jaeedabestt18
jaeedabestt18
1/11/21 11:40 a.m.

Hi All,

Needing some advise about my car. I have a 85 El Camino w/ a sbc 350 Engine that recently stopped running and me not being a mechanic I have no idea what the issue is. So far I have replaced the starter w/ a mini starter, a holley distributor, new cap and rotor, new wires, new plugs, new high rise intake manifold, had the rodchester quadrajet rebuilt and I still get nothing. Im thinking about buying a cam kit but have no idea what to look for. As of right now  all i get from my car is Just turn key and dose not start. Can someone please help me out with my dilemma I am having? Don't have the money to pay for a shop so I'm doing all the work myself based on YouTube videos. If anyone can give me some ideas as to what I'm missing or doing wrong it would be very appreciated! 

Thank you.

914Driver
914Driver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/11/21 1:50 p.m.

"Recently stopped running"

How so?  Clunk to a stop?  Make a high pitch whining noise or is the battery just dead?

Gas - Air - Spark

1SlowVW
1SlowVW HalfDork
1/11/21 2:13 p.m.

Do you have spark? After attempting to start are your plugs wet? Do you have compression? 
 

914 beat me to it. Start with the basics. 

jaeedabestt18
jaeedabestt18 New Reader
1/11/21 4:22 p.m.

In reply to 914Driver :

Okay let me explain the situation. So I was driving home one day and noticed the gas gage was in the red, So instead of driving back to get gas I figured I'd wait until the morning. Well it took about 3-4 days before I decided to go and fill up the tank. Went out to start the car and it wouldn't start. So I went and got a gas can with gas put into my car and a little in the carb and nothing. Thought it might need more so went back filled up the can again put in the car and still no start. All I got was it just cranking and no start. At the time I had a holley carburetor and figured it might be the problem so thats when all the replacement parts mentioned above came into play. Any ideas on what the problem could be? As mentioned before I have no idea what I'm doing mechanical wise only what I get from YouTube. 

jaeedabestt18
jaeedabestt18 New Reader
1/11/21 4:28 p.m.

In reply to 1SlowVW :

Yes on all 3. I just replied to 914 driver on how it all started if you'd like take a look at the reply maybe you might have an idea of what my problem could be? If not I appreciate the help and I thank you very much for your input.

NOHOME
NOHOME MegaDork
1/11/21 4:40 p.m.
jaeedabestt18 said:

Hi All,

 So far I have replaced the starter w/ a mini starter, a holley distributor, new cap and rotor, new wires, new plugs, new high rise intake manifold, had the rodchester quadrajet rebuilt and I still get nothing. Im thinking about buying a cam kit but have no idea what to look for.

Thank you.

Wow. talk about using the parts cannon! I suspect your initial problem was quite simple, but now you will have to do a bit of work

 

Check for spark. Do this by pulling a plug and while attached to the lead and laying on a grounded metal surface, crank the engine while you or a friend looks at the plug. You should see a spark jump the gap.

 

Check for fuel. With the choke plate open, cycle the throttle once or twice. You should see fuel squirt down the throats.

 

You changed the distributor. If your don't know what you are doing, chances are the timing is now messed up. Do you know how to find Top Dead Center for #1  on the compression stroke? Do you own a timing light?

 

You changed the carb and manifold. Possible you have a vacuum leak. I like using a smoke machine to find these, but also make sure that all the vacuum fittings on your new carb are plugged. Vacuum gauge might be handy here.

preach (fs)
preach (fs) Reader
1/11/21 4:50 p.m.

I know this is not for your car but it is the absolute best book to learn about cars and internal combustion engines. It will help your knowledge base grow fast:

http://www.users.on.net/~agonza/dev/How%20to%20Keep%20Your%20VW%20Alive%20OCR%20done.pdf

jaeedabestt18
jaeedabestt18 New Reader
1/11/21 7:21 p.m.

In reply to NOHOME :

Tell me about it! I wish I would have known before I spent the money I did. I haven't had my car running for about 3 months now and it sucks! I'll try these steps and see where I'm at and hopefully find the problem. As for timing  I have already turned the engine i would say 5 times throughout this time following steps I've seen on YouTube i hope to think i was doing it correctly just the only thing is i don't have a timing light so i guess im going to have to buy one of those as well along with the vacuum gage and the smoke machine because I don't have any of those. But check this out, The guy i bought the car from was initially going to use it for 1/4 mile racing i guess so with that being said he yanked a whole bunch of stuff out.. no a/c or heater, no canister for the smog test I was told and idk but a lot more things I'm guessing because my carburetor only has 2 hoses going to it. 1 from the distributor  and 1 from where you put brake fluid all the other tubes are plugged idk if thats good but I drove it myself for a good 8 months before this happened and it drove very good. That's why I don't understand how all this happened just from running out of gas. But again I'll try applying these steps you gave me as soon as I get the additional tools needed and let you know where I'm at once I'm done. Again thank you and to everyone else for all the great advice very much appreciated.

1SlowVW
1SlowVW HalfDork
1/12/21 5:22 p.m.

In reply to jaeedabestt18 :

Some auto parts stores will still have a loan a tool program. Maybe even with a timing light. 
You can check to see you have spark and that you have fuel with a ratchet and spark plug socket. So do that first. It's possible you simply flooded the motor badly pouring gas down the carb and the plugs are now fouled and won't fire. But you won't know until you start doing some investigating. 

You don't need a vacuum gauge or smoke machine to get this working. 

jfryjfry (FS)
jfryjfry (FS) Dork
1/12/21 9:34 p.m.

I completely applaud you for jumping in and learning something new.  These things can be intimidating at first but the more you keep working on them the more you learn and the less scary they become.
 

in fact I guarantee that in short order you'll look back over your initial posts with incredulity at how much you have learned. 
 

you seem to have a tendency to just go full speed in whatever direction you get pointed in - replacing many many parts without even knowing what the problem is.  And now talking about many many tools still without knowing what you're really looking for. 
 

as far as tools go, you need sockets, wrenches, screw drivers, pliers, maybe diagonal cutters and a multi-meter.  
 

you'll need to make sure the distributor is oriented correctly.  Then you need to make sure it is hooked up correctly.  Then you need to make sure you're getting power (and enough of it)  to it properly. 
 

then you check for spark  

I'm guessing it is a spark issue since you had no luck after squirting gas down the carb.  But something in the valvetrain could have broken. 
 

if you have spark, try some starting fluid or gas down the carb again.  If nothing, pull a valve cover and see if the valves move while turning the engine over. 
try the other side too if need be. 
 

 

also, a few notes to help when you're discussing. "Engine won't start" could mean several different things. 
 

turning the key is when you literally turn the key, making sure it's all the way to the end, to the start position.  When you release it it should turn back to the run position.  
the positions are accessory (one position to the left of Off), off, run, start 

cranking is when the starter is turning the engine over but not when it's running. 
 

turning over is the same as cranking.  it is often used to describe an engine that is running but better to use it simply as the engine is rotating but not running
 

Catching is when the engine is running but usually a short burst in the context of an engine not running right. Or tries to run. 
Such as "I got the engine to catch a few times but wouldn't run"   It is similar to or sometimes synonymous with firing.  


running means it is continually running, even if poorly   
 


make sure your battery is fully charged (grab an inexpensive charger to make sure it is topped off).  When you try to start the car, it should at the very least turn over    If it isn't cranking, that's the first thing to fix    
 

if it cranks but doesn't start, does anything happen?  Is it trying to start?  Meaning is it catching a little?  Or Maybe backfiring?

 

 

 

NOT A TA
NOT A TA SuperDork
1/12/21 9:55 p.m.

Been following along.

Since I read this line   " The guy i bought the car from was initially going to use it for 1/4 mile racing i guess so with that being said he yanked a whole bunch of stuff out.. "   I've wondered if the PO had installed an aftermarket electric fuel pump. And if so that may have started the problems because they can wear out very quickly if they are run dry.

So I'm curious to know, and its quick and easy to check whether you have a stock mechanical pump or aftermarket electric. Follow the fuel line from the carb and see whether it goes to a pump bolted to the engine block or to an electric pump that would probably be back near the fuel tank.

jaeedabestt18
jaeedabestt18 New Reader
1/13/21 5:57 p.m.

Okay so here's where I'm at now I turned the engine to the 0 mark on the harmonic balancer to match up with the line placed the distributor back in but had to turn the oil pump with a screw driver so the rotor faces the #1 cylinder. Replaced the cap plugged in the battery checked that fuel was spraying into the carburetor and it was then I tried starting it and it started only to just die right away. So I tried again only this time I tried keeping my foot on the gas pedal so it wouldn't die but a small white puff of smoke came out from the carburetor so I took my foot off the gas pedal and it just died out again. So I tried again and it wouldn't start.

jaeedabestt18
jaeedabestt18 New Reader
1/13/21 5:58 p.m.

In reply to NOT A TA :

the fuel line goes into the engine block is where i followed the line to.

NOT A TA
NOT A TA SuperDork
1/13/21 7:26 p.m.
jaeedabestt18 said:

In reply to NOT A TA :

the fuel line goes into the engine block is where i followed the line to.

Disconnect that line at the carb and turn over the engine as though you were trying to start the engine. Gas should pump out of the line so put the end in a can.

You didn't mention whether this most recent attempt at starting was with fuel you poured into the carb through the vent tube or came through the gs line.

Did the engine pop occasionally or did it actually start and try to run a few seconds? If it just popped and backfired through the carb the distributor may be 180 degrees off. Meaning you set the distributor when #1 piston was at top dead center (TDC) on the exhaust stroke rather than TDC on the compression stroke. When you turn the engine over and line up the pointer on the harmonic balancer it takes two full revolutions to have the #1 piston go through the full four cycles. Intake, compression, power, exhaust.

Is the choke functioning? if so both flaps you see on the top of the carb will appear closed. If it's not functioning one flap will be open. This causes the mixture to be too lean for cold start.

jfryjfry (FS)
jfryjfry (FS) Dork
1/13/21 8:04 p.m.

Sounds like the distributor is 180 out.  The crankshaft rotates twice for every one time of the camshaft. So you might have had it at tdc on the #1 cyl but it might have been on the wrong stroke.  
 

 

jaeedabestt18
jaeedabestt18 New Reader
1/14/21 9:56 a.m.

Okay so the most recent attempt was me just turning the engine by hand until the line on the harmonic balancer matched up with the 0 mark on the pointer. Then I dropped the distributor back in the pointer didn't point towards the #1 cylinder so I got a screwdriver and turned the oil pump until the pointer was at #1 cylinder put the cap back on vacuum line and spark plug and wire then went to start it. To make it run I had to put the gas pedal all the way to the floor and it starts. But once I let off the gas pedal it shuts off if I try to keep my footon the gas pedal to keep it running that's when it backfires from the carburetor. Gas is coming from the gas line I didn't have to put gas in the carburetor manually. What should be my next move?

10001110101
10001110101 New Reader
1/14/21 10:12 a.m.

Timing is off. I wouldn't necessarily trust the pointer on the harmonic balancer. You need to manually verify TDC on cylinder #1. Pull the #1 spark plug and put your finger over the hole. Turn the engine over with a long breaker bar. You will feel pressure building up in the chamber. At this point, you can insert a plastic rod of some sort into the cylinder (a screwdriver will work in a pinch, but be careful) as you turn the engine with the breaker bar the piston will push the rod out, eventually it will start going back in. When the rod stops moving out, you have found TDC. Then make sure your distributor is pointed at #1 cylinder and try starting it again. It sounds like you have all the necessary ingredients for combustion, you just need to get the spark to hit at the right time. 

jfryjfry (FS)
jfryjfry (FS) Dork
1/14/21 11:39 a.m.
jfryjfry (FS) said:

Sounds like the distributor is 180 out.  The crankshaft rotates twice for every one time of the camshaft. So you might have had it at tdc on the #1 cyl but it might have been on the wrong stroke.  
 

 

Did you read this post?   It isn't a guarantee that this is the problem but this causes symptoms like what you described. 
 

you really need to slow down and systematically diagnose and check and test things!

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