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  • 85 S&S - Stumped about timing issue?

    WARNING; LONG READ - I have a problem with my 85 S&S (Ford 351W LH rotation) that really has me scratching my head. In Oct. of 2017, I purchased a Pertronix Part# D231801 Marine Billet Distributor to replace my original Prestolite dizzy which had the EI module (not sure which mfg of the module; it was really old). I was diligent about marking the rotor and dizzy body when I removed my old dizzy and the new Petronix dizzy installed easily AND fired up on the first turn of the key. That was at the end of boating season for me and I never did get it out on the water; I just timed it on my driveway at ~7 degrees BTDC using my fake-a-lake before winterizing the boat.

    This past spring, I fired up the boat on my driveway again and it seemed to run fine. Then I took it out on the water and after ~2-3 hours, it just died on me and wouldn't turn over. Fortunately, I was close to the launch ramp and got the boat back on the trailer. It had been about 5 years since anything had been done to my carb so I had it rebuilt by Pete on the site (ThatsMrMastercraft) and I believe he did an outstanding job. Here's the problem; the 2nd time out on the water after reinstalling the rebuilt carb, the boat just died on me after ~3 hours of continuous use. I was cruising through a 5 MPH zome and the engine just died and would not start up. I got the boat home and was able to get the engine to fire up as long as I gave it gas.....this is when I decided to rotate the dizzy a bit and, magically, the engine settled in to a "decent" idle at ~30 degrees BTDC....yes; that says 30 degrees BTDC. This reading is based on 2 different inductive type timing lights with the advance-timing dial feature. So...I called Pertronix and told them my story and they issued me an RMA, tested the dizzy when they received it, proclaimed that it is "within spec", and sent it back. I reinstalled in my boat and it's still reading ~30 BTDC in order to idle. I took it out on the water on Saturday and it is NOT dependable.

    Here's some more info: I'm 99.9% certain it's not a fuel issue. My tank is clean the fuel lines, filter, and pump are only a couple of years old and I also disconnected the carb and turned the key to examine the output of the pump...plenty of good clean fuel being delivered to the carb. I've looked down the carb when the boat is running and the spray is nice, steady and even. I really don't believe this is a fuel issue.

    So, that leaves us with a spark issue: my ballast resistor has been tied off (both wires connected to the same terminal) for decades, new Flamethrower II epoxy filled coil, new plugs, battery in good shape. I've confirmed with a piston stop that the harmonic balancer is accurately reflecting TDC and I am 110% certain that I have the wires on correctly to the firing order. All battery and ground contact have been examined and cleaned with a wire brush. I really think the Pertronix dizzy is the culprit but I want to make sure I've checked EVERYTHING else out before I give them another call and get pushy with them.

    So...I'm asking for 2 things from the community.
    1) any ideas or suggestions on what my problem might be? Remember, the boat was running fine one minute with the new dizzy and timing set at ~7 BTDC; then it just died on me and won't even start or idle unless I've got the timing set to ~30 BTDC
    2) does anyone out there have a "known good" Prestolite dizzy with the EI conversion that I could borrow to see if I can get my boat idling correctly at 7 BTDC? I'm happy to work out some sort of deposit if somebody has one I can borrow.

    Your ideas and suggestions are appreciated; I'm losing what's left of my thinning hair pulling it all out over this issue

  • #2
    step one when it dies is to verify if you have spark

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Tmac in Folsom View Post
      WARNING; LONG READ - I have a problem with my 85 S&S (Ford 351W LH rotation) that really has me scratching my head. In Oct. of 2017, I purchased a Pertronix Part# D231801 Marine Billet Distributor to replace my original Prestolite dizzy which had the EI module (not sure which mfg of the module; it was really old). I was diligent about marking the rotor and dizzy body when I removed my old dizzy and the new Petronix dizzy installed easily AND fired up on the first turn of the key. That was at the end of boating season for me and I never did get it out on the water; I just timed it on my driveway at ~7 degrees BTDC using my fake-a-lake before winterizing the boat.

      This past spring, I fired up the boat on my driveway again and it seemed to run fine. Then I took it out on the water and after ~2-3 hours, it just died on me and wouldn't turn over. Fortunately, I was close to the launch ramp and got the boat back on the trailer. It had been about 5 years since anything had been done to my carb so I had it rebuilt by Pete on the site (ThatsMrMastercraft) and I believe he did an outstanding job. Here's the problem; the 2nd time out on the water after reinstalling the rebuilt carb, the boat just died on me after ~3 hours of continuous use. I was cruising through a 5 MPH zome and the engine just died and would not start up. I got the boat home and was able to get the engine to fire up as long as I gave it gas.....this is when I decided to rotate the dizzy a bit and, magically, the engine settled in to a "decent" idle at ~30 degrees BTDC....yes; that says 30 degrees BTDC. This reading is based on 2 different inductive type timing lights with the advance-timing dial feature. So...I called Pertronix and told them my story and they issued me an RMA, tested the dizzy when they received it, proclaimed that it is "within spec", and sent it back. I reinstalled in my boat and it's still reading ~30 BTDC in order to idle. I took it out on the water on Saturday and it is NOT dependable.

      Here's some more info: I'm 99.9% certain it's not a fuel issue. My tank is clean the fuel lines, filter, and pump are only a couple of years old and I also disconnected the carb and turned the key to examine the output of the pump...plenty of good clean fuel being delivered to the carb. I've looked down the carb when the boat is running and the spray is nice, steady and even. I really don't believe this is a fuel issue.

      So, that leaves us with a spark issue: my ballast resistor has been tied off (both wires connected to the same terminal) for decades, new Flamethrower II epoxy filled coil, new plugs, battery in good shape. I've confirmed with a piston stop that the harmonic balancer is accurately reflecting TDC and I am 110% certain that I have the wires on correctly to the firing order. All battery and ground contact have been examined and cleaned with a wire brush. I really think the Pertronix dizzy is the culprit but I want to make sure I've checked EVERYTHING else out before I give them another call and get pushy with them.

      So...I'm asking for 2 things from the community.
      1) any ideas or suggestions on what my problem might be? Remember, the boat was running fine one minute with the new dizzy and timing set at ~7 BTDC; then it just died on me and won't even start or idle unless I've got the timing set to ~30 BTDC
      2) does anyone out there have a "known good" Prestolite dizzy with the EI conversion that I could borrow to see if I can get my boat idling correctly at 7 BTDC? I'm happy to work out some sort of deposit if somebody has one I can borrow.

      Your ideas and suggestions are appreciated; I'm losing what's left of my thinning hair pulling it all out over this issue
      Check / replace the springs in the bottom of the distributor bowl. Those can break over a period of time. Two different sizes are normal.

      I had an EI to fail (the module itself), replaced it; bam. Runs like a well-oiled Singer sewing machine.

      $.02

      .
      93 190
      (safe click)
      John 14:6
      (safe click)

      Comment


      • #4
        Is there any chance the chain jumped? how many degrees of rotation are you getting before the cam moves?
        1986 Marlin Magnum Skiier-sold
        1999 Maristar 210VRS-weekend ride
        1996 205 with LT1 cracked block-stitched back together

        Comment


        • #5
          I've considered the timing chain jumped a tooth theory but I've heard that's highly unlikely. Also, I tested the compression and it records between 125-140 dry; I believe I'd have a compression problem if the chain jumped a tooth. Your thoughts?

          Comment


          • #6
            I've checked for spark...plenty of spark. I believe the problem is WHEN it's sparking; not IF it's sparking....thanks for your input

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Tmac in Folsom View Post
              I've checked for spark...plenty of spark. I believe the problem is WHEN it's sparking; not IF it's sparking....thanks for your input
              Thus the advance springs. Don't be skEErt to look.
              93 190
              (safe click)
              John 14:6
              (safe click)

              Comment


              • #8
                You may have a worn timing chain gear. Ford used nylon gears for years and they would all of the sudden wear out. It would leave you with very little vacuum while cranking, but if you dumped enough fuel into it so it would start, it would run.

                Don't recall the best way to test for this, but I think you can put a wrench on the crankshaft bolt and turn it back and forth while looking at the rotor.

                I'm sure someone else here will have the proper diagnostic test method.
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                • #9
                  worn timing chain. +1

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    sorry i cant credit the original author
                    * Timing Chain -
                    It's not uncommon for Fords to skip timing if chain is slack & still using nylon cam gear.
                    With Dis/Cap off - rotate engine back & forth 1/3 turn each way to see if rotor follows precisely.
                    Any Delay of rotor during move of crank by hand / breaker bar -
                    Chain & Gears need to be replaced.

                    I don't know how accurate this is but i have read that 3-5 degrees of slop is acceptable, more points to a worn chain/nylon gear.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      That is the proper test procedure. If I remember correctly when you get up around 8-10degrees of slop the chain can jump. Use the marks on the crankshaft to measure properly.
                      1986 Marlin Magnum Skiier-sold
                      1999 Maristar 210VRS-weekend ride
                      1996 205 with LT1 cracked block-stitched back together

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        thank you for your input....I did check the Dizzy advance springs and they are fine...it's basically a brand new Dizzy.

                        Regarding slop in the timing chain, I did turn the crank while examining the rotor last night and the "play" seems minimal. I didn't think to check out the timing marks on the harmonic balancer while doing this test but will do so tonight.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Deleted.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Sounds like you need to clean the carb to me I know u had it rebuilt. But , It runs when you advance the timing because it most likely is dumping tons of fuel down the engine. And those epoxy coils have always given me a headache. I switched back to my 40 year old oem coil and all my spark issues have been solved and that is with my pertronix 2 EI module.
                            sigpic

                            1988 mastercraft tristar (open bow).

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