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Old 01-26-2021, 02:40 PM   #1
Robert/Texas
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Default Condenser Problem?

Yesterday while driving my í34 roadster it was running fine but suddenly started missing/lurching like crazy. Sometimes it would briefly roar back to life. I tried to keep it running but the problem kept getting worse until the engine quit entirely. With some help I was able to get the car towed home.

I checked for spark and am getting none. Iím thinking that this is a condenser problem, but it could be something else. Iím looking for suggestions on how to diagnose or narrow down the problem.

Thanks in advance.

Robert
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Old 01-26-2021, 02:45 PM   #2
TJ
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Default Re: Condenser Problem?

More likely the coil or the resistor on the inside of the firewall.
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Old 01-26-2021, 03:14 PM   #3
Terry,OH
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Default Re: Condenser Problem?

As TJ mentioned above plus the ignition switch and condenser. Too bad the 33-36 style condenser is not reproduced by NAPA. You have to modify one or install a magneto condenser as Kube has mentioned on the web page.
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Old 01-26-2021, 04:47 PM   #4
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Default Re: Condenser Problem?

Thanks TJ and Terry. I should have mentioned that the engine is a stock ’36 except that I installed a Mallory distributor which I bought from Patrick’s in 1995. I replaced the coil, points and condenser in 2013 after leaving the ignition on for about a week. I don’t remember if I replaced the resistor. The coil and resistor are easy to get at, but the condenser is hard to see, let alone replace. If the condenser is bad, I will need to remove the distributor, no easy job for an 86-year-old.
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Old 01-26-2021, 05:10 PM   #5
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Default Re: Condenser Problem?

The first thing to do is check for voltage at the coil with the ignition on you should see between three to six volts at the low tension side of the coil. If you have nothing there then disconnect the ignition wire on the coil and check the voltage on the wire, not connected to the coil/points it should be at full battery voltage as there would be no current draw through the ignition circuit.
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Old 01-26-2021, 05:41 PM   #6
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Default Re: Condenser Problem?

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Check the easy things first, is the best course. If you check the wire from the ballast resistor as meric42 mentioned, it should have a steady voltage. The ballast will drop the voltage lower than 6-volts but it should be steady. If it has steady voltage then check the coil primary winding. It should be 1.5 Ohm for a stock 6-volt system. If it's OK then replace the condenser & see if it runs.

The only way to check a coil is to heat it up with an actual coil test set but most folks don't have that luxury. If it is still intermittent then look for the best quality coil you can get. Bosch silver coils are epoxy filled and can take heat. Some say the Flame Throwers work OK but I haven't used them. I have to assume that your Mallory distributor uses a remote mounted can type coil. If I'm wrong then let us know what it has.
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Old 01-26-2021, 06:01 PM   #7
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Default Re: Condenser Problem?

If you are getting any electricity at all at the coil that indicates the resistor is ok.
Be sure the point gap is ok before you buy a coil.
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Old 01-27-2021, 10:12 AM   #8
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Default Re: Condenser Problem?

Had that problem on my 35 and I noticed that when I turned on the ignition, there was no movement on the amp gauge. Loose wire connection on the back of the ignition switch.
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Old 01-27-2021, 11:19 AM   #9
Robert/Texas
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Default Re: Condenser Problem?

Thanks for all of your help. I think it will be an easy fix. Years ago, I changed to 12 volts and bypassed the original resistor under the dash with one mounted near the coil. This resistor must be the culprit as it measures 12 volts at the input side and zero at the output side.

Thanks again, Robert
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Old 01-27-2021, 12:33 PM   #10
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Default Re: Condenser Problem?

Lets approach this mcgiver style ..(mcgiver was a tv show where mcgiver tried to save the world . a mcgiver world is 50/50 50% of the time it will and 50% it wont.
So lets apply mcgiver logic to this old ford ( we used this at Bubbas garage in newport every year for 32 years.
So the car has no spark , if ya listen to the crowd it could be anything ????
So mcgiver would take a shot at the condensor first , and we have found that condensors often fail in the open position, So lets at a good new condensor like a RR175 napa and ground it the hook with a jumper lead to the power on the coil. Boom try it it will either do nothing OR it will start !!!
If it starts then ya need to figure out what to do for a new condensor ......

ITS A MCGIVER WORLD WITH ME ??????
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Old 01-27-2021, 01:57 PM   #11
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Default Re: Condenser Problem?

I didn't mention it before but its never too late to add. If your condenser is bad then it would be likely that the points are burned as well. That's one of the reasons the condenser is in the circuit.
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Old 02-01-2021, 01:26 PM   #12
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Default Re: Condenser Problem?

Belated thanks Bubba and rotorwrench. I replaced the broken resistor but still get no spark at the sparkplugs. My son-in-law, who is a mechanic at a used car dealership plans to help me this Saturday. I have a question though.

In my conversation with Mr. Patrick in 2013, he told me that I should use a #400 condenser which I could get from Speedway and to use two of the point sets used in the later Ford V8’s, set at @ .024. Should this NAPA condenser work OK in this case and could it be used permanently so that I won’t need to remove the Mallory distributor if/when the condenser fails in the future?

Robert
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Old 02-01-2021, 02:46 PM   #13
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Default Re: Condenser Problem?

The late type 2-bolt and 3-bolt dual point distributors show the #400 condenser mounted on the outside. Is this the original 3-bolt type distributor mounting or does the car have a later engine installed? It may make a difference about points fit. You may have to open it up and look at the condition of the breaker point set (the set that initially breaks the circuit). If they are burned, then the condenser and points are bad.

This is the Mallory Link to these distributors:
https://documents.holley.com/frm3455...01_2527501.pdf

The NAPA Echlin CS2300 points set is not an exact match for the 25042 Mallory points but it is listed for them. Some Folks use the Echlin MA3 condenser to replace the #400 but any condenser with the same Micro Farad capacity and mounting should work. Mallory has had some problems with quality on points and condensers in the modern era.

Last edited by rotorwrench; 02-01-2021 at 04:32 PM.
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Old 02-01-2021, 05:36 PM   #14
Robert/Texas
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Default Re: Condenser Problem?

Rotorwrench, it is a stock 1936 engine with a 3-bolt Mallory distributor which has a #400 condenser mounted on it. In 2013 when the ignition was left on for about 10 days, the following were replaced, battery, coil, resistor, condenser, both point sets (although just one appeared damaged) and the two tiny distributor advance springs. Other than adjusting the points nothing else was done and the distributor was remounted on the engine and it fired right up and ran great. The car has only been driven about 3500 miles since then.

I have a spare #400 condenser and a spare spring pair that I bought in 2013 but not the pair of point sets needed. I think that I can get them at the NAPA store about 20 miles from here.

Again, thanks for your help and that of all others. I hope to get this fixed next Saturday.

Robert
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Old 02-01-2021, 05:36 PM   #15
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Default Re: Condenser Problem?

Rotorwrench, it is a stock 1936 engine with a 3-bolt Mallory distributor which has a #400 condenser mounted on it. In 2013 when the ignition was left on for about 10 days, the following were replaced, battery, coil, resistor, condenser, both point sets (although just one appeared damaged) and the two tiny distributor advance springs. Other than adjusting the points nothing else was done and the distributor was remounted on the engine and it fired right up and ran great. The car has only been driven about 3500 miles since then.

I have a spare #400 condenser and a spare spring pair that I bought in 2013 but not the pair of point sets needed. I think that I can get them at the NAPA store about 20 miles from here.

Again, thanks for your help and that of all others. I hope to get this fixed next Saturday.

Robert
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Old 02-02-2021, 01:53 PM   #16
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Default Re: Condenser Problem?

Looking at those instructions, I noticed that it mentioned to lube the breaker point cam at 50-hour intervals. Most will last a long time without lube but I don't know what the OEM Mallory 25042 or 25042X points have for a wear block. The lube used on points cams is sort of like a grease instead of an oil. I've had cheap point sets wear the plastic down pretty quickly and it caused the engine to start running rough before it quit. Your dual point set up has the one set that breaks the circuit and the other set that closes it again to get a better dwell time. The closing points hardly ever wear since any arcing will generally happen when the main set opens.

Breaker cams that need lube and bad condensers are the ruination of breaker points and especially poor quality ones. I don't know what the quality of the Mallory points is since I've not run one of those type distributors but I do know that a lot of modern new stuff is not the quality that it was back in the day.
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Old 02-02-2021, 03:58 PM   #17
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Default Re: Condenser Problem?

Thanks rotorwrench, as this is interesting and helpful for me. I took notes from Mr. Patrick in 2013 and he said to use points from the early OHV Fords. I’ll probably take the distributor to the nearest NAPA store which has a helpful guy working there. I’m not too worried about wear as I’m 86 years old and have 5 other pre-war Fords so the none of them get a lot of mileage on them these days. Of course I’ll use a good quality lube.

Robert
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Old 02-02-2021, 05:03 PM   #18
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Default Re: Condenser Problem?

Robert, for many years I have used high temp disc brake wheel bearing grease to lube distributor cams. Just a very slight smear right around the cam and a smear in the contact rubbing block corner. High temp because other low melting point greases tend to fling off and run everywhere it should not be. You can also buy a special lube in a tube for that purpose but I have never used it. Remember just the slightest smear is enough. Regards, Kevin.
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Old 02-02-2021, 07:28 PM   #19
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Default Re: Condenser Problem?

Your distributor uses kind of a unique set of points. The Echlin CS2300 points were the only ones I could find that even looked close. They are different from Ford points due to the way the breaker fulcrum is designed unless your distributor is an earlier design of some type.
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Old 02-03-2021, 10:35 AM   #20
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Default Re: Condenser Problem?

Thanks Kevin and rotorwrench.

I have a tube of special lube used for distributor cams and will use this. I wish that I could remember where I bought the points in 2013 but I’m sure that it was from NAPA or Speedway.

When I talked to Mr. Patrick, he told me that this type of distributor was built by Mallory specially for him. It has an unusual type of rotor. The rotor is a round, dark red disc, about 2-1/2 to 3 inches in diameter. He sent me a new one at no charge and told me that it was the last one he had.

I still hope that I can find a pair of points at the NAPA store. My son-in-law lives about 100 miles from here, but he plans to help me as soon as he can.

Robert
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