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1959 Lark won't start

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  • Ignition: 1959 Lark won't start

    Hello everyone, I've been have trouble with my 170 engine. I will try and shorten my past year. I inherited my Lark from my Dad last year. The Lark was at my Mom's house the past Winter and I would start it periodically which I had no problems at all. I tried getting it home in the Spring and ran it for a 1/2 hour before all Hell broke loose. The car ran horrible and wouldn't stay running so I kept it there and put in a coil which some Stude guys said may have been the problem but the car wouldn't start. After a big wind storm a tree fell across the back 1/2 of the car which did some big damage. Anyways I finally had the car towed home and the next day I tried starting it and with a little persuading it started and I let run for awhile which it ran beautifully so I drove it through the park next door to me ( with no rear window and the roof and rear door smashed ). A few days later She wouldn't start again, it would just crank but crank nicely so I got a distributor from Studebaker International because I didn't want to deal with rebuilding mine. Still nothing but I'm getting gas and some flames and the carb is getting drenched with gas. The wires are in the right order, new plugs set at .030 and I did check for spark with a cheap plug tester which is saying it is a fuel problem. I turned the fan so the rotor to #1 cylinder and the pulley behind the fan line up with the arrow attached to the block (sorry I'm not so knowledgeable on all of the parts.). I had to set the points to .020 because the were at .030 and my book says .020, I even poured a little oil in each cylinder just incase things were drying out. another question for you is I know there is a condenser in the distributor but I also have one above the coil but I'm not sure what it is to buy one. I hope I covered everything and I appreciate any suggestions and help. Thanks John.

  • #2
    The Engine is Flooded, the Needle in the Fuel Inlet fitting is stuck open or the float is sunk.
    Tapping with a solid object like a hammer lightly on the Carb. bowl sometimes works or holding the pedal to the floor (do NOT pump) while cranking can clear a flooded Engine.

    Be SURE to keep the Air Cleaner ON, these do not only filter the air, most types are also a flame arrester and silencer as well.

    Sorry to hear of your misfortune with the car's Body being destroyed.
    StudeRich
    Second Generation Stude Driver,
    Proud '54 Starliner Owner

    Comment


    • #3
      Yes. StudeRich's reply kind of points to a partial part of the problem. You stated the carb was drenched in gas and this could be one problem. Try his solutions. I would also look at timing as you may have somehow managed to get the new distributor installed wrong. Been there and done that. Take your time and work the problem through. Eliminate what you can and usually the real culprit ends up being so obvious you may want to slap yourself up the side of your own head. We have all gone through that learning process. Remember, there are no computers on your car to make your life easier, or harder, as the case may be. It is all strictly mechanical, cause and effect...

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      • #4
        Alway do a good diagnosis first, so you aren't randomly replacing good parts. My first check would be to pull the coil wire to check for a hot blue spark at least 1/4" long. If that's good, then I'd look for a fuel problem.

        As mentioned, it does sound like a fuel problem, and this ethanol gas has caused me a lot of fuel problems. I drove my 1950 Champion to Michigan this summer, and left home with a new fuel pump on the car. Everything ran great until I had to fill in Michigan with the ethanol crap gas. It took my fuel pump out in two days, so I had to buy a Precision brand electric pump at O'Rielly's to get home.

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        • #5
          Thank you everyone, I ran out of time tonight but I should be able to get back at it in the next night or two.

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          • #6
            pull a couple plugs to see if it's flooding... Flooded plugs will look nasty.
            If so, clean em all and check the carb over good.

            Make sure that it's timed ok, since the distributor has been replaced.
            Ensure you have decent spark.

            Comment


            • #7
              If you have wet plugs you might have to remove them all and spin the motor over to expell the raw gas. I've even had to use compressed air and my blow gun to clear the gas out.

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              • #8
                I have seen flooded spark plugs that will not fire after flooding, even if cleaned. Ran into at parts store, mechanics coming in with 8 bad plugs after flooding, After a few times, we had to ask what the chance of buying 6 or 8 spark plugs and all going bad at same time .
                Randy Wilkin
                1946 M5 Streetrod
                Hillsboro,Ohio 45133

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                • #9
                  JJ you will likely have to go into the carb. that tree limb whack sent debris from the inside top of the fuel tank down stream to the carb needle and seat. if this proves out you will want to remove the fuel pump and clean it out as well. then add a filter before the fuel pump. Good Luck Doofus

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by rodnutrandy View Post
                    I have seen flooded spark plugs that will not fire after flooding, even if cleaned. Ran into at parts store, mechanics coming in with 8 bad plugs after flooding, After a few times, we had to ask what the chance of buying 6 or 8 spark plugs and all going bad at same time .
                    I flooded one car or the other several years ago and the plugs would not fire. It was late, or something, but the parts store was closed... or maybe did not have them in stock.. whatever.

                    I put the plugs in a vice and used a propane torch to get them really hot, clearing the porcelin tips. That got the car running, at least until I could get new plugs.
                    Ron Dame
                    '63 Champ

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                    • #11
                      That must have worked, mechanics close to a parts store more than likely didn't try anything like that .
                      Randy Wilkin
                      1946 M5 Streetrod
                      Hillsboro,Ohio 45133

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        My mechanic buddy said he would almost guarantee that I installed the distributor in wrong and my timing is out of whack do to the flames and fuel from the carb. So I pulled #1 plug again and I turned the fan, with my thumb pressed over the spark plug hole to feel for combustion and after about 10 turns I felt nothing and he said ( over the phone ) that it seems more like a head gasket or a timing issue. Before I start sinking money into it needlessly I value Stude peoples opinions. I almost got rid of the car when the tree feel on it but the Ohio SBC started offering parts to get it back on the road (some for free). I'm a little green at most of this stuff but to me there is NOTHING better then driving around a old car in the Summer. I also have a 1964 Ford Galaxie with fresh engine that I enjoyed last Summer. Sorry about going on so long but any other thoughts I do appreciate it!

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                        • #13
                          The flathead is a great engine. Head gaskets just don't fail overnight. Does the distributor (rotor) turn when you crank the engine? It probably does or you wouldn't have it backfiring through the carb but I'm asking just to make sure of the obvious. Pull all the plugs & spin the engine to purge any gas that may be flooding. Are the plugs wet? If so use the propane method & clean them up. With all the plugs out have someone (or yourself if you have a starter button hooked up to the solenoid) & spin the engine, putting your finger over the spark plug hole to feel the compression. When you feel the compression on #1 stop. Check the position of the rotor & how it lines up with the #1 terminal. Install the #2 to 6 plugs & spin the engine again but this time with a timing light. You should hear the compression stroke & see the light at the same time. Install #1 plug.

                          While all this is being tested does the carb overflow? If so, the needle & seat are not closing properly. Is the choke closed? Does it squirt when you work the carb linkage? Does it attempt to start with starting fluid?

                          This is a good example of the need for all of us to have at least the shop manual. The diagnosis section in the front covers everything step by step and for around 20 bucks on a cd, a bargain.
                          59 Lark wagon, now V-8, H.D. auto!
                          60 Lark convertible V-8 auto
                          61 Champ 1/2 ton 4 speed
                          62 Champ 3/4 ton 5 speed o/drive
                          62 Champ 3/4 ton auto
                          62 Daytona convertible V-8 4 speed & 62 Cruiser, auto.
                          63 G.T. Hawk R-2,4 speed
                          63 Avanti (2) R-1 auto
                          64 Zip Van
                          66 Daytona Sport Sedan(327)V-8 4 speed
                          66 Cruiser V-8 auto

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                          • #14
                            Thank you everyone for the suggestions and sorry it took so long to reply but I finally had my Brother-in-law over to help me out. I couldn't give up on the Distributor and after we had it out about 5 times we noticed that the only way it would seat properly, the rotor would point to number 6. Then we noticed that the slot on the bottom of the distributor was off center so every time I tried to turn it 180 degrees it wouldn't seat all the way down (make sense ?) so I guess I wasn't putting it in properly. I read that if the oil pump was installed incorrectly that you would have to switch your wires on the cap to make it run. WELL that is what we did and now it runs SMOOOOOOTHHHHH! I'm not sure if Studebaker International sent me a different Distributor or not but I don't recall an off center slot. I do understand the need for manuals and I had every one opened and scattered on my dinning room table which made me look as thou I knew what I was doing. Sometimes it's nice to vent and ask questions to experienced Stude guys so I thank you again!!!!! I believe I need a head gasket (heads up for more questions ) since I'm getting some oil leaking around the head but I will clean it up and watch it for awhile.

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                            • #15
                              Good job JJ getting the oil pump right is a pain.you have it purring like a kitten so continue to march and have fun! you can re-align the pump by the book when its warmer, your ok for now. you can start the art of rust repair and panel replacement now with a self propelled lark. Good On You, Doofus

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