My 1915 is a mystery to me. When it runs it runs great. Got it started this afternoon, warmed it up for 10 minutes or so. Shut her down... waited a few seconds and she cranked right back up.
15 Minutes later she wouldn't even pop let alone run. Coils are old but adjusted by a pro, carb is fresh rebuilt, mag is hotter than a firecracker (20+ volts at not may RPMs).
I'm pretty coil and coil box stupid (my other 3 cars all have distributors) but I'm thinking that either the coil box or the switch is the culprit. Or maybe the coils? Getting some Patterson coils very soon so that will rule that out although I really don't think the coils are the issue.
Thoughts from some coil and mag folks?
I've had that issue with my 11 too. This year I sprung for a rebuilt Holley G from Russ Potter. Huge difference. Starts easily now all the time, cold, warm or hot. doesn't matter how long it sits!
Coil box might very well be one of your problems. Back when I first started on my car (22 touring) I rebuilt the coil box with what was offered at the time (plywood)...it would get wet or moisture would get in it when it got hot or humid or just from washing the car and it would not start. You have to take the cover off and let it dry out. My answer to that was to bypass the thing and build a distributor, never had that problem again. Now some 30 years later I'm actually considering going back to the original coil set up, but this time I'm going to buy one of those coil box rebuild kits from Fun Projects. The side and bottom are made of something that looks an awful lot like delrin which is impervious to moisture. They've also reworked the copper contacts to have the correct arc to them (which from their description sounds an awful lot like beryllium copper, it's really springy and doesn't mash flat...ever)...in for the penny weight, go for the pound.
You might also want to check those contacts in your switch...sometimes they don't line up too well either or get worn and don't make good contact. Contact grease usually takes care of that.
John - Have you got a cover on your coil box? That's important as the cover holds the coils down. Without the cover, bumps, vibration, etc, can allow the coils to break contact,.....just a thought,......harold
Fun Projects and their parts are definitely in my scan and I'll get to that quickly.
I have not been able to find a good picture (exploded view) of the switch. Any leads?
John, when it did not start, were the coils buzzing? If they were, I would guess that you don't have a coil/coil box problem. My thinking in that case would lead to a fuel issue or an intake leak caused by heat. Just thinking.
I had a hard starting problem with my 14. It turned out that the ground path through the pan was bad. All it took to solve the problem was adding a ground wire from the frame to the motor.
John, are trying to tempt me? lol. The switch is so bloody simple it's almost comical, the funny thing is it actually works and is fairly bullet proof in the sense that it almost never fails with the exception of burnt wiring or burning the backing plate, even then it would have to be seriously burnt to the point of shorting out to keep it from working.
John; I am new to all of this but since this is a '15 are you starting on a battery or magneto if you are starting on magneto have you checked your mag post... I found mine to be bent I still haven't figured that one out ... but I replaced it and all is well
Ignition switches often are burnt or bent or dirty inside. Disassembling and inspecting followed by cleaning and repairing is the answer. They mostly need to be repaired when I get them. You won't know how bad yours is until you take it apart.
Also the coil box wiring often has been repaired improperly. Loose connections can keep your car from starting.
I could not start my '15 after trailering home from a 450 mile tour where the car had performed perfectly. I had no spark at 3 of the plugs. Did all sorts of things including try a different set of coils, finally found that the contacts inside my Anco timer had flash rusted from humidity so badly that there was no spark at all but one cylinder. A bit of scotchbrite and all was back to normal.
Aside from "it won't re-start" you don't know what the problem is. Slow hand crank on batt. will tell you if the coils are working by listening. If you've got no batt. and are alone lay a removed & wired plug on the head & look for spark. If you've got spark move on to fuel. If there's no spark it's test light time. Check for power at the coil box. If it's not there a loose connection or the switch come into play. Diagnose. Find the actual problem.
Lot's of things for me to do here (and thanks to one and all) but I'll start with the switch.
It is a bone stock 15 engine meaning no starter or generator and the battery I wired for lights only.
Essentially, a straight 15. I wanted a car "bone stock" so there is much for me to learn about the coil box and switch etc. Starts and runs off the mag which it did for 3 or 4 months starting quite easily.
It does have a new mag post although the wire from there to the coil box looks pretty bad. Easy to replace. No broken insulators. Gas leaks out of the carb when choking heavily. Primed a couple of cylinders with gas and no "pop" which further leads me to believe it is electrical.
Yes Harold there is a lid on the coil box.
That's over choking John. Choking a hot engine might not even be necessary and priming hot cylinders is almost the same as over choking. The mag. wire might be a problem if it lost continuity when hot but it would cause stalling when running normally too if that was it. You still need to check for spark when in a no-start condition.
I've found "no spark" at the plugs when warmed up and no, I'm so bent over (cranking it) I cannot hear the coils buzzing. Should the buzzing be readily audible when hand cranking on mag?
That's hard to tell John. It depends on the mag's. condition/output. The more voltage the louder the buzz and it's kind of low when hand cranking. That's why I'm saying remove a plug. Re-connect the plug wire, make sure the plug body is grounded, crank it over and look for spark. Or if you have an assistant have them hold a screw driver, blade grounded on the head, close to any plug wire and check for spark that way.
With a batt. the coil buzz is pretty audible and if you stop at that point the coil will continue to buzz. On mag. that won't happen. You'll get a quick snap and it's over until you get to the next cylinder and the next coil fires. I imagine it's kind of hard to hear.
That's what I was thinking to Charlie. Damned hard to hear the buzz when hand cranking.
Mag was tested by a pro and he is the one that said it is hotter than a firecracker (or words to that effect). I know the voltage coming out when she is running is consistent and increases immediately when you giver her throttle. I got off the throttle at 22 volts and most of the throttle was unused. I use an old Simpson 260 multimeter that I spent MANY an hour with fixing wiring problems on naval aircraft. It is analog.
Checked the Coils (KW's) with it and the worst reading I got (resistance) was 2.89 but the other three were all over 3.0
Got my morning chores to do and then back out to my T Barn.
Except for the Fun Projects wire, all parts were local. Gasket paper from O'Reilly and screws & rivets from the hardware store.
Doubt it's the coils. They don't all go bad at once but loss of power to the box and none will work. I'm assuming that since fuel runs out of the carb from over-choking that fuel delivery isn't the problem. I'm with either over-choking a hot engine causing flooding or a loss of spark for some reason.
My gut tells me you should check the timer/timer wiring.
That's NOT a '15 switch, Steve. The correct switch is made of a "bakelite" type material.
I'd be tempted to wire up a 6 volt lantern battery to the battery terminal of the coil box, if for nothing else, troubleshooting. Then you can hear the buzz. There is no 'buzz' on mag even when running. It is more of a 'clicking'.
Just happen to have a 6 volt lantern battery but switch first.
(It's bugging me now)
John: before you hook up any battery to the car DISCONNECT THE MAG. Take the wire off at the mag. post. You don't want to chance flashing the mag with an outside power source. Don't fail to do this!!
'14 - '16 switch with correct brass switch plate. I believe the switch plate changed to a "blued" or "Parkerized" steel plate later in '16.
And leave the switch alone until you find out what's wrong. You're a bit of a ways from pulling anything but a spark plug.
Iím not particularly mechanically gifted. I know which end of the screwdriver to hold and thatís about it. So, what Iím going to tell you will be easy to do, but probably wonít work. Still, itís much better to do the easy stuff first, before diving in and taking major components apart.
If you have air, fuel and spark, combustion MUST take place. Practically speaking, you pretty much canít help but have air in the cylinders, so the problem will be either a lack of fuel or spark. In the case of a bone-stock í15 with no electrical system and no battery power to the ignition switch, you wonít get a coil-buzz and itíd be difficult to check for spark using the screwdriver method, so forget that.
But you CAN check for fuel and, by process of elimination, determine whether the problem is an absence of spark. Unscrew the spark plugs, drop in a half-teaspoon of gasoline (or use starting ether if you have it), screw the plugs back in nice and tight and attempt a start. If the engine fires and quits, you have a fuel problem. If not, your plugs arenít sparking. Now, go to work on which of the two problems it is:
My í15 occasionally develops a similar symptom and thatís usually because itís time to clean out the timer. Easy enough and itís something that needs doing from time to time, anyway. After that, check the connection at the mag post ó and whatever you do, donít over-tighten the nut on that thing and break it like I did. And after that, check and clean all your electrical connections ó which, on one occasion, worked very well for me when I had a dead sparkplug. Those are the easy ignition checks and thatís why they should be done first.
A non-start can be the result of gritty, unfiltered gasoline. Sometimes, a partial crud-clog will occur while the engine is running and itíll lose power and run rough. Enriching the mixture as much as a half-turn usually fixes the problem, at least until the bit of crud gets flushed through the carburetor and blown out the exhaust. Then the engine suddenly runs rough from over-enrichment and needs to be leaned out again. With the engine running, itís a simple fix, but with a dead engine and no electric starter, itís much more difficult. Disconnect the fuel line from the carb and see whether you have flow. If you do, something is wrong inside the carburetor and youíll have to dismount and inspect it for obvious problems.
The gasoline of today is really lousy. Itíll go stale surprisingly fast (six to eight weeks) and because we almost never completely drain the contents of the gas tank, there will always be some really, really spoiled fuel in there. Thereís a product called Star-Tron which (in my opinion) works better than Stabil, as far as preserving alcohol-infused gasoline, and does other neat things like promote combustion and reduce carbon. Walmart carries it, and a quarter of a bottle with each fill-up makes for cheap insurance.
Now that I've seen Steve's 1914-1916 switch, I have to ask: what's that one I found on my 1915?
All of the above are good suggestions.
The first thing to check is to see if you are getting spark to the spark plugs. Try taking out the spark plugs and and laying them on the head with the wires still attached. Turn the crank and see if there is any spark observed. This is easier to see in the dark or in dim light. If you have no spark, that is what you need to work on.
Here is a question: If you let the car cool off, will it start? Another question: Does the engine quit running after it is warmed up, or only doesn't start if you first shut it off and then turn it on? If the engine doesn't stop while running warmed up, but won't start after you shut it off, it could very be a problem with the switch. Test is the same as before. pull the plugs and test for spark. If you get a good spark,l the problem could be in fuel supply.
Tests for fuel supply. The petcock at the bottom of the carburetor. You should get a steady stream while it is open.
Possible problems with fuel supply: 1. Dirt obstruction in the line. If fuel flows freely with the petcock open, you don't have an obstruction. 2. Flooded, caused by too much choking. Most cars don't need to be choked when warm, or possibly just a very quick pull with the choke out. If gas runs out the carburetor you have choked it too much and it will need to set for a while before it will start.
Another thing which can cause cause a problem with a warm engine would be vapor lock. That would happen while driving when hot or when trying to start after being run hot. It would start but soon stop if it has vapor lock. This is caused by the fuel line passing too close to the exhaust system. One thing which will also cause vapor lock is if there is a bend upward in the fuel line between the gas tank and the carburetor. Both ends of the line should go up from the lowest point. There should be only one low point in the line, not two. If there is a high point in the middle, the gasses will compress in that high point and the fuel will not flow. If there is only one low point, the fuel can go up in both directions and any air bubble or vaporized fuel bubble will move on down the line and either rise to the top of the gas tank or carburetor and the fuel will flow smoothly.
Last thing I mention (it does happen) Forgetting to turn on the fuel valve!
Steve - 1916 to 1922 (non-starter) according to available documentation.
Prior to hitting the barn today I had already laid the plug on the manifold and gotten no spark. Simultaneously I WAS getting voltage to the coil box. Occasionally I would get voltage to the plugs but it was unreliable at best.
Problem has to be in the box/switch. Once again here my inexperience showed up as I could "see" nothing really wrong with the coil box.
SO... took coil box off, removed the switch, took it apart, cleaned it up (although it didn't look near as bad as Steve J's picture). The switch did need some work as the arm that slides into the "mag" side of the switch would only "touch" the clip so I repaired that so it worked correctly and smoothly.
Put it all back together and she fired right up. Ran it until it was warm and shut her down.
Crossed fingers, legs, arms, eyes and everything else I could think of. So far, she starts just like the old days. SO FAR......
Thanks to all for your inputs. Especially the pictures. May you all find magical "T" surprises in your Christmas stockings.
Glad you got it going!
Follow a logical trail. It works 99.5% of the time.