...how to have an easy-starting Model T. Because that's how I had it. I could cold start it on BAT with one prime and one pull. But recently it's become more and more stubborn. Yesterday I was up to over a dozen pulls with no start.
So far I've cleaned the timer, reset the timing (it's perfect), cleaned out the carburetor, changed the float valve needle, and determined that all the plugs are sparking. Yes, I know that seeing them spark isn't a valid test, but even if one or two are bad I should be getting at least a cough. Nothing. What am I missing?
Have you charged your battery up lately? Maybe the spark just isn't hot enough.
An electric starter?
Fuel + compression + spark = ignition.
If you've got good compression, buzzing coils and wet plugs after a few cranks on choke, change out those old sparkers for a new set.
Buy a set of Motorcraft or Autolites and see what happens.
Have you changed your source of gasoline lately?
Have you verified that choking is actually bringing fuel up into the cylinders ? If you have any vacuum leak at all or if your choke butterfly isn't closing completely, then you won't actually be bringing a charge up into the cylinders.
My first check to see if I have the requisite fuel/air/fire ingredients is to remove one or two plugs and see if they are wet or dry (or oil fouled, for that matter. If the plugs look OK, but are dry, I dribble gasoline into the plug bodies, and then screw the plugs back into the cylinder head. If the wet plugs fire, then it's time to look into why choking isn't bringing fuel up into the cylinders.
As a side note, I can usually tell by the sound of the engine if choking has brought a charge into the cylinders. A dry cylinder has a very quiet, muffled sound at the carburetor inlet. As soon as a charge reaches the cylinder, I begin to hear more of a "chuffing" sound as I pull it through with the crank.
Air fuel mixture? If you normally do not adjust it, it could have gotten out of your normal adjustment. Most find that adjusting a little richer for starting works best.
Steve, when you say that you cleaned out the carb, did you drill out the brass plugs? I had similar symptoms until I REALLY cleaned out the carb.
Maybe the mud daubers have been doing their work inside the intake manifold or something has plugged up the exhaust pipe?
Man proposes, the Model T disposes. What further proof do you need that they're alive ?? If you have an easy starting T, be humbly thankful, for conditions may change. With enough kind attention your Lizzie will come 'round Steve. It's not like you are a novice or a cruel master.
Steve, did you check the gas in your tank????
For an engine that has been running well but is now not running I do the following:
A simple "carb check" I like is to purchase a can of starting fluid at one of the regular auto parts stores. With the car outside [or I use it most often on the lawn mower], fire extinguisher handy, wheels chocked, out of gear, ignition off, etc. spray about a 1/2 to 1 second into the carb opening (choke off). Turn ignition on, and crank normally. If it starts and runs ok for about 2-6 seconds -- the carb probably needs some help of some sort (turn the gas on, fresh gas, adjust etc.). If it doesn't fire with the ether -- it is not just a carb problem. Note it could still be a bad carb – but it also has other issues preventing it from running. You can run an engine for a few seconds with out a carb with a shot of ether. Remember the ether washes the oil off the cylinder walls so don’t keep trying and trying --- it either works after one or two tries and you know you need more work on the carb or it doesn’t fire at all and you know you need work somewhere else and possibly later on the carb.
Below is a list from the 1921 Owners manual. But you have already covered some of those. And it is too warm where you are for the frozen water issues. And it sounds like you are using a battery of some sort to power the coils. So it shouldn't be mag post.
Note at: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/179374/228633.html?1314564277 it discusses engine that runs rough that was caused by bad gas. But it also has some good trouble shooting comments.
http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/118802/135480.html it was running rough and had a lot of items they checked.
We look forward to hearing what you discover (not the new words ;), but what you discover is the problem and what corrects the problem(s)).
Hap l9l5 cut off
I am no expert on anything about this, but do find it interesting how just
changing one of the factors in the running of the T seems to affect ALL of
the others. A simple timer adjustment makes the choke and priming all
different, etc. With the rebuilt engine, I had to relearn EVERYTHING ! It
did not want to start, the carb that had run perfectly before did not like the
timing and flooded with little provocation, the amount of pedal was all different, ...
it was like a completely different critter.
just had the same problem with my 1912----Pulled the Champion 3X plugs,( porcelin was BLACK...) Cleaned them and all is well! Good luck
Spark at the plugs. Assuming compression is OK = fuel problem.
You still cranking, Steve ??????????
Progress report !
I had an ignition switch problem that aggravated me before. It's a 17-18 or so coil box with the switch attached. I usually start on mag and it wouldn't start. I switch to battery and no buzz. I put a charger on the battery and got it to buzz. I let it charge for a bit and start it on battery. Switch to mag and it runs. Kill it and switch to battery, no buzz. Crank on mag then switch to battery and runs. Kill it, coils buzz but no start on battery. Then after a few pulls I realize the coils had quit buzzing. So I really didn't ever know if the plugs were firing or not while I was cranking it since you can't really hear them on mag and after a pull or 2 on battery I don't pay attention. I took the switch apart and cleaned everything.
When you get it figured out, and I'm sure you will, let us know what happened!
You could have knocked me over with a feather. I was almost totally sure I had some kind of fuel delivery problem, but in the spirit of Try Anything, a few minutes ago I tried this.
Prime twice, flip the switch to BAT, and the car is instantly running. No need to touch the crank. Afraid this was a fluke, I tried repeated starts on both MAG and BAT. The car started on MAG with one or two lively pulls, and on BAT with one easy pull, over and over again, both ways. Am I a happy camper? You can bet the farm on it.
This whole adventure proves once again that 90% of fuel problems are electrical, and vice-versa. Am I going to make John Regan's plug tester? Dern tootin' I am, pardner.
Wow Steve thats great you got your T started! Glad you took the invite to change the plugs to see what would happen.
Good luck and drive your 15.
I never would have guessed plugs based on the symptoms you described.
So, if you have time, can you post pictures of the diabolical plugs that caused this problem in the first place? Were they refurbished original Champion X's?
Were they carbon coated?
Steve, there's sometimes a price to pay for using 100 year old $1 or $2 plugs found at swap meets. Seems like you've just paid it.
Constantine, I couldn't agree more. I very much admire those like Steve that can do things like that. I for one will sacrifice a little of the looks for something a little more dependable, like new plugs. The F11 Motorcraft and 3095 Autolites are relatively inexpensive and if they crap out, just through another one in.
Glad you got the issue figured out Steve. I hope you can get a set of original plugs that work, so I can keep on admiring what you do.
By the way, did you swap the old ones back in just to make sure it isn't a fluke?
Putting the old plugs back in would be a good test. We have to remember all T's aren't the same.
A better test yet would be to put them in another T 'just to see'
I think Steve has other T's. Putting the plugs in one of those would be a sure fire test. Now that would be interesting!
My jaw is officially on the floor. Plugs.
Duey, Not that I had any ideas with Steve's issue, but if it had been a more modern engine (such as a musclecar era v-8) I would have suggested a fresh set of plugs.
I have alot of experience from drag racing at a serious weekly level to tell you that just because it was firing all 8, doesn't mean it was truly firing all 8 cylinders. But those are different animals--sort of.
I have seen this also in small engines too. Could not pull start them to save your life. A fresh spark plug and we were off and running even though the old one was firing a decent spark.
I just wish I remembered this enough to suggest to Steve.
Hahaha Chad! I'm with you in the memory dept. I had no clue either. Yes! New plugs!
I try to stay AWAY from Champ plugs on anything that even gets close to modern. I think they suck. Then again all of my stuff is junk.
For a 30-40-50-60 year old engine, the guys at the store know I'll be asking for AC or some-such instead of Champs.
Strange. 20 year old Champion 25's in the oil burning/super smoker 'Ol Crappy-Lizzhe (never cleaned) and 30 year old brand new X's in Tin cup. Vaarroom!
Lucky the TT has 3 Tigers in his head and Vaarroom!
VERY interesting observation Chad!
I wonder what percentage of today's swap meet plugs were removed from a T about 90 years ago because they wouldn't run ? It's a shame spark plugs can't talk. Or can they ?
"...something a little more dependable, like new plugs." The irony in that comment becomes apparent when you know the full story. Last summer I installed a set of new 3095's just to try them out and see how they would do. Those were still in the car when this hard starting problem recently arose and got progressively worse. Last Saturday I was trying some of the various cures suggested on the forum, and when I grabbed the spark plug wire on #1 it felt loose. It turned out that the wire was still tight on the terminal, but the terminal was loose.
In fact, it came right out of the plug. First I thought I would put in a set of X's, but two of the four I had handy didn't fire at all. So I put in the two X's that did fire, and a couple of the previous 3095's that were still intact. That mixture was in the car until today when I installed the whole new set of plugs.
Based on that first set, I expect these new plugs will be fine for a few months, but there may be trouble down the road. Now that I have John Regan's recipe for a plug tester, I'm going to make one and use it.
Good to hear it is running good now. 3095's known to be a good stuff here.
Wow Steve, I have never seen that before. That's a good catch. And now that I see how that goes together, It begs the question, which happened first. Did the plug fail on it own (manufacture defect?), or was it caused by over tightening the nut (I have no idea how tight you turn the wire nuts on top).
There really is not much to hold that whole thing together. But I will still continue to use those as I have had good luck with the dependability aspect.
If that's not a manufactures defect the next thing that could have caused that would be overtighting.
For the purist folks among us brass knurled nuts are available for thr Motorcraft or Autolites plugs.
And it does make one wonder why you can find old plugs at swap meets that seem to look good.
I still have the set of cheapo Wizard plugs my Grandfather used in his 24 coupe I inherited years ago.
They still work as good as the new A-25's I later put in it a few years ago.