Engine tried to crank, then…

So those of you following our progress know we’re just got the wiring to the point we could try to turn over the engine.

With a new battery things were looking good. We initially tried starting with it almost turning over; after not being started for almost 6yrs. On second attempt, there was a “clunk”. On third attempt it stopped trying to crank at all.

We tried to turn over manually with wrench and it will turn to a point and not go any further.

This engine had been rebuilt but has never been driven, only briefly run years ago.

Shop owner said we will need to try to take a look inside with a camera to see what is preventing the piston from having normal movement.

Hoping this is not a major engine setback.

Just wish ONE project w/this car would go smoothly without an unexpected hiccup!

Is that too much to expect? :thinking::wrench::gear:

Any word… Yes!

Start with the fundamentals: check battery voltage at the outside of the battery terminals, with a voltmeter, while someone cranks the engine: if there’s a large voltage drop, its battery terminals. Then, start checking for voltage on the battery line and also double check to make sure all the grounds are consistent and continuous.

Mind you, I know nada concerning engines.

Shop guy said something is impeding the movement of the piston? Said we need to pull the pan and look at the valves. Hope I said that right, I can human body parts but not car parts. :joy:

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Tough break. Did it ever turn completely through?

Pull the cam covers and see where the cams are lining up - if you can get it to that point.

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Pulling the pan to look at the valves is akin to using a proctoscope to check out someone’s hat size… :slight_smile:

What would be a good next step is to get an inch and 5/16 inch wrench or socket on the front crankshaft nut and see if you can rotate the hand the engine by hand.

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Seems she already did

Yeah - and it doesn’t sound good. I’d be removing the cam covers & spark plugs and comparing cam positions to the apparent crank/piston position (and I wouldn’t try anymore engine turning until that has been inspected).


Woops… missed that.

Houston, we have a problem…

Boy is this important! After 30 some odd years, both battery cables had bad connections to the clamps on both ends. I simply had to crimp the connectors and I was in business. But, boy, did this confuse me, and what I was worried would be a complex problem turned out to be minor.


And 30 characters

The the transmission is in neutral. Have you tried removing the plugs and seeing what’s happening in the cyls? Got a borescope?

With the socket and breaker bar can you reverse the rotation of the engine by hand. IIRC, that harms nothing.


In the past I ran and still do have Triumphs of all marques. Whenever I find an engine that does not turn freely, there’s rust generally found on the top section of the cylinder walls which prohibits the pistons from going full bore. I would put some transmission fluid or Marvel Mystery oil in each cylinders, and every other day try and gently turn the crank back and forth, hopefully it will to dissolve the rust from the cylinders…

I hope it is rusty cylinders but this is what has me doubtful of a happy ending:

There aren’t too many things that would make a turning engine go ‘clunk’ and none of them are good.



Yes, in neutral.

Yes, removed a plug and could see that it would only move to certain point and stop.

That is when we hand turned; would freely move in both directions, BUT stops at the same position each way with a “THUD” (if that makes sense).

Sorry I am so bad at describing things, I am not at all educated on proper verbiage.

Just praying we did not screw things up, like I stated, once we got a new battery on it was trying to crank, then the clunk and everything came to a halt. :thinking:

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:frowning_face: :frowning_face: :frowning_face: :frowning_face: :frowning_face:

Is that 20 characters yet?

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Im wondering if something happened in the chain case, like the lower hydraulic tensioner has popped out.

Time to remove cam covers.


I was thinking the same thing, Paul. I would:

  1. Remove all the spark plugs. Nicole, what spark plugs are installed, and are they all the same? If the plugs are incorrect and too long, they could interfere with piston movement. At least I assume they can on an E-type. I know they can on other engines.

  2. To Paul’s point - Remove the cam covers. This will let you see if the cams are installed properly and if they are both turning, when turning the engine by hand. Each of the cams are turned by a chain at the front of the engine, which is turned by the crankshaft. When you turn the crankshaft (the big nut you’ve been turning) by hand, it should move the chain, which should cause the camshafts to turn.

I found this picture on the web that might help you see the timing chain assembly in relation to the camshafts and crankshaft. Disregard the ratchet in the picture.


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Since the engine sat for a long period of time, you probably have a stuck open valve. You are probably feeling a piston hitting the open valve. If you’re lucky you haven’t bent it.


in my experience, yes.


It cannot not bend it, especially if the starter hit it?
A long spark plug or lost bolt may be able to stop the piston. Or the timing chain… maybe. Something in the bellhousing can probably be ruled out…

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