Electrical Problems

With all major parts now installed, I carefully read the instructions for positioning the distributor and attaching the spark plug wires.  It was time to see if this baby would run.  With all systems go, I turned the key and pressed the starter button.  With the 12-volt conversion, the engine turned and sounded like it was trying to fire, but would not run.  I stopped, turned off the key and pondered.  With these simple engines it had to be either an electrical issue or a fuel issue.  I re-checked the position of the distributor, loosened the hold-down bolts, and again turned the key and pressed the starter button, turning the distributor as it cranked.  It again sounded like it wanted to run, but would not continue.


The carburetor was the first suspect.  Off it came.  On taking it apart I noticed right away that the fuel bowl was dry.  Normally it should be full of gas.  I had assembled it with a service kit that included a new float valve and gaskets.  Looking at it closely it appeared that the float lever was not bent right and would not release the float valve.  I carefully bent it and checked to be sure it would clear both sides of the fuel bowl and move freely.  It seemed OK so it was reassembled and installed back in place on the intake manifold.  Attach the gas line, check to see that the sediment bowl fills when I open the tank valve and repeat the start-‘er-up process.  Same result.  Again, seems like its trying to fire, but won’t continue to run when the starter button is released.  At least it’s not back-firing.  I verify that each plug is firing and scratch my head.


This time I pull the distributor out and remove the number one plug, repeating the process of setting the distributor so the rotor is pointing to the wire leading to the number one plug just as the piston is passing the top of its compression cycle.  I reassemble everything again and again it refuses to run.  Well, by now I had done everything I could think of and it was time to call in the big guns.  I put in a call to Tracy and explained my frustration and everything I had tried.  He suggested a couple of other things, but in the end agreed to stop over the next morning, being a Saturday.


When he arrived, I again attempted to start it with the same results.  He fiddled with the distributor wires and asked me to try it again.  I hit the starter button and it immediately started.  Started so fast I was startled.  I shut it off and asked him what he had done.  He explained that he had moved each wire one “station” ahead, effectively rotating the distributor ¼ turn, which was a greater rotation than I could get by loosening the clamp screws and moving it.  It turned out that I did not have the distributor installed correctly after all.  I was humbled.  It was as if I had taken the full course, but could not pass the final exam.


After Tracy left, I again removed the distributor, cleaned the cam and weights that affect timing, and re-installed it in the correct position to allow the wires to be properly positioned.  Using my timing light, I set the timing and tightened the clamps that hold it in place.  With everything in place, I hit the starter switch.  It fired right up.  Whew!

However, with the engine running, new problems became evident.