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Old 03-28-2021, 07:02 PM   #1
Ian in Mississauga
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Default Distributor dilemma

Spring is here and I went to start the car. I always clean the points to begin with. Next I shorted the points with a screw driver and got a bright blue 1/2” spark from the high voltage wire. Put everything back together then got in the car, turned on the gas and hit the starter. Starter worked fine but ammeter didn’t move. Put in new plugs and still nothing. Installed my spare distributor and car started in a split-second. I want to get the original distributor working. Where do I begin?
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Old 03-28-2021, 07:09 PM   #2
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Default Re: Distributor dilemma

Inspect the pigtail under the top plate.
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Old 03-28-2021, 07:30 PM   #3
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Default Re: Distributor dilemma

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Originally Posted by 700rpm View Post
Inspect the pigtail under the top plate.
Ian - If it ran last year on the old distributor but not this year, and you haven't done anything else to the car, chances are your timing should be OK.

Before you start disassembling the distributor too invasively, it's worth trying a little detective work with an ohmmeter to help you focus your inspection.

Remove the condenser, then test resistance from the place on the bottom plate that the condenser pushes against (bottom of the hole the condenser goes in) to the point arm. Should show continuity, if not then remove the top plate (as Ray suggests) and check for broken wire. If shows continuity, rotate the shaft so the points are open, then check for continuity between the bottom plate and the top plate. Should show no continuity, if it does then check to see if the wear portion on the points is so worn that the arm is contacting the cam. If so, replace points. If that's good but you're still showing continuity, check to see if the pigtail may be shorting against the top plate where it attaches to the bottom of the points pivot shaft.

If everything else checks out, and it still won't run, try replacing the condenser - maybe swap out the known good one from your spare distributor.

JayJay
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Old 03-28-2021, 09:16 PM   #4
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Default Re: Distributor dilemma

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Originally Posted by Ian in Mississauga View Post
Spring is here and I went to start the car. I always clean the points to begin with. Next I shorted the points with a screw driver and got a bright blue 1/2” spark from the high voltage wire. Put everything back together then got in the car, turned on the gas and hit the starter. Starter worked fine but ammeter didn’t move. Put in new plugs and still nothing. Installed my spare distributor and car started in a split-second. I want to get the original distributor working. Where do I begin?
But did you turn on the key?
Seriously I've done stuff like this.
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Old 03-28-2021, 11:56 PM   #5
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When in doubt, replace the condenser. Words to live by.
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Old 03-29-2021, 03:59 AM   #6
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Just had the same thing happen to me . I lent out my underseat spare distributer to a friend checking out a rebuilt engine on a stand . I knew he would have it for a while so I built another one for a spare . Found a good core with good "slotted" original bushes . Installed new points and condenser . Rigged up a test bench and flashed the points with a screwdriver and a hefty spark was achieved .Job done I thought. I installed it in my 30 CCPU (with steel top Budd cab ) and no go would not start HHMMM I thought what goes on here ??? Flashed the points with a screwdriver and a hefty blue spark from the HT lead . Changed the points and condenser 3 times but still no go . Forensic investigation revealed the moving arm and the points contact button were open circuit . All three setups were the same . I had bought them years ago in sealed packages at some long ago swap meet no makers name . In one of the sets the movable point was also open circuit which had caused even more confusion . The point was two piece (I think ) with a gold coloured tip . A little lesson learnt after all these years in the hobby !!!

John in out of lockdown today Suffolk County England .
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Old 04-04-2021, 06:34 PM   #7
Ian in Mississauga
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Default Re: Distributor dilemma

The folks who offered suggestions to my dilemma deserve to know the outcome. Yesterday I read the thread “ no spark” and there it was. Would you believe I left the rotor out?
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Old 04-04-2021, 06:57 PM   #8
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Default Re: Distributor dilemma

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Originally Posted by Ian in Mississauga View Post
The folks who offered suggestions to my dilemma deserve to know the outcome. Yesterday I read the thread “ no spark” and there it was. Would you believe I left the rotor out?
I think I have done that before and I rebuild them so don't feel too bad!
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Old 04-04-2021, 08:38 PM   #9
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Default Re: Distributor dilemma

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Originally Posted by Ian in Mississauga View Post
The folks who offered suggestions to my dilemma deserve to know the outcome. Yesterday I read the thread “ no spark” and there it was. Would you believe I left the rotor out?
Been there done that lol We both got them going! I hope you enjoyed your drive
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Old 04-04-2021, 09:23 PM   #10
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Sometimes I walk into a room and forgot why I did......
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Old 04-04-2021, 09:45 PM   #11
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Default Re: Distributor dilemma

Even if you left the rotor out, the ammeter should still move as the points open and close.

W. Michael
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Old 04-04-2021, 10:15 PM   #12
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Default Re: Distributor dilemma

Yeah, one time I forgot to reconnect the high voltage wire from the coil to the distributor. It took me a few minutes to think back with "well, what have I done since it was running last" to figure that one out (I had disconnected it to get into the terminal box on the firewall). Self-inflicted wound.

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Old 04-04-2021, 11:47 PM   #13
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Default Re: Distributor dilemma

I hope you didn't clean your points with an emory board. That will mess them up in a hurry.
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Old 04-05-2021, 12:23 AM   #14
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Default Re: Distributor dilemma

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Originally Posted by w.michael View Post
Even if you left the rotor out, the ammeter should still move as the points open and close.

W. Michael
Not if his ignition is wired on the 'wrong' side of the ammeter. Service Bulletins, page 390 "Change in Wiring".
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Old 04-05-2021, 05:11 AM   #15
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Default Re: Distributor dilemma

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Originally Posted by Ian in Mississauga View Post
The folks who offered suggestions to my dilemma deserve to know the outcome. Yesterday I read the thread “ no spark” and there it was. Would you believe I left the rotor out?

Yup, that was me! (Forehead slapped with hand). I was “confident” that I put everything back correctly, but somehow got distracted and left the rotor out. An hour or so later, I noticed a round piece of black plastic on the workbench. The rotor..... Ugh! Not one of my finest moments. Live and learn.


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Old 04-05-2021, 10:25 PM   #16
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Default Re: Distributor dilemma

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Originally Posted by Y-Blockhead View Post
Not if his ignition is wired on the 'wrong' side of the ammeter. Service Bulletins, page 390 "Change in Wiring".

Since the OP mentioned that the ammeter did not moved, I assumed he meant it normally did move. Now, of course I should never assume anything, but from the what he wrote, I ASSUMED it was wired to the "right" side.

I would be interested to know if it runs when he puts the first distributor back in, WITH the rotor button; and interested to know whether the ammeter moves now when he starts it.

W. Michael

Last edited by w.michael; 04-05-2021 at 10:29 PM. Reason: to correct an error
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Old 04-05-2021, 11:22 PM   #17
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Default Re: Distributor dilemma

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Originally Posted by w.michael View Post
Since the OP mentioned that the ammeter did not moved, I assumed he meant it normally did move. Now, of course I should never assume anything, but from the what he wrote, I ASSUMED it was wired to the "right" side.

W. Michael
My point exactly. When troubleshooting a car we know nothing about you can assume nothing.
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