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Carberator woes in PDX

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  • Carberator woes in PDX

    Hey gang, here in Portland, Oregon with a '59 Lark 6 HT that won't start. It all began when I decided to adjust my carb. to run better with E-10 fuel, which is all you can get around here. The car had been dying when it was cold so I turned the choke to +1 from -1, which seemed to be too much, within a week the plugs were black from the too rich mix. I replaced the plugs, put the choke back where it was but I made the mistake of fooling with the low idle and the idle screws. This engine has a higher than average amount of compression due to the head being shaved a few times which I understand means setting the idle is a bit tricky. I have started a carb. log documenting every turn of the screw. I have cleaned it pretty well, it's getting spark, it's getting gas, the butterfly valve is totally closed once I step on the gas, plugs are still clean. Last night driving home from work it started fine, it was a little lean I could tell, pulled up to the first stop, took my foot off the brake and put it on the gas; dead within 3 feet of the start and in a busy intersection I might ad. Restart, put it in gear a few agonizing feet, dead. It took me two changes of the light to get through the intersection two or three feet at a time. I pulled over and let her run for a few minutes in park and things were almost all better. When I stopped at the lights from there on the engine seemed to want to die and it ran hotter than normal but she got me home.
    I have been screwing with this thing for weeks and I only seem to be making things worse, now she won't even start. If there is anyone in the area that could help me learn what I'm doing wrong it would be greatly appreciated, beers on me. Even a recommendation of a traveling carb. medic would be great. My grandpa is a retired mechanic but there is only so much he can do over the phone. I am so sick of wasting my time making the problem worse. I have gotten good advise from the forum in the past.
    I am at my wits end[V]
    Thanx in advance, Jsin Cread

  • #2
    First I'd put any new spark plug with the gap widened to 1/8 inch in the distrib end of coil wire, ground the metal plug body against the engine, and try to start the car using a remote starter switch so I could observe the plug gap. If there was not a series of blue sparks while cranking I'd investigate point cleanliness and gap.
    If there was a series of sparks I'd put teh coil wire back in the the distributor and try to start it after putting a teaspoon of brand new gas down the carb throat, or a squirt of starting fluid. If runs for a second it confirms pretty well its a fuel problem.
    Then I'd pump the throttle while looking down the carb throat. There should be a squirt of whatever liquid is in the carb bowl from the accelerator pump. No squirt and I'd check fuel pump delivery by removing the fuel line close to the carb, directing it into a clean clear glass container, and cranking for several seconds. If no fuel was pumped out I'd work my way back to the fuuel pump etc. If a decent flow of fuel emerged I'd look carefully at the captured fuel for clarity and cleanliness. I'd let it settle for 10 or 15 minutes and look at it again. Then I'd add a few splashes of isopropyl type dry gas to the gas in the jar and watch it for a few minutes until the tiny swirls died down. If the clarity of the gas improved, or a layer of different liquid formed on the bottom of the jar, then the gas has water in it, and I'd drain the tank and put in 5 gallons of fresh stuff which I had subjected to the dry gas test. I'd remove the carb top and syphon out the contaminated gas in the bowl, looking also for particles and water, then put the carb top back on and try to start it again.


    • #3
      Try advancing the timing. If you set the timing at a higher rpm than the car is currently idling at the centrifugal advance might have been coming on and you would have needed to retard the static timing to get the right setting. When the idle is high the timing is ok because the centrifugal advance is coming on but once the car is warmed and curb idle is at it's lowest point the idle drops the timing retards you stall and have little off idle acceleration.

      Check the points and the wires to the coil, bad points and a bad pigtail wire caused a similar problem on a brand X I have.

      Is the carb loading up because the float setting is too high? That would explain your sooty plugs and poor acceleration also.

      The mixture screws have no effect once the throttle blades are opened so it's doubtful those settings would cause any problems other than poor idle quality.


      On its way to a 15.097 Island Dragway Great Meadows NJ Spring 2006.


      • #4
        The plugs are sparking. I tried starter fluid and nothing. I removed the fuel line at the carb and it's pumping fuel, it's a little cloudy and a little bit of junk in it but it's not bad. The starter fluid should have started it if it were a fuel problem anyway, right? Should I look else where, valve covers dirty? Something clogged in the carb somewhere? The butterfly valve is totally closed when cold, shouldn't it be a little bit open till I hit the throttle, is the choke too lean?
        Thanks Dan, was kinda wondering what "Third" was gonna be though...
        and bige, you have my dream car, I dunno if I wanna start messing with the timing, my timing gun is broke and even with the timing off it should still start right? I have so far only messed with the carb and it was running relatively well before.
        Thanx, Jsin


        • #5
          I would check plugs. They probably need cleaning or replaced. You mention adjusting choke closed. I never adjust one cold. Have engine
          warmed up and adjust choke to were it just opens. Older choke springs often fail to open all the way if adjusted closed. If you have a good
          accelerator pump you shouldn't need the choke closed tight. I have mine adjusted to never close though this can be a pain with an automatic
          transmission equipped car.