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Nailhead Ignition: A Symptom Of Pertronix Malfunction ?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Rivie63, Dec 27, 2012.

  1. Rivie63
    Joined: Feb 15, 2008
    Posts: 10

    Rivie63
    Member

    First I gotta say this is not a thread to rag on Pertronix ignition, I'm wanting to get some feedback as to a problem I'm having with my 63 Riviera that I think is ignition related. The car is a mechanically stock 1963 Riviera with the original 401. The engine has an early Pertronix Ignitor setup, installed in 1994 by a previous owner, which has run flawlessly for the 10 yars I've owned the car. Last time when I tried to drive the car it cranked over normally, started, but instantly would rev and die back, rev and die back in cycles of a couple of seconds. If you try to let it idle it will die after a few cycles. If you raise the engine rpm it will stay running but still cycles up and down at the same rate. The revving and dieing cycle is only a couple seconds long so the engine is rocking violently. To me it seems as if the ignition is cutting on and off instantly. What I've checked: wiring to and from ignition switch and coil, resistance of coil and plug wires, taken sparkplugs out to examine and made sure #1 cylinder is at TDC and timing mark and dist. rotor match up (statically timed), made sure fuel lines are clear from tank to carb, fuel pump output is good. When the engine is running/surging there is no backfiring either thru the carb or exhaust. I think either the ignitor unit is switching on and off or the coil is shorting out.
    Any thoughts or suggestions? Thanx!
     
  2. i'm thinking it's the coil
     
  3. lawman
    Joined: Sep 19, 2006
    Posts: 2,665

    lawman
    Member

    Please post if you get this working,I have been thinking of putting one of those on my 8N tractor.
     
  4. fsae0607
    Joined: Apr 3, 2012
    Posts: 872

    fsae0607
    Member

    My money's on the coil. Maybe the engine vibration is causing an internal short.
     

  5. 48 Chubby
    Joined: Apr 29, 2008
    Posts: 1,014

    48 Chubby
    Member Emeritus

    Before you go nuts poring over every thing in the whole ignition system, make damned sure you don't have a vacuum leak. A vacuum leak can show these very same symptoms.
     
  6. Dan Timberlake
    Joined: Apr 28, 2010
    Posts: 1,443

    Dan Timberlake
    Member

    Sometimes it useful to disconnect the vac advance, hook up a timing light and watch the timing marks on the damper (or flywheel, if that's where they be). My expectation is consistent firing, with timing advancing when revs climb. To me, Missed flashes, or flashes that illuminate other parts of the damper (unless its multispark) are signs of an igintion problem
     
  7. MeanGene427
    Joined: Dec 15, 2010
    Posts: 2,309

    MeanGene427
    Member
    from Napa

    The timing light thing is always good. You made no mention of checking the fuel system- a fuel pump on it's last legs can act like that, catch-n-die, repeat. Once you've checked all the basics, I would send Pertronics Tech an email describing exactly what the symptoms are and what tests you've made- if it happens with their system, they'll know about it. If it's been running that long, it must be hooked up right, eliminating the usual Pertronics "problem" of not following the directions, but corroded grounds and wires etc. can cause hoodoos in anything electrical
     
  8. GMC BUBBA
    Joined: Jun 15, 2006
    Posts: 3,419

    GMC BUBBA
    Member

    99 % of "ignition" problems are fuel........rbg........
    Odds are if it has ran for ten years its not the pertronixs ( or the ignition coil)............lets go for fuel issues after ten years,,,,,,,,,
     
  9. Rivie63
    Joined: Feb 15, 2008
    Posts: 10

    Rivie63
    Member

    Keep the suggestions coming, I have checked fuel pressure with gauge and pumping into a can, accelarator pump in carb is working. Have capped off vacuum feeds no change. Checked dist vacuum advance, works freely. The engine revs and drops so quickly that a timing light is useless as the engine rpms go from 800 to about 0 every couple of seconds. I have the original invoices for the Pertronix and the coil, this being an early unit pertronix would tell you what coil needed to be used. Keep em coming
     
  10. MeanGene427
    Joined: Dec 15, 2010
    Posts: 2,309

    MeanGene427
    Member
    from Napa

    "send Pertronics Tech an email"
    You're wasting time LOL- ask the experts, it's free
     
  11. raengines
    Joined: Nov 6, 2010
    Posts: 227

    raengines
    Member
    from pa.

    wire from the pertronics to the coil being shorted by the vacuum advance moving it?
     
  12. cshades
    Joined: Sep 2, 2011
    Posts: 535

    cshades
    Member
    from wi

    I have seen the the wire inside the dist open up when the vac advance moves the plate.Unhook the vac advance and see if it calms down.If it does then firmly pull on the wire and see if it comes apart because a loy of time the wire will be broken but not the outside insulation.
     
  13. Never had that problem with a Petronix. I did fight an accell electronic for a few days that was doing as you describe. The dizzy checked out fine, I finally pulled the distributer from my car dropped it in and it cured the problem. But it was not a petronix distributer as I mentioned.

    I did have a pertonix coil do some wierd stuff, but it was not an old one and it was mu fault I was using the wrong resistor. Petronix sent me a new coil and resistor. I only paid for the resistor and I still have the wonky coil.

    Anyway after 10 years it could be the control mod going wonky. Maybe they have a trouble shooting guide on their site a lot of ignition companies do any more.

    Maybe PM GMC Bubba and send him the dizzy to check out. he is a wizzard with a dizzy and knows his petronix stuff inside and out.
     
  14. I had a similiar problem on a race car. It was not the coil, nor a fuel problem. Hook up your timing light as if you were going to set the spark advance. Aim the light at your face so you can see the light during the brief period when the engine is running. Then start the engine and hold it at a decent rpm, maybe 3,000 for as long as it will run. Hold and deep the light trigger down. When the engine abruptly quits, watch the light carefully. If the light goes out when the engine quits firing, and does not come back on while the engine is winding down, it's your Pertronix.

    This is how my faulty Pertronix behaved. I had previously changed out the coil and also determined it was not a fuel problem. The Pertronix failure was my fault. I had caused it by inadvertently leaving the ignition switch on with the engine not running.
     
  15. If it is revving up and down with out any mechanical input from you, it is not likely an ignition problem. The ignition either sparks or it doesn't and it can't change the RPM and still keep running. If it cuts out, the motor will die, but if it is actually revving up, i would look elsewhere
     
  16. Rivie63
    Joined: Feb 15, 2008
    Posts: 10

    Rivie63
    Member

    Problem fixed! tried a spare coil I had, no effect. Ordered new Ignitior module it arrived last week installed it (Followed the instructions from Pertronix) turned the key, car fired right up and ran beautifully. Checked the timing, perfect. The Riv starts instantly, and runs smoothly. Went out for an evening drive. So evidently after 18 years the module gave out
     

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