Conversion To Throttle Body Injection (TBI)

TR6 Home

TBI - 1 Year Later

Emissions Test

TBI Home

Removing Old Stuff

O2 & TPS Sensor

By Pass Block Off

Carb Adapters

Injector Installation

Fuel Tank & Lines

Fuel Pump

Fuel Lines


ECM Connections

1st Start Check List

1st Start Results

Driving Impressions

Reliability & Parts

ECM Trouble Codes

Flashing A Chip


Starting It Up!

 To begin with, I've got this pit in my stomach that I haven't felt since hooking up the battery after installing Dan's wire harness. Will there be smoke and fire? Will anything work? Will the car ever run? Well that's how I'm feeling once again. First thing I do is to double check every connection, both fuel and electrical. I tighten every clamp and screw a little more. Add about 3 gallons of gas, open the gas shutoff valve and watch the gas fill up the filter. No leaks on the inlet side of the pump.  Then I hook up the far nothing's burning. Always a good sign!

Now here's the BIG DISCLAIMER: To save yourself some "concern", follow Rick's suggestion for setting the timing BEFORE actually starting your car. Pull the cables off of the injectors and have someone crank the engine while you time it to 14 degrees BTDC or something close to that for now. I didn't have anyone around to crank the engine while I timed it, so I just followed John's directions. The problem is that when the initial timing is as far off as mine was, it can lead to some interesting on.

I wish I could say the first start up was uneventful. You know what I mean....turn the key, fires up and purrs like a newborn kitty. Didn't happen.....actually fire & smoke is more of a better description! A little dramatic perhaps but not entirely read on..... Keep in mind that the car hasn't been run in about 2 full months and its been sitting in a cold garage. Now the choke serves no purpose other then as a high speed idle in cold weather. So you use the choke as a way of setting your high speed idle for cold starts.

John provides the "first time startup" directions which I follow to the letter. Step 1, turn key to run position but don't crank engine and you should get a glowing check engine light. Got it! Step 2, turn key off, wait about 30 seconds, then on again and listen for the hum of the fuel pump. Hummmmmmmmmmm.... along with the sound of gas splashing back in to the tank via the return line. Step 3, start the engine.... not happening. Crank it with foot off of gas pedal like he says and it wants to run but won't. Step 4, hold gas pedal half way down and crank until it fires. Finally it starts stumbling along but still won't run on its own. I turn it off, check all the cables, the distributor, reset all the plug cables, double check the firing order etc. etc. Go in the house, kick the cat (well we don't actually have a cat.....just a bunny but she's in her cage), wonder if I know what I'm doing, knowing that I really don't know what I'm doing for the most part. I'm just following directions. Back out to the garage and try Step 3 again and....Houston, we have lift off! It fires right up and runs roughly, very very roughly but that's OK. It needs to get up to operating temperature so I can set the timing. I get under the car to check the fuel pump area for any leaks. There's a little wetness on one of the fittings but a turn of the wrench fixes that. Now up to the front of the car to check for leaks.......but wait....what's all that smoke coming from under the hood?! It looks like it's coming from the carbs but on closer inspection it's from the exhaust manifold......whew.....just left over penetrating oil from soaking the bolts/nuts. Good news is there are no gas leaks anywhere up front. I get back in the car and check the temp gauge and goose the throttle..............What the @#%@* was that....... flames..... I just saw out of the corner of my eye? I turn off the engine and check the carbs.....nothing wrong there. Start the car back up, get out and go over to the carbs and give the throttle linkage a push. WHOOSH........flame thrower out of the front carb. I run to drivers side and shut off engine. Run back to the carbs and see flames inside the carb body......grab the fire extinguisher, which I had the foresight to put next to the car but, thank god, the flames go out. Ok...what now? There's no gas leaks anywhere so I decide to chalk it up to real bad engine timing. I fire it up once more, grab my timing light, disconnect the timing plug at the ignition module and take aim at the timing mark...............holy @&*#.... it's at 8 degrees ATDC when it's supposed to be at 14 degrees BTDC. Gee, that might explain the rough running and backfires. I get the timing to 8 degrees BTDC, but every time I try to go past 8 degrees, the timing mark jumps to 20 degrees and then back to 8 degrees. So I lock it down at 8 degrees and decide to adjust the idle. Once I get the idle down to 800 RPM, I'm able to get the timing to 14 degrees. Then back to adjusting the idle once again. OK.... it's running real smooth, nice idle, good throttle response, nothing on is good. Except....the check engine light is on. So I turn the car off, only it keeps running for a few seconds before turning off...that's strange. Start it back up and let it idle for a while but the check engine light is still on. Shut the car off........except it keeps running.....and running.....and running....nice and smooth too. All the gauges indicate that the car is off, the keys are in my hand, but the ignition light is on and the car is running. So I pull the inline fuse for the ECM harness and it shuts off. Hmmmmmm, time to call John. He's seen this problem once before but wants me to pull the trouble code from the ECM which is easy enough to do. There's an ALDL cable that lets you plug your laptop into the ECM for diagnostics and chip flashing, but for the trouble codes you just jump two of the plug terminals and the check engine light flashes in a Morse Code-like fashion all the troubles stored in the ECM. I jump the terminals, turn the key to the run position and 1 blink, pause, 2 blinks ..3 times in a row and then nothing else. Well, that's the normal code for no RPMs being seen by the ECM and is normal seeing as the engine isn't running. So I remove the jumpers, start the engine and the light still stays on. Turn off the key and the car keeps running. Nothing left to do but pull the fuse again to turn the car off. I check the trouble codes again and I get the same "normal" code. What the heck is going on?!? Then the big "DUH" hits and I read through the trouble shooting section again to confirm what I'm thinking......yup......the way to clear trouble codes is to pull the main harness fuse! So here I am in the classic Catch-22 scenario. The ECM has a problem identified and the code stored for retrieval, but I can't shut the car off without pulling the main fuse which wipes out all the trouble codes!

So the first problem to fix is this running on issue. When I previously called John, I told him I had emailed him the link to my wiring diagram on Dan Masters' web site. This was the first TBI conversion on a car with Dan's wire harness....just my luck. After reading the diagram he immediately knew what the problem was. Here's his explanation:

"Its due to the alternator back feeding the fuse panel while its turning. The alternator idiot light normally stays off because the alternator output is the same as the battery voltage. When the alternator output starts to drop a small voltage difference is produced between the fuse panel (powered by the battery) and the alternator output. This is what makes the lamp begin to glow faintly as alternator output drops gradually. But when the ignition is cut off there is still a circuit from the alt. lamp output going thru the master relay I use and then to ground. There is enough current to keep the relay energized and make the alt. lamp glow dimly.

In your case I looked at the Dan Masters diagram and I see exactly what's happening. If you go to page 8 of the manual and turn it clockwise so that the writing is right side up, you will see an ignition indicator lamp in a circuit coming off the alternator and going to a fuse panel. The fuse panel is normally powered by the power relay but the power relay is open when the ignition is turned off. But the alternator puts out a voltage on the lamp wire that back feeds the fuse panel. And it also back feeds the ignition coil too. Since I used the ignition coil wire as a trigger for the master relay the back voltage is keeping the EFI master relay on. The fix is to install a diode in the alternator lamp wire so that current is blocked from flowing from the alt to the fuse panel. This means when installing an diode the black bar goes towards the alternator."

So that's where I stand as I write this. I got back to John with some very specific questions about how to do what he's asking and as soon as I hear back, I'll be moving forward once again.

Frustrated......nah....I knew there would be some bugs to iron out but I also knew that Rick and John stand behind their product and would walk me through any problems. BTW... the car has been sitting in a 25 degree garage and I just went out and it started right up without even pulling the choke (now known as the High Speed Idle Control or HSIC) out. Try that with regular old ZS carbs!

OK... John got back to me and after reviewing the wiring schematic for my wire harness from Dan Masters' web site, it's an easy fix. I made the change this morning (in the teens overnight) and the car started right up and, more importantly, turned off! Now I can run the "check engine" trouble codes which show that it's a TPS "broken/burned" wire problem. Well.....I run a continuity test on each wire from the TPS plug back to the ECM plug and they all check out OK. Could it be an ECM issue? I toss the ball back to John in an email and hope for an answer overnight. Stay tuned!