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Old 01-15-2009, 08:18 PM
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Points style distributor issues

Hi guys
Ive got a 1957 Chevy apache step-side pickup. Its got the 6 Cly engine in it (the 235 model) and a 4 speed
My Issue is this:
There is NO spark getting through to the spark plugs. If i backtrack, there is no spark at the end of the coil (tested it by sticking a screwdriver in there, and not getting zapped) either. I now have some zap through the points, and it seems like they are grounding out properly, but for some reason it seems like the coil (which too is brand new) will not fire a big fat spark down the lead, through the rotor, and out to the plugs. End result: will not run!
I am not sure where to look anymore. I have looked at the key and put all of the wires back on that used to be there (i have a wiring diagram). But is it possible that there is some sort of wire lost that will keep the coil from firing if it is not connected to the key?
If these are stupid questions, please bear with me, im learning as i go, but if somebody has any ideas or has had a similar problem please let me know!
my truck thanks you!

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Old 01-15-2009, 09:23 PM
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Coil

I am mostly a Pinstriper/Airbrush guy but I'll share what I think I know based on what I did wrong.
Many older engines had a coil that required a separate "ballast resistor" be in the circuit.
Also the coil fires a really HOT jolt for starting purposes, but then it reduces the juice after the engine is running.
As I recall this is to save a little wear and tear on the points.
All of that revolves around how the wires are hooked up to the Start/run on the ignition switch.
Some coils have that resistor built inside them though.
I had a 6 cyl in my 1965 C10. It had a HEI distributor in it, so the coil was in the distributor, and there were no points.
When I took that out and put in the 283 it has a stock distributor. I didn't have the money to put a new HEI in it before I installed the engine.
The engine sits so far back I will have to remove the engine partially to drop the new distributor in it. So the next time the motor comes out for something I will be changing to HEI.
You might want to consider the same thing, and trash the whole points thing period.
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Old 01-15-2009, 11:45 PM
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Check polarity on the coil. Negative (-) goes to distributor. Incoming positive (+) voltage goes to... you guessed it, the plus (+) side of the coil.

When points are closed, key on, you can manually trip a spark from the coil by separating the points with a screwdriver. Snap snap snap... ouch.

Voltage at coil (plus side) will be approx. two tenths lower than at battery with key on.
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Old 01-16-2009, 12:06 AM
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Make sure you are getting power to coil . If you need to you can test by running a length of wire from batt. direct to coil +. If coil is getting power and still wont start, try replacing condenser in distr.
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Old 01-16-2009, 05:30 AM
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apache235...there are no stupid questions.
I would agree with 406,condenser probably bad.
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Old 01-16-2009, 06:38 AM
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hey guys thanks for replying!
so far i have checked the polarity on the coil, and it seems correct. As far as the condenser goes, its probably fine as i just installed a new one. I have tried the ol' positive terminal of the battery right to the + side of the coil.
I can manually "trip" the spark from the points using the screwdriver, and it seems like a pretty decent spark. But, i can take the lead off the coil (the big one that goes into the centre of the distributor) and put my finger in it and not get zapped. I think this is my problem.
It seems like something will not let the coil collapse and get that BIG spark down to the sparkplugs... anybody have any ideas?
thanks guys! ive tried all you mentioned but had to stop from a dead battery... will attempt again after work!
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Old 01-16-2009, 10:08 AM
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First use a test light to the - side of the coil and and with the alligator clip hooked to ground have a helper turn the engine over the light should flash distinctly this will verify the primary circuit of the coil is ok and the points are working.If the light stays on the points are not closing or are not grounded. If the light does not come on disconnect the wire from the neg terminal to the points and check from - terminal to ground with the key on if we have no light still and there is power at the + terminal the coil is bad. If we had a light with the - terminal wire to the points unhooked reconect the wire to the coil - terminal and unhook the condenser at the points bump the engine over till the points are open test light should light if so bump the engine till the points are closed if light now goes out condenser is bad.Hope this helps.
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Old 01-16-2009, 06:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by apache235
hey guys thanks for replying!
so far i have checked the polarity on the coil, and it seems correct. As far as the condenser goes, its probably fine as i just installed a new one. I have tried the ol' positive terminal of the battery right to the + side of the coil.
I can manually "trip" the spark from the points using the screwdriver, and it seems like a pretty decent spark. But, i can take the lead off the coil (the big one that goes into the centre of the distributor) and put my finger in it and not get zapped. I think this is my problem.
It seems like something will not let the coil collapse and get that BIG spark down to the sparkplugs... anybody have any ideas?
thanks guys! ive tried all you mentioned but had to stop from a dead battery... will attempt again after work!
I wrote a wiki article that will take you step by step to troubleshoot and fix your problem. print it out and take it out to the garage with you.
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Old 01-16-2009, 07:04 PM
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Quote:
As far as the condenser goes, its probably fine as i just installed a new one.
I've bought many a condensor over the years that was bad from the box. But seeing that you have spark to the points but not down to the plugs........Did you put the rotor back in? Not making fun, it happens. Also is it a new distributor cap or a used one? What do the pickups in the cap look like and at the end of the rotor? And do you have any spark at the cap where the wire plugs in?
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Old 01-17-2009, 06:54 AM
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Kevin thats funny I did just that not to long ago, removed the module on my hei hooked it to a crane box mounted remote coil whole 9 yards when I tried to start it nothing.Got every thing wired perfectly but the rotor was laying unnoticed on the bench.
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Old 01-17-2009, 10:11 AM
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Haha yea Kevin45, i did manage to get the rotor back in! The spark plug lines and cap are all brand new out of the box, and the pickups at the cap are in great condition. I am not sure if there is spark at the cap or not, this is will check today. You can really have a bad condenser right out of the box? and that little thing will keep things from firing?
T-Bucket, how can i find that wiki article you speak of?
Thanks guys, i know we are getting close here!
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Old 01-17-2009, 07:09 PM
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great news guys! she is now running!!!
thanks to all of your help, and a little luck, i finally figured out what was wrong, and with some tweaking with the condenser and point gaps, etc she started right up (well not that easy)
After 25 years of storage, shes back! now at least i know that she runs, now to start fixing everything else
thanks a lot men, all of your help made this possible!
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Old 01-18-2009, 07:21 AM
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Your welcome.
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Old 01-18-2009, 07:24 AM
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When your ready I'll show you how to have a lot hotter spark using your points dist and a junkyard module.The points will then only be used as a trigger and not carry current so will last much longer.
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Old 06-18-2013, 08:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barnym17 View Post
First use a test light to the - side of the coil and and with the alligator clip hooked to ground have a helper turn the engine over the light should flash distinctly this will verify the primary circuit of the coil is ok and the points are working.If the light stays on the points are not closing or are not grounded. If the light does not come on disconnect the wire from the neg terminal to the points and check from - terminal to ground with the key on if we have no light still and there is power at the + terminal the coil is bad. If we had a light with the - terminal wire to the points unhooked reconect the wire to the coil - terminal and unhook the condenser at the points bump the engine over till the points are open test light should light if so bump the engine till the points are closed if light now goes out condenser is bad.Hope this helps.
I have a similar issue as of last night on my '59 chevy 235 ignition system. It has only not started for me twice but last time ended up starting eventually. Last night I was not so lucky and had to tow it home. The previous time it happened I poured gas into the carb and it started after a lot of cranking. Last night I tried gas with no luck. It seems I am not getting spark.

When testing with a light, I have constant light on both terminals with ign in on position and while cranking. I will check the (-) wire to the dizzy to see if it is grounding. Other than that, does this sound like a bad condenser? Any chance the coil is bad? Everything else seems to be new and recently replaced which makes me think the previous owner might have also had some problems.

I would rather not buy a new coil if that can be ruled out judging by my symptoms.
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