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  #1   IP: 45.48.80.165
Old 01-11-2021, 10:44 AM
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One for the books - first time A4 owner - Pulling Hair!

Hello, long story short my A4 is misfiring on cylinder 3:

I initially came to the boat after running great and popped on a new carb gasket. After doing this the boat wouldn't start.

After pulling off the carb ten times, I finally got the float set to not flood.

After doing this, I found that I was getting no spark, but I never touched anything related to spark.

I went down to a local marine parts store and picked up a coil that needs a resistor which I installed. Got spark back, I did notice the coil is getting hot to the touch.

I carefully traced each plug wire, they were all correct.

Now I am getting it to start but with backfiring, and rare starts, dying under a load. So I loosened the distributor and set the timing so the motor ran more smooth.

Pulled the carb off again, cleaned the internals of the main jet, spaced that one. Still not too much of a difference.

Next, I looked at the distributor cap, it was a little loose, had to jimmy rig the screws when it was in my garage. Secured tightened.

I did notice that the brass or bronze plates in the distributor cap were scored, like a small groove in them.

Looking further I noticed that the rotor was broken, there is a small groove that holds the little piece of metal on the top of the rotor, so it does not sit in its seat.

Now the engine runs better than it ever has, I mean it must idle at 100 RPM you can barely hear it.

Still, Pulled the plugs #3 cylinder plug is not showing signs of burning like the others, and a very small backfire in gear tied up at the dock.

Went to west marine, picked up the only wire set they had, it was the wrong plug wire type, but I was able to use one to try to see if the plug wire was the culprit, still no change.

I have electric ignition. My next step was going to be buying a new rotor.

Just posting this here to see if anyone has other thoughts on this.
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Old 01-11-2021, 12:40 PM
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First thought is to check your firing order. Might have a couple of wires switched. Second is to check inside the distributor cap for cracks or tracking - spark for #3 may be going elsewhere. If I think of anything else, I'll be back.
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  #3   IP: 45.48.80.165
Old 01-11-2021, 12:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Al Schober View Post
First thought is to check your firing order. Might have a couple of wires switched. Second is to check inside the distributor cap for cracks or tracking - spark for #3 may be going elsewhere. If I think of anything else, I'll be back.
Yes, I did that, when I was testing spark I noticed an ark hitting the alternator, but when I plugged the wire back in that went away. Im gonna buy the rotor probably from napa and give that a whirl.
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Old 01-11-2021, 01:18 PM
Dave Neptune Dave Neptune is offline
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Do replace the cap and ROTOR as a set. The damage to the rotor may of caused a minor crack in the cap and there could be a carbon trail built up inside the cap. I'd also be sure all of the plug wires are fresh too.

You could of easily killed your coil by leaving the key on while working on the problem, easy to do and seen it many times~~turn the key off each time you have tested something or the engine dies.

What was the problem with the float? The float level has a great deal to do with the air fuel ratio.

Dave Neptune
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Old 01-11-2021, 01:19 PM
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Maybe take a look at the engine running in the dark?

Bill
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Old 01-11-2021, 02:34 PM
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+1 on Dave N's post. I had spend hours debugging various engines behavior and finally in desperation I replace the cap and rotor, and all the weird problems vanished. My rule now is if I'm debugging 'spark', if the wires test out and plugs look good and I have spark direct off the coil, I just replace the cap and rotor.

Maybe some of the C&Rs still had life left in them, but IMO they are cheap vs. your time... and they do wear out.

Also, a few year back I bought new C&R (due to age) for my land rover (buick motor) and the engine ran worse. I returned them an got another set from a different brand and it worked fine. Asking my mechanic about my observation, the mentioned that there were a 'bad batch' of caps floating around about 6 months ago. We looked at a both "good" one versus a "bad" one and could see zero difference. But one clearly worked and the other did not.

I can now see how religions can start. ;^)
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Old 01-11-2021, 04:30 PM
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Well my strong suggestion is to match the brands of cap and rotor to at least try to minimize mfg tolerances or "intolerances". These parts are not made in volume, local or even in the quality that they used to be. A few years back I had a die/no start situation on a bridge run. I was being towed by another boat untill I matched the replacement cap & rotor. Can't verify but am told the caps with brass contacts from Standard are better than the caps with aluminum contacts from Napa. If you have the time order from Moyer. Relative to backfiring at the dock sure sounds like a 1243 firing order issue or timing?
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Old 01-11-2021, 06:16 PM
JOHN COOKSON JOHN COOKSON is online now
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R\E #3 SPARK PLUG

Switch the spark plugs around and see if the problem follows the suspect spark plug.

ex TRUE GRIT

Edit: Buy parts from MMI then you will know you are getting correct parts. +1 on replacing the cap and rotor. The gap between the rotor and the contact inside the cap is critical.

Last edited by JOHN COOKSON; 01-11-2021 at 06:20 PM.
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  #9   IP: 107.77.228.211
Old 01-11-2021, 07:54 PM
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Update. Im kinda running around so ill post more details. I went to napa and got a new rotor and distributer cap. I went to base auto by my house and he gave me champion plugs and different plug wires. I started the motor and had #3 out and confirmed spark. I tested in and out of gear man it really sounds like a sewing machine at idle.

My #1 and #2 are still getting really hot. Should this be something I should be concerned with?
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Old 01-11-2021, 09:53 PM
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My oil smells like gas, maybe fuel got in there from the carb flooding out. I have an electric pump. Theres a leak by the plate which covers the mechanical fuel pump, can't fix that leak for the life of me. Boat runs pretty great now. But I'm new and I'm a bit of a worry wart. I don't feel comfy with the plugs getting that hot after 1-2 minutes of running. I just don't know. My legs are burnt from. Squatting and my knee cap is so sore I have a little limp.

I'm taking a long sail when I get this figured out. And I'm too deep to just pop an outboard on the back.
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Old 01-12-2021, 02:14 PM
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Make sure the spark plugs are fully torqued. If too loose, they will not transfer heat to the head properly.
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  #12   IP: 138.207.177.95
Old 01-13-2021, 08:38 AM
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Re the spark plug wires, when I was running electronic ignition I found them to have a relatively short life and it was usually the coil to distributor wire that failed first. It wasn't sudden either, it would gradually get worse.
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  #13   IP: 45.48.80.165
Old 01-13-2021, 10:13 AM
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So... I wired the spark plug wires on the distributor cap 1243, but come to find out the order is 1234 from the distributor cap. Runs great very explosive, but I'm seeing blue smoke, also the plugs were around .025, gapped them to.035
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Old 01-13-2021, 10:34 AM
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I am going to check the timing, manually next, not power time. Blue smoke according to what I'm reading is leftover fuel, and there is a bit of a slick coming out of the back.

Just to fill everyone in, the carb was flooding immensely. which for the love of god I finally fixed. Float adjustment.

There is a leak by the plate that covers up the manual fuel pump. Looks like oil.

Ya know, I really hope I wasn't a major dumbass and ran the motor like this. Previously, I was motoring it out of the marina, it had symptoms like trying to stall when going into gear, and less power than I had anticipated.

Now with the wires wired up as 1234 the power is pretty explosive, I can wind the prop out pretty darn good. All the new tune-up parts probably help with that.

Hoping its my timing, really hoping. I bought the boat last april, burned up a summer becuase the keel was sagging amoung other bone head moves I made.
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Old 01-13-2021, 10:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by indigo View Post
Make sure the spark plugs are fully torqued. If too loose, they will not transfer heat to the head properly.
I did that also re gapped the plugs. The problem was the plug wires. Now blue smoke, not a lot but it's definitely smoking. It doesn't smoke with the plugs wired from the distributor cap 1243, but smokes, and runs great with the wiring 1234
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Old 01-13-2021, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by JOHN COOKSON View Post
Switch the spark plugs around and see if the problem follows the suspect spark plug.

ex TRUE GRIT

Edit: Buy parts from MMI then you will know you are getting correct parts. +1 on replacing the cap and rotor. The gap between the rotor and the contact inside the cap is critical.
The gap should be .016 right? if the gap is not correct, would it cause extra fuel to not burn off?
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Old 01-13-2021, 11:47 AM
Dave Neptune Dave Neptune is offline
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The "rotor" to "cap posts" is not adjustable. The .016" you mention is for what? Depending on which distributor you have the "point gap'' is .025 in the Delco and .018 in the Prestolite. Both of these values are probably worthless as by now the distributor cam is worn out which is why many have gone to the EI. The points need to be set with a dwell meter to get them correct when the distributor cam is worn.

The firing order is the firing order don't vary and be sure it is set properly. double or even triple check.

The spark plugs should get hot as that means they are burning fuel ~~ no heat = no burn. Or the spark is not arriving in order or at the correct time. The cold plug will always be the dead cylinder and after finding that you have a dead one the question is why? Plug wire order, valve adjustment or seating, fuel, dead spark plug, bad wire or no compression.

RE the smoke, it could be just built up carbon loaded with oil burning off from the cylinder being dead. Another cause could be the timing is to advanced or the centrifugal advance is stuck or sticking. Check the c-adv with the cap off by twisting the rotor, it should turn with light spring resistance and the spring right back when released.

Answering direct questions will assist us in aiding your diagnosis and fix.

Dave Neptune
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Old 01-13-2021, 12:59 PM
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The firing order is NOT 1 2 3 4. Is that how you have it wired
Also black smoke is a rich mixture, blue smoke is oil, and white smoke/steam can be coolant or a natural result of the wet exhaust. Gaining blue smoke could in the best case mean a cylinder that has some oil in it is now firing and burning the oil when it was not previously burning oil or gas.

Last edited by joe_db; 01-13-2021 at 01:02 PM.
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Old 01-13-2021, 01:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joe_db View Post
The firing order is NOT 1 2 3 4. Is that how you have it wired
Also black smoke is a rich mixture, blue smoke is oil, and white smoke/steam can be coolant or a natural result of the wet exhaust.
No the firing order is 1243, but 3&4 were crossed up because I was following that same sequence on the distributer cap. When looking at the cap, the order is sequential.

Also just found my oil was filled up to the last L on the dipstick.
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Old 01-13-2021, 01:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Neptune View Post
The "rotor" to "cap posts" is not adjustable. The .016" you mention is for what? Depending on which distributor you have the "point gap'' is .025 in the Delco and .018 in the Prestolite. Both of these values are probably worthless as by now the distributor cam is worn out which is why many have gone to the EI. The points need to be set with a dwell meter to get them correct when the distributor cam is worn.

The firing order is the firing order don't vary and be sure it is set properly. double or even triple check.

The spark plugs should get hot as that means they are burning fuel ~~ no heat = no burn. Or the spark is not arriving in order or at the correct time. The cold plug will always be the dead cylinder and after finding that you have a dead one the question is why? Plug wire order, valve adjustment or seating, fuel, dead spark plug, bad wire or no compression.

RE the smoke, it could be just built up carbon loaded with oil burning off from the cylinder being dead. Another cause could be the timing is to advanced or the centrifugal advance is stuck or sticking. Check the c-adv with the cap off by twisting the rotor, it should turn with light spring resistance and the spring right back when released.

Answering direct questions will assist us in aiding your diagnosis and fix.

Dave Neptune

Hey Dave I have electronic ignition, The gap I was referring to was the gap on the rotor. I did find out that 3&4 were crossed up. Which I have fixed. I just went there early this morning and found that the oil was overfilled, probably something I did initially.

So to recap I have been running on two cylinders. ( I think) so the backfiring and the plugs getting hot are no longer an issue. As a matter of fact it runs so low at idle I can only feel the vibrations in the cockpit.

Ive also tested the motor in gear, and wow what a burst it can give now.

I didn't have a pump, but I started to remove some oil with absorption pads. The smoke had gone down.

I had also pulled the small black rubber tubing off the exhaust and a blackish liquid came out of it/ (now in my bilge)
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Old 01-13-2021, 02:15 PM
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Gude gneus.

The black tube I assume was the water injection to the exhaust. A bit of black water from the exhaust is not a biggie. You probably shook a bit of crap loose from the water jackets.

As far as the "smoke" dissipating, the engine is now burning off what stuck in the offending cylinders. A good run at temp and she should clear up fine.

I have worked on one A-4 that only ran on 2 cylinders for the entire time a dock-mate had the boat. He bought it and part of the deal was to have the engine tuned up however the mechanic that did the work got the wires wrong. He heard I was good with engines and asked me to take a look because he thought it should have more power. I sorted out the plug wires and he was amazed what 4 cylinders could now do.

Dave Neptune
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Old 01-13-2021, 02:29 PM
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Gude gneus.

The black tube I assume was the water injection to the exhaust. A bit of black water from the exhaust is not a biggie. You probably shook a bit of crap loose from the water jackets.

As far as the "smoke" dissipating, the engine is now burning off what stuck in the offending cylinders. A good run at temp and she should clear up fine.

I have worked on one A-4 that only ran on 2 cylinders for the entire time a dock-mate had the boat. He bought it and part of the deal was to have the engine tuned up however the mechanic that did the work got the wires wrong. He heard I was good with engines and asked me to take a look because he thought it should have more power. I sorted out the plug wires and he was amazed what 4 cylinders could now do.

Dave Neptune
Yea, I am so excited about how damn clean it runs now. Well, hopefully, once I reduce the amount of oil in the system the smoke will clear out more. I had to come back to my home office to work, got some out with absorption rags.

One more thing while I have you. So I can't get the cover plate for the mechanical fuel pump to stop leaking. I bought it brand new from you guys or from moyer, not sure if you are associated. Would this have any effects on my engine?
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Old 01-13-2021, 03:00 PM
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No the cover plate would have no affect other than covering the hole. I've not seem them to be a leaking problem. May have a bad gasket, a warped plate or a chip in the block where it seals. Remove and inspect once you get another gasket. Did you put the gasket on dry or with a sealer?

Dave Neptune
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Old 01-13-2021, 03:06 PM
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No the cover plate would have no affect other than covering the hole. I've not seem them to be a leaking problem. May have a bad gasket, a warped plate or a chip in the block where it seals. Remove and inspect once you get another gasket. Did you put the gasket on dry or with a sealer?

Dave Neptune
OK yes, I installed it with the gasket that came with the part. It was still leaking, then I made my own gasket, it was still leaking, initially, I used high temp gasket maker. Then after I made my own I did not use a sealer.

I also used stabil in the fuel. Could that cause any issues?
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Old 01-13-2021, 03:42 PM
JOHN COOKSON JOHN COOKSON is online now
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Quote:
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One more thing while I have you. So I can't get the cover plate for the mechanical fuel pump to stop leaking. I bought it brand new from you guys or from moyer, not sure if you are associated. Would this have any effects on my engine?
Call Ken @ MMI about the leaking cover plate. He may have some ideas.

The forum and MMI are not financially associated. MMI sponsors the forum as a courtesy to the A4 community.

ex TRUE GRIT
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