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Watash

1952 Dodge Pilothouse B3B won't start

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Drove truck into garage and it sputtered and missed for first time ever.  Acting like carb, but not sure.  Two days later, I went to move it out of garage and it would not start.  Turning over very well, but won't start.  Really didn't even try.  I coasted it out to its spot in the drive and didn't test it for a couple of days.

 

It is getting gas and I even tried starting fluid to no avail.  Next with a friends help, there is no spark.  It has new distributor cap, new rotor, new points, new condenser, new wires and it has been driven 300 miles since the tune up and it ran great until that day. 

 

Check voltage to and from coil and it is good. Rechecked coil wire and it is good.  At a loss...thinking something up with the distributor itself.

 

Any ideas?

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check your points for crudded contacts, if burnt blue suspect bad condenser...or even a worn break cam that has rendered the point ineffective..

also be sure that the flexible wire inside is also not shorted out....this is easily verified with your volt ohm meter.....

 

any tune up parts you get, be sure you buy them based on the tag on the distributor, different models, different parts and the only way you can be sure some PO did not in the past swap out distributors is checking the tag and EVEN IF HE HAD, buy parts by this number

Edited by Plymouthy Adams

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Thanks, points are clean and it ran good for several hundred miles, so I thinks parts are correct.  What wire is the "flexible" wire you mention?

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Another thing to check since it is what took mine out: the bolt that holds the points in place can loosen allowing the points to rotate enough that they never open. That prevents proper firing for sure.

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If you take the coil wire out of the center of the dist cap and put it near a good grounds, when you manually open and close the points it shoud fire to ground each time the points close.  If it does, that would eliminate the coil as being the problem.  That short flexible wire goes from the points, to an insulated pheonolic fastener to the outside of the dist housing to the ground side of the coil.  If its loose, broken, or shorted you won't have any fire.

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Quite a lot of the points and condensers being sold these days are rubbish. In other words many just are not up to the job. Maybe you could find some good new old stock ones from when this stuff was made here? Otherwise you take your chances with the made in China items.

I fussed around with 3 different sets of points from 3 different suppliers early on with my truck. I know it shouldn't be like that....simple stuff really ....but these days it often is. I got tired of it and put a Pertronix module and matching coil in. Never had a problem with this set up. Pretty much fit and forget.

Jeff

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Jeff - the points I installed came from Autozone and they are their Duralast brand.  Not sure the overall quality.  If you can, I would like to have the Pertronix part number as I couldn't find the fit on their website.

 

Edited by Watash
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Let me offer an alternate electronic conversion idea.  On this site is a post detailing the conversion of a later Mopar slant six distributor for our flatties.  The advantage over an aftermarket conversion is the availability of local replacements when needed.  Beats ordering from pertronix, and they seem to be more reliable also.  Lots of pertronix failure stories on the 'net.  Not evidence of poor quality necessarily, but it does point to the possibility. Anything electronic will fail in time.

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I can't comment on those specific points. I can only tell you that most of the stuff like this that is available through retailers is made in China. Or somewhere overseas.

 

I drive my truck daily and have for the last 4 years. It always starts right up. Besides easy starting the inside of the distributor cap and the rotor stays nice and clean. No points system will stay nice like this does. We are talking about zero maintenance with this system......

The best way to order the module is to call them directly and give them the distributor model # and the voltage and polarity you want to use. If you go this route you should buy their matched coil and follow the instructions carefully.

 

I am aware that there are people who have had problems with these modules. I have not. I do know that this system should never be left in the on position for extended periods when the engine is not running.......and that not following the installation instructions to the letter can cause failure. I believe that these two items are probably the cause of the lions share of any module failures. Again mine has worked flawlessly. Also if it matters to you it looks entirely stock from the outside.

Jeff

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1 hour ago, kencombs said:

Let me offer an alternate electronic conversion idea.  On this site is a post detailing the conversion of a later Mopar slant six distributor for our flatties.  The advantage over an aftermarket conversion is the availability of local replacements when needed.  Beats ordering from pertronix, and they seem to be more reliable also.  Lots of pertronix failure stories on the 'net.  Not evidence of poor quality necessarily, but it does point to the possibility. Anything electronic will fail in time.

This is what I intend to do also but this switch only works of you have converted to 12v

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15 hours ago, Young Ed said:

This is what I intend to do also but this switch only works of you have converted to 12v

Good point Ed. My truck is still 6V positive ground. In retrospect I wish I would have converted mine to 12V during the build. Would have been less expensive and easier to set up and maintain. There is nothing really wrong with 6V but I have a lot of money in 6 volt specific components like the alternator, ignitions system, 6v to 12v power converters and batteries. Oh well....

Jeff

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1 hour ago, Watash said:

Plymothy Adams, back to the "flexible" wire.  Isn't it a ground wire anyway between the two plates?

I'm not Mr. Adams, but wire is a ground for the current from the coil to the points.  It is very important that it only ground when the points are closed and not when open.  After all, that is how a Kettering ignition works.

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Watash-that flexible wire is the wire from the point contact tips to the ground side of the coil.  When the points close, it allows the coil to discharge by collapsing the fields in the secondary windings-this is what creates the spark that is sent to the distributor to be routed to the correct spark plug.  It is flexible because the base plate will move slightly with the vacuum advance so it can't be mounted tightly to the housing.   If that wire, or if the insulated post that passes through the base of the distributor housing is shorted to ground you won't have any spark as the coil will be constantly grounded.  If you go back to my original reply, you will see a method to test the coil and points circuit.

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when the POINTS OPEN is when the field collapses and the secondary high voltage spark occurs....but yes, the flexible wire is there to connect the coil to ground through the points and not SHORT to ground in any other manner....If it grounds internally prior to the points contacts, the coil stays in saturation and will not fire....

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Update: I took the distributor off and cleans and reoiled.  Someone before me had taken the connector between the points and coilwire off.  I put in a new connector and rewired the points.  To my surprise, the bottom plate was bent.  Not sure how this could even happen.  I attempted to straighten it and it took my vise and a good bit of pressure to get it close to normal.  Anyway, checked connectivity after all was done and it checked out.  Good connectivity from distributor wire to base and points.  When points opened so was the current, so all seems well.

 

Reinstalled the distributor and the system still did not fire.  I am running the current through a resistor that knocks the voltage down to 6volts which is how it was wired when it was running.  Pretty much at a loss at this point.

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Simple way to test this. As PA noted when the points open the plug fires. Manually turn it over until #1 is ready to fire, TDC. Loosen the bolt holding the distributor so you can turn it CW-CCW. With the points open verify you have voltage to the the points. Rotate the distributor to close the distributor and verify you have voltage back to the coil.  Pull your spark plug or use a neon voltage tester connected to the plug wire, then quickly open the points, You should see a spark or flash on the tester.  So if you have voltage to the coil and it stops when the points open, then  your coil/resistor may be bad.  Pull the high voltage wire at the coil and insert the neon tester int the coil, then run the test again, close and open the points. If you get a flash at the coil then you may have a bad wire going back to the distributor, bad cap or rotor. Last test is pull the #1 plug wire from the distributor cap to the spark plug and use the neon tester in the distributor tower for the #1 plug wire. Run the test again. If you get a spark at the distributor cap then you have a bad wire or plug.  

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