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Thread: Need some extra eyeballs ... backfires through carb but wonít start after rebuild

  1. #1

    Default Need some extra eyeballs ... backfires through carb but wonít start after rebuild

    Hello all,

    Happy Labor Day Weekend!

    Am trying to finish up my 63 IIa 109 so I can go out and drive it, and am stumped. I need an extra pair of eyeballs to point out the (probably obvious) thing Iím clearly missing.

    Due to a cracked head, I tore the engine apart and have rebuilt nearly everything. To be clear this was a running truck, just super down on power due to cracked head.

    This truck will have a new lease on life once it actually fires up.

    This is a 2.25L petrol with a new 2.5L camshaft, new pistons, new bearings, new everything.

    12v negative ground
    It was already negative ground before the rebuild

    Triple and quadruple (and then some) checked engine timing:

    Flywheel pointer at 6deg for 91oct
    Distributor rotor pointing at #1 spark plug
    New distributor w/ new rotor and condenser
    Timed distributor with light, can hear condenser clicking on/off as I rotate distrib body.
    Spark plugs new - ngk bp5es - same as I used before
    Spark plug wires new (checked resistance across wires, all 2.9~3k ohm)
    Spark plug 1 3 4 2 counter clockwise when standing on right side of engine (ie U.K. driver / US pass side)
    Fuel pump new - primed carb with hand pump action
    Fuel is newish - a couple weeks old now - fuel doesnít go bad that fast (91)
    Carb new rebuilt Rochester - confirmed it squirts gas as it should
    New starter
    New Autospark UK wire harness with alternator mod
    Alternator is a Lucas - worked fine before rebuild
    New battery

    Coil is 1 year old - same cool I used when it ran last
    Tested it has 12v at + lug with key in ignition turned to ON
    Negative lug of coil connected to distributor
    Checked that I have spark:
    Spark plug connected to lead from coil and ground to engine - yes there is a nice spark
    Checked each spark plug and wire coming off distributor - pretty faint but there is spark at all 4

    Tried a second (brand new) coil
    No change

    Tried the distributor I had in the truck last time it ran
    No change

    Tried with choke all the way out and choke all the way in
    No change

    Ground straps from starter to frame
    And from neg battery post to frame and to engine front cover

    Starter turns engine freely
    With a couple pumps of gas pedal, and/or addition of starting fluid down carb throat all I get are a couple backfires through carb

    Rest of electrical functions as it should
    Fuel level gauge
    Headlights / taillights / turn signals
    All ok

    But truck wonít start

    What gives?
    What am I missing?

    Any and all help is appreciated...

    Thank you

    Last edited by ericgbauer; 09-06-2019 at 09:38 AM. Reason: Addl detail

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Mountains of Western Pennsy.


    Sounds like your distributor is 180 degrees out. Firing the plugs opposite of the compression stroke. How is this possible? The crank turns once but the cam goes around twice. How did you get the Dist. at 6 degrees before TDC if if wasn't running? Move the crank to the TDC pointer and pull the dist. up until it clears the drive and rotate the rotor arm 180 degrees and refit. Set the timing after it's running. (At least I think I remember that's the drill for correcting this..) Or the cam may have been incorrectly installed. Spark should be strong.

    '99 Disco II
    '95 R.R.C. Lwb (Gone...)
    '76 Series III Hybrid 109
    '70 Rover 3500S (Gone...)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    North MS


    Agree with above post. Typically, I will remove all the plugs, put a finger in the #1 and turn the engine over by hand until I can feel pressure pushing my finger out. That way, I'm 100% sure I'm actually on TDC at compression.

    Next, if an engine won't run even on starting fluid (ether) something serious is wrong. Either it's completely out of time, as above, or you aren't getting spark at all. Double check that the coil is hot both with the ignition on and when actually cranking. It's rare, but I've seen a bad ignition switch and/or wiring issue where power at the coil was lost during cranking.

    Lastly, are the spark plugs visibly wet with fuel after cranking attempts? If yes, not getting any (or good enough) spark. If no, double check fuel system.
    61 II 109" Pickup (future project)
    66 IIA 88" Station Wagon (sold)
    66 IIA 109" Pickup (Restomod, 5MGE, R380)
    67 IIA 109" NADA Wagon (sold)
    88, 2.5TD 110 RHD non-hicap pickup

    -I used to know everything there was to know about Land Rovers; then I joined the RN Bulletin Board.

  4. #4


    Mearstrae & Jp-

    Thanks for the feedback
    Iím out of daylight over here
    So will have to check later this week or this weekend

    Will check 180 on distributor

    thank you

  5. #5



    You were right
    Finally had a chance to work on it last night
    Distributor was in fact 180 out
    Fixed that and it fired right up

    Many thanks for the tip!

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