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Old 11-21-2020, 11:16 AM   #1
42guy
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Default Condenser

My foggy 80+ memory needs to know if a condenser is either good or bad. They don't weaken do they?
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Old 11-21-2020, 11:23 AM   #2
petehoovie
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Default Re: Condenser

Yes, they do weaken.

Good read here > http://www.nonlintec.com/sprite/cap_failure/

and > https://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/...ll-now.528174/
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Old 11-21-2020, 11:42 AM   #3
tubman
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Default Re: Condenser

There is a guy on the H.A.M.B. that also dissected some failed condensers, and he came to the same conclusion as is outlined in the first link "petehoovey" posted.
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Old 11-21-2020, 01:57 PM   #4
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Default Re: Condenser

Quote:
Originally Posted by 42guy View Post
My foggy 80+ memory needs to know if a condenser is either good or bad. They don't weaken do they?
The condenser is like a roll of film. It is a layer of foil with paper
saturated with electrolitic paste. The paste dries out and no longer
holds a charge. Try to look in past posts for several posts I made
describing how to test condensers. You can test them with a anolog
volt ohm meter. The more they dry out the less voltage they store.
The spark gets weaker and by jumping a plug wire to a head the
type of spark changes. A good spark is blue with a crisp spark that
jumps 1/2" from a plug wire to the head. The weaker the spark
the less distance it jumps and turns to a yellow spark that gets down
to a fuzzy yellow small ball that don't have enough power at the
spark plug to light the gas. They are also effected by heat, the hotter
they get the weaker the spark. When they get real weak the
compression blows the spark out. G.M.
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Old 11-21-2020, 02:10 PM   #5
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Default Re: Condenser

It is wise to stay away from nos or nors condensers as most will be no good. I had several nors bought over the years at swap meets and a nos one I got on eBay for 5 bucks (could not resist) I tested them on my sun machine and all were bad. I thought tester was faulty until I got a new Napa one and it tested fine.
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Old 11-22-2020, 05:30 AM   #6
Paul Bennett
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When a condenser looses it's capacitance, the points will start to go bad. If the points stay without pitting, ignore the cap. If you choose to change the points, change the capacitor as well. They are both relatively cheap.
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Old 11-22-2020, 12:00 PM   #7
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Default Re: Condenser

The ones with foil and mylar make a good cap but the way things are connected inside most condensers is a big part of the problem. They will use a wave washer in the bottom of the little can as a spring to hold tension on the cap and eventually it looses tension which creates arcing at the pigtail connection. Basically, they just don't give a crap if they work with good reliability or not. Some don't even have a wave washer in there.

It's a sad state of affairs but there isn't much folks can do other than substitute modern electronics for old tech. Tubman knows what it takes to make a good condenser. About the only other is the Vertex magneto caps or aircraft magneto caps but they are getting expensive like everything else.

Last edited by rotorwrench; 11-22-2020 at 12:06 PM.
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Old 11-22-2020, 01:03 PM   #8
jimvette59
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Default Re: Condenser

I have two NOS capacitors do you think they will go bad just sitting ?
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Old 11-22-2020, 05:35 PM   #9
Jack E/NJ
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Default Re: Condenser

jv59>>>I have two NOS capacitors do you think they will go bad just sitting ?>>>


Shelf-life? Here's a pile of gently used condensers from $3 tune-up kits sold in the 60s. Probably most from Zayres & TwoGuys. All except one have been sitting in attics ever since. That one, picked at random, has been on my helmet since 2010. Less than 10K but not a hint yet that points need checking. Stock chrysler coil & ballast with no bypass. The shiny brass one on the right is the real McMallory, not a fake like Tubman peddles. 8^) It was also $3 from WesternAuto. Like a treasured heirloom, it's tastefully displayed in a fine china cabinet and kept polished. Jack E/NJ
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Old 11-22-2020, 07:17 PM   #10
nutter_Ford_guy
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Default Re: Condenser

I had a condensr go from working correctly to the car hardly able to run in a half mile! It seemed that the slow engine speed was affected the most. Jerky, back fire, no power. Put in another condenser, nothing else, been a good 5 years since it happened.
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Old 11-22-2020, 08:34 PM   #11
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"Jack E/NJ" - I feel I must respond to your statement "not a fake like Tubman peddles". I have always stated that mine were were designed to be replacements when the originals become unavailable. I have NEVER tried to pass them off as originals, and never would, as mine are clearly superior to any of the originals out there. I can't see the one in your picture clearly, but if it is like almost others out there, it probably has a split or two in the case. In addition, a condenser should be "tuned" to the coil being used, and mine are much closer to the proper value for a modern coil than the original Mallory's.

Keep yours "a treasured heirloom, [it's] tastefully displayed in a fine china cabinet and kept polished". That's where it belongs. If you need something to run reliably with an aftermarket performance ignition (or even a well tuned stock unit), feel free to get in touch with me.

Last edited by tubman; 11-23-2020 at 12:04 PM.
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Old 11-22-2020, 10:17 PM   #12
Jack E/NJ
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>>> it probably has a split or two in the case>>>.mine are much closer to the proper value for a modern coil than the original Mallory's.>>>


Mallory not split yet. That's why I'm keeping it in the china cabinet. Now polished about once a year with Nevr-Dull as its mirror-like finish seems to last longer than Brasso. I'm sure your's are much closer to the proper μF value for my chrysler coil. Another reason for not trying to use my old Mallory heirloom. 8^) Jack E/NJ
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Old 11-23-2020, 04:12 PM   #13
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Default Re: Condenser

If you open up some of the old condensers from say 1980 on back depending on the brand, you may find that the capacitor insulation is wax paper instead of the mylar film used now days. Some of the metalized strips were paper coated with a metallic substance instead of metal foil. These old materials do deteriorate with time. Poor storage conditions can speed up the deterioration process.

It's kind of a crap shoot, trying to use old original stuff and especially if it was a cheap brand to begin with. Don't pull too hard on the pigtail. It might come off in your hand. I've had it happen on several occasions.
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Old 11-23-2020, 08:54 PM   #14
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Default Re: Condenser

Quote:
Originally Posted by G.M. View Post
The condenser is like a roll of film. It is a layer of foil with paper
saturated with electrolitic paste. The paste dries out and no longer
holds a charge. Try to look in past posts for several posts I made
describing how to test condensers. You can test them with a anolog
volt ohm meter. The more they dry out the less voltage they store.
The spark gets weaker and by jumping a plug wire to a head the
type of spark changes. A good spark is blue with a crisp spark that
jumps 1/2" from a plug wire to the head. The weaker the spark
the less distance it jumps and turns to a yellow spark that gets down
to a fuzzy yellow small ball that don't have enough power at the
spark plug to light the gas. They are also effected by heat, the hotter
they get the weaker the spark. When they get real weak the
compression blows the spark out. G.M.
G.M.,
Thanks for the information, as I never considered that. I am installing a new Echlin (ECH FA76) in my 53' Merc, to see if it makeds a diffrfence.
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Old 11-24-2020, 12:06 AM   #15
STAN WHITE
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Default Re: Condenser

TUBMAN. i AM INTERESTED IN YOUR CONDENSERS. I AM RUNNING A HARMEN& COLLINS DUAL COIL DISTRIBUTOR. I WILL BE GOING TO 12 VOLTS NEG GROUND. I KNOW VERY LITTLE ABOUT THE ELECTRICAL ISSUES. I WOULD LIKE TO RUN COILS WITH A BUILT IN RESISTORS. I WOULD LIKE YOUR OPINION. I WOULD LIKE TO RUN YOUR CONDENSERS. I HAVE THREE H&C DISTRIBUTORS. ONE I LAST RAN IN 89 THE OTHER TWO ARE NEW IN THE BOX. FROM WHAT I UNDERSTAND THE CONDENSERS SHOULD BE REPLACED EVEN IF THEY ARE NEW. MORE THAN LIKELY 60 YEARS OLD. THANKS STAN WHITE 775 265 5333
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Old 11-24-2020, 11:37 AM   #16
tubman
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Default Re: Condenser

Stan,

I sent you a PM. Here is the picture I reference in it.

Denny
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Old 11-25-2020, 08:28 AM   #17
KGS
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Default Re: Condenser

Denny, Are you still working on a condenser for
the "Helmet" distributor?
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Old 11-25-2020, 08:42 AM   #18
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Default Re: Condenser

Here’s my helmet with Denny’s condenser.
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Old 11-25-2020, 09:56 AM   #19
KenBolton
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Default Re: Condenser

What’s the deal with replacement condensers not fitting inside the distributor?
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Old 11-25-2020, 11:45 AM   #20
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Default Re: Condenser

Ford used them internally for the Model A cars and had problems with them due to the heat there right next to the exhaust manifold. For the V8 distributors, they were placed on the outside and stayed this way till the 8BA era. It was common for them to be external in the early V8 era. They should be close to the breaker points but they can be somewhat remote and still function normally.

Mallory used them externally in the aftermarket field for a very long time.
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