View Full Version : R1 Fuel Starvation Issue

Bill Pressler
04-22-2007, 07:00 AM
I am so looking forward to the national in SB, but I am about ready to push my Lark off a cliff.

Drove it seven miles yesterday to a friend's house. He wasn't there. Drove about a quarter mile, stopped at an intersection, and when I took off, it would barely accelerate and was chugging like an old four-cylinder. Stopped running on an overpass. Might I add I am not a mechanic??!! All spark plug wires were attached tight, as were distributor connections. My friend came by, he wiggled the battery connections (both were loose), we got it started up again and made it back to his house. There, he tightened the battery connections and it seemed fine. We drove it about twenty miles on the nearby interstate (wanted to see if I still had the nagging vibration it had when I drove it on the interstate in Jan.--no, it didn't, luckily), but then once we got off onto the ramp, it started chugging again, then died, as we coasted into my friend's driveway.

Ran fine on the interstate, except that for while accelerating up the ramps, it would bog a few times, then ran fine at 50-60 mph.

The fuel pump is not quite two years old, and I had put it away for the winter with a full tank of premium fuel, bottle of Heet, plus my usual lead substitute.

After this last "crap out" only, it would not start again...like vapor lock. The couple times before this, it WOULD start again, but would not stay running.

Any ideas? I'm starting to hate this car. BTW, it has an MSD ignition system.

Bill Pressler
Kent, OH
'63 Daytona Skytop R1

04-22-2007, 07:28 AM

I had the *exact* same issue with my '62 hardtop. It turned out to be a piece of debris in the fuel tank, clogging the pickup tube. I couldn't tell what it was or how it got in there but it looked like some kind of nylon or other synthetic cloth (I tried to burn it out - tank out of the car of course - and it wouldn't burn. I ended up having to pick it out with a razor blade taped to a stick.) I also was running two filters as it was a "barn car" and although I'd cleaned the inside of the tank, it still had some fine rust praticles in it. I heard from the guy that bought it that he ended up having more issues with rust in the tank and ended up simply replacing the tank with a better one.

Also, check everything that could clog from debris - if you have the stock sediment bowl, is there an element in it? If not, what about the little "socks" in the carburetor? If you have a standard (not R-series) fuel pump, have you checked the integral filter?

good luck


55 Commander Starlight

04-22-2007, 09:37 AM

Go back to basics. Don't assume that you have a fuel problem. Remember that the engine needs fuel, air, compression, and ignition to run.

If the car won't run, take off the air cleaner, look down the carb, and push the throttle linkage. You should see two streams of fuel squirting into the front two barrels. If so, odds are that it is not a fuel starvation issue. Unless the air filter is totally clogged, let's assume that you have air.

Pull a spark plug wire, and stick a phillips screw driver, or other metal object into the wire end. Place it so that the metal object is about 3/8" from a solidly grounded part of the engine, like an intake manifold bolt. Have someone crank the engine and look for a solid spark to jump between the screwdriver and the engine. BTW, check to see that the grounding wire between the frame and the engine is intact. This should be located at the right motor mount, IIRC.

If no spark is present, there are additional things to troubleshoot. I'm not familiar with the MSD, so I can't comment, but your problem could be related to a bad coil, or even a bad resistance wire from the ignition switch to the coil (if it fires while cranking but quits when you release the key).

If spark is present, I would pull the spark plugs to check for fouling and proper gap. Do one at a time to preclude the chance of mixing up ignition wires in the process.

Another thought just came to mind. Remember the problem that you had with gas overflowing the tank and leaking out the gas cap? Did you check to make sure that the tank vent line was not obstructed? If this line is clogged, you will create a vacuum in the tank which can affect the amount of gas that the fuel pump can deliver. If the engine quits, pop the gas cap. If you hear a "whoosh" of air, the vent is clogged. This happened on my white Cruiser.

Check for gas and spark as described above, and let us know the results. At that point we can try to narrow it down further.

Good luck, Bill!

Jim Bradley
'64 Daytona HT "Rerun"

04-22-2007, 10:26 AM

04-22-2007, 03:37 PM
FWIW, I had a problem with my '63 Hawk a number of years ago that had me stumped for some time. It seemed the car would randomly lose power while being driven, as if it was only running on a few cylinders. I was convinced it was fuel related, so I checked the fuel pressure, carb adjustment and even looked for vacuum leaks. I couldn't get the car to act up on cue and this problem only occurred every once and a while. So one day I'm under the car replacing the clutch and I notice what appeared to be a faint wet spot on the fuel line-to-frame clamp. Turns out the clamp had worn a tiny hole in the hard fuel line after all these years -allowing air into the line whenever the car hit big bumps or drove over uneven surfaces. The frame would flex just enough to allow a little bit of air into the line and then shortly after the engine would stumble and run rough. It was hard to detect because the hole was somewhat covered by the clamp, and something I never would have guessed as being the culprit!

04-22-2007, 07:05 PM
I had a situation like this happen to me going to SB 150th meet. I had rebuilt the distributor for my R2. Going down I-80 it was doing great. Once I had got off of the interstate, the car would bog going up the hills and do fine going down them. Once I had entered SB it was really started to bog, cut out, etc. Well, a few days into the meet I fiddled with the timing, and took it out. The slowest test drive on the planet, as it wouldnt push past 15 mph.
So I get it back and Jon Myers is standing out there. He asked me to pop the hood and asked if I had some wire. Sure, not a problem, I gave him some wire. He opened the distributor, regapped the points and told me the points had closed up. Told me to take it back out around the block. My gosh, I thought it was gonna break loose at the intersection. Anyway, check your points if you still have em, they might need to be regapped to spec. Oh, afterwards I bought a remote starter and went to a Pertronix :)

1964 Studebaker Commander R2 clone
1950 Studebaker 2R5 with 170 turbocharged

Bill Pressler
04-23-2007, 02:42 PM
Thanks everybody for your sage advice. At last look it was not getting gas into the carb.

I went and ordered an R1 fuel pump from Fairborn Studebaker. If nothing else, I'll have a spare if and when I'll need it down the road.

A friend and his friend (Ford dealer mechanic and mechanic on old Fords he owns) are thinking it's an obstruction somewhere from the fuel tank or nearer along. Rather than just throwing money at it, we're thinking that's a good place to start.

I'll keep everybody posted.

Bill Pressler

P.S. Jim B., always enjoy your tips...always written like a true engineer!

04-23-2007, 03:23 PM
Another thing that can cause this scenario is not having the correct type of gas cap. It has to be vented. If it's not, the fuel pump will pull until the developing vacuum in the gas tank manages to resist the pull of the pump.[}:)] Let it set a bit (you know, long enough to shake some wires, take the air cleaner off and curse the carb and maybe think about putting clothes pins on the fuel line - an old vapor-lock snake oil cure) and it'll start again, only to frustrate you some ways down the road again. This 'cause the tank had time to draw in air thru an incorrect or hampered gas cap or where a damned hole fly's made it's nest nice 'n tight in the vent line! But once you go again, the vacuum builds again and ...... DAMN!:(
Of course, I've seen most of the possible maladies recited here - tiny hole in metal OR rubber line, crap in the tank, failing fuel pump, clogged fuel filter (at the inlet nipple!)etc., etc..[xx(]

Miscreant adrift in
the BerStuda Triangle

1957 Transtar 1/2ton
1960 Larkvertible V8
1958 Provincial wagon
1953 Commander coupe

04-23-2007, 06:14 PM
Actually a Lark, unless it's a station wagon, has a separate vent line and an unvented cap, but Mr. B makes a good point.


55 Commander Starlight

dave smith
04-23-2007, 08:36 PM
you also might want to check flex hose from fuel line to pump the liner inside sometimes comes loose and will suck shut thes reopen after it dies. good luck

05-04-2007, 06:58 PM

Any progress on the Lark problems?

Jim Bradley
'64 Daytona HT "Rerun"

05-04-2007, 09:24 PM
Hey Bill, feel free to drop your Skytop off here. I'll take care of it for ya if you feel the need to get rid of it. [8D]

A few months back, while riding around all day in my Scotsman, I pulled into the driveway and it just died. It'd never shut off before! I looked and it wasn't getting fuel, so I stuck a new spare fuel pump on there. Well, that didn't help, so another spare pump went on. Still nothing. By this time is was dark and I was working from a flashlight, so I called it quits. The next day, I had my grandad stop by to see if he could see anything wrong. Turns out, the metal fuel pickup tube in the tank was clogged. So, we poked a piece of wire down there and hey, we're ready to go! Then, suddenly a couple months later on the way to school one morning, it did it again. I just hitched a ride on to school and hitched a ride back to the truck that evening. I got my piece of wire and cleaned the tube again. And after doing this numerous times, I finally installed a newly rebuilt gas tank. Problem fixed! :D
Oh, and the clog? Well, it was a piece of gasket maker stuff that I had used when I put the gas guage sending unit back in. :)

Also, a '63 Lark fuel tank doesn't have a pickup tube. It's all lines and it comes from the bottom of the tank. Maybe you have an inner-collapsing rubber line? Though the way it sounds, you're getting fuel, just not enough. [?]


Matthew Burnette
Hazlehurst, Georgia
'59 Scotsman PU
'63 Daytona HT

Simply Orange

05-04-2007, 09:32 PM
My 64 Daytona has the same problem, but just occasionally and it usually corrects itself. Some times on the interstate it looses power and I just pull over to the side and lightly pump the accelerator to keep it going while it is still at about 25-35 MPH. It usually cures itself. It is not vapor lock. It does that sometimes, too, but that is a different feeling. I think it is trash (or rust) from the gas tank, because I have blown the fuel filter out and cured the problem for a while.

Leonard Shepherd, editor, The Commanding Leader, Central Virginia Chapter, http://centralvirginiachapter.org/

John Kirchhoff
05-04-2007, 09:34 PM
Matthew, that reminds me of the time my mom's John Deere lawnmower would take spells of conking out. Sometimes it wouldn't restart, other times it would and there was no rhyme or reason to it's actions. Ends up there was a dead fly swishing around in the bottom of the gas tank. Sometimes his miserable little carcass would get stuck over the hole in the tank and cut off the fuel. Now that one was a dandy to figure out.

Bill Pressler
05-06-2007, 04:47 PM
Jim and everybody,

Thanks for the follow-up. My working in Baltimore although living in Ohio, hasn't helped my lack of mechanical skills in getting this problem resolved! Luckily, a Studebaker "wrench" friend of mine has taken it on as a side project. His first take is that there is a clog somewhere in a fuel line, so he is planning on replacing fuel lines (something I have not done in nineteen years of ownership!). I also bought an R1 fuel pump from Fairborn Studebaker as a last resort...even if not needed (current fuel pump is only two years old), I'll have a spare. I also sent the carb to a rebuild shop in Atlanta, as I always thought since day one it idled really lumpy (I know some will say it's the R-1 'racing' cam), and it smells strongly up front of gas for two hours after you shut it down. A few weeks back I saw it was leaking pretty strongly onto the manifold. The carb place called me this past Friday to say they were getting ready to ship it out, completed, and that they wanted to insure it, was that OK with me? I asked how much, then replied, "Sure". You more experienced guys will probably laugh, but he told me that a Carter AFB 3589S is so rare, he wanted to insure it for $1,500!!

So, we'll see how it all pans out. I really want to have the car ready for the May 27 Greenville, PA car show and the SDC National, but if it's not, I'm going to both anyway. (Another friend is lobbying my "wrench" friend into fixing the A/C on his daily driver before he launches into more work on my car.) I'll still enjoy them..just a bit less! There's an older guy in Greenville I've heard has a nice yellow '48 Champion two-door sedan. He repairs player pianos as a retirement side job. I think I'll call him and ask him to bring his car to the Greenville show too.

I'll keep you guys posted on my Lark's progress!

Thanks for the tips,
Bill Pressler
Kent, OH