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Technical ignition question- no spark, good ballast restistor, cap rotor and coil

Discussion in 'Traditional Customs' started by black55merc, May 29, 2020.

  1. black55merc
    Joined: May 21, 2020
    Posts: 23

    black55merc
    Member

    As I mentioned in another post, I went last night to my favorite watering hole/chicken wing joint (Willy's Ale in Acton ME BTW, happening place in the middle of nowhere that I recommend, 6.5 mile drive for me), hoping that my clutch issue would not embarrass me in the parking lot (it didn't!) and all went well until on my way home about a mile to go, I was coming up on a jogger, and she just died as if I turned the key off. So me and this jogger were neck in neck for a while, and I needed to pull off the road but he was not acknowledging my existence. I finally had to cut him off. He slowed down to come around the driver's side and said something like WTF. I said sorry man, I just broke down, had to pull over. He laughed and said Oh, OK, NP, and took the lead....

    So I'd like your opinions if you agree with my assessment. Ballast resistor tests OK and is hooked up solid. Rotor spins when the motor is cranking, cap and rotor look new. Coil tests OK. Wires look new. I performed the test third post down on this page
    https://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/threads/testing-a-pertronix.363494/
    and came up with .1 to .2 volts no matter the position of the magnet sleeve.
    I am posting two pics, one with the magnet sleeve in it's normal position and one with it upside down in order for me to perform the test. I had to flip it upside down to perform the test, is that correct? Would that still give me good readings? Also does this test pertain to my system?
    I am thinking the ignitor is the issue, what do you think? If so what is the best replacement part?

    Thanks for any help.

    IMG_1342.JPG IMG_1343.JPG
     
  2. black55merc
    Joined: May 21, 2020
    Posts: 23

    black55merc
    Member

    Oh, forgot to mention, there is .030" gap between the sleeve and the ignitor. Also she is getting gas, and tested the spark and it is definitely a spark issue.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2020
  3. Blues4U
    Joined: Oct 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,681

    Blues4U
    Member
    from So Cal

    Haven't seen any posts from Hotroddon for quite awhile. Try sending him a PM, see if he responds. He's the expert on these.
     
  4. Truck64
    Joined: Oct 18, 2015
    Posts: 4,056

    Truck64
    Member
    from Ioway

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  5. Ebbsspeed
    Joined: Nov 11, 2005
    Posts: 5,034

    Ebbsspeed
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I would suspect it as well. FYI, the magnet sleeve being on upside down will not give you a valid reading even if the ignitor is good. Why did you flip it over for testing?

    Points and a condenser.
     
    F-ONE and bedwards like this.
  6. blowby
    Joined: Dec 27, 2012
    Posts: 6,597

    blowby
    Member
    from Nicasio Ca

    Are you supposed to use a ballast resistor with Pertronix? I don't think mine has one.
     
  7. I get why people switch to Pertronix (no more points to fuss with), but I hear this story often enough to prevent me from ever doing it. I put about 5000 miles on a year and check the dwell every spring and seldom have to adjust it and put new points and condenser (Blue Streak, and have yet to find a bad condenser) in every three years or so. Runs trouble free.

    I know this doesn't answer any of your questions :), just an observation and a comment. I'm sorry you're having trouble. :(
     
    MUNDSTER, Moriarity, bedwards and 2 others like this.
  8. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 26,922

    Mr48chev
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Makes me want to pull what I think is a Pertronix out of my boat and put points back in. No walking home to get a tow rig and help out in the middle of the bay. I do get the no points deal and runs great when it runs but this is the number _____? my Pertronix crapped out and I was stuck post we have had on here.
    Dealing with a couple of GM hei units that blew modules and one that blew coils on a regular basis proved to me that no electronic ignition survives high resistance in the circuit and usually the secondary circuit for very long.
    Remembering back to 1988 and I was in my 51 Merc haulin my kids and my wife's stuff to her in Texas when we stopped for a quick break at what serves for a Wyoming rest area about 15 miles west of Little America. Young kid , his wife, her girlfriend and a baby were sitting there broke down in a square body Dodge pickup with a 318 or 360 in it. Truck wouldn't run. A couple of tests showed now spark. Pop the cap and the points were fried, pulled them out, borrowed his wife's GF's worn out emery board and polished up the points, It had enough poop left in the battery to bump it over to get the rubbing block on the cam lobe tip to set the points with the same gal's match book cover. . Had to jump it to start it but it fired right up and off they went with us behind them. Sometimes simple obsolete crap has it's merit.
     
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  9. demon452
    Joined: Dec 23, 2007
    Posts: 359

    demon452
    Member
    from Michigan

    I myself have heard horror stories about the petronix. I have had them in multiple cars and have had only 1 issue. It failed because I left the ignition on accidently over night.

    I run a separate ground from the body to the distributor I did that on all my conversions. I also buy there coil so I dont have to run a ballast. I would try running a separate ground to the distributor and see if you get spark. If you dont the module is most likely bad. Or call them and see what they say.or recommend.
     
  10. This. My electronic ignition has been trouble free for 10 years.

    Ben
     
  11. BJR
    Joined: Mar 11, 2005
    Posts: 6,350

    BJR
    Member

    I have had a pertronics ignition in my CJ3A Willys for over 10 years with no trouble what so ever. I think the trick to make them last is to ground everything in more than one place, in case you loose one ground due to corrosion. I ground the engine the frame and body, to each other in many different places. Separate ground wires to the distributor, alternator, and battery tie everything together. Just pretend you are wiring a fiberglass car.:D
     
  12. black55merc
    Joined: May 21, 2020
    Posts: 23

    black55merc
    Member

    Appreciate all the replies. From the testing I did and the replies here, I went and bought a new ignitor today. After I installed it I turned the key fully expecting to hear her come to life, but nothing... So for grins I tested the new ignitor the same way I did the old one (per the link I noted above) and got the same results, as if the new one was bad also. I am following those instructions to a tee but since I've never done it before and never seen what a good one looks like, I am not 100% confident in the results. To answer Ebbsspeed's question, I flipped the magnet sleeve over so I could spin it for the test. The magnet "strip" was in the same relative vertical position to the ignitor upside down as right side up so I figured it would work but let me know if I'm wrong. I saw another idea on youtube to stick a screwdriver between the ignitor and the sleeve and that should change the reading also, so I tried that with this new one (with the sleeve right side up) and got the same readings: about 0.15V no matter what.
    I have tested the coil, ballast resistor, connections are good, cap, rotor, wires look new, .030" gap between ignitor and sleeve. I have to wonder if this new ignitor is no good. It would not be the first time I bought ignition parts bad out of the box. What else is there?
     
  13. karl share
    Joined: Nov 5, 2015
    Posts: 101

    karl share
    Member

    Go onto the Pertronix website, they show you how to test components.
     
  14. Truck64
    Joined: Oct 18, 2015
    Posts: 4,056

    Truck64
    Member
    from Ioway

    Pertronix will tell you, the module pretty much either works/doesn't work. The test he mentions is the test Pertronix specs. Another check they have at their site, ohms resistance should not exceed 0.2 ohms measured from battery negative post to distributor breaker plate. Be sure to subtract meter lead resistance from the final number. 20 years on the Ignitor 1 module, hasn't missed yet.

    I didn't understand at the time how important good bushings were in a mechanical ignition. The dwell was impossible to set accurately. So I dropped in a replacement. With a hot coil it is a pretty stout spark. Starting and idle should be improved. If the ignition is left on with a point system it can cause the same problem, if the points happen to be closed. Too much current flow = roasted coil, burnt points.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2020
  15. black55merc
    Joined: May 21, 2020
    Posts: 23

    black55merc
    Member

    I will try this tonight after I eat! Thanks!
     
  16. 1930 turbo
    Joined: Sep 9, 2006
    Posts: 13

    1930 turbo
    Member
    from pa.

    I had the same thing happen to my Pertronix conversion several years ago. Spent too many hours trying too figure it out. Even put my old points and condenser back in and it still would not start! Finally I put in a new distributor cap, and it started right up. The tiny spring in the contact point in the middle of the cap was bad. There was nothing wrong with the Pertronix, but the old points worked so good I left them in.
     
  17. black55merc
    Joined: May 21, 2020
    Posts: 23

    black55merc
    Member

    So to 1930 turbo's point- I do have spark at the coil wire, but no spark on any of the plug wires... I have never heard of a cap/rotor "going bad" all of a sudden, and it's very weird that I had no spark on the coil wire before and now I do. Also a little while ago she started and ran for about one second and quit and would not start again. There is no resistance between the breaker plate and batt neg, and no resistance from the center to the end of the rotor. I have also tried bypassing the ballast resistor, no difference. Also stole the coil from my boat (351) that I know is good, still no start. I guess I will throw a cap and rotor at it next and see what happens. Any other suggestions welcome!
     
    Truck64 likes this.
  18. Chrome Moly Steel
    Joined: Aug 21, 2015
    Posts: 47

    Chrome Moly Steel
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Miami, fl

    I would definitely check the cap coil connection as 1930 turbo stated. I have had this problem before with the spring loaded contact fail, if that is the type cap you have. Good luck. Lee
     
  19. Truck64
    Joined: Oct 18, 2015
    Posts: 4,056

    Truck64
    Member
    from Ioway

    Then your problem is not the coil, or primary ignition circuit, points or pertronix, etc.

    It lays in the Rotor, Cap, Wires, or Plugs. This is the first test in every manual ever published, probably. Check spark from coil wire first. If no spark from the coil wire, problem is in primary circuit, wiring, ignition switch, etc.
     
    Blues4U likes this.
  20. It's possible to burn through the rotor allowing the spark to go through the coil wire and then ground out to the distributor shaft through the burned rotor.
     
    Truck64 likes this.
  21. F-ONE
    Joined: Mar 27, 2008
    Posts: 2,114

    F-ONE
    Member
    from Alabama

    Check the wires at the coil. These are prone to break strands right at the connector. It’s hard to notice. This can create a positional connection, meaning one moment it conducts the next moment, there’s no connection.....
    Stuff like that can drive a mechanic nuts. It might test OK giving a false positive.

    Off-road CJ Jeep guys commonly keep a set of points in the tool box just in case the Petronix unit rolls over and floats to the top of the bowl.
     
  22. black55merc
    Joined: May 21, 2020
    Posts: 23

    black55merc
    Member

    Right, and just to be clear that I was not wasting everyone's time here, before changing the ignitor I had no spark at all anywhere. The very first thing I did after the car got towed home was check spark at the coil wire and had nothing.

    I'll focus on the cap/rotor/wires today.

    That is exactly what is happening here! LOL
     
    Truck64 likes this.
  23. BamaMav
    Joined: Jun 19, 2011
    Posts: 4,161

    BamaMav
    Member
    from Berry, AL

    Is there supposed to be a ground wire from the breaker plate to the distributor body? I had a 289 with points one time that just quit like that, couldn't get a spark, turned out that little ground wire had burned or worn into. Replaced it, everything was fine.
     
  24. black55merc
    Joined: May 21, 2020
    Posts: 23

    black55merc
    Member

    I do have that wire, yes. Looks good and there is no resistance from the ignitor (breaker) plate to BAT(-).
    New cap and rotor, no improvement.
    Tried another known good coil wire.
    There is no resistance from coil (-) to BAT (-)
    I checked the wires at the coil, the wiring is fairly new with good connections at the lugs and at the crimps.
    I did notice intermittent weak spark on at least one plug wire last time around.
    Sometimes I get a spark at the coil wire and sometimes not, but when I do, it varies during cranking from strong to weak, mostly weak.
    If I bypass the ballast resistor, I get basically full battery voltage at coil (+) in both "on" and "start".
    Using the resistor, I get about 7V with the key on and about 8.6V during cranking at coil (+). I thought I was supposed to get full voltage during cranking with a ballast resistor, but considering the spark acts the same even bypassing it makes me discount it as the issue.
    The alternator is a newer one-wire and is therefore not part of the equation, right?

    I am out of ideas. Could an issue with the advance system have anything having to with my problem? It's a vacuum advance. I would think worse case it might affect timing but not the strength of the spark, but correct me if I'm wrong.

    Are there any other connections that I should check? There is no such thing as a silly suggestion at this point, I will try anything! I feel like I have tested everything there is to test and don't know what else to try!
     
  25. black55merc
    Joined: May 21, 2020
    Posts: 23

    black55merc
    Member

    HA!!! GOT IT!!! We need a dancing banana thing here…. Lots of good ideas here and thank you for the help. Just grasping at straws, I unhooked the aftermarket tach, turned the key, and VROOOM blap blap blap…. fired right up! Man I've been pulling my hair out for 3 days and unhooking one little wire did the trick!

    The thing that made me try unhooking the tach was I noticed the green wire hanging in space and the black one hooked to coil (-). Not sure if it matters but I think green is supposed to go to coil (-) and black to ground. I also remember seeing the tach needle jump around sometimes but didn't think much of it at the time. So I said hey self unhook it and see what happens. Now I can go back to working on my clutch issue! LOL
     
  26. BamaMav
    Joined: Jun 19, 2011
    Posts: 4,161

    BamaMav
    Member
    from Berry, AL

    I thought about asking you about a tach but figured since you didn’t mention one that you didn’t have one. Green wire does go to coil on most of them, black is usually ground or the light wire.

    Glad you finally figured it out!
     
    Truckdoctor Andy likes this.
  27. black55merc
    Joined: May 21, 2020
    Posts: 23

    black55merc
    Member

    Is that a thing? A tach causing the ignition system to shut down? Although this one was not hooked up correctly, it was working which is strange... I'll try hooking it up correctly sometime soon and see what happens.
     
    Truckdoctor Andy likes this.
  28. Blues4U
    Joined: Oct 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,681

    Blues4U
    Member
    from So Cal

    Thanks for coming back and letting us know the end of the story, too often we never get to hear the end. LOL to all the anti-Pertronix/electronic ignition haters out there that take every opportunity they can to sling mud. How many of those "my Pertonix system failed on me and I had to have my car towed home" threads was the real culprit something other than the Pertronix system, just like this? Thanks again @black55merc for giving us the rest of the story.
     
  29. Yes, that’s very possible. I’ve had it happen to me personally twice. First time, I was a senior in high school and my 1966 F-100 quit going down the highway. Tach shorted out internally and killed the engine. This was 1991, Autogage brand tach. Next was Sturgis 2004, Dads Sportster fired up, ran for 5 seconds, backfired and stalled. No spark. Factory accessory tach shorted out and killed the ignition. Disconnected tach, bike ran great.


    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
     
    Blues4U likes this.
  30. What he said!!

    Ben
     
    Blues4U likes this.

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