144 inline 6, loss of power, misfiring (1961/62 Ranchero)

Discussion in 'Ranchero Tech Help' started by toddrichert, Jun 4, 2021.

  1. toddrichert

    toddrichert In Second Gear

    Messages:
    61
    OK so with the 144 inline 6 pulled out of the 1962 Ranchero I'm ready for the next step. I had thought the next step would be to put it directly into the 1961 Ranchero as is, but now I'm wondering if I should rebuild first, so that I never have to pull this engine again. "As is" is OK but not perfect; not even par. In my test drives of the 62 Ranchero before pulling the engine, the idle sounds mostly good with very intermittent missing. After it warms up, I can bring the idle down and put the choke most of the way open, and it still sounds mostly good. The problem comes after it is warm, and under load. When I am in first or second gear, it swings back and forth between surge and power loss rather suddenly, and repeatedly, with a dramatic increase in the misfiring compared to no load. When this happens, pulling the choke back out halfway calms it down and gives more consistent power, but still with some evident misfires happening.

    I'm no expert, but to me this seems probably a matter of tuning/adjustment and not likely indicative of serious engine trouble. Is that a reasonable opinion? I'd like to know what the experienced mechanics think.

    What I'd also like to hear opinions on, is if I were to install now without rebuild, what would be the first things I would suspect (or try to rule out) for these loss of power symptoms?

    As more background, I did test spark while it was running to see if the misfires were really intermittent like they sounded. I would pull a plug wire, one at a time, to interrupt the electrical flow, and in all 6 cases there was immediate audible loss of RPM.

    In sum, all of the cylinders are firing some of the time, some of the cylinders might be firing all of the time, and sometimes it sound like all the cylinders are indeed firing all of the time, but only for a short time until some or all of them are misfiring, but only some of the time. (I'm practicing my writing for an Abbott & Costello cover band.)

    From my handful of test drives, I speculate that the engine is not highway worthy until the power loss fixed, however I don't really know for sure because my test speeds were necessarily limited due to lack of certain amenities missing in the donor car (like brakes... I didn't dare take it to the highway without brakes.) Therefore I don't know how the engine would feel in 3rd gear, in current condition, and continuing the diagnostics was one of the reasons I had thought to transfer the engine to the better-equipped 61 Ranchero. In addition to the functioning brakes, the 61 has another feature popular for highway travel: a windshield! And I won't lie, the ability to sit on a seat bolted to the floor for my next test-drive, after getting used to sitting on a plastic 5 gallon gas can turned sideways in the 62 Ranchero, well... let's just say I've gotten greedy for the luxury of a 60 year old bench seat.

    Other things I've done (in case you didn't read my first thread) include:

    1) cooling system:

    removed radiator, water pump, thermostat
    flushed engine, radiator, heater core and hoses until water flowed clean
    (everything flowed quickly and freely with no evidence of impairments or blockage)
    reinstalled radiator, replaced water pump and thermostat with new ones

    2) charging system

    replaced regulator from the 62 (appears to be original) with the regulator from the 61 (appears to be Montgomery Ward aftermarket)
    this increased the upper limit of charging from 13.5 volts to 14.5

    3) oil flow blockage

    no fresh oil was getting to the top of the head
    removed rear head bolt (driver's side) connected to oil flow channel, cleaned off gunk from bolt and put it back
    suddenly oil began flowing to the top of the engine and all the way to the front

    That oil flow blockage couldn't have been done without this forum feedback. I'm not a mechanic but I owned my dad's 61 Ranchero for several years in the 80s and 90s, and received most of my first mechanical lessons from the things I replaced under that one hood. But all that Ranchero experience is over a quarter century old now, and was far from comprehensive even when it was fresh in my head.

    I'm grateful for any additional knowledge and experience you can throw my way! Especially if you have an opinion on either of the 2 questions I posed early in this post.
     
  2. beerbelly

    beerbelly In Maximum Overdrive SILVER MEMBER

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    "I speculate that the engine is not highway worthy"
    I have no experience with the 144 Falcon six, other than what I read. Most folks consider the 144 barely adequate for today's highway speeds. It would be sad to see you spend a bunch of money to make it a good running six, only to be disappointed in actual use. I understand the challenge of bringing an old machine back to life, but the reward should equal the effort & cost.
    Have you considered a 170-200 engine as an alternate?
     
  3. 5.0 Chero

    5.0 Chero Bahumbug Staff Member

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    Location:
    Prunetucky California
    From the pictures you posted in you oil issue post there is no way I would drop that motor in asis and expect it to be a reliable motor for yeas to come.
     
  4. handy_andy_cv64

    handy_andy_cv64 In Maximum Overdrive SILVER MEMBER

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    Without any kind of history, you're having to start from the bottom rung to climb the ladder. The up side is that this engine is so easy to pull; you could drive it for a while, as you get prepped to do a rebuild. In the meantime, to get some performance out of it, a full tune-up with distributor and carb dial-in to start, then chase down any vacuum leaks.
     
  5. Lowrider

    Lowrider In Third Gear

    Messages:
    210
    Location:
    Kingman AZ.
    Back in the 60's I got a ticket driving down the highway doing 90 in a 70 zone in a Falcon 144/3sp. They'll move down the highway just fine.
     
  6. pmrphil

    pmrphil In Maximum Overdrive GOLD MEMBER

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    central CT
    You definitely described a carburetor problem, you shouldn't need to choke a warm engine to make it run better. That's just showing a lean condition.
     
    Dyno and The Wrench like this.
  7. Boiler92

    Boiler92 In Overdrive SILVER MEMBER

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    Yep. Set too lean or too lean from a vacuum leak.
     
  8. handy_andy_cv64

    handy_andy_cv64 In Maximum Overdrive SILVER MEMBER

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    Location:
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    Agreed. But ignition dwell/timing should be verified after sorting out the fuel/air mix.
     
  9. 5.0 Chero

    5.0 Chero Bahumbug Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,137
    Location:
    Prunetucky California
    I would to be hesitant to install this asis without the expectation of pulling back out in a short time for a rebuild.
     

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