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98 Air Nautique 351 Carburetor Idle Surge and Stall

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  • 98 Air Nautique 351 Carburetor Idle Surge and Stall

    I have a 98 Air Nautique with the carbureted 351 engine (basically the GT-40 without EFI) that has been running really rough. It had been idling rough for a while, but it started to surge down to almost stalling unless I gave it quite a bit of throttle. It continues to surge down even when running well over 1000 RPMs, but seems to accelerate well and runs great at WOT. Quite a bit of black smoke coming out of the exhaust which would indicate it's running rich or not burning gas. Also, spraying starter fluid into the carb bogs it down more and it stalls so this would seem to confirm it's running rich. It starts great and the choke is open when warm.

    Put on new spark plugs, replaced the fuel filter and put in all new gas. I rebuilt the carburetor at the beginning of this summer. It was my first time, but I was very meticulous with a manual and thought I did everything correctly. I put the carb back on the boat and I'm still getting the same problems. I have tried to adjust the idle/air screws per the manual, but they don't seem to have much of an effect on the surging issue and I can't get her to keep idle long enough for them to be effective anyways.

    I've checked the plug wires and cleaned the distributor cap, but I haven't done too much more than that. It's got a prestolite breakerless distributor. I haven't been able to check the initial timing because it won't keep idle.

    I have some limited mechanical knowledge and have tried to do as much research as possible, but I'm not exactly sure where to look next. I'm sure it's possible that I beefed the carb rebuild so I could try to plug a new carb on it. I'm also planning on checking the fuel pump and fuel pressure. Could it be a distributor/timing problem?

    Any other ideas for things I haven't mentioned?

    Thanks in advance for any advice! I've read through these forums many times since my mobile mechanic died and it's kept her running for some really good years. Really appreciate the knowledge-base here.

  • #2
    I'm having a very similar issue now except I have a fuel injected 330 Excalibur. Does sound like a gas issue which is the problem with mine. I believe mine is going to be ready for pickup from my mechanic tomorrow and should be able to let you know what issues were causing it. Not sure if it will help with your issue but they sound similar so I will let you know.

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    • #3
      Could be carb float height dumping too much fuel. Setting air mixture though, get a vacuum gauge, it's relatively cheap, easy to use and much more accurate then trying to tune by ear or by x turns out from seated.

      On the 330 Excalibur - I'm guessing ISC (Idle Speed Control) motor, that could need cleaning or replacing.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by windsurfnut View Post
        Could be carb float height dumping too much fuel. Setting air mixture though, get a vacuum gauge, it's relatively cheap, easy to use and much more accurate then trying to tune by ear or by x turns out from seated.

        On the 330 Excalibur - I'm guessing ISC (Idle Speed Control) motor, that could need cleaning or replacing.
        I'll second that ^^

        It sure sounds like it's getting too much fuel; since it runs fine at WOT that makes sense, it can burn all that fuel at high RPM. Did you put new floats in it when you rebuilt the carb? Any chance they're filling with gas, or otherwise just sitting too low?

        If you didn't mess with the timing before it started running like this, that seems unlikely to be the problem. But like you said, you can't check base timing if it won't run...

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