View Full Version : Engine: Bad #2 Cylinder?

07-02-2017, 06:39 PM
'51 Champion 170. got the points, dwell, timing, carb mix and idle screw done - still running like crap except seemed ok at idle. no power on the road test. i pulled spark plug wires and there was no change when i pulled the wire on #2. there was spark in the wire to the plug. i pulled the plugs, all were good and properly gapped. a compression check showed:
#1:92, #2:106, #3:108, #4:90, #5:104, #6:105.

i was told by Matthew B. when i purchased the late Tom Elliott's '51 that she needed some valve guides replaced.

i can't figure out why the compression was good on #2. i haven't done a vacuum check yet. i seem to remember from the 70's, when i was working with my Dad, that a valve problem wouldn't show up on a compression check. is that so?

EDIT: ran well before i went to the hospital for quite awhile in March. fresh gas yesterday.

07-02-2017, 06:48 PM
Before you call that #2 spark plug good...try a different one in that hole.

07-02-2017, 06:50 PM
yeah, that was my plan for the plugs.:)

07-02-2017, 06:52 PM
A valve problem should definitely show up on a compression test. A bad guide would not affect the compression. Did the plug out of #2 look like it had been firing? You might try switching plugs from a cylinder that you know is firing, and see if the problem moves to that cylinder.

07-02-2017, 07:41 PM
Your compression is exceptionally good.

i was told by Matthew B. when i purchased the late Tom Elliott's '51 that she needed some valve guides replaced.

Most Champions not recently and professionally rebuilt need valve guides and oversize lifters.

The worn guides cause both low vacuum readings and increased oil consumption. The worn lifter bores allow too much oil into the valve chamber, where the worn guides allow it to be sucked into the cylinders.

FWIW, the additives in today's gas is hell on the spark plugs in old weak points ignitions. A plug can look fine, even show spark across the gap when tested out of the engine, however, under compression it may run the spark up the insulator rather than jump the gap.

One other Champion malady is the metal loom which gathers the plug wires. The wires may look OK but be allowing crossfires inside that loom.

jack vines

07-02-2017, 07:54 PM
just finished checking all the spark plugs on the #2 wire using my "trusty" remote starter switch - all appeared to spark the same. for now, i reckon i'll put them all back in and see what happens. i changed the oil last week but the old stuff was near the full mark, less than a cup low. no oil filter and change it twice a year. maybe do a vacuum check tomorrow.

07-02-2017, 08:48 PM
well, i put the plugs back in and they all seemed to be ok - all dropped down upon removing a plug at a time. still runs like crap except at idle, stumbles and no power. :(

i'm worn out and have a cancer treatment and radiology appts in the morning. i hope to get back to it tomorrow afternoon.

i'm starting to think the carb needs rebuilding. i did get a carb kit with all the stuff sent when i bought her. but was told that Dave Th. rebuilt it at some point...

any suggestions are welcome!

Jeffry Cassel
07-03-2017, 09:56 AM
Had a similiar problem with a Champion. The "correct" plug is far shorter than the hole. The spark can be sequestered. Try a longer plug in the same heat range. Don't go too long! Most people do no realize that a plug can spark away very nicely at 1 atm. Put it under 10 atm compression and it won't do a thing. There used to be testers that you plugged into the air compressor to put the plug under pressure. you could watch it thru a little window. It was amazing how often a plug that looked fine would not fire at 150 psi.. Do Not Take Engine Apart! It can be a bad cap or a bad plug wire too. With reasonable compression, it is Not valves! A carb problem won't make it miss on #2 only. Sincerely hope you are successful in your battle with cancer.

07-03-2017, 12:11 PM
Did you lube the point wear block. Points may have closed up some.should be enough compression to fire.

07-03-2017, 02:34 PM
^^ as stated in post#7, when i put the plugs back in, all 6 cylinders fired. the only other thing i did was wiggle the wires around the wire loom - possibly #2 was shorting out inside there.

i'm running AC Delco R 45 plugs. (going to go with resistor wires, etc. soon for "tunes"). was running Champion J8C plugs. anyone have suggestions for a longer plug that won't hit the piston?

i did lube the point wear block. i'll recheck the point gap and probably play around with the timing a bit.

thanks for the input!:cool:

07-04-2017, 04:01 AM
My bet is on a Bad Accelerator Pump in the Carb.

07-04-2017, 07:16 AM
Sounding like a bad carb accel pump. dont use resister wires and plugs with points.not enough fire in older systems. an electronic conversion would be helpful here. beat the cancer, we'll whip the car!! Luck Doofus

Jeffry Cassel
07-04-2017, 09:05 AM
Bad accel. pump won't cause miss on no.2 cyl. You are smarter than that!! You are 100% about not using resistor wires and resistor plugs. I think Phil Harris may have a Pertronix kit for a Champion. I have NGK B6HS plugs in our 53 Champion and it seems to run fine with them. Don't use Champion plugs.

07-04-2017, 10:40 AM
Recently, I had the same problem with my Citro├źn DS 19 on cylinder # 4. Spark plugs looked fine and I had a spark in the open but a set of new ones cured the trouble. I would try this first. If your engine was originally equipped with Champion J7, NGK B6S should be fine.
Best of luck with your illness.

07-04-2017, 11:21 AM
Often, I have mentioned how simple our machines are, and yet, how they can baffle the most technically educated. Due to my many years supplying the needs of a broad spectrum of manufacturers, I have been exposed to a lot of bits and pieces of how things work.
That has resulted in me knowing..."A whole lot about everything,:yeahright: but not much about anything.":rolleyes:

Kerry's problem is similar to some I (and many others of us) constantly chase. While it is easy to diagnose (speculate) a single problem, sometimes, sketchy aged parts, and small adjustments, can combine to cause a problem. Here, in the ultra humid south, a few days of hot humid weather can add to condensation in distributors, and accelerate current altering corrosion.

If the engine idles OK, after Kerry manipulated the wires in that metal wire loom, there's a good indication the wires are breaking down and should be replaced. When one of these engines idles OK, but runs rough upon higher RPM, make sure the vacuum advance diaphragm hasn't failed. Sometimes, when more than one of these little components have trouble, correctly diagnosing can drive you nuts. Especially, if you make the wrong diagnosis and start changing too many settings at the same time.

I have seen perfect looking spark plugs, with a tiny crack in the center electrode insulator. Those can short to the sidewall up inside the plug and never provide enough spark to ignite gasoline under compression. I have two licensed and insured Studebakers sitting in my shed that have not been fired up in months. I'm sure I'll face some similar problems when I find the time, and motivation to fire them up again.

Kerry, thanks for continuing to post. Keep plugging away. Besides attacking the cancer, the meds also attack tender cells that affect taste, and smell. My understanding is they sometimes result in a "brain fog," similar to what I experience with my diabetes. Sometimes, "tinkering" on the Studebaker is great therapy. Just pace yourself, and stay safe. Prayers coming your way.:)

07-04-2017, 03:51 PM
first off: thanks for the encouragement regarding the cancer. it's a type of bone cancer - i'm not producing near enough red blood cells, causing acute anemia. i've had two (non-chemo) injections and it raised the hemoglobin level about 1 1/2 points. my oncologist and I believe an injection every 3 weeks will keep everything going forward.

on the '51 Champion: today, the points were ok at .020. the dwell was a little low at 32 - should be 38. and the timing was right on at 14 - the chart in the shop manual shows 12 to 16. the plugged vacuum line at the carb seems ok with a small change at idle, so i think the advance is working. i'll run a test on the vac advance later today.

i keep thinking that the carb needs rebuilding. there are no vacuum leaks and the air mix screw and idle screw work fine. i haven't rebuilt a carb since 1974:ohmy: when i rebuilt a Solex on my Opel GT. (should have purchased a Weber).;)

i'll go ahead and replace the spark plug wires and plugs. the wires are at least 5 years old (PO). the plugs are around 1 1/2 years old...

oh, and the spark from all the plugs seemed "weak" to me when i checked them the other day. is that a 6 volt thing?

thanks for all your suggestions/comments!

07-04-2017, 05:31 PM
oh, and the spark from all the plugs seemed "weak" to me when i checked them the other day. is that a 6 volt thing?

I have not had a 'weak spark' problem on my '54 sedan with 6 volt system. (I'm sure some of the 6-volt nay-sayers will claim that is a reason to change to 12 volts. ;) )

Have you verified that the coil is wired correctly?

07-04-2017, 05:57 PM
yep, the coil is wired correctly and a good points spark. not going to change to 12 volts no matter what Ed says!;)

has anyone tried the E3 spark plugs that are advertised on some Velocity TV shows? some FLAPS have them available and the reviews are positive.

07-05-2017, 03:38 AM
The voltage delivered to the spark plugs is the same regardless of the voltage (of course, with the right coil). To be on the safe side, I'd check that the resistance values of the coil are within specifications. To rule out (or not) the carb, I like to test the engine with the choke on. If there's an improvement, you are sure there's a problem with the carb or with the fuel delivery.

07-05-2017, 06:31 PM
today's update: a bunch of fooling around with the timing. there was a mark on the "vibration dampener flywheel", but after all this time, it wasn't more than a paint mark from a PO. it seemed to run smoother at a higher rpm parked. i took her out for a test drive - barely made it over a small rise in elevation on the road - same as it ever was. :(

so after opening a cold one, i decided to check the spark again with pulling the plug wires. this time it was #5 that was not sparking. (i just threw all the plugs in a bowl to clean them a few days ago). so a bad plug. then i exchanged the #1 plug with #5. neither one would spark! bad wire(s) and a bad plug? (#1 plug was fine in #1 wire)...

so i'll go tomorrow and get new plugs/wires. apparently resistor ones should be avoided. still looking for suggestions on a longer plug that would work in the 170 flathead.

a previous post stated that Champion plugs should not be used. why? the owner's manual states Champion J7 is the plug to use but i know there must be better plugs available that aren't 66 year old tech.

Jeffry Cassel
07-05-2017, 07:15 PM
Decades ago I loved Champion plugs but some where along the line they turned to crap. I still remember walking from the field back to the shop because both Champion plugs failed within minutes of each other on my John Deere 60.

07-06-2017, 04:28 AM
so i'll go tomorrow and get new plugs/wires. apparently resistor ones should be avoided. still looking for suggestions on a longer plug that would work in the 170 flathead.

a previous post stated that Champion plugs should not be used. why? the owner's manual states Champion J7 is the plug to use but i know there must be better plugs available that aren't 66 year old tech.

If you need longer plugs, NGK B6L should do the trick. The thread is 11,2 mm long instead of 9,5 mm with the J7. I think I would still use J7 if I could find NOS ones.
Nice day to all.

07-06-2017, 04:38 AM
Anyone considered a leaking intake gasket?

07-06-2017, 06:40 AM
Have had your problem bugging me like crazy,your wires are shorting in the loom more than likely. happened on a friend's Champ decade's ago.idled around fine but when pushed it would cut out,stumble,hiccup or pop. clue was your messing with wires and things changed. you can pull wires from loom and separate each one then try. Luck Doofus

07-06-2017, 07:17 AM
Am curious how you arrived at the conclusion that the plugs need to have a longer reach than they have had for the previous 66 years.

07-06-2017, 07:33 AM
Am curious how you arrived at the conclusion that the plugs need to have a longer reach than they have had for the previous 66 years.

I think it was from a suggestion in post #8.

07-07-2017, 04:15 PM
You do not need to change the design. You just need to find and replace the faulty components. With the compression your engine has, it should run just fine.

Keep troubleshooting and keep track of which things went where. Putting all the plugs in a bowl and mixing them up will not do the job. It's too late for that now, but you can keep from repeating that mistake with other parts, like plug wires. You need to keep track of which plug was where, which wire was where and so on.

Don't create more work for yourself by creating secondary and tertiary problems that mask the original problem.

Stay on one system (spark and timing) at a time. The timing mark on the vibration damper says "IGN" and you can brighten that up with a grease pencil or white paint. There is a picture of it in the shop manual, and the IGN mark is very close to the other two marks. A Champion engine can generally take more advance than the IGN mark, but start at IGN with low idle and vacuum advance disconnected and plugged. Check to see that the mechanical advance is working and that the vacuum advance is working. Disconnect and plug the vacuum advance, then check the mechanical advance. After doing that, re-connect the vacuum advance and observe even more advancement.

Possible ignition problems include, but are not limited to:
-bad spark plug wires
-bad high voltage coil wire
-bad distributor cap (contact corrosion, carbon tracks, etc)
-bad points (high resistance, misaligned)
-bad condenser
-bad rotor
-bad coil
-coil wired backwards
-low voltage wire to coil intermittent or not delivering full 6 volts
-bad ignition switch
-bad or poorly gapped spark plugs
-stuck or extremely sloppy mechanical advance weights
-bad vacuum advance (Studebaker calls it a spark modifier) It can either get stuck or it can have a vacuum leak in its diaphragm

Don't take something apart that does not need to be taken apart, like the carburetor.

If you get pooped and find you are not thinking straight, set it aside until later. Walk away from it and distract yourself with something else, like a book or TV. Let your subconscious mind work on the problem.

07-07-2017, 04:39 PM
thanks Roy. a question i was going to ask: i plan on putting in a hidden audio system, with a small 12 volt (lawn mower?) battery in the spacious trunk area. why wouldn't resistor plugs and wires not work well on a 6 volt system?

i took yesterday off. today i took the plug wires out of the loom, put the plug "covers" back on the plugs after i removed them. all the plugs fired after some more wiggling around.

i did go to a FLAPS today to pick up some plugs that my computer showed was in stock. yeah, they had 2, not 6!:mad: then i asked for universal wires. the kid asked what car and i told him - he couldn't bring up a '51 Studebaker on his 'puter, so he said they didn't have any universal wires for it.:eek: i made a hasty exit. so new wires (and plugs) will be ordered thru a Studebaker vendor!:!:

07-07-2017, 04:55 PM
The spark plugs I use in my flat head engines are BoschW145TR6. I got a quantity of them several years ago and they work fine for me.

The original radio suppression spark plug wires were not wire at all, but carbon filled fiber of some sort. Lots of folks claim they will not work on 6 volt systems, but they work fine on mine. Maybe they will not hold up to rough handling and tugging.

For some reason, I don't seem to have the operational problems that many folks have. Anyway, the newer radio suppression spark plug wires are copper wire that is wound in a coil, like a spring. They should work fine also, if you can find them with thin enough insulation to fit into the metal channel.

You can certainly use a battery to run your radio, but you can also use a 6 to 12 volt converter. Look at http://radiosforoldcars.net/ and look under power inverters.

07-07-2017, 04:59 PM
i took yesterday off. today i took the plug wires out of the loom, put the plug "covers" back on the plugs after i removed them. all the plugs fired after some more wiggling around.

There shouldn't have to be any "wiggling around" to make them fire. Could you describe exactly and verbosely what you mean by wiggling around?

If something has to be wiggled to make it work, the vibration of operation will certainly wiggle it back out of operating position again.

Have you checked the timing and in particular, the timing advance functions?

Universal spark plug wires for almost any flat head six should work, MoPar and Ford wires can be found at most FLAPS. You have to know more than the kid behind the counter. Fortunately, that's not difficult, but one of the things you have to know is what is similar to more popular brands.

07-07-2017, 05:19 PM
"wiggling around" just means i moved the wires around a bit with insulated channel locks with the plugs out of the engine, using a remote starter.

i moved the distributor all over the place to see if the timing mark wasn't correct. other than a higher or lower rpm at idle, there wasn't much difference when i took my test drives.

i removed the vacuum advance line at the carb and used a rubber hose and clamp to "suck it up". the vac held. i'll see if i can find the Bosch plugs you mentioned and go with resistor wires.

the power inverter looks like the way to go. it'll probably be fall before i can get to it.

thanks again, Roy!:!:

07-07-2017, 05:57 PM
When replacing the spark plug wires, you should take one old one off, put a new one on. Take another old one off, put another new one on. That way the new wires will be in the same position as the old wires.

The spark plug wires you want are called "radio suppression" and not necessarily resistor. That's probably the only kind available any more.

Did you look at the timing and advances with a timing light? The mechanical advance has less of a range than the vacuum advance, and they both add their advances together. But you cannot see them without a timing light.

07-07-2017, 06:02 PM
yep, and i have some tape on the wires near the distributor designating each.

the first thing i checked was to make sure each wire was not crossed to the wrong cylinder.

Jeffry Cassel
07-08-2017, 09:32 AM
The difference between 1957 and 2017 is that we had pretty good gas in 1957. Today's "white gas" is just awful. I came to the conclusion that a longer plug may be better because the "correct" plug did not work and the longer one did! Back in the 70's I knew an engineer who had a 6 cyl Hawk that ran like a V8. He had decreased back pressure a machined the cumbustion chamber. He said that the design of the 6 cyl chamber was just awful; It did not allow for good flow and mixture of air and fuel. Did that ruffle the tail feathers of any you Studebaker Is Perfection folks!

Dan Timberlake
07-08-2017, 04:34 PM
" all the plugs fired after some more wiggling around. "

I agree 100% with what Radio Roy said. Any electrical system in good working condition is robust enough that any amount of wiggling makes NO change.

Some FORD official manuals advocates a "wiggle " test as a means to provoke identify system faults. It is proof some kind of repair needs to be made RIGHT THERE. It does not preclude that additional faults may exist elsewhere as well,

07-09-2017, 03:44 PM
SUCCESS!!!:!: being the impatient type, i decided this morning (actually overnight waking up thinking about it), to go get some available spark plugs at the local Autozone. all they had were the AC Delco R45's that i had in her - but they had 6 of them, ha! now she runs like a... well, a Champion 6 with Automatic Drive:ohmy:.

i'm still going to order wires from a vendor - they are at least 5 years old, and some better spark plugs to have on hand.

Thanks to all that responded.:!!:

07-09-2017, 04:20 PM
Hooray! So the problem all along was spark plugs?

Thanks for reporting the solution. That adds to the knowledge base for all of us.

Resist the temptation to go around town burning rubber. :)

07-09-2017, 04:33 PM
Resist the temptation to go around town burning rubber. :)

that only happens when i need to hit the brakes. the reason? the seat is as far back as it goes (also underneath). with my right hip replacement and the "revision" in March, i can't get the right leg up there. although my left knee replacement is stiff, i can get it on the brakes. the problem is sometimes i forget it's not a clutch!:o

07-09-2017, 08:53 PM
I had the same problem and it turned out to be a plugged muffler.