CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

1950 b2b

i have been restoring a 1950 dodge b2b pickup. engine was rebuilt. electrical redone. brakes redone. was starting before i began electrical replacement. all wiring replaced and everything working. But now the engine just turns over and over but won’t start. I’ve checked starter, battery, spark, fuel pump and carburetor. Timing may be off because bolt holding distributer was loose without me knowing it. What do i do next?

It may be the distributor, but I’d go over my wiring and make sure I have power to the coil.
Also I think this may have a resistor on the firewall on the engine side. Power will go thru that resistor first…then to the coil. Those were always the first thing you checked.
If I remember right, but don’t try this until someone else here confirms it, but you can bypass the resistor and by running a jumper aqcross it and if it starts…you know it’s the resistore. Just run it long enough to know it starts, then shut down and get the rerstistor

You may have rotated the distributor just enough that it doesn’t start.
Try turning the engine over by hand with a wrench until the timing marks line up on thecrankshaft pully and indicator. Then pop off the distributor cap and eyeball the #1 plug wire with the rotor. Then mark the base of the Diustributor and the block for reference.
You may have to twist the distributor housing a little one way or the other, but it should fire up with these marks close.
After you do get it started , you will need a timing light toadjust the timing to within specs.

Yosemite

Was this a 6V system and did you convert it to a 12V when you rewired it?

Turn he engine until the timing mark you desire is aligned with the pointer, I.e 4°BTDC. The pointer is on the front of your engine and the timing marks are on the harmonic balancer or pulley. That is typical for older engines but you may have a scale on the front engine cover with a single mark on the pulley or harmonic balancer.

Now take a Sharpie, Magic Marker or some white out paint or even a piece of chalk and mark on the side of the distributor directly below the #1 spark plug wire and again on the opposite side under the #6 sparkplug wire (six cylinder engine I presume).

Then remove the distributor cap. The rotor should point pretty close to one of those marks. Turn the distributor body to where the points just begin to crack with the rotor pointed close to one of those marks. Turn the ignition to the run position, the turn the distributor body to close the points, the turn toward the point they just start to open, When you see the spark across the points, stop there and clamp down the distributor. Your timing will be very close to spec, plenty close enough for the engine to run anyway.

Reset the timing using a timing light and the instructions and specs in your service manual.

I had a 1948 Dodge and timed it up statically without a strobe timing light. I would attach a socket with a six volt bulb to the terminal on the distributor and to the engine block (ground). I would set the pointer on the pulley to about 4 or 5 degrees before TDC and turn the distributor until the points started to open and turn off the light. I would then lock the distributor in place and road test the car. If it didn’t ping slightly when I accelerated hard, I would advance the timing. If it pinged too much, I would retard the timing.
Another way to time an engine that is running is with a vacuum gauge. You advance the timing and watch the vacuum gauge. When the vacuum can’t be increased any higher, the distributor bolt is tightened at the point where one slight turn back would drop the vacuum.
Keith’s suggestion of using a strobe type timing light is probably the best way if you can latch onto a timing light. However, I had a 1965 Rambler where the timing marks were way off and it had to be timed either with a vacuum gauge or by feel.

@dabwhite–this isn’t related to your starting problem, but does your 1950 Dodge pickup have the fluid coupling which was called fluid drive. I know that some Dodge trucks of this vintage had that arrangement to save clutch wear.
I really liked the pickup trucks of this time period. I had a 1950 Chevrolet pickup truck at one time.

Lots of great ideas here but I think @Yosemite is on to something. The ballast resistor is a common failure on these old Dodge, Plymouth and Chrysler products. I used to keep them in my toolbox years ago because bad ones were so common.

THanks MIssileman…and a nice diagram of the old ballast resistor.

Tosemite

The OP said he had spark…If the truck has been converted to 12V, THEN a ballast resister will be needed or the coil will overheat and the points burn quickly…Run a second wire from the “Start” post on the ignition switch directly to the coil, bypassing the resistor while cranking…

@dabwhite - please tell us how you set the points, then set the timing.

Is this engine a variant of the classic Chrysler straight flathead six? Does it have automatic chioke?

If the choke unit is over on the exhaust manifold near the carburoator, check that there is 6 volt at the electrical teminal of that unit while cranking i.e. starter in operaton. The choke plate should be fully closed while the starter motor is cranking, engine cold.

My 1948 Dodge had the electric automatic choke and it worked well. However, I think the Dodge trucks had a manual choke. As I remember, the engine used was the 217 cubic inch engine used in the Plymouth in these Dodge trucks. The Dodge car engine was a variation of this block that had a longer stroke and displaced 230 cubic inch engines. The 6 cylinder engine used in the Desoto and Chryslers of that period were a different block and had a 236 cubic inch displacement in the Desoto and 250 cubic inch displacement in the Chrysler.

the truck is still 6v. i didn’t convert it. i’m running everything as original. I think the timing may be the main problem based on all the other comments.

Although it shouldn’t make any difference in getting the truck to start, remember that your truck has a positive ground, i.e. the positive terminal of the battery goes to the frame of the truck.

Since it is still a six volt system, it will not have a ballast resistor. Those are used to step the 12 volts on later systems down to six volts so that the points will last longer. I think Chryco went to 12 volts about 1956, as did most manufacturers. They pioneered the alternator about 1960. The resistor is bypassed during starting to provide a hotter spark, but only while the starter is engaged.

still not able to get the engine to start. can crank it and it seems just about to start but never does. no backfire or cough as if timing was way off. could the coil be the problem?

“Was starting before I began electrical replacement”

I just went through this on the 50 cadillac I’m working on. The new cap and rotor caused all kinds of problems. Poor fitting and backfiring. Put the old cap on and bought a new old stock rotor off eBay. Runs way better.

For the hell of it, if you have them still, put the old cap and rotor back on. I’m finding some new parts can do more harm than good. Check your points gap at the widest opening. I also replaced my coil and condenser just for good measure. Have you looked down in the carburetor and made sure the fuel jets are squirting in when somebody steps on the pedal?

okay. still not starting. i’ve rebuilt the carburetor (just to be sure) had the starter checked. replaced the coil (again). reset the timing (again). checked for spark and am getting some but it seems weak. i’m stumped. any suggestions now?

I think I’m with Fender but also double check electrical work. Told the story before but back in 67 I was replacing the points on my 59 VW Bug. Got all done and wouldn’t start. Tried everything and finally had to call a friend of my dad’s who was a mechanic. He came over and looked at it and after a few minutes found the problem. I had reversed an insulated washer on a wire so that (or vica versa-too long ago) contact was not being made with the distributor. Everything looked fine but just one little fiber washer made the difference. I am ashamed to say that I never bought him a beer for his help.

“Since it is still a six volt system, it will not have a ballast resistor.”

I had a '48 Chrysler Windsor 6 in high school with a 6 volt system and it had a ballast resistor. In fact, it had several over the year that I owned it. I kept spares in the glove compartment in case one burned out on me.

I just checked on a few old car forums and found that from 1932 to 1948 all Ford vehicles used a ballast resistor with their 6Volt systems. Chrysler/Plymouth/Dodge continued on until the mid-50’s.