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Steve, Service Manager
Category: Ford
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Experience:  25+ years experience as a professional technician ; ASE L1 master Technician
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83 Ford Ranger: cyl..carb..(Fuel flow TO the carburetor is sufficient

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I have an 83 Ford Ranger 4 cyl w/ a 1 bbl carb that WILL NOT start. With the help of my father-in-law, the problem has been narrowed down to the carburetor. (Fuel flow TO the carburetor is sufficient... and distributor and spark plugs are all good/new.) I'm wondering what is my best option. Is it worth tinkering around with rebuild kits for $50?... or should a just go ahead and get a remanufactured carb (I've found one for $220 after shipping and taxes)??
   If you are having carburetor problems on this age of a truck, my suggestion would be to purchase the remanufactured one for $220.   there are several reasons for this:

(1) Not all of the aprts in a carburetor that wear out are part of a rebuild kit.    Rebuild kits typically contain gaskets, seals, an accelerator pump diaphragm, internal springs, needle valve and seat,and check balls.    They do not include the float (which may be the problem in yours).   Throttle shafts typically wear out teh base plate over time; if you can wobble your throttle shaft up and down even slightly the base plate is worn out and will cause hesitation issues because air gets sucked in along the shaft. Choke components are not part of a rebuild kit either.    So, to rebuild it to work correctly may cost far more than the price of the basic parts kit.

(2) Rebuilding a carburetor does involve making many precise adjustments to the various components.   This can be time consuming and frustrating even for experienced mechanics.    You may have to spend horurs assembling, removing, disassembling, and adjusting components before getting it to work well.

(3) Rebuilt carburetors come with factory warranties, if there is a problem.   If you get a kit and attempt to rebuild yours, and it does not work well, youa re out the money and still need a carburetor.

(4) $220 is extremely inexpensive for a remanufactured carburetor; it's a good deal.    Many reman carburetors cost in excess of $1000 if you can still find them.

   If the problem youa re experiencing is that here is fuel getting to your carb, but none passing through the carb into the engine, try tapping on the top lightly with a small hammer or similiar object.   you may ahve a float stuck in the up position, shutting the needle valve and preventing fuel from entering the carburetor bowl.   Tapping can sometimes dislodge it if this is the cause of your problem.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Thank you for the response. In regards XXXXX XXXXX stuck float, where are you saying to tap? Am I tapping on the choke plate? Is it something I can reach in and loosen?
No, you would want to try tapping on the float bowl. Inside teh carburetor is a float, much like what you see inside the tank on the back of your tooilet if you lift the cover. the float rises and pushes shut a little needle and seat valve to shut off the fuel coming in from the line when the carburetor bowl is full.   If the float has somehow stuck in the up position, the valve will not open to let fuel in once the fuel in the bowl is used up.
   Tapping on the carb bowl may not correct the problem, but it is worth trying; it does work sometimes.
    There is nothing you can reach in and adjust; all of the parts that control the flow of liquid fuel are inside the carburetor.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Thank you for your patience and explanations!

IF I do that and the truck is able to start, is the float something that should be replaced? If so, being inside the carburetor, how much time (approximately) would that take me (i am a beginner to carburetors, but i've worked on my own cars several times)
If the float is stuck, I would wait to see if it happens again before attempting any repairs.   if it happens again, then the carburetor will need to be rebuilt or replaced.   I do not ahve any kind of flat rate manual for a vehicle this age, but it would take an experienced mechanic at least several hours to rebuilt the carb (replacing the float is part of a rebuild).     
   If youa re not familiar with carburetor repairs, and/ or are not willing to gamble the amount of money involved I would replace it with that very inexpensive remanufactured one instead.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
So I'm trying to understand how this all works...

I have an aftermarket electric fuel pump installed that turns on with the ignition. Thus it pumps fuel when the ignition is turned to ON/RUN, but not START. From what I understand, this is the way it should be hooked up... at least to make it functional.

After doing a little research, it seems that when I turn the ignition to on, the carburetor should fill up with gas. This would mean that it's OK for the pump to stop working once I turn the ignition to START. There should be at least enough gas to start the engine. Then once the engine is started, (and the ignition is obviously switched back to "ON") the pump should begin pumping fuel once again to the carb.

Does all of this seem basically correct? I am just trying to make sure that I wired the fuel pump correctly.

If all of that is correct, then the problem would be either the carburetor is not accepting any fuel (i.e., the float is stuck) or the fuel is not igniting... right?

I'm just trying to narrow down the problem to something to do with the carb that is not easily adjustable before I go spend money on a remanufactured carburetor. (which I agree is a good deal... but it's still $220)
On a carbureted engine, you should have a mechanical fuel pump attached to the engine; electric fuel pumps are generally found on fuel injected engines.
   Yours did come with a mechanical fuel pump as original equipment, correct?   you added the electric one later, because the mechanical one stopped operating for some reason?

   I cannot give you any specifics on how an aftermarket pump will be wired up or operate, beecause that is not how the truck was built and therefore there is no information on such add-on components in any service manuals for the vehicle.

   The fuel pump's job is to supply fuel to the carburetor.    The carburetor has a bowl (again, like the toilet tank analogy) that fills up with gasoline through a needle valve located where teh fuel line attaches to the carburetor.   The chamber (bowl) fills up with fuel, raising the float; at a specific height the float pushes the valve closed to shut off the flow of fuel coming into the carburetor (like the float in the toilet tank does).

here is a link to a web article that does a very good job of explaining the basics of how a carburetor works:

If you look down the throat of the carburetor and open the throttle plate, you should see fuel spray into the throat of the carb. If not, check to make sure fuel under pressure is getting to the fuel line connection at the front of the carburetor.

    If you ahve fuel getting to the carburetor but not passing into the engine, the carburetor has an internal problem.

As a quick check, spray a small amount of carb cleaner aerosol spray or starting fluid into the top of the carburetor, and immediately crank the engien. If it briefly starts and runs, then you know that you ahve a fuel system (carburetor) problem.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Alright! I've read up on the workings of carburetors. I feel I understand much better now how they are supposed to work.

My first problem was that I was not allowing the fuel pump to stay on long enough to fill up the bowl before attempting to start the engine.

But now the bowl is full and I am back to my very original problem. The engine won't stay running. It ignites when I first turn the key... but then immediately dies. Is this even a carburetor issue?? I don't know what else it could be. I've hooked up a timing light to two of the four spark wires to verify that the cylinders are getting a spark and they are.

What is it about an engine that keeps itself running? Like I say, the engine starts... but IMMEDIATELY dies. It does not continue to run no matter how much I pump the gas pedal

Thank you again for all of your assistance! I really appreciate it!
<p>If you spray a small amount of carb cleaner into the engien after it starts, does it keep running then? If so, that confirms that it is not getting fuel.</p><p>   If you use a fuel rpessure gauge to check your fuel rpessure, you should be seeing somewhere between about 3 and 7 psi at the carburetor inlet.   This would confirm that everything up to the carburetor is working OK.</p>
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Is carb cleaner different that starting fluid?... and do you mean into the carburetor rather than into the engine?

And I don't have a fuel pressure gauge... i'll have to look into those
carb cleaner spray and starting fluid are different chemicals, but both are combustible.   the engine will start and run on either.
   Spray a little down the throat of the carburetor and immediately try to start the engine.   If it starts and runs briefly that means that the mechanical engine components and ignition system are all OK.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
yes... it does the same as before... it starts and runs for about a second or less.

It just won't stay running

I bought the truck a few weeks ago and it did the same thing... but it always fully started after 5-10 tries. I went ahead and bought it because I figured it was something that could be fixed easily... but now it seems like no matter how many times I try... the engine doesn't continue to turn after it initially starts.

Any more ideas?
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I just installed a fuel pressure gauge. It's showing between 5 and 6 psi
Does the engine start for a moment if you spray carb cleaner or starting fluid down the carburetor throat?
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
well, like I said... there is no change if i'm using starter fluid or not

perhaps the fast idle cam is not kicking in?
The engien does not start at all with starting fluid?
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
sort of.

It does the same thing with starting fluid as without it: The engine starts up initially but then dies immediately. (even though I am pumping the gas pedal... so i guess that would throw out a fast idle cam problem)

To add some more detail: as it starts up initially, while I am pumping the gas pedal, it revs up... but it does this AS it is dying. I hope that make sense.

So it starts up; does some revolutions; dies; and as the crankshaft is slowing down, there is a notable "revving sound" from pumping the throttle that dies down with the engine.

I really hope what I'm saying is coming through clearly! lol
Sure sounds as if it is not getting fuel into the engine.

   Since you have fuel to the carb, and it is at normal pressure, you have a carburetor problem.   The fuel is not getting through the carburetor into the engine.

   Given these symptoms, I would replace the carburetor.
Steve and 2 other Ford Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Thank you so much! I appreciate your input! I'm sure you could understand that I would want this additional confirmation before I shell out the money for a new carb. haha

Thanks again for your service!
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