Start fixing / replacing parts on the flathead 6 in my 48 f1 (45k miles) or toss it and put something else in....
It is currently stock, (flat 6, 4 speed, original axles and suspension, 6 volt).
She rolls good. She shifts easy. But the engine won't fire. I have put battery, plugs, plug wires, dist cap, rotor into her hoping to get some life without digging too deep. I did not succeed. I have no spark at the distributor. The starter is weak, needs a good cleaning or rebuild. Don't know what else at this point.
I would enjoy keeping the truck stock, but hate to throw money into the engine not knowing it's condition.
If the engine goes, then the tranny and rear end will go also. I haven't thought beyond that yet, but would expect more equipment to become "modernized" (12volt...).
Money is scarce, as I expect it is for everyone doing this.
Any thoughts on what I might spend on getting the flat 6 running again?
What about "modern" equipment (302 engine, T5 tranny, 9" rear, ...)?
Again, I like the idea of keeping her stock. I just hate to dump big money into her to find out it still won't work.
Any thoughts on what I might do to help me determine the severity of her condition?
If you have no spark at the distributor, I would suspect the coil or contact points. Both of these are pretty cheap to replace.
My flathead 6 was completely seized up when I got it and I had to have the entire thing rebuilt. The parts are not cheap, but you can still find everything you need. I bought a complete rebuild kit including new pistons for about $1000. The machine work was another $1500. From other posts I have read, machine work in my area of the country is quite a bit more expensive than average, so you may get by with much less. I wanted to keep my truck stock and am happy with how the engine sounds and performs, but if money is a concern I think that a more modern engine would be a cheaper alternative for both parts and machine shop work.
Bear with me here, as I can't see your truck this should be a simple inexpensive repair. Sense you say you have driven it. The fun usually comes after someone else messes them up and you have to figure out what they did. My 51 6 cyl had been sitting for 10 years after the owner tried to convert to 12 volts and didn't install a ballast resistor. The coil was still wired backwards, and points were toast.
1.Is the battery positive terminal grounded
2.Pull the coil wire out of the dist cap.
3.with the points closed, turn on the ignition switch.
4.Hold the end of the wire about 1/4 inch from a head bolt.
5.Manually open and close the points with a screwdriver.
6.You should have a spark from the end of the wire to the head.
7.If you have no spark, check
a.The engine ground to the battery,to frame, to cab (all must have a good clean ground.(especially with 6-Volt)
b.Contunity check of the coil wire.
c.Does the coil have power getting to it.
After you check out these things either post, or send me a personal message and we will proceed from here.
One thing I just remembered, the screw on the distributor where the coil wire goes on was grounded on mine. There is a little piece of plastic on the inside of the dist.This caused a total lack of spark.
Last edited by 51ford fan; 12-24-2004 at 03:56 AM.
Troubleshooting I can do (mostly). I am learning as I go, but I can use a voltage meter and can disassemble most things (barring frozen or stuborn metal, that makes me wonder if I am doing it right).
Also, I have never driven it. I bought it 2 Septembers back. It had been tucked in the woods for many a year before I got it. But it does roll freely.
Coil has not been replaced. Points and condenser have been replaced.
Wiring is original (what little there is), except for plug wires. I did replace plug wires. Battery cables are intact, but again, 55 years old, and in poor condition. No wires are going to the dash, they have all been removed.
Makes sense to do a little troubleshooting before making this decision. I threw $100 at it for battery, plugs, ... the fall I got it, in hopes of miracle easy starter. (It does turn over.) I figured $ needed for starter, coil, distributor rebuild.... Started getting concerned about cost, and still haven't touched engine.
I plan on doing some work on her this week during some time off.
I have visually confirmed positive ground is intact. I will pull the battery cables and confirm good ground.
I will pull out the shop manual to determine how the coil is hooked up, as the wiring from it is gone also. I have some 18 guage stranded wire I can use to replace what wire is missing (for now). What about missing ends/connectors? Are they readily available at the local auto parts shops?
Will check above suggestions and update this thread.
Thanks for the info provided.
I rambled a lot on bonusbuilt.com again but here's a couple of additional points you raised. If positive ground, you want the (+) terminal on the coil connected to the bottom of the distributor (little wire) The wire from the ignition switch to the coil should connect to the (-) terminal on the coil. Actual voltage to the dist should be around 3.5v
As far as wire - I wouldn't use anything less than 10-12 ga. for the ignition leads. Keep in mind 6V runs twice as many amps as a 12V system - that's why you need cables that are twice as heavy. I get all my connectors at the local parts houses. if you use 18 gauge you may simply melt it or it just won't operate - not enough juice getting thru. LIke connecting a garden hose to a firehose - lots of pressure, no volume.
Make sure you have compression in all cylinders. My six had been sitting for 10+ years and some of the valves were stuck open. I poured a bottle of Marvel Mistery Oil in the cylinders. Then rolled it over a couple times to get any oil down in the cylinders to flow into the valve chambers. I just kept working with it till they freed up. Number 3 cylinder gave me the biggest headache. After many hours of sitting in the driveway running it still sticks open once in a while at startup for about 30 seconds. I was having thoughts about pulling the head and manifold. But didn't want to because of the corrosion on all the bolts. Past experience told me I would probably wind up rebuilding it. Like you I'm on the fence as to weather I want to keep this engine. I just want to get buy with it till everything else is done and I can drive it for a while. I won't do a replacment till I have the funds to do it all at once, engine, radiator, A/C, Toyota steering, exhaust system. To many times in the past I have pulled them apart to do a modification and lack of funds caused the project to set till I lost intrest and sold them. I plan to do it different this time, I'm almost have it to where I can drive it on the street. My biggest concern is that non-syncro 4 speed, getting me killed because the drivers here in Seattle like to keep the pedal to the metal.
If the flathead six does not pan out, consider a flathead V8. Your truck was available with a V8, so it is like keeping it stock. The V8s become available as streetrodders pull them out of cars and trucks in favor of modern power. You can pick one up that was running when removed and bolt it directly to your transmission. It would save you the expense of swapping out the whole drivetrain.
I am inside the distributor now.
After pulling the "primary wire" from the points, I get 6.2 volts from primary wire inside distributor back to battery positive post.
I tested distributor "ground wire". It seems to be intact also.
I tested engine to frame ground, engine to firewall, firewall to frame; all less then 10 ohms each, some 0.x ohms.
I tried getting a spark from the distributor "pull coil wire out of distributor cap" by manually open/close points. I got nothing.
Inside the distributor, my "primary wire" comes over the top of the distributor plate, not under it. Will this cause a problem?
Do I know my coil is good just because I pass voltage through it?
The points, condensor, rotor, plugs, plug wires, battery are new (1 year ago). I understand that points can go bad. Is there a way to determine if the points are bad?
Any other suggestions would also be appreciated.
I am feeling more confident about keeping the flat 6, thanks to your help.
Did you see any faint spark at the points when you snapped them open? turn the
engine to where the points are open and take a screwdiver against the movable arm
and push the driver down against the distributor plate/ Spark yes or no. If not
the plate isn't gounded, if yes the points are oxidized. Try pulling a clean match book
cover thru them a couple of times and repeat your manual snap test opening the points by hand. If you have spark you should get it cranking with the starter, provided the starter doesn't require so much current there is no reserve for the ignition. You could most likely prove this by removing the plugs and cranking the engine. One more thing you said the points are new and have never been run, that is why I didn't recommend you file them. Modern ign. points are plated and the tungsten or what
ever they are using as the conductor is not very thick and a file is thru it kind
of quick then you have steel which we all know is not the best conductor. As a last resort I would file lightly.
Spark! I got spark!
I pulled the points and condenser off the distributor.
Looks at them from every angle (clueless).
Put them back in.
Managed to lose one of the screws for the points.
Placed the distributor ground wire under the proper screw location (according to the shop manual).
And wha-la, Spark!
Not sure why it worked this time and not before, unless the ground wire connection point makes that much difference.
Now I need to find the other screw back. And run the primary wire back under the distributor plate (somewhere along the way, I pulled it out and it is above the plate).
Thanks for your help to this point ya'll.
I still haven't answered my question on which way to go, but if I can determine my engine condition, that will go a long way in the decision.
Glad you found the problem, the plastic washer on the stud in the side of the distributor was bad. And had grounded out the power on mine when I bought it.
Years ago when I worked in the factory we had a Hyster Forklift that had the flathead 4 cylinder in it. The arm on the points that goes to the input had to be in a certain place in relation with the condenser wire. If it was not in that spot you would not get a spark. Never could figure out why, just figured it was the nature of the beast. It was fun watching the other guys when they changed the points and couldn't get it started. I would wait till they went to lunch and switch the wire, and watch their suprise when it started for them.
I will be changing out my 6 for a late model 8 when funds allow. I won't do it till I can replace the entire drive line all at once. I would like to install a new steering column, radiator, A/C, and Toyota power steering. Too many times I have started this type of project and been unable to get it completed due to lack of money. I always wound up selling them after I lost interest in them. This time I plan to keep it running till I can do it right. Hope this helps, have a Happy New Year.
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