'78 New Yorker 440. Expert help needed.

Discussion in 'General Motoring' started by Timmy, Aug 11, 2004.

  1. Timmy

    Timmy Guest

    I just bought a '78 New Yorker to pull a trailer with. All worked well when
    I bought the car. I took it in for a tune up. Plugs, wires, cap, rotor. Now,
    when it runs under load (pulling a trailer up a hill or just peddle to the
    floor on the freeway.), it cuts off and back-fires terribly.

    Is there anyone out there that has had this problem and might be able to

    Timmy, Aug 11, 2004
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  2. Timmy

    Dodge-Him Guest

    Check your firing order! 18436572 most of these "techs" have never workd
    on a north american V8. 5 7 are easily mixed and fire one after another.
    Could be another one.
    How many miles?? Could be the fuel pump!!
    Also I hope they changed the fuel filter also could be the timing chain.

    Dodge-Him, Aug 11, 2004
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  3. Timmy

    Joe Pfeiffer Guest

    Does your car have the original Electronic Spark Control ignition, or
    has it been replaced? My '78 Newport had some sensors fail (notably
    the throttle position sensor), and wound up with symptoms a bit like
    yours -- also, at idle it would start pumping out huge black clouds of
    unburned rich fuel mixture (I thought my carburetor had failed and
    replaced it -- symptoms continued). Installing a Mopar Performance
    electronic ignition fixed it.

    Anyway, the computer is located on the side of the air cleaner. Make
    sure the vacuum hose connects to it properly, make sure the throttle
    position sensor on the carb is hooked up properly. Put a timing light
    on and see if your spark timing is stable -- that was actually what
    led me to the real problem: I went to check the timing, and the spark
    was bouncing randomly over about a 20 degree range.

    And keep in mind the MP ignition works better than the ESC ever did,
    and isn't terribly expensive, if driving is more important than a
    correct restoration.
    Joe Pfeiffer, Aug 11, 2004
  4. Blargh. Sounds like your "tune up" place might have been in over their
    head with your older car. Where'd you take it?

    It's possible the tech screwed something basic up. Probably not
    improperly-ordered spark plug wires as someone else suggested; if it were
    that the engine would run poorly all the time, not just under full
    throttle. But a recheck of all the basics is a good place to start.

    That said, your '78 New Yorker almost certainly has the Electronic Lean
    Burn system. (Open the hood; the computer is attached to the side of the
    air cleaner and has a big "LEAN BURN" sticker on it). This was Chrysler's
    first effort at reducing exhaust emissions by means of electronic engine
    management, and it succeeded at that task rather well, but the "brain box"
    is rather simpleminded and at this point rather geriatric, and tuning a
    Lean Burn car is *not* the same as tuning a regular car -- much of that
    knowledge is no longer in general circulation at "just any ol' garage".

    Don't know what state you're in and what kind of emissions regulations you
    have to comply with, but in the end, if it is permissible where you are,
    you may well wind up removing the Lean Burn system and going to a
    conventional distributor and/or carburetor for vastly better driveability,
    performance and mileage. Others (Steve? Joe?) can probably chime in here.

    Daniel J. Stern, Aug 11, 2004
  5. Timmy

    Joe Pfeiffer Guest

    Just as an aside, the Electronic Spark Control I mentioned was part of
    the Electronic Lean Burn System. Lean Burn just meant the carb ran a
    leaner mixture than before; it isn't any sort of
    electrically-controlled carb (like the later feedback carburetors).
    The brain box (one of the first automotive computers -- an analog
    computer, yet!) only controls the spark timing.

    The FSM gives a long procedure for adjusting the idle mixture using
    propane for enrichment, which I found useless. In fairness, I wasn't
    able to find a real propane enrichment setup and tried to do it with a
    rubber hose leading from my propane tank... all the same, I finally
    got it pretty good using standard "tune for manifold vacuum"
    procedures (and a lot of help from Dan, Steve, and Dave who pointed
    out some very stupid assumptions I was making about tuning up a car
    with an automatic transmission), and got it as good as I think I'll
    ever get it by having an oxygen sensor welded to my exhaust pipe and
    watching a voltmeter while driving. Still a bit rough at idle,
    Joe Pfeiffer, Aug 11, 2004
  6. That's true and correct -- and if I'm not mistaken, some of the brain box
    decals said "LEAN BURN" and others said "ELECTRONIC SPARK CONTROL".
    Daniel J. Stern, Aug 11, 2004
  7. Timmy

    Joe Pfeiffer Guest

    Mine says "ELECTRONIC LEAN BURN SYSTEM" on the top of the air cleaner
    housing, and "ELECTRONIC SPARK CONTROL SYSTEM" on the brain box. I
    have a '78 New Yorker/Newport brochure with a picture of the brain box
    in it; that one says "SPARK CONTROL COMPUTER SOLID STATE". No idea
    what really went on any other car but mine.
    Joe Pfeiffer, Aug 12, 2004
  8. Timmy

    Timmy Guest

    Ask and ye shall recieve.

    Thanks guys for all the help. It only has 84k miles. Its in very nice
    condition with a few minor problems that I may or may not take care of. This
    car was purchased with the intent of pulling a trailer. Big engine, lots of
    power, pull trailer.

    I should have mentioned that after the tuneup, on the maiden voyage is when
    the thing died the first time. The first shop to look at it at that point
    put a new Lean Burn (or what ever you want to call it.) computer and coil
    in. That hepled, but it still cut out under full load.

    The place that has it now is suggesting pulling the lean burn system out and
    replacing it with a 3rd party distrubutor and ingnition. I think thats what
    I'm going to have done.

    Anybody need a 3 day old Lean Burn Computer?

    I was in highschool in 1978 and I guess I wasn't paying attention to the
    emmissions controls that were being mandated. I'm finding that this
    particular era of Chrysler is not the pride of the American automotive
    industry. I had a '78 Civic that ran for 200k miles and never cut out. But
    then I couldn't pull a 5,000 lb. trailer with that.

    Timmy, Aug 12, 2004
  9. NO. Do not use a "3rd party" anything. Use a genuine Chrysler distributor,
    control box and wiring harness. Parts are standardized and available
    everywhere, reliability is proven, and cost is low.
    Daniel J. Stern, Aug 12, 2004
  10. Timmy

    Steve Guest

    Timing too advanced, spark plug gap incorrect, spark plug wires with too
    much resistance, distributor cap cracked or carbon-tracked, or installed
    wrong, incorrect rotor, etc. etc. etc. Its almost certainly an ignition
    problem since it appeared at the time of a "tune up." COULD be a
    coincidental fuel problem (restricted fuel filter, weak fuel pump) but I
    doubt it. Sounds like the ignition is breaking down when you run the
    engine at high manifold pressure (open throttle) which makes the spark
    plugs harder for the ignition system to fire in the denser charge inside
    the cylinders.
    Steve, Aug 12, 2004
  11. Timmy

    Steve Guest

    Hey, that's a car WORTH taking care of. Sell it to one of us who will
    fix it up RIGHT and buy a beater Suburban... ;-)

    Don't go "third party," stick EXCLUSIVELY to Mopar parts. Mopar
    Performance sells a kit to do it (like Dr. Pfeiffer suggested) or you
    can scavenge a 72-75 Mopar v8 in a junkyard for all the wiring,
    connectors, and ballast resistor and then buy a electronic ignition
    amplifier and distributor at any parts store. Even if you go with the
    whole MP "kit," the nice thing is that you can still walk into ANY parts
    store and say, "Gimme a distributor cap for a '73 Charger with a 440" or
    "Gimme a distributor and ignitioin modeule for a '73 Charger with a
    440," and you'll get the right part. Try doing THAT when some Mallory or
    Accel ignition system intended mostly for the drag strip takes a dump in
    the middle of nowhere...
    Nobody EVERY needed a 3 day old Lean Burn computer.... :p

    Chrysler's quality CONTROL was poor in '78, meaning that the cars varied
    a lot from one to the other. That's very different from saying that the
    basic design was poor- it was not. It was far better than any POS
    Honda, then or now, in terms of the basic architecture of the engine and
    drivetrain. If you got 200k out of a '78 Honda- congratulations, you're
    a first-hand witness to a miracle. But any of the 78 Mopars that came
    off the line built well (and not slapped together by hung-over
    knucklee-dragging UAW types of the era who only cared about "sticking
    it" to the big company) are EXPECTED to go 200k and more without trouble.
    Steve, Aug 12, 2004
  12. Timmy

    Joe Pfeiffer Guest

    I'm *really* suspicious. Where on earth would they have gotten a new
    spark control? I won't say it's impossible -- my Newport has a NOS
    speedometer I found last Christmas -- but for a random shop to have
    gone to the trouble of hunting it down seems really strange. Why did
    they think it was the computer itself rather than one of the sensors
    (note that the reason I pulled my computer wasn't the computer itself,
    it was the throttle position sensor)?
    No! If you decide to pull the spark control, put in the Mopar Performance
    electronic ignition (Dan will disagree here, on the grounds that the
    mechanical advance is too agressive. I haven't looked at the
    advance curve and I haven't looked at the weights and magnets, but
    the MP ignition works just fine for me).
    *If* you're really having ignition problems, and *if* it's really the
    spark computer, the problem is almost certainly that the capacitors
    have had 26 years to dry out, not the miles.

    But at the moment I'm inclined to think your biggest problem is your
    Joe Pfeiffer, Aug 12, 2004
  13. Timmy

    Thorsten Guest

    FWIW I had a 79 LeBaron 318 with the infamous LeanBurn computer on the
    air cleaner. I was getting a weird miss at highway speeds that would come
    and go and it turned out to be a defective LeanBurn unit. In fact the Tech
    Tips column in an old Popular Mechanics magazine nailed it to a tee.

    I eventually tossed the entire lean burn system for a straight
    distributer, coil, pickup and so forth and if my memory serves me correct
    Chrysler even had an entire kit to rip out the Leanburn and install a
    standard system.

    Keep the car and toss the LeanBurn!
    Thorsten, Aug 14, 2004
  14. Timmy

    Steve Guest

    Steve, Aug 14, 2004
  15. Timmy

    mic canic Guest

    make sure the air cleaner housing is not shorting out the coil by metal to
    terinal contact
    mic canic, Aug 16, 2004
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