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Old 05-10-2012, 09:39 AM   #1
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1977 20' Argosy 20
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Trying to start Argosy after 2 years

Hi,

Long story, but it has been 2 years since I started my Argosy '77 20' motorhome. Now that summer is here, I really want to get it going.

What I have done so far:
1. Had the engine battery charged at the auto parts store; the battery was deemed good.
2. Put in 6 gallons of 87 octane gas.
3. Took the cover off the air filter, sprayed in engine starter, and tried to start.

The symptoms:
1.Two years ago, when I last started the Argosy, I had bad gas which I drained by siphoning.
2. The engine cranks, but will not turn over.
3. Last night, I saw a puff of smoke and flames come out of the air filter after spraying in engine starter fluid many times and trying to start.

I let the Argosy sit over night, tried to start again this morning, and the symptoms are the same.

I appreciate any advice that any of you can provide! I have some guesses, but I am am an absolute newbie at any and all engine work.

Thanks!
Tiffany
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Old 05-10-2012, 10:06 AM   #2
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I expect the carburetor needs rebuilding. The jets are most likely clogged from bad gas that has turned to sludge and corrosion resulting from the alcohol in the gas. You need to find out how bad the gas tank and fuel lines are. You can remove the fuel line from the carb and see if fuel comes out when you crank the engine. I would let it drain into a jar to see what it looks like. If it is cloudy and full of sediment then cleaning the carb won't fix your problems. It takes about a month for the alcohol in the gas to cause problems. After two years there is no telling what you are going to find. Best case is you will need to flush things and put in some carb cleaner in the gas like Seafoam. You will also need to replace the fuel filter. Worst case is everything including the tank and all fuel lines will have to be replaced. This is in addition to having the carb cleaned.

Perry
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Old 05-10-2012, 10:45 AM   #3
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Thanks Perry! If I see a flame in the carb, is the gas getting to the right place? Can I rebuild a carb myself or do I have to take it somewhere to be rebuilt? Will trying the Seafoam hurt anything if I try it before having the carb rebuilt?

Thanks,
Tiffany
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Old 05-10-2012, 11:17 AM   #4
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Flame in the carb when you're using starting fluid is not definitive proof that you're getting fuel to or through the carb. It could just be the starting fluid.
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Old 05-10-2012, 11:57 AM   #5
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Seafoam won't hurt. As DBK said just because you are getting flame by using starting fluid don't mean a thing. The fuel is the ether in the can. If the carb has fuel you should be able to see fuel squirt into the carb throat when you push the throttle. You might need a flash light. The squirt is the accelerator pump that gives you extra fuel when you push the gas pedal. You really need to find out how bad your fuel system is contaminated. You might get it running and then when you stir up all the junk in the fuel tank it stops something up and you are stranded. I would loosen the fuel line to the carb and at least see if you are getting fuel. Make sure you have plenty of ventilation when you do this and maybe a fire extinguisher just in case. Don't do this with a cigaret in your month or use a lighter to replace the flash light when looking down the carb. Keep your face out of there when cranking the engine.

Perry
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Old 05-10-2012, 03:29 PM   #6
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Thank you both for the advice!

I went to the Argosy, pushed the gas pedal, and saw the spring that appears to be attached to the fuel line that squirts fuel into the carb. I then manually pulled to cause the spring to move while holding the carb flap open. My question is, should I have seen gas squirting or does the engine have to be cranking for the gas to squirt?
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Old 05-10-2012, 03:34 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tiffany_m1 View Post
Thank you both for the advice!

I went to the Argosy, pushed the gas pedal, and saw the spring that appears to be attached to the fuel line that squirts fuel into the carb. I then manually pulled to cause the spring to move while holding the carb flap open. My question is, should I have seen gas squirting or does the engine have to be cranking for the gas to squirt?
If a) the carburetor is working properly and b) there's fuel in the bowl, you should see a spray of fuel when you move the throttle linkage through its range of motion, because you should be engaging the accelerator pump. NOT seeing the squirt could mean that the accelerator pump isn't working, the float bowl is empty or both.

Perry's recommendation that you test for fuel pressure at the carb is standard advice for a carbureted engine behaving as you've described, but don't crank too much because you don't want it to gush fuel everywhere if the pump IS providing fuel pressure at the carb. Remember to have the fire extinguisher handy, just in case.
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Old 05-10-2012, 04:53 PM   #8
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Before tackling the carb, try replacing the fuel filter. Clogged filter, no gas to the carb. Perryg114 mentioned the fuel filter, but that bit of advice seems to have gotten lost amid the other good advice. First rule of troubleshooting, always try the easy things first, and fuel filter replacement is a lot easier than carb rebuild.

Also, don't forget to check the spark plugs to see if you're getting fire. No spark, then even if you're getting fuel to the cylinders, it won't help.
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Old 05-10-2012, 05:07 PM   #9
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I just checked the air filter. It looks brand new. Thanks!

I checked the Chilton manual and it looks like I have a Rochester QuadraJet Carburetor. To disconnect the fuel line, do I loosen the hose clamp at the back of the carburetor so I can test the fuel pressure? I have the fire extinguisher at the ready.

Thanks!
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Old 05-10-2012, 05:14 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tiffany_m1 View Post
I just checked the air filter. It looks brand new.
No offense, but I meant the fuel filter, somewhere between the fuel tank and the carb, not the air filter. Whatever nasty stuff was in the bad gas had to pass through the fuel filter before it got to the engine, so the filter is likely to be gunked up.

I also mentioned the spark plugs, because they could be gummed up with whatever was in the bad gas, too.
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Old 05-10-2012, 05:18 PM   #11
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Thanks! Sorry I misread that! Once I figure out how to get the fuel line disconnected, I hope I will see the fuel filter and I will make sure it is clean. Thanks for the advice!
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Old 05-11-2012, 06:01 AM   #12
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It sounds like you've got a long road ahead of you. Having just gone through similar symptoms and solved the issue with help from these forums, here's what I learned. BTW, my issue was all of a sudden my moho wouldn't start, not that it had been sitting for a long time, so for me it was very strange. In the end, I had the carb rebuild and it was night and day. It went from won't start to get near the key with your hand and it starts.

A HUGE piece of advice given to me was to check the oil level after all my trying to start. Why? Because as you try and try to start (with no start) and all that fuel and starting fluid, it eventually drains down into the oil pan if it's not burned. I checked this and indeed there was a lot of fuel in the oil. I ended up draining a lot of gas out with the oil. I cannot imagine what might have happened if it would have started with all that gas in the pan / oil system.

As for advice at this point, I can only re-iterate what has been said so far here. A carb rebuild is going to run about $150-200 but I'd highly recommend it based on my recent experience and since it seems your moho has had running issues for the last few years.

1. Check for spark. Remove a spark plug, plug it back into the wire coming from the distributor, hold the hex of the plug against a ground while holding the wire boot in your hand and turn the key for a second or two. You need to see a spark.
2. Check for fuel reaching the carb. You've pretty much done this already by seeing the fuel squirting into the carb when you push the accelerator pedal. There might be other issues like enough fuel / too much fuel / wrong pressure, but at this point you know the is some fuel there and that "checks this box"
3. Rebuild the carb
4. As a last resort, check the timing on the engine. I've never done this on mine so I don't have tips but for sure you will need a timing light and a helper.
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Old 05-11-2012, 06:28 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tiffany_m1 View Post
My question is, should I have seen gas squirting or does the engine have to be cranking for the gas to squirt?
Before this question gets forgotten…

If you have a mechanical fuel pump, then the engine has to be cranking (at least, not necessarily running) in order to get fuel to the carburator.

If you have an electric fuel pump, normally located back at the tank, then you get fuel to the carb just by turning on the ignition switch.

However, in either case, whatever fuel is already inside the carbeurator bowl should still spray into the throat of the carb when you manually pull the accelerator linkage. If the fuel line is clogged— at the filter or elsewhere— you may not have any fuel in the carb bowl.
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Old 05-11-2012, 06:58 AM   #14
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You have to do this methodically.

1. Do you have fuel going to the carb that is clean and fresh? If not find out why. Fuel Filter, Rust in tank, etc. Bypass tank with a boat tank if necessary.

2. If you got past step 1 then step two is to see if accelerator pump is working and if it is you know you got fuel.

3. Spark, since she had flame coming out of the carb then she probably has spark at least on some cylinders. You can run an engine on Gumout for short periods of time just squirting some in the carb and do this off and on as the engine tries to die you give it another shot. If you pass this test you know most of your problems are fuel related.

4. If you get it running use lot of fuel additives like seafoam and run several tanks through it to clean things out.

5. Clean the carb once you are sure you are not going to clog it up again with crap from the tank. If you have a metal tank there is a 100% chance that it is full of rust from ethanol. This means the tank and all the lines will have to be replaced and probably the fuel pump. Be sure and write your local congressman and thank them for ruining your fuel system.

Perry
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