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Hard to start when left for any length of time


soldave

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Went to start the Eclat up for the first time in a couple of weeks yesterday and found it really tough to get it started.  The starter engine was turning but it just wasn't catching and firing up.  Primed the fuel pump before trying to fire it up, tried with clutch in or out (although rarely use it these days, even with the engine cold), did my usual couple of presses on the accelerator, but nothing.  After an age it coughed once and then with a bit more (and nearly a flat battery) it finally started up.  After that it ran absolutely fine.  Seriously though, I was probably on the starter motor for around 20 seconds combined and it didn't show any signs of firing up.

Went to it tonight and still took a bit of persuading to get it to start up, although once it did I took it for a nice drive.  Have filled it up with petrol for the winter and will keep it ticking over on weekends, but what could be causing the difficulty in getting her started when left for a few days?  I thought fuel draining back, but surely after 5-10 seconds of trying to start and with a primed pump it should be fine.

Any thoughts?

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I though choke as well initially.

All we know is that when they stop making this, we will be properly, properly sad.Jeremy Clarkson on the Esprit.

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Replace the word "clutch" with "choke" in the original post.  Apologies - I was tired and mistakes come far too easily.

New battery required....that or fuel pump.

 

Buddsy

The battery seems strong (at least at the start of the cranking).  It's something I can check in a couple of weeks when I go to start it again though - I'll put it on charge beforehand.

When I prime the fuel pump I can hear it ticking over quickly, and then slowing down after 5 seconds or so (I'm guessing as fuel pressure builds up).

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Dave,

Was talking to someone at the weekend who suffered fuel supply problems and it turned out to be rust/crap in the fuel tank sitting over the outlet (which is at the bottom of the tank).

What sort of fuel pump have you got fitted? - the fact that it runs OK once started is odd but then intermittent problems are always a swine. Eliminate 1 factor at a time - have you still got points/condenser in the dizzy? If electronic, has this got a fault? Cold start - is there vacuum advance retard on the dizzy - is this leaking vac?

Good luck whatever it is

Is the price for that bit in Yen or £?

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Could be crap in the fuel tank.  Would be slightly annoying as I've just filled the fuel tank up to the brim for its winter layup.  Don't think I can get the rust out until it's drained unless anyone has ingenious ideas.  Will check the fuel filter and see if there's any signs of rust in there, although they may be too big to actually reach the filter.

Fuel pump is stock I believe.

Distributor is still points/condenser.  There is an advance on the dizzy, although it's never been hooked up (even when it was starting up fine when cold) (see http://www.thelotusforums.com/forums/topic/69366-1979-yellow-lotus-eclat-my-project-thread/?do=findComment&comment=542942).

I hate intermittent problems almost as much as 70s/80s British electrical automotive wiring.

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Wiggle the wire from the solenoid on the starter up to the coil and make sure the contacts are clean at both ends.

Also, try winding it a little then releasing the key - one of mine fires only on release - which seems to be a common fault. Suggestion is a fault in the switch - probably dirty contact.

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Thanks for mentioning that, Dunc.  It got me thinking that almost a year ago I found the connector on the starter solenoid where the white and yellow wire connects to the coil had broken (see below picture).  I botched a fix somewhat but am wondering if the connector has almost come off again.  If so, I'm not sure how I'll repair it.  Might just mean an opportunity to replace over the winter.

EDIT: Just went out to have a look.  While that yellow and white wire was connected, I wiggled it a bit and it came away.  "Aha!" think I.  Got in the car and tried to start, sure that it wouldn't fire up without that wire being connected at all now.  A couple of cranks and it fires into life!  Not what I was expecting.  The solenoid still needs fixing somehow though.  Maybe with something like this: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/STARTER-MOTOR-SOLENOID-CAP-TO-FIT-LUCAS-2M100-3M100-M45G-M418G-131274-ETC-/252020672395

post-17588-0-12372400-1414932963.jpg

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Mine was the same, I redid all the connections, new coil, new electronic ignition distributor, and where ever I see a dodgy connection or terminal I change it. I don't mess about with any dodgy terminals,  if you see one, change it. Most of the electrical faults on these cars are down to flappy fragile connections. 

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One step forward, one step back.  Got my replacement starter solenoid cap fitted and the old one certainly looks like it's seen better days (see below).  So got all that fitted and put back in, and go to start the car.

Good news: Car fires up much more quickly from cold now - surprised me actually how well.

Bad news: The starter seems to be now making a strange noise when it's starting (see video below).  My first thought was the plunger that goes from the solenoid coming off its bracket and not engaging the flywheel, but have taken it apart and it seems to be connected ok.  Not really sure what else it could be (unless by coincidence the starter motor needs a rebuild at just the time the solenoid has been fixed.

Any ideas what might have happened (aka what I have done wrong)?

2015-10-03%2011.19.58_zps6u7moogo.jpg

2015-10-03%2011.20.13_zpscctroqwi.jpg

 

 

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Does sound unhappy.

Things have moved on a little since the start of your thread but it reminded me greatly of my cold starting issues. Almost identical infact.

In the end, it turned out that I had forgotten to refit the engine earthing strap - earth was being made by a presumably tortuous route and once started, presumably the resistance dropped and would go OK.

I tested this (following a suggestion on here) by connecting the battery -ve terminal directly to the block with a jump lead - quick and easy and instantly diagnoses the problem - might be worth doing this as a quick check??

"Intellectuals solve problems; geniuses prevent them." Albert Einstein

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I'll do that once I've got the car sounding normal when starting.

Had the starter motor off as I was thinking maybe the solenoid plunger but it seems to be moving ok.  I've had the solenoid cap off a few times trying to work out what I did.  Only thing I'm looking at is where the copper wires go up from the solenoid base.  Do those need to be soldered into the cap terminals?  I was also looking back and when I took the old cap off it pulled up a copper wire with it (you can see it in the top picture of my previous post).  Wonder if either of those are meaning when the starter fires up, it's not got full power to pull the plunger back and engage the starter motor.

Any thoughts on my logic?

2015-10-03%2015.29.28_zpsqinm9xny.jpg

2015-10-03%2015.29.40_zpsjonaccqm.jpg

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  • 3 weeks later...

One step forwards, one step sideways.  Got the wires in the solenoid soldered back onto the cap, and while the car's been down I've done an oil and filter change (moving from the 10W30 to a Valvoline VR1 20W50 oil).  Fired up the car and the starter was turning the engine really slowly.  Didn't think it was going to fire but eventually started up.

At first I thought it was the battery but put it on charge and it seems to be fully charged.  All I can think now is a poor ground somewhere.

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  • Gold FFM

Hi Dave, if thats the battery that came with the car it must be getting on for 3/4 years old now. Just a thought. There is a fuel filter on the supply line from the pump to the carbs, but going by what you say it sounds like its ok as 5 seconds is about right to pressurise the system. As suggested I would be looking at earths. Try another battery and see if that makes any difference.

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Thanks for the thoughts guys.  Am sure you've heard my hatred for car electrics so am not looking forward to this, but will try the jump leads from battery to engine block and see if anything happens then.  After that it's a new Yuasa battery and we'll go from there.

I'm SORNed until the spring anyway so no huge rush to get things moving.

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Having recently had starting problems, my first port of call would always be a new battery. Even seemingly fully charged old batteries can lack the power to start well.

At least you can rule this out as a potential issue. Good Luck

Is the price for that bit in Yen or £?

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Going back to the battery.... what does your voltmeter in the car look like when you are attempting to start the car.  You should not see a massive swing in voltage, just a slight deflection of the needle when starting.

Easiest way to check if it's the battery... borrow a known good one from a working vehicle. 

Voltage is sometimes a good indicator of health but it doesn't necessarily show how sulphated the individual cells may be which can affect there ability to push large current during high demands.

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  • Gold FFM

Last week Wedny's M100 failed to start down in Coupar Angus, a two year old battery had fried, it was too hot to touch. We got a jump start to get her going then managed to get home. Had the battery tested next day and it was US. A two year old Exide quality battery should have lasted longer. And yep u guessed, no receipt to get it exchanged. £75.00 for a quality replacement, ouch.

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Right - 5 minutes of testing and we have some updates.

Connected a jump lead from the negative terminal of the battery to the block - no change; still a very slow turning over but it did fire up eventually.

Connected the multimeter up this time to the battery and here are the results from that:

  • Voltage with engine off: 12.3V
  • Voltage with ignition on: 12.07V
  • Voltage with starter cranking: 8.7-9.0V

The engine did start eventually with that, but the cranking was so slow.

Those figures could suggest the battery is going out.  My only thought is that the battery seemed fine before I started trying to "fix" the starter solenoid a few weeks ago, and I might have done something when fixing it that's made it like this.

Should note that one other test I've done is connected starter solenoid terminals with a screwdriver to run the motor.  While it did create the usual sparks, it ran at a good speed.  Not sure if that tells you guys anything but thought I'd add it into the mix

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Yes, it tells you that the problem is in the solenoid switch you just fitted.

If the motor spins faster when you short it, there is a problem with its feed. The solenoid is the only component in feeding juice to the starter and you've just bypassed it  by shorting across it  making the motor run better.

Either get a replacement solenoid or whip the starter off and get it refurbished. I did last year for around a hundred quid.

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  • Gold FFM

If the test with the screwdriver was done in the same circumstances as the other tests (i.e. in the car), it does point to the solenoid. I find it hard to judge how good a starter/solenoid is when doing a no-load test on the bench.

The voltage when starting is indeed quite low. But the problem is you can't know for sure if it's the battery that can't provide the necessary current or a bad connection (either earth or power) causing increased resistance and thus a need for a higher current. A known good battery to test would be ideal, as said.

Filip

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I have made many mistakes in my life. Buying a multiple Lotus is not one of them.

 

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Yes, it tells you that the problem is in the solenoid switch you just fitted.

If the motor spins faster when you short it, there is a problem with its feed. The solenoid is the only component in feeding juice to the starter and you've just bypassed it  by shorting across it  making the motor run better.

Either get a replacement solenoid or whip the starter off and get it refurbished. I did last year for around a hundred quid.

Thanks for that, Doug.

Just a thought - could I turn the key so the ignition's on, and then jump the starter solenoid with the screwdriver?  My thinking is that if it turns quickly (which could start the car up), then I know it's the solenoid.  If it's slow like when I turn the key fully, it's probably starter motor off time?

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