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  1. #1
    Tadpole
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    Default CX not starting...

    here i am again...

    the cx refuses to start. here is a brief recount of recent happenings in this arena.

    first, i collect it from the panel shop. it had been sitting for a while (~2 months) and ran out of petrol, and so i replaced the fuel filter to avoid sludge and pottered on. ran very happily for a few weeks after.

    then, i take it for a roadworthy. just when all was well, the car decides to stop and refuses to start or run smoothly. i hadn't had a problem with this beforehand.

    once i finally got it home, it wouldn't start again. charged the battery, same result. waited a few days, and it started just fine and then stopped. wouldn't run unless i gave it obscene amounts of throttle and choke, despite it being warmed up (the fans were on).

    now it refuses to start at all. checked & cleaned plugs, ignition rotor and cap contacts cleaned, hit everything with a rubber mallet, nothing seems to be helping.

    checked inside the carb, there is certainly fuel delivery and all looks clean.

    please forgive my mechanical novicehood, but this is the best place i could think of for asking the question.

    thanks!

    -max.

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  2. #2
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    It will be electrical. The old rule of thumb, proven many times, "if you think it's fuel it'll be electrical and if you think electrical it'll be fuel". I provided this advice via Facebook to a guy in the UK having DS troubles last week and it worked.

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    Search for loose or worn wires to the distributor and coil is my first suggestion.

  4. #4
    1000+ Posts Ken W's Avatar
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    Hi Max,

    Did you check the points gap is OK? Check the gap when the rubbing block is on the crown of the points cam. It should be about 0.4mm from memory. While the points are open, turn on the ignition and see if there are 12 volts on the points lead from the distributor. If not check back at the distributor on both sides for 12 volts. There could be a resistor in series with the coil too.

    Turn off the ignition and turn the motor until the points are closed and check there are almost 0 volts on the points lead, 12 on the coil if no resistor or 6 or so if there is a resistor.

    If still OK and no start, try disconnecting the condensor/capacitor on the distributor and try it again. If it starts, replace the capacitor when you can or else the points will wear out very quickly.

    Report back your results or problems you encounter when trying to do this.

    Cheers, Ken

  5. #5
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    Hi all,

    Just an update. I have good spark at all four plugs. My timing is set roughly the same as when i got the car (ran and started fine at that point). Still no start. Tried starting fluid directly down the throat of the carb, no good. I'm absolutely confused. I have tried jump starting from another battery, charged my battery to full, and have gotten nowhere. Got it to fire once or twice but that's it.

    I'm so absolutely frustrated that after spending thousands on rust work that my savings have dwindled and my pride and joy is digging it's heels in. Sigh.

    Thanks for all your help so far.
    79 cx2400 pallas c-matic

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    1000+ Posts gerrypro's Avatar
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    Remove the tank and inspect the fuel pick up. Mt bet is that the gauze screen is blocked and it starves of fuel. Don't ask me how I know. It is not nice to be sitting on the Eastern for three hours waiting for a Towie.
    Cheers Gerry

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    Quote Originally Posted by gerrypro View Post
    Remove the tank and inspect the fuel pick up. Mt bet is that the gauze screen is blocked and it starves of fuel. Don't ask me how I know. It is not nice to be sitting on the Eastern for three hours waiting for a Towie.
    Gerry,

    I would hate to sound like I'm refusing help, but I checked the fuel delivery between the filter and the carb, which seemed just fine. Would this rule out the possibility of fuel pickup gauze? I just don't have the means of lifting the car.

    Thanks,
    Max.
    79 cx2400 pallas c-matic

  8. #8
    1000+ Posts gerrypro's Avatar
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    Yes, this was the situation with mine. I could get fuel delivery under test, but then it would run well for a short time and then cur out again. I figured that the blockage would fall away at rest and then reaccumulate under running conditions. I blamed a bad load of fuel but it may have just been sedimentation due to lengthy periods of standing.
    Another point of concern would be the condenser. Do you get a spark across the points when you observe with the cap off? If not the condenser may be shorted internally. Rare but possible!
    Changing points and condenser made a huge difference to mine. Range Rover uses the same condenser.
    Cheers Gerry

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    1000+ Posts Ken W's Avatar
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    Is it possible that the plug leads have got themselves around the wrong way where they plug into the distributor?

    If it hasn't started for a while maybe try a new set of plugs. Does it fire with some 'Start ya Bast..d' up the air cleaner pipe?

    Cheers, Ken

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    pretty hard to guess here but coil and set of new points probably wouldn't be a bad start? Are you getting lights on the dash with ignition on etc? Check all your fuses. Check all your wiring connections in engine bay. Hmm what else? Does it actually have fuel in he tank? Sounds ridiculous but still!

    could be worn out iginition contacts at key end too. Maybe try and hot wire it. switch it to on and throw a wire between positive on battery and starter solenoid. Make sure it's in neutral first though.

  11. #11
    1000+ Posts gerrypro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 37dhw8 View Post
    Gerry,

    I would hate to sound like I'm refusing help, but I checked the fuel delivery between the filter and the carb, which seemed just fine. Would this rule out the possibility of fuel pickup gauze? I just don't have the means of lifting the car.

    Thanks,
    Max.
    All you need for removing the tank is a set of ramps and a trolly jack to raisr the rear of an unstartable car so you can slide the ramps under each rear wheel!
    Cheers Gerry

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    An update --

    I bought a new coil and wired it up, as well as some starting fluid. After installing the new coil, I had significantly stronger spark. The starting fluid made the engine catch and fire once or twice. Whether it was the starting fluid or the new coil that did this I don't know. Will have to do some more experimenting tomorrow.

    I'm positive I have the plugs in the right way - whether the dizzy is grossly maladjusted I will have to investigate. It was about 45 degrees off what the Haynes manual suggests, but it had previously started and run just fine in that position.

    Ordered a new distributor rotor today, should be here in about a week, I'll have to see whether that helps. Don't imagine it will do much good since spark is already acceptable.

    I have neither ramps nor a trolley jack - getting a CX but being so skint was probably not a good idea...

    Thanks,

    Max.
    79 cx2400 pallas c-matic

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    1000+ Posts forumnoreason's Avatar
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    are the leads stiff? They could be worn out if so. I'd be buying new points set too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by forumnoreason View Post
    are the leads stiff? They could be worn out if so. I'd be buying new points set too.
    The leads are the original ones that came with the car and are quite stiff. Could they be the reason for the sudden issues? Even though I'm getting good spark? Just want to make sure.

    Thanks
    79 cx2400 pallas c-matic

  15. #15
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    There is nothing oddball about the CX carby fuel and ignitions system, so it should not be hard to work out.

    Firstly, on a '79 carby CX you will find there is a connector just at the battery (red tag I think) that is for the starter wire to the starter solenoid. If you unplug it and touch the male end to the + terminal of the battery, the engine should crank. It's a helpful shortcut, but make sure it's not in gear as that wire bypasses any start inhibition and is independent of the ignition switch position. This can be useful when you want to kick the engine over to a new position (with ignition off) or want to start (with ignition on). You can also use it to operate the fuel pump to check what is being delivered when cranking.

    Water can get past the seal on the filler cap and then collects in the u-shaped pipe between the filler neck and the tank inlet. After it has accumulated for a while and you fill the tank, some of it can wash into the tank and go to the bottom. The tank is an anti-siphon design, so you can't siphon the tank contents via the neck, but you can siphon out the fuel and any water in that u-shape tube. If you find water there, suspect that the carby float chamber may have some water in it. See what the pump is delivering by disconnecting the carby feed pipe and directing the flow into a container (careful with fuel - fire risk!). If there is water in the tank (which you would need to partly drain off to clear - forget using meths), you should see some pump out into your container. If you see this, assume the carby has water in it. You then need to take the carby off to clear it out or take the top off the carby and clean it out. This is fairly simple (you really want a new gasket) and gives you a chance to clean out debris in the jets and float chamber and reset the float level and ensure it's valve is not worn out.

    There is an idle solenoid on the back of the carby (Weber) and it won't start or idle if that is faulty or the wire has simply fallen off.

    The wire from the distributor to the coil can run along the front of the engine. It can fall down and short in the exhaust manifold if the insulation has been burnt off. Have a look at this and fix as needed.

    The coil is meant to have a resistor. It drops the voltage through the coil from 12V to around 7V. Make sure your new coil preserves this situation. Some coils have an inbuilt resistor, while others do not.

    Plugs can be drowned by oil leakage around the spark plugs tubes. I find I can measure the resistance with a multimeter across a plug (multimeter + lead at spark plug terminal - lead on head) to quickly check if a plug is fouled. It should be an open circuit, but if you read a very high resistance, suspect the plugs are fouled. A 'wet' engine with leaky rings can do this by allowing oil fouling. You can sometimes clean the plugs with carby cleaner and a small fine wire brush. The plugs in a CX are a basic design, so worn plugs look like the electrodes are rounded off or eroded and pointy. It should at least start even with poor plugs and old leads, but the gap needs to be about the factory specification. Adding a few thousandths of an inch to the gap doesn't hurt.

    Having a strong spark at the end of the lead that fits onto the plugs (note the extension rod on each plug) is no guarantee the plug is good, but it possibly tells you the distributor is at least working. Still, it's better to lift the cap and remove the rotor and clean them with a non-oily solvent to remove any carbon film that can short out the distributor internally. A hairline crack in either can result in the distributor shorting internally via carbon tracking and it can be hard to pick. I've had this problem and sometimes it's OK and other times not. Sometimes, it will start OK when cold and fail randomly when hot.

    With the distributor cap off, confirm (by twisting with your fingers) the rotor can advance and will retract freely due to the springs in the bottom of the distributor. I think the service book may suggest adding a drop of oil to the spindle every so often. From memory, the vacuum capsule has a tiny hole in the steel case, so it is meant to leak ever so slightly. This is not what you might expect, but you should see some movement inside the distributor if you suck on a tube on the capsule. If, for some reason, the advance is stuck, you will have real trouble starting it.

    Turn the ignition off and crank the engine via that connector near the battery and confirm the points are opening. If the base plate is loose or the points badly worn, the points won't open fully or maybe not at all. Checking the points gap is simply a matter of turning the engine over to a point where one of the lobes of the distributor shaft pushes the heel of the points to it's maximum extent. Then you use a feeler gauge to adjust the points gap. If they are burnt you can dress them with a points file, but deep pitting means you need to replace the points set.

    A bad capacitor can cause excess points burning, so you want to check that. These are easy enough to check with a multimeter. Better multimeters will read the capacitance, but an easy check is to check the resistance between the lead and the case. Nil resistance / closed circuit means it's shorted internally. No reading / open circuit means it's failed open. A high resistance suggests it's OK. Don't confuse the capacitor with a radio suppressor.

    In terms of setting the timing up, the basic way is to make sure the rotor points to the terminal for the lead going to the cylinder at top dead centre (TDC) on the compression stroke. The manual should show you how to set this up and also the firing order. An old trick is to slacken the distributor clamp and turn the distributor back and forth while someone cranks. There will be a point at which it fires. The firing order is 1 3 4 2, with 1 at the flywheel end - they are even marked on the engine. Haynes has a very clear diagram of how to set this up (p68). I would refer to that and just go over it step by step.
    Last edited by David S; 2nd July 2018 at 12:56 PM.
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    David I'm in awe. Thank you for sharing your knowledge - and for the significant amount of time that must have gone into preparing your post.

    Cheers

    Alec

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    David, thanks so much for taking the time to type out all that info.

    I removed the plugs and cleaned them all with brake cleaner and fine sandpaper. Checked gaps and wear and all was well. Cleaned the inside of the rotor well with brake cleaner, and took the spring contact for the coil out and cleaned with 'electrical clean and lube'. Oiled the spindle of the distributor, cleaned and checked points, cleaned and checked rotor.

    My distributor doesn't have a vacuum capsule, but after oiling the spindle it shouldn't be an issue.

    Points are opening and closing to 0.4mm, all is well there.

    Checked the capacitor/condenser, and I have a high resistance - not too sure about exact figure as my multimeter is an old analogue style with manual ohm adjustment.

    Cranked... Nothing.

    Decided to inspect the timing, again. Although I had done ye olde trick of cranking while twisting the dizzy, I decided to do it semi-properly and follow the method you put forward. After this, I found the distributor to be almost 40 degrees out of whack! This was the position it was in when I got the car, unless the mechanic who fiddled with it when I went for a roadworthy messed things up somehow.

    Turned over... It fires pretty consistently, but won't start. Just charging the battery as we speak.

    Fingers crossed!! Thanks so much for all your help!!!

    Kind regards,

    Max.
    79 cx2400 pallas c-matic

  18. #18
    Real cars have hydraulics DoubleChevron's Avatar
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    Sounds like it needs to be timed.

    Put No 1 at TDC and see if the rotor button is pointing at No 1 on the dizzie cap.

    Just use a small length of fuel line down the plug hole. You should hear it "hiss" on the compression stroke. Once you have found the compression stroke on No 1. .... Drop something long a soft down the plug hole (eg: drinking straw) and bring the piston to the Top where it just rolls over and starts to drop again ( ie: Top Dead Center on No 1.).

    Now pull the distributor cap and see where the rotor button is pointing. Clip the cap back on and plug in the spark plug lead to No 1 cylinder onto that spot on the dizzie cap. Then in the direction the rotor button spins plug in .... 1 ... 3 .... 4 .... 2

    It should start and run at this point, but you will still need to time it properly.

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  19. #19
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    I think we're getting there... I think...

    When I crank it, it will crank at speed then suddenly halt for maybe half a second, and it's doing this semi consistently every second or so.

    Not sure whether that's good or bad.
    79 cx2400 pallas c-matic

  20. #20
    1000+ Posts Ken W's Avatar
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    That means timing is too advanced. The spark is firing too early and stopping the piston from reaching the top of travel. If you can get the engine turning over faster that might help but retarding the ignition is the answer. You cannot have the ignition much more than 5 degrees advanced at starting speed.

    Cheers, Ken
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  21. #21
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    Well...

    Adjusted the timing again, following the Haynes manual instructions to a T. I'm getting very good spark on all four plugs when i ground the electrode to the valve cover, the timing is good... still no sign of life. Checked for fuel delivery and that's just fine, getting good squirts of what looks to be fresh undiluted fuel... absolutely stumped. Not even the starting fluid would do anything.

    Apologies for my novice level troubleshooting skills, this is my first car and certainly the first time I have undertaken such a beast.

    Thanks for all your help

    Max.
    79 cx2400 pallas c-matic

  22. #22
    Too many posts! JohnW's Avatar
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    Very frustrating I'm sure! Then there's the "how long will the starter motor take this"?

    I can't advance on Shane's and David's and others' detailed advice. Cupla thoughts though:

    1. Is the choke working? What position are you using when trying to get it going? I find my CX needs pretty much full choke to start from cold but pretty well always does start. It needs the accelerator pushing while pulling the choke knob to get it fully set.
    2. Are you [U]absolutely[U] certain you have the timing right and the firing order right?
    3. Are you sure, regarding the carby, that the jets etc are not blocked and that the "stopper" solenoid is getting 12V and isn't staying in the shut down position regardless (not that I fully understand what it shuts).
    4. Is the air cleaner blocked? Have you tried without the air cleaner connected?

    As everyone says, "it should go!" C-matics are quite charming when behaving.

    Very best wishes - these things are sent to try us!!
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  23. #23
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    OK - again, I don't have specific knowledge of CXs, but it really sounds as if it's going to be something simple and obvious - which is not obvious to you because you are tackling these issues for the first time. Hope your new coil has the resistor which David explained the need for...

    If you have the spark plug timing correct now, then it has to be a fuel problem. Even if the fuel pump is providing good pressure, there could be water in the carburetor float bowl, or dirt in the jets - this could explain why you needed lots of throttle and the choke on, even when it was warm. If gerrypro is right about the blocked fuel strainer reducing the fuel pressure (you have confirmed there is some fuel flow), you would expect the bowl to fill while you are cranking the starter, and the engine to start, but then stall again as the fuel level in the float bowl drops (and again you could keep it running a bit longer by giving it more choke). However, if it won't run (even briefly) when you squirt "Start Ya Bastard" or equivalent into the air intake, then perhaps it's not fuel. Did you remove the air filter, and spray directly into the air intake? Have you tried cranking and squirting at the same time (probably best to have 2 people for this, but it's much more effective if the ether spray is being sucked through the carburetor and into the intake manifold while it's being squirted )? Choke should be off - you want to make sure the ether is actually sucked in.

    If it is a spark issue, then as I said, we are looking for something obvious. Perhaps you've got the timing 180 degrees out. Remember the pistons will be at Top Dead Centre twice each cycle - first at the end of the exhaust stroke, and then at the end of the compression stroke, but while the crank shaft rotates twice, the spindle in the distributor only rotates once. Or possibly you have connected up the plug leads in the correct order (1-3-4-2) - but in the wrong direction (anti-clockwise instead of clockwise, or vice versa - I don't know which way your distributor turns) - which would make the firing order 1-2-4-3 - still 2 cylinders right, but it can be quite hard to get an engine to start and run on 2 cylinders!

    As Ken says, the pausing during cranking would indicate one (or more) spark plugs firing way too early - ie a timing problem - but it also indicates there is an air-fuel mixture being drawn into the compression chamber, and compressed. Obviously this proves a) the engine has compression (on one cylinder at least) and b) the carburettor is delivering some fuel - so it's not all bad news .

    Cheers

    Alec
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnW View Post
    Very frustrating I'm sure! Then there's the "how long will the starter motor take this"?

    I can't advance on Shane's and David's and others' detailed advice. Cupla thoughts though:

    1. Is the choke working? What position are you using when trying to get it going? I find my CX needs pretty much full choke to start from cold but pretty well always does start. It needs the accelerator pushing while pulling the choke knob to get it fully set.
    2. Are you [U]absolutely[U] certain you have the timing right and the firing order right?
    3. Are you sure, regarding the carby, that the jets etc are not blocked and that the "stopper" solenoid is getting 12V and isn't staying in the shut down position regardless (not that I fully understand what it shuts).
    4. Is the air cleaner blocked? Have you tried without the air cleaner connected?

    As everyone says, "it should go!" C-matics are quite charming when behaving.

    Very best wishes - these things are sent to try us!!
    Thing is, it drove from Sydney to Melbourne without a hitch -- only now she's misbehaving.

    From all I can see, the choke is working -- she's always needed full choke or near full choke when starting from cold, and having taken the plastic top off the carby I can see the choke closing fully. I can also see a jet in one barrel of the carburettor squirting fuel out quite happily when the throttle is used.

    What with all the combinations I've tried, if the plugs aren't in the distributor properly I'd be mighty surprised and pissed at myself.

    The solenoid on the back is connected well at that end, I haven't tested whether it's getting 12V though. Will do tomorrow.

    Air cleaner is a temporary solution at the minute. A piece of foam in the plastic casing of the original filter til the new one arrives. Happens whether or not I have the air cleaner attached. I'll have a look at the cleaner itself again tomorrow.

    Gah, of course with my luck the simplest problem is turning out to have the most complicated method of diagnosis!!

    Thanks very much to all.
    79 cx2400 pallas c-matic

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    Quote Originally Posted by Armidillo View Post
    OK - again, I don't have specific knowledge of CXs, but it really sounds as if it's going to be something simple and obvious - which is not obvious to you because you are tackling these issues for the first time. Hope your new coil has the resistor which David explained the need for...

    If you have the spark plug timing correct now, then it has to be a fuel problem. Even if the fuel pump is providing good pressure, there could be water in the carburetor float bowl, or dirt in the jets - this could explain why you needed lots of throttle and the choke on, even when it was warm. If gerrypro is right about the blocked fuel strainer reducing the fuel pressure (you have confirmed there is some fuel flow), you would expect the bowl to fill while you are cranking the starter, and the engine to start, but then stall again as the fuel level in the float bowl drops (and again you could keep it running a bit longer by giving it more choke). However, if it won't run (even briefly) when you squirt "Start Ya Bastard" or equivalent into the air intake, then perhaps it's not fuel. Did you remove the air filter, and spray directly into the air intake? Have you tried cranking and squirting at the same time (probably best to have 2 people for this, but it's much more effective if the ether spray is being sucked through the carburetor and into the intake manifold while it's being squirted )? Choke should be off - you want to make sure the ether is actually sucked in.

    If it is a spark issue, then as I said, we are looking for something obvious. Perhaps you've got the timing 180 degrees out. Remember the pistons will be at Top Dead Centre twice each cycle - first at the end of the exhaust stroke, and then at the end of the compression stroke, but while the crank shaft rotates twice, the spindle in the distributor only rotates once. Or possibly you have connected up the plug leads in the correct order (1-3-4-2) - but in the wrong direction (anti-clockwise instead of clockwise, or vice versa - I don't know which way your distributor turns) - which would make the firing order 1-2-4-3 - still 2 cylinders right, but it can be quite hard to get an engine to start and run on 2 cylinders!

    As Ken says, the pausing during cranking would indicate one (or more) spark plugs firing way too early - ie a timing problem - but it also indicates there is an air-fuel mixture being drawn into the compression chamber, and compressed. Obviously this proves a) the engine has compression (on one cylinder at least) and b) the carburettor is delivering some fuel - so it's not all bad news .

    Cheers

    Alec
    Hi Alec,

    I have a ballast resistor installed with my new coil.

    Leads are in the distributor cap in the order 1-3-4-2 clockwise (have confirmed that this is the direction my distributor turns). Did this all according to the instructions set out for 'test lamp' in the Haynes manual - everything checks out OK. Rotor is at lead 1 at 10 degrees before top dead centre, according to the flywheel markings.

    I had been spraying the starting fluid right down the barrels of the carb - is this wrong? Choke was off whenever trying to start with fluid.

    I took the top off the carburetor yesterday, and the float bowls looked to have a decent amount of fuel in them.

    Probably something stupid I'm forgetting honestly. Absolutely stumped.

    Thanks so much for all your help !
    79 cx2400 pallas c-matic

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