I'm at a loss

ValVal Posts: 1,021Member
I am at a loss, my 39  six will not start. Back in Oct I was headed to Dr. Doug's from STL. I got about 40 miles from the Indiana border and the car just quit. No symptoms it just quit. So I have it towed home. I find the condenser wire loose and pulled from the condenser. Ok easy fix, I replace condenser, Bench check before install to be sure it Ohms. It does Gapped points at 20 as called out in the manual. installed distributor back and began to time the car. Put the pointer in-between the hash marks on the flywheel. Rotor points to number one.  Loosened the base of the distributor and turned counter clock wise until I got a spark from high tension wire. Car should start. No dice. I advance the distributor still no dice. I check and am getting fire to the plugs. Well one, but in theory if you get one you get all right? Battery is fully charged, Gas is getting to carb as I can smell it after awhile. Still no dice! So...I'm not sure what I need to do next. Timing is set, so that shouldn't be it. I even got a TDC whistle so I know when the #1 piston comes up. It almost seems like maybe its firing to early. But Im not sure. I am at a complete loss on this. ANY help, advice or other suggestions are most welcome and needed.  Thanks      


  • Jon BJon B Posts: 7,329Administrator
    This could be a number of things, of course.  One possibility: does your car have its original fiber timing gear?  These have been known to fail catastrophically, bringing one's journey to a dead stop.   Also --sometimes-- the metal hub separates from the outer gears in such a way that the gear stays intact, and sometimes the hub aligns with the outer gears, sometimes it rotates slightly so that the gears are out of sync.  So, the car go from smooth running to inoperable, and back to smooth running.  It's happened!  I've forgotten what the method is, for testing.  But (aside of removing the timing gear cover for inspection) you could turn the engine over as you watch the rotor go around. If it's not rotating normally, that's a clue that you may have timing gear problems.
  • ValVal Posts: 1,021Member
    My timing gears are metal and not fiber. However that could be an issue or at least something to check that I haven't yet done. Although I do recall seeing the rotor turn smoothly. I had my son in law turn the engine and watched it go around. Thanks Jon B 
  • charles4dcharles4d Posts: 625Expert Adviser
    Is the coil wire plug in the coil  and connection tite
  • rusty_apacherusty_apache Posts: 199Member
    Sometimes you can have spark at atmospheric pressure but none under compression. 
     You might clean or replace your spark plugs. 
    Sometimes they fire at atmospheric pressure but not under compression with air/fuel mixture present. 
    Every now and then it is the simplest things that go awry! 
  • ValVal Posts: 1,021Member
    Thanks to you both, I will check the coil wire as Charles4d says and I had planned to replace the plugs so I will do that now. 
  • hudsonsplasher1hudsonsplasher1 Posts: 779Senior Contributor
    Let us know what you find. Good luck.
  • supercubsupercub Posts: 149Member
    Try checking the timing with a buzzer connected to the ignition wire while turning the crank. An analog multimeter with buzzer feature is perfect for that.
     Are you checking microfarads at the condenser? Ohm readings dont give the true condition of a condenser. 
    A compression test will tell you if any valves are stuck. Checking cam phasing with a degree wheel will tell you if you've jumped timing. That would be quite involved. I've done it on an OHC bike, I found that the pressed on chain ring jumped 10 deg.
  • onerare39onerare39 Posts: 1,048Expert Adviser, Member
    I had the same thing happen with my 50 Studebaker.  Driving along fine and then dead in the water.  Had it towed home and proceeded to diagnosis.  After a few days of changing out condenser, coil, plug wires, turned out it was carbon buildup on the rotor, it fired right up after replacing.  Make sure you have a hot spark, you should be able to hear a snap, a faint spark won't ignite the fuel mixture.
  • ValVal Posts: 1,021Member
    AAAHH....you may have a point onerare39, I did feel the spark was a little week when I was doing the timing. I will check that rotor also. I ordered new plug wires today (as I wanted to change them out anyway) so I wont get to to it till at least this weekend. I'll keep you posted. And supercub if all this fails you have given me more options to try. Thank you!
  • ernie28ernie28 Posts: 496Expert Adviser
    I had the same thing as onerare39 with my 50 Pacemaker. Stopped dead at dusk! Got towed home and it transpired the rotor that looked perfectly fine was the issue. So simple when you finally find the issue!
  • kamzackkamzack Posts: 506Senior Contributor
    I had a tussel with coils for awhile. Went through 4 before I got one that worked well. But didn't last very long. I ordered a 6 volt Pertronics coil and problem solved Even in low temps bout the third rev it would fire up. It's whole lot a fun when they fir up almost immediately.
  • ValVal Posts: 1,021Member
    I have a 6 volt Pertronix coil as a back up
  • jjbubaboyjjbubaboy Posts: 866Senior Contributor
    I had a similar issue that turned out to be the points would occasionally stick open. Happened to me twice, just stopped dead. The center of the points had swelled just enough to stick open. Replaced them and no more problem.
  • ValVal Posts: 1,021Member
    hhmm.... could be, I can just as well change them as I am still waiting for my new plug wires. I'll have to get a set. Thanks for the food for thought Jeff.
  • ValVal Posts: 1,021Member
    Ok plug wire came today, Ordered distributor cam lube it will be here tomorrow. SO I'll start to build the plug wires tomorrow after work and go from there.  Jeff. so your points would stick intermittently...that's interesting. Enough for me to want to change mine, I'll keep you all posted 
  • ValVal Posts: 1,021Member
    Ok have found the contact points in my distributor cap to be charred on one side and loooks to have been firing late. I'll change cap and rotor. Maybe re time the car also
  • ValVal Posts: 1,021Member
    edited April 1
    All plug wires cut and assembled. Installed on the car. Have an Autolite IGB1240 Distributor cap but it doesn't seem to fit exact. Maybe it isn't really the 1240??.  Have Autolite IGB 1239 rotor. All new old stock. Distributor is IGW4126-A. New points, well at least NOS. So I have to be away for a few days but will get back to it next week. Will keep you all posted.   
  • GeoffGeoff Posts: 4,322Senior Contributor
    That is normal for the actual ends of the "contacts" to be burnt brown, as the spark jumps across from the rotor to these  terminal ends.   
  • ValVal Posts: 1,021Member
    Thanks for the info Geoff. 
  • ValVal Posts: 1,021Member
    Now waiting for the NOS IGB1240 distributor cap I ordered. Slowing getting all original Autolite ignition parts. Hoping she will fire up after all I have done.  
  • eddiehudsoneddiehudson Posts: 45Member
    Does your replacement cap say AUTOLITE or is it blank? Is it in an aftermarket box or just marked IGB 1240 on a tag?

    While you're waiting, clean your points and check the wires inside the distributer. 
  • rusty_apacherusty_apache Posts: 199Member
    Where did you get the replacement condenser?
    sometimes they are faulty right out of the box.
    Especially if they are recently manufactured.
  • ValVal Posts: 1,021Member
    The cap is stamped IGB 1240 inside the cap as they were back then the condenser and cap were bought on ebay. Points have been cleaned and cam lubed. I will check wires inside distributor this evening and I will test condenser also whe it arrives. Both should be here April 16. 
  • ValVal Posts: 1,021Member
    This is the cap I bought.
  • ValVal Posts: 1,021Member
    And what wires in my distributor?????? 
  • ToddhToddh Posts: 168Member
    edited April 10
    There are no wires in your distributor except the condenser wire.  Check the mechanical connection on the terminal connector for the condenser to make sure the solder joint is good.  If it’s just crimped (likely a later, after market), solder it
  • GlowplugGlowplug Posts: 2,233Expert Adviser
    There’re is a cloth covered jumper wire inside the distributor
  • ToddhToddh Posts: 168Member
    I stand corrected.  Comment on mechanical connection and soldering them still valid ?
  • supercubsupercub Posts: 149Member
    You can set the timing static with a buzzer or light bulb. If it turns on and off with crankshaft rotation, you are getting signal to the coil. Breakdowns that I have had include loose points, bad condenser, damaged ignition safety cutout wiring, empty gas tank, clogged muffler, bad carb needle valve. 
  • ValVal Posts: 1,021Member
    The condenser on my distributor is mounted on the outside not in it. my local chapter president said that I should remove the suppressor that is installed on my coil wire. I have it there to cut noise to the radio. But as I use redirad  I really don't need it I guess.  
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