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EFV-8 Club Forum / 1940 Ford Discussion / car is running rough

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03-21-2021 @ 12:38 PM
Posts: 28
Joined: Mar 2021
I just bought my 40 Deluxe Convertible a couple of weeks ago and I love it. My book (It's Ford for 40) came the other day and I've already put it to use. When I test drove the car, I just putted around the guy's neighborhood and it ran fine and we made the deal. I just replaced the 6 volt battery and an inline fuel filter and it was running great. Yesterday coming home from a short trip, it started cutting out like it was starving for fuel. It would run and then cut out and then run and then cut out. The fuel filter had a couple of particles in it, but it wasn't bad. I replaced the filter again today. It's still doing the same thing when I get up to speed, but now it dies completely instead of just surging back and forth like yesterday. The fuel bowl is full. (Should it have a paper filter in that?) I've got a carb rebuild kit for the original Holley carb on order. It starts up and idles fine. I just have the problem when it gets up around 25-30. This is my first flathead, so I am learning on the fly. Thanks.

03-21-2021 @ 1:17 PM
Posts: 2782
Joined: Oct 2009
It doesn't sound like a fuel issue. Most likely an ignition issue. Coil is the "usual suspect" then the condenser. Most guys that plan on driving their car with a good degree of confidence, will have the distributor rebuilt by one of a couple of reputable persons. George (Skip) Haney, Charlie Schwendler come to mind.
Then source a GOOD quality condenser.
I would also check the plug wires as long as your at it.

Mike "Kube" Kubarth

This message was edited by kubes40 on 3-21-21 @ 4:21 PM

03-21-2021 @ 3:56 PM
Posts: 28
Joined: Mar 2021
I have a Pertronix Ignitor module I was planning on installing when the points needed replacing. I guess this is as good a time as any. What should the coil resistance read if it's good?

03-21-2021 @ 4:21 PM
Posts: 2782
Joined: Oct 2009
I'd suggest getting the authentic distributor set up by Charlie Schwendler. If he does it, it will be reliable for thousands of miles.
You'll never have that confidence with a Pentronix.
I think you will be amazed at just how well these old flatheads perform when set up properly with the original parts.
I'd like to remind you that these ran for decades just fine without so called "upgrades".

My advice? Apply the KISS method of repairs. Keep It Simple Stup--
Mike "Kube" Kubarth

This message was edited by kubes40 on 3-21-21 @ 4:23 PM

03-22-2021 @ 7:54 AM
Posts: 6579
Joined: Oct 2009
Here is my opinion.
The Pertronix ignition works fine when it is working, when it fails it makes the car inoperable. and the usually fail without warning. A distributor set up properly and maintained, will not need points for around 15,000 miles. The point distributor will give you warning by being hard to start or missing before failing completely.

Mike is correct in blaming the coil as that is the most common problem with rough running. I would check the spark when the engine is at operating temperature by removing on plug wire and holding it near a head nut. A good ignition system will give you a spark that is blue in color and about 1/2" long.

If the spark is orange or weak and you have the original type coil (mounted to the top of the distributor), I would remove the distributor and send the assembly to Skip Haney in Florida to check out the ignition system. He has a turnaround of about one week.

Here is his contact information: http://www.fordcollector.com/coils.htm


03-22-2021 @ 9:27 AM
Posts: 252
Joined: Jan 2016
o2bnkz:"What should the coil resistance read if it's good?"

Assuming your new car is still 6 volt, still using an original type coil on the distributor, the primary circuit of the coil should be about 1.0 ohm. BUT...these coils are known to work fine on start up, then fail when warm. The tiny internal windings are fragile and short or go open when warm under electrical load. So a test of the coil in the garage won't tell you how it will perform under real driving conditions.

New coils have a reputation for being just as fragile, with a short life span. Most of us now rely on a coil rebuilt by Skip Haney. He uses better winding wire, better insulating material, or ??? (its proprietary...he doesn't talk about it) His rebuilt coils are not expensive, and have an excellent reputation.

This message was edited by JayChicago on 3-22-21 @ 11:11 AM

03-22-2021 @ 3:03 PM
New Member
Posts: 164
Joined: Jul 2015
Several people have mentioned that the quality of the new coils leaves something to be desired.

Putting my own two cents in, I have had two fail on me after not too long of a time in service.

In one case, the car just stopped running, in the other, I had worked late, and the car would not start (I was 30 miles from home-the car came home on a flatbed truck).

I keep a spare coil in the trunk (a used, aftermarket one that came on the car).

I will be seeking Mr. Haney's service for the next coil.

03-28-2021 @ 2:31 AM
Posts: 28
Joined: Mar 2021

This message was edited by o2bnkc on 3-28-21 @ 2:44 AM

04-04-2021 @ 6:34 PM
Posts: 28
Joined: Mar 2021
Well, I'm still having the same problems. I replaced the coil and condenser. It still wouldn't start. Replaced the terrible looking plugs (carbon fouled, all black) and it fired right up. I let it idle for several minutes while I tried to put the convertible top down. (that's another issue!) It started running very hot. I shut it down for a few minutes and then took it out for a spin. It ran great for about 15 minutes then sputtered and died. Started it back up and it sputtered and died. I finally had my friend come down and we towed it home. I finally got it started again, but I had to keep the choke out to keep it going. I'm thinking it's the carb. That was my original guess. Any ideas? You guys know a lot more about these engines than I do. Also, I'm at 5500 ft. I bought the car in Los Angeles. Do you think it could be running too rich up here? Thanks.

A Proud Navy Vet

This message was edited by o2bnkc on 4-4-21 @ 6:39 PM

04-04-2021 @ 7:01 PM
Posts: 913
Joined: Oct 2009
Yes, the car is running too rich. One rule of thumb to get a car to run better at altitude (5,000 to 5,500 feet where the air is less dense and the atmospheric pressure is less) is to go down two main metering jet (MMJ) sizes and advance the ignition timing by about 4 degrees crankshaft.

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