732 Starting problems

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GILL

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Dec 1, 2005
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Hello, new guy here. I have a 732 Bobcat w/Ford engine that is having a problem starting. First some history. I bought it used in '97, always has had a slow starter, pulled starter in past and had it bench tested, always tested O.K. I used the machine to move dirt around on my septic field project all summer and it worked fine. Lately it will not start, I figured due to slowness of starter. I got a rebuilt starter from NAPA and it turns over fine now but still won't start. I have spark at coil and at plugs. When turning over I get little puffs of smoke from exhaust. What should I check next? Any one have a history of fuel pump/carburator issues with these machines? I'm thinking of giving a compression test. I tried ether but that hasn't helped so far. Any help you can give would be much appreciated. Thanks Greg
 

Blaine

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Nov 22, 2005
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Does this machine use a timing belt or is the cam gear driven or is chain driven? Check your timing on the distributor. This will let you know if you valve timing is has moved. A compression test would be good if you know you are getting fuel and fire at the proper intervals. The fact that it won't start off of ether will generally tell you that you don't have proper compression or that your timing(valve or ignition) is off or that you don't have spark.
 

GILL

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Does this machine use a timing belt or is the cam gear driven or is chain driven? Check your timing on the distributor. This will let you know if you valve timing is has moved. A compression test would be good if you know you are getting fuel and fire at the proper intervals. The fact that it won't start off of ether will generally tell you that you don't have proper compression or that your timing(valve or ignition) is off or that you don't have spark.
I'm not sure if it's a chain or belt. My dealers mechanic says to check for voltage at fuel solenoids 1st, then check compression, then see if fuel is coming from fuel pump. I have spark, not sure of timing issues yet. Last compression test in '98 was +140#'s all cylinders. I'll be checking this stuff out tonight. Thanks for your reply. Greg
 

Tazza

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I'm not sure if it's a chain or belt. My dealers mechanic says to check for voltage at fuel solenoids 1st, then check compression, then see if fuel is coming from fuel pump. I have spark, not sure of timing issues yet. Last compression test in '98 was +140#'s all cylinders. I'll be checking this stuff out tonight. Thanks for your reply. Greg
Timing could be an issue, but compression isn't that big of a deal on petrol engines. They will generally start on low compression but have very little power. After cranking it over, remove a spark plug and check if it is wet. If it is, it could be an ignition problem. What colour spark do you have? it should be blue and not orange. Try installing new plugs (if you haven't already).
One other thing you could try to check for fuel, buy a can of engine start, remove the air filter, give the inside of the air intake a good feed of engine start, then try to start the engine. It should at least kick then stall, if it does it is a fuel/carby problem
 

GILL

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Dec 1, 2005
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Timing could be an issue, but compression isn't that big of a deal on petrol engines. They will generally start on low compression but have very little power. After cranking it over, remove a spark plug and check if it is wet. If it is, it could be an ignition problem. What colour spark do you have? it should be blue and not orange. Try installing new plugs (if you haven't already).
One other thing you could try to check for fuel, buy a can of engine start, remove the air filter, give the inside of the air intake a good feed of engine start, then try to start the engine. It should at least kick then stall, if it does it is a fuel/carby problem
Last nite I checked power to fuel solenoids and they checked out O.K. I then pulled one spark plug at a time and checked for spark, each had a blue spark, yet they were wet. I checked compression and lowest was 70# and highest was 110#. I dried plugs with torch and reinstalled, still wouldn't start. I decided to remove air intake hose from cleaner to get at fuel line from fuel pump to check it. When I removed air intake hose, gasoline ran out from hose when hose was tilted downward. I removed carb which was full of gas. I then took carb apart to look at needle and seat. They looked O.K. yet I will replace with kit if available. My only mistake is I did not notice how little spring was oriented on float shaft, I think it can only go one way but, it has short straight ends coming off the round coil. I will try to energize solenoid to check its operation while I have carb apart. The only really bad thing about all of this is the loss of compression. I know all the other tests were done on a warm engine and I haven't done one since '98. Hard to say when the compression got so low. There is a little slop in the throttle shaft, I wonder if dust has been coming in and worn engine? Thanks to all for your replies, I'll let you know on progress. Greg
 

Blaine

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Nov 22, 2005
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Last nite I checked power to fuel solenoids and they checked out O.K. I then pulled one spark plug at a time and checked for spark, each had a blue spark, yet they were wet. I checked compression and lowest was 70# and highest was 110#. I dried plugs with torch and reinstalled, still wouldn't start. I decided to remove air intake hose from cleaner to get at fuel line from fuel pump to check it. When I removed air intake hose, gasoline ran out from hose when hose was tilted downward. I removed carb which was full of gas. I then took carb apart to look at needle and seat. They looked O.K. yet I will replace with kit if available. My only mistake is I did not notice how little spring was oriented on float shaft, I think it can only go one way but, it has short straight ends coming off the round coil. I will try to energize solenoid to check its operation while I have carb apart. The only really bad thing about all of this is the loss of compression. I know all the other tests were done on a warm engine and I haven't done one since '98. Hard to say when the compression got so low. There is a little slop in the throttle shaft, I wonder if dust has been coming in and worn engine? Thanks to all for your replies, I'll let you know on progress. Greg
That is a BIG difference in compression. Not only that but the cylinder with only 70 will probably not fire. The cylinder with 110 psi will be marginal at best. If the valve timing is off, it can and will cause low compression. This is the first thing I would check at this point. Also check the ignition timing(put crank at TDC, check orientation of rotor inside of the distributor; it should be pointed at #1, if it is pointing the opposite direction then rotate the crank an additional turn.) As far as the plugs being wet, did you check the ignition timing? Since this is carburated and the plugs are wet, I would shut off the fuel pump and see if it fires that way(leave the plugs wet). You might have to crank it a couple of times since the carb bowl will still have fuel in it. You will know when the bowl is empty because the accelerator pump will no longer pump fuel. I would then try starting it with some ether or starting fluid. If it will not run off of the starting fluid and the ignition timing is correct, you know you will have to fix the compression problem. Let us know what you find on the ignition and valve timing and we can go from there.
 

GILL

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That is a BIG difference in compression. Not only that but the cylinder with only 70 will probably not fire. The cylinder with 110 psi will be marginal at best. If the valve timing is off, it can and will cause low compression. This is the first thing I would check at this point. Also check the ignition timing(put crank at TDC, check orientation of rotor inside of the distributor; it should be pointed at #1, if it is pointing the opposite direction then rotate the crank an additional turn.) As far as the plugs being wet, did you check the ignition timing? Since this is carburated and the plugs are wet, I would shut off the fuel pump and see if it fires that way(leave the plugs wet). You might have to crank it a couple of times since the carb bowl will still have fuel in it. You will know when the bowl is empty because the accelerator pump will no longer pump fuel. I would then try starting it with some ether or starting fluid. If it will not run off of the starting fluid and the ignition timing is correct, you know you will have to fix the compression problem. Let us know what you find on the ignition and valve timing and we can go from there.
Well I tried to determine if it's ring wear or valves by adding oil in cylinder. I added about two - three ounces and cranked engine then checked, no real difference. In asking other people their ideas some think I should add and then immediately check. I did this last night and have pumped oil into my compression guage sticking the needle at 45 psi. In talking to a reseller that has some experience with this engine he says this Ford is bad for burning valves. I have a carb rebuild kit and will try to get carb on this weekend and warm engine with a propane heater to see if that helps. If not, it may be time to pull head. I don't really know how to get this thing at TDC to see if valves are closed all the way or not.
 

Blaine

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Nov 22, 2005
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Well I tried to determine if it's ring wear or valves by adding oil in cylinder. I added about two - three ounces and cranked engine then checked, no real difference. In asking other people their ideas some think I should add and then immediately check. I did this last night and have pumped oil into my compression guage sticking the needle at 45 psi. In talking to a reseller that has some experience with this engine he says this Ford is bad for burning valves. I have a carb rebuild kit and will try to get carb on this weekend and warm engine with a propane heater to see if that helps. If not, it may be time to pull head. I don't really know how to get this thing at TDC to see if valves are closed all the way or not.
Since this is a gas Ford motor, hopefully this holds true. On the front crankshaft pulley there should be a set of about 4 notches. One of these is TDC. Usually the second. Put the crank at TDC and then pull off the distributor cap. The rotor should be pointing to the number one electrode. If it is about 180 degrees off, then rotate the crankshaft an additional turn and recheck the position of the distributor rotor. If the rotor is not positioned properly, then you know that you have a timing issue. Does this engine use a timinig belt, a chain, or is it gear driven?
 

GILL

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Since this is a gas Ford motor, hopefully this holds true. On the front crankshaft pulley there should be a set of about 4 notches. One of these is TDC. Usually the second. Put the crank at TDC and then pull off the distributor cap. The rotor should be pointing to the number one electrode. If it is about 180 degrees off, then rotate the crankshaft an additional turn and recheck the position of the distributor rotor. If the rotor is not positioned properly, then you know that you have a timing issue. Does this engine use a timinig belt, a chain, or is it gear driven?
It uses a chain according to the photo in the manual. I'm told if there is excessive wear on teeth or chain it could have jumped throwing the valve and ignition off, thereby never getting the valves closed or ign. right. I suppose I will have to drain oil and coolant to inspect if it looks off. It's been very cold here in Ill. working on gravel in shed not the best of conditions.
 

Blaine

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It uses a chain according to the photo in the manual. I'm told if there is excessive wear on teeth or chain it could have jumped throwing the valve and ignition off, thereby never getting the valves closed or ign. right. I suppose I will have to drain oil and coolant to inspect if it looks off. It's been very cold here in Ill. working on gravel in shed not the best of conditions.
Since it is a chain, it can definetely jump a tooth or two. That is correct about the valve timing and compression. Incorrect valve timing will lower compression. No need to drain everything and inspect the actual chain. Just set it at TDC and check the ignition timing(orientation of the distributor rotor). The distributor runs off of the camshaft so if the chain jumped, the distributor will be off.
 

GILL

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Since it is a chain, it can definetely jump a tooth or two. That is correct about the valve timing and compression. Incorrect valve timing will lower compression. No need to drain everything and inspect the actual chain. Just set it at TDC and check the ignition timing(orientation of the distributor rotor). The distributor runs off of the camshaft so if the chain jumped, the distributor will be off.
It's supposed to get to 30 deg. tomorrow, if I get carb back together, tomorrow I think I'll put new plugs in, reinstall carb, and try heating engine with propane torpedo heater. I will check timing using your info plus manual's pics, etc. Have a friend with 25 yrs exp. as a car mechanic on call if needed. Latest problem is getting seat out of carb. It does not want to budge, soaked it with PB blaster last nite and will try grinding a 5/8 bolt to a screwdriver tip to get a better bite on it. People tell me to invert carb and check float measurement, should be about 1-1/8 from gasket surface to bottom of float. Thanks Greg
 

GILL

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Since it is a chain, it can definetely jump a tooth or two. That is correct about the valve timing and compression. Incorrect valve timing will lower compression. No need to drain everything and inspect the actual chain. Just set it at TDC and check the ignition timing(orientation of the distributor rotor). The distributor runs off of the camshaft so if the chain jumped, the distributor will be off.
Well it finally started. I checked timing marks to dist. and it pointed to #1 cyl. I got new plugs and tried an old plug first to check spark vs. new plug no visible difference yet, it seemed to have more snap to it. Then I reinstalled carb. After laying a tarp over engine compartment and turning on torpedo heater for 1 hr 20 min. I used remote switch to turn over and it fired and ran. I believe I'll install an inline heater in one of the radiator hoses if possible. I noticed a heater hose between water pump and intake manifold, would anyone know if this would be a good place to install such a thing? Thanks to all for your help. I may be looking to upgrade unit to something newer w/ diesel in the next year. Is this a good idea? Thanks Greg
 

Blaine

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Nov 22, 2005
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Well it finally started. I checked timing marks to dist. and it pointed to #1 cyl. I got new plugs and tried an old plug first to check spark vs. new plug no visible difference yet, it seemed to have more snap to it. Then I reinstalled carb. After laying a tarp over engine compartment and turning on torpedo heater for 1 hr 20 min. I used remote switch to turn over and it fired and ran. I believe I'll install an inline heater in one of the radiator hoses if possible. I noticed a heater hose between water pump and intake manifold, would anyone know if this would be a good place to install such a thing? Thanks to all for your help. I may be looking to upgrade unit to something newer w/ diesel in the next year. Is this a good idea? Thanks Greg
I've never heard of an inline heater that can go in a hose. I don't believe it is possible just because those little heaters get so hot that it would melt right through the hose. That is why they are always installed on the block. You should be able to just knock one of the freeze plugs out and install a block heater. They are made in about everyconfiguration you could ever need.
 

GILL

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Dec 1, 2005
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I've never heard of an inline heater that can go in a hose. I don't believe it is possible just because those little heaters get so hot that it would melt right through the hose. That is why they are always installed on the block. You should be able to just knock one of the freeze plugs out and install a block heater. They are made in about everyconfiguration you could ever need.
This weekend I started 732 and let it warm up, then I tested compression again. Worst cylinder was 125 #'s, best was 140#. For some reason the cold test showed one of the 140# cylinders at 70# back when it wouldn't start. Could there have been a valve hanging up? Does anyone think I should try some Sea Foam to clean out crud in engine? Or try something else. Maybe I should just leave alone? Greg
 

Tazza

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This weekend I started 732 and let it warm up, then I tested compression again. Worst cylinder was 125 #'s, best was 140#. For some reason the cold test showed one of the 140# cylinders at 70# back when it wouldn't start. Could there have been a valve hanging up? Does anyone think I should try some Sea Foam to clean out crud in engine? Or try something else. Maybe I should just leave alone? Greg
You should test copression when the engine is indeed warm.
One test you can do to check if it is bottom end (rings) or top end (valves) is to check the compression cold or warm, it doesn't matter. Write these figures down, get an oil can and squirt oil into the cylinder through the spark plug hole. This will create a better seal between the piston and the bore. If the compression gets better its your bottom end, if it doesn't it will be your head/valves. Just don't pour masses of oil in, being a petrol engine there is pleanty of room for a little oil, just don't empty the can in 1 cylinder.
This is the test procedure outlined in my car's service manual, it will work on any engine and it does indeed work.
I honestly don't think compression isnt an issue with starting, even really really low compression petrol engines will start, as they don't rely on the heat generated by compression to ignite the fuel. I would be looking at fuel system or ignition. I would take the air cleaner off and give it a really good spray of engine start, if it kicks its your feul system. If not, it will be your ignition system. I don't know what you have changed, but i would do plugs/leads, points, coil, maybee the distributor cap if its really corroded and the rotor button. Take out a plug and attach it to a lead and earth the boddy of the plug, crank the engine, the spark should be blue not ornage.
Have a look at the spark and the compression readings you get with a squirt of oil and then see where you are at.
 
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