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Thread: No spark...

  1. #1
    Senior Member Funding Member RedBarchetta's Avatar
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    No spark...

    Just got back from pushing the car home about 1/3 mile (thanks to two neighbors). Yes, it was all flat ground...this is Florida after all. I shudder regarding flat-bed tows...save that for another thread.

    Symptoms: Simply lost spark. Was running fine after a combined 15 minute warm-up and brief drive to 60mph...maybe 3 miles round trip. Water temp was around 185*F. I just changed the plugs, cap and rotor. Carb is getting fuel. Motor is turning over well with a good battery. Pulled the cap and the rotor is spinning.

    Ran a multi-meter on the coil and it read 1.0 ohms. My spare coil also reads the same. I thought it should be more? Jiggled the wires leading up to the magnetic pick-up on the distributor and the car would try to catch fire on the first plug and then nothing.

    So I'm suspecting the mag pick-up now. Not sure of the coil...will need to test it better or open to ideas how best to. MSD box is an older unit...may need to debug that, too.

    Appreciate any inputs that I haven't thought of, thanks.
    Last edited by RedBarchetta; 05-22-2020 at 08:05 AM.
    -Dean

    "...tires spitting gravel, I commit my weekly crime."

  2. #2
    GROUCHY FUC***G OLD APE Funding Member Silverback's Avatar
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    My MSD unit was very sensitive to voltage input. When the voltage regulator went tits up it would not run worth beans.

    And from what I have read the MSD box is prone to failure.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Funding Member RedBarchetta's Avatar
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    I have researched the tests for the box and coil so I'm going to let the car completely cool down and then test this afternoon. I'll keep everyone posted.
    -Dean

    "...tires spitting gravel, I commit my weekly crime."

  4. #4
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    A strain in the wire on the pickup could possibly cause it to go open, but otherwise, it's just a loop of wire and should be bullet proof. Check the numbers I think you should see a couple hundred ohms across it, and if you crank the engine, a 10-20V AC signal.

    I've seen hundreds of threads on forums about MDS boxes failing. Enough so that I made a 5 terminal connector on my car so by swapping a plug I can fire my coil directly from the megasquirt and bypass it. I was waiting on money and overthought everything when building.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Funding Member DanEC's Avatar
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    No actual help in this response - only sympathy. I don’t try to guess ignition issues on any vehicle with an electrical component on it beginning with “M” followed by “SD”. The SD stands for “sudden death”. Hope you figure it out without much pain.
    I'm now a deplorable terrorist according to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors - and proud of it and my membership in NRA and Gun Owners of America.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Funding Member RedBarchetta's Avatar
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    Well, Dan. I thought the pain was over but it continues.

    I was actually able to start the car. More on that in a moment. Checked for spark from the box. No problem...solid spark. Checked the resistance on the coil. Both primary and secondary coils were well within spec. Again, no problem. Checked the resistance on the dual wire leading from the MSD box to the magnetic pick-up on the distributor. A O-Kay. Checked the resistance on the magnetic pickup. Again, well within specs.

    So on a hunch I decided to swap out the magnetic pickup anyway (previous experience?). Had a new spare on the shelf, too. On the first try the engine cranks hard (as if timing was off) and then erupts into a high idle. The timing light tells me I'm suddenly from 12-14 BTDC to something like 28-30. Scratching my head on how I skipped a tooth on the reluctor wheel (on the distributor) by simply swapping out a magnetic pickup? Never touched the distributor settings.

    So I then play with maybe moving the distributor one tooth fore and aft to resolve. That didn't help. Pulled a valve cover to check where the number one cylinder was in the sequence. The rotor was approaching the #1 plug wire right around the top of the stroke, so I put it all back together. Would crank easy but wouldn't start. Checked the wires leading to the magnetic pickup. Darn if I had originally had them backwards. How in the hell did the car start at all?!?

    Now I'm thoroughly confused. Fixed the wiring and the car was puffing and popping as I moved the distributor. Still must be off one wire on the dizzy. Screw it. Closed the hood and I'm done for the day.

    I will now most likely have to go through the "new engine" sequence in setting the distributor. Pull the distributor and the valve cover and re-verify the #1 compression stroke. Reinstall the distributor and hope that resolves this. But still confused as to how the crossed wires still allowed the car to fire up? Last note. After I corrected the wiring, I did check for spark again thinking I fried something else. Still had spark.

    Frustrating...hate electrical gremlins almost as much as Pelosi.
    -Dean

    "...tires spitting gravel, I commit my weekly crime."

  7. #7
    Senior Member Funding Member RedBarchetta's Avatar
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    And for what it's worth, I went out and bought two really nice bottles of Tuscany wine and gave them to my helpful neighbors. I still owe them a grilled steak with that once we can start having gatherings, again.
    -Dean

    "...tires spitting gravel, I commit my weekly crime."

  8. #8
    GROUCHY FUC***G OLD APE Funding Member Silverback's Avatar
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    Well Dean, you may find this hard to believe, I actually hate electrical problems more than Pelosi. However it is not by much.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Funding Member DanEC's Avatar
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    Yeah - in case I haven’t said it before on this forum - I hate all things electrical. Nothing worse than trouble shooting electronics (at least for me). It’s no wonder Tesla went mad in his later years - probably from playing around with circuits and magnetic fields. Nice gesture for the neighbors. A good neighbor is someone to appreciate.
    I'm now a deplorable terrorist according to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors - and proud of it and my membership in NRA and Gun Owners of America.

  10. #10
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    One more thing to check. I once had a chebby who burned a trace in the rotor from the center tower to the shaft. Would run, then die, then run, then die.

  11. #11
    Administrator Funding Member Ron77's Avatar
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    Dean,

    It is very easy for a person to get a wire crossed when changing plugs or anything like that. I had the same problem once and went through my wires twice and the car would start and run rough and not well. I pulled the distributor cap and checked for any carbon traces between terminals or the high voltage outlet and nothing. Then for the fourth time I checked one wire at a time and sure enough I had two of them crossed and on the wrong plugs. I put them where they belonged and the car ran great. I hope you fing your problem soon.

    Ron


    MY ALBUMS

  12. #12
    Moderator Funding Member James Stern's Avatar
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    Dean,

    I had an MSD system in my car. A few years ago it ate the gear on the distributor. MSD uses bronze gears and considers them "expendable*. I now use Pertronix.
    The one line never heard in Heaven "Gee! I wish I had spent a little more time in the office."

  13. #13
    Senior Member Funding Member RedBarchetta's Avatar
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    Fixed!

    I was able to get the phasing of the distributor correct. Just had to pull the #1 spark plug, feel for compression, align the balancer mark to TDC, and then reset the distributor.

    So the final prognosis had to be a bad/faulty magnetic pick-up (despite the fact that it passed the ohms test, which still puzzles me). Time to order another spare (and research alternative ignition set-ups).

    Thanks for the inputs and enjoy your holiday weekend!
    -Dean

    "...tires spitting gravel, I commit my weekly crime."

  14. #14
    GROUCHY FUC***G OLD APE Funding Member Silverback's Avatar
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    I absolutely hate it when you cannot positively pinpoint the issue. Then you are always left wondering if it will happen again.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Funding Member RedBarchetta's Avatar
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    I once knew an engineering friend who taught me his explanation when something miraculously started working. He called it “FM” and the M stood for Magic. Yeah, now I’ll have these doubts lingering in my head. Just have to choose fair weather days and have that AAA card at the ready. {sigh}
    -Dean

    "...tires spitting gravel, I commit my weekly crime."

  16. #16
    GROUCHY FUC***G OLD APE Funding Member Silverback's Avatar
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    For me it was MH, Magic Happened.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Funding Member Al G's Avatar
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    Sometimes my boss would draw a project flow diagram with an angel at one point in the flow. That's where the miracle needed to happen.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Funding Member DanEC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silverback View Post
    I absolutely hate it when you cannot positively pinpoint the issue. Then you are always left wondering if it will happen again.
    Yeah, and I can’t say it only happens with electrical things. A few years ago my wife and I started to return home from a cruise night in my GTX. I got about a mile from the Sonic when I noticed my temp gage was getting warm. I pulled over in another mile as it was definitely getting hot, opened the hood and found the belt that drove the water pump (nothing else except an idler pulley) was broken in two. It was getting late but someone noticed me in a parking lot with the hood up and offered to run me to a parts store for a replacement. I had tools in the trunk so considering there are 4 belts on this thing and the dual ac belts are outside the water pump belt, I got it changed out pretty fast. Started up the car and let it idle a minute and shut the hood. Before I could get into the car I heard it let go again and upon opening the hood I found it also rolled and took out the 2 ac belts. At that point I just shut the hood and used my insurance to call a roll back.

    Next morning I started removing belts and remains of belts and noted that both WP belts that broke were worn completely through at one point like something stopped the belt and the crank pulley just spun on it in that one spot until it ground completely through it. The belts looked fine except for the one orange slice like section that was missing. After thinking about it awhile the only thing I could think of was my water pump impeller jammed and the crank pulley had less purchase grip on the belt than the WP pulley and the crank pulley just ate a slice out of it until it broke. So I took the water pump out which was only a couple years old and carefully inspected it. Bearings were smooth, the impeller looked fine. I installed it temporarily without a gasket and there were no clearance issues with the timing case and housing for the pump. No junk was present in the pump. So I put it all back together and fired it back up with new belts and have not had another bit of trouble with it since this happened about 6 years ago.

    A real bitch I could not determine conclusively what happened. But to this day I don’t feel comfortable going more than a few miles from home in the car and I always make sure I have my cell phone with me.
    Last edited by DanEC; 05-23-2020 at 11:59 AM.
    I'm now a deplorable terrorist according to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors - and proud of it and my membership in NRA and Gun Owners of America.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Funding Member Morris's Avatar
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    FM works for me....

  20. #20
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    Dean, glad your back running - just a thought if you experience getting out of time again soon it may be worth pulling the dizzy to check if you sheared the pin on the gear, it can continue to turn with the press fit but can show up as erratic timing changes.

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