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View Full Version : Ignition: Sometimes friends mean well, but.......................:-(



Hawklover
09-18-2017, 02:04 PM
So a close friend who turned wrenches for over 30 years was visiting.
Things turned a bit 'heated' when we were discussing all things electrical and ignition.

I bragged that the last time I changed points, condenser, rotor, and cap were well over 20 years ago.......and even after all these years my trusty 'ol dwell meter shows that my running dwell is still within "spec' (albeit by one degree). I went on to say that after a few pumps of the gas pedal the car starts right up! Yearly I put a tiny amount of cam lube on, and put some oil on the rotor wick, and in the lower dizzy oil cup.

My friend attempted to 'school' me in "ignitions"..........basically telling me I should either change all the parts, or at worst re-set the point gap, then set timing. I came back and said, "if it ain't broke I'm not going to fix it'........especially since the car does start fairly quickly after sitting.......and goes like "snot" when on the expressway.

We agreed to disagree, and in the future I will be sure to add car repair to other things not discussed, like politics!

So who is correct????????

52-fan
09-18-2017, 02:15 PM
Any part can fail at random times, but if the system is working, I agree with you.

PackardV8
09-18-2017, 02:25 PM
I bragged that the last time I changed points, condenser, rotor, and cap were well over 20 years ago......

It depends. What works in your unique situation is not always what is best science. Even variables such as temperature and humidity can influence results. For example, in temperate climates with little variation, storage batteries can last for many years. In very hot, very dry Arizona, they may die in one season. Same with spark plug wires. Heat and dry kill them quickly. On the other hand, humidity is the enemy of plugs, cap, rotor and points. In dry climates, they may last for years, but in very humid areas corrode and fail sooner.

How the vehicle is stored makes a huge difference. Indoors, in moderate climates, stuff lasts. Outdoors in wide temperature swings, or in dirt-floor buildings in humid climates, not so good.

jack vines

greyben
09-18-2017, 03:29 PM
Theoretically the points rubbing block can wear over time, but I have never experienced this. In the past when my vehicles all had points and I also worked on a few other cars they seemed to perform well for 15-20K miles under normal driving conditions. For maximum performance they needed replacement more frequently. There is contact wear continuously due to breaking the electrical current flow to the coil primary. This wear is a slow continuous process and not a complete breakdown of the points. Points could function well beyond 20K miles, especially if high rpm heavy load demands are not required. In the 1970s CD units became available that still retained the original points. It was my experience that points might last longer than the car with these units. It also at least doubled plug life.

Hawklover
09-18-2017, 03:32 PM
Jack, the car is garage(concrete floor) kept year 'round on Long Island. I will say that I do agree with you on one salient point.......four years ago I had to toss what I thought were good for life parts since less than 5k miles were on them after 20 years...the plugs had to be chopped out due to rust, along with that were the wires...full of corrosion, as was the cap...so yes the points, cond, and rotor were still great......the other parts had to be changed due to almost impossible starts after sitting.
It depends. What works in your unique situation is not always what is best science. Even variables such as temperature and humidity can influence results. For example, in temperate climates with little variation, storage batteries can last for many years. In very hot, very dry Arizona, they may die in one season. Same with spark plug wires. Heat and dry kill them quickly. On the other hand, humidity is the enemy of plugs, cap, rotor and points. In dry climates, they may last for years, but in very humid areas corrode and fail sooner.

How the vehicle is stored makes a huge difference. Indoors, in moderate climates, stuff lasts. Outdoors in wide temperature swings, or in dirt-floor buildings in humid climates, not so good.

jack vines

Hawklover
09-18-2017, 03:35 PM
Every year the cam gets a tiny bit of lube, so the rubbing blocks are not wearing. I also gently "dress" the contact point surfaces.
Theoretically the points rubbing block can wear over time, but I have never experienced this. In the past when my vehicles all had points and I also worked on a few other cars they seemed to perform well for 15-20K miles under normal driving conditions. For maximum performance they needed replacement more frequently. There is contact wear continuously due to breaking the electrical current flow to the coil primary. This wear is a slow continuous process and not a complete breakdown of the points. Points could function well beyond 20K miles, especially if high rpm heavy load demands are not required. In the 1970s CD units became available that still retained the original points. It was my experience that points might last longer than the car with these units. It also at least doubled plug life.

thunderations
09-18-2017, 03:41 PM
In the perfect world, if you set the points correctly when installed, and set the timing correctly, readjusting the points back to the same dwell will also correctly set the timing again.

Hawklover
09-18-2017, 04:45 PM
You know I never even considered that!!!!!!
In the perfect world, if you set the points correctly when installed, and set the timing correctly, readjusting the points back to the same dwell will also correctly set the timing again.

wittsend
09-18-2017, 05:20 PM
Humm..., maybe rather than replacing the parts, you should replace the friend. LOL

Bud
09-18-2017, 05:30 PM
I periodically check the voltage drop across the points. If it is less than .2 volts then the points are still fit for use. If the voltage drop is more than .2 volts, then the points are replaced. Point life has a bunch of variables such as the quality of the points, current drawn through the points and the condition of the cam follower which will all effect the life of the points. My theory is if the dwell is good and the voltage drop is within limits, then the points will stay in service. Bud

altair
09-18-2017, 05:45 PM
Your friend that twisted bolts for 30 years is most likely a business type as opposed to a hobby type. Business types only have one thing on their mind $$$. I have a "friend" in the tire business I had a problem with getting a good grip on a steep wet grade at a traffic light. I asked my "friend" if my tires were directional and could they be on backwards. His quick conclusion you need new tires (and you should buy them from me). The tires were about 50% I felt his conclusion was somewhat biased and did not buy his new tires. 20,30 or 40 years in the business isn't necessarily the end-all be-all if you are on different terms, business versus hobby. I had an engine put through a production shop that had unnecessary work done because of $$$ ($700).

Mike Sal
09-18-2017, 05:50 PM
My rule was always let the parts tell you what they need. If the points aren't leaving a pit / spike on the faces, that means the condenser is just right, so I leave them both alone. I'll bet the points in my '50 champ are 20 years old, and the car always started easy.
Mike Sal

Mike Van Veghten
09-18-2017, 05:52 PM
On one hand...I hate the phrase..."If it ain't broke, don't fix it".
If that were to be lived by, we'd all still be driving Model "T's".

On the other hand, new parts can...fail. I recall installing all new ignition (points, condenser, etc.) parts in an engine. the engine started acting up a coupla days later, I put the "old" condenser back in...problem solved. I've also seen the point set, contact point break off the arm after about a week of normal driving.

One takes his pick.

Mike

jg61hawk
09-18-2017, 05:58 PM
At this point in time I agree with you not to touch the points, condenser, cap or rotor if the dwell can be adjusted and all works. Here's why I stopped playing under the cap...I changed the things mentioned and about a month later looked under the cap to lube the cam or check the wire and guess what? I found all sorts of brass metal shavings where the new rotor and the cap had "worn together". OK I thought my bearing must be shot, my distributor must be worn. No nothing of the sort. My dwell meter showed a consistent reading, not one indicating a bounce or a wobble in the shaft. I too always lube the cam and the oil tube. So what was happening? The new parts, I was told, just aren't of the quality we used to get and so this is common for the rotor and cap to wear together. This is not WHAT I WANT, A BUNCH OF BRASS CHIPS IN MY DISTRIBUTOR. I cleaned everything and vacuumed the area. I'll leave these two alone now that they have mated. As far as the points they simply make and break, the condenser could last a lifetime or a minute. My theory is now like yours...if the dwell is right all is right. I carry a complete tune up kit. Hopefully that scares away the goblins.

I do change the plugs and wires every 7 years regardless of miles (meaning of course I don't make the 10,000 mile mark).

Hawklover
09-18-2017, 07:14 PM
You know I have another friend in the repair business located in Hazlet, NJ......his take on the situation is that I have done excellent maintenance on the car, and the fact the total dwell (after 20 years) is still within factory spec, and the fact the car fires quickly, dictates that I leave the dizzy alone! Additionally, the car can reach 100 mph and not break up or miss says something, (I do not do this too often) I also carry spares in the trunk which includes water and fuel pumps.
At this point in time I agree with you not to touch the points, condenser, cap or rotor if the dwell can be adjusted and all works. Here's why I stopped playing under the cap...I changed the things mentioned and about a month later looked under the cap to lube the cam or check the wire and guess what? I found all sorts of brass metal shavings where the new rotor and the cap had "worn together". OK I thought my bearing must be shot, my distributor must be worn. No nothing of the sort. My dwell meter showed a consistent reading, not one indicating a bounce or a wobble in the shaft. I too always lube the cam and the oil tube. So what was happening? The new parts, I was told, just aren't of the quality we used to get and so this is common for the rotor and cap to wear together. This is not WHAT I WANT, A BUNCH OF BRASS CHIPS IN MY DISTRIBUTOR. I cleaned everything and vacuumed the area. I'll leave these two alone now that they have mated. As far as the points they simply make and break, the condenser could last a lifetime or a minute. My theory is now like yours...if the dwell is right all is right. I carry a complete tune up kit. Hopefully that scares away the goblins.

I do change the plugs and wires every 7 years regardless of miles (meaning of course I don't make the 10,000 mile mark).

Hawklover
09-18-2017, 07:16 PM
You are CORRECT!!!!!!
Your friend that twisted bolts for 30 years is most likely a business type as opposed to a hobby type. Business types only have one thing on their mind $$$. I have a "friend" in the tire business I had a problem with getting a good grip on a steep wet grade at a traffic light. I asked my "friend" if my tires were directional and could they be on backwards. His quick conclusion you need new tires (and you should buy them from me). The tires were about 50% I felt his conclusion was somewhat biased and did not buy his new tires. 20,30 or 40 years in the business isn't necessarily the end-all be-all if you are on different terms, business versus hobby. I had an engine put through a production shop that had unnecessary work done because of $$$ ($700).

- - - Updated - - -

Good suggestion!!
Humm..., maybe rather than replacing the parts, you should replace the friend. LOL

jg61hawk
09-18-2017, 07:56 PM
I wouldn't lose a friend over politics, religion, and certainly not car maintenance. We all are good and the older we get the better we were! "I'm OK and who really cares what you think...we'll both forget what were we talking about."

I love these old Model A's.

jclary
09-18-2017, 08:36 PM
Funny thread...Some friends mean well...and others are...well...MEAN!:mad:

But, if you think about it, the conversation between the original poster and his friend is very common. In fact, it is much like what goes on here.;) Confirmed by much of the posts that have followed.:lol:

I would certainly not allow a trivial matter of vintage engine "tune-up" philosophy to interfere with what is, otherwise, a valuable friendship.:whome:

Sometimes, it is best to smile, give an affirmative nod, and when he "ain't look'n" DO WHAT WORKS for you.;)

After all...One of the best solutions ever invented is 'WHAT EVER WORKS!":!:

BILT4ME
09-22-2017, 06:13 PM
But did you actually tell him that you were "dressing" the points regularly? That in itself takes care of a LOT of issues. I just cannot find a good points file these days and I cannot see well enough to do this without removing the points. So, for me...If I'm going to pull them, I may as well change them. That being said, I think I have (3) sets of used points in the trunk....just in case.....

You're both right. Both situations work. One costs less in time, the other costs less in cash. But if it's running well and not missing and it starts OK....leave it alone.

Hawklover
09-22-2017, 06:45 PM
Over thirty years ago I grabbed the Snap=On guy and purchased a complete "Ignition Tool Set" in a soft roll, in there is a point file and many other tools used in dist work etc.

But did you actually tell him that you were "dressing" the points regularly? That in itself takes care of a LOT of issues. I just cannot find a good points file these days and I cannot see well enough to do this without removing the points. So, for me...If I'm going to pull them, I may as well change them. That being said, I think I have (3) sets of used points in the trunk....just in case.....

You're both right. Both situations work. One costs less in time, the other costs less in cash. But if it's running well and not missing and it starts OK....leave it alone.

Hallabutt
09-22-2017, 08:42 PM
I tend to agree with you, here's why. In 2008 I stumbled on a 1960 wagon that had been in a garage since 1969. It was perfect storage. The car was put away because he supposedly lost a rod. Original paint and interior, all rubber original and still live, the brakes, radio, and everything else worked fine (except the clock). When we found that the engine still turned over curiosity got the best of us, and we go it running in about ten minutes. V8 auto. which still went into gear with no additional trans. fluid. The engine did have a knock and was rebuilt. The gas tank was still tinned inside and the gas still pink and fresh. Points looked good so I left them alone. Forty eight years later "Humphrey" still runs great on those same points.

Dan Timberlake
09-23-2017, 10:18 AM
Low voltage drop across points (points resistance) , proper dwell ( gap) , smooth working , fully advancing mechanical centrifugal advance, properly working vac advance. Changing parts won't "fix" that.