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38Buick 80C

I Must be doing something wrong

119 posts in this topic

Ok so got a pertronix ignitor system for the 38 RM back at Hershey last year. Finally installed it and I have no spark. So I did something wrong. I have one on my Charger and it work great and was easy.

So first off I got an 1183N6 which is a Delco early 8 cyl 6v Neg ground...supposedly

Installed everything per instructions...supposedly

Wires to the coil red to pos black to neg...definitely

No spark..determined by timing light on a plug wire to see if the light lights up. Put it on the coil wire too and would get one quick light up of the timing light then nothing.

Checked the wires to the coil again...all there all tight.

So what have I done wrong.

Yes I get photos posted soon

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are you sure your coil is good?

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It was good just before I changed it. How can I test?

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Did you also connect ignition switch to coil+? That's where the unit gets its power.

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Did you also connect ignition switch to coil+? That's where the unit gets its power.

Yes sir

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Every single one of these that has ever come into my garage (Pertronix electronic ignition systems on old cars) has given problems and not worked properly. I have removed every one that has ever been through here--with owner's permission of course--no more problems. I have had nothing but bad experiences with them, they never work properly, they cause more problems than they solve, and I will never, ever install one on an old car that I own or that someone else owns. Period! End of argument. Stay away from them. What is wrong with the original distributors and their points and spark systems? They work fine as long as you replace them after 10,000 to 12,000 miles,which for most antique cars is a long, long time.

Pete Phillips, BCA #7338

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Posted (edited)

And now for the flip side to that coin. I have Pertronics units in all 6 of my collector cars. The oldest 15 years the newest 2 years. They've all worked perfectly from the word "go" and continue to be trouble and maintenence free. In fact when I do an engine rebuild it has a Pertronix unit in it for the initial start up. I will never screw around with points again..................Bob

Edited by Bhigdog (see edit history)

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Yes rotor under the cap. I promise photos soon.

Like I said I have one in my 69 Charger was easy to installed worked great and has worked great for 15 years. So that's why i got one for the Buick, points are fine I agree, but I had a good experience with the Pertronix and no headaches for 15 years so why not. Anyway going to take photos now.

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Assuming the wire I see peeking out under the red wire on the coil is +6V from the ign switch everything looks correct. When I said "rotor" I mean the dist roror not the units rotor. Just sayin. Next I'd check for voltage to the coil then double check for correct #unit.........Bob

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Posted (edited)

I've also had excellent experience with a 12V Pertronix unit installed for 12 years in our recently sold '66 Mustang...

I'm wondering if the voltage drop via the ballast resister to the coil is too great for this 6V Pertronix unit. After all, the module is being powered from the '+' side of the coil.

I believe this is being fed from the ignition switch through the ballast resister (or resister wire)...

I'm out of my league: Did Buick even use a ballast resister or resister wire on late 30s ignition systems???

Either way, try 'hotwiring' a direct feed from the '+' side of the coil to the positive battery terminal. This way you 'll know that you have a full 6 volts powering the Pertronix unit.

Use an alligator clip on at least one end so if the engine starts, you can easily stop it...!

My gut has a strong suspicion about this 6V Pertronix unit needing a full 6 volts to work at all...

Paul

Edited by pfloro (see edit history)

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Pauls last sentence!! That is one of the things they stress. And, Paul, no ballast resistor.

Ben

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Yep, Pertronix needs full voltage to the unit for it to work effectively. Brian, you need full battery voltage where the red wire hits the coil.

I installed one on a Buick about 15 years ago, using the factory power wire, ran crappy. Ran a new wire directly to ignition switch, has run very well since.

Have not put one on any of my cars though, probably because I am too cheap.

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I find this an interesting discussion. I have had mixed results with Pertronix. Some worked and some went up in smoke in short order.

I have been driving for 54 years and have had vintage cars for 50 of those years. I have never had problems with point system ignitions - but then I maintained them well.

Why did I try the Pertronix? I just wanted to see if it made any real difference. In my case it didnt.

For a vintage car I am ine the "original points" camp. One thing about points is that if smmething should go wrong, you could probably fix it on the spot (if you know what you are doing). When the Pertronix died I was SOL.

As mentioned, for most vintage cars, 10,000 miles is a long time.

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I checked, just now and have 6.78 volts at the positive terminal of the coil ignition on, no load. I need a helper to help me check what kinda drop I get when trying to spin the starter while cranking.

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Brian,

I would be glad to help. But if I left right now it would be two flights and about ten hours to get there....

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Several friends have gone to the Pertronics-type units and seem happy - a few have had mixed results.

For myself, I have kept all of our cars as originally equipped. They ran well for tens-, and hundreds of thousands of miles when properly maintained. I do a lot of touring, and know that if I ever have a problem on the road, I can probably adjust, or replace, or find a replacement part. I also carry normal spares in an emergency kit which include belts, hoses, clamps, points, condensor, rotor, cap, wires, plugs, etc. for each car. Yes, I could probably carry a spare electronic unit if I wanted to. And yes, I hear the argument that electronic units such as Pertronics increase fuel mileage and gve a hotter spark, and improve performance. Maybe so, but then so would a Cadillac engine in a Crosley.

I firmly believe that normal maintenance yields normal and dependable performance. I appreciate originality.

I am absolutely not trying to advise anyone else how to deal with their own car. If you feel that modern electronics is something beneficial for you and your car, by all means - do it, but maybe think about carry a spare for something which cannot be repaired or adjusted when you are miles from any other support.

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ok got the wife to help. Voltage drops to 5.09 under starting load. hmmm...

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Brian,

Check voltage again under load, but with a temporary "HOT" lead directly from the battery to the coil. If it stays at 6-volt, then you could add a momentary switch in line to hit onlywhen starting, since it seems to be your starter which is pulling down the voltage.

Best of luck,

Marty

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Hey Brian. Looking at the pix are you certain you don't have the wrong side of the module facing the pick up?..................Bob

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Hey Brian. Looking at the pix are you certain you don't have the wrong side of the module facing the pick up?..................Bob

I was wondering the same thing.

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ok so the thing only installs one way. I took a photo but doesn't matter.

I put the point back in, starts right up.

SOOOO...

The whole reason I was putting in the electronic ignition in the first place is because I am stumbling under load which has been happening since the National meet. When it happened at the national meet the first time I thought it was vapor lock (I mean it was 104). Since the national meet I've replaced the inline fuel filter. I've had the carb rebuilt by a close friend that KNOWS these era Buicks and restores cars for BCA#178. There is only so many things that can it can be, fuel pump, carb, distributor (and vacuum advance), the fuel itself.

I suspect the answer lies either in the distributor or the carb. With the carb rebuilt and the issue still occurring I figured distributor hence the pertronix to "simply" things. Vacuum advance works well test several different ways and with a vacuum pump at different points in the line. I had the distributor rebuilt during the restoration and I may have to borrow one off my dad's 38 RM just to eliminate mine as a suspect as they say on all those crime shows. I'm kind back to the carb as the potential source of the issue and here is why. Upon start up tonight going back to point the exhaust is coming out very black and the car was idling a bit rough. I goofed around some after the car warmed up some and found if I held open the butterfly at the top of the carb it ran much better. So I'm thinking more air compensates for too much fuel and fuel mixture gets better so car runs better. The other thing that is happening just goofing in the garage is I can make the car back fire through the carb or stumble with a quick pull of the throttle rod (like putting the petal to the floor).

A few other misc notes

1. I have an electric fuel pump and a mechanical . The electric has a bypass like with the check valve. The mechanical has no bypass. The electric fuel pump is on a switch and it seems to make no difference when on or off toward remedying the stumble under load.

2. Fuel is regular 87 10% ethanol nothing special but I do have the ethanol formula Stabil in it.

3. The electric fuel pump does work and fills the bowl before I start the car.

So suggestions?

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are you sure your coil is good?

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Posted (edited)

Brian and anyone who uses these: Throw it in the garbage. Marty Roth and Don Micheletti made the best arguments: If there is a problem with the distributor points, you can almost always fix it on the side of the road. If there is a problem with the Pertronix, you can't fix it on the side of the road--call the tow truck and hire a modern mechanic. You can't even diagnose it--look at all of the suggestions and guesses on this thread.

Not a Buick, but I have a 1963 Chrysler New Yorker that I have owned for 21 years. I put new points, condensor, & rotor in it in 1993--20 years ago, and its 413 is still running perfectly--I took it out yesterday and put 80 miles on it. 20 years beats 15 years mentioned above!

I rest my case. Next case....

Pete Phillips

Edited by Pete Phillips (see edit history)

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