1957 Ford TBird Problems

Hi All

I have a 1957 Ford TBird with Fordomatic and 312 engine. Two problems:

1.Engine turns over with starter, but not by hand. Plugs removed and fan belt very tight. Belt slips when turning fan and will not turn engine over. Must remove fan to put wrench on crankshaft bolt, and have not done this. No go in neutral or park. What am I missing? No other car I have is this difficult.

2. The engine stops running randomly and periodically. After sitting for 15 minutes it will start again. Does not seem to be engine temp, as this happened shortly after starting one morning in the garage. At that time I was able to determine that my electric fuel pump was running and I had 12.5v at the coil. Then it worked again so could not test spark or fuel output. Tried a new coil and new ballast resistor. Want to remove Pertronix Ignitor ignition and substitute points, but cant do this until I can turn the engine.



57 TBird, 53 MG TD, 67 Jag XKE

Are you absolutely sure the belt is the correct one? A V-belt that is just slightly too narrow or too wide will not get a proper bite on the pulleys and can slip.
If the belt is sinking too low in the pulley or protruding too much that could be a sign of the wrong belt.
(and this is assuming the belt is not glazed)

With the Pertronix distributor and electric pump involved I would have no idea on the stops running problem. I do agree with dropping a set of points into it. A set of points properly gapped with the right condenser, a drop of distributor cam lube ever so often, and the points should easily last 30-40k miles.

Sound like you have a good tight engine. Try turning both the fan and the pulley at the same time. You can also try pressing on the belt to tighten it more as you push on the fan. You can also remove the bolts from the flywheel pan and use a large screwdriver to lever the flywheel teeth in order to move it just a tad at a time. This can put you exactly in position to set points. Kind of a pain but better than removing those knuckle eating fan bolts. However if you keep having probs remove the fan, replace the bolts and use the crank bolt to turn the engine - until you fix the prob.
As for the engine stopping randomly, sounds like a fuel supply prob. Check your fuel filters - you are running two arent you?? One in front of the fuel pump and one behind. Remove them and shake them into a clean pan. Any crud? You might also siphon some out of the BOTTOM of the tank. Make sure your hose hits the bottom while the stream is running. I use a 1/4 inch vinyl tube for this. You can see the gas coming before you get an octane coctail and you can also see any crud coming thru it. Also use a clean container so you can check for contamination. Even if your fuel filters may not have crud in them there -may- be a tank filter on this car. Any dirt in the tank will build up on this filter after running a bit and the engine will stall. After a few minutes the dirt will fall off of the filter allowing the engine to start again. Been there done that. I bought a pretty nice 68 Barracuda with this problem. Someone had put handsful of very fine dirt in the tank and the kid that sold it didn’t bother to tell me about it. I got a couple miles out of town and it died - did this for 20 miles and 6 hours later I got home. Actually I just walked the last mile.

Ah hah! A simpler test - pull the fuel line off of the filter outlet - then attach a peice of 1/4 inch vinyl tubing and run it over the fender and into a gas can or jug. fasten it down so it wont fly out when you turn on the fuel. Then turn on the key. See if the fuel runs consistently for at least a 1/2 gal. This will tell you if the above is the problem.
Be safe while doing this.
Good Luck

Thanks for the tips on turning the engine over.

I should have said that I have investigated the fuel tank. After running it low I drained all the gas. It was completely clean. Then I removed the fuel gauge and peered in the tank with flashlite and mirror. The tank looks new and there was no dirt, even at the low points and at the outlet.

I have not proved the fuel is pumping when I have the problem, altho the motor driven vane pump is turning. Im now set up to check the flow if the car stops in a safe place.

When the engine stops and won’t restart right away, take off the air cleaner and pull the accelerator rod. The accelerator pump should be squirting in fuel. If it is, you have an ignition problem. If you aren’t pumping in fuel, then start checking back from the carburetor through the fuel pump to the gas tank.
I had a similar problem with my 1978 Oldsmobile. I would have to prime the carburetor to get the car to start and then in would run. However, it did get to the point where it would die, I would have to reprime the carburetor to start the car. The problem turned out to be a neoprene section of the fuel line down by the gas tank–a quick and inexpensive repair, but difficult to find. In my case, the mechanical pump would work well enough when the engine was running to keep the engine going, but couldn’t overcome the deteriorated fuel line when cranking over and would suck air.