CUTLASS Project now won’t start

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Rhinoish

n00b
Jul 8, 2020
4
3
Thompson MB Canada
Well hello from the almost arctic region of Canada. I’ve been lurking on this site for the last couple months while recovering and thought I would pick the forums brain so to speak. So let me give you some back ground. I’m a pretty handy guy, work at a dealership but with mostly young techs, I can do most mechanical work myself but when it comes to a carburetor..I have no clue.. In my quest for a new project, I purchased a 84 Cutlass Supreme brougham (that was sitting for several years) with according to the PO had an engine swap. He wasn’t sure with what year the engine came out of but that it’s a 305. Springs and shocks were broken on the right side so I had it towed home. The PO did have it running when I arrived to prove it ran, but said oh the battery is old and will need to be changed. So I drove it on to the flat bed tow truck and off into my garage so it does move. Ordered a bunch of parts for it. Drove it out of the garage while I fixed my daily which ended up waiting a week to get the parts. Go to put it back in the garage cranks but won’t fire.... so I pour some gas in the carb, put the container down... hold open the throttle plates while the wife cranks it over and then boom it backfires and shoots a fireball out of the carb while catching me on fire. I received second degree burns to my right arm & chest, burnt my facial hair clean off, glasses etc... fast forward to now 3 months later, with limited use of my right hand I’m itching to get back out to the garage... now the car will crank and crank but not fire. The car came showing less then 1/4 tank (yes I know old fuel). I’ve let it run in the garage before the fire idling for about 30 mins or so... have added a couple jerry cans to it of premium. I want to eventually drop an LS or a 350 in it so rebuilding the carb or replacing it seems like a waste of money but I want to if needed be able to move it in and out of my garage. Now the carb was partially on fire while the fuel burnt out of it. Haven’t checked anything as I really don’t know where to start.... so I’m looking for ideas... where would you start?
 
Oct 14, 2008
8,323
113
Melville,Saskatchewan
Sorry about the fire and burns. It sounds like a possible timing issue and now may be flooding. The float may have melted and could be dumping gas in the motor. Make sure the firing order is right and there is power to the distributor. Good luck
 
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Rhinoish

n00b
Thread starter
Jul 8, 2020
4
3
Thompson MB Canada
Sorry about the fire and burns. It sounds like a possible timing issue and now may be flooding. The float may have melted and could be dumping gas in the motor. Make sure the firing order is right and there is power to the distributor. Good luck
But if the timing was off wouldn’t it not run or run like total garbage??
 
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64nailhead

Goat Herder
Supporting Member
Dec 1, 2014
5,108
113
Upstate NY
I would assume there is damage to your carb. It should be gone through. This is a great place to drop on a spare and try it.

Next place to go is to verify TDC on compression stroke and set the distributor correctly to 8-10 degrees before TDC.

Your backfire is the result a very poor carb or timing issue.
 
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fleming442

Captain Tenneal
Dec 26, 2013
13,054
113
Check the oil for raw fuel smell. Change immediately if so. I'm guessing it's an Edelbrock carb (because somehow that became the default backyard choice). I would try a different carb, first if it was on fire.

For future reference: when the carb catches fire, hold the throttle open and keep cranking until it sucks the flames out.
 
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lilbowtie

Comic Book Super Hero
Jan 7, 2006
3,460
113
Canton Mi
If it backfired, spark is getting to a cylinder at the wrong time. Bad cap, bad wires, moisture in the cap, have had rotors and modules go bad. How much gas did you POUR in it?? Check that the carb isn't dumping fuel in.
 
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Oct 14, 2008
8,323
113
Melville,Saskatchewan
I would say it is rejecting its chebby motor but a 305 was stock in these cars up here😢
 
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Oct 14, 2008
8,323
113
Melville,Saskatchewan
But if the timing was off wouldn’t it not run or run like total garbage??
Make sure the distributor isn't loose, strange it would not run again. That happened to my neighbour. He bought a running 351W for his Cougar after it seized up. He never got that motor running again. We figured the timing chain somehow skipped. A properly timed motor will run when gas is poured down the carb till it runs out. Make sure a vacuum hose wasn't accidentally pulled off. If this is a factory non CCC Qjet, they are super lean to begin with. A vacuum hose might make it run like this.
 
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5spdCab

Royal Smart Person
Supporting Member
Dec 29, 2019
1,188
113
Tukwila, Wa.
It ran before, so mechanicals would seem to be correct. If you poured enough gas to cause a fireball to give you 3rd degree burns, can you estimate how long the fire burned on the carb before it went out? As some suggest, if it burned long enough to damage the carb, that could be a problem, or if trying to get away from the flames you disconnected a vacuum line could be another possibility. Maybe even jumped a tooth during the backfire. A lot of possibilities to check, but the very first check should be what Flemming442 suggested, check the oil to see if gasoline got past the rings. If oil is OK, crank engine around by hand making sure timing chain didn't skip a tooth, and that the distributor is still properly set. After that, it is just a question of "is it getting gas and spark?"
 
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Jeff Blagden

Master Mechanic
Supporting Member
Aug 12, 2016
444
93
Winnipeg Manitoba Canada
welcome from Winnipeg did you check the fuel filter and the fuel pump could be clogged with old crap from the tank sorry about the accident good luck keep us posted Jeff from the peg
 
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