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Help... Getting over my head rapidly

To: "MGList (E-mail)" <>,
Subject: Help... Getting over my head rapidly
From: Michael Graziano <>
Date: Mon, 10 May 1999 18:24:38 -0400
And the saga continues....

Was working on the Midget yesterday (changed the front bushings to the
Prothane).  One test drive around the block,  car ran fine (read:  No Worse
Than Usual).  One or two adjustments to the sway bar guides (with engine
idling higher than usual: 1500 RPM but choke out about half way). As I'm
pulling out of the driveway, the engine dies (while going at about 3K rpm,
riding the clutch a little as I back out (a necessary move if I'm to get out
of the driveway quickly on my street)).

Now she won't start.  I'm getting spark, and gas, but not ignition.  When I
try and turn it over,  it turns a little then it's as if something catches
the engine and stops the cranking dead.  (Maybe 80% of the time, spins
normally without ignition other times)  Battery is in decent shape.  And
every once in a while Poof... a big cloud (as in ALOT) of smoke out the
intake and what seems like other places as well, even out the valve cover.
Not sure of color (looks white),  but smells of gas.  ALso frequent
backfiring (constant little pings, and an occational louder one accompanied
by lots of black (not blue) smoke.  

I thought maybe the timing chain, but the valves are moving when I crank it.
That's timing chain driven, correct?  Carb seems to be in OK shape.  No rips
in the piston gasket.  Never found an intake leak.

I REALLY have no idea what to do next.  I'm afraid the whole intake
backfiring thing has been leading up to this.  Maybe my valves are all
screwed up?  I now keep the carb relatively rich,  and the choke partly out
to keep the engine smooth.  I was also not driving it too much until I had
time to solve the backfiring problem.

If I need to pull the head off this damm thing,  what should I purchase
ahead of time (tools, parts) to do it?  And what should I read other than
the Bentleys and Haynes as prep work?  I would think I need a new gasket,
some sort of machinist's straightedge to check for warping,  and if all
seems lost when I get it off,  an elephant gun with a dozen or so rounds.

I getting QUITE frustrated at the rapidly deeper hole my car seems to be
climbing into.  And I just don't have the know-how to pull it out.

Sorry to vent like this,  but I seem to be at wits end here.  WHat other
info should I be revealing and any suggestions on what I need to do next?


#$^%$^ '78 Midget 
'87 300ZX
Many many headaches

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