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Old 07-16-2020, 02:45 PM   #1
Woodie1
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Default Frustration

I am having an ignition issue that is driving me nuts. Sometimes the car will start, sometimes not. If I disconnect the ignition switch & put a jumper wire on the switch wires, most of the time it starts but sometimes it won't. I have checked point gap & timing 10 times & still no change. I have original parts (repro) in the distributor. I have gone through 2 new ignition switches & have a new cable to the distributor. Sometimes it starts when I stop pressing the starter button. When I first restored the car it would fire right up, that was 36 years ago. I must be over looking something now. Any ideas? Thanks.
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Old 07-16-2020, 02:51 PM   #2
Greg Jones
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Default Re: Frustration

Make sure the wire from your upper distributor plate is not shorting out against the distributor body. Also make sure the armored switch cable (or whatever you have) that screws into the distributor body is not screwed in too far. I find on mine that three turns is about right. Make sure your point gap is between 0.018-0.022" as well.

Hopefully you kept with original point configuration and are not using the modern V8 points plate. I have had more problems with those than they solve.
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Old 07-16-2020, 03:07 PM   #3
ryanheacox
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Default Re: Frustration

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Jones View Post
Hopefully you kept with original point configuration and are not using the modern V8 points plate. I have had more problems with those than they solve.

Had a family friend that said he liked the "modern" plate because you could change the points without resetting the timing. I never understood that logic... unless he was burning up points with regularity.
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Old 07-16-2020, 03:47 PM   #4
Chuck Dempsey
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Default Re: Frustration

I once had a problem where the distributor plate was not 'grounding' against the base. Sometimes it would, sometimes not.... I removed the plate and 'sanded' the prongs that slide in the slot, and that fixed it.
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Old 07-16-2020, 04:11 PM   #5
Purdy Swoft
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Default Re: Frustration

The so called modern points are easier to install but more difficult to adjust with accuracy . I mostly had problems with the V8 points rig. I can see no improvement over the original points setup . I have no problem with resetting the timing . I use and prefer the original style points .
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Old 07-16-2020, 05:09 PM   #6
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Default Re: Frustration

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I would say something is not grounding in the distributor or something is shorting out.
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Old 07-16-2020, 05:56 PM   #7
Woodie1
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Default Re: Frustration

Thanks for all the tips guys. I hope to get at it tomorrow. I need to check the grounds & current paths to see if I can get it reliable again.
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Old 07-16-2020, 05:59 PM   #8
Chuck Sea/Tac
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Default Re: Frustration

When you say you let your off the starter and it starts, makes me think you have some bad grounds, electrical connections, Or a bad battery, or starter.Have someone put a voltmeter on the battery and note the voltage before hitting the starter and while it’s trying to start. If there’s a drop of more than 2 to 3 volts, then you need to test your battery or starter. What happens is, all the voltage is going to the starter and there’s not enough voltage to fire the ignition. When you let off the starter and if everything is aligned right, the surge of voltage going back into the coil will fire the engine.
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Old 07-16-2020, 06:22 PM   #9
Marshall V. Daut
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Check your "Private Messages" in the top right corner of this web page.
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Old 07-16-2020, 06:22 PM   #10
GPierce
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Default Re: Frustration

If it has a fuse holder and fuse down by the starter pull the fuse and make sure it’s clean.
That location gets oil vapors from the crankcase vent and can cause resistance between the fuse and holder.
Or you might just use a small jumper to replace the fuse temporarily and see if it fixes it.
A friend of mine recently fixed a Model A with exactly the same symptoms by cleaning the oil vapor off the fuse and holder.
Since the coil power comes off that fuse the starter won’t be affected but voltage drop from the starter and the resistance of fuse holder combine to cause a serious voltage drop at the coil.
When you release the starter the voltage momentary rises and bang the engine starts.

Last edited by GPierce; 07-16-2020 at 06:27 PM.
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Old 07-16-2020, 07:29 PM   #11
Woodie1
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That's another good possibility GPierce.
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Old 07-16-2020, 07:30 PM   #12
Woodie1
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Another good idea Chuck. Thanks.
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Old 07-16-2020, 08:31 PM   #13
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Default Re: Frustration

Might put a voltmeter on the coil to see if it has voltage during the no-start condition. Trouble shooting should be pretty straight forward. Please share what the fix is.
Good Luck.
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Old 07-16-2020, 09:51 PM   #14
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Default Re: Frustration

I had the same problem at one time. The battery would turn the starter and engine over well, but the engine would not start. When I would let off the starter button, the engine would suddenly fire and run. Replaced the battery. That solved it. Now I know it seems that if the battery could turn the engine over, then the battery must be OK, but apparently all its umph (technical term) was used for the starter. Maybe it doesn't make sense, but it worked for me. No more problems now for several years on that new battery.

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Old 07-17-2020, 05:49 AM   #15
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Default Re: Frustration

Next time it won't start, connect a test light between the passenger side of the coil and ground. As you crank it with the key on, the light should flash.
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Old 07-17-2020, 06:02 AM   #16
Woodie1
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Default Re: Frustration

I will try that Jackson. Sounds like at least I could understand more of what's going on.
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Old 07-17-2020, 11:58 AM   #17
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Default Re: Frustration

It seems like things just aren't meant to be. I went out this morning to test things on the car & the battery was dead. Once charged, I checked at the passenger side coil terminal with a test light & it was blinking while cranking the starter. I checked for voltage drop at the starter switch while cranking & saw no voltage drop. I took the distributor totally apart & cleaned the slot where the upper plate rotates. I had put anti seize on the base of the distributor last year so I cleaned that off & put a dielectric grease on it. The pigtail between the upper & lower plates looks good. No sign of rubbing anywhere. I reset the timing again. I also tested the ignition cable connection at the distributor & I have the cable 2 turns in after it made connection. Right now it starts but I wonder how long before the battery dies again. I need some away time from it now. I also checked with a meter for current draw at the battery with the ground cable off but found no draw. Maybe my meter isn't good for amps.
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Old 07-17-2020, 12:38 PM   #18
Patrick L.
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Default Re: Frustration

Starting and charging are usually 2 different animals.

If the test light is flashing with the engine turning over/spinning then the circuit to the points and its ground should be fine, the engine should start. Well, the primary ignition circuit should be fine.

Ammeter. Does it work ? Does it show a discharge with the lights on ? Does it show a charge with the engine running a fast idle ?
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Old 07-17-2020, 02:18 PM   #19
Woodie1
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The Ammeter shows charge with engine running & discharge with lights on.
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Old 07-17-2020, 02:25 PM   #20
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Default Re: Frustration

Maybe a long shot, but I had similar symptoms just over seven years ago...it turned out that the screw on the points block was loose - after tightening that down, everything worked fine.
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