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Starting an engine for the first time


Dave Eastwood (Gadgetman) - Club Secretary

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Dave Eastwood (Gadgetman) - Club Secretary

In light or some recent threads and the vast amount of experience on here, I thought it might be a good idea to try and pool some best practice type information?

If people can help out with genuine techy advice, I'll update this first post as we go - if that's OK with the moderators?

I've started with what I've been shown, taught etc over the years and from experience with the DTA/MBE ecus as fitted to a Vauxhall four cylinder engine, more input needed for others!

(Acknowledgement should go to Jenvey, DTA and SBD installation instructions too!)

First time engine starting (Fuel injected car)

Assuming a base map for your spec engine!

• Setup throttle butterfly’s and TPS as per manufacturers instructions. Making sure you get the full range of travel on the throttle. And that the TPS is fitted the correct way round.

• Plug in laptop, check map matches engine, DON’T power up ecu yet!

• Battery charged? If not now’s the time!

• Visual check over car and fuel lines/pump etc. All fastenings secure, nothing loose/missing, no rags or debris esp. near moving parts. And near anything that will get hot – exhaust unobstructed?

• Check for engine oil level, coolant, fuel.

• Car secure, handbrake or chocked and in neutral.

• Disconnect Coil pack connection and injectors. (Not vital for all ecu’s but safer!) I like to have a fire extinguisher and fire blanket handy for the next step!

• Power up ecu – BUT DO NOT ATTEMP TO START! This will prime the fuel systems, most ecu’s will cut the fuel pump after three seconds, but you should turn off the ecu anyway.

• Check the fuel system for leaks, pay particular attention to connections and any flexible hose with overbraid that might hide pindangler sized holes – I like to feel down the hose for any dampness from the fuel – but you’ll need to be quick before it evaporates.

• Providing you’ve no leaks, ideally, the next step is to power up the ecu again, briefly, you may need to repeat this step a few times, to get the fuel system up to full pressure – you have got a pressure gauge in there haven’t you? You can then adjust your fuel pressure regulator to match the setting needed for your engines map. (Or check that your preset regulator is maintaining the correct pressure). You will need to check this figure again once the engine is idling properly, but for now - DO NOT ATTEMP TO START THE ENGINE.

• If available, connect wide-band Lambda Meter or CO meter – this will let you read how much fuel you’re putting in, and importantly, how much is actually being burnt!

• Do a quick check round for leaks once more.

• If the engine has had the oil changed, or oil system disturbed, now is a good time to build up some oil pressure. Personally, I like to whip the spark plugs out before spinning the engine over on the starter motor, if the engine’s been stood for any length of time, I’ll add a quick squirt of oil down the bores too. (Unless I know they’ve been pre-treated).  Oil pressure should usually build fairly quickly. Don’t run the engine for ages on the starter with no pressure showing. Turn off engine.

• While spinning the engine over, I’ll also give the laptop a check to make sure all the engine sensors are giving “reasonable” looking readings (RPM, Water temp, Air temp).

• Reconnect TPS, injectors, refit plugs. A quick visual check for leaks, and fluid levels.

• Now, attempt to start the engine. You may have to hold the throttle to keep it running.

• Check for excessive exhaust smoke, back-firing, popping through the TB’s etc. All signs that the mixture is way out. Or, better still check the wide-band etc, make sure you’re not excessively lean or rich.

• Once it’s idling even if rough and fast, you need to balance the throttle bodies so that they’re all drawing roughly the same amount of air. This is easiest with a syncrometer. (The actual amount may be specified with you’re base map). Engine revs may increase or decrease as you go. You may need to tweak the idle screw a little, but try not to move it too far, don’t wory at this step if your idle is still fast. Typically with Jenvey SF’s you’d balance by adjusting no. 4 to read the same as number three – the one the accelerator cable connects to, then no. 2, then no. 1. With Jenvey Parallel type, match the butterfly from each pair of bodies that has the highest syncrometer  reading to the highest of the two using the lever arm adjustment between the bodies. This will balance the bodies together.  Then unscrew the bleed screw from the butterfly with the lowest reading on each pair of bodies to match the high reading. You may need to repeat this course set up step a couple of times. Don’t forget to step back occasionally and cast an eye over the rest of the car.

• Fine tuning: you will have to do this step a few times to zero in on the right settings. – It’s worthwhile being patient though, because if everything is not correct then engine will not idle properly. Engine still running, with the syncrometer back in no.3, THIS time, adjust the airflow by adjusting the idle screw to match the specified Idle airflow for your map. Now, (you may need to stop the engine to do this), check the TPS Voltage you need to make sure that the ecu now recognises that the throttle is close on it’s stop. With an MBE ecu, you’d typically ajust the position of the TPS till it read something like 0.35 Volts. With a DTA, you’d carry out the throttle position calibration from the drop down menu. Others…

• Restart the engine, check your readings and balance no 4 to 3, then 2, then 1 as before, until all readings match and you have a stable idle – note it may still be a little slow or fast, but, if you have the gear,  this is the next step!

• If you have the gear, now is the time to adjust the fuelling around the idle sites with the aid of the wide-band Lambda meter, or CO meter.

• By now, you should have an idea if the map is miles away and needs lots of work, or usable enough to drive to the dyno.

• Turn off, check for leaks, top up as necessary, check fasteners for tightness.

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Excellent and very comprehensive post that should be of great use to everyone.  :t-up:

The only thing I would add Dave is to ensure the TPS reads the correct way; i.e voltage increases as throttle is opened since the colvern type can be fitted at either end of the throttle bodies.

Well Done  :)

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Ta for list, am in progress of doing the same and then will pass to those with more expertise to validate.

But, re oil...if dry sumped, spin the impeller pump by hand/suitable tool to ensure oil pressure registers

[geek]Tell you what...we need a flowchart[/geek  :D ]

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Dave Eastwood (Gadgetman) - Club Secretary

Good point on the TPS, did wonder if more detail on the initial set up of the butterlfys would be handy too, but I don't know how well it translates to different engines.

Yes, I did think about the dry sump brigade, but that's almost a whole Q&A itself! My approach, pop the DS pump belt off and spin the pump over with the aid of a cordless drill, great knowing you've full oil pressure before even turning the engine over.  :t-up: Downside, don't forget to screw the rocker cover down after timing the cams in the day before.  :blush:  :oops:  :suspect:

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One thing to add would be if using new cams / followers once the engine is running for the first time it will need to maintain a fast idle around 2500rpm for 20 - 25 mins to allow the cams & followers to run in properly (load on the cam/follower is actually reduced at fast idle in comparison to natural idle speed) . It`s advisable to turn the engine off if adjustments need to be made to maintain a fast idle rather than let it return to normal idle speed .

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Dave Eastwood (Gadgetman) - Club Secretary

Very true, new cams or followers are bit of a catch 22 situation, everything I've ever heard though does agree, cam running in over rides other considerations. Like you say running in, usually with a special oil coating, at 2000-2500 rpm for a fixed period of time, without being allowed to idle.

If the fueling is well off, stop the engine, adjust the mapping, then start again..

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Rory's Dad

Add the following at the end "Go pour yourself a beer" :D  :D  :D

More seriously I've just pulled off the feed to the coil pack to stop the sparks.  Is that OK??  Just seems easier to me.

Rory's Dad

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Have a fire extinguisher handy in case of loose fuel hoses and think where the ignition cut off switch is should the throttle stick open - rare I know but they've  happened as they've been featured on YouTube!  :oops:
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Dave Eastwood (Gadgetman) - Club Secretary
Add the following at the end "Go pour yourself a beer" :D  :D  :D

More seriously I've just pulled off the feed to the coil pack to stop the sparks.  Is that OK??  Just seems easier to me.

Rory's Dad

Standard practice to stop sparks and fuel flow is typically to pull the crank sensor plug out. That way the ecu doesn't see the engine turn over, so won't attempt to start.

HOWEVER, some after-market ecu's, and maybe it's only older ones, can have issues with the ignition drivers and injector drivers that will cause them to be damaged in certain situations. So for any activity that needs the ecu powered up but engine stopped for any length of time, I now pull the coil pack plug and the injectors.

(Specifically, changing complete programs on ecu's like the MBE 967 can damage the drivers, it's not certain, just playing Russian Roulette with the ecu.)

Too right on the beer, you might even want to add, dance round the garage yelping with glee  :laugh:

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Dave Eastwood (Gadgetman) - Club Secretary
Have a fire extinguisher handy in case of loose fuel hoses and think where the ignition cut off switch is should the throttle stick open - rare I know but they've  happened as they've been featured on YouTube!  :oops:

Yep, couldn't agree more; I sometimes think the number of times I'll check round the car for fuel leeks probably makes me look borderline OCD but fuel under 3 bar or more pressure travels a loooong way.

I've also got a fire blanket at the engine end of the garage, (cars out in the open though), as I figure with no bonnet to help smother the flames a blanket would help slow anything down just enough for the extinguisher to have some affect.

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  • 2 years later...
Greenstreak-Andy D

Excellent post Dave, but tell me, does anyone know why I keep seeing 1 Jan 1970!!! ? Is that on topic? Oops!

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  • 6 years later...

First start 101.   The engine starts, yipee.  Oil pressure shows max, phew.  It sounds a bit rough but I assume that is the ECU getting everything lined up.   10 minutes later it has reached operating temperature, fan starts yipee.  Look around for leaks, small one on heater hose, tighten up jubilee clip, fuel lines look secure, coolant levels look good.  Then I noticed something, look at the picture what do you think is wrong ?

 

exhaust_spark.JPG

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Looks like the 4th cylinder mainfold is not hot ? can You measure the temperatures while engine is working ?  (with infrared pyrometer for instance) .

I had similar problem - 3 cylinders with 300deg C temperature, one 100-200. But the engine was not working properly, there was uneven engine operiaton one can hear, the car was shaking (wabling? not sure the right world) , You know , just like working on 3 instead 4 cylinders. The cause was faultu ignition coil plug --> no spark (or not every time) spark on this cylinder, so no combustion, no temperature.

Is this mainfold colder than others ? Or maybe it is some other steel material on this one mainfold ?

 

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Ian Kinder (Bagpuss) - Joint Peak District AO

Looks like the right hand most cylinder is not firing. Check wires to coil pack/injector on that cylinder and at the ECU plug. I’d not run for any length of time until you’ve found the fault.

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Yep it is cylinder 1, no spark.  refitted the spark plug leads, pushing number 1 down really hard and bingo all four down pipes are straw coloured now and it sounds smooth.

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