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Full Moon Bus Club :: Forums :: Tech Talk :: Tech Questions
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Engine occasionally dies at idle
Moderators: TN Jed, Lickity Split, docric, sweetbus, Tom and Phaedra, Collie
Author Post
Tue Jan 03 2012, 09:20AM

Registered Member #698
Joined: Sat Jan 29 2011, 08:25AM
Location: Asheville, NC
Posts: 4

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Occasionally, under somewhat specific circumstances, my engine will die at idle. I have a theory, but I'm pretty new at this and would love some input. Be warned, the following description is kind of wordy...

What happens is when the engine is still relatively cold, say within the first 5 or so minutes of driving, i'll be headed down the very steep hill that is the only road away from my house. I would be in gear so as not to ride my brakes the entire time, and then I would put in the clutch to come to a full stop at the intersection and my engine would die, or almost die. Or a similar thing sometimes happens if I'm approaching a stoplight or something. It does not happen consistently, but when it does it's almost always after the car has only been running a few minutes. I always warm the engine before I drive, at least a minute or two and often much longer when it's cold outside, so the engine isn't dead cold, but this problem rarely occurs after I've been driving awhile. It also seems to only happen if I've been in gear but not accelerating. If, for example, I'm accelerating up a hill to a stop sign and the put in the clutch and stop, it doesn't happen. Often, if I feel like it's going to happen I can tap the gas gently and it will rescue it.

I do nearly all of my own maintenance, I've pulled and reinstalled my engine twice and I've rebuilt it from the longblock up, so I'm not a total idiot with it, but I'm not brimming with confidence or experience when it comes to trouble-shooting new problems. The only theory I have now (which may be totally off-base) is that I might have a vacuum leak, probably from my power break hose. I know that hose is old and crappy and I've been meaning to replace it for a long time. Would that match these symptoms? the breaking seems to contribute to the engine dying but I'm not 100% sure of that.

If you've read this entire thing, I thank you. If you have any advice I thank you even more. And if you have any further questions just ask. Cheers everyone and happy new year!

The Keyboard Bus - 1971 Westy named Shyla

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Tue Jan 03 2012, 11:30AM

Registered Member #767
Joined: Tue Mar 01 2011, 10:56AM
Location: South Florida
Posts: 419

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I am assuming stock carb? If so, the idle is set through the two screws on the l/s of the carb. The larger is air flow and the smaller is the fuel mixture. The screw facing you on the throttle lever is the cold/fast idle adjustment. Normally, it should not be touched accept to set it to spec. On a warm engine there should be no tension on it.

Behind that screw is a fast idle cam. In order to set it, the engine needs to be cold. To get a faster idle for a longer period of time, you loosen the 3 screws retaining the automatic choke element on the r/s of the carb and rotating the element with the throttle lever pulled off of the stop you can see the cam with "steps" moving. The more steps the faster idle you get and the longer duration. You can experiment with this.

If you suspect the brake booster circuit, as a test, rather than pinching the old hose, remove it from the intake manifold and cap it with a proper sized plug. Then road test to duplicate the symptom. Caution, you will have brakes, but the leg effort will be much much greater to stop without the booster, so use tons of caution.

You might also want to visually verify the element is doing its job and that the shared wire to the fuel cutoff from the coil is working. Looking down the throat, on a cold engine, the choke plate depending on temperature should be partially closed. You may need to work the accel lever once for it to set. With only the key on for a few minutes, work the carb lever and the choke plate should open some again only with the key in the run postion. Eventually, the plate should be all the way open. Good luck.

Mark and Donna 82 Vanagon Diesel Camper
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Tue Jan 03 2012, 05:10PM

Registered Member #329
Joined: Thu Aug 26 2010, 10:10PM
Location: Summerville SC
Posts: 230

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if the bus is parked, but in neutral at idle and you pump the brakes 5 or 6 times, what happens? (and don't say the bus will stop becuase I am assuming that you are not on a hill rolling). The engine should be at a constant rpm. if it varies when you pump up the brakes then yes, there is a vac leak somewhere in the brake system.

I only think that this is correct based on my limited knowledge so please chime in if I offer poorly.

a point is that which has no part - Euclid of Alexandria
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Wed Jan 04 2012, 06:50AM

Registered Member #124
Joined: Wed Aug 11 2010, 06:37PM
Location: Beaufort South Carolina
Posts: 886

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Sounded spot-on to me.

Just fyi, your booster has vaccum on it on two sides of a diaphram. Vaccum is supplied from the engine to the vac can on one side and a second hose comes off the can and goes up into the frame, where it cant get dirt in it. When you press on the brake this allows air pressure to come in on one side of the diaphram from the hose that goes up into the frame, the side you're pushing from, helping you depress the piston in the master cylinder.

"Insanity is like gravity, sometimes all you need is a little push." The Joker

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Wed Jan 04 2012, 06:54AM
Registered Member #61
Joined: Wed Aug 11 2010, 07:02AM
Location: salem va
Posts: 3879

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most common cause is the crosshaft of the carb wears out, spray some carb cleaner at it while running and see if the rpms change. later md

salem import service
1113 florida st
salem va 24153
540 389 8587

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Tue Jan 10 2012, 09:13AM

Registered Member #698
Joined: Sat Jan 29 2011, 08:25AM
Location: Asheville, NC
Posts: 4

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Thanks so much for the replies! I really appreciate the detail. Looks like I've got some homework to do!

The Keyboard Bus - 1971 Westy named Shyla

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