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Technical Dwell Meters

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by jaw22w, Jul 9, 2019.

  1. 56sedandelivery
    Joined: Nov 21, 2006
    Posts: 5,657

    56sedandelivery
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I have a Craftsman also; made with aluminum sides and back, sort of in a heat-sink style. Bought it right out of high school, 1969, and it's still going strong. The Craftsman timing light I bought at the same time died a few years ago; replaced it with an identical one from that auction site we all know and love. Same deal with my Craftsman clicker torque wrench, it locked up, and I sent it to Team Torque in North Dakota; they could't repair it so I told them to keep it for parts. Then I went on that auction site again, and bought two identical clicker torque wrenches. I figure they lasted over 40 years with me using them often, then another one slightly used would get me by until I can no longer use one. The older Craftsman stuff is built really well. I am Butch/56sedandelivery
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2019
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  2. bchctybob
    Joined: Sep 18, 2011
    Posts: 1,569

    bchctybob
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I bought an old Kal-Equip hand held tach and dwell meter at the swap meet a few months ago. I have several of the old Kal-Equip units now, heavy chrome case, nice meter and leads. Two work fine and one (the best looking one - of course) doesn't work. I don't think I paid over $10 for any of them. They've mostly been display items up to now, but I'm putting a W-H DuCoil in my roadster so I'll have a chance to actually use them soon.
     
  3. Beanscoot
    Joined: May 14, 2008
    Posts: 985

    Beanscoot
    Member

    I've got a cheap "Sinometer" automotive multimeter bought about twenty years ago that works fine.

    Fluke also makes a Model 78 automotive multimeter that measures dwell, and I believe their stuff is still good.
     
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  4. big john d
    Joined: Nov 24, 2011
    Posts: 85

    big john d
    Member
    from ma

    you need three of them when you are not sure it is accurate you need to check with another one then use number three to find out which one of the first two is good
     
  5. tubman
    Joined: May 16, 2007
    Posts: 4,214

    tubman
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I have a question. I have an Actron that works fine on 12 volt systems, but does not work on 6 volts no matter what I try. It is powered by 2 clips to the battery. I have seen units that are not powered; they only have two test leads. Is it safe to assume that the units with test leads only will work on 6 volt systems?
     
  6. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 25,218

    Mr48chev
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I must have half a dozen including the one I have had since I was in high school that my step father probably got me at Western Auto where he worked then. I tend to buy them at yard sales when I find them for a couple of bucks probably for shelf decoration when I get the shop done and squared away.
     
  7. jaw22w
    Joined: Mar 2, 2013
    Posts: 780

    jaw22w
    Member
    from Indiana

    Looks like I'm going to be hitting some garage sales in the near future if I want to find a good dwell meter. What the hell is this world coming to?
     
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  8. Dave Downs
    Joined: Oct 25, 2005
    Posts: 843

    Dave Downs
    Member
    from S.E. Penna

    Dug this one out from under the bench, quit working years ago, can't bring myself to throw it away. 0710190724.jpg
     
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  9. Truck64
    Joined: Oct 18, 2015
    Posts: 3,284

    Truck64
    Member
    from Ioway

    Clean it up, take a look at the innards. Might just be a bum capacitor.
     
  10. Fogger
    Joined: Aug 18, 2007
    Posts: 1,385

    Fogger
    Member

    I too have three dwell meters, my old Craftsman since the '70s. All my old cars run points and having a meter in the trunk is assurance that it won't be needed. A good friend drove his '40 coupe, with a SBC, to Bonneville years ago and the Pertronix quit while he was leaving for the trip home. He went through the pits asking if anyone had a dwell meter so he could replace the Pertroniz with a set of points and condenser he had in the tool box. No one he asked had a dwell meter and with the help of a friend he was able to set the dwell by ear. Looks like the need is going away with all the electronic ignitions in use. I always have a meter in my trunk tool box.
     
  11. Truck64
    Joined: Oct 18, 2015
    Posts: 3,284

    Truck64
    Member
    from Ioway

    That's what matchbook covers are for! Although nobody probably had matches either.

    Using a feeler gauge of .017" say, to set point gap is technically just to get the engine to start, so the dwell can be set with a meter. At least that's what the shop manuals claim. New contact points don't have a deposit buildup on the surfaces so using a feeler gauge is acceptable.

    Once they get some miles on them a dwell meter is recommended, the points are then adjusted to the dwell angle spec without regard to the resultant point gap. If you're just bombing around the back 40 it probably won't matter.
     
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  12. bedwards
    Joined: Mar 25, 2015
    Posts: 230

    bedwards
    Member

    I have 3 :rolleyes:. One my dad built in the 70s, one of the Craftsman mentioned here and one I just bought at an antique mall for 11 bucks still in the box with the wrap still on it. It had an old Kmart sticker on it from who knows when for 35.99.
     
  13. I agree, try to find a used one. Swap meet or garage sale. Could also try looking at ebay if you need it quicker. I have 2, and still have 3 vehicles with points that I occasionally use the dwell meters on.

    Just curious if your vehicle is a GM with the window style cap? If so you can adjust the points while running and get it very close without any dwell meter. Open the window, turn in until it starts to misfire. Then back out half turn. That will be very close. Then set timing, as dwell is set first then timing.
     
  14. southcross2631
    Joined: Jan 20, 2013
    Posts: 2,801

    southcross2631
    Member

    I have an old craftsman that still works great. I used it last year on a 73 Torino that still had points.
     
  15. saltflats
    Joined: Aug 14, 2007
    Posts: 9,358

    saltflats
    Member
    from Missouri

    I have a RAC brand that I could send you, I need to get a chance to test it on a point system.
    It's only for 6 and 8 cylinder with tach.
     
  16. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 42,976

    squirrel
    Member

    No, the type that are not powered by a clip to the car battery, don't care what voltage the car is.
     
  17. poss51kustom
    Joined: Oct 4, 2009
    Posts: 50

    poss51kustom
    Member
    from ohio

    I bought one of thee at swap meet. Works great
     
  18. tubman
    Joined: May 16, 2007
    Posts: 4,214

    tubman
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    "Squirrel" - I think if you reread my question : "Is it safe to assume that the units with test leads only will work on 6 volt systems?", your answer would actually be "Yes, the type that are not powered by a clip to the car battery, don't care what voltage the car is.". Am I reading you right?
     
  19. Business cards will work too...
     
  20. I wonder if you went to BIG-R, tractor store. They might have an inexpensive one.
     
  21. porknbeaner
    Joined: Sep 12, 2003
    Posts: 40,987

    porknbeaner
    Member

    If I am running a points ignition I use a feeler gauge. I set the points and time it and run the bugger. I do have a dwell meter but its very old and I don't recall the brand. It seldom leaves my tool box.
     
  22. dan c
    Joined: Jan 30, 2012
    Posts: 1,876

    dan c
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    me too. needs a 4.6 volt battery...
     
  23. dan c
    Joined: Jan 30, 2012
    Posts: 1,876

    dan c
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    i'll bet a lot of older guys know that you don't need one for the old delco "window" distributor. start the engine, put a hex wrench in the window and turn clockwise until it runs rough. turn the other way 1/2 turn and you're done!
     
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  24. Truck64
    Joined: Oct 18, 2015
    Posts: 3,284

    Truck64
    Member
    from Ioway

    GM really hit one out of the park with that, didn't they?

    It is possible to set the dwell by cranking over the engine with conventional distributors. That's what the notch in the base is for, to fit a flatblade screwdriver.
     
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  25. Beanscoot
    Joined: May 14, 2008
    Posts: 985

    Beanscoot
    Member

    Yep, I've always been envious of the Delco points setup. Ford and others had that terrible system where you adjusted the gap, then tightened the screw to hold it in place. Often the points would squirm around as the screw was tightened, changing the gap.

    However, Ford's official technique to adjust gap was to bend the stationary point arm, not loosen the screws :eek:.
     
  26. Really, I haven't heard of this. Tell me more...
     
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  27. I started working on cars in 1968 and I've never heard of this method of adjusting GM points. Is it in a service manual or is it one of those things that just is? o_O
     
  28. 1946caddy
    Joined: Dec 18, 2013
    Posts: 1,469

    1946caddy
    Member
    from washington

    Anybody ever heard of micronta.
    416014_1.jpg
     
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  29. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 9,632

    Atwater Mike
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    First time I saw one of those 'Delco windows', my boss told me you set the points with a flexible extension Allen wrench, with the engine running! (1958?)
    I immediately went in the office, looked it up in our NEW Chilton's pages...
    There was a line following instructions with the dwell meter, as such:

    Set cam dwell angle needle to 'calibrate'. Connect leads, + to coil, distributor side and
    - to ground. Start engine, turning wrench clockwise/counter clockwise until cam dwell angle is 30*.
    If no meter is available, turn wrench clockwise until engine misfires, then turn counter clockwise 1/2 turn.

    Chilton's 'shop pages' were in depth, for instance: In the Pontiac section, there was a 'fault finding glossary'.
    I read the part about hydraulic lifter adjustment:
    'No adjustment on Pontiac hydraulic lifters. If one persists, examine the nut on the persistent one. Nut is on upside down.'
    Whew! A lesson in itself. Loved those pages...
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2019
  30. Truck64
    Joined: Oct 18, 2015
    Posts: 3,284

    Truck64
    Member
    from Ioway

    No... they did suggest bending the stationary arm only, if the point faces weren't aligned properly.

    They also used a spring scale to measure point tension. That's why there's two nuts on a set of points, by moving the spring angle the tension can be increased or decreased. Points were kind of a pain in the ass. In high humidity they can corrode to the point of no spark practically overnight.
     
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