So you thought you saw it all

kaliningNovember 19, 2007

Well John G. i think i'll throw away my contacts. I've almost seen it all. I've just gotten a 1953 Mercury one ton

dump truck. 239.4 c.i. R motor. 12 volt system. Sat since

  1. Got the spark back in about 1/2 hour and got her running in about 10 minuets. Here is the best part. Only

half of the engine runs. Cylinders 1-2-3-4. The right side,

5-6-7-8. No way. You have any ideas ? Haven't had much of a chance to work on it yet but thought you might want to hear something completely different. And you think you have problems and get the wierd stuff. I did notice this engine has a rebuild sticker on it from the same engine rebuilders i worked for in 68.I wonder if this was one of the engines i built ? It only has 27,548 miles on it. Even the door lock works. Yes, door lock, as in one. Passenger side only. A safety thing in those days. You lock and unlock the vehicle on the curb side of the road. I'll let you know what i find out. I haven't looked at my car with the V.A.P.S. problem. Not on my priority list. This Mercury is my kind of vehicle. Any of you guys and gals

that love the old stuff make damn sure you chime in. love

to hear from you.

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What you have described is a V8 engine. The cylinders on the right side are numbered 1,3,5,7 and the cylinders on the left side (driver's side) are 2,4,6,8. Do you have a bunch of spark wires mixed up?

Look around on the egnine. The firing order may be cast onto intake manifold.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2007 at 1:43AM
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Lots of possiblities Kalining.

Single barrel carb, or dual?

What is compression?

Do you have spark to those cylinders?

Being this is points, it may be they are not opening/closing at the correct time. (Point wear, distributor cam wear)

Of course musical plug wires is always a possibility.

Bottom line start with the basics, see where they lead. This sat for a long time, there is nothing to say that the valves didnt seize in the guides and all of the pushrods are now laying in the valley.......

Enjoy this repair. "One you should really be able to climb into."

    Bookmark   November 20, 2007 at 8:56AM
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**What you have described is a V8 engine. The cylinders on the right side are numbered 1,3,5,7 and the cylinders on the left side (driver's side) are 2,4,6,8.**

That's not necessarily true jemdandy. Seems like I remember Ford numbering it's cylinders as the poster says. I've seen vehicles numbered all kinds of ways including rear to front vs front to rear.

One really needs to find a book to see how the manufacturer numbered the cylinders and what the firing order is, compression and ignition specs, ect. I'd be willing to bet it's wired correctly now.

Does this sucker pick up more cylinders when you give it more throttle? If so, I'd suspect it's a two barrel carb and an air bleed for the idle circuit on one side is blocked. Still dead off idle, perhaps a main jet is blocked. I think I'd pull the plugs first to make sure they're clean enough to fire before doing anything. Ignition issues are usually the best place to start. The one side dead symptom sounds very unusual to me. Usually carb issues affect two cylinders on each side. But that really depends on how the intake is configured and I don't have a clue how yours is. I never worked on many engines that old, and that was a quarter century ago. Sounds like fun but that wouldn't be my first choice of vehicles to tinker with. :)

    Bookmark   November 20, 2007 at 11:49AM
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Thanks for all the input. Nice to know there are people
WANTING to help. Actually Gary is right on. This engine is
numbered that way. Right side ( sitting in the vehical )
1-2-3-4.-- 5-6-7-8 left side. Ignition wires are proper. First thing i checked. Bent or worn distributer lobes or bent shaft ? I dought it because the misfiring would follow the firing order. Normal firing order. 1-5-4-8-6-3-7-2. This truck has a dual down draft. The non firing cylinders are wet. If this truck had a dual
down draft "concentric" carb. I'd blame the carb. It may have one hell of a vacumm leak on one side but i dought it.
This is the same truck i had here 10 years ago with a head
gasket leak. the guy i bought it from had it fixed but
if i know him the head may have been off for 5 years before it was repaired and put back together. All the valves could be stuck in the guides on this head. But all
eight ? (These engines don't have push rods.) As i said before i haven't had time to spend time on this motor. I
grew up with these engines. Nice step back in time. We used
to get truck engines to put in our cars because the truck engine had 10 extra H.P. Good off the line. This engine would do 97 miles per hour in second gear in a 1950 ford
and 105 in third gear to the floor. A dual down draft
concentric we could get 112 without the oil bath air cleaner and a 3" rad hose connected to the carb and stuck
out the front fender with a 6" funnel stuck on the hose and
the back half of the funnel cut off to fit the 3" hose.
That was our ram air. Haven't done the compression test
yet but will get at it. Here is a F.Y.I. (and i have the
book and manual for this truck). Ford garrantied the flat
head V8, providing it had oil in it and was run, for 7 mile without oil. We tried it. My friend, Dan's car went
for 9 miles. Mine went for 8.3 They just spun a bearing or two. Cool it off and it started. One hell of a noise but it ran. We didn't make it home that night but both engines started again for a few seconds. Here is the best part.
I just checked. Head gasket kit for this engine is $23.00
Canadian. Over bore is $97.00. this engine is 40 over go
figure. Thanks for the in put guys. i'll let you know
how it turns out. We are getting 20 below tonight so i'll
put the truck in the shop later this week. All the best to you all.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 8:42PM
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We used to have a 1937 ford truck on the farm. Is that what we're talking about, a flat head v8? Big button on the floor by the gas peddle you stomp on to work the starter? Is that what you have? If it is, I'd say ignition problem for sure because the one side dead symptom makes total sense then. Wish I had the engine out of that '37. Looked cool if nothing else.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 9:55PM
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You do have a mystery on your hands - only one side of the engine running. Below are some off-the-wall ideas:

o I can't imagine that exactly half of the spark plug leads would be bad, but check the resistance of all leads anyway.

o Did the engine sit for a long time with the carbureator removed? If so, maybe there is a mouse nest or a rag in the intake manifold.

o What is the condition of the distributor and rotor? I bet you have already looked closely at the inside of the cap.

o Maybe the valves on one bank are stuck open. It takes only one open valve to disable a cylinder.

o A compression test is a good idea.

You mentioned that this engine does not have pushrods. That means the valves are in the block, and there may be access plates on the lower side of the block to get at the lifters (under the manifolds, how inconvenient). I've seen grown men cry when setting the valve lash on these engines if they did not have a hoist, and as young boy,I heard new swear words.

Remove these plates and check the valve action. Corrosion and gum on the valve stems could be causing the valves to stick in the valve guides.

Where I grew up as a boy, we did not have Mercury trucks, just Chevy, Ford, and Studebaker. But I do remember those fantastic '48 - '50 Big, Black, Mercury sedans with flowing sides, fender skirts, with body work almost scraping the ground. Oh yeah, Chrome - Lots of chrome; Real bumpers and bumper guards. When you sat behing the wheel and gazed over that immence hood, you had the feeling that you were in command of a fine machine.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2007 at 3:46AM
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"The non firing cylinders are wet."

With fuel?

People often recite "suck, squeeze, bang, blow" as their description of how an engine operates.

Other times I will see someone say, "I have spark, fuel, and compression, but it won't fire"

What happens in the second line is, they may have spark, but is it enough spark and is it delivered at the right time? They may have a fuel, but will it burn, and is it the right amount? They may have compression, but is the engine actually breathing, fresh air in, and a clear exhaust out?

Have fun....

    Bookmark   November 22, 2007 at 7:19AM
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Yes this is an L head motor. Flat head. no push rods. Uses
valve tappets same as a Briggs and Strattton lawn mower. The old ones. I know all about the side covers. They'er on that engine somewhere. :) I actually still have the tool to unlock the jam nut and adjust the valve tappets somewhere. It's warming up to 10 below today so i'll check the compression. king pins are seized solid so it will stay in the yard for now. can't steer it. carb was never removed. those engines are famous for valves sticking in the block. same problem with the Wisconsin V4 flat head. If this is the side that had the cracked head and antifreeze leak i'll bet my last beer on a sunday the valves are hanging up with dried burnt antifreeze and rust. the cam probably spun around and pushed all the valves open on that side and that is where they stayed. But then again, All 8 valves ? Actually it only takes one
valve per cylinder to screw it up now that i think of it. Nice thing about the flat head is no way in hell the pistons will hit an open valve. I'll do a compression test today. nothing else to do. Then flood the cylinders with a
rust inhibitor.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2007 at 11:56AM
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Did the compression test on that jercury and it was
90 - 45 - 75 - 75. It fired on # 5 cylinder and the exhaust manifold on that cylinder got warm but the fuel
system is frozen now and will not stay running. I guess
i flooded the cylinders last week and the valve stems freed
up a little. It has potential. I'll leave it till spring.
She will run. That damn thing is in better shape than my 75
ford 1/2 ton. Well the cab that is. It has no body just a
wooden box. It's the same truck they show on the Ranch
Dressing commercial. The big green one. Going to be a fun
project. Don't know what the hell i'll do with a dump truck
but i'll find a use for it. It is so nice to see a V8
engine with 10 wires on it. ( not counting the ignition wires ). Oh yah. forgot the temp sender and oil sender, 12
wires. This motor has an electric oil sender and temp sender. They work. It is a 12 volt system. Very strange.
They didn't use 12 volts on the G.M. till 55. I think ford
went 12 volt sooner in the truck than the car. Don't
remember. I'm sure some of you guys or gals will remember.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2007 at 7:13PM
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We had a hay mower with a Wisconsin engine. Probably the same thing you're talking about. Air cooled job, right? Ran good as long as it was started often enough. Every summer I'd have to pull the heads, shoot a light lubricant down the valve stems and tap down the valves till I'd see them consistently close on their own a few times. Usually good for the season after that. Don't remember it taking very long to do anyway.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2007 at 12:50AM
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Another shop that I work bought an older Ford with a similar engine. He asked me if I "knew anything about them", and I had to laugh. The first thing I asked hin teasingly is where is the diagnostic connector?

I remember the last car I put a set of points in, but seriously I don't recall when it was. Two, maybe three years ago?

As far as tappets, with no pushrods. The closest I have come to that is a lawnmower engine. I cannot recall doing any significant engine work where that design was used.

You can keep the good old days machines. I like the new ones. VBG

    Bookmark   November 23, 2007 at 8:36AM
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Yah, The good old Wis.Those heads should be put on with
zippers. Having the carb and exhaust pipe pointing
straight up doesn't help much either. The old Chevy 235.5
c.i.d. over head was another fun machine. No timing chain.
No oil filter. That was a bolt on option. That 53 chev was a 6 volt system. you put your foot on the clutch in winter to start because with 90 weight oil in the trans you ain't
turning that engine. you could actually stall the motor if
you dumped the clutch in neutral on a 30 delow day. i did it. It used a pressed linin fiber cam gear that went bald if the oil spray tube shooting oil on it plugged up with cork from the valve cover gasket. Mine did. I remember changing the cam on that car. Removed the bumper,rad, and grill. Pulled the cam out. SH&T. forgot to pin the lifters and dropped everyone into the oil pan. NICE. I'm not that old but i've had a lot of cars. friend of mine had a 49 Mercury and i had a 57 Mercury TurnPike Cruiser. I wish i had them now. If we only knew.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2007 at 1:57PM
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One of my neighbors has a 1 ton 1940 Ford truck. I just saw it the other day on the freeway going over 50 mph.

My own old truck is a 1950 half ton GMC with a 228.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2007 at 3:21AM
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Paparoseman. Love it. We have to exchange thoughts.
don't scrap'em. Rebuild'em.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2007 at 6:11PM
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Kalining, It very simple, this Merc just doesn't like that cold Canadian weather.
Its rebelling.
Nothing operates in 20 below zero weather.
I remember those cold Minnesota days and nights that seem to last all year.
It took all summer to just warm up for the next snow fall.

Move that Merc to a warmer climate, like say California, and she will start in a second, run like a dream, and love you for it. Look at all the surf boards she could carry.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2007 at 9:30PM
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Bames. that is a dream of mine to get the hell out of this
S%IT hole. I can't say how i feel about this country
because i'd probably be shot. If i could get the I.N.S.
to allow me into the U.S. i'd be there before you heard a
dial tone and i'd take my Merc. We'll go surfing.
Imagine how much beer she could hold.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2007 at 10:11PM
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I hear you about working on vehicles in the cold - ain't no fun. Gotta watch for frost bite. Twenty seven years ago, I changed a set of spark plugs on a '73 Dodge V8, 400 cubic inch engine. The temperature was -15 F (-26.1 C) I had to crawl underneath for plug No. 8. I touched the back of my bare hand against the manifold. Later, when inside, I noticed my hand had a burning senstaion and big blister appeared. I had a 2nd degree frost bite.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Someone above mentioned a Wisconsin V4 motor. I grew up in the oil-fields in southern Illinois, and a Wisconsin V2 or V4 motor was used as a starting motor for the Waukesha diesels that were on the oil drilling rigs in the 1940s. On a cold winter day, it was a strain on this starter engine to get the diesel going. A drill rig had 2 of these diesels: one for the drill head and the second one for the mud pump. These were HEAVY dudes and sank into the mud in spring. These engines were replaced by 500 hp Ford V8 gasoline engines in the 1950s, a much less weighty rig, plus the future production of Waukesha diesels was in question at that time.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2007 at 11:43PM
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Kalining, Load the Merc up with used mattresses or old tires, and I mean stack those babies as high as you can reach with a crane. Tie them down with kite string or bungee cord and head for the border. Make sure the Merc is running a little rough and throwing out some blue smoke. When you get there tell them your name is Jose morels Garcia Rodriquez Jones and you are headed for Tijuana, but will be stopping at the Big Antique Auto Swap meet in Pomona to show off the Merc first. Chances are they will be dazzled and wave you through. Once you hit the freeway its a straight shot all the way to the coast.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2007 at 2:45AM
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Bames. Best idea i've heard in years. Here is the best part. I bet you it will work with no problem. The first
thing i have to do is find some dingle balls,dice to hang
from the mirror, and a plastic Jesus for the dash. I remember rebuilding my 57 merc 312 in january when i was

  1. Outside under a tarp with the motor still in the car.
    Had no choice. Needed two pistons. Temp. was around -20 F. When you have to pick up your new girl friend, and you just convinced her that you arn't wierd and your so called best friend is still trying to put the moves on her, you will do most anything to get the car ready for the weekend.
    I think twice about going out now if it is 0. Probably explains the Arthritis in both hands and arms.
    Bookmark   November 26, 2007 at 12:42PM
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Kalining, the Jesus on the Dash is a nice touch. Now you are ready to hit the road. Never look back and those sub-zero winters will soon be a faded memory. Working on that Merc in 75 degree weather with a slight ocean breeze will be a treat for both of you. My biggest fear living in Minnesota during those cold winter months was running of gas on an old country road in 20 below zero weather and not seeing a sole for miles. My biggest fear in the Summer was being eaten by Mosquitoes. You got Mosquitoes in Canada?

    Bookmark   November 27, 2007 at 11:49AM
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Do we have mosquitoes? Oh yah. Our mosquitoes are so big,
let's hear it. How big are they ? the only way you can
tell the difference between a mosquito and a humming
bird is the mosquito drinks blood. -34C this morning. the old taurus started. Little stiff but i got to do my beer
run. I'll plug her in to night. I actually think i saw my
poor old merc shivering. The poor old Taurus was in a comatose state. Actually so was i when i took a deap
breath and almost froze my lungs. I'd probably miss snow
at Christmas. Can't see Santa pulling up in his S.U.V.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2007 at 2:00PM
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I grew up in Canada(Saskatchewan, Grey Cup Champs baby), and spent 15 yrs in the Cdn Armed Forces. Now out and residing in the Washington DC area (3 yrs now) Don't get me wrong, people are fine in the USA, but would prefer to be back in Canada enjoying a Tim Hortons,lol. Good luck on the truck

    Bookmark   November 27, 2007 at 8:54PM
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As I recall, vehicles of 1953 vintage used a pressure switch in the brake line to operate the brake lamps. Does you '53 Merc Truck have such?

    Bookmark   November 28, 2007 at 12:29AM
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kalining, My Grandparents on my dad's side were both born and raised in Canada, but came to the states (Washington and then on to the west coast way back when A Mercury was not even in Henry Fords wildest imagine. I got as far as Minnesota and the sub-zero climate stopped me in my tracts right there. I had to get back to the California Coast ASAP. The only snow I see now is about 2 weeks out of the year as we live up in the Southern California Mountains. We are only 30 minutes to the ocean. Its great that way. Sometimes we have snow for Christmas, but this year has been dry so we get wild fires instead. See, there's always a down side. However, frost bite is not in our vocabulary although at times, evacuation is.....

    Bookmark   November 28, 2007 at 3:04AM
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Yes. That truck's switch is at the back of the master
cylinder connected to a T fitting under the vehicle. Bad
idea. It was subject to road damage,ice,water, and half the
time the plactic top where the wires connect would crack and leak. Brake lights would usually stay on because the
fuild was on both sides of the diaphragm. My 53 chev had the same setup. Hard to put a switch on the peddle when it
comes up from the floor. Haven't looked at the truck but
my chev had a momentary spring loaded switch bolted to the
transmission case. A 2 inch lever was pushed back by the
shift linkage as it was put into reverse for the backup
lights. Was looking at the manual for my truck and it had
optional air brakes or vacumm boost. Brakes on this thing
are standard. Good thing, i guess. Got a phone call this
morning. No idea who this guy is or how he got my number
but he offered me $2000.00 for my truck. Thought about it.
NOT. I haven't heard it run on all 8 and haven't even taken it for a hoot down the road. I'm starting to like
that old girl. It's a good looking truck. give you an idea
of how long it sat. I found a 1 inch round 6 foot tall
poplar growing out of the moss on the wooden box where
it connects to the deck. Been snowing now for 48 hours
so have to cut more wood. Mind you it seems to warm up
when it snows. It's only -13C. pretty nice outside. The old
lady wants butter tarts and short bread for christmas so
i'll guess i'll get at it and keep her happy. She comes
home friday night.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2007 at 12:47PM
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