'83 FJ40 Survivor - Variable Engine Starting Issue - Suggestions?

Joined
Dec 17, 2017
Messages
4
Location
West Michigan
Sometimes my U.S. '83 FJ40 starts right up, and sometimes I have to re-charge the battery multiple times before it will start. It is in northern Michigan, but it doesn't matter if the temperature is 90 F in the summer or 10 F in the winter. Sometimes it starts right up. Sometimes I have to re-charge the battery 4 or 5 times before it starts.

When it won't start, it seems to be more likely to start the next day - but not always. The battery is fine, so that's not the issue. When it doesn't start right up, I haven't found any combination of choke, gas pedal depression, etc. that makes it more likely to fire. When it does finally start, it seems to be independent of anything I have done.

It has been most likely to start when cold with full choke, a single push of the gas pedal, and a little feathering of the gas pedal when the starter motor is going. This works about 10% of the time. This is a consistent issue over the last couple of years, since I bought it - and over many tanks of gas (I use 90 octane, ethanol-free rec gas, so I don't think it is water in the gasoline).

I just had it start right up consistently several times over the last couple of months during cold northern Michigan weather, but it won't start again today during somewhat warmer weather.

Any ideas or suggestions? Thanks for any help you guys can provide.

Paul
 
Joined
Aug 25, 2007
Messages
3,460
Location
Bowling Green, KY
 
 
I would like to preface my statement by saying, “I don’t know s*** about s***,” but I will say your battery has nothing to do with your starting issues.

I would start by checking all your grounds first.

Starter to Frame
Negative Battery Terminal to Frame
Coil Igniter to Fender

Anyway, that’s where I would start! 🥃
 

65swb45

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I would like to preface my statement by saying, “I don’t know s*** about s***,” but I will say your battery has nothing to do with your starting issues.

I would start by checking all your grounds first.

Starter to Frame
Negative Battery Terminal to Frame
Coil Igniter to Fender

Anyway, that’s where I would start! 🥃
Agreed. Sounds like a ground issue.

If you have a remote starter switch, the next time it happens, you can try jumping the starter solenoid directly to the battery to see if it changes anything.
 

thebigredrocker

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Joined
Nov 6, 2013
Messages
3,330
 
Once the fuel pump has had sufficient time to prime the carburetor, here's a good reminder from a forum guru
For you folks who have never owned a vehicle from the 1950's, i'll explain the manual choke.
To start a manual choke vehicle, first pull the choke knob all the way out.
now pump the gas pedal several smooth strokes all the way to the floor. Don't stab the gas pedal because it takes the accel pump about 2 seconds to fully discharge.
Now turn the key and it should start.
If it doesn't start, pump the gas a couple more times and try again.
Once it is started, begine pushing the choke knob in to bring the idle down to something reasonable, but not so slow that it dies.
After a minute or two push the choke in some more, but don't let it die.
After a few more minutes, depending on the weather, it may be possible to completely push in the choke and have a stable idle.

HTH!
Next time the battery goes dead from cranking, I'd be curious to pull a spark plug. Wet or Dry?

If you don't find the issue, post up engine bay pictures. Maybe an eagle-eye will spot something the previous owner(s) messed with. Do you know if the carburetor and distributor are original to this rig? 35 years is plenty of time for the PO to fubar stuff.

Here's a link to distributor info and an ignitor testing thread


 
Joined
Dec 17, 2017
Messages
4
Location
West Michigan
Thanks, everyone for your responses and suggestions. Much appreciated. Here's some follow-up, additional info, and a couple of photos:

Yes, it cranks fine, I smell gas while cranking, it just takes forever to actually start sometimes.

Air filter is clean.

Wire connections for the starter, coil, and battery are good.

~66K miles, but really more as the speedometer wasn't re-calibrated after a lift and bigger tires were installed.

No remote starter switch.

I do not know if the carburetor and distributor are original, but I would guess they are.

Plugs were dirty (I've seen a lot worse), so I changed 5 of them (all I had on hand). No change with the new plugs before it started as above.

Good info re the starting procedure. I have tried everything from few to many pumps on the pedal before and during starting, but haven't been holding the pedal down as long as it said in your post, FJ50Jim. After it not starting all morning as well, I went out and tried pressing the pedal more slowly, and it started on the first try. Hopefully that's the answer.

If anyone has any other ideas, let me know. I'll post back after it has not been run for a little while and I try the starting procedure JF40Jim posted again.

Thanks again, guys.

IMG_1644.JPG
IMG_5338.JPG
 

65swb45

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Ah! Maybe we’re on to something.

Take the lid off your air cleaner and have someone push the pedal down while you watch the carburetor.

First, you want to see that the accelerator pump basically follows the linkage that moves it in real time. If the spring below the pump arm is compressing, there is too much resistance inside the pump chamber.

Second, you want to see how quickly and in what quantity the discharge nozzle sprays.

Both of these are extremely relevant to common start up issues with carburetors.
 
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