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Thread: A crank started car

  1. #1
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    Default A crank started car

    May be as a boy, but has anyone here actually driven or started a car with a crank arrangement in the front?
    I have viewed such cars only in old movies.

    BTW;



    Back when cars were started with a crank - and arms were broken in the process - this Cadillac became the first one equipped with an electric self starter.

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    Default Re: A crank started car

    My second father in law had a collection of old tractors and a few springs I went out to help him give them their annual start up. I was chosen then because I had experience prop starting aircraft. Both require all of your concentration if you want to stay safe. Starting the old tractors with a crank wasn't very physically demanding, the compression wasn't very high.
    In fact, if you can saw a penciled line, apply glue, drive nails, and bring a modest measure of patience to the task, you can build and launch a smart and able craft in as few as 40 work hours. You need not be driven by lack of tools, materials, skills, or time to abandon in frustration a project you conceived in a spirit of pleasurable anticipation.

    -Dynamite Payson

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    Default Re: A crank started car

    I have started and ridden in one, Syed. A fellow my father knew had an old Ford Model T that crank-started, and I went for a few drives with him when we visited.
    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

  4. #4

    Default Re: A crank started car

    I grew up next to some gear heads with a collection of cars. The tip I remember is not to wrap your thumb around the crank handle.

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    Default Re: A crank started car

    Dan and I had a tractor that had both an electric starter and a crank starter.

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    Default Re: A crank started car

    The Morris minor 1000 had a crank and they stopped production in about 1971, I've owned three, That crank saved me many times, once when rivals for a girl I was dating snuck in and turned my headlights on, flattening the battery, I guessed what had happened by their stares, gallantly opened the door for her to get in, nonchalantly pulled the choke and grabbed the starter/lug wrench combination. She cranked at first try, the car started too.


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    Default Re: A crank started car

    I rebuilt a Model T Ford that had a hand crank. It was also the first year (1927?) with an electric starter, so I only cranked it a few times. We also had a tractor that had a hand crank, and it was important to only pull a half turn upward on the crank, minimizing the possibility of a backfire breaking your arm. On the T, you absolutely had to remember to retard the timing (with a lever on the steering column) to eliminate a backfire.

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    Default Re: A crank started car

    I had a tractor with a hand crank. Nearly broke my knee. It was one of those where you cranked it up, took the handle off then threw a lever to release the spring...... Forgot to remove the handle once.

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    Default Re: A crank started car

    Quote Originally Posted by Hwyl View Post
    The Morris minor 1000 had a crank and they stopped production in about 1971, I've owned three, That crank saved me many times, once when rivals for a girl I was dating snuck in and turned my headlights on, flattening the battery, I guessed what had happened by their stares, gallantly opened the door for her to get in, nonchalantly pulled the choke and grabbed the starter/lug wrench combination. She cranked at first try, the car started too.

    Gareth, keeping in view the 'weaponry' in hand, that's a thriller.
    Some times I wish I had a car with that option.

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    Default Re: A crank started car

    I'm surprised the the Morris was not exported to Pakistan, it certainly was exported to India. They had awful brakes but otherwise not a bad car.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: A crank started car

    Brakes are for sissies! In theory my Jeep has brakes, but I just shift into low and let friction do it's thing.

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    Default Re: A crank started car

    Morris Minor and VW Beetle had been the most popular cars here till late sixties and then came Toyota.

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    Default Re: A crank started car

    I did some farming in the early '80s with a couple of crank-start Fordson F type tractors, haying and plowing.
    One had the original ignition system, which was identical to a Model T from the same vintage (late teens-'20's). The spark timing was manually controlled by a lever on the dash. For starting, the spark had to be "retarded", or after top dead center. For actually doing some work, it had to be "advanced", or before top dead center. It took some fiddling to get it right under varying load and speed.
    The issue with starting was that if you tried to start it with it still advanced from the last time it was running, the crank would kick backwards, possibly doing something painful to your hand, arm, or face.
    As said, it was a good idea to not wrap your thumb around the handle.
    Regularly driving a Model T must have been quite a challenge.
    The other Fordson I had had an after market centrifugal advance magneto, which would automatically adjust to starting or running, so didn't have the potential kick back problem.
    Terry

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    Default Re: A crank started car

    I've had three cars that had cranks. They all also had electric starters but back in the old 6V days the cranks would occasionally come in handy. My first car, a '37 Dodge, later a '56 Healy 100-4, and even later, a '32 DeSoto four door. The cranks weren't used often, but occasionally for emergencies or just for fun. I had learned as a kid with tractors about never wrapping ones thumb around the crank handle.

    I should add that all of these cars were old when I owned them. I am an old fart, but not that old.

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    Default Re: A crank started car

    In the US, the first mass-market car was the Ford Model T - the first mass-market car in the world, in fact; before that cars were expensive luxury items. Ford made over 15 million of them from 1909 to 1927. By 1915, half the cars in the US were Ford Model Ts, and by the 1920s the price was under $300. All of them except the very last ones had no electric starter. They were very quirky in lots of other ways too; the controls were very different from modern cars.

    I've started one a couple of times. It's not hard; the compression is very low by modern standards, something like 4:1. OTOH, you have to follow the correct procedure or it can backfire and, yes, break your arm.

    This one's from 1920:


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    Default Re: A crank started car

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Craig-Bennett View Post
    I certainly owned kick started motorbikes. The motorbikes, unlike the cars, had decompressors.
    Mine didn't, but it was a 650 Bonnie so it didn't need it that much. It was a later model with an alternator instead of a generator, it'd wear you out if the battery died.

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    Default Re: A crank started car

    My pop started our 1959 Series II Land Rover many times with the hand crank. 2.25L 4-cyl petrol. I'm not sure how long the hand cranks persisted in the Land Rovers, but given their Lucas electrics, it seemed like a necessary feature.

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    Default Re: A crank started car

    A question for the automotive anglophiles -
    I had a 1960 AH Bugeye Sprite in the early 70's - did it have the fittings for a crank start? This was the BMC 948 cc engine.

    Never started an automobile with a crank but started various small agricutural gas engines many, many times: saw mill engines (not so small) , saw log yard and gypsy winches engines, hay bailers, irrigation pumps, etc. All had wonderful, easy-to-start point /coil or magneto ignition systems with a highly accurate carburetor.

    Nothing quite like trying to get a skid yard 4 cylinder donkey engine to start before daybreak in the middle of a Adirondack winter so that the log trucks can be loaded. Add my chronically pissed -off father in the background cussing at me and bitching about having to pay the truckers for standing around doing nothing while his good-for-nothing son can't get the donkey engine started. I love electronic ignitions and fuel injection systems. ;-)

  19. #19
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    Default Re: A crank started car

    Hand cranked?

    Minor - As Gareth's and the Split screen side-valve. - We had one at school and one of the stupid games was to race it across the playground by putting it in gear and cranking furiously.. - Kids have more energy than is decent.
    A55 Cambridge.

    Hillman Minx


    Various Dump trucks, cement mixers, bale elevators and the like.

    Kickstarted.... Hoards of bikes - mostly without decompressors but memorably a 600cc panther with an oddball half compression setting for the exhaust cam.
    Last edited by P.I. Stazzer-Newt; 03-23-2010 at 12:25 PM.
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    Default Re: A crank started car

    Once in a while I had to start my 1936 Chevy with a crank. It was not my favorite thing to do, so I usually parked it on a hill, facing downhill, of course. Mohair upholstery, headlights with bulbs, roller shades on the back window, and four doors.


    Unfortunately, it also had "knee action" shocks, which gave it a terrible ride, since they never would hold any shock fluid.

    Cost me $20!! I ran beautifully from the first day I owned it. I did put a new battery in it to keep it "starting".

    KG
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    Default Re: A crank started car

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Thompson View Post
    I had a 1960 AH Bugeye Sprite in the early 70's - did it have the fittings for a crank start? This was the BMC 948 cc engine.
    My '56 Healy 100-4 had a crank fitting on the front pully of the engine but had no factory opening in the bodywork for the crank. I had to cut that myself. I think the Sprites still had the four cylinder engine after the full-size Healy went to sixes, but not sure that would have been the same engine.

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    Default Re: A crank started car

    yes, all the AH Sprites had 4 cylinder engines - 948cc, 1098cc, and finally the 1248cc 'big block'. I think the BMC clone, MG Midget, had the same range of engines.
    The SCCA 'H' class was dominated by the Bugeyes for years. Of course, there wasn't much factory anything on the competitive ones. I don't know the HP ratings for the high compression, Weber carbed, hot cam 1248 cc engines but it probably reliably could be around a 100HP. My stock '60 Bugeye was about 1200 lbs - the competition ones were stripped out and likely were under 1000 lbs. Nice weight to HP ratio.

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    Default Re: A crank started car

    Quote Originally Posted by Hwyl View Post
    The Morris minor 1000 had a crank and they stopped production in about 1971, I've owned three, That crank saved me many times, once when rivals for a girl I was dating snuck in and turned my headlights on, flattening the battery, I guessed what had happened by their stares, gallantly opened the door for her to get in, nonchalantly pulled the choke and grabbed the starter/lug wrench combination. She cranked at first try, the car started too.

    a triumph to be savored again and again...congrats
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    Default Re: A crank started car

    I've started a Model T with a crank. The usual way to do it was to stand on the left side of the car and lift the crank up with the right hand while reaching over to hold the choke wire with the left. That left your right forearm in perfect position to be struck by the crank if the engine started in reverse, which it would do if the spark was left in the advanced position.

    I have a 1918 book on Model T maintenance, which advocated starting the car from the right side by leaning over the right fender, pulling the choke wire with your left hand, and pulling the crank with your right. It was awkward because of your crossed arms, but it got your arms out of the way in case of reverse starting. I tried that technique on a "T" at an auto show, and all the old geezers in the crowd laughed at me because they were used to the more typical, more dangerous way to do it.

    When the car started, the owner didn't adjust the throttle and spark quickly enough, and it coughed a couple of times and then died, maybe flooded. The owner tried and tried to re-start it, but it wouldn't. He glared at me like I had done something wrong, but all I had done was to pull on the crank like he told me.

    You could also crouch in front of the car and spin the crank, but even the geezers didn't do that unless the engine was cold, flooded, or otherwise hard to start. That technique really put your arms in harms way.

    A friend had a Renault "Dauphine" that had an auxiliary crank in case the self-starter didn't work. It was a long folding thing that you had to reach in through a hole in the back to engage the ears on the pulley. (The engine was in the rear.) It had no bearing, so it was difficult to put any force onto it without it moving around. You had to hold it steady with one hand while you cranked with the other, sort of like the crank on a scissors jack. We tried it a couple of times, just for fun, but never got it to start that way, IIRC.

    Google has a scan of the Model T book I mentioned: http://books.google.com/books?id=70m...age&q=&f=false
    Last edited by Gonzalo; 03-23-2010 at 01:13 PM.
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    Default Re: A crank started car

    My cheoy lee frisco flyer has a hand crank, volvo MD1 engine, (diesel) with a decompression lever.
    Hey! It's MY Hughniverse!

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    Default Re: A crank started car

    Only he can turn the crank very conveniently.

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    Default Re: A crank started car

    If we include boats, there are many. I had a friend who had a Crocker cutter with a two cylinder Volvo with compression levers. To start the boat he would first dismantle the galley cabinets. Then he would start hand cranking the flywheel very slowly in full circles. When I asked him why he did this, he said, "I'm just getting it used to the idea of turning." He would gradually increase the speed, at some point in the process taking off his shirt as he was sweating profusely by then. Eventually he would get it spinning as fast as he could and then suddenly reach up and slam down both compression levers. Half of the time, it would start, the other half it would just bounce back and he would start the process all over.

    During one Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival in the late '70s, he and I (Blanchard Sr. Knockabout) were anchored out. A storm came up that night and I stood on shore watching his boat start to drag toward the beach. I knew he was on board which was shortly confirmed when I saw the hatch fly open and a couple of galley cabinet pieces fly out into the cockpit, later followed by his shirt. The boat was getting closer to the beach and just before grounding I heard the slow firing of the old Volvo and he pulled away in time. When we got back to Seattle, he installed an electric starter.

    The next morning after the storm when I got out to my Blanchard all was fine and my anchor had held. The only thing oddly amiss was a lot of kelp wrapped around the headstay.
    Last edited by ron ll; 03-23-2010 at 01:40 PM.

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    Default Re: A crank started car

    From 1977 to 1999 I owned a 1931 Essex with a 6 cylinder in line engine, I started it more with the crank than the electric starter. The generator wasn't worth a darn, but if I got a small charge on the battery it was good for 3-4 starts.
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    Default Re: A crank started car

    More recently , I had a Renault four with a crank start, a keyhole shaped hole in the front bumper, and also the handle was the jack winder too...maybe 1975 - ish, perhaps six volt...?

    Bought a Sportster recently...first bike of many over thirty five years, that doesn't even have a kicksart....nearly didn't buy it....

    Apart from a 500 single BSA don't ever remember ever having a decompressor either...never used it on the BSA, just learnt the routine....I used to say no one would ever steal it as they would never be able to start it, what with tickling carb, manual advance and retard, joke of a choke, (big bellmouth that would suck in unwary children if they got too close)...easing over compression , ignition off, two swings, ignition on, ease over tdc again, swing.... go and have a beer and come back later....Got nicked in 88, and what with yuppies and xmas bonuses, stupid prices for all classic stuff then....very satisfactory settlement from those nice chaps at Lloyd's
    Last edited by jonboy; 03-23-2010 at 04:00 PM.

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    Default Re: A crank started car

    Our 1959 Fordson Power Major Diesel crank-starts as a backup to the 12v starter. At 60hp, it's not exactly a small diesel either, although it's an old-fashioned low-rev, low-compression diesel running 16:1.

    But it has a long-lever compression release at the front of the valve cover, just behind the hood latch in the photo below. The right hand cranks the engine, the left gradually applies compression once it's spinning, and your eye is on the stack watching for the smoke that indicates a cylinder is firing.





    But to me the real advantage isn't the crank start, it's the compression release. Unlike other large diesels, using the compression release all it takes is a compact car battery to start the engine.....no expense and difficulty fitting modern 8D batteries to a battery box notoriginally designed for them.
    Last edited by Bob Smalser; 03-23-2010 at 04:42 PM.

  31. #31
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    Default Re: A crank started car

    Every non diesel land Rover up to 1983 had a hand crank that was inserted thru the front bumper as required. The most fun I had was walking out and starting mine in the parking lot. Lots of fun on-lookers and kids in amazement
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    Default Re: A crank started car

    I used crank start on my Model A , 34 Ford, Ford Pop, sis's Ford Y. My 39 deluxe Coupe may have had one but I never used it.
    2 things my unc taught me, never put your thumb over .. keep it same side as your fingers. Put a blanket over the motor at night( coldest time is only at dawn for an hour or so.. makes it much easier to start.) of course with the Model A you had the dubious advantage of being able to set to full retarded spark. Gawdhelpya if you didn't.

    I did get to the point where I was starting the boat motor , marine converted gas Ford consul 1500cc, with a socket and a ratchet drive. Now that was character forming.
    That involved a lot of the zen of TDC and a pose which promoted a lunge /fling backwards on firing.
    Last edited by John B; 03-23-2010 at 04:38 PM.

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    Default Re: A crank started car

    I almost needed a crank on my Audi coming home from Tor Magnolia. Would've been tough to beat that compression, lucky the ISPS guards had a jump start box handy.

    I wonder if you could air start a larger engine by hand. Imagine a blackout and some idiot has used up all the compressed air.
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    Default Re: A crank started car

    Just a side note. The inventor of the electric starter was a good friend of my great-grandparents, a man named Charles Kettering. One of those wizards of early automotive engineering, he also came up with hydraulic brakes and electric(maybe pneumatic?) windshield wipers, if I'm not mistaken. Starting in the late 19th century Ohio was a hotbed of inventors, and Kettering was one of the premier ones in automobiles. Great-grandpa was a banker, so it was a natural match that developed into a friendship.

    A family story, oft repeated by my mother. Charles was a pretty easy going fellow who didn't stand much on formality. That seems a common trait amongst native geniuses. One Saturday he shows up unannounced and the first words out of my Great grand momma's mouth were, "Charly, if I'd known you were coming I'd have baked a cake!"

    I've never given a crank a spin, though I've spun my share of kick starts on small motorcycles. The fellow next door when I was a kid had a fairly early Cadillac cabriolet he was always tinkering with. Paul Kaltenstein was a peach of a fellow, and was always willing to stop what he was doing and show an interested kid around. That car had an electric starter, as well as a crank, so that must have made it a mid-twenties?

    Seems to me that for a car used in the bush it's still a good idea.
    So many questions, so little time.

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    Default Re: A crank started car

    Quote Originally Posted by Fred Z View Post
    I drove this one up 'til about eight years ago:



    Hand started it so many times, I began to wear the ears off the crank.

    Quirky car. I once forgot it had a centrifugal clutch, and tried to hold the car up a hill just on the clutch pedal.
    wWow my first car. 2 CV. Generator, distributor & fan all rigidly hooked to the crank. Genius.


    BTW, My MGA still starts with a crank. 1960.

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    Default Re: A crank started car

    I have a caterpillar that you have to crank-start the starter!

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    Default Re: A crank started car

    Morris Minor Woodie, what a class act.
    One went through town here about 10 year ago. From South America, had a winch on the front about the same size as the car.

    Still remember my dad cranking the car to start it. (What else would you crank it for?)
    Cranked a few myself, plus some tractors, one I had to crank every morning to go and cultivate 3 sections. (3 square miles- 1,920 acres.) Felt I was doing the whole face of the earth.
    All my BeeMer bikes had kick-start as well as electric.

    Even in 1974 Peugeot put out a crank motor. It was a slant 4, just like the Chrysler slant 6 except the points etc; were on top instead of buried underneath.

    Wish there were still cranks with vehicles.
    basil

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    Default Re: A crank started car

    We used to start our 1964 LandRover 88 with the crank in our high school parking lot just to see the reactions.

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    Default Re: A crank started car

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael D. Storey View Post

    BTW, My MGA still starts with a crank. 1960.
    got any pics?

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    Default Re: A crank started car

    Triumph TR4s had crank starting and the hole in the Grille is a giveaway, but the cog on the harmonic balancer isn't there any more on mine.


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    Default Re: A crank started car

    Question:

    Isn't there a bendix gear on crank starts preventing injury?
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    Default Re: A crank started car

    I did own a car with a hole in the bodywork for the crank , a crank dog on the pulley and a radiator which prevented a handle going through. I was all original but a later version of a model run I think .. I'm trying to think which it was. Maybe a 100 E Ford?
    It perplexed me at the time.

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    Default Re: A crank started car

    Quote Originally Posted by BarnacleGrim View Post
    Question:

    Isn't there a bendix gear on crank starts preventing injury?
    No, there is a "dog" which is a helical slot, but you're talking about going from about 6 rpm to about 600 rpm.

    The crank was also useful for moving the car around when the motor wouldn't start (memory has erased those instances) and setting the gaps on the points.

    I've often fantasized about a starting handle that goes through a slot in the wheel and starts a transverse engine (I tend to gravitate to complex scenarios)

  44. #44
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    Default Re: A crank started car

    I hand cranked my MM 1000 Woodie all the time, due mostly to a lack of funds for a new battery. My 1960 frog-eyed sprite did not have the lug on the crankshaft, but it was never a problem to push start it as long as the top was down. Oddly enough the Graymarine 620 in my catboat has the crank starting arrangement, but a bulkhead renders it useless.

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    Default Re: A crank started car

    I'm crazy about those Minors! I had a ride in one once.

    Though I don't think a project car is in my cards for a very long time.
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    Default Re: A crank started car

    Mid 1970's Citroen GS. Owned one for half a year. It became some sort of a sport for friends to crank start the thing for a time.

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    Default Re: A crank started car

    The last car I had with the ability to hand crank was a Peugeot 404.

    I remember an uncle had an Austin seven when I was a small boy. It had its hand crank permanently fitted. I dont know whether that was peculiar to his, or the model in general.
    There is nothing quite as permanent as a good temporary repair.

  48. #48
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    shetland isles
    Posts
    123

    Default Re: A crank started car

    the 8 cylinder gardner engine can be tow started in a boat ,decompress all cylinders prime the injectors set gear ahead ,get the tow boat to go up tide ,drop one decompresser as soon as the engine starts to turn ,then drop the rest in turn ,the smoke screen is well up to navy standard.

  49. #49
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Uki, NSW, Australia
    Posts
    16,957

    Default Re: A crank started car

    One of these.

    Which was easy to start and one of these which wasn't...vicious backswing if you weren't careful.
    At the age of 62 I have come to realise that you can't breed out stupidity.

  50. #50
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Naples, FL
    Posts
    3,069

    Default Re: A crank started car

    I used to drive a tractor in a plant nursery that I had to start with a crank. My first car, a 1940 chevrolet, had a port in the frame for a crank and a place to insert it into the front end of the crankshaft but the front bumper was actually in the way so that one could not use a crank (also there was no spark retard).

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