Engine shutoff while driving

Electrical & Ignition

  1. Yellowstone

    Yellowstone New Member

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    After 20 years sitting in a nearly finished state, I finally got around to completing and getting my 69 Charger on the road...at least it was for a little while. With running my business and life in general, I just didn’t have the mental bandwidth or time to build and install the motor and drivetrain. So I sent that out to a guy recently that worked on muscle cars on nights and weekends to finish up the last major components.

    I built and restored the rest of the car myself so I’m mechanically savvy and know how cars work, I just don’t have actual engine, ignition, or carburetor tuning experience.

    440, 727, holly 850, MSD ignition, coil, and magnetic distributor, electric fuel pump

    Here is what happened. I was on my 3rd short local shakedown drive, maybe 30 miles into the trip when the motor stumbled like it was running out of gas. It then quit and I coasted to a stop. I tried to relight it, It would crank, I got plenty of fuel pressure, occasionally it seems like maybe once cylinder would light but but not enough to get the while engine to run, kinks like a very small starting stutter, but that’s it.

    fuel pressure yes, at least to the fuel pressure regulator where the pressure sender is. compression yes (should be good, brand new professionally built by an engine shop), so I guess that leaves spark as the questionable item. Where should I start troubleshooting?

    Does this seem ignition related? This is as good as a time as any for me learn how to troubleshoot engine troubles and tuning.
     
  2. Nevada dan

    Nevada dan Well-Known Member

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    fuel is easy just look in the carb with the choke wide open and pull the throttle back you will see it squirt in, now spark that's pretty easy too just take a spark plug wire off put a screwdriver in the end and hold it about a 1/16 inch from the exhaust manifold and have someone crank the engine over using the key you will see spark jump across if you have both of those it's internal like a timing chain , don't think because something is new it cant fail
     
  3. AR67GTX

    AR67GTX Well-Known Member

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    I was going to say possibly a loose bulkhead connector but if you had accessories inside and the engine would crank then that pretty much rules that out. Think I would check for spark and troubleshoot the MSD system. Coils are pretty problematic anymore too. If you have a spare coil it's worth giving it a try as a cheap test.
     
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    • Big Bad Dad

      Big Bad Dad Well-Known Member

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      Has your car been setting with old gas in it for a long time?
      Fuel pressure is one thing, but fuel volume is another. Better check your filter, and possibly the pickup strainer in the gas tank.
      My Dad taught me an old trick. Undo the fuel line at carb and put the end of the hose into a clear glass bottle. Have someone crank the engine for a few seconds and see how much fuel dumps into the bottle. If the system is clear and the pump is working, it should shove out several ounces in a matter of seconds. (Just be careful and dont overflow it....)
       
    • 69Bee

      69Bee FBBO Gold Member FBBO Gold Member

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      Things to check:
      1) MSD distributor/CD box/coil failure
      2) Intermediate shaft failure
      3) Stale gas previously said (will seize up intake valves and bend pushrods)
      4) Stale gas can clog the carb too

      I would not suspect a broken chain. I have never seen one break ever except that 22RE Toyota that someone put the wrong oil pump bolt in the wrong hole (That's what she said)...
       
    • Don Frelier

      Don Frelier FBBO Gold Member FBBO Gold Member

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      It could still be the bulkhead connector. The starter relay wire is separate from the ignition wires.
      Start with the ignition system wiring and bulkhead and parts and go from there.
      Check for spark in both crank and run position if you are able.
      Try a timing light if you have spark.
       
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      • Dave6T4

        Dave6T4 Well-Known Member

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        Same thing happened to my 1967 R/T one day while out driving. I had a spare used ECU in the car, so I changed it but car still would not fire up. I called a buddy to bring another new ECU to try. He also brought a coil with him. We put the coil on, and she fired right up. My other car at the time was a '64 Polara 500 with 2 X 4 bbl. on a 426 Street Wedge. On hot summer days, it would sometimes kind of stumble. It actually quit on me at a stoplight in Detroit after a car show. It took about an hour to cool down enough to start. I was about 125 miles from home, and it took quite a bit of nursing it to get home. After my experience with the R/T, I put a new coil on it as well. Problem solved.
         
      • Yellowstone

        Yellowstone New Member

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        Ok, all good tips. I’ll try and dig in to it this weekend. Bad gas is ruled out. It was a brand new tank and new gas. Fuel filter maybe since it is all new fuel system. Something might be clogged up with debris. But I suspect not at the filter because I’m getting pressure all the way up at the sender near the carb. But carb itself could be clogged with something.

        I watched a YouTube video on MSD troubleshooting. So that seems pretty straight forward. Ordered a spark tester on Amazon. But the ignition switch through the bulkhead or at the switch itself could be something to check too. All new wiring (painless harness) means something could easily be loose or fell off.

        the guys that Dyno’d the tuned the carb noticed my battery was grounded in the trunk (battery is in the trunk) and that MSD ignitions don’t really like that. They suggested I run a heavy gage grounding wire back up to the engine. I didn’t get around to doing that before this problem cropped up. Have you heard of this MSD grounding issue for trunk-mounted batteries?

        really hope it’s not a timing chain or distributor gear issue. My feeling is it’s a loose wire or ground somewhere, I just needed some tips from you guys where to start and I think you guys have definitely helped with that!
         
      • Nevada dan

        Nevada dan Well-Known Member

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        my nephew had an ignition problem running fine then missing running fine shutting down he swapped out distributors, carbs, coils msd box's, replaced battery cables, finally found a corroded ground under the dash been running like a raped ape ever since so ya I'd ground it good and make sure your you have the ground from the back of the engine to your firewall so many people don't even think about that one
         
      • JDmac72chrgr

        JDmac72chrgr Well-Known Member

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        Check coil resistence which will tell if coil is bad: if distrib is from mid-70s, that MAY be issue (neoprene bushings; if runs ok cold but dies when hot, that could be it: parents 77 Winnie with 440 had this issue back in day). Brass feeler gauges to check star/mag pick-up's gap
         
      • ruffcut

        ruffcut FBBO Gold Member FBBO Gold Member

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        My 63 has the battery grounded in the trunk and MSD box, and never a problem in 20 years! RUFFCUT
         
      • Sixpactogo

        Sixpactogo Well-Known Member

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        You didn't mention if you got it started again or if it still won't run. If it starts after cooling down, most times it is caused by a bad ground. This issue has come up a lot and many times it is caused by a coil getting hot and opening up. Once cooled down will start and run for a while until the coil gets hot again. The coil I am speaking of is in the electronic box. You said you are running a MSD controller. I think they work the same as the mopar unit as far as needing a good case ground. Not sure that is your problem but certainly could be. Bad grounds are one of the biggest issues with electrical problems. If it won't start after cooling down it could be the plate coil in the distributor.
         
      • Ron H

        Ron H FBBO Gold Member FBBO Gold Member

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        Yeah I was going to say BH ills as I went through this hassle last summer. I have new engine harness; but the BH was for chit so put in a new one...then wdh, still had stall out. Come to find the new engine harness connector for the ignition wire was for chit being loose, pulled that wire out and put on new spade assuring tight fit in harness; problem finally done. But, if you say the motor stumbles out before dying...that wasn't the case for me...once the IG wire was skanked motor would die instantly. Not say you may have an intermittent poor connection issue though...as posted checking grounds and all wiring connections if you find you have a healthy spark. I've also had an issue in the past with a bad electric FP though.
         
      • 67 Coronet Conv

        67 Coronet Conv Well-Known Member

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        same thing happened to me in my 67 coronet, replaced the ecu and coil and haven’t had an issues. Learned to carry a spare ecu, coil, and a must have volt meter to trouble shoot the problem right then and there.
         
      • Yellowstone

        Yellowstone New Member

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        Thanks again for the tips. I’ll work on it over the weekend and report back next week! Hopefully with good news...
         
      • Ron H

        Ron H FBBO Gold Member FBBO Gold Member

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        I do the same now including a spare ballast after having a hell of a time some years ago with tracing a no-start...new ECU instant fire up.
         
      • dcala84141

        dcala84141 Well-Known Member

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        Ever find out what the problem was?
         
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