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Old 10-08-2018, 08:19 PM   #1
Jim M
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Default Distributor help!!!

A couple of weeks ago my 29 Roadster was running a little ruff so I decided to give it a check and in the process go back to the old style distributor. That is the last time I could get the engine to run! I have been pulling out what is left of my hair trying to check everything to no avail. Replaced the coil, condenser, points, etc and can not get it to start. Today I was following the procedure in the Les Andrews troubleshooting chart 4.3. There is 6V at the battery connection on starter, 6 volts at both terminal box posts, 6V at both coil terminals, but when I put a piece of cardboard between the point contacts and test for 6V on the point arm there is nothing. I have looked at everything and it looks ok but obviously I am missing something. Hope someone can give me a tip before I loose my senses and put in on EBAY (just kidding). Thanks for any suggestions. Jim PS I also replaced the shielded cable from the switch to the distributor base.
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Old 10-08-2018, 08:24 PM   #2
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Default Re: Distributor help!!!

I assume you had your key on. If so, you probably screwed the cable from the ignition switch in too far and are grounding the lower plate.
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Old 10-08-2018, 08:32 PM   #3
Terry, NJ
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Default Re: Distributor help!!!

What comes to mind first is the little "pigtail" wire under the distributor plate. Put the engine one No1 cyl TDC and take the cam off the shaft so that you can remove the plate and see what's under neath. These pigtails have been driving Mod A owners nuts since they came out. When you take the screw out of the top of the Distributor, Be very careful with it. It is a weird thread and you aren't going to replace it at Auto Zone. Don't know why Henry did that, but he did.
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Old 10-08-2018, 09:02 PM   #4
Jim M
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Default Re: Distributor help!!!

Ah ha you may be in the right track. One thing I did notice is that when I checked the switch in the off position the test light lit on the power in side and not on the wire going down to the distributor. When I checked it with the switch on, the test light did NOT light on either side of the switch. I know I did screw the new wire all the way in to the distributor. I bet that is what I did. I just checked the Les Andrews manual and there is a note on 1-105 that I definitely missed. I assembled the distributor on my shelf then screwed the ignition cable in. I will check that first thing in the AM. Is there a way to test that without taking the distributor all apart?? Thanks for the tip!!!!
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Old 10-09-2018, 05:33 AM   #5
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Default Re: Distributor help!!!

You don’t have to take anything apart. If it won’t just unscrew a bit, then take the distributor out and unscrew it a turn or two. You won’t have to time it again.
But, if you have had this short, I don’t see how you could have timed it in the first place. Good luck.
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Old 10-09-2018, 07:56 AM   #6
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Default Re: Distributor help!!!

With the cardboard inserted, check across the points with an ohmmeter. If there's continuity, you have a short, either from the ignition cable being screwed in to the body to deeply, or your plate wire could be grounding out on the distributor body itself.
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Old 10-09-2018, 08:41 AM   #7
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Default Re: Distributor help!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mfarley View Post
With the cardboard inserted, check across the points with an ohmmeter. If there's continuity, you have a short, either from the ignition cable being screwed in to the body to deeply, or your plate wire could be grounding out on the distributor body itself.

With points open, check ammeter instead of using ohmmeter? See if coil getting hot?
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Old 10-09-2018, 08:58 AM   #8
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Default Re: Distributor help!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mfarley View Post
With the cardboard inserted, check across the points with an ohmmeter. If there's continuity, you have a short, either from the ignition cable being screwed in to the body to deeply, or your plate wire could be grounding out on the distributor body itself.
Be very careful when checking "continuity" on any ckt with voltage on it, that is a good way to destroy your VOM (volt-ohm-meter). If you wish to check continuity there, unhook the battery first. It's going to be easier to just instead check for "voltage" with that VOM or a lite.
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Old 10-09-2018, 05:55 PM   #9
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Default Re: Distributor help!!!

If you use a Fluke multi meter you don't have to worry about spiking the meter.
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Old 10-09-2018, 06:36 PM   #10
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Default Re: Distributor help!!!

Latest update, today I took the distributor back out, took it apart and put it back together again reading each step in Les Andrews. Tested the shielded cable everything looks fine. Put distributor back in and checked all spots that were to have 6V including the open points and looked fine. Re-timed the engine and that looked great (used the timing pin and NuWrench). Actually took the fuel line off the carb just to make sure gas flowing into carb. That was fine. Got in the seat and turned her over. Turned over great but NOTHING - not one fire! Moved spark advance lever up and down while turning over to see if that made any difference - nope! I am at a loss. What should be a relatively easy task has turned into a nightmare. Fortunately I am a member of a wonderful club here in Melbourne, FL and one of the guys from the club is coming down tomorrow afternoon to help and see what he can find. He is GREAT!! In the mean time I am settling in for the evening for a couple of "medicines" to ease the pain and look forward to what we find tomorrow. I will post the outcome as I hope this will help someone down the road. I love this forum and not only read the daily posts but do a lot of searching on old posts before I start anything. Sure does beat TV.....especially these days. Jim
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Old 10-10-2018, 09:22 AM   #11
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Default Re: Distributor help!!!

Is the battery up to snuff? If'n the battery is weak, it'll crank over but not fire as the starter is drawing so much out of the battery there's not enough left to power the ignition.
Try hand cranking to see if'n it will start.
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Old 10-10-2018, 10:21 AM   #12
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Default Re: Distributor help!!!

The "rotor" is there? It has happened before.
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Old 10-10-2018, 10:37 AM   #13
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Default Re: Distributor help!!!

Pull one of the spark plug leads off a spark plug, place the free end close to the plug, ignition on, hit the starter and look to see if there is a spark/arc at the gap.


Or pull a spark plug plug, ground it, ignition on, turn it over and check for spark.
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Old 10-10-2018, 06:58 PM   #14
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Default Re: Distributor help!!!

silly question... do you have a fuse? it will crank but no spark
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Old 10-11-2018, 06:16 AM   #15
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Default Re: Distributor help!!!

The same thing happened to me . It turned out the points were defective and one of the contacts was not electrically connected although visually the points looked fine . I put in new points and that cured the problem .

John in windy sunny morning Suffolk County England .
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Old 10-11-2018, 02:05 PM   #16
Jim M
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Default Re: Distributor help!!!

Well I worked about an hour this morning and narrowed it down to something in the distributor. When I bought the car it had the original point set up and after reading all the comments about the "new" set up with the condenser on top of the top plate I decided a while ago to go with it. It ran fine but in the back of my mind it bugged me to go away from the original. So after a major overhaul of the drive train (discovered a cracked axle so did everything from the flywheel back including transmission) I decided to go back to the original distributor set up. It was giving me fits so I left it for the summer till we returned from our camper trips. When we got back to FL about 3 weeks
ago the fun started and it would not start. I must have taken the distributor apart 3 or 4 times and checked everything I could think of including replacing the dang shielded cable from the switch. NO luck. This morning I finally decided to go back to the "new" set up. Took about an hour to put it back together and check all the connections, etc. Got in and hit the starter and it fired up and ran like a champ. After some mental words and thinking over what I did I believe somehow there must have been a short in the condenser. At this point since it is running I am going to leave well enough alone....whew!!
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Old 10-11-2018, 03:26 PM   #17
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Default Re: Distributor help!!!

Now you have to drive the hell out of it to keep it running good. Those cars want to go. Have fun.
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