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Old 08-27-2004, 04:58 PM
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H20skeefreek H20skeefreek is offline
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problem starting 85 s&s NEED HELP!!!

got to the lake today and boat wouldn't start. It would turn over but would not fire. in checking things out i discovered that with some strength i could turn the distributor by hand. I turned it clockwise and got it to fire once or twice, but it wouldn't run. Obviously the timing is off. I've never dealt with an engine's timing before, as I've always had cars with distributorless ignition. I need to know how to set the timing starting from scratch....what do i do?? I'm going to buy a timing light tonight. also, while turning the distributor and cranking, i got a mild shock is this normal? do i need to change something?

info: I have a '85 S&S with 351 with electronic ignition. Clip style distributor. I know nothing about timing (did i say that already?).

also, from the time i parked the boat, went in the marina and had a few beers and got home was 2 hours. when i pulled out the key in the garage, i realized that I left the key in "on". Did i fry my ignition? how do i know? if so do i have to buy a whole new electronic ignition?
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  #2  
Old 08-27-2004, 06:52 PM
paulphillipson paulphillipson is offline
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H20skeefreek, you have at least 2 problems. You need to find out why the engine didn't start, and since you turned the distributor, you affected the timing.
Problem #1, Fuel or Spark?
Pull offf your spark arrestor, and crank your throttle a few times. Is there fuel squirting into the carb? If so, then the problem is most likley no spark.
Did you happen to mark exactly where the distributor was when you turned it? If so, then return it to that position.
If not, then do the following:
1. Disconnect the primary (middle) lead from your distributor, put the metal end of a long screwdriver in it, and hold the shaft of the screwdriver about 1/16" from an unpainted surface on the engine block. Hold only the plastic handle of the screwdriver! Have someone crank the engine over. If you see a spark grounding out at the engine, then everything is working up to input to the distributor. Semi-darkness helps with this step.
2. If you got a spark in 1. above, replace the primary wire and pull the wire off #1 sparkplug, and test it the same way. If you get a spark, then the distributor is working. If you have the manual from MC, I think they showed which cylinder is #1. I know some of mine did. I can't remember on Fords. Replace the wire.
3. Now remove the distributor cap. Look at the 8 brass tits on the inside, and the rotor. Did you change them recently? If the end of the rotor is burned or pitted, the brass contacts probably are also, and you need to replace them. In the center of the inside of the cap, the black contact is spring loaded, and should move freely. If all this looks good, put it all back.
4. If all the above looks good, get your new timing light and clip it on spark plug wire #1. Get some white chalk and mark your correct timing mark on the pulley. I sometimes chalk the pointer, too. Loosen the distributor hold-down bolt just enough to turn the distributor with some resistance. If you remembered where it was before this nightmare started, then you've already put it back there. If not, have someone crank the engine while you shine the timing light on the timing marks and slowly turn the distributor back toward its original position. If you have spark and fuel (above), at some point the engine will fire and run. Dont worry if it doesnt run well. As it runs, simply turn the distributor until the pointer lines up with the appropriate timing mark. The engine should smooth out, so then tighten the distributor lockdown bolt Tight. You would have of course hooked up your fake-a-lake prior to cranking??!!
Man, if that doesn't do it, bring it over to my garage, and we'll find the problem. Might be a long drive, but the beer's cold at my shop.
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  #3  
Old 08-27-2004, 06:54 PM
paulphillipson paulphillipson is offline
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Oh, yeah, you probably did no harm to your ignition by leaving it on. Ran the battery down some, though.
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  #4  
Old 08-27-2004, 06:59 PM
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H20skeefreek H20skeefreek is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paulphillipson
H20skeefreek, you have at least 2 problems. You need to find out why the engine didn't start, and since you turned the distributor, you affected the timing.
Problem #1, Fuel or Spark?
Pull offf your spark arrestor, and crank your throttle a few times. Is there fuel squirting into the carb? If so, then the problem is most likley no spark.
Did you happen to mark exactly where the distributor was when you turned it? If so, then return it to that position.
If not, then do the following:
1. Disconnect the primary (middle) lead from your distributor, put the metal end of a long screwdriver in it, and hold the shaft of the screwdriver about 1/16" from an unpainted surface on the engine block. Hold only the plastic handle of the screwdriver! Have someone crank the engine over. If you see a spark grounding out at the engine, then everything is working up to input to the distributor. Semi-darkness helps with this step.
2. If you got a spark in 1. above, replace the primary wire and pull the wire off #1 sparkplug, and test it the same way. If you get a spark, then the distributor is working. If you have the manual from MC, I think they showed which cylinder is #1. I know some of mine did. I can't remember on Fords. Replace the wire.
3. Now remove the distributor cap. Look at the 8 brass tits on the inside, and the rotor. Did you change them recently? If the end of the rotor is burned or pitted, the brass contacts probably are also, and you need to replace them. In the center of the inside of the cap, the black contact is spring loaded, and should move freely. If all this looks good, put it all back.
4. If all the above looks good, get your new timing light and clip it on spark plug wire #1. Get some white chalk and mark your correct timing mark on the pulley. I sometimes chalk the pointer, too. Loosen the distributor hold-down bolt just enough to turn the distributor with some resistance. If you remembered where it was before this nightmare started, then you've already put it back there. If not, have someone crank the engine while you shine the timing light on the timing marks and slowly turn the distributor back toward its original position. If you have spark and fuel (above), at some point the engine will fire and run. Dont worry if it doesnt run well. As it runs, simply turn the distributor until the pointer lines up with the appropriate timing mark. The engine should smooth out, so then tighten the distributor lockdown bolt Tight. You would have of course hooked up your fake-a-lake prior to cranking??!!
Man, if that doesn't do it, bring it over to my garage, and we'll find the problem. Might be a long drive, but the beer's cold at my shop.
The only reason I turned the distributor was because it wasn't firing. I'm getting fuel, and if i keep turning the dis clockwise, it starts to fire, i just didn't keep turning it b/c i wasn't going to be able to go out anyway, for fear of being stranded.

part of my concern is that while i was cranking/turning the dis, i got shocked (mildly), so i should be able to turn it and crank at the same time??

unfortunatly Reno, is a bit far for me to drive, but the beer does sound good.
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  #5  
Old 08-27-2004, 07:24 PM
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JimN JimN is offline
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You got shocked because you passed the point where the ignition closed and caused the coil to discharge. That being said, how old are your plugs and wires? Old wires don't insulate as well as they should and even if it does start, it may crossfire from one cylinder to another at the wrong time. Plug wires are good for only a few years, so if they're a lot older than that you will be better off replacing them. Get good ones.

If you get a timing light, try to get one that's adjustable. Then, you just dial it to the advance you want and look at the 0 mark on the crank at 0 degrees advance. The timing mark shouldn't jump around. If the key was left on, the ignition system may not like that. Hopefully, you didn't burn it out. If you keep getting shocked(and decide that you don't actually like it), you can grab the base of the distributor with a Channel Lock pliers to rotate it.

The #1 cylinder is the one farthest forward on the motor. Right side facing the pulleys on the front of the motor is #1 on a Ford. If you pull the wires and plugs all at once, the firing oprder is cast into the intake manifold and the bank of cylinders with #1 go: 1-2-3-4 with the other bank going 5-6-7-8. They don't alternate like a GM motor.

You may be able to go back to the original distributor position by looking at the ring where the hold-down clamp is unless you moved it both ways from the starting point. If you have a good idea where it was, bump the key so the timing mark on the crank is at 0BTDC(with the timing light advanced to the correct spark timing and the pickup on the #1 plug wire). Turn the key on(without cranking) and rotate the distributor till the timing light flashes. If it doesn't flash after about +/- 30-45 degrees of rotation, put it back to the original position and rotate the crank 1 full turn. Repeat the spark test at 0 degrees. You should be able to see the timing mark clearly at 0 degrees this way since it's not rotating.
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  #6  
Old 08-28-2004, 09:34 AM
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H20skeefreek H20skeefreek is offline
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age of plugs and wires, don't know, but i'm changing them today.

Distributor cap is ok, but if i don't get the boat running today, i'll order on monday.

I didn't move the distributor far, so i can get it back to somewhere near its starting point, but i believe that it was wrong anyway (had a couple of backfires a few weeks ago) I hope the timing being off IS my reason for it not starting.

Jim, what do you think about the screwdriver/coil wire test mentioned by Paul? I'm a little hesitant to do that if there is a chance i'll get a shock.

what should my advance be? I believe my owners manual says 6btdc, but retard it if you are using lower grade gas. I'm using 89octane. also, i believe you are supposed to advance if you've got Electronic ignition. I do, so where do i need to be? also, do i go with factory suggested plug gap or change it b/c of other factors?
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  #7  
Old 08-28-2004, 09:53 AM
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JimN JimN is offline
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If you use 89 octane, 6 degrees is fine. If you don't want to use a screwdriver, you can use a spark plug, too. Since you're getting a timing light anyway, clamp the pickup on the coil wire. If the flashes are evenly spaced, you may be ok, but you'll see a flash for all cylinders, instead of just one. I have seen a lot of bad coil wires so don't be surprised if yours needs to be replaced. There's no reason to gap the plugs different from factory spec, either.
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  #8  
Old 08-28-2004, 07:28 PM
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H20skeefreek H20skeefreek is offline
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well, i changed the plugs/wires and reset the timing to 6 deg btc and, at least in the driveway, she's runnin' like a top. Thanks guys!! Now anyone want to come and rebuild my carb???
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351W with PowerSlot and Perfect Pass
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  #9  
Old 08-30-2004, 07:59 PM
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H20skeefreek H20skeefreek is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by H20skeefreek
well, i changed the plugs/wires and reset the timing to 6 deg btc and, at least in the driveway, she's runnin' like a top. Thanks guys!! Now anyone want to come and rebuild my carb???

I NEED HELP!!! Ok guys, it ran like a top in the driveway, but i drove all the way to the lake tonight, and guess what....nothing!!! it's turning, and I can look in the carb and see fuel pumping but it won't fire. the timing is at 6* btc and i tried to move the dis around again, it won't move, so I know it's tight. I rechecked all of the plugs (for tightness, did not recheck gap yet, but they were right when i put 'em in) rechecked all of the wires, i'm getting spark at the coil and in at all of the cylinders that I was able to check before the battery went dead from all of the cranking. recharging battery tonight, any suggestions of what i should check???
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351W with PowerSlot and Perfect Pass
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  #10  
Old 08-30-2004, 08:48 PM
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Don't crank it so long- you'll need a starter, too. Did you try to start like you're trying to clear a flooded motor? Your carb may be leaky, causing a flood condition.
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