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Help! 1941 Dodge WC-1. Crank but no start.


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Hey guys, 

 

Got referred to this group of enthusiasts for help on restoring my 1941 Dodge truck. New spark plugs, distributor, battery, and wires are all installed. It gets spark in the right firing order after running a ground test. Put fuel down the carb, compression is there, and the motor cranks very slow and inconsistently. To elaborate, with 10-20 seconds on the starter pedal, I get 1,2, maybe 3 revolutions before I have to try again. Or it will barely make 1 revolution. new oil (30W non det) and with no plugs, it spins very healthy. Spark plug ports are still bare clean metal, so no rust in the engine. 

 

Any ideas on what's next? I tried everything and I get no backfire even. Battery is dead now. Charging currently. I will attach a link to a cranking video soon as well. 

 

thanks.

 

PS: truck lived its life in CA, only surface rust on some parts. Even some cloth wires are still perfect. 

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It’s turning over pretty slow for a new battery. You say new wires- I assume you mean plug wires. But if you replaced the battery cables ,6 volt battery cables are much thicker than the normal 12 volt wires you will find at the typical auto parts store. They have to carry twice the amperage as a 12 volt. They need to be 00 gauge vs 4 gauge for a 12 volts. Make sure they weren’t replaced with too small cables. The ones on my truck are huge. Also  make sure all the connections are sound and clean. Seems like the starter can’t pull the amperage it needs. 

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that is definitely cranking too slow...on my 6V flatheads, I get good cranking speed with 0 gauge cables, with a ground cable attached on a stud that replaced one of the starter mounting bolts.  Older cables of unknown age may look acceptable, but they might have oxidation on the conductors which can drive impedance sky high.  Until your cranking speed improves, that engine will not fire.  Another test you can do is check the torque required to turn the crank pulley nut, should be somewhere around 40-60 ft-lbs, as that resisting torque has to be overcome by a healthy starter motor.  I have a 230 that it takes over 120 ft-lbs to turn that crank nut, and the starter really labors to get that engine to fire...possibly a spun bearing, putting the crankshaft in a bind.

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13 hours ago, jsd245 said:

It’s turning over pretty slow for a new battery. You say new wires- I assume you mean plug wires. But if you replaced the battery cables ,6 volt battery cables are much thicker than the normal 12 volt wires you will find at the typical auto parts store. They have to carry twice the amperage as a 12 volt. They need to be 00 gauge vs 4 gauge for a 12 volts. Make sure they weren’t replaced with too small cables. The ones on my truck are huge. Also  make sure all the connections are sound and clean. Seems like the starter can’t pull the amperage it needs. 

Here’s a pic of the truck’s conditionB315A25A-BA09-472E-B03C-18BCFD9E5E60.jpeg.10a6973725678707844e9f50d3204850.jpeg

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11 hours ago, JBNeal said:

that is definitely cranking too slow...on my 6V flatheads, I get good cranking speed with 0 gauge cables, with a ground cable attached on a stud that replaced one of the starter mounting bolts.  Older cables of unknown age may look acceptable, but they might have oxidation on the conductors which can drive impedance sky high.  Until your cranking speed improves, that engine will not fire.  Another test you can do is check the torque required to turn the crank pulley nut, should be somewhere around 40-60 ft-lbs, as that resisting torque has to be overcome by a healthy starter motor.  I have a 230 that it takes over 120 ft-lbs to turn that crank nut, and the starter really labors to get that engine to fire...possibly a spun bearing, putting the crankshaft in a bind.


With or without the spark plugs in? I’m waiting for a hand crank in the mail, the pulley bolt is not a traditional socket

8B11D1CD-CC4A-4881-A982-C1C18CF14D0C.jpeg.09ee17e763ea11e7e5deac8baedd1e4a.jpeg

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16 hours ago, jsd245 said:

It’s turning over pretty slow for a new battery. You say new wires- I assume you mean plug wires. But if you replaced the battery cables ,6 volt battery cables are much thicker than the normal 12 volt wires you will find at the typical auto parts store. They have to carry twice the amperage as a 12 volt. They need to be 00 gauge vs 4 gauge for a 12 volts. Make sure they weren’t replaced with too small cables. The ones on my truck are huge. Also  make sure all the connections are sound and clean. Seems like the starter can’t pull the amperage it needs. 

00 is an upgrade OEM is 1 gauge

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4 minutes ago, Young Ed said:

00 is an upgrade OEM is 1 gauge

Yeah it has the original 1 gauge cables. Maybe 00 to make it easier huh? If not the cables and battery, what else? The engine of course isn’t stuck. Flywheel? Starter is worn out? Timing is off? Must have been sitting for a reason. 200k miles on the odometer 

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Over on the HAMB I suggested, cables/connections, battery and starter, in that order.   If you are sure that the battery is good and same for the cables/connections (hot and ground),, I'd pull the starter and have it looked at by a good starter/gen/alt shop.  Or just take it apart, check the bushings, brushes and armature.  If the armature needs attention, you'll likely wind up at the shop though.

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I agree with checking cables, connections, and/or the starter. Old cables, even if proper size, can get corroded causing added resistance and limiting the current carrying capacity, and causing a voltage drop at the starter. Dirty or corroded connections can also do the same thing. And if the starter brushes or bushings are bad it will limit it’s ability to spin properly with the torque needed to crank over your engine. 

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Be sure to check starter contact under button. I have (3) new ones on the bench that are not isolated and grounding out, causing a short under contact. To correct it, I disassembled and repositioned the insulator, moving backward.

52D732D6-2148-423B-9784-0CFFB54F5AF2.jpeg

Edited by 47 dodge 1.5 ton
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10 minutes ago, 47 dodge 1.5 ton said:

Be sure to check starter contact under button. I have (3) new ones on the bench that are not isolated and grounding out, causing a short under contact. To correct it, I disassembled and repositioned the insulator, moving backward.

52D732D6-2148-423B-9784-0CFFB54F5AF2.jpeg


Yeah I have that same one in the truck. Brand new. (Not the OEM)

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11 minutes ago, 47 dodge 1.5 ton said:

Be sure to check starter contact under button. I have (3) new ones on the bench that are not isolated and grounding out, causing a short under contact. To correct it, I disassembled and repositioned the insulator, moving backward.

52D732D6-2148-423B-9784-0CFFB54F5AF2.jpeg

It’s definitely the Battery —> Starter issue. I think the timing is at least good enough. Plus, this is the easiest sequence of fixes.

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12 hours ago, shane_thompson said:

With or without the spark plugs in? I’m waiting for a hand crank in the mail, the pulley bolt is not a traditional socket

ya want that engine buttoned up as if you were wanting to fire the thing, just to measure what the starter torque required to overcome all of the loading on the crankshaft.  Some guys grab the fan blades to turn the engine, but I would rather put a wrench on that crank nut.  A large socket can fit, but there are several different flathead crank nuts used so you'll have to measure what you have.  With a wrench on that nut, you might get a feel for how the crankshaft is rotating, if there are any not-so-smooth areas in the rotation that might be of concern.

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12 minutes ago, JBNeal said:

ya want that engine buttoned up as if you were wanting to fire the thing, just to measure what the starter torque required to overcome all of the loading on the crankshaft.  Some guys grab the fan blades to turn the engine, but I would rather put a wrench on that crank nut.  A large socket can fit, but there are several different flathead crank nuts used so you'll have to measure what you have.  With a wrench on that nut, you might get a feel for how the crankshaft is rotating, if there are any not-so-smooth areas in the rotation that might be of concern.

Too much torque to use the propeller anyways. Spins itself when the plugs are in. I have 30W not detergent oil.. not a factor yes? Manual says that’s appropriate for CA temps

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If this engine has been sitting for awhile, just having oil on the dipstick doesn't always translate to lubrication on all moving internal parts.  You could be cranking on dry cylinder walls, crankshaft and connecting rods, and camshaft...that is a LOT of friction for that starter to overcome.  Probably wouldn't hurt to pull the valve covers and squirt engine oil on the valves and tappets, pull the spark plugs and put a few ounces of Marvel Mystery Oil in the combustion chambers to get some lubrication on the piston rings...might even need to pull the oil pan and squirt oil on the crankshaft friction points to get some lubrication in there too.

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2 hours ago, JBNeal said:

If this engine has been sitting for awhile, just having oil on the dipstick doesn't always translate to lubrication on all moving internal parts.  You could be cranking on dry cylinder walls, crankshaft and connecting rods, and camshaft...that is a LOT of friction for that starter to overcome.  Probably wouldn't hurt to pull the valve covers and squirt engine oil on the valves and tappets, pull the spark plugs and put a few ounces of Marvel Mystery Oil in the combustion chambers to get some lubrication on the piston rings...might even need to pull the oil pan and squirt oil on the crankshaft friction points to get some lubrication in there too.

I did this as well. Two bottles of Marvel in all cylinders and changed oil. I’ll see if I can pull the valve covers and take a look. To my knowledge, a stuck valve would still create some kind of backfire through the exhaust. I’m going to check the intake and exhaust manifold for a blockage. However, oil does get pushed out the exhaust a little bit and the carb sucks, so the exhaust-end is probably good too. 
 

It’s just so odd. The starter was fine before I pushed it back into the flywheel gears, engine is free and lubricated, put fuel in the carb, air is sucked in, WAS a new battery. I just don’t understand. Timing and cables HAVE to be it. It’s a fairly simple machine. 
 

I hear that the oil pump and/or distributor cap can be inadvertently turned the wrong way,  - messing up the timing. Fuel very well may be burning wayy after the compression stroke. Maybe this is why it’s sluggish to crank? (Combustion at the wrong time giving the engine and starter resistance?) 

 

I’m 22, so I don’t have a huge understanding of these old-timers

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My point was that I purchased (3) new contacts from different sources, all were manufactured the same being faulty as I believe from the same vendor. They were not stamped USA as called out in (2) listings I purchased from.  I was losing voltage, wires were hot, discharged the battery quickly due to a short within the contact. Just a thought if wires are good, battery is good and motor is free turning.

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1 hour ago, 47 dodge 1.5 ton said:

My point was that I purchased (3) new contacts from different sources, all were manufactured the same being faulty as I believe from the same vendor. They were not stamped USA as called out in (2) listings I purchased from.  I was losing voltage, wires were hot, discharged the battery quickly due to a short within the contact. Just a thought if wires are good, battery is good and motor is free turning.

Any recommendations to buy new quality cables?

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I had this exact issue when reviving my 230, it was a bad/frayed wire in my starter. You mentioned the starter was fine until...how was it fine? Did you test it? did it crank faster before something you did?

 

I got new cables from battery cables USA, super quick, easy and cheap and they are slick!

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