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Morris won't start - must be an earth!

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frenchi Avatar
frenchi Sarah E
Newquay, Cornwall, UK   GBR
Hi everyone,

I'm tearing my hair out a little as I can't get my Traveller started.

I was regularly having trouble starting up during wet periods. It was fine in the freezing cold conditions at the beginning of the year so it seems to just be damp. I replaced my battery for garage-bought good battery (paid £70 ish) and it holds charge well and seems to be in good order. I've checked the battery earth and other lead and both are intact and in good condition. I've changed plugs and points etc. after a recon engine went in before Christmas and I've recently had points and timing etc done (as part of a check up after recon engine went in).

It would turn over ok (until I'd tried so many times that the battery went dead) it would just really struggle to fire. Jump starting would sometimes help but not always.

So by process of elimination, I decided to give my wiring a good clean up and check my earths etc. I cleaned up the battery earth and supply lead, I took every wire off the solenoid, cleaned it with wire brush/ emery board and put it all back together. I also cleaned up cable from solenoid to starter motor and replaced it as I had found it.

Feeling hopeful, I went to start him up but just got a 'click' sound (I believe this is the starter motor?) and no joy at starting. This is less than I had before I cleaned up so I can only imagine it must be an earth or something that's not gone back on correctly..

I bought a new solenoid and starter switch as I wanted to have everything at hand incase it was required. New solenoid makes no difference (I also just get the click sound) and I haven't tried the new starter switch yet (I'm reluctant to change this yet).

I'm going to go and check my wiring again in a second but I've read on previous posts about an earth under the car and also the strap from the gear box/ engine. I'd really like to check these too but not sure exactly where to find them. Cam anybody point me in the right direction please?

NB I did an alternator conversion some years ago so am -ve earth. Also, I have checked and there is power going to the solenoid but nothing transmitting to the starter motor. I don't get anything when I make a connection across the solenoid.

Any help would be greatly appreciated! Frustratingly, I think it's got to be an earth somewhere... but I just can't find out where!

Thank you,

Sarah

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66jalopy Avatar
66jalopy Silver Member Phillip Jolliffe
Lake City, FL, USA   USA
If you took the nut that holds the cable to the starter off without holding the back nut you may have twisted the connection off inside. That being said, I think your original problem was probably recheck points and condenser, I have had a few bad new condensers lately.

bufferzone Avatar
bufferzone Gord Smith-Ritchie
Surfside Colony, CA, USA   USA
Hope this helps. The one click indicates to me you killed your battery. I had a similar problem with starting and the cause was a very rusty earth strap from transmission to frame. You do need to have this strap either on the engine or tranny. The earth strap from the transmission to frame is pictured here:

https://goo.gl/images/ZYrR5w

From engine to frame could be on the front lower part of the engine to a motor mount as pictured here:

https://goo.gl/images/U9NSqz

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John in Eugene Avatar
John in Eugene Platinum Member John Quilter
Eugene, OR, USA   USA
To test this bad earth theory without getting all dirty and greasy under the car, take a battery jumper cable, connect it to the battery ground terminal and to the engine back plate near the starter and retest. If success, investigate the condition of the factory ground strap at the transmission to frame and the battery ground strap.

John F. Quilter
Eugene, Oregon USA

In reply to # 30040 by bufferzone Hope this helps. The one click indicates to me you killed your battery. I had a similar problem with starting and the cause was a very rusty earth strap from transmission to frame. You do need to have this strap either on the engine or tranny. The earth strap from the transmission to frame is pictured here:

https://goo.gl/images/ZYrR5w

From engine to frame could be on the front lower part of the engine to a motor mount as pictured here:

https://goo.gl/images/U9NSqz

emjay Jim English
Marietta, PA, USA   USA
You must be clear when you say it won't start as to whether the start does or doesn't rotate the engine or if it does rotate it, the engine does fire (start). Based on your whole narrative it sounds like the issue is slow to no rotation of the starter. This has nothing to do with ignition yet. Between your tries have you been charging the battery? I don't think you have so run the battery down and in this condition you won't get any farther. As for the earth and back with a well charged battery, if the earth is poor and the starter turns at all, any metal connections like the throttle cable will get hot and probably smoke if there is any oil on them. If the starter doesn't run at all with a recharged battery, then engine is completely isolated or the starter or circuit is bad. Quite often it is as simple as a dirty battery connection that can handle low to medium current levels but the starter current is too much. One thing to try is to turn on the head lights and then watch what happens when you try the starter. If the lights fade or go out, it's probably a bad earth. If the lights stay bright, then the starter/circuit is open.

Once you are back to a recharged battery and a starter than works vigorously, you can work on the ignition. With moisture causing an issue, carbon tracking probably is the problem, either in the distributor cap or somewhere along the wires. A quick check under the bonnet in poor light reveal arcing outside of the distributor cap while you are trying to start the engine. Checking the quality of the spark from the coil and then at the plugs should be done to narrow the area of the problem.

frenchi Avatar
frenchi Sarah E
Newquay, Cornwall, UK   GBR
Thank you, I'm going to check the starter motor connectors this morning.

I've pretty much ruled out issues inside the distributor as I've cleaned up and rechecked the points gap and replaced condenser. I think I'm right in saying that if the condenser was causing problems before then it wouldn't have even turned over? It was trying but just wouldn't fire.

Hmm. <scratches head>

frenchi Avatar
frenchi Sarah E
Newquay, Cornwall, UK   GBR
Thank you, I'll check these straps this morning. I've had the battery checked and it's all good. I'm also getting a nice current from it to the starter solenoid. There's just nothing coming out the other side of the solenoid to the starter motor...

In reply to # 30040 by bufferzone Hope this helps. The one click indicates to me you killed your battery. I had a similar problem with starting and the cause was a very rusty earth strap from transmission to frame. You do need to have this strap either on the engine or tranny. The earth strap from the transmission to frame is pictured here:

https://goo.gl/images/ZYrR5w

From engine to frame could be on the front lower part of the engine to a motor mount as pictured here:

https://goo.gl/images/U9NSqz

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frenchi Avatar
frenchi Sarah E
Newquay, Cornwall, UK   GBR
Thank you. Yes, I have been charging the battery between attempts and have also tried jumping off another car too.

Going to check the straps under the car this morning.

The car was turning over but not firing (starting) before I cleaned up all of the cables. Since I put all of the cables back on and a new starter solenoid, I just get the click sound.

My money is on an earth...

gjoakes Silver Member Greg Oakes
Cornfield, IL, USA   USA
1958 Morris Minor Traveller "Bridget"
1972 MG MGB "Buttermilk"
In addition to the wiring checks being suggested, I would also be suspicious of the starter itself.

I recently had a similar problem on my Morris. The engine seemed to crank OK but would not start. What tipped me off was when I started measuring voltages when the starter was engaged. The normal 12.6V present at the battery-side of the starter relay (where the car's entire 12V system is picked off ) was being pulled down to less than 10V when starter was engaged - not enough to create sufficient spark to fire the engine. To my mind at least, the starter was pulling excessive current. I replaced the starter and all is good, with no other changes the car now starts normally. As a point of reference, the voltage at the starter relay only drops to about 11V now when starter is engaged.

Physically the brushes on the old starter are good but the bushes (bearings) are quite ragged. Next winter when it's snowing out I will probably rebuild it for a spare.

Good luck.

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0123 Mike D
Biddulph, Staffs, UK   GBR
Charge battery.

Check fuel at the carb.

Check choke operation.

report back smiling smiley

frenchi Avatar
frenchi Sarah E
Newquay, Cornwall, UK   GBR
Have only ever tried with charged up battery or jump start off another car... There's no power getting beyond the starter so engine is not turning over or firing. I just get a 'click' when I turn the key to start

Fuel and choke both fine.

In reply to # 30088 by 0123 Charge battery.

Check fuel at the carb.

Check choke operation.

report back smiling smiley

0123 Mike D
Biddulph, Staffs, UK   GBR
Operate starter solenoid with digit.

Report back.

Batteries dislike being run below 12.4.
Their disgust gets logarithmically stronger as their voltage drops below 12.4.

Either charge it, or expect short battery life.

frenchi Avatar
frenchi Sarah E
Newquay, Cornwall, UK   GBR
When you say operate with digit, do you mean press the button? This is a later model so no button in the middle. I have tried to make a connection across it too but still nothing.

Before I took everything off to clean up connections (battery cables, all witems leading to and from solenoid and starter motor cable), engine would turn over but not fire. Since I put everything back, I just get the click sound. It must be something that I have reconnected wrong but I've looked at the damn thing too much to see anything new!

In reply to # 30094 by 0123 Operate starter solenoid with digit.

Report back.

Batteries dislike being run below 12.4.
Their disgust gets logarithmically stronger as their voltage drops below 12.4.

Either charge it, or expect short battery life.

0123 Mike D
Biddulph, Staffs, UK   GBR
In reply to # 30095 by frenchi When you say operate with digit, do you mean press the button? Yes This is a later model so no button in the middle. I have tried to make a connection across it too but still nothing.
Do the lights work?

If yes, do they go out when you get the click sound?
If yes, your battery is too flat.

If they don't go out, you have a duff connection between battery and starter, and / or between battery and body and / or body and engine.

Have you got a multimeter.
How skilled are you at using it on a scale of 1 to 4 where 4 is high

Of out shortly


Before I took everything off to clean up connections (battery cables, all witems leading to and from solenoid and starter motor cable), engine would turn over but not fire. Since I put everything back, I just get the click sound. It must be something that I have reconnected wrong but I've looked at the damn thing too much to see anything new!

In reply to # 30094 by 0123 Operate starter solenoid with digit.

Report back.

Batteries dislike being run below 12.4.
Their disgust gets logarithmically stronger as their voltage drops below 12.4.

Either charge it, or expect short battery life.

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