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Hot Rods Pertonix Distributor issue- no spark

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by HerecometheJudge1954, Feb 5, 2018.

  1. The old original distributor to my '62 327 SBC had clearly had it's day, both mechanical advance weights were sloppy and done, and vacuum advance was seized. I ordered a new Pertonix Flamethrower distributor in its place to do away with points. Have no spark now. Engine would start and run without issue prior to new distributor.

    Made sure I marked distributor and placed to exact same place on TDC. Dropped in without any issue.

    Wouldn't start, so I checked spark at the spark plug, absent. Cranked engine with test light on positive post of coil, has power there, but on negative post that goes to distributor, there is nothing on test light when cranking. Was unclear if distributor grounded through block/through tie down bolt, so I ground any corrosion off and still no dice.

    Wondering if perhaps I have a faulty distributor. Anything else to check? I measured ohm across coil pos/neg terminals and is at 2.0 ohms, recently replaced unit, 6 months ago or so.

    Thanks in advance, y'all.

    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  2. karl share
    Joined: Nov 5, 2015
    Posts: 78

    karl share

    Get onto the pertronix website they have a fault finding section telling you how to check things out
    HerecometheJudge1954 likes this.
  3. Have you got a Petronix coil ?? a stock coil wont work .
  4. I had a look and found a stock coil may work but Petronix recomends Ignitor 11 coil , 0.6 ohms 45,000 volts ..
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  5. Yep, been there, checked everything on the list.
  6. Dooley
    Joined: May 29, 2002
    Posts: 2,567

    from Buffalo NY

    did you remove the ballast resistor?
    Also there is a jumper wire form the resistor to the solenoid for full 12V when cranking, is that wired correctly?
    HerecometheJudge1954 likes this.
  7. That's interesting, thanks for posting that. I talked to the tech dude at Summit when was considering a points conversion kit for the old distributor when I decided to purchase the Pertronix distributor, he didn't mention anything about needing any specific coil, and on the the webpage that I looked at, they don't make that obvious. I'll give a couple calls this morning.
  8. No, I didn't remove the ballast resistor, the stock coil that I have requires it. Pertronix gives instructions on how to wire everything up with using the ballast resistor. Red wire goes to the pre-ballast resistor ignition wire, and the black wire goes to the neg post on the coil.
  9. Jumper wire? Don't know, I literally just put everything back to the way it was prior to taking everything apart. :(:confused:
  10. Dooley
    Joined: May 29, 2002
    Posts: 2,567

    from Buffalo NY

    This is how my points dizzy was wired
  11. Awright, I'll take a look at mine, thanks for posting that.
  12. Cosmo50
    Joined: Sep 8, 2011
    Posts: 179

    from California

    What Ignitor kit do you have? The Ignitor I or Ignitor II? It makes a big difference. The Ignitor I doesn't like a lot of amps and constant power when not running. That will burn out the unit. The Ignitor II has a safety built into to shut it off if it senses constant power without running and they can handle more amps.
    HerecometheJudge1954 likes this.
  13. Rice n Beans Garage
    Joined: Dec 17, 2006
    Posts: 1,445

    Rice n Beans Garage

    You need 12V at the coil at all times, remove the ballast, you can run other coils, check and make sure you don't have a wire that's making a ground contact by accident, at (coil, Tach etc.) it will cause a no spark
    HerecometheJudge1954 likes this.
  14. lostone
    Joined: Oct 13, 2013
    Posts: 930

    from kansas

    When in doubt I cheat, when dealing with something like this I disconnect everything on the positive side of the coil and run a jumper wire from the positive side of the battery straight to the positive side of the coil and try starting. If no fire to spark plug, then pull coil wire, if no spark there then bad coil, spark at cap/coil but none to plug then problem with distributor. If it starts right up then problem with ignition wiring.

    At least that's how I check things out.
  15. Time to reach out to Bubba...., see his link below...
    HerecometheJudge1954 likes this.
  16. It has the Ignitor I that came with the distributor- hasn't even been running yet, so would that nullify the issue? It hasn't done anything but crank without spark yet, and even then, the battery has been disconnected 90% of the time.
  17. Since I'm learning this stuff retroactively, if I decide to go with a more modern coil that doesn't need a resistor ballast , what do I need to do with the wires that go to the ballast?
  18. Thanks, that may be my next option.
  19. Sounds like a great idea! I'll try that tomorrow. Need to get a remote starter setup since I only have my own two hands;)
  20. Ah, the headaches. Pertronix specifically states in the troubleshooting document they sent me after calling them, that a stock coil is acceptable as long as the coil is within ohm spec with the ballast resistor ohm added to the calculation.

    As it turns out. Baseline reading for my ohm meter is 2.0 for everything. Which could be okay if I factor that into the calculation but it seems to measure everything at 2.0. Looks like the ohms on the coil from positive post to the main coil wire connector that goes to the distributor reads about 15K?

    Since they're cheap, might pick up a new coil tomorrow and (for sure) an ohmmeter so I can check resistance on all the grounds.

    I sure like the idea of the stock looking distributor that uses the old coil, but I can understand why some people just get an HEI and drop it in at this point. Good learning experience, though!
  21. 49ratfink
    Joined: Feb 8, 2004
    Posts: 17,455

    from California

  22. MAD MIKE
    Joined: Aug 1, 2009
    Posts: 395

    from 94577

    Ignitor I can be killed if the power to it is left on(IGN ON) with the engine off. If you have a radio you will need to have it on a divorced or acc circuit when parking. If you have a tach that is hooked up to the coil, when cranking you should see the tach jump while cranking. If not then the ignitor may be dead, it may have been dead out of the box.

    If you want to run full battery(12V system) to the coil then you will need a proper 12V coil that does not use a ballast and convert to the Ignitor II. Running without a ballast on a coil that normally uses it is not good for coil life. As the ballast keeps the coil from overheating, just like when running full battery voltage to points, they work really well until they burn up. Even later model distributor cars still used a ballast(usually hidden in the wiring/underdash) with the factory bits. Unless the coil and pickup are designed for full battery voltage, do not remove the ballast.
    Cosmo50 and HerecometheJudge1954 like this.
  23. Yep, got it. Key wasn't on for more than 10 seconds or less at a time. Don't have a tach (yet- it's on my list)

    As far as the ballast vs. non ballast, I just want it to run. I don't wan't to change anything necessarily, I'm just stumped that with all the same coil and wiring, it ran before, and now it doesn't. Two pumps of the gas, and it fired like nothing was up, now with with the new distributor, I have nothing suddenly.

    My caveman brain thinks that one of two things are going on- the old system was more flexible and tolerant and just RAN. Or the new distributor is bad. But like anything else, I'm sure that's simplifying things.
  24. Touche. :rolleyes:
  25. Replaced the ohmmeter. Ballast resistor is 1.6 ohms. Coil across terminals is 1.5 ohms. Center spark hole in coil to terminal is 8000 ohms. When the the key is turned on, voltage drop at coil positive post is to 5V. It is the same at the other side of the ballast resistor with the key on. Voltage from ignition wire pre-ballast resistor is 12V. I've been by myself for a few days, family is out of town, so I haven't been able to watch the volts to the coil while cranking. There is no spark signal to the negative coil post when cranking, my buddy helped me check that the other night.
  26. Truck64
    Joined: Oct 18, 2015
    Posts: 3,815

    from Ioway

    Pertronix I (can't speak to the others) needs at least 1.5 ohms in the primary circuit. You mentioned that the coil measures 1.5 ohms across the terminals. "Ballast resistor is 1.6 ohms". That makes about 3, you don't really need that much. At least as far as the Ignitor is concerned.

    SO, remove the ballast resistor, or at least bypass, and replace with a heavy wire.
    HerecometheJudge1954 likes this.
  27. So there are three wires at the ballast, two pre ballast and one post ballast. Splice then all together then? Sorry if I’m reading this wrong.
  28. jimmy six
    Joined: Mar 21, 2006
    Posts: 5,022

    jimmy six

    I installed a Pertronix II after having 2 bad condensers (China) I bought their coil and called on the use of a ballast resister. They told me it was ok to use one just the spark wouldn't be as much. I had read that they did have trouble with coils so I decided lowering the voltage on it was a good idea. Its worked perfectly for 5 years.
    HerecometheJudge1954 likes this.
  29. I put an ACCEL points eliminator system in my grandson's SBC in his '59 El Camino. It worked for a couple minutes then I lost spark. Sent the module back to mfgr. and it was fried. Bought another and it did the same thing. Finally got frustrated (and broke!) so called customer service again and stayed on the line until a guy came on who offered a solution. It sounded crazy, thought he was just telling me anything to get me off the line, but I tried his suggestion and it worked! Ignition has been flawless for a couple years since.

    He sais do not ground the unit to the engine block. Ground it to the firewall and it will work fine. It worked. don't ask me why.
    HerecometheJudge1954 likes this.
  30. BJR
    Joined: Mar 11, 2005
    Posts: 5,949


    Try cranking it with the distributor cap off and see if the rotor is spinning. Maybe the distributor is wrong for the engine and is not engaging the gear on the cam.
    HerecometheJudge1954 likes this.

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