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How do I hook up my dwell meter?

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  • How do I hook up my dwell meter?

    Since I bought my Studebaker, I've been buying some tools I need to tune this thing up. I bought a new Craftsman Penske timing light and a used Snap On dwell/tach meter on Ebay.

    How do I hook up the Snap On? There are three leads (I'm assuming these things are all alike). Red, Black and Yellow. I can guess where the red and black go, but the yellow?

    Also, can someone explain Dwell in layman's terms? I'm assuming it doesn't mean I have to try and live in the distributor. Get it, live in, dwell, oh well

    ________________________
    Mark Anderson
    http://home.alltel.net/anderm
    1965 Studebaker Cruiser

  • #2
    The yellow wire clips onto the ignition coil at the same termimal as the little wire that runs to the distributor. NOT the fat wire in the center that goes to the center of the distributor, but a thinner (14 gauge?) wire that screws onto a terminal to the side of the fat sparkplug-like wire in the center.

    I just had a refresher in this tuning up my Stude. Good Luck

    Justin

    Comment


    • #3
      quote:Originally posted by 65cruiser

      Since I bought my Studebaker, I've been buying some tools I need to tune this thing up. I bought a new Craftsman Penske timing light and a used Snap On dwell/tach meter on Ebay.

      How do I hook up the Snap On? There are three leads (I'm assuming these things are all alike). Red, Black and Yellow. I can guess where the red and black go, but the yellow?

      Also, can someone explain Dwell in layman's terms? I'm assuming it doesn't mean I have to try and live in the distributor. Get it, live in, dwell, oh well

      ________________________
      Mark Anderson
      http://home.alltel.net/anderm
      1965 Studebaker Cruiser
      It's easy Mark, and I'm really glad to hear that you got a good dwell meter. A dwell meter is really the ONLY correct way to set points. As you guessed, the red wire goes to the positive terminal on the battery and the black wire goes to the negative terminal. As Justin has said, the yellow lead should be connected, (on a negative ground system), on the coil, on the negative post, (the same post that the distributor wire is connected to). On a positive ground system, it goes on the positive post on the coil.

      Also, when setting dwell, you'll usually see a "range" suggested for the dwell, (i.e., 28-32 degrees), you always want to set the dwell "in the middle" of whatever range is suggested.

      The concept of dwell is simple, when the points open and close, they allow the coil to energize, (build energy), and then release energy through the cap, rotor, into the spark plug wires to the spark plugs at the necessary rate and at the right time. How long the points stay closed is the DWELL, (or more correctly, dwell angle or dwell period).

      The dwell numbers are given in distributor shaft degrees, because that's the number of degrees the breaker cam, (the big, oddly shaped piece in the center of the distributor that the points arm rubs against), rotates from the time the breaker points close until they open again.

      Too much dwell can cause a late spark, rough running, restricted RPM, early point and condenser failures. Too little dwell causes a weak spark, overheated points, (making them "stuck" points), poor engine performance, and more.

      I'd like to suggest that you don't waste your time trying to set bad points. You MUST start with a good set of points to get it right. Meaning, pull that point set out and look carefully at the point contact surfaces themselves AND VERY carefully check the little "block" or the little bit of material that actually rubs against the breaker cam. If the points have ever overheated or are well worn, that little bit of material will foil all your best attempts at keeping the car running right. On the cheap point sets, the rub material is plastic and actually melts. The rub block should have a pronounced "peak" where it touches the cam! Using a new or very good point set is simply cheap insurance.

      What's a useable points set? The contacts should be perfectly flat, (no peaks or craters in either surface), have enough "meat", (thickness of the point contact surfaces), aligned as perfectly as possible, enough "meat" with a nice pronounced peak on the rub block, and no oil residue anywhere on the whole set.

      Before I install the points I use compressed air to completely blow out any junk in the distributor. I spray the whole point set, distributor cap and rotor with something like "Brake Kleen", blow them off with compresses air too and rub a VERY tiny amount of dielectric grease, (available in tiny, single application packages at ANY FLAPS), on the breaker cam before I install the points.

      Do NOT spray ANY cleaner into the distributor, it has bushings under the breaker plate and if it pools down there and you don't get it all out, you're screwed. Some of our distributors have an oil port built right into the outside of the di
      Sonny
      http://RacingStudebakers.com

      Comment


      • #4
        Sonny,

        Thank you so much! I can't wait to get home today to set my dwell! Great information.

        ________________________
        Mark Anderson
        http://home.alltel.net/anderm
        1965 Studebaker Cruiser

        Comment


        • #5
          Okay, I got home today, popped the hood on the Cruiser and hooked up all my new "toys". First, I checked my dwell. It was WAY off (still is). It's showing 41 and the shop manual calls for 31-34. I don't have new points yet (they're coming tomorrow). Then, I decided to check my timing. Wow, it was set at like 2" AFTER TDC when it should be 8 BTDC. So, I reset that. Of course, that screwed up the idle, so I set that.

          Already, she runs like a scalded cat. Before, she had very little pickup, but I just attributed that to the little 194 six. Totally different now. I may have to retard the timing just a hair because under to the floor acceleration I get just a hint of ping for a second or two. I'm going to bet my gas mileage goes up too (which hasn't been good). I've only been able to squeeze about 16 mpg out of the old girl so far.

          I'm having too darn much fun with this car

          ________________________
          Mark Anderson
          http://home.alltel.net/anderm
          1965 Studebaker Cruiser

          Comment


          • #6
            quote:Originally posted by 65cruiser

            Okay, I got home today, popped the hood on the Cruiser and hooked up all my new "toys". First, I checked my dwell. It was WAY off (still is). It's showing 41 and the shop manual calls for 31-34. I don't have new points yet (they're coming tomorrow). Then, I decided to check my timing. Wow, it was set at like 2" AFTER TDC when it should be 8 BTDC. So, I reset that. Of course, that screwed up the idle, so I set that.

            Already, she runs like a scalded cat. Before, she had very little pickup, but I just attributed that to the little 194 six. Totally different now. I may have to retard the timing just a hair because under to the floor acceleration I get just a hint of ping for a second or two. I'm going to bet my gas mileage goes up too (which hasn't been good). I've only been able to squeeze about 16 mpg out of the old girl so far.

            I'm having too darn much fun with this car

            ________________________
            Mark Anderson
            http://home.alltel.net/anderm
            1965 Studebaker Cruiser
            Great! Sounds like you've got it down already Mark! Just one little problem though, you can't get the timing right unless that dwell is right, that's probably why you have that touch of ping. What I didn't tell you is that the dwell, when expressed in degrees, ALSO means crank degrees. Dwell greatly effects engine timing.

            The way to do a good tune up is to set dwell first, set timing next, adjust the carb last.

            So, jump right back in there, even though they might not be the best points in the world, and "practice" setting the points. It's sort of a PITA on the 6 cylinders, (ya just can't see anything while you're doing it).

            It takes a touch of finesse and practice, but the best way to set that dwell is get yourself a remote starter switch, (at the good ol' FLAPS), connect it to the solenoid, (two wires, one on the big positive post and one on the small post on the front of the solenoid), pull the coil wire, loosen the screw on the points until you can JUST open/close the points to make the adjustment, stick a flat screw driver down in there in between the two little "raised buttons" on the breaker plate and the tiny slot in the end of the points, hit the remote starter and twist the screw driver slowly one way or another until you get the dwell right on, (I'd set 'em at 32).

            One BIG note, when you set the dwell then retighten the screw on the points, make SURE to check the dwell again. The dwell's been known to change when ya tighten that dam screw down. I've actually had to set them a touch low or high to get the right dwell when I tighten them down, it's not all that unusual.

            Also, while I'm thinking about it, try not to have the screw so tight on the points while you're adjusting them that you move the breaker plate too, that can drive ya nuts.

            Sonny
            http://RacingStudebakers.com
            Sonny
            http://RacingStudebakers.com

            Comment


            • #7
              Guess what else I discovered? You can't set the dwell on a 6 cylinder. Only the gap. Once the gap is set, that's what sets the dwell--there is no further adjustment. If the dwell is off, then you have to check the gap again. I took that right out of the shop manual. So, if my dwell is off, my gap is probably wrong. So, tomorrow I'll be going through all of that, replacing the points, then rechecking the timing.

              ________________________
              Mark Anderson
              http://home.alltel.net/anderm
              1965 Studebaker Cruiser

              Comment


              • #8
                quote:Originally posted by 65cruiser

                Guess what else I discovered? You can't set the dwell on a 6 cylinder. Only the gap. Once the gap is set, that's what sets the dwell--there is no further adjustment. If the dwell is off, then you have to check the gap again. I took that right out of the shop manual. So, if my dwell is off, my gap is probably wrong. So, tomorrow I'll be going through all of that, replacing the points, then rechecking the timing.

                ________________________
                Mark Anderson
                http://home.alltel.net/anderm
                1965 Studebaker Cruiser
                http://RacingStudebakers.com
                Sonny
                http://RacingStudebakers.com

                Comment


                • #9
                  Electronic Ignition. (Pertronix,Crane,MSD....) Still looks original, No more headaches!

                  Dallas,Texas

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Sonny,

                    I'm happy for the great explanations I've gotten here. It's been years since I fooled with a points car. The last one I had was back in 1975 (1966 Ford Econoline). I finally put electronic ignition in that one, but prior to that my dad always helped me tune it up. Now, he doesn't remember how to do it

                    The shop manual is the greatest little book. It explains everything SO well (just not how to hookup the dwell meter). I've not replaced or adjusted the points yet. I think I'm going to do a complete tune up (plugs, points, dist cap & rotor, etc) just so I know where everything is on this car. I have no idea when these pieces were replaced. I do have a slight low speed miss at idle, but don't know if that's in the ignition or the carb. I'll find it.

                    ANYWAY, I reset the timing last night and got that right on the money. I know I'll need to check that after I reset/replace the points, but the car runs a lot better (not that it ran badly before). I don't see any distributor wear (based on the dwell reading I'm getting now--it's steady as a rock), but obviously the points are mis-adjusted.

                    According to my shop manual (remember this is a McKinnon engined car), the V8 distributor has a "window" to adjust the dwell. Imagine that! Now I know why everyone talks about Delco window distributors on the other newsgroup[^] And I thought only computers had windows[}]

                    Danarchy mentioned a Pertronix and to be honest, I'd given that some thought until I started reading about people having trouble with them and having them die on the side of the road. I see a few people that carry points in their Pertronix cars in case the unit dies. Why bother? At least if the points puke it's an easy fix (something I can do from the side of the road).

                    Which brings me to my next point [enter dreamlike state]...why I bought a Studebaker. Beside my love for the cars, I wanted something "fixable". Cars today may go for 100,000 miles and need nothing, but when that baby finally dies it's gonna cost you some jack. My son's Camaro puked a few weeks back. Blew out the computer and one injector (had to replace three). Cost $425 at the shop. There was no real way to troubleshoot that problem. When you have more than one thing go south, you're scr*wed. Found out the injector shorted, which blew the computer. The shop actually blew TWO computers before they figured out it was the injector. Glad that wasn't me. Before that, my Cadillac developed problems in the computer that took me nearly a month to get worked out.

                    When I open the hood of the Stude, I just stand there in amazement. An engineering marvel in its simplicity. Fuel pump? Right there, within easy reach. Spark plugs? Hey, I can see em! Distributor? Yep, easy reach. Water pump? I could change it by feel and wouldn't even have to pull the radiator.

                    Yes, it's old and some people call it an old man's car. But, there's not a day goes by that I don't get several thumbs up, a honk, or people asking me about the car. It makes people smile. Heck, it makes me smile everything I put the key IN THE DASH WHERE IT BELONGS and start her up.

                    And, you know something else? I bought this car on February 28th. I drive it every day to work (almost 4,000 miles so far). It went to South Bend and back. Completely trouble free. No trouble, nada. I maintain it meticulously and have no worries about this car leaving me stranded.

                    Okay, I'm done now[8D]

                    ________________________
                    Mark Anderson
                    http://home.alltel.net/anderm
                    1965 Studebaker Cruiser

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Mark, you've hit the nail on the head with your comments about "modern" cars. I think of 'em as "Plastic Fantastic Electronic Money Generators" (for dealers & makers).
                      Buy a new car today, and you end up "married" to the autorised dealer. He has the necessary diagnostic equipment, unique to "your" model. They don't repair either, it's only "the whatsit is no good, we'll put a new one in for you". Must be a genuine part or your warranty goes south in a big way. So, the owner keeps putting his hand into the pocket on a regular basis.
                      Thankfully, the classic cars are always there - no plastic, no electronics and no depreciation.
                      / H

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        quote:Originally posted by 65cruiser

                        Sonny,

                        I'm happy for the great explanations I've gotten here. It's been years since I fooled with a points car. The last one I had was back in 1975 (1966 Ford Econoline). I finally put electronic ignition in that one, but prior to that my dad always helped me tune it up. Now, he doesn't remember how to do it

                        <BIG SNIP OF THE GOOD STUFF TO SAVE ROOM>

                        Okay, I'm done now[8D]

                        ________________________
                        Mark Anderson
                        http://home.alltel.net/anderm
                        1965 Studebaker Cruiser
                        I know EXACTLY what you mean about the old cars, simplicity at it's best! In fact, (and VERY unusual for this time of year), I drive my '60 Lark as a daily driver too. I LOVE it, and all the fun and people interested in it just add to the enjoyment.

                        For some reason I thought your car was a '64. But no problem, everything we've talked about applies to that McKinnon too. The best part is that window Delco, soooooo easy to adjust. For that ya just get a 1/8" allen wrench, (longer wrench is better), pick that window up, stick that allen wrench in the screw on the points and voila, quick and easy!

                        BTW, I always take the little tab off the "window" that keeps it from coming all the way up/off. Just give the metal window an extra tug when you pull it up, and break off the little tab that's sticking out. Then, just slide it back in the cap when you finish adjusting, it'll stay there no problem. It's kind of a pain to hold it up to find the screw and just easier while you're adjusting. If you scout around a bit, you can find the old-style tool made just for adjusting the window distributors. It has a screw driver type handle, with a wound-wire shank and an allen wrench built right on the end. I've seen them in a couple of the FLAPS.

                        Old man's car? Those thumbs up that you get mean that a LOT of people would love to be IN that "old man's car"! Pull it up in front of ANY country club in the world, and right next to the most expensive new car in the world, which one do you think would draw the biggest crowd? [:I]

                        Keep us updated on the progress will ya? That's MY favorite thing about this place, I really enjoy listening to everyone's progress reports!!!



                        Sonny
                        http://RacingStudebakers.com
                        Sonny
                        http://RacingStudebakers.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          quote:Originally posted by hank63

                          Mark, you've hit the nail on the head with your comments about "modern" cars. I think of 'em as "Plastic Fantastic Electronic Money Generators" (for dealers & makers).
                          Buy a new car today, and you end up "married" to the autorised dealer. He has the necessary diagnostic equipment, unique to "your" model. They don't repair either, it's only "the whatsit is no good, we'll put a new one in for you". Must be a genuine part or your warranty goes south in a big way. So, the owner keeps putting his hand into the pocket on a regular basis.
                          Thankfully, the classic cars are always there - no plastic, no electronics and no depreciation.
                          / H
                          Hank, I laughed so hard my sides hurt!! Toooo funny! From now on I'm gonna refer to the new cars as a PFEMG!!! Man did you EVER hit the nail right on the head. That's the car maker's plan, Get 'em, KEEP 'em paying! They make TONS more money fixing your car than they do selling it to ya! I know what you're gonna do, just like I'm gonna do, keep driving my Studebakers, right on past ALL those dealerships. Thanks for the great laugh!



                          Sonny
                          http://RacingStudebakers.com
                          Sonny
                          http://RacingStudebakers.com

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I think I confused you Sonny with the comment about the window on the distributor. The V8s have those, but my 194 six does not. So, technically, I can't adjust the dwell, just the point gap. So, when I check my dwell now and see that it's off, that tells me my gap must be wrong.



                            ________________________
                            Mark Anderson
                            http://home.alltel.net/anderm
                            1965 Studebaker Cruiser

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              No, you are adjusting the dwell everytime you adjust the point gap. Just because you can't do it with a allen wrench through a window does not mean you are not setting the 'dwell' by messing with the gap.

                              Studebaker On The Net http://stude.com
                              64 R2 4 speed Challenger (Plain Wrapper)
                              63 R2 4 speed GT Hawk
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                              JDP Maryland

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