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My car will not start

My 1963 Galaxie will not start no matter what I do. The battery is good, I’ve replaced wires, spark plugs, points; do you think it could be the timing? It doesn’t want to turn over and only a few times it has turned over We spent hours outside trying to start this car and lately the neighbors are irritated that I am still working on it at 12 midnight and express their opinions about having to get sleep. The parts for this car are pricey, too.

Have you checked the compression? If the valve timing is off, then you might not have compression in all 8 cylinders.

Are you sure you are getting spark. Pull a plug and hold the end that bolts into the head on the motor somewhere to ground the plug, then crank the starter - you should have an easy to see nice blue spark. If not, check the coil, check the dwell or gap on the points, check or replace the condenser with a known good one. Finally make sure your ignition timing is close enough to get the engine running. It is very common to install a distributor in the wrong position that you may have spark but at completely the wrong time.

Once you have compression, spark, and timing of ignition, pour about 1/2 cup of gas in the carb and crank the motor. You should get some back fires at least , and perhaps it will catch and run roughly. Then troubleshoot as needed to get it running correctly. The carb could be all messed up. You need to get it idling smoothly to check the timing with a timing light.

This is all very basic stuff, but this is a low tech car and a good car to learn on.

You might want to check for a jumped timing chain. If the timing chain has jumped time the valve timing and ignition timing will be off.

A quick way to check for this is, locate the number one tower on the distributor cap and make a mark on the distributor body to locate the number one tower. Remove the distributor cap. Locate the timing marks on the crankshaft pulley. Crank the engine over by hand by the crankshaft bolt until the timing mark is at zero. Look at the position of the rotor in the distributor. If the rotor is 180 degrees off from the mark you made on the distributor body, rotate the engine again until the timing mark is at zero. Look at the rotor again. Is pointing near the mark you made on the distributor body? If not the timing chain has jumped time.

Now have someone watch the rotor in the distributor. Turn the engine by hand in one direction and stop. Now turn the engine in the opposite direction. If the engine can be turned more than five degrees in opposite direction before the rotor in the distributor begins to rotate, it means the timing chain is stretched and that will cause a timing chain to jump time.


If your timing checks out and you have no spark then make sure to check the ballast resistor wire. It’s a fairly common problem with older vehicles. I’ve included a picture:

Start simple, give it a shot of starting fluid and see if it kicks a little. If so it is a fuel problem, if not start tracking down the electric, let me know the results of the starting fluid test.