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59 Buick won't start...HELP!


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This car was running just a few week ago and has brought me from Cincinnati to Colorado Springs and Iowa.

Okay....replaced Optima battery yesterday that had a bad cell. I killed it trying to start the car. Car will not fire. Yesterday, every once in a while, it would fire, then die immediately.

So, after trying repeatedly to jump start the car (with another car), I gave up and had the battery tested.

New battery, car still wont' start. Replaced points. It appeared that there was none left....worn to the nubs.

Still won't start.

Coil and resistor on firewall get very hot. (Think I figured this one out....ignition on, points closed)

No spark on ground check with coil wire.

Installed new coil. Same result.

Coil checks good according to manual. test light works across both terminals, but no light between either terminal and lead wire.

Checked Voltage regulator...all contacts are movable, nothing frozen.

Could I have burned something else up while trying to jump start it yesterday? (Honestly, cannot remember whether I had the ignition on or off while charging.)

Other than checking for a spark from the coil, I don't know what to try?

Could there be something else preventing spark? Tried starting in Park and Neutral. Neutral safety switch?

Seems that it's something with the "primary" starting system????

checked the points again, put on new condenser, rotor and cap. (of course the autozone crap looks much cheaper than what I'm removing)

Also checked both connections at the starter. Both good.

Nothing. No spark from coil...engine just cranks and cranks...

Where is my spark??

Help!

Edited by bhclark (see edit history)
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I would check the wire from the coil to the distributor, and next I would check the timing by rotating the engine to the timing mark then pulling the valve cover for the first cylinder and making sure the valves are closed, then check the points to see if they are open. It does sound like your timing chain has stretched and may need to be replaced.

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Even if the timing chain were stretched there would be spark...it would have to be broken for there to be no spark. Start working backward. No spark at the plugs? OK...No spark from the coil? The neutral safety switch would keep it from cranking. Like mentioned above, I'd check for voltage at the + terminal of the coil and see if you're getting battery voltage there.

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Can you jumper a hot wire from battery to the hot side of the coil? Sounds like you are losing power to the coil while cranking.

Joel

Even with a jumper from battery + to coil +, still no spark from high tension lead of coil.

I'm thinking my new coil is bad too...maybe I should swap it for a known good one. Does AZ or Oreilly check coils?

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If the coil and resistor get hot the points should be working and power is getting there. Try a known good coil and if no joy go back to the points. There should be spark at the points when cranking with the ignition on and for sure spark if you ground the arm on the points with a screwdriver. Also check the wire from the points to the terminal on the side of the distributor --- it moves with the vacuum advance and can fracture internally and the insulation can wear causing a short. I only use points/condensors made by Standard or Niehoff. A set from CARS that Buick5563 installed were NDG.:mad:

Willie

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Also check the wire from the points to the terminal on the side of the distributor --- it moves with the vacuum advance and can fracture internally and the insulation can wear causing a short.

Can you elaborate on how to check this wire? Is it the one that appears to go down into the distributor? So, it goes from the points, down into the dist., then into the wiring harness, then to the + or - side of the coil?

Thanks!

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Can you elaborate on how to check this wire? Is it the one that appears to go down into the distributor? So, it goes from the points, down into the dist., then into the wiring harness, then to the + or - side of the coil?

Thanks!

It should have 12v at the points with the key on. The insulation should be intact.

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Brian,

The wire in the distributor goes from the points set to the bottom part of the distributor housing, then comes out of the bottom of the housing and goes to the positive side of the coil. As Willie said, its insulation can get cracked, worn, and will ground out on the distributor plate or housing, but this is more common when the wire is fabric covered (pre-1954), rather than vinyl or plastic covered as on the '59s.

I also had something like this happen once on a daily driver '64 Plymouth Belvedere with a 318 about 15-20 years ago. I had recently replaced the points and condensor, then drove the car 65 miles to Dallas to see a Kruse auction. When I came out of the auction 6 hours later, the car cranked and cranked but refused to fire. One of the tiny little screws that holds either the points or the condensor came loose, dropped down into the bottom of the distributor, and grounded everything out. But I didn't discover the problem until after getting the car towed all the way back home 65 miles, and then I took out the distributor and turned it upside down, and out dropped the offending screw.

Pete Phillips

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I'm going to mention checking out the choke...only because I haven't seen it listed yet as a concern. Make sure it's closing all the way with the engine cold. Typically, even with the choke inop, the car will eventually start...so I'm probably on the wrong track with this one.

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Brian,

The wire in the distributor goes from the points set to the bottom part of the distributor housing, then comes out of the bottom of the housing and goes to the positive side of the coil. ...Pete Phillips

Pete, I thought this wire went to the negative side of the coil?

Follow Willie's recommendation about putting a volt meter to the conection on the points with the ignition on. When you do this, move the wire a little ( don't go crazy and break it) to see if maybe loses connectivity. You might also consider replacing the condensor again just to be sure. Had a 65 Electra where we forgot to put the condensor wire through the wire loop inside the distributor on the breaker plate, and it was eventually pulled out of the condensor leaving the car dead on the road.

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I had the problem with the wire being pulled out of the condenser before our trip to Colorado Springs. Thought about going to the points with the condenser built in after that.

okay...chicken/egg here. which comes first, spark at the coil or spark at the points?

skipped the first round of car shows today. partially because of rain, partially because my daughter still has 4 13 year old girls here from her party last night. :)

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I had the problem with the wire being pulled out of the condenser before our trip to Colorado Springs. Thought about going to the points with the condenser built in after that.

okay...chicken/egg here. which comes first, spark at the coil or spark at the points?

skipped the first round of car shows today. partially because of rain, partially because my daughter still has 4 13 year old girls here from her party last night. :)

There may not be enough room on the breaker plate for the built in condensor. You should have a loop of wire on the breaker plate that the coil wire goes under.

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My old points had the condenser and ground wire screwed to a port on the side, the new points don't have that screw, so I placed those wires under one of the mounting screws? Correct?

post-41915-143138528406_thumb.jpg

post-41915-143138528432_thumb.jpg

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My old points had the condenser and ground wire screwed to a port on the side, the new points don't have that screw, so I placed those wires under one of the mounting screws? Correct?

This is incorrect. The new points count on spring tension to hold those wires in. Hold the new points like you show in the picture, and then using your thumb you can push the metal towards the back side of the point assembly. When you push the metal ( aka the spring) back the connectors for the condensor and the wire from the distributor fit into that slot behind the nylon center. Then just let the spring go and they will stay there.

I hope this makes sense.

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Thanks JOHN!

Yup...dead short to ground.

Hooked it up right and the car never started so quick and easy...at the first slightest punch on the pedal! :)

Gee, I'm dumb. :oops: :oops: :oops:

I'm guessing that I burnt out the old points charging the battery for too long with the ignition on and the points closed, then I made it worse from there!

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Thanks JOHN!

Yup...dead short to ground.

Hooked it up right and the car never started so quick and easy...at the first slightest punch on the pedal! :)

Gee, I'm dumb. :oops: :oops: :oops:

I'm guessing that I burnt out the old points charging the battery for too long with the ignition on and the points closed, then I made it worse from there!

You're welcome. Glad you got it running. I do love when you tap the pedal and the ole girl starts immediately.

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