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Trouble starting plus potential alternator issue.


James Agg
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Hello everyone. I just wanted to run past you all an issue I’m having with starting my Robin Hood Mark 2 running a 2.0l Pinto engine from an ‘83 Sierra.

 

Basically, since I’ve owned the car (coming up on 2 years now), it has often been sluggish to start. I think that on the whole, it prefers starting when the engine is warm, which I would expect, but this isn’t necessarily always the case - it’s a bit random. When it’s driving, I notice that if you put your foot down, there’s a little cough before it then decides to open up relatively cleanly through the Rev range, so I’m thinking distribution or carb balance need checking. It’s running a Weber 32/36 (presumably what came off the donor car) and I suspect that no re-balancing took place on this with a kit of this age when it was given the different exhaust system etc etc as this Robin Hood is pre SVA I believe.

 

In addition to this, I’ve been noticing lately that after a run, I’m sometimes noticing that when I go to restart the car again shortly after, there is insufficient oomph from the battery to turn over the starter motor. What’s strange about this is that if I then leave it for a bit after this problem, enough current has returned to the battery, and if the fuelling or distribution is having a good moment, it then fires right up no problem. Of course I’m questioning the condition of the alternator as that is a likely candidate for the battery not getting sufficient charge when the car is driving. In addition, there has been part of me that has contemplated the possibility that the flywheel might be sticking as I’ve known a few cars over the years that have displayed similar starting issues when the flywheel sticks, but it’s very hard to say; as always, so many factors at play. All of these issues are very intermittent. I also noticed that if I give the battery an overnight trickle charge, starting is generally instant on a warmer day.

 

As the car is using the same battery as when I bought it, I am considering replacing the battery to see if this helps matters as it is possible that the existing battery may have a dead cell following on from the loads placed upon it with the starting issues it’s been having. Equally though, I don’t especially want to buy a new battery for it only to cook that one too if there is an ongoing underlying starting issue that the new battery then has to contend with. Has anyone with the same sort of setup experienced this before? Any insight would be greatly appreciated! 

Edited by James Agg
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Sluggish cranking can be caused by over advanced ignition timing. You can try cranking with HT disconnected to see if it cranks faster, or try retarding the ignition slightly (assuming you have distributor turn it clockwise).

 

Just to add, there was a member on here recently with a similar issue; changed starter, changed battery, checked leads and connections, checked voltages etc etc, to find it was all down to ignition timing 

Edited by RedTrev
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Thanks RedTrev. That does sound like it could feasibly be my issue. The ignition timing being off may also explain the cough under harder acceleration. On a separate but potentially related note, I have a vacuum gauge on the dash that allegedly tells me how good or poor my vacuum system is and whether I’m driving/decelerating. If I’m holding throttle steady, it stays in the drive region of the gauge, but again, if I give it some beans, it registers as being poor vacuum pressure. Could this potentially have any bearing on any of the problems I’ve been having too?

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Vacuum guage is only a help with driving economically.

At constant speed (obaing the speed limits) the throttle will be mostly closed restricting airflow to limit power this creats a vacuum in the inlet manifold.

Pedal to the metal (I presume that give it some beans is the same) and the throttle is opened so there is no restriction in the airflow and more power as more air and petrol goes through the engine and there is no vacuum is the inlet manifold so your reading is normal.

The DGV 32/36 has both a power valve and an accelerator pump that work in combination to overcome the lag in petrol flow that naturally happens in a carb when the throttle is suddenly opened. You can check the accelerator pump operation by removing the air filter and looking into the inlet of the carb when the accelerator is pressed, you should see a squirt of petrol into the choke of the carb.

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Thanks IanS, that’s really useful. That sounds like it could well be the explanation for the little splutter when the throttle is suddenly opened. I did slightly retard the ignition timing tonight, and whilst it’s difficult to say whether this will have helped the starting issue, it didn’t help the splutter, so I shall look into this next. 

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  • 1 year later...

rthomas69, I know that this thread was over a year ago now, but I’m still suffering with the occasional starting issue. I’ve messed about with the timing etc, and it doesn’t seem to sort the issue. Interestingly, when the car hits this point of being very hard to turn over, a booster pack on the battery terminals gets it to start up straight away so I think a new battery would be a good way to go. Equally though, I’m exploring other factors that seem to make it reluctant to start, and I think your upgrade to a high torque starter motor in conjunction with a better battery is a logical thing to try given the issues I’m experiencing. Are you running a 2.0 pinto SOHC too? What was the make/model number of the high torque starter motor you got? I found this one  https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/NEW-HIGH-TORQUE-Starter-Motor-Ford-1-8-2-0-CVH-Zetec-mated-to-MT75-Pinto-Type9-/131186336380?mkcid=16&mkevt=1&_trksid=p2349624.m46890.l6249&mkrid=710-127635-2958-0 but not sure if it’s going to be a fit… It says it’s for the MTX75 which I’ve always understood to be a gearbox married up to zetec or duratec engines. As said in an earlier comment, my pinto is off an ‘83 Sierra so if anyone knows what is correct here in the way of starter motors, some guidance would be much appreciated. 

Edited by James Agg
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Whilst ignition timing can cause sluggish starting my issue was engine earth strap, as always I over engineered the solution but it worked.

I found that there wasn’t a strap from gearbox mounting bolt to chassis so fitted one.

The earth strap from battery to engine was too thin, earth straps should be the same thickness as the +VE strap so I fitted the right thickness from battery to engine bay floor near the starter, from there I ran 1 earth to the bell housing bolt engine side and another direct to starter motor attachment bolt and this did the trick, starter ran faster and even starts my high compression 2.1 Pinto with wild cam and very advanced idle ignition

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