Ever since its engine/transmission rebuild, my roadster has taken a lot of cranking to get it started when cold.
When warmed up, it usually starts easily on MAG with the first or second pull. But starting from cold I have to pull the crank several times, even when I cheat and switch to BAT. I thought the intake manifold might be sucking air, but shooting propane at it with the engine running had absolutely no effect. I suspect a couple of other things, but before I pursue them I'll ask here for suggestions.
Open your mixture rod a quarter of a turn when the engine is cold. I've got a '17 that needs that and starts right up. After about 30 seconds, I need to lean the mixture out again or she starts loading up.
Steve - Probably asking the obvious, but have you tried swapping out carburetors with a carb off of one of your better starting Model T's?
I think Warren has the solution, especially if you're running a Holley G. They're finicky that way.
This may sound odd, but have you tried advancing the spark a little? Maybe this is totally different, but I was having similar problems starting my freshly rebuilt motor. I would crank and crank and when it finally started it ran great. I tried swapping carbs and got the same result. Then I talked to Joe Bell, and he said I should try advancing the timer slightly until I started to feel a little kick-back, then back it off and low and behold, it worked like a charm! First or second pull every time now - even on mag. My motor was freshly rebuilt as was my Holley G, and I installed a new TW timer, but apparently I had it too retarded even though I bought the timing tool from TW and had it set perfectly at the recommended setting.
Bill, it might be some slop in your spark lever. As for me, I swear by the "9 & 3 o'clock" method John Regan taught me for timing my TW timer.
Tim; what's the "9 & 3 o'clock" method?
Bill, see the post by Dave Dufault near the end of the posts on the previous thread.
" By John F. Regan on Saturday, November 12, 2011 - 08:16 pm:
The timing mark on a T is the crank shaft pulley pin. That pin hole in the crankshaft is the reference point used when the throws on the crankshaft were ground at the factory. Every time that pulley pin is exactly horizontal (3 o'clock - 9 o'clock position) one of the 4 pistons is exactly at top dead center (TDC) - not approximately at TDC - exactly at TDC. Hence you can easily use that pin to get your timing dead on. When that pin is half way between 3 and 4 o'clock position you are at 15 degees after TDC since there are 30 degrees between 3 and 4 o'clock position. The way I do it is to pull the lever all the way up and with plugs out but connected to their plug wires and laying on the motor I then turn the switch to BAT and pull the hand crank super slow and stop instantly when I hear any coil buzz. I then simply look at the pin. So long as the pin is just past horizontal I am safe. If all the way to 4 o'clock or beyond then I am too retarded. Shorten the rod to advance the timing and repeat. It doesn't matter which cylinder you use since the pin will be horizontal every 180 degrees of rotation and a piston will be up at TDC every 180 degrees."
Oooohhhhhhh! Got it!
I'll second Warren's suggestion. Mine acts the same way.
Bill we only allowed to work on our T's between 9 AM and 3 PM.
Before nine AM is too early for old guys and after three interferes with a good glass of wine :-)
Dave - my friend -
Do I need to get out my saber saw and cut the pan so I can see the pin location? :-) Just kidding!
I am wondering if we can come up with a length of tape with marks like a degree wheel. It might use the pin location as the starting reference point.
Could you be over choking when cold? It's easy to use to much choke. I find just a little bit of choke is perfect. Too much even for a moment can make starting harder.
Whenever I had the same trouble it was always a carburetor issue. Since switching to using ethanol free gas exclusively I have never had any problems. It may be the ethanol, it may be funky additives, whatever; but one thing I do know: rebuilding the carb and immediately switching gas made it all go away and stay away.
Pull the crank three or four times with the key off and the choke pulled. Mixture opened 1/2 turn for starting. Turn on the key. I get this almost every time:
My 15 is just the opposite. Starts first or second pull cold without even choking it.
Once warmed up and then sets for a while it is hard starting.
If you decide to advance the spark lever, before you try it, get the engine running and then push the spark lever up. As you begin to pull it down notice where the engine starts to speed up. Count the notches between the most retarded position and that point where it speeds up. For starting, you can advance a few notches, but do NOT advance beyond where it starts to speed up.
This is why the engine starts easier when advanced a few notches on mag. With battery, the coils begin to buzz when the contact is made in the timer, so it will start all the way retarded. But with magneto, the spark comes after the current builds to 1.5 amp which can be a little later than when first contact is made by the timer.
Another reason why you have some trouble starting could be that the engine is tighter and you can't get it moving quite as fast when you crank as you did before it was rebuilt.
Try adjusting the mixture and choking. You will eventually find out what is best for starting that particular engine. One of mine was rebuilt last summer and now it starts cold without choking. Sometimes just a very slight choke is necessary. It could be that the high volume intake manifold I installed makes a difference. Everything else is stock.
An interesting wrinkle here is that before the engine/transmission rebuild this car started reliably, every time, on the first pull. That was always on BAT, of course, because the magneto wasn't up to snuff.
I haven't got around to rebuilding a Holley G yet, so this is a plain old NH. I've cleaned out all the passages, honed the spray needle, and even replaced the sticking float valve needle with an original non-rubberized type.
The suggestion that this could simply be a matter of adjustment may indeed be on the mark. I'll experiment with various combinations of spray needle adjustment and numbers of pulls on choke and see what happens.
What shape are your coils in? My '23 started on mag. dead cold after replacing the caps, cleaning/replacing points and HCCTing.
Patterson coils, not many miles on them. Probably not the problem here.
Bad alcohol gas?
The NH isn't a bad carb in itself if alls OK and working. beginning to sound like the adjustment guys might have a point. How much harder (slower) is it to crank the re-built?
Each car is a little different. My '24 runs a Kingston L4 and it will not start when cold unless I richen the mixture 1/4 turn. I usually give it two pulls on the crank with the choke on before I turn on the key.
When the engine is warm, no enrichment or choke is required, and if the engine was running a few minutes earlier, I usually get a free start.
6 volts can drop to 4 while using the starter. On a tight engine, maybe even less?
As I was reading your original posting and the comments/suggestions, I was thinking to myself that it was too bad that you were probably running a period-correct carb instead of an NH. Finally towards the end of the postings, you revealed that you are, in fact, running an NH. Now I feel that I can tell you what happened to me, or rather to a Model T that I restored for a friend almost 30 years ago.
From Day One it was a hard starter. Once it warmed up, though, it would start quicker. The next morning - hard to start. Whenever I came back to my home state for a visit, I would work with my friend to see what was wrong with the T. We replaced everything and cleaned everything, multiple times, but still the engine was hard to start. This cleaning included blowing out the NH's passageways.
When I moved back here ten years ago, one day I took the NH off my coupe, which we had brought with us when we moved. I installed it on my friend's hard-starting engine and VIOLA!!! It fired up instantly, as my coupe engine had done. Aha! It was the carb after all! I left my carb on that engine and took my friend's carb home for a post-mortum. Even though we had cleaned and poked wires into any passageways and holes we could find in it, something was still wrong.
Finally, some kind soul on this website posted a photo of his NH with straws or pipe cleaners sticking through the drilled-out passageways. I decided to drill out the passageway plugs and see if that was the trouble. Sure enough! Two were COMPLETELY stopped-up with crud. The bit kept pulling debris out beyond the brass plugs until the bit bottomed out. Finishing the job with a thick wound guitar string and compressed air, I felt confident that the passageways were now clear. I tapped the passageway holes and installed Allen head plugs, as the posting had advised. If it's not already too late to shorten this story, you can guess the ending, can't you? Sure enough: the engine started right up. It had been those clogged passageways that had kept the engine from starting all along. The engine ran fine when up to speed when the passageways were clogged, but just had one heck of a time when first starting.
So, although you said you "cleaned" the passageways, (as we thought we had done all those years), did you drill out the plugs and clean the passageways out? I'm now a believer in doing this to Model A and T carbs that I go through. It's amazing how many times at least one passageway is partially or even completely clogged. Your situation sounds just like the one my friend and I experienced for 20 years. I wonder if while your engine and transmission were being rebuilt, your carb's passageways finally close up? Don't completely trust a second carb - it may have problems of its own. The only way to be absolutely sure the passageways aren't compromised is to drill and clean 'em out.
Dave, this is a 1915, so the starter is me.
Progress report: With the carb adjustment at one and a half turns out and two pulls on choke, I've had two BAT starts on the first pull, one on three pulls, and two free starts. Still balky on MAG, though.
Marshall, I don't believe this carburetor has had the full treatment. The one on my '23 touring has, so I may try a switch of carbs and see if that helps.
Definitely try a KNOWN good carb, but a "full treatment" of the NH on your '15 sure wouldn't hurt.
After many frustrating attempts at "cleaning" my friend's carb over the years, it was a WONDERFUL sight to see the drill bit pull gunk from inside two of the passageways, and then spin easily inside the CLEAN passageways! It was a moment of "AHA!!! This will fix the problem!". I wish you the same good feeling and relief at finally tracking down and fixing the cause of the problem. As my dentist is fond of saying: Let the drilling begin!
Steve - ........ so, about my June 24, 3:07am post earlier in this thread,......., ha, ha...... :^)
You seem to be on to it. Sounds like the adjustments made an improvement. Do the carb. It's likely the culprit. Congratulations on making a logical/structured diagnosis. Easy to hard. Works every time.
I mentioned this last night in the July What Have You Done, but will post it here too in case anybody missed that and is wondering about the outcome.
The hard starting finally reached the point of no starting at all. I was going to drive the car to town Saturday. I even put one of Bob's neat flag sets on it. But no amount of cranking would produce even a cough.
I've been spending most of my waking hours on the house, reconstructing an upstairs wall and wanting to get it done before rain hits. But last night I took a little time for the roadster. I didn't bother with a carb switch. I just pulled the carburetor off and dismantled it, drilled out the plugs and cleaned the passages, installed 8-32 set screws, and put it back together. I didn't have to bother with the spray needle and seat. They were perfect.
I started several times, on both BAT and MAG, never taking more than three pulls. Most starts were on the first or second pull. One was on no pull, when I switched to BAT and got a free start.
This solution was obvious when you think about it. The symptoms: hard starting when cold, but easier when warm. That little hole next to the throttle plate is supposed to deliver fuel for cold starting. If it doesn't you have exactly the problem I was having. Sometimes the simplest and most obvious answer is the right one.
Along those same lines of simple problems being overlooked my '23 when I first restored it was hard to start. I was a newbie to T's but thought I understood internal combustion engines. What was wrong was the pieces of repro linkage I had purchased were not the right length and the choke bellcrank mounted on the firewall was hitting the firewall before the choke butterfly was fully closed. I had to shorten the lower rod and lengthen the upper one and the car has been an easy starter ever since. On most T's it is difficult if not impossible to simply look into the entrance of the carb to verify full seating of the choke plate. By myself in the cockpit stepping on the starter and pulling up on the choke rode I felt it hit "bottom" bit it was a false bottom of the bellcrank against the firewall.
Hard starting? - verify absolutely that the choke linkage is operating correctly and that the T is fully choked since the gas fumes are going "UP" in the T intake system and you need to choke it or it may never start.
HURRAY!!! What a relief, eh?
And thanks for posting the follow-up results. 'Always good to see what was the actual cause of the problem, no matter who offered the correct suggestion for its proper resolution. We all learn from follow-up stories with good explanations.
Now, get out there and drive the tires off that '15!
From Wikipedia for future reference:
Occam's razor (also written as Ockham's razor and in Latin lex parsimoniae, which means 'law of parsimony') is a problem-solving principle devised by William of Ockham (c. 1287–1347), who was an English Franciscan friar and scholastic philosopher and theologian. The principle states that among competing hypotheses that predict equally well, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected. Other, more complicated solutions may ultimately prove to provide better predictions, but—in the absence of differences in predictive ability—the fewer assumptions that are made, the better.
All of which just means the simple answer tends to be the correct one.