I had a bit more free time and was anxious to get back to work on the car. My plan for this day was to get everything primed, reinstall the spark plugs, and fire up the engine. I got pretty close but didn’t quite make it there.
The first step was for me to move the car out of the garage. It was just too dark for me to see what I was doing, and I didn’t want to fill the place up with smoke when the car started up. So I cleared out everything behind the car and moved the shifter into neutral. Then I grabbed a pair of wheel chocks, got behind the car and started to pull. The car rolled very easily, which kind of surprised me. I moved it very slowly a foot or so at a time. My garage floor is level, but the driveway gradually slopes away from the garage. I went slow because I didn’t want the car to get away from me. Finally i had it out of the garage and put the wheel chocks behind the two rear wheels.
Since I didn’t have the fuel tank completely installed yet, I took a gas can and ran a fuel line from the can to the fuel pump. I figured that the fuel pump should be able to suction gas out of the can and pump it up to the carburetor. Since the spark plugs were still out my plan was to just prime the oil and fuel systems by cranking the engine for a minute or two. So I turned the key and started cranking away. The engine turned pretty fast and the oil pressure light went out. I held the key in the start position for about 10 seconds or so and then stopped. I repeated this 3 or 4 more times. Then I went to check the carburetor for fuel in the bowls. It was dry. I checked that my fuel line was still in place and tried again. This time I cranked the engine 15 to 20 seconds. That led me to discover another problem.
When I let go of the key to stop the starter motor it continued to crank the engine. I knew what the problem must be. So I got out of the car, grabbed a screwdriver while the engine continued to turn, and gave the starter solenoid a good whack with the screwdriver. The starter stopped turning. I got back in the car and tried again. After a few more tries the starter solenoid got stuck again. A good whack with the screwdriver stopped it once again. But it was obvious that the starter solenoid was sticking. It was also obvious that no gas was making its’ way to the carburetor. Time to take a break and rethink my strategy.
One thing I know for sure is that I need a new starter solenoid. I prefer to buy Ford starter solenoids so I gave the local dealer’s parts department a call. They told me they don’t stock them No big surprise there as the part hasn’t been used for decades. While he didn’t actually refuse to search for one he didn’t really offer any further assistance either. I told the parts person that I didn’t want an aftermarket part as they are all just so much junk. I’ve had some success with Ford Parts departments using those exact same words in the past. At that point I must have said the magic words and he said if I would like he could try and find one for me. He looked it up and found one in the warehouse. It would be in tomorrow. I told him I would be by in a day or two to pick it up.
I’m hoping that the fuel pump is OK and the reason no fuel made it to the carburetor was just that the engine wasn’t cranked for long enough or it was just too slow to suck in the gas. I plan to fill the fuel bowls through the vent tubes to prime the carburetor and hope that when it starts the fuel pump will do its’ job again. But that will have to wait until I get the new starter solenoid installed. I want to make sure I can stop the starter motor in case something goes wrong before I can give the solenoid another good whack to stop the starter. So the sound of a Ford big block engine will not be heard today.
I didn’t want to quit yet so I went ahead and reinstalled the spark plugs and wires. This went about as well as removing them did, which means it was a chore. But I got it all buttoned back up. Finally I pushed the car back into the garage. You’re probably wondering right about now what happened to the gas can. Yes, I did forget to move it and when I pushed the car back into the garage I spilled some gas. Now I need to wait for the garage to air out as well. That and buy some more gas. But next time I really hope to get the engine started up. Unfortunately we are expecting some bad weather the next few days. But I still hope to get some work done and move things a little bit farther forward.