Truck occasionally suddenly stalls when clutch goes in; electrical?


Fords4Us

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I have an occasional but maddening problem with a manual transmission, Duraspark-converted '83. We did the conversion back in 2015, and for the most part it's been running well since then. We replaced the worn-out carb over the winter, and that fixed most of the rest of the problems. However, we still have one newish issue (for about the last 4 months) which has been difficult to nail down.

The truck will be driving along smoothly, and I'll go to put in the clutch. As soon as the clutch goes in, the engine stalls. Here's the weird part. Since I'm still rolling, I try to restart it by letting out the clutch slowly at whatever gear is appropriate. But it won't restart. I have to pull over and wait for a moment before restarting the engine, at which point it fires right up and I drive away. Given that when the engine stalls I lose my power steering, "pulling over" can become its own challenge as I have to really arm-wrestle with the steering wheel to get it to turn. Not fun.

It's happening now about every 100 miles, give or take. Lots and lots of gear shifts during that 100 miles without problems, and then for whatever reason it happens again. Our best guess is that I've got a sub-optimal electrical connection somewhere. Most of the time it's a good enough connection that everything works. But then every once in awhile that connection is momentarily broken by the engine rocking slightly when the clutch goes in. When that movement is enough to create a brief electrical short, I then lose current to the coil and subsequently the spark plugs, which is why I can't restart it while still rolling.

With that theory in mind I have checked and rechecked all the electrical connections all along the ignition circuit. Everything from the distributor back to the coil, back to the ignition module, all the way back to the alternator and even to both battery posts and the battery ground. I have found a few suspect connections, which I clean up and re-tighten, but then it happens again.

I've been fortunate so far that each time it happens, I've been able to safely pull over and restart. But I can imagine a number of scenarios where a stalled engine AND no power steering could really put me in a bad place. And it happens so infrequently, we've not been able to duplicate it when checking this-n-that. Any ideas on what else it might be? I have to say, this is frustrating enough that for first time ever, I've started to really seriously think about retiring the old truck and going with some other ride. Thanks all; I sure hope we can get this solved.
 


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rusty ol ranger

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Is the anti diesel solenoid hooked up and functioning on the carb?
 

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That I don't know. I couldn't find a solenoid with that name listed in the Ranger Chilton's, and the replacement Holley is a much simpler carb than the original Motorcraft 2150. Can you tell me where it would normally plug into the carb? I can check once I know what to look for.
 

rusty ol ranger

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On the 2150s its a plunger looking thing mounted to the side of the carb by the throttle linkage.

20190319_064725.jpg


Here best i could do lol. Pics worth 1000 words.

Basically keeps the mix from getting overly rich by letting off the throttle fast.

Not sure thats the issue, personally ive never had an issue with one, but ive heard of it. Something to check out.
 

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I checked the carb and no I do not see anything like what you describe. Just in case I'm missing it, I took a picture of the carb on the throttle linkage side.
25635
 

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I should clarify that when we replaced the carburetor, we took out the old Motorcraft 2150 and replaced it with the Holley 0-7448, as recommended in the Duraspark conversion instructions. I didn't provide the carb model number in my previous post.
 

rusty ol ranger

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No its not there.

Id contact holley and see what they reccomend, i think they sell them just for holley carbs.
 

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I apologize; I thought you were concerned that the solenoid, if present, was malfunctioning and causing the stall. Instead, you're suggesting the engine is stalling because that solenoid is missing, correct? If that's the case, I should add that yes we had that solenoid on the original 2150 carb, and we removed it as part of the conversion process in 2015. The old carb ran well after that conversion, right up until late last year, without any stalling problems at all. Also, I don't get a whiff of raw fuel when the stalls occur.
 

rusty ol ranger

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I apologize; I thought you were concerned that the solenoid, if present, was malfunctioning and causing the stall. Instead, you're suggesting the engine is stalling because that solenoid is missing, correct? If that's the case, I should add that yes we had that solenoid on the original 2150 carb, and we removed it as part of the conversion process in 2015. The old carb ran well after that conversion, right up until late last year, without any stalling problems at all. Also, I don't get a whiff of raw fuel when the stalls occur.
Gotcha. No big thing. I didnt realize it was running fine without it.

After that though, im out of ideas. Besides some kind of electrical short like you stated.
 

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I do thank you for your suggestion; it made me go back and review what all we removed during the conversion, and review what symptoms we had before/during/after each stall. Something like this, most of the troubleshooting is a game of "process of elimination". I have to admit, more than once I've wondered whether we took too much off during the conversion. Then I go back to "but we had almost 4 years' worth of good performance afterwards...." and then I know I need to keep looking for some other cause, something which has changed recently.

Examined the circuit from alternator to distributor again yesterday and still couldn't find anything. All the connections are good and clean and tight, nothing binding, nothing looking chewed-up from rodents, nothing obviously out of place. Just about to take some of the wiring out of the looms and trace every one of them by touch to see if there are small breaks in the insulation somewhere that could be causing a hidden short. Husband also wondered last night if perhaps we're on the right track but looking in the wrong place - maybe the problem is elsewhere in the wiring, some rodent damage perhaps, which is occasionally shorting out on the frame or some other metal piece. He even suggested that perhaps the clutch pedal itself is shorting something out as it travels forward during each shift, since that seems to be the only common element to each event. So I'm going to crawl around in the cab and underneath the truck today to see what I can see. What better choice of activity on a nice sunny day, right?
 

rusty ol ranger

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Electrical issues are always the biggest pain and usually i let someone else deal with it. I have no paitence for it lol.

This is a long shot piss in the dark, but i wonder if its some sort off odd short in the safety switch/safety switch circuit? (The thing that wont let you start the truck untill the clutch is down)...

It shouldnt kill the truck, but who knows.
 

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Update: I have found at least one place with exposed wiring. The attached photo shows exposed copper on two adjacent wires coming off the ignition module, going to the distributor. The harness loom hid the exposed wires during previous inspections. When I pushed the loom back, the glint of the copper caught my eye. I spread the wiring apart for the picture; when left alone they lay immediately adjacent to each other. Is that close enough for occasional arcing, and would an arc in that circuit (rather than grounding) cause the truck to stall??
25691
 

rusty ol ranger

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Update: I have found at least one place with exposed wiring. The attached photo shows exposed copper on two adjacent wires coming off the ignition module, going to the distributor. The harness loom hid the exposed wires during previous inspections. When I pushed the loom back, the glint of the copper caught my eye. I spread the wiring apart for the picture; when left alone they lay immediately adjacent to each other. Is that close enough for occasional arcing, and would an arc in that circuit (rather than grounding) cause the truck to stall?? View attachment 25691
If they touch, and are juiced, then yes theyll short and arc.

Since the igniton module/distributor are pretty important id also say yes it could stall the truck.
 


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