1955 Won't Start in the Cold

My 55 is very difficult to start once the air temperature dips below 50 degrees. With enough cranking and ether I can usually get it to fire up but I really don't like using the ether so the car sat most of the winter. Any suggestions?
 
My 55 is very difficult to start once the air temperature dips below 50 degrees. With enough cranking and ether I can usually get it to fire up but I really don't like using the ether so the car sat most of the winter. Any suggestions?
Mine is the same way. I pump the gas pedal then hold it to the floor. Turn the key to start, let the engine turn over for about 30seconds. Repeat until it starts. It usually takes about 5 or 6 attempts.The Y blocks are very cold blooded.
 

fordrodsteven

Well-Known Member
Sounds to me like an improperly set choke. I remember I had one car described as "cold blooded" I would pump it twice and then to the floor for the third pump (to set the choke). Then I would hold the pedal about 1/4 throttle to start. it worked pretty good and usually fired up pretty quickly.
 

64ZCODE

Well-Known Member
I think Steven is suggesting the choke might not be adjusted right. Recommend next time the car is stone cold, pull the air cleaner, work the throttle linkage and verify that the choke butterfly is all the way closed.

Also, I'm a big believer in the Pertronix electronic ignition modules and high energy coils. I'm out of my depth speculating about '55 Tbirds, but if they are anything like the '64 Tbird I'm familiar with, the stock ignition system is weak and the spark is borderline inadequate to light the fire in the cylinders. You could consider upgrading to the Pertronix ignitor module and coil and I think your car would start better and throttle response and power would be improved.
 
I have the stock 6 volt ignition system. I have had 4 '55 T birds over the years. They were all hard starting when cold.
I also have a stock 6 volt ignition system and this is the procedure I use to start my car.

Cold Engine - Sitting Overnight - Sitting For A Few Days

1. Do not touch the accelerator; crank the engine over for 5 seconds.
(This not only fills the fuel filter bowl with fuel, it also builds up oil pressure)

2. Slowly push the accelerator pedal to the floor and then slowly release the accelerator pedal.
(This closes the choke assembly and primes the carburetor with fuel)

3. Do not touch the accelerator; crank the engine over for 5 seconds once again. If the engine starts, rev the engine once slightly.

4. If the engine did not start, depress the accelerator 3 times, but only ¼ pedal travel each time.
(This primes the carburetor with additional fuel, but keep in mind, T-Bird engines flood easily)

5. Crank the engine over once again and when the engine starts, rev the engine once slightly.

Warm Engine - Sitting Less Than An Hour

1. Do not touch the accelerator; crank the engine over and when the engine starts rev the engine once slightly.

Warm Engine - Sitting More Than An Hour

1. Depress the accelerator pedal ¼ pedal travel and hold it in that position. Crank the engine over and when the engine starts rev the engine once slightly.

doug7740
1955 Thunderbird Blue
 
My 55 is very difficult to start once the air temperature dips below 50 degrees. With enough cranking and ether I can usually get it to fire up but I really don't like using the ether so the car sat most of the winter. Any suggestions?
Your choke is probably not engaging. Common problem. On my '57 I've never gotten the choke to work properly. My bad, had the earlier choke cover which the thermostatic spring works in reverse. You can reverse the spring and adjust , but in the meantime, crank it until the oil light goes out then pump the throttle to get a rich mixture. it will start. then pump the throttle to keep it going 'till it will idle on it's own.
 
Your choke is probably not engaging. Common problem. On my '57 I've never gotten the choke to work properly. My bad, had the earlier choke cover which the thermostatic spring works in reverse. You can reverse the spring and adjust , but in the meantime, crank it until the oil light goes out then pump the throttle to get a rich mixture. it will start. then pump the throttle to keep it going 'till it will idle on it's own.
I also have a stock 6 volt ignition system and this is the procedure I use to start my car.

Cold Engine - Sitting Overnight - Sitting For A Few Days

1. Do not touch the accelerator; crank the engine over for 5 seconds.
(This not only fills the fuel filter bowl with fuel, it also builds up oil pressure)

2. Slowly push the accelerator pedal to the floor and then slowly release the accelerator pedal.
(This closes the choke assembly and primes the carburetor with fuel)

3. Do not touch the accelerator; crank the engine over for 5 seconds once again. If the engine starts, rev the engine once slightly.

4. If the engine did not start, depress the accelerator 3 times, but only ¼ pedal travel each time.
(This primes the carburetor with additional fuel, but keep in mind, T-Bird engines flood easily)

5. Crank the engine over once again and when the engine starts, rev the engine once slightly.

Warm Engine - Sitting Less Than An Hour

1. Do not touch the accelerator; crank the engine over and when the engine starts rev the engine once slightly.

Warm Engine - Sitting More Than An Hour

1. Depress the accelerator pedal ¼ pedal travel and hold it in that position. Crank the engine over and when the engine starts rev the engine once slightly.

doug7740
1955 Thunderbird Blue
I also have a stock 6 volt ignition system and this is the procedure I use to start my car.

Cold Engine - Sitting Overnight - Sitting For A Few Days

1. Do not touch the accelerator; crank the engine over for 5 seconds.
(This not only fills the fuel filter bowl with fuel, it also builds up oil pressure)

2. Slowly push the accelerator pedal to the floor and then slowly release the accelerator pedal.
(This closes the choke assembly and primes the carburetor with fuel)

3. Do not touch the accelerator; crank the engine over for 5 seconds once again. If the engine starts, rev the engine once slightly.

4. If the engine did not start, depress the accelerator 3 times, but only ¼ pedal travel each time.
(This primes the carburetor with additional fuel, but keep in mind, T-Bird engines flood easily)

5. Crank the engine over once again and when the engine starts, rev the engine once slightly.

Warm Engine - Sitting Less Than An Hour

1. Do not touch the accelerator; crank the engine over and when the engine starts rev the engine once slightly.

Warm Engine - Sitting More Than An Hour

1. Depress the accelerator pedal ¼ pedal travel and hold it in that position. Crank the engine over and when the engine starts rev the engine once slightly.

doug7740
1955 Thunderbird Blue
Excellent advice. I've been doing that for years. I just want to add that cranking until the oil light goes out is insurance that all the stress points are lubricated before the engine fires. It should be well known that the most wear is during start-up before the system is lubricated. I had a race car engine builder tell me he has two switches. One for the starter and the other for the ignition. Crank it until the oil pressure is up then throw the ignition switch.
These people who install electric fuel pumps for the instant gratification of having the engine fire at the turn of the key have no idea of the damage they are doing. These cars are 60+ years old. Understand the technology and not expect them to act like new cars.
 
"Instant gratification " ?????? Funny new cars don't seem to damage the engine when they start propperly. I'll bet the starters last alot longer to.
The new cars are built with much closer tolerances and better materials. these old engines were designed to be serviceable for only 50K miles. Why add any additional stress to a classic?
 
My 55 is very difficult to start once the air temperature dips below 50 degrees. With enough cranking and ether I can usually get it to fire up but I really don't like using the ether so the car sat most of the winter. Any suggestions?
much to think about ,hard starting,many possible cures.is car still 6 volt. Premium non ethanol fuel?how's points gap and point condition?clean lines and filter?timing somewhere close to spec?spark plug wire check as to make sure one is not loose.look into oil weight for winter driving.check rotor and cap with good light and hand held magnify glass.for cracks.follow cold start procedures in owners manual.is air filter dusty?is carb butterfly open too far when cold?is battery over 5 years old?is battery weak or swelled from overcharging charger.insure all electrics are off when you walk away.there is more to this.check wire grounds.temporally disconnect radio..all this spends no money,should not use starting fluid unless emergency.do not dump gas down carb.you are most welcome
 
Hokey~Dokey ...( My Opinion ) ,
Good Carb Man is a God~Send , those TeaPots are a challenge....
A side from that , 6 Volt systems have
“ Personalities “ .
#1 : largest draw is the Starter motor
If the battery is low , the Coil is starved for voltage ( hard starting )
#2 : insure there is a good ground from the Battery to the Engine ! Then to the Body & Frame . If the Brushes in the Starter are worn or Arc’d out big loss there .
There is always the chance the mechanical Advance in the Distributor is stuck in the Advanced position ( Hard starting ... hot or cold )
Maybe .... ( food for thought )
Kentuck
 
After more thought,I could be leaning more toward choke situation,as stated by others,but latest post by Kentucky sounds like smart, advise,I should remember for my own good..ice,cold,36,flurries,central pa.
 
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