View Full Version : Starting a 6 volt 259

09-18-2017, 09:32 PM
I got my 259 back from the machine shop that was seizing when hot. The machinist determined that the rods were not true and therefore were resized. The bearings were severley scrubbed and required replacement, mostly indicative of starved for oil. As the routine maintenance was continued the oil galleys were cleaned and were excessively clogged with debris, I believe the clogged galleys were responsible for the connecting rod issues. The machine shop disassembled the engine corrected the issues, rod sizing, deglazing, polished the crank, clean oil galleys and generally clean parts. The engine was in the shop for about 6 weeks and I called him for a status report and the standard answer there were several jobs ahead of mine. Within 2 days the work was completed and my engine was to be delivered with one condition that I assemble it myself, I agreed. The engine went together with no issues the weather was good I worked outside with my grandson (15) I let him do all the torqueing.
After assembly and attempt to start the fun started. All the valves were set to .024 by hand turning, after the first attempt to start there was no action the engine turned over briskly but no fire there was good spark however and the timing was right on. I decided to recheck the valves and there were all open with no clearance at all therefore no compression. After about 5 revolutions checking the valve clearance they were finally all re-established at .024 and stayed there. This engine is operating on 6 volts by my choice. Attempts to restart failed as the compression was re-established and it turned very slowly, too slowly to start. I removed the plugs and it spun over very rapidly. To confirm there was oil in the system I filled the plug holes front and back with about 16 oz of oil and confirmed oil by removing the front plug while cranking and there was a gusher, that was a good sign. With the plugs back in, the 6 volt system would not turn it over, it would barley turn. The cables were #1 however there was a substantial difference in diameters. The cable from the battery to the starting solenoid was #1 and the cable from the solenoid to the starter was also #1. While attempting to crank the #1 cable from the solenoid to the starter was so over heated it started to melt the insolation and I couldn't put
my hand on it. This led me to believe the cable was too small, I therefore replaced it with a 1/0 cable and the engine turns over briskly once again. I also purchased a new battery of the same category as the existing battery however it had an additional 100 amps cold cranking power, the new battery turned the engine over an additional 10% faster than the original battery. The engine started up very smartly even on 6 volts.

09-18-2017, 11:56 PM
I believe that 6 Volt Systems require 00 Ga. Battery Cables, 1.0 Ga. must have been your problem. I have to wonder also if you may have more than 8.0 to 8.5 to 1 Compression in that 259. Were the Heads or Block shaved?
Thick or thin steel shim Head Gaskets?

Glad you got her running. Valve adjustments on a Solid Lifter engine should NOT change by cranking though! :confused:

Also note that .024 is the HOT and Running Clearance, setting Cold as you were would be .026

09-19-2017, 04:02 AM
It would be interesting, if you still have the old cable, to split the insulation full length and look for corrosion. I have seen wire that was sized properly, but had turned green inside the jacket, to the point it had too much resistance and heated up like you described. The reason I thought this, is that the first cable to the solenoid seemed to carry the amperage without heating. When in doubt, larger cable is always better for 6 volt, as you already know.

09-19-2017, 08:33 AM
Sometimes you can carefully run your fingers along a cable or wire and find the corrosion. A mechanical friend of mine showed me this when he was searching out a problem in a tail light. He located a slightly swelled place in the insulation and when he opened it up the wires were green and corroded. The wire will sometimes feel "crunchy" at the bad spot.

09-19-2017, 03:58 PM
I do agree with you Rich that 00 would be the cable of choice the best I could find was 1/0 welding cable and it does work very well. Different standards appear to have different sizes. One of the SAE #1 cables is .040 smaller than the other #1. The 1/0 cable is .060+ larger than the #1 cable.67179671806718167182The blue cable is the one that started to melt, the 1/0 cable didn't even get warm.

09-19-2017, 04:17 PM
The spec I used was from a 53 Commander67186

09-19-2017, 04:55 PM
The spec I used was from a 53 Commander67186

That is not a '55 to '64 259/289, it's a 232, Apples to Oranges.
But the good news is, people have raced these engines and got a hair more power setting them tighter, and if not overheated probably worked OK.

09-19-2017, 08:36 PM
The 6 volt v8 starters had only 2 field coils. Find a 6v Buick, Olds, Pontiac, or Cadillac starter and use the 4 field coil center section. You will have to drill a new dowel pin hole. It makes a huge difference in cranking speed.

09-19-2017, 08:48 PM
The 6 volt v8 starters had only 2 field coils. Find a 6v Buick, Olds, Pontiac, or Cadillac starter and use the 4 field coil center section. You will have to drill a new dowel pin hole. It makes a huge difference in cranking speed.

I do not know what you mean by using " the 4 field coil center section". I have always used the GM outer case with the four field coils attached and the Studebaker armature and end plates. You do not always have to drill a new dowel pin hole.

58 Hawk
09-19-2017, 09:50 PM
My speedster starter was slow and turned over slow making it hard to start ...I talked with David Thibeault ( advertises in each Turning Wheels ) and he advised me to send to him for the addition of two more starter fields .
I followed David's advise and now my 6 volt 259 starts like it is a 12 volt.....a great improvement in its starting !!
Thanks David
Joe Parsons

09-20-2017, 01:58 PM
For Richard G. I reviewed the spec for the 63 259 and it is as you say, .024 hot, the fact that I have mine set at .024 cold would presume when hot they would be lesser possibly at .022. I do realize I have set the valves incorrect at .024 cold. My question is what adverse effects will .002 clearance difference have on the operation of the engine? The reduced clearance will open the valve an additional .002 and what effect will this have? Would it be imperative that I readjust the valves to .026 cold?

09-20-2017, 05:46 PM
I thought that people could "read into" both of my comments to guess that .002 is no big deal, but some people like to go by the book, I don't see a big problem with either.
Heat is the big issue with Valves, if the engine is run in very hot climates or used to haul heavier loads and or in a lot of hills or at higher RPM's and it runs hotter, more clearance is better.

Are you using the "Today's" type of Valve Job, with Sodium filled or High Temp Stainless and Stellite Tipped H.D. Valves with Hardened Unleaded Fuel Exhaust Valve Seats? If not, maybe readjusting them would be the best option.

Usually, much tighter Valve Clearances are reserved for the Performance grind Cam Lobe profiles, but those would be as much as .010 closer than stock.