Hard Starting when Cold - One Solution

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kingzetts
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#1 Hard Starting when Cold - One Solution

Post by kingzetts » Fri Jan 27, 2017 12:41 pm

My car has always been hard to start after standing unused for more than a few days, although it always started promptly after just standing overnight. This winter I discovered that a simple assembly error (my fault) in the choke mechanism is the probable cause and I'm sharing in case it helps others.

The "choke" cable pulls and pushes on the lever under the carbs which operates the fast idle cam (first part of travel) and the mixture enrichment lever (second part of travel). Both the inner cable and the outer sheath are very stiff as force must be transmitted in both tension and compression - unlike many Bowden cables which only have to operate under tension. To get full movement of the lever requires about 30mm of movement. When pulled fully towards the bulkhead for full enrichment, this only leaves about 15mm clearance between the point on the lever where the inner cable is attached, and the bracket where the cable outer sheath is clamped.

On my car the cable attachment nipple (which may or may not be the correct, OE type) can be fitted so as to have the inner cable running either inboard or outboard of the lever.

I had it running inboard of the lever as this made tightening the clamp screw in the nipple easier (it would have been almost impossible to tighten the clamp screw with the nipple the other way round). However..... in this position, the inner cable is not correctly aligned with the outer cable, and as the cable pulls the lever forward the inner cable adopts an increasingly acute angle to the end of the outer cable.

I also had the outer cable protruding 5mm or so beyond the end of the fixing bracket, which further reduced the available clearance between lever and outer cable end. When assembling originally I had checked that the inner cable could move through the full amount of travel required, before clamping the inner cable into the nipple, which it could.

What I had not realised was that due to the offset, the angle of the inner cable to the outer became so acute that the inner cable jammed up on the outer before full movement of the operating lever was reached. So, for the last 5 years I have been starting the car from stone cold with little, if any, mixture enrichment. I was aware that the operating lever in the cabin did not travel through its full arc but had not made the mental leap to realise the root of the issue and its significance.

I have now manufactured a replacement inner cable attachment nipple which lets the inner cable run outboard of the lever while still making it possible to tighten the clamp screw. I have also shortened the outer cable so it no longer extends beyond its clamp bracket. I now have full movement of the choke lever in the cabin and full travel of the cold start lever under the carbs.

Yesterday I started the engine for the first time in about 2 months. Previously this would have taken about 4 minutes of intermittent fruitless cranking leading eventually to a reluctant start on 2 or 3 cylinders. On this occasion it burst into life literally on the first turn of the key.

So, something worth checking if your car is hard to start from stone cold.
John '62 S1 OTS

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1954Etype
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#2 Re: Hard Starting when Cold - One Solution

Post by 1954Etype » Fri Jan 27, 2017 1:24 pm

Brilliant! Great tip, thanks John.
Angus 65 OTS 1E11497. 67 FHC 1E33656

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Duckham
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#3 Re: Hard Starting when Cold - One Solution

Post by Duckham » Fri Jan 27, 2017 2:44 pm

Hmm, my car is the same - slow to start in the cold, stiff choke towards the end of travel.
I will get an 'assistant' to operate the mechanism at the weekend and see if I have introduced the same problem, especially as I vaguely remember having to source a generic nipple when I assembled it.
Cheers
Joe
63 OTS

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#4 Re: Hard Starting when Cold - One Solution

Post by Mark Gordon » Fri Jan 27, 2017 4:21 pm

I agree, Hmmm. My choke has the same resistance to traveling the full arch upward (as it always had before and after my engine rebuild), but it starts instantly even with cold ambient temperatures (-0 C.) and having sat for a week or more. I'll have a look at mine to see if the screw is reversed, but I will just adhere to the "if it ain't broke..." :scratchheadyellow:
Mark

67 OTS 1E14988, 2015 Camry XSE

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#5 Re: Hard Starting when Cold - One Solution

Post by BRM » Fri Jan 27, 2017 7:47 pm

And that sounds just like mine too. I had a lot of trouble adjusting it - there didn't seem to be enough movement on the choke lever to operate the choke through its full range. I ended up adjusting it so that the fast idle cam was partially operated even with the choke in - it was the only way I could get it to operate the enrichment levers below the carbs.

Although it starts ok now it is still reluctant after standing for a week or more and I have always thought that something was not quite right. You have given me food for thought. I will have another look at it when it's not so cold. Maybe I have the same problem. Thanks.
Brian

1969 S2 FHC 1R20267
1960 Austin Healey 3000

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#6 Re: Hard Starting when Cold - One Solution

Post by cactusman » Fri Jan 27, 2017 8:04 pm

Me too....excellent tip....i shall put it on the list to do once the garage thaws out!
Julian the E-type man
1962 FHC
1966 MGB....fab little car too

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#7 Re: Hard Starting when Cold - One Solution

Post by Gfhug » Sat Jan 28, 2017 9:59 am

John, nicely sorted out. Do you have any photos of the before and after, please?

Geoff
S2 FHC Light Blue

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kingzetts
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#8 Re: Hard Starting when Cold - One Solution

Post by kingzetts » Sat Jan 28, 2017 11:26 am

Hi Geoff,
Sorry - no photos. Can't be done off the car as no cable and once on it's virtually inaccessible. A sketch might help ......

Image

The original nipple (which looks like the one in the Jaguar parts catalogue) grips the inner cable by tightening a small bolt down an internally threaded hole through the nipple and gripping the inner cable. The design means the gripping screw sits on the opposite side of the operating lever to the inner cable. So the choice is either to have the inner cable inboard of the lever, in which case access to the nipple to tighten the grip screw is from outboard and relatively easy - or else you have to tighten the grip screw from the inboard side which is much more difficult.

It's not obvious when the lever is in the warm position, but the end of the outer cable when clamped in its bracket is offset so that a straight line from outer cable end to operating lever runs just outboard of the lever. The sketches attempt to explain this and show how the inner cable has to bend if fixed to the inside of the lever - and as the cable is so stiff it resists bending and causes the mechanism to jam before full movement.

I could have fiddled around with the original nipple and clamped it the other way round, but instead made a new one by cross-drilling a short Allen headed bolt of suitable diameter to pass through the lever so that the bolt head and cross-drilled hole would be on opposite sides of the lever. I then just used a nylon nut to grip the inner cable in the cross-drilled hole. It is easy enough to get an Allen key on the head of this bolt but in practice it isn't necessary as the inner cable itself is stiff enough to prevent the bolt turning when you pinch the nylon nut up to grip the cable.

Hope this helps.
Last edited by kingzetts on Mon Jul 24, 2017 6:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
John '62 S1 OTS

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ralphr1780
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#9 Re: Hard Starting when Cold - One Solution

Post by ralphr1780 » Sat Jan 28, 2017 11:30 am

Just checked the setup on mine: all well aligned, so no need for any modifications for me :bouncyyellow:
Ralph
'69 OTS + '62 OTS - Belgium

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#10 Re: Hard Starting when Cold - One Solution

Post by Nickleback » Sat Jan 28, 2017 12:01 pm

I had the same issue on mine (poor cold starting after a long rest with a stiff choke lever) and it was this cable that was the problem.

The easy way to check is by pulling the choke fully open on the dashboard lever, then manually push the choke cable mechanism on the carburettors towards fully open with a screwdriver, if it travels further to full choke, then the cable is not fully opening it and needs the adjustment.
Mike,
1970 S2 FHC 2R28165

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#11 Re: Hard Starting when Cold - One Solution

Post by BRM » Sat Jan 28, 2017 5:30 pm

Thanks for the excellent diagrams John. I've just been out and looked at mine and it's exactly as shown, with a noticeable bend in the wire to take it behind the enrichment lever. I'm sure I must have noticed this when I fitted it but obviously didn't realise the effect it would have. I will look forward to seeing what difference it makes once I can raise the enthusiasm to fix it.
Brian

1969 S2 FHC 1R20267
1960 Austin Healey 3000

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#12 Re: Hard Starting when Cold - One Solution

Post by Gfhug » Sat Jan 28, 2017 7:14 pm

John, thanks for those diagrams, very useful for when I check mine.
Geoff
S2 FHC Light Blue

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#13 Re: Hard Starting when Cold - One Solution

Post by swindler » Sun Sep 30, 2018 11:27 pm

Hi,

any chance of reposting that diagram?
I have just had my carbs set up. The car runs beautifully but now struggles to start cold. when it does start the idle is way too high on full choke - 2000rpm - but stalls if the choke is taken off too quickly
3.8 OTS 1964
Original RHD. Close ratio moss box

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#14 Re: Hard Starting when Cold - One Solution

Post by mgcjag » Mon Oct 01, 2018 7:51 am

Hi..whats your name..please try to put it in the signature area with your car model...iv just altered the address in the image so it can be seen.....worth checking the choke setup is correct ....details in the Carb section of the service manual...Steve
Steve
1969 S2 2+2 & Building a C type replica

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#15 Re: Hard Starting when Cold - One Solution

Post by swindler » Sat Apr 13, 2019 8:31 am

John thank you so much for the diagram - I've just corrected this on my car and she starts much much better when cold now!
3.8 OTS 1964
Original RHD. Close ratio moss box

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#16 Re: Hard Starting when Cold - One Solution

Post by MCY44H » Wed Apr 17, 2019 9:12 am

Had the same problem. That extra bit makes so much difference.

One other thing that’s helped me is a smart plug and an 3Kw heater. I’ve put them in the garage with the heater pointing towards the carb side of the engine. In the morning before we take it out, I switch on the heater with my smartphone. An hour on the timer does the job beautifully. Had three first time starts in a row in the recent cold spell.
JonM
1965 Series I FHC (RHD), BRG
1966 Series I 2+2 (RHD), Manual, Carmen Red
1970 Series II OTS (LHD) Fast Road spec, BRG

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#17 Re: Hard Starting when Cold - One Solution

Post by ALAN COCHRANE » Sun Apr 21, 2019 7:25 pm

Well done John. I have had exactly the same symptoms as you've described. This has been the case since I bought the car back in 2011. Like you I assumed that it was normal for the choke lever to only travel 2/3 of the way up the slide. For some reason I read your original post back in 2017 and didn't do anything about it. :banghead:
I have to admit that one of the problems with the choke was introduced by me during the refitting of the engine a couple of winters ago. Fortunately I took a photo of the linkage before I started and then took another yesterday. Lo and behold the cable had been moved from outboard to inboard by yours truly. A further problem I discovered was that the front carb linkage was fouled by the crankcase breather pipe which not only did I fit but made as well.
Before I started I tested the choke travel and at the lever's maximum position and the jets were only about half open. It's a miracle the engine started at all!
After I'd finished the lever could be pushed all the way up and the jets were fully open-success. :bouncyyellow:
Unfortunately I now need a new clamp for the dashboard lever since I sheared the bolt when I was reattaching the inner cable. Two steps forward and one step back.

Cheers

Alan
1962 S1 OTS-850389,1968 Triumph TR250, 1971 Triumph GT6 Mk3, 2008 Porsche Boxster RS60 Spyder

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#18 Re: Hard Starting when Cold - One Solution

Post by Philk » Mon Apr 22, 2019 8:30 am

Like many, my 3.8 is very reluctant to start after a few weeks' standing, notwithstanding all the choke adjustments etc outlined on this thread. It will start perfectly overnight and up to where the car has been standing still for say, a week. Thereafter, it becomes steadily more difficult. Logically that makes little sense. A stone cold engine is a stone cold engine. Having done a bit of research, I am wondering if there is a more straightforward explanation for this...…

….. with an original pump, I believe the 3.8 S1 fuel pickup is right down at the level of the sump at the bottom of the tank. With vented fuel tanks, the ethanol present in modern fuel will hygroscopically absorb moisture content from the air and, over time, can "phase separate" meaning water will separate out from the fuel and will sink to the bottom of the tank (i.e. down to the sump where the pump pick-up point is).

As such, providing all other things are correct and working on the car, I'm wondering if the trait we collectively experience after 3+ weeks of standing is simply the fact that the pump is delivering extremely diluted fuel through to the carbs just at the point they need the fuel at its richest. That would explain why so much cranking is then required.

Just a thought...… views welcome (particularly from those who understand fuel better than I do!)
Phil
1964 S1 3.8 OTS

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#19 Re: Hard Starting when Cold - One Solution

Post by cactusman » Mon Apr 22, 2019 6:31 pm

Unless your tank is open to very damp air very unlikely in my opinion. Ethanol does absorb water but only to a point. UK fuel only contains 5% ethanol at present...and most super unleaded has zero ethanol for now. More likely the fuel in the float chambers looses the more volatile components and gets stale meaning you are starting on poor quality fuel. Once gone and new pulled through all will be well. Standing over night won't be long enough for the float chamber fuel to go stale...
Julian the E-type man
1962 FHC
1966 MGB....fab little car too

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#20 Re: Hard Starting when Cold - One Solution

Post by Richard » Thu Mar 26, 2020 5:06 pm

I had exactly the same problem. Since buying my E type 4.2 for the last five years it has always been difficult to start from cold. After reading this possible solution I noticed that having the interior choke lever on full, which at the top of the travel seemed spongy and operating properly, I looked at the lever arms on the carburettors and there was still a significant amount of travel still to go but the choke cable was at such an acute angle it could not pull in further.
My issue was not that the end of the cable was inboard or out board of the carburettor lever but where the cable entered the engine bay.
The cable was routed through the sloping part of the bulk head, coming out just under the two rubber hoses. I re routed the cable to exiting into the engine bay through the vertical part of the bulk head, this gave a cleaner route to the cable and more direct to the lever arm of the carburettor. When operating the interior choke lever I found the operation to be more positive and progressive and full actuation was possible.
When attempting to start from stone cold the engine fired immediately without hesitation. I hope this info helps.

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