I expected some cranking, which it did. Sounded like it was going to turn over, then when I attempted again it cranked briefly and then stopped cranking altogether even though I still had the key in the start position. This occurred after several more attempts to start it, even after switching back to the old coil. The last attempt resulted in that awful grinding starter sound, which is when I quit. Any thoughts? It has pertronix electronic ignition, which was working fine prior to all of this.
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Old 05-05-2019, 12:51 PM
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The excessive cranking is because the fuel in the carburetor float bowl evaporates in a few days so the fuel pump has to move gas all the way from the tank, fill the carburetor before it can do its thing: supply fuel mixed with air to the engine.

The grinding sound is the starter motor not getting enough amperage. In other words, your battery is weak from all the cranking. Battery life is low in a car that is not driven regularly- a common issue with classic cars. That's why guys use battery tenders and such.

Use jumper cables from a running car and try starting it that way.

If that doesn't work use the old school techniques. An engine need three things to run:
  1. spark (at the right time)
  2. fuel (mixed with plenty of air)
  3. compression.

These are listed in order to check since the electrical is the least dependable and easiest to repair. Compression is rarely a problem especially over the short term.

It's unlikely that you have bad connections in all eight spark plugs at the same time so check the high tension coil wire first. You can connect an old spark plug to it and hold it against the engine block (ground) while someone turns the starter over. It should spark 4 times per engine revolution.

On the low voltage side does the coil have 12 volts with key start? Since you have a Pertronix points conversion it should have 12 volts with key-on as well. Is it connected property, positive and negative? The coil should be grounded from the distributor (points or electronic equivalent turn the ground on and off).

You can probably see where I'm going with this type of diagnosis. Check the basics first and work out from there.
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Old 05-05-2019, 02:48 PM
 
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Thank you, I'm hoping it's the first problem you mention - running down battery and then starter not getting enough amperage, that's an easy fix.

I received some other information about the possibility of it being the starter, specifically, the bendix clutch intermittently malfunctioning. I'm considering this as a possibility because since I got the car several months ago, after excessive cranking and giving it a break between tries, I hear the starter "wind down", which is what I assume is the bendix clutch spinning to a stop after it disengages from the flywheel. I don't recall my previous 63 or 64 making that sound in between start attempts that required a lot of cranking.

I was just under the car removing the bolts that secure the starter. After removing the two with the easiest access I was surprised to find that the starter didn't budge one bit. There was still the third bolt in place, but I expected some movement, either swiveling on the remaining bolt or some separation from the flyweel housing where the bolts were removed. However, nothing, it seemed as if it's all one big piece. That's when I came inside for a break to look at pictures online, and read your reply.
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Old 05-05-2019, 04:31 PM
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From what you described earlier it's not the starter.

If it is an original type starter then the motor shaft extends far into the bell housing in sort of an axle. There is a bearing on the far end that supports the shaft. So it doesn't surprise me that leaving the third bolt in won't loosen the starter.

Once you remove it, the parts can all be cleaned, checked for wear and excessive play and re-lubricated. Usually that's all it needs.

If you do replace it, be aware that Ford changed the number of teeth on the flywheel several times. I don't know the dates when these occurred but I did run into trouble with that issue when I replaced mine. The starter teeth have to match up. So you may be better off taking your starter to an electric motor shop and having them rebuild it instead of using it as a "core" for a rebuilt one.
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Old 05-05-2019, 07:50 PM
 
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Very good to know in advance of potentially replacing it. Thank you.
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