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Old 08-31-2018, 11:43 PM   #1
1929 Roadster
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Default 29 Roadster ignition woes

I read a Post where advice was given to a guy with no spark and he was told to pull the coil wire off the Distributor cap and crank it with the key on while holding the wire A half inch from a head nut.. I did that and I have nothing . A little history , This car has not run for three years . I pulled the gas tank and treated it to get rid of the rust for good. Then I got very ill with a serious infection that I had to be hospitalized several times for and then I got cancer etc ect. So I'm finally getting to this . I have partially rebuilt the Distributor ,New points ,Timed and gapped to .020, New ignition switch & lock cable, New wire between points and lower plate, Done a continuity test from the ignition key to the points , good, continuity test for grounding, none found . I have power at both Terminal box poles and both coil poles . One problem is when doing a power check from the ignition switch body to the points (opened) the test light burns just opposite of what it should . It shows no power when locked (off)and power when unlocked(on) , So my book tells me that either it's the switch grounded or the condenser grounded or shorted .It's a new switch and passed a continuity test so I removed condenser hoping to change the outcome , no change , this condenser is supposed to be short proof so I'm befuddled . The switch body is ground ..The condenser is grounded in the front and attached to the lower plate power tab correctly. I then checked voltage at coil and terminal box . with key off 6.5V at all four. With Key on points open 6.5 all 4 and 6.5 at the power side of points. With key on points closed the voltage drops to .3 or less on points and also on the feed side (drivers side) of coil. According to what Tom Wesenberg says in this same post , the voltage should drop on the opposite side. So I took condenser out again and virtually everything remained the same . Can you advise my next step Thanks Jeremy
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Old 08-31-2018, 11:56 PM   #2
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Default Re: 29 Roadster ignition woes

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Old 09-01-2018, 12:50 AM   #3
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Default Re: 29 Roadster ignition woes

Key on and point open, then you should have battery voltage all the way to the movable points contact. Short to the other contact with a screwdriver off and on several times, and you should have a hot blue spark to a head nut with the coil wire 1/4" away.


With the key on and points closed, both points contacts should show 0 volts.
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Old 09-01-2018, 01:16 PM   #4
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Default Re: 29 Roadster ignition woes

Ok , Thanks Tom, I am getting .3 volts with key on points with points closed. Also .3 volts on the feed side (Driver side) of coil .In a past post you said it should be zero on the other side(passenger) Am I getting this right? Does this indicate a short. ,Or can I take .3v as zero? . I will try the head nut spark test again . Any other advice is welcome ..Jeremy
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Old 09-01-2018, 07:51 PM   #5
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Default Re: 29 Roadster ignition woes

Jeremy, assuming that your test gear is accurate, 0.3 volts suggests that something isn't right. The challenge is figuring out what that might be without laying eyes on the car! Are you near any members of a Model A club? I bet that there's someone who would come to the scene of the crime and help you. Although you will get a ton of good information on here, having an experienced Model A person walk through the situation with you might be the best thing to do. Good luck sorting this out!
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Old 09-01-2018, 11:28 PM   #6
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Default Re: 29 Roadster ignition woes

As Dave said, it should be 0 volts at the points, so maybe the distributor body isn't grounding through the head as well as it should. Try a jumper wire from a good ground to the condenser ground screw and see if you can now get 0 volts at the points contacts. I have a feeling you are using a digital meter. I like to use analog meters when working on cars, especially the Model A.
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Old 09-02-2018, 09:19 AM   #7
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Default Re: 29 Roadster ignition woes

Yes ,I am using a cheap multimeter. OK I will try that . THANKS to both you and Dave . I am also going to double check all my wire connections . I also have an analog meter I will try that as well.
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Old 09-02-2018, 09:50 AM   #8
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Default Re: 29 Roadster ignition woes

.3v on point side of coil, with points closed, is good. However, on the other side of the coil, even with points closed, you should have near battery volltage. You can run a quick test by running a wire from battery to the power side of the coil. Make sure all the connections from the power side of the points are clean and tight to battery. For testing, you don't even need the condenser. If you have it out, leave it out until you get the spark working. Remember, battery side of coil should ALWAYS be battery, point side of coil should be battery with points open, near gnd with points closed.
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Old 09-03-2018, 07:58 AM   #9
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Default Re: 29 Roadster ignition woes

Jeremy, where in Washington are you located? If anywhere near Vancouver then I'd be happy to swing by and get you going. That is Vancouver Washington, not Vancouver Canada... This should not be a different fix.
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Old 09-03-2018, 11:00 AM   #10
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to : Corley. Other end of the state ,near Vancouver BC. Thanks for the come back .
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Old 09-03-2018, 11:39 AM   #11
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Default Re: 29 Roadster ignition woes

Good Morning...You might consider contacting the two big Model A Clubs on the net. MAFCA (The Model A Ford Club of America) or MARC (Model A Restorers Club) and see which club has a chapter close to you. Contact that chapter and they will be happy to help you get the old girl running. It is always good to belong to the local chapter as you will learn a great deal and make wonderful friends. Nice people own almost all of the old cars. Ernie in Arizona
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Old 09-03-2018, 04:33 PM   #12
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Default Re: 29 Roadster ignition woes

Ok progress made, I cleaned all the carbon deposits off the coil head , rechecked all wires and tightened all connections, and now have white spark at the points, and now with only .01-.03 volts at points and ignition pole of the coil when points are closed ,an improvement over .3 volts. The coil wire to head nut test will not spark at 1\4 inch it has to be nearly touching the nut and it's not a blue spark ,but white like at the points . No spark seen at the plugs . Tried Tom's condenser to ground check ,no improvement . Distributor is well grounded. I'm positive the wiring is correct ...Doesn't seem like it's in the wiring. Since the coil to head nut test fails, could it be a bad coil ? They don't have a reputation of failures ..How do I test the coil ? What next? I know I'm going to get there ...With your help I have to .I checked the continuity on the coil to the rotor and all seems good there. It was running fine before with the current rotor ,cap ,body etc. Thanks Jeremy
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Old 09-03-2018, 05:04 PM   #13
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Default Re: 29 Roadster ignition woes

Did you clean the contact surfaces of the points?

If you have power at the point arm but no spark at the plugs it may be the contact surfaces are corroded....I had to clean mine this spring.....
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Old 09-03-2018, 05:20 PM   #14
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Default Re: 29 Roadster ignition woes

Yes they are new points ,but I cleaned them with very fine grit emory cloth .

Last edited by 1929 Roadster; 09-03-2018 at 05:22 PM. Reason: Print too small
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Old 09-03-2018, 06:14 PM   #15
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Default Re: 29 Roadster ignition woes

A white spark from the coil lead to the block isn't what you should have; the goal is a blue spark that will jump about a quarter inch....reread Tom's post #3! Though I'm not a fan of switching parts until a problem is cured, in this case I would try replacing the condenser and/or the coil and see what happens. You mention cleaning carbon deposits off the coil - perhaps that indicates a problem there. Do one at a time and see if the problem goes away.
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Old 09-03-2018, 11:47 PM   #16
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Default Re: 29 Roadster ignition woes

I'd try another condenser first, as they fail more often than the coil. No fix with a new condenser, then try a new or known good coil.
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Old 09-03-2018, 11:47 PM   #17
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Default Re: 29 Roadster ignition woes

Thank you pilot Dave . Yes I understand I am looking for a 1/4" blue spark , that is why I mentioned that it was only white. Before I had zero spark at the coil wire ,so there is improvement . I have a new condenser and I'll try that first, before buying a new coil. The new condenser ,( from Snyder's) is about 1/4 inch too long so I will need to buy a new longer screw and stick a conducting spacer where it grounds to the Dist. body. I told Snyder's about this problem and they responded that all I need to do is bend the lower plate contact tab in a z shape to accommodate the longer length . But there is not enough tab to do it ...But I can make it work ...I'll be going to town tomorrow afternoon so I'll get back here with my result , probably on Wednesday. Thank you for your input .
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Old 09-04-2018, 09:09 AM   #18
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Default Re: 29 Roadster ignition woes

Quote:
it's not a blue spark ,but white like at the points
If you're getting a big spark at the points, that suggests a bad condenser.
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Old 09-04-2018, 11:50 AM   #19
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Default Re: 29 Roadster ignition woes

Katy, Thanks ,no I'm not getting a blue spacrk at the points, its white .Thank you Tom,Pilot Dave,Ernie, Cj5,Corely,eagle,Katy and fordcrager...I really appreciate your help ... I will buy a long screw to try the new condenser ,I don't have a spare coil so I'll have to buy one.
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Old 09-04-2018, 11:55 AM   #20
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Default Re: 29 Roadster ignition woes

I've always been able to bend the ground tab at a slope and use the original grounding screw. I'm surprised that your's doesn't reach OK.
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Old 09-05-2018, 09:23 AM   #21
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Default Re: 29 Roadster ignition woes

Quote:
I'm not getting a blue spark at the points, its white
Maybe I should have been more explicit, if'n it's a BIG spark, that suggests the condenser.
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Old 09-05-2018, 04:22 PM   #22
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Default Re: 29 Roadster ignition woes

Wednesday, the 29 is purring like a kitten full of fish.. Changing the condenser gave me the hot blue spark at 1\4 inch!!! The old zenith #2 carb was leaking gas ,so I slapped in a Zenith #1 that I had already rebuilt ...( The rust problem in the tank made me always have a spare carb ready to go) Popped immediately and then Fired up after about 30 seconds of cranking and after a few adjustments she is running great !!! THANKS to all you guys for all your input , I learned a lot . Thank you Ford Barn for providing this forum for do it yourself guys . God bless you all . Jeremy
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Old 09-05-2018, 04:44 PM   #23
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Default Re: 29 Roadster ignition woes

Great news...the forum comes through again!
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Old 09-06-2018, 12:57 AM   #24
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Yes ...Last minute notes ! Tom , the Snyder's guy wanted me to bend the holed tab into a z shape.. This tab is on the lower plate that receives the ungrounded power end of the condenser. There wasn't enough of the tab to make the bend and have it fit...the condenser being nearly a 1\4 inch too long . So I see that yes I might have been able to bend the grounded end into a slant since the hole is oblong but not a z shape . Perhaps this is what the Snyder's guy was trying to tell me. Any way it's a moot point now since the way I did it is working fine . I appreciate all of your help .

To katy , No I was looking for the big blue spark on a head nut with the coil wire. After I changed the condenser ,I got that blue spark and then it fired right up ...With the weak white spark at both points and head nut , I got zip firing .. So I don't understand where you are coming from , but no matter, she is running great ! Thank you for attempting to help

Lastly I'd like to give a little history about this 29 . My father bought this car for 1200$ in 1962. This car was never really fully restored . It had a paint job ,New top and upholstery job . Dad and Mom got into some bad financial troubles in the 90's and we had loaned them quite a large amount of $ for us, a bit over 20 K. Dad died and Mom was going to sell the A to pay me back.. I had the car appraised and one was 17 K the other 13. So I bought it for 15K off their bill. Also this A has a Model B engine in it . The only real difference is the B has a water port between #2 and 3 cylinders that the A didn't and the valve cover is a bit different. Dad put an A head on it ,not knowing about the extra water port. No B heads around that I know of anyway. The water hitting the gasket eventually made it fail and it did a number on # 2 and 3 exhaust valves and seats rusting them badly . I bought 3 new valves , one for a lapper, cut one end of my wooden lapping tool off ,stuck it in my power screwdriver and lapped and lapped and lapped till I got seats that looked like they would work . I tapped out the water port hole, screwed in an allen head plug and JB Welded over it flush with the block. Never have had a bit of trouble with that homemade fix . I'm just wondering if any one else it here in Ford Barn land has had the same thing?? I have done the following to this car , New rear end axle and wheel seals,,5 of them, rebuild rear end , New brake pads all 4, New clutch, gas tank treatment , packless nut on the waterpump, then new waterpump, and numerous carb rebuilds . By the way , when I did the gas tank it had the original webbing material between tank and cowl etc , showing that it indeed has never been truly restored. When Dad bought it in 62 , it is like buying a 1985 car today. Not a big deal that it wasn't truly restored. It's a driver not a shower ,but looks reasonably good! This car and my 31 pickup ,( now sold) have been a great joy to me and my family over the years . Thank you all again ...Jeremy
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Old 09-06-2018, 08:57 AM   #25
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Default Re: 29 Roadster ignition woes

Nice, thanks for providing the cars history, really interesting.


Hope someone in your family wants it after you.
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Old 09-06-2018, 11:03 PM   #26
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Me too!!! Thanks for the kind words!!
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