Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

An unusual failure

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Ignition: An unusual failure

    Went out to pick up a gallon of milk in my 60 Lark VI and didn't make it home. This was quite a shock given the sterling reliability of the car over the last 70K miles. On the steep hill on the interstate it started to buck, got worse, and finally died utterly a few hundred feet from the top. I fiddled with the points and tugged on wires to no avail--having only my penknife with me. Finally came home on the end of a tow strap. Various tests at home showed all was OK but not a single pop out of the engine. Pulled the rotor off for the tenth time and noticed a small white spot adjacent to where the contact is riveted on. Pulled the retainer out of the backside and there was a white spot. The spark had been grounding clean through the bakelite right to the distributor shaft. Shoved on a new rotor and she fired up like nothing ever happened. My logbook hints the rotor was there about 40K miles and I guess the the increased voltage necessary to fire the plugs on the hill was finally enough to find the flaw.

  • #2
    good mechanic and run it till she blows

    Comment


    • #3
      An interesting failure, and something to add to our troubleshooting list. Glad that you got it figured out. Hopefully the new replacement is better quality.

      Comment


      • #4
        Did your gallon of milk turn to buttermilk? As I was taught in sales for Allen Testing equipment, inside the distributor the spark will travel the path of least resistance. As you point out, it was the tenth time to notice something that was simple. Glad you got it fixed and thanks for sharing with all of us.

        Bob Miles

        Comment


        • #5
          Check those plug wires.gm had a problem exactly like this in late '70's. to much resistance in old plug wires and the rotor burned through to ground. used to carry a spare gm rotor in my lark for the other guy, got used a lot!!! nice job. Luck Doofus

          Comment


          • #6
            I've seen rotor burn through a few times with Delco window distributor rotors and once on a 50 Land Cruiser distributor. While not common, burn through does happen and is something to look for if there is spark at the ignition coil, but not at the spark plugs. Bud

            Comment


            • #7
              This brings up the question of "back in the day" when vehicles were running "points" type ignitions how often was it recommended that a regular "tune up" occur? Which would include points, condensor, rotor and cap. My recollection it was around 10 k miles. 40 k seems a bit much.
              Dan Peterson
              Montpelier, VT
              1960 Lark V-8 Convertible
              1960 Lark V-8 Convertible (parts car)

              Comment


              • #8
                Reminds me I need to put a new rotor in my trunk kit - I’m running the ‘61 Delco distributor

                Clark in San Diego | '63 Standard (F2) "Barney" | http://studeblogger.blogspot.com

                Comment


                • #9
                  Don't want to leave home without points, condenser, and rotor in the glovebox. My Hawk once did something akin to this . Started running very rough and barely made it to the auto hobby shop on base. I pulled the cap off and found about 1/4 inch burned off the end of the rotor. Replaced it and all was well.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Those who love points and complain of unleaded gasoline may be forgetting back in the bad old days, spark plugs seldom lasted 10,000 miles. Today's hot ignitions and unleaded, spark plugs last 100,000 miles.

                    jack vines
                    PackardV8

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      But Jack.......brand name plugs were < $ 1.00 each AND we could change them ourselves and prove our masculinity in the driveway for the neighbors to see .

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        My 84 GTI left me in the middle of nowhere when the rotor decided it was time to crumble into dust. Had to walk 6 miles to get help. I carried a spare after that!
                        _______________
                        http://stude.vonadatech.com
                        https://jeepster.vonadatech.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by firestoper 25 View Post
                          But Jack.......brand name plugs were < $ 1.00 each AND we could change them ourselves and prove our masculinity in the driveway for the neighbors to see .
                          Not if you were driving a 1955 Speedster, or other Studebaker with power steering. Could you do it in the driveway? Yes you could, but I'm afraid that the time you were going to spend in the driveway would cause your neighbors to wonder about your wrench twisting, ability. The front two plugs on the left side of the engine were nearly impossible to R and R without also moving the whole PS unit.

                          After doing the job several times and always having to dedicate much more time to the project then I thought appropriate, I was frustrated. One day I saw a sign on a local gas station "we change plugs for $1.25 a plug," I jumped on it. The first thing that I said to the gas station manager/owner, that I was I'm sorry to do this to you but.... His response was a confident reply that he could get it done. I waited, hours went by, he finally came back in the office with a defeated look on his face and said "I give up."

                          I really had hoped that he could get the job done, but it was also a bit of an experiment as well. Contrary of feeling defeated by the exercise, I was buoyed up by the fact that not even a confident professional had been able to handle the job easily. When these cars were transportation, I can't remember ever coming up with a solution with which I felt satisfied. Today if an engine comes out new plugs go in before the engine goes back in. It would be interesting if someone thinks that they have solved the problem. Not that I'm tempted to do the job in the near future, it's just my inquiring mind would like to know. It might help some masochist who has an afternoon of torture scheduled.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I'm so lucky (while in high school) my 54 Commander (V-8 w/ 3 speed O'drive) did NOT have any power steering so no plug problems.

                            Fast forward to today.... good old 63R1089 has the great looking SS wire shields, PS & SN 92 squeezer to add to the time line of plug swapping. BUT I also have a life time plethora of spark plug removal tools - extensions - universals - saw cut plug sockets - 12 point offset wrenches - etc. to driveway tune up the beast.

                            You are correct about your knuckle busting 55 Speedster experience (), can feel your pain.

                            I have been blessed with easy to work 'driveway - tune up' auto's during my DIY days. They were both domestic and imported examples.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Hallabutt, I guess I'm misunderstanding something, but the FRONT two plugs on my 55 with Power steering are wide open.... The back ones take a few minutes, and are nearly easy if I just lift the battery out. Is there something different about the PS side or type on my 55 Coupe ? Click image for larger version

Name:	DSCN7199 - Copy.JPG
Views:	182
Size:	164.9 KB
ID:	1891000

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X