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1973 351 2V Cleveland Won't Start

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I'm new to this forum and look forward to contributing.  Presently, I have a problem with the engine starting.  Last time I started it, it turned over, fired, started, backfired, stalled and now won't start.  So far I have done the following:

Checked gas to carburator - okay - won't start
Checked spark from plug in first cylynder - white/yellow spark visible - won't start
Installed Pertronex Ignitor and Flame Thrower Coil - won't start
Checked rotor position after cranking on first cylinder - okay
Compression (cold engine) in first cylinder is 115psi - not sure if this is enough or indicative of a timing chain slip - what is the expected compression?  Intend to check the remaining cylinders compression as well.

After all of above, car still won't start. Any ideas of what to try next or what might be wrong are greatly appreciated

If the distributor has been out since it ran properly than it may be installed 180 degrees out

The Piston is at Top Dead Center matching the mark on the balancer TWICE in an ignition cycle.

Easiest way to tell is to turn the engine over (by hand) with the #1 plug removed and your thumb plugging the hole.  When you feel pressure from the cylinder continue to turn the engine over until the timing mark is at "0"

If your timing is 180 degrees out, just move all the wires at the distributor 4 places over in the direction of rotation.

An ignition set up 180 degrees out will run badly and backfire when it will run at all.

115 PSI is a meaningless figure when taken from a cold engine with 7 of the 8 plugs in place.

proper compression for that engine is likely in the 140-150 range with the engine warm and all plugs out and spinning it with a fresh battery.

What you are looking for is a 10% or less variation from the best to the worst cylinder


Thanks for the reply. 

I did the TDC check turning the engine by hand to line up the timing mark on two rotations.   The Rotor position moved 180 degrees on each rotation and on the compression cycle stopped between the #1 and #3 wire lead from distributer. Turned the distributer to adjust rotor position, but with no success starting.  Your advice re compression on cold engine is welcome news.

Car still won't start.   

How long has it been since it ran?  If an extended time, the gas may be bad.  You may need to have the carb rebuilt, but should be able to give it a shot of starting fluid to determine if it is a fuel related problem.

Also you still need to deal with timing.  If it is cranking slow, it is usually retarded.  One easy method if you have a friend available is to loosen the distributor enough to just be able to turn it by hand and then turn it a bit at a time while someone else cranks the engine.  If your gas is bad, you will need to drain the tank, but until then you can run a small tank to the fuel pump and make sure that is the problem.  Since a 73 doesn't have a fuel drain in the tank, draining the tank is a huge pain in the ass if it is full and as expensive as gas is, wasting 10 gallons or more isn't cool.

Was up in your city last month-enjoyed the Brass Rail LOL

Hey Jeff...Glad to hear you enjoyed Toronto and the Brass Rail is a landmark for sure... I work about 10 minutes from there!

I used the car last Monday which is when the problem started.  Had just filled with 94 octane gas which is what I have always used so that is not likely a problem.  Got stranded with the car when it wouldn't start and had to have it towed home. 
The Holly carb is no more than a year old.

Am going to try putting in new plugs, rotor, cap and wires to complement the Pertronix ignitor and coil switchover I did and see if that works. 


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