I think I bought a lemon.....

Discussion in 'Discussion Forum' started by WildWilly, Jun 19, 2014.

  1. WildWilly

    WildWilly True Classic

    So today, I take the X for a run into town. The temp issue wasn't too bad, stayed just above 190 most of the time. I was feeling good. On the way home, she started to make a lot of top end noise, loud enough that I could really here it sitting at a light. Well we made it home, let it idle for a moment and it was still making the top end noise. So I put her in the garage and turned her off. Checked the oil, plenty of oil on the stick. Waited a while and decided to start her up and see if it was better. She started right away but the noise was still there. Got out of the car to have a look, but she cut out. Tried to start again, no go. She turns over much faster than before and there is no sign of her starting, just turning over. Any ideas and where to begin? Timing belt was recently replaced and seems tight. Everything looks fine, nothing has fallen off, plug wires etc.
  2. Dom.M

    Dom.M True Classic

    burlington ont.
    It doesn't sound encouraging, possibly a bad valve initially or a timing belt tensioner. Now it sounds like a head job as the 1300 is an interference engine. Hope I'm wrong but let us know how you make out.
  3. WildWilly

    WildWilly True Classic

    not feeling very good....

    the timing belt seems tight and is moving around when I turn her over. There is no funny noise when turning over, no knocking, etc. can see that she is getting fuel down the carb. Haven't pulled a plug yet to see if I'm getting any spark. Too bad she didn't come with a money back guarantee:( Not feeling real good at the moment.
  4. Black-Tooth

    Black-Tooth Tony Natoli

    Not necessarily...

    You just bought an X1/9 is all...

    Have someone turn the key and you watch to see if the cam is turning.

    I think NOT... and also agree with what Dom said. I think your belt slipped as possibly the tension-er worked loose... and the noise was a valve hitting a piston.

    Sorry for all this trouble...
  5. WildWilly

    WildWilly True Classic

    timing belt

    I just put a mark on the time belt and turn her over, the belt is moving and not skipping. Major bummer. Now I need a buddy who works for beer! This is really disappointing. Had I paid $2,500 for the car, it wouldn't be so bad, but I paid a lot more than that based on it having a rebuilt engine and not expecting to have any engine problems at all. Real bummer....
  6. Pete Whitstone

    Pete Whitstone True Classic

    McKinney, TX
    Check the simple stuff first

    Could be anything from loose spark plugs to who knows what. The starter turning the engine over faster is a major clue. That happens when the engine can't build compression but there are a lot of reasons that can happen, from head gasket to valve interference to loose spark plugs to slipped timing belt... Get a compression tester on it and go from there.
  7. EricH

    EricH Eric Hamilton Moderator

    Durham NC, USA
    If it's made it 35+ years without major engine work, it's not a lemon; and the good news is that as long as you're providing the labor there's nothing really expensive to fix on these cars. Even if the worst has happened (missed timing, bent valves, holed pistons) the motor is one rebuild away from another 35 years of service.

    It is time for a leakdown test, see if the head needs to come off. I wouldn't turn the motor over with the starter any more until I either knew what the problem was or had the cambox off to eliminate any possibility of valve/piston interference.

    You can also pull the cam cover, look for something obviously bad wrong like a shim gone awry. When you do, check the valve clearances; anything way out of spec suggests a bent valve.

    But start with the leakdown test. It's quick, and it's the gold standard for knowing how bad the problem is and where to start.
  8. EricH

    EricH Eric Hamilton Moderator

    Durham NC, USA
    Loose spark plugs was my first thought too :)

    WildWilly, you said "everything looks fine" on the outside of the engine... How completely dd you go through it?

    You checked the plug wires, but are the plugs themselves properly seated and tight?

    The timing belt is tight, but is there any sign that it might have jumped a few teeth or shredded a few teeth? Turn the motor over by hand, see if the tensioner bearing is moving freely, see if the distributor shaft is turning freely, and see if the timing marks on crank and cam pulleys line up properly.
  9. EricH

    EricH Eric Hamilton Moderator

    Durham NC, USA
    try lining up the timing marks, let us know how that goes.

    Consultation here is free, you don't even have to provide beer for that.
  10. WildWilly

    WildWilly True Classic


    Thanks for the info. I do have a compression tester so I should be able to do that next week. That will be good info I'm sure. But I have to turn her over to do that. As for the doing the work, I've never done anything like this before, so I guess I'm going to learn. As usual all the help on here will be great.

    The disappointing thing is that I bought this car over another one based on it having its engine rebuilt 2 years ago by a retired Porsche mechanic, thinking this was a good thing. I didn't buy the other X as had its engine rebuilt 20 years ago thinking that one would need some work soon. I think I bought the wrong one. Oh well, too late now, can't cry over spilled milk. What is the leak down test?
  11. WildWilly

    WildWilly True Classic


    Well, I just checked the plugs and they are all tight, pulled one plug and turned her over for a few seconds and we have spark. So I guess if its not fuel and spark, it gets more serious real quick.
  12. EricH

    EricH Eric Hamilton Moderator

    Durham NC, USA
    I'm sorry, I had missed that point the first time around :tomato:
    Yes, that sucks and the aroma of citrus fruit does seem to be present.:cry:

    A leakdown requires a source of compressed air and a leakdown tester, which is relatively inexpensive and/or can be borrowed from many chain auto parts stores.

    The tester is just a fitting that goes into the spark plug opening, plus a gauge and a regulator. You put the cylinder on top dead center on the compression stroke (both valves closed), pressurize the cylinder, see how well it holds the pressure.

    The advantage over a standard compression test is that you don't have to spin the motor with the starter, greatly reducing the chances of making a bad situation worse; and you can nail the problem very quickly by seeing where the air is escaping. You can also do it with the camshaft out of the motor - then all the valves should be closed by default.

    Although I far prefer the leakdown test, if you don't have a convenient source of compressed air (even a cheapie two-gallon 110v pancake is fine) then just go with the compression test.
  13. rx1900

    rx1900 1981 X1/9

    Dont despair....

    Hey WildWilly. Somehow I think things are not as bad as they seem....

    The "top end noise" could be a LOT of things - mostly simple - such as:
    Missing oil filler cap (makes a real racket if it falls off)
    Loose valve cover
    Crankcase vent hose broken or melted or fallen off
    PCV or air pump hose/tube/valve broken or melted or dislodged
    Exhaust manifold leak

    None of the above, however, would explain why the car is now not starting....

    A compression check would always be a good idea anyways. You'll know a lot more about your engine anyway. You said you have a compression tester ? And know how to use it ?

    A leakdown test is also a good idea, but maybe not neccessary quite yet.

    If you somehow suspect the cam timing has slipped (skipped belt or some teeth stripped), you can check the cam timing marks pretty easy. Just ask if you dont know how.

    So dont worry too much...yet. Lots of help here. Doug
  14. WildWilly

    WildWilly True Classic

    Many thanks...

    Doug, thanks so much for the reassurance. Not feeling real good about this at the moment. I'm away this weekend, but when I get back, the first thing I will do is use the compression tester to see if there is any compression. I'm thinking if she's jumped a tooth or two, the valves will be open when they should be closed, so no compression. We'll know better soon. As for the timing marks, can you give me an idea how to check those? I assume I need to get the timing belt cover off and then I should be able to see things but I don't know exactly what I'm looking for. If I'm really lucky, she jumped one tooth on the belt and setting it correctly might get me back in business, but that might be a pipe dream. As always, thanks to you and everyone else here for the assistance. It is greatly appreciated.
  15. sdlsaginaw

    sdlsaginaw Steven Lawson

    Saginaw, OR
    Cam timing

    Checking the cam timing is pretty easy.

    Pull the top half of the yellow belt cover to see cam pulley.
    Turn engine so mark on flywheel and crank pulley are at TDC.
    Does mark on the cam pulley line up with nub on snail motor mount?
    If it appears on the complete opposite side, turn motor a full revolution, that turns the cam 1/2 way around and should now make it line up.
    If that looks good, verify rotor is pointing at #4 plug wire.
  16. WildWilly

    WildWilly True Classic

    compression test....

    well just ran a compression test. the needle on the tester didn't even move. not good. the last time I used the tester on my motorcycle, it registered between 140 and 150 psi in each cylinder. So I guess this mean my valves are open. I'll try and check the markings on the cam and pulley's next to see what that tells us. Thanks again to all.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2014
  17. EricH

    EricH Eric Hamilton Moderator

    Durham NC, USA
    1300 timing marks...

    Crank pulley has a mark that lines up with the three little ridges cast in the plastic timing belt cover; these ridges are, from back to front, ten degrees BTDC, five degrees BTDC, and TDC. There is also a mark on the flywheel, visible through the inspection port at the top of the bell housing under the thermostat - the marks on the bell housing are again ten, five, and zero degrees ahead of TDC.

    Depending on exactly how your '78 was built, you will have either a mark on the front of the cam pulley that lines up with the finger cast into the front engine mount (the snail mount), or a mark on the back of the pulley that lines up with a pointer at the top of the bracket that mounts the belt cover, or both.

    If you are lucky, you'll have a two-piece timing belt cover; take the top half off and you can leave the bottom half on for the crank pulley marks.

    Remember that the cam turns twice for every turn of the crank, so if the cam appears to be 180 degrees out you just need to give the can another full revolution to turn the cam a half turn.

    Also, when all the timing marks are lined up, it is #4 cylinder (at the flywheel end of the motor) that is at the top of its compression stroke with both valves closed and ready to fire. #1 at the front of the motor is also at TDC, but with both valves open in overlap at the top of the exhaust stroke.
  18. EricH

    EricH Eric Hamilton Moderator

    Durham NC, USA
    Do that, and also take off the valve cover and see what's underneath.
  19. Dr.Nightowl

    Dr.Nightowl Just Cruisin'

    Don't panic. It doesn't sound like you had a catastrophic failure.
    Check the simple stuff first.
    You said it was running, then it got noisy, now it won't fire. You didn't mention how much usage this engine had since its rebuild so it could just be something working its way out of alignment.
    Check the timing. It sounds like it might have changed. If your belts are tight and your timing marks align with the pointers, move on. Check your distributor. It might not be tight. See if you can rotate it by giving a twist. It shouldn't be movable by hand. Check your cap. Make sure both clips are snapped on. Check the rotor and the inside of the cap for any abnormalities.
    It's probably something simple. You just have to keep at it until you find it.
  20. WildWilly

    WildWilly True Classic

    timing marks...

    OK, so I have the top cover for the timing belt off, can't really see any marks on the cam pulley. Possibly one circular indent in the pulley, is that it? Also, how do I manually turn over the crank to line that up as I can't see much on the lower half and can't really get my hands down there. I have a picture showing me the marks. Just not sure how to turn the crank and how to see the marks in the tight space.


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