View Full Version : Chevybaker electrical problem?

07-19-2008, 02:08 PM
I'll try not to be too wordy here,but I want to explain the situation as clearly as possible, so here goes-I have a 65 McKinnon 283.Last year,I added some upgrades like an Edelbrock 4bbl and manifold,MSD plug wires and Pertronix ignition with a Flame Thrower coil.Running great, no problems.However,I just couldn't stand the sound of that old starter, so I sent away for one of those gear reduction starters.It bolted in just fine,but here is where things get dicey.On the stock selonoid, there are 2 small terminals,R for resistor and S for starter.On the gear reduction sel,there is only one terminal.Nothing in the instructions mentions the R wire, so I hooked it together with the S wire and attached both to the single terminal.Not a good idea,as the IGN pole of the key switch got hot as all get-out.So I disconnected the R wire and taped it up.Starter kicks and fires,almost as good as my daily driver.Now,the coil gets hot and I mean HOTT!!After some research,I figured it needed a ballast resistor.I had a Mallory unit handy;wired it up as per the Pertronix instructions and that took care of the hot coil situation.Now the ballast resistor gets hot.Is this normal?Not the wires going to and from it,just the BR itself.ALSO,when it is first started, the ammeter goes all the way to the C mark but ends up between the center and C once it runs for awhile.What gives? In the words of Tricia Walsh-Smith, I'm going BONKERS!!!:(Thanks in advance for your help.

07-19-2008, 03:12 PM
It's been a while since I used a ballast resistor but I recall that they are hot. It makes sense to me that a resistance added in-line will produce heat. That's why they are mounted in ceramic. I'll take the fifth on the amp meter.

07-19-2008, 03:54 PM
S terminal is for actuation of the starter, R terminal provides 12 volts for starting (goes on distributor side of ballast resistor effectively bypassing voltage drop for starting only), I hope this helps!!!!!! and the ballast resistor will be hot due to the nature of resistance.

07-19-2008, 04:25 PM
What the others said. By the time that gear reduction starters hit the market for Chevy applications, the standard Chevy ignition system was HEI, which didn't need the R terminal, so it was not included. Hooking the R terminal to the S terminal would have the effect of energizing the starter solenoid through the pink resistor wire (if it is still present). Not a good thing. You did well to disconnect and tape off the R wire.

Not sure if Pertronix requires a ballast resistor. Ask the Pertronix experts.

It's normal for the ammeter to swing over to "Charge" right after a start. Cranking the engine sucks a lot of surface charge off the battery plates, and that makes for a heavy demand on the alternator for the first minute or so after starting. If it takes more than 5 minutes to drop back to its normal position, I'd be concerned that the battery was in poor shape. If the high-charge condition only persists for a half-minute or so, then I'd say you are looking good. Clearly, your voltage regulator is working.

Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

07-20-2008, 01:45 PM
You don't use a ballast resistor with the Pertronix ignition module. (although it may - or may not - run okay with one in the circuit)

Pompano Beach, FL
83 Avanti 377I

07-20-2008, 06:33 PM
I didn't think so either, Mike, but Pertronix had wiring diagrams for use with OR without a ballast resistor.The motor seems to run and idle well at this point, but I haven't had a chance to take it out for a drive where I can run it hard to test it out.That probably won't happen til next week.Meanwhile, I've put in a call to my "old-car mechanic" for his take on this and to have him address some other issues.I'll keep you guys updated, and thanks to everyone that replied.

07-24-2008, 09:32 PM
Took 'ol Sarah for a ride today for about half an hour,mostly on residental streets, but I did have it up to 50 on one occasion.Things seem to be running smooth, and after a while, the ammeter needle went from C down to just to the right of center.Now if I could just take care of that valve tap and that transmission snafu,I'd be in business!!