Why won't my 1915 engine start unless I tow (bump-start) the car.

Discuss all things Model T related.
Forum rules
If you need help logging in, or have question about how something works, use the Support forum located here Support Forum
Complete set of Forum Rules Forum Rules
User avatar

Topic author
NorthSouth
Posts: 156
Joined: Tue Apr 16, 2019 9:18 pm
First Name: Steven
Last Name: Chase
Location: Sausalito
MTFCA Number: 50392

Why won't my 1915 engine start unless I tow (bump-start) the car.

Post by NorthSouth » Sun Jan 12, 2020 3:46 pm

-
Hello fellow Model T-ers,

I just put a brand new reproduction New Day timer (from Spokane, WA) on my 15 Touring. Despite wearing myself out cranking the engine 30 or more times it won't start that way. The gas is on. I prime it by giving it a few cranks with the key off and the choke wire pulled before turning the key to battery. I hear a strong buzz from all 4 coils. The mixture knob was set just yesterday, with engine running, by a respected Model T-er and the car runs great once it starts. There is no smell of fuel when I crank it 30+ times. It has half a tank of gas. The gas valve under the tank is in the on position. I try enriching the mixture but this doesn't help. But, ONCE I "TOW-START" IT IT RUNS FINE.

Would any of you know what might be causing this problem and/or perhaps a solution? I mean, short of installing an electric starter. I will be going on the Fallbrook Tour this coming Sunday and Monday and sure would like to have this problem solved by then. I will appreciate any advice you may offer.

Thank you,
Mr Sore Arm

User avatar

AndyClary
Posts: 137
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:15 am
First Name: Andrew
Last Name: Clary
Location: Usa
MTFCA Number: 24057

Re: Why won't my 1915 engine start unless I tow (bump-start) the car.

Post by AndyClary » Sun Jan 12, 2020 4:04 pm

Sometimes we get carried away adjusting the carb. Try opening the adjustment a quarter turn. While running, a little lean is ok but make make a stem winder hard to start. Also double check that the timing isn't a little retarded. Give me a call if you need to.

Andy

User avatar

Mark Gregush
Posts: 1946
Joined: Sat Jan 05, 2019 1:57 pm
First Name: Mark
Last Name: Gregush
Location: Portland Or
Board Member Since: 1999

Re: Why won't my 1915 engine start unless I tow (bump-start) the car.

Post by Mark Gregush » Sun Jan 12, 2020 4:29 pm

How new is the engine and how much run time has it had if fresh? Have you checked the timing? You could have the adjustment open too much. Close it down and re-open 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 turns open. Have you checked ACTUAL gas flow to carb? Could be vacuum leak between the carb and intake or intake and block.
I know the voices aren't real but damn they have some good ideas! :shock:

1921 Huckster
1925 Cut down pickup

User avatar

RajoRacer
Posts: 1248
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2019 12:18 pm
First Name: Steve
Last Name: Tomaso
Location: Longbranch, WA
MTFCA Number: 14972
MTFCI Number: 15411
Board Member Since: 2001

Re: Why won't my 1915 engine start unless I tow (bump-start) the car.

Post by RajoRacer » Sun Jan 12, 2020 4:37 pm

Ditto what Mark referred to - I'd suspect a compression or vacuum issue.


SurfCityGene
Posts: 254
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2019 3:00 pm
First Name: Gene
Last Name: Carrothers
Location: Huntington Beach, Ca
MTFCA Number: 22905
MTFCI Number: 23068
Board Member Since: 1999

Re: Why won't my 1915 engine start unless I tow (bump-start) the car.

Post by SurfCityGene » Sun Jan 12, 2020 5:35 pm

Since you changed to a different timer I would be suspect of the timing. Check that again. You said the car runs fine once it gets started so I would rule out gas supply is the problem. The carb setting could be suspect.... My "12 hand crank car always starts great EXCEPT if it gets flooded I then have shut off the fuel valve and crank it several times wide open throttle to clear it out. if you've cranked yours a lot this is something to try. You should be able to feel the compression as you crank but could check for a leak when you have it running with a can of aerosol.

Good Luck and see you in Fallbrook.
1912 Torpedo Roadster


Mark Osterman
Posts: 669
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2019 10:18 pm
First Name: Mark
Last Name: Osterman
Location: Rochester, NY

Re: Why won't my 1915 engine start unless I tow (bump-start) the car.

Post by Mark Osterman » Sun Jan 12, 2020 6:15 pm

Had you installed the intake and exhaust manifolds recently? Just curious if you have a leak. Also check the gas in your carb by letting some out the bottom into a white container like a coffee cup. Look at what comes out.

I would start with setting the timing with the #1 spark plug out watching for piston rise on compression and having the spark plug fire a little after top dead center with the spark lever fully retarded.

Then close the carburetor needle down till it seats and open it around a turn and a half.

All you need is properly timed spark, compression and gas.


Norman Kling
Posts: 665
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2019 1:39 pm
First Name: Norman
Last Name: Kling
Location: Alpine California

Re: Why won't my 1915 engine start unless I tow (bump-start) the car.

Post by Norman Kling » Sun Jan 12, 2020 7:36 pm

When installing a new timer you need to check the length of the timing rod. It can vary from one brand timer to another. Check to see when number 1 fires. Then turn the crank until it just begins to buzz. The pin through the front of the crankshaft which holds the crank when you crank the car should be just below the 3:00 position when the lever is all the way retarded. This would be looking toward the pulley from the front of the car. you might need to bend the rod to get it into this position. Be sure to remove the rod from the timer before you try to bend it.
Norm

User avatar

aDave
Posts: 147
Joined: Fri Jan 04, 2019 10:21 am
First Name: David
Last Name: Dufault
Location: Concord New Hampshire
MTFCA Number: 303
MTFCA Life Member: YES

Re: Why won't my 1915 engine start unless I tow (bump-start) the car.

Post by aDave » Sun Jan 12, 2020 9:43 pm

Steve,

My '15 floods when I choke it.

Granted, the float may be incorrectly adjusted, but for the most part, without choking...throttle down about 3-4 notches, timer down one notch, 4 out of 5 times it starts and runs by the third 1/4 pull.

Just for grins and giggles....try starting without choking and see what happens by the 5th 1/4 pull.

User avatar

Steve Jelf
Posts: 2333
Joined: Fri Jan 04, 2019 9:37 pm
First Name: Steve
Last Name: Jelf
Location: Parkerfield, Kansas
MTFCA Number: 16175
MTFCI Number: 14758
Board Member Since: 2007
Contact:

Re: Why won't my 1915 engine start unless I tow (bump-start) the car.

Post by Steve Jelf » Sun Jan 12, 2020 10:17 pm

This may lot be the source of the problem, but you may as well eliminate the possibility.

http://dauntlessgeezer.com/DG97.html
The inevitable often happens.
1915 Runabout
1923 Touring

User avatar

Charlie B in N.J.
Posts: 289
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2019 7:40 am
First Name: CHARLIE
Last Name: BRANCA
Location: Brick N.J.
MTFCA Number: 28967
Board Member Since: 2010

Re: Why won't my 1915 engine start unless I tow (bump-start) the car.

Post by Charlie B in N.J. » Mon Jan 13, 2020 8:55 am

First off we need to know the engines age/condition. Second it's not been mentioned if this started with the timer change. I'm assuming it didn't. The faster cranking speed you get from towing is a bit telling. Leads me to think about low compression. You apparently have fuel and ignition since it starts/runs well after a tow.
Forget everything you thought you knew.


Norman Kling
Posts: 665
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2019 1:39 pm
First Name: Norman
Last Name: Kling
Location: Alpine California

Re: Why won't my 1915 engine start unless I tow (bump-start) the car.

Post by Norman Kling » Mon Jan 13, 2020 11:20 am

I believe northsouth had a broken crankshaft last year and the engine was rebuilt shortly thereafter. However he did go on at least one tour since then so it should be broken in by now. Perhaps it has something to do with the colder weather. That would make the engine harder to crank and also need to be just a bit richer fuel mixture to get started. If after you check the timing, SteveJelf has linked you to a very good description of how to do this. If it is still hard to start, try jacking up a rear wheel and chock the front wheels. Leave the parking lever in the neutral position. This will relieve the drag caused by the clutch disks and make cranking easier.
Norm

User avatar

Topic author
NorthSouth
Posts: 156
Joined: Tue Apr 16, 2019 9:18 pm
First Name: Steven
Last Name: Chase
Location: Sausalito
MTFCA Number: 50392

Re: Why won't my 1915 engine start unless I tow (bump-start) the car.

Post by NorthSouth » Mon Jan 13, 2020 1:22 pm

-
Thank you everyone. I have the car parked outside my kitchen door, hood off, and am working through all of your generous advice.

I'm much obliged to you,

-Grateful Sore Arm

User avatar

Topic author
NorthSouth
Posts: 156
Joined: Tue Apr 16, 2019 9:18 pm
First Name: Steven
Last Name: Chase
Location: Sausalito
MTFCA Number: 50392

Re: Why won't my 1915 engine start unless I tow (bump-start) the car.

Post by NorthSouth » Mon Jan 13, 2020 1:25 pm

-
Hello Charlie B.
In answer to your question, yes, it did start with the new timer installed. But, it took 30+ cranks and a qualified Model T-er at the steering wheel while I was ruining my arm up front. And then just barely.


Terry_007
Posts: 121
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2019 9:18 pm
First Name: Terry
Last Name: Bond
Location: Chesapeake VA
MTFCI Number: 15718

Re: Why won't my 1915 engine start unless I tow (bump-start) the car.

Post by Terry_007 » Mon Jan 13, 2020 3:37 pm

A clue for me is the fact you are not smelling gas. It should be easy to flood, and just a couple of turns on the crank with the choke pulled out should result is gas squirting out the overflow hole on the carb. I'll bet you are using a Holley NH and it has one of those after-market fuel inlets where the old fashioned needle valve was replaced with a grose-jet ball bearing type shutoff. The ball tends to stick in the seat preventing gas flow. Just the opposite can occur where a tiny spec of dirt prevents it from totally seating when the bowl is full and gas runs out all over the place.
If you are towing the car to start it, you may be jarring the ball bearing loose and that's what lets it start that way. Just another thought from someone who prefers the old fashioned needle valve.
Terry

User avatar

Topic author
NorthSouth
Posts: 156
Joined: Tue Apr 16, 2019 9:18 pm
First Name: Steven
Last Name: Chase
Location: Sausalito
MTFCA Number: 50392

Re: Why won't my 1915 engine start unless I tow (bump-start) the car.

Post by NorthSouth » Mon Jan 13, 2020 3:58 pm

Hello Steve Jelf,

The Timer Adjustment Link that you provided is helpful. Thank you. http://dauntlessgeezer.com/DG97.html

However, I am confused as to the orientation of point-of-view when it instructs me to "rotate the timer clockwise, then back, then clockwise again". Would this be from the point-of-view of the driver or from the guy cranking the engine?

Smiles,
Steven Chase
(323) 497-0601


Norman Kling
Posts: 665
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2019 1:39 pm
First Name: Norman
Last Name: Kling
Location: Alpine California

Re: Why won't my 1915 engine start unless I tow (bump-start) the car.

Post by Norman Kling » Mon Jan 13, 2020 4:11 pm

The point of view is looking from the front of the car by the radiator toward the timer. Clockwise would move the top where the rod is connected toward the steering column and counterclockwise away from the steering column. Another thing to check is that none of the wires of the clips on the end of the wires touch anything which is grounded while the timer is rotated.
Norm

User avatar

Topic author
NorthSouth
Posts: 156
Joined: Tue Apr 16, 2019 9:18 pm
First Name: Steven
Last Name: Chase
Location: Sausalito
MTFCA Number: 50392

Re: Why won't my 1915 engine start unless I tow (bump-start) the car.

Post by NorthSouth » Mon Jan 13, 2020 7:25 pm

Thanks Norm, This is helpful. But it's got me beat.
I will be taking the car down to Ramona, CA on Thursday to let Tony Balkor take a look at it.
Smiles,
Steven

User avatar

TWrenn
Posts: 499
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2019 10:53 am
First Name: Tim
Last Name: Wrenn
Location: Ohio
MTFCA Number: 30701
MTFCI Number: 24033

Re: Why won't my 1915 engine start unless I tow (bump-start) the car.

Post by TWrenn » Mon Jan 13, 2020 7:39 pm

Steve C.--- this sooo smacks almost identical to what my former '15 was like. When I bought it, I was told the engine was completely rebuilt. I even talked to the previous owner to my previous owner about it, he was like 92 y.o. then, said he paid a guy from a "racing shop" big bucks to have it rebuilt. Frankly, from what me and Joe Bell discovered after, like you, I took it to him to figure out, it appeared as though the poor old fella was ripped off by it just being cleaned and painted. If indeed it was rebuilt, it was F--d up big time. Mis matched rods, plenty of technical things that now I can't even remember. Oh, I was able to get it to start after maybe 40 cranks, then 10 miles down the road it would overheat. We found "things" what I would say weren't "in alignment" inside, crap I can't remember. Anyway a smart guy like Joe figured out. Cracked but JB welded block inside, etc. Put in an entirely new engine that
started giving COLD free starts with just priming. Of course, no overheating! Ran like a top. Then I sold it! Shoulda kept it.
So what I'm getting at is, since at this point you didn't say if you checked compression at least, is maybe you just have a plain old tired engine. Or as others alluded to, maybe you have an intake leak somewhere. Or both. Any way, good luck, and keep us posted.


bud delong
Posts: 209
Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2019 9:09 pm
First Name: Kenneth
Last Name: DeLong
Location: wheeler,Mi

Re: Why won't my 1915 engine start unless I tow (bump-start) the car.

Post by bud delong » Mon Jan 13, 2020 11:01 pm

With a friend cranking hold your hand over the air inlet of the carb. You should get a strong suction.Just pulling the choke might not do so use your hand.Are your spark plugs wet with gas?? If not before you reinstall the plugs put a little gas in each cyl then replace the plugs and try it. :D Bud.

User avatar

Topic author
NorthSouth
Posts: 156
Joined: Tue Apr 16, 2019 9:18 pm
First Name: Steven
Last Name: Chase
Location: Sausalito
MTFCA Number: 50392

Re: Why won't my 1915 engine start unless I tow (bump-start) the car.

Post by NorthSouth » Tue Jan 14, 2020 12:42 pm

-
Tony Balkor to the rescue.
Attachments
20200114_094010.jpg


J1MGOLDEN
Posts: 77
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2019 5:39 pm
First Name: James
Last Name: Golden
Location: Bowie, MD
MTFCA Number: 14294
MTFCI Number: 13562

Re: Why won't my 1915 engine start unless I tow (bump-start) the car.

Post by J1MGOLDEN » Tue Jan 14, 2020 6:06 pm

The most common cause for me has been the low compression made worse by letting all the oil drain off the cylinder walls between use.

The next problem is an accurate measurement of the compression has to be done by a screw in gauge to capture all the pressure for an accurate reading. That is easily over come with a modern compression gauge and a 14 mm to 1/4th inch spark plug adapter.

The most accurate area of those gauges is the middle third area which is about 150, as most gauges go to 300 pounds now.

That requires a gauge change to one with a 100 pound max pressure reading, as most Model T engines will have a compression between 45 and 55 pounds and 50 is right in the center of the gauge. Any pressure gauge will work and those used on orchard sprayers are the easiest to find. Most are made in China now, but they usually work. The larger dials are easier to read too.

I have often had to remove two spark plugs and pour in a shot glass full of engine oil to raise the suction capability of the pistons. Then add a shot glass full of gas to the cylinders and replace the spark plugs. Removing either 1 and 4 or 2 and 3 works the best.

That will usually let the engine turn fast enough to suck in some gas on the other two cylinders and run on all 4 of them.

If that don't help leave two of them out and the engine will turn over faster. Stop after a minutes running, replace the other two plugs and the engine will start right up again.

This system also works well for a newly rebuilt engine that does not want to turn over at all.

User avatar

TonyB
Posts: 385
Joined: Fri Jan 04, 2019 11:15 am
First Name: Tony
Last Name: Bowker
Location: Ramona, CA
MTFCA Number: 32
MTFCA Life Member: YES
Board Member Since: 2005

Re: Why won't my 1915 engine start unless I tow (bump-start) the car.

Post by TonyB » Tue Jan 14, 2020 10:39 pm

I looked it over and decided the following.
1. The plugs were dry and sooty even on full choke
2. Lots of suck at carb inlet
3. Timing Is rather restarted. The lever is at nine o’clock at top dead center. I’ve seen this previously when switching from roller timers to the carbon brush version.
4. We pulled the NH carb apart and all looks good, the needle could do with sharpening but the shut off needle looks fine and the float is a fraction less than 1/4” from the top.
5. We did a compression check. It’s hard with only a hand crank but it appeared to be 25-35 pounds.
6. All the plugs were very sooty.

I put raw gas in both #1 and then #2 plugs with no results. When I pulled the plugs there was a small pop When the plug sparked and the fuel burnt. No explosion. So we decided over lunch to pull the head The valves all looked very sooty. So we ground in all eight plugs, they only needed fine paste and most came with a nice grey line with just one application.
Then I asked why did Steve change the timer, “because the other one fell apart and there was HUGH backfire which blew off the preheated”.
So there it was, soot everywhere from backfire. After we replaced the head, new gasket etc it started on the fifth pull. The timing lever has to be at nine pm and the mixture needed to be at about one turn. That’s probably caused by the poor needle shape and Steve will have to shorten the timing rod but it should be OK for the weekend tour.
Tony Bowker
Ramona, California
1909 Touring, 1914 Touring, 1915 Speedster, 1924 Coupe.

User avatar

Mark Gregush
Posts: 1946
Joined: Sat Jan 05, 2019 1:57 pm
First Name: Mark
Last Name: Gregush
Location: Portland Or
Board Member Since: 1999

Re: Why won't my 1915 engine start unless I tow (bump-start) the car.

Post by Mark Gregush » Tue Jan 14, 2020 10:46 pm

Great!
I know the voices aren't real but damn they have some good ideas! :shock:

1921 Huckster
1925 Cut down pickup

User avatar

Steve Jelf
Posts: 2333
Joined: Fri Jan 04, 2019 9:37 pm
First Name: Steve
Last Name: Jelf
Location: Parkerfield, Kansas
MTFCA Number: 16175
MTFCI Number: 14758
Board Member Since: 2007
Contact:

Re: Why won't my 1915 engine start unless I tow (bump-start) the car.

Post by Steve Jelf » Tue Jan 14, 2020 11:40 pm

Very nice. I would reset the timing right away. It doesn't take long.
The inevitable often happens.
1915 Runabout
1923 Touring


bud delong
Posts: 209
Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2019 9:09 pm
First Name: Kenneth
Last Name: DeLong
Location: wheeler,Mi

Re: Why won't my 1915 engine start unless I tow (bump-start) the car.

Post by bud delong » Wed Jan 15, 2020 10:38 am

Glad to hear it"s started and running but i can"t understand a lot of suction and dry spark plugs and with questionable valves? I wonder how dirty the engine is in the valve chamber? Needing that much advance to start,that sounds like a lot even on a mag start? Is the spark rod over or under the water pipe? :D Bud. :D

User avatar

JTT3
Posts: 186
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:57 am
First Name: John T
Last Name: Tannehill III
Location: Hot Coffee, MS

Re: Why won't my 1915 engine start unless I tow (bump-start) the car.

Post by JTT3 » Wed Jan 15, 2020 10:52 am

I believe he may have the wrong size advance rod or not contoured to the appropriate bends for the commentator to be correctly retarded. Jelf’s video on timing is a simple & great example to follow when setting the timing and crank placement.
Hopefully it will be that simple. Tony great job of triage and getting it running.

Steve hope you don’t mind me providing the link.

http://www.dauntlessgeezer.com/DG97.html
Last edited by JTT3 on Wed Jan 15, 2020 10:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar

TonyB
Posts: 385
Joined: Fri Jan 04, 2019 11:15 am
First Name: Tony
Last Name: Bowker
Location: Ramona, CA
MTFCA Number: 32
MTFCA Life Member: YES
Board Member Since: 2005

Re: Why won't my 1915 engine start unless I tow (bump-start) the car.

Post by TonyB » Wed Jan 15, 2020 10:53 am

Bud, the control rod goes Under RHD water pipe.
As I stated, I have seen these differences of rod length for different styles of timers previously.
Tony Bowker
Ramona, California
1909 Touring, 1914 Touring, 1915 Speedster, 1924 Coupe.


Scott_Conger
Posts: 2461
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:18 am
First Name: Scott
Last Name: Conger
Location: Clark, WY
Board Member Since: 2005

Re: Why won't my 1915 engine start unless I tow (bump-start) the car.

Post by Scott_Conger » Wed Jan 15, 2020 11:13 am

Tony

it's nice that you guys lent a helping hand. As you implied, changing brands of timers is not a "one size fits all" situation. All that soot is undoubtedly from burning fuel far too late in the cycle to create an explosion. I've seen it numerous times. There often isn't even a detectable "pop" when it ignites. The first 10 words of the OP's description should have been the only clue needed to diagnose this thing.

The remarkable lack of knowledge in the hobby of how a T engine is timed is why I will NOT crank cars on tours for folks I do not know. One of the last tours I ran, several people tried to goad me into helping a fellow with a low battery on a starter car. The next bruiser in line intended to shame me and promptly got a badly banged wrist for his heroics.

Kudos for getting him back on the road.
Scott Conger

Full Flow Float Valves - deliver fuel like Henry intended!


SurfCityGene
Posts: 254
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2019 3:00 pm
First Name: Gene
Last Name: Carrothers
Location: Huntington Beach, Ca
MTFCA Number: 22905
MTFCI Number: 23068
Board Member Since: 1999

Re: Why won't my 1915 engine start unless I tow (bump-start) the car.

Post by SurfCityGene » Wed Jan 15, 2020 1:48 pm

Thanks to Tony for his help his expert Help!
I agree with Steve J and Scott C, It should be a 5 minute job to bend and set the timer rod to the correct timing position. Once set no one will have to remember to place the spark lever to some off standard position.

Did someone say this is a RHD car??
1912 Torpedo Roadster

User avatar

Topic author
NorthSouth
Posts: 156
Joined: Tue Apr 16, 2019 9:18 pm
First Name: Steven
Last Name: Chase
Location: Sausalito
MTFCA Number: 50392

Re: Why won't my 1915 engine start unless I tow (bump-start) the car.

Post by NorthSouth » Wed Jan 15, 2020 1:54 pm

-
THANK YOU TONY BOWKER.

Your persistence has put the leader of our Fallbrook Tour back on the road.

See you all at the Pala Mesa Resort early Sunday morning.

Steven Chase (Mr "Recovering" Sore Arm)
...and father Lee


SurfCityGene
Posts: 254
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2019 3:00 pm
First Name: Gene
Last Name: Carrothers
Location: Huntington Beach, Ca
MTFCA Number: 22905
MTFCI Number: 23068
Board Member Since: 1999

Re: Why won't my 1915 engine start unless I tow (bump-start) the car.

Post by SurfCityGene » Wed Jan 15, 2020 6:18 pm

Hey Steven, Maybe that's exactly why Tony was given the Rosenthal Award last year! I bet your not the only guy he has helped..
1912 Torpedo Roadster


Norman Kling
Posts: 665
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2019 1:39 pm
First Name: Norman
Last Name: Kling
Location: Alpine California

Re: Why won't my 1915 engine start unless I tow (bump-start) the car.

Post by Norman Kling » Wed Jan 15, 2020 8:33 pm

Tony is a very helpful friend. He is ready to help either at home or on the road. On many tours, you will see him, hair messed up and clothes dirty because he was under someone's car helping them with it. I'm very glad that he won the Rosenthal award. He deserved it for many years, but finally received it.
Norm

Post Reply Previous topicNext topic