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  #1   IP: 184.179.105.180
Old 10-11-2017, 06:56 PM
rsanghera rsanghera is offline
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Unhappy Sigh... please let my A4 start this time.

A4 experts... I'm a frequent visitor, but first-time poster.

First, the boat: '79 Newport 30 with a rebuilt A4 (rebuild in '13). Raw water cooled, electric fuel pump, in-line fuel filter to fuel/water separator.

She's been getting harder and harder to start over the last couple of years. Unfortunately, the boat sits for long periods of time. Even though I'm in SoCal (Orange County), I'm on the road a lot and she doesn't get the attention she needs... speaking about the boat, not the wife.

Last time I was able to get the A4 started was about 2 months ago, and it took nearly 10 minutes of attempts. Once started, things seemed fine. It took throttle fine... until we got out of the slip and into the channel. This time, I happened to backup down the channel, but then, once in forward gear, it was struggling to take any throttle at all. Got it back into the slip and have two months of bruises on my forehead now. Never started since. The starter engages, and does it's job... flywheel is turning, etc. The engine just doesn't "catch."

I went down the spark channel first. Changed the points, rotor, condenser, cap and plugs. I also changed both fuel filters and changed the oil at the same time. I am getting spark at all four plugs... still no starting. One move I regret. When I filled the new fuel/separator, I filled about 2/3 with fuel, and then the last 1/3 with Sea Foam liquid. I did this based on a recommendation; however, I now appreciate that I should have got the engine running and warm before doing this. So that "whoops" factors in since I've yet to burn it out of the system.

I switched to the fuel side of the equation. All else seemed fine, but the fuel does sit a long time so figured the carb was gunked up. Now running on a newly rebuilt carb. Still not able to start.

After checking the plugs again, I see that they are wet, and I also noticed that I would get fuel backed up into the intake below the flame arrestor. I borrowed a compression gauge from the local auto shop and have the following:
Cylinder #1: 110 lbs
Cylinder #2: 100 lbs
Cylinder #3: 110 lbs
Cylinder #4: 0 lbs (not a typo... I got skunked. Sigh)

I double checked the gauge back and forth across working cylinders and got a zero in #4 consistently... bummer. Assuming that this means stuck valve. This also happens to be the "lowest" cylinder with the tilt of the engine, so I'm guessing that in one or more of my difficult starting attempts over the years, I forgot to keep the raw water intake closed. Bad things happen as a result. Another sigh and bruise on the forehead.

So here's where I am: Probably stuck valve on #4 (anyone here in OC ever try to do a valve job on the boat??), BUT... shouldn't she still start? I'm thinking that I still should have "bang" everywhere else and at least get it started. My next move is to drain the fuel tank. It's a 20 gallon tank and, in the last 6-7 years, has only been to the fuel dock 2-3 times. It only take 20-30 minutes to get out of the channel and get the sails up, so the fuel sits for a long time.

Am I crazy in thinking that I should still be able to start up on 3 cylinders? If not, does cleaning out the tank and all of the fuel lines seem like the best next step?

Appreciate the advice.

RICK
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  #2   IP: 71.179.226.138
Old 10-12-2017, 08:17 AM
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The first step I would take is using a portable fuel tank with fresh fuel plumbed into the fuel pump. Keep it higher and outside the cabin. It "should" start even with the zero compression on #4. Also check to make sure your plug wires are correct.
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Old 10-12-2017, 10:31 AM
JOHN COOKSON JOHN COOKSON is offline
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Before we get to far down the road let's pick off the easy things first.
It sounds to me like the choke is not working correctly. Are you sure it is all the way open and all the way closed when you think it is?
You are getting spark and fuel in all four cylinders. Are the spark plug wires connected in the correct firing order?
Fuel will accumulate in a downdraft carburetor after a lot of no start cranking.
The engine should start on three cylinders. The stuck valve might break loose. In the mean while try to get some MMO on the stuck valve. A pump oil can with a flexible spout might work to do this.

TRUE GRIT
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Old 10-12-2017, 12:29 PM
rsanghera rsanghera is offline
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John & Oldlaxer1-
Thanks for the quick thoughts.

I have indeed checked my firing order multiple times so I feel good there. Also, before the carb rebuild, I did manually check the choke valve with the flame arrestor removed. After the rebuild, I have checked again, and see that it does indeed open/close as desired.

With constant starting attempts, I do get some fuel back into the carb. I have been removing this fuel with a siphon tool.

I really like the MMO thought onto the stuck valve. I'll track a flex pipe to try that... but clearly that is secondary to the starting issue.

Regarding the "try new fuel" troubleshooting step... I have a plastic gas can in the anchor hatch that I have always kept around. Is it safe to use this as the fuel source if kept outside of the cabin. I will ensure that there is new fuel in the can, but I hesitated to do this last week. I don't have a dingy so don't actually own a true external portable tank that is pre-plumbed with fuel line, etc. Clearly I can go pick one up, but thought I'd check to see if the first option is a safe one.

Thanks

RICK
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  #5   IP: 71.118.13.238
Old 10-12-2017, 02:17 PM
Dave Neptune Dave Neptune is online now
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Rick, the A-4 should start and run on 3 with little effort. If you are confident with the fuel, choke & carb do check for a good blue snappy spark!

You mentioned wet plugs, were they wet with fuel or water?

A good trick for starting a wet with water or flooded engine. Pull the plugs and get a piece of small hose that will fit on the ceramic portion of the plug tight enough that you can screw them in by HAND. Now fire up the stove or oven and heat the plugs to above boiling (spritz some water to be sure it sizzles) then carefully screw them in with the hose piece (so you don't burn yer pinkies) by hand attach the wires and start immediately. NO NEED TO WRENCH TIGHTEN FOR THIS! The heat will keep the plug dry so the spark will jump the gap and not ground through the moisture creating NO SPARK. Done this hundreds of times over the years with wet cylinders.

You can do this with just the 3 that have compression and leave the zero plug in it's place. Can deal with getting the valve unstuck afterwards. It may just shake loose when/if the engine starts.

Just oil up the offending cylinder, I find a lubrication spray to work better on getting the oil to the valve stem than pooring or an oil can and you won't have as much oil to burn out or goober things up.

Dave Neptune
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Old 10-12-2017, 03:37 PM
rsanghera rsanghera is offline
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Well that isn't something that I would have thought of. But it does have that everyday genius ring to it!

Here's my new testing order:

1. Chef Neptune's baked spark plug recipe
2. New fuel with a portable tank

Will keep you posted.

RICK
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  #7   IP: 71.118.13.238
Old 10-12-2017, 04:21 PM
Dave Neptune Dave Neptune is online now
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Rick, RE the portable tank, a simple syphon hose a couple of feet above the carb will suffice for idle and low rpm's~~IE just for testing and/or starting. It will starve for fuel at higher RPM's.

Remember to close the water intake while trying to start so no water builds up in the exhaust where it can work it's way into the engine via an open exhaust valve.

Chef, now that is something I don't think I have been called before.

Dave Neptune
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  #8   IP: 72.69.36.126
Old 10-12-2017, 07:40 PM
tenders tenders is online now
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The spark plug recipe sounds delicious but I have to say that if the engine is going to start, and the plugs are clean, in my limited experience it’s gonna start whether they’re tartare, al dente, or well-done.

Last edited by tenders; 10-12-2017 at 07:45 PM.
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Old 10-12-2017, 08:28 PM
Golfdad75 Golfdad75 is offline
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Two things check your choke, mine wouldn't start for two months. Choke was the problem. I really felt stupid. Put MMO in the cylinder, hopefully it will break loose.
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  #10   IP: 71.118.13.238
Old 10-13-2017, 11:58 AM
Dave Neptune Dave Neptune is online now
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Tenders, I have used the baked plugs to start countless 2 strokes that were dropped over the side. With the water they trap it is about the only way to get the spark to jump. Virtually any moisture on the plug will ground the juice with no spark. Done this on many A-4's that back filled too, even mine 4 or 5 times.

It really works great, especially with water encroachment!

Did this with a lil 3.5 2 stroke that a friend dropped over just a couple weeks ago at Catalina. He and his buddy had been trying to start it for a while and nothing. Another in the bay whose I'd started in this manner told him to give me a shout. It would not even start on "motor crack". When I arrived I checked that the drained the carb and tank which they had and told him to fire up the stove, this really raised some eyebrows. First try it started and ran for about 3~5 seconds and the plug became wet again from the water still in the crank case and the rpm's of that first start pumps a lot of water out because of the rpm's. The second baking did the trick and she purred like she should. I also got a nice dinner from my efforts.


Dave Neptune
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Old 10-13-2017, 04:40 PM
rsanghera rsanghera is offline
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Chef -
I gave it the ole college try today, but baked plugs didn't get me there. There was certainly more "activity" in the chambers. I tried the baking process a few times.

I used my external BBQ on the back rail. I didn't think to take a picture, but the plugs stood really nicely in grill rack.

After the first baking process, I did get more bang in the chambers, but still wouldn't start. I pulled the plugs again... #1 & #2 were totally dry. #3 had a touch of moisture. I rebaked the plugs and tried again. No luck either.

I did triple check the choke today to make sure the choke valve is actually opening and closing. All looks well.

I also rechecked that I am getting spark at the plugs. All good there as well.

After each starting attempt... cranking on the starter for 8-10 seconds, wait 5-10 seconds, repeat 4-5 times, I would notice that I get some fuel back into the intake chamber under the flame arrestor. I siphon that fuel out before trying again.

It's now turned into a bit of a party down at the dock trying to get my A4 started. I have several $10 bets from neighbor boats that new fuel will get it going. I will give that a whirl tomorrow afternoon and report my progress... I'm hopeful.

I'm thinking that I will do the plugs bake again while trying the new fuel since there will still be some old gas in the carb.

Still trying....

RICK
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Old 10-13-2017, 04:41 PM
rsanghera rsanghera is offline
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I should add that this fuel is REALLY old... probably 3 years in the tank.
If I can get it going off an external tank, then I at least know what to do.

RICK
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Old 10-13-2017, 04:50 PM
Dave Neptune Dave Neptune is online now
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Rick, drain the carb with the main jet plug on the bottom of the carb. When you introduce the new fuel be sure and let some through to flush the lines and carb with the same plug. Then try again.

Good to hear of more activity at least.

Once the carb has been "sucked out" and you try restarting about how long were you cranking before checking the throat again and finding a puddle? You should not have a puddle unless you were cranking for a good while. Perhaps the carb needle & seat are leaking.

Check for air leaks around the carb gaskets and the scavange tube too.

Have you tried "motor crack" (starting fluid) at all?

Were there any other troubles starting before this episode?


Dave Neptune
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Old 10-13-2017, 05:16 PM
Ken Rockwell Ken Rockwell is offline
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Try disconnecting the fuel line and draining the float. Then try cranking the engine with the plugs out. Install the clean plugs but, instead of hooking up the fuel, simply use a spray bottle with a little gas. This will allow you to fiddle around without constantly flooding the engine. Also it will guarantee good fresh gas. Don't forget to disconnect power to the pump.
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Old 10-13-2017, 11:05 PM
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Oh man, this is killing me...have we confirmed TDC at #1 firing position??!?!?!?

I recommend that you confirm TDC and make sure the distributor/rotor is aligned with #1 plug wire when #1 piston is at TDC. That, plus all the fuel stuff mentioned and it should fire. Although I am a big advocate for ethanol free gas to reduce uncertainty, I've seen some A4's run on some s#!tty stuff...but the timing has to be right and the wires have to be in the right order. Make sure the timing is not out 180°.. (TDC is when you feel pressure on your thumb while it is over the #1 plug hole as the piston comes up...the roll pin should also be straight up and down at this point).
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Old 10-14-2017, 07:52 AM
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The gradually getting harder to start syndrome probably rules out wiring order, etc. When I bought my boat last decade, it was really tough starting, and it turned out to be the carb gasket leaking. Since I replaced the gasket, it starts within 5 seconds, even though it sits for 6 months at a time (another boat in a nicer sailing area!). I think my fuel is at least three years old (non-ethanol).

On my engine, full choke, push starter button, pump throttle lever once, bingo. Choke goes off in about 15 seconds.

I would think starting fluid would work with a bad gasket.
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Old 10-14-2017, 08:47 PM
rsanghera rsanghera is offline
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The saga continues...

New fuel in a gerry can. Disconnected the fuel line into the fuel pump, drained the bowl through the drain plug. Got the new fuel piped into the pump, and then drained a bit of the new stuff out the bottom of the bowl as well. -> no starting. Got a pop, but didn't catch.

After cranking for a while, I do get fuel back into the carb.

I pulled the plugs... they're wet with fuel. I went with Chef Neptune's baked plugs again. That kept them dry for a bit, but still no starting. All was with brand new fuel.

I checked the choke again, and all seems to be good there as well.

Per others' recommendations here, I rechecked timing. I feel the compression on #1, get the pin vertical, then looked at the rotor... pointing dead nuts away from the block. I'll lool for other methods to find TDC just to make sure I doing it correctly, but seems to be good.

Pulled the plugs and am getting spark, but they get wet quickly. Was thinking that the fuel mix is too rich, so I backed out the idle mixture screw about 4 turns... probably about 6 turns out now. Still now firing and the plugs still seem to be wet.

I like the thought above of disconnecting the fuel line and spraying small amounts of fuel... but where am I spraying the fuel?

Could something else be going on here with the stuck valve on #4 that could cause this reaction??

I took a celebratory beer down today thinking I'd have it solved with the new fuel, but I had to drink it in shame at the end of daylight instead. Sigh.

Appreciate the advice so far.

RICK
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Old 10-14-2017, 09:14 PM
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Rick, so now that you are confident you've set timing correctly (thank you!), you need to fiddle.

Sometimes I've found that even though I think I have timing perfect, I need to spin the distributor a bit to get it to fire while the starter is running...then...set it so it will run, and you can fine tune the timing later. A few degrees makes a huge difference.
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Old 10-14-2017, 11:13 PM
rsanghera rsanghera is offline
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That's interesting. I'll give that a whirl.
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Old 10-15-2017, 01:59 AM
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You’ve had this engine a while and are sure you got those points and condenser in there correctly? How old is the coil, are you sure it wasn’t burnt out from leaving the ignition on too long while going through all this? Are you sure the carb is clean now that you’re using fresh gas? Are you sure the wires are on the cap the way they were when the engine was last running? (I had symptoms like yours a long time ago - no running - and it was because the wires were 180° out of sync.)

I think you’ve got a tiny thing misadjusted, taken for granted, and when you find it the engine will roar to life and you’ll smack your head at having overlooked that tiny thing.
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Old 10-15-2017, 10:20 AM
Dave Neptune Dave Neptune is online now
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CAUTION

Just because the piston of #1 is at the top of the stroke and the rotor is pointing directly away means nothing unless the piston is on the compression stroke AND the DISTRIBUTOR is in the STOCK position.

Take a good look at the timing again. Besure #1 is on the compression stroke and at the top of the stroke, then pull the distributor cap and SEE WHERE THE ROTOR IS POINTING!! where it points is where the #1 spark plug wire should be. Do give the rotor a twist and be sure it springs back to confirm the centrifugal advance is operational. I have only worked on a few A-4's that the distributor was actually installed in the stock position!!!!!!!

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Old 10-20-2017, 10:26 PM
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any updates?

The distributor can sit in any gear requiring the rotor to be re positioned, on chevies the gear will only go in 0 or 180 degrees due to a flat slot, on other motors each gear tooth it a different position - as mentioned above CONFIRM the rotor is pointing to the correct wire at compression/power tdc (when the exhaust valve is closed).

Im having a non start issue as well - Ill prob be eating my words early in the morning!
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