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No spark in my 32 dl 6


32bizcoupe
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I'm not getting any spark to my plugs so I replaced the universal 6 volt coil and condensor. I have some conflicting paper work describing the wiring. The car was wired with the wire coming off the switch to the + on the coil and the - to the distributor and condensor. I don't thinks this was correct with the negative ground system but perhaps? So what is the correct wiring and will connecting the coil in reverse ruin it? Because now I have tried it both ways and nothin.

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Here's the wiring diagram from the owner's manual for your DL6. (To supersize the image, click on the thumbnail below, then click on the image that pops up, then once more on the next image that opens up.)

Are you getting a spark across the points when you manually open them? (Make sure the ignition switch is on!) If not, try detaching the secondary wire from the distributor terminal and see if you have current in the secondary wire from the coil. Then attach it and check to see if you now have current at the inner side of the same terminal. That terminal (actually a bolt) is supposed to be shielded where it runs through a hole in the distributor body. I had that short out on me...losing current to the points. I replaced the deteriorated insulation around the bolt with some modern plastic insulation (cut from a spade lug connector). Oh, and make sure you get all those little metal & fiber washers under the nuts and wire connectors back in the right order!

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Edited by Phil 32DL6 (see edit history)
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The car has not run for 30 years. With a test light I put it on the wire coming out of the coil and turned the motor over- no light. The coil has power on both the + and - side with the key on. Shouldn't the coil wire to the distributor blow a 12v test light? Additionally test light is good to the points.

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How do I get DB news?

You can get it by joining the D.B club here Dodge Brothers Club - Official Web Page of the Dodge Brothers Club

evidently they are off-line right now but will prob. only be a few days and will be back. I would order the back issues on C.D. Tons of info there and I think the cost os 40 bucks or so. Well worth the money, once you join you will get a roster of all the club members including all the other 32 owners in which you can contact for additional info in many cases.

Its worth joining just for the roster alone since it puts you in cotact with so many other people.

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Guest DodgeKCL

The points are just a switch to connect the coil wire to ground, and release it, when the cam on the distributor passes the points rubbing block. Connect a spark plug to the high voltage coil wire coming out of the coil and clamp the spark plug to the engine block/head a direction that you can see the gap on the spark plug. The high voltage wire should have the same size connector on it as on the ends of the spark plug wires and it should push right on. Take off the distributor cap and see if the points rubbing block is on the top of a cam. The points will be open at this time. If the points aren't open, open them up and stick a piece of paper between them. Turn on the ignition switch and with a jumper wire connected to ground start tapping the point connection on the side of the distributor. Everytime you tap and release the point wire the spark plug will flash. Stay at this because this hook up HAS to work before you go any further. (This is the simplest form of the ignition and basically is firing a one cylinder engine.) If you cannot get the spark plug to fire in this condition you can forget the more complicated hook up required to run the engine. In fact you don't actually need a spark plug at the end of the high voltage wire, you just have to have the wire close to the block but it becomes difficult to know how close will be close enough to see a spark. So a spark plug on the end of the wire is best.

If you get a spark then we can troubleshoot from there. As for the + and - hook up it has always been my understanding that the + and - connections follow the cars battery polarity. The windings of the transformer, which is what the ignition coil really is, are wound in manufacture in a certain direction. They cannot be changed obviously. But it's an electrical engineering fact that the transformer will output a higher potential when hooked up the way the design engineers wound it for. I may have stated this before on another post but spark plugs work on something called thermionic emission. The same way the old vacuum radio tubes or a CRT/picture tube operate. The heated cathode was always - to the anode's + to emit electrons. Turn the polarity around and a tube will stop passing current. That's a given. The reason the manufacturers put the + and - signs on their coils was to make sure that the high voltage polarity was negative to the spark plugs center pin and ground was +. (This polarity is not to be confused with the car's battery cct. which is a completely different cct.) This means that once the plugs get hot they will emit more electrons/current because of the thermionic emmision factor than the other way around. Yes the engine will start and run BUT it will not produce as much power or get as good a gas mileage if the high voltage cct. were hooked up in the right direction.

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The + on the coil ALWAYS goes to HOT and the - ALWAYS goes to the points, which in turn goes to ground.
As for the + and - hook up it has always been my understanding that the + and - connections follow the cars battery polarity. The windings of the transformer, which is what the ignition coil really is, are wound in manufacture in a certain direction. They cannot be changed obviously. But it's an electrical engineering fact that the transformer will output a higher potential when hooked up the way the design engineers wound it for. I may have stated this before on another post but spark plugs work on something called thermionic emission. The same way the old vacuum radio tubes or a CRT/picture tube operate. The heated cathode was always - to the anode's + to emit electrons. Turn the polarity around and a tube will stop passing current. That's a given. The reason the manufacturers put the + and - signs on their coils was to make sure that the high voltage polarity was negative to the spark plugs center pin and ground was +. (This polarity is not to be confused with the car's battery cct. which is a completely different cct.) This means that once the plugs get hot they will emit more electrons/current because of the thermionic emmision factor than the other way around. Yes the engine will start and run BUT it will not produce as much power or get as good a gas mileage if the high voltage cct. were hooked up in the right direction.

Do these viewpoints conflict?

In looking closely at the wiring diagram for the 32 DL6 I posted above, the + terminal of the coil runs to the points (the secondary circuit), while the - terminal is connected to the negative battery terminal (via the starter and ammeter). Am I safe in following that lead, or are modern, replacement coils wound differently? Is the proper/safest method to try both polarities and compare high-voltage output...going with the higher?

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Phil, the wiring diagram does indeed show the + going to the points.

DodgeKCL, am I understanding you correctly that positive ground vehicles would of had the coils wound so that the + side of the coil would go to the points? If so, then would a modern coil, which I asume are wound for - ground, need to be wired with the - on the coil connected to the points, even on a Positive ground vehicle?

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Do these viewpoints conflict?

In looking closely at the wiring diagram for the 32 DL6 I posted above, the + terminal of the coil runs to the points (the secondary circuit), while the - terminal is connected to the negative battery terminal (via the starter and ammeter). Am I safe in following that lead, or are modern, replacement coils wound differently? Is the proper/safest method to try both polarities and compare high-voltage output...going with the higher?

Your last sentance is exactly what the newest article in Skinned Knuckles says, to hook it up then test it and use the highest. I've always understood what Dave suggests, negative ALWAYS to the points because they go to ground regardless of polarity. After reading DBC AND SK I'm more confused then ever. I don't like electrocity.

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Guest DodgeKCL

You have to ask yourself why would the manufacturers put the + and - signs on their coils if they didn't mean anything? As Phil says his schematic shows what I've said. Positive goes to the points,which connect that wire to ground every time they close, and that follows the battery + polarity which is ground. The high voltage system will work the other way around BUT it will not give as much of a wide,hot,fuzzy, spark because not as much current will pass regardless of heat. Why? Because the bent over ground electrode on a spark plug is the 'cold' electrode and the center one is the 'hot' one. This is what we are chasing when we buy spark plugs in different 'heat ranges'. You want the hottest plug you can get for your engine and that's usually the one originally supplied by Dodge. A cold plug has a shorter center electrode and is colder,relatively speaking, because it's closer to the head and hence closer to the water jacket. As you extend or lengthen the center electrode away from the head/water jacket and into the fireball, you heat up the center electrode which gives it a better current flash because of thermionic emmision and keeps it cleaner because more of the fuel/air mixture is burnt. Hence more power and better gas mileage. Somewhere in the 'Model Garage' site there is a story about setting or checking the polarity of the spark voltage by using a lead pencil. I forget how it was done but you watched the tip of the sharpened lead as you approach a spark plug connector on a running engine and you had the correct polarity when the spark jumped either to the pencil or the other way around. I have had quite a number of shocks in my career and have become 'gun shy' around high voltage. So I didn't memorize the procedure because I was not going to try it. Thank you very much. But just the fact that it was in the story is enough I think to back me up in what I'm saying. It is important that you get the high voltage polarity correct and that was why the + and - signs on the coils.

(I was once young and stupid and touched the high voltage on a running Hillman Minx, which threw me backwards into the hood,which knocked the hood stay out of it's socket, which dropped the hood on me and damned near decapitated me. LOL now but it hurt then.)

Edited by DodgeKCL (see edit history)
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Back to basics - just in case you are now totally bamboozled by the positve/negative thing; which by the way will work whether you have either setup ( as described above one is more efficient than the other).

Putting that aside for a moment; for the purposes of trouble shooting the ignition circuit, power from the ignition switch flows through the primary winding of the coil to the contact breaker points in the distributor to earth. The job of the contact breakers is to open and close this circuit as the distributor driven cam rotates, if the contacts are closed you should have power on both sides of the contact breakers.

So to establish this criteria have the distributor cap removed and rotate the engine to a position where the contacts are closed; now turn the ignition switch on, with a small screwdriver or better still an ice cream stick, push the contacts open, as you do there should be a small spark occur at the contacts (ice cream stick reduces the risk of earthing the circuit which is possible with the screwdriver blade).

This has proven the electrical continuity of the low voltage primary circuit, if you dont observe a spark at the breaker points you need to backtrack the electrics all the way back to the ignition switch.

Having proofed this we can move on to the secondary or high voltage circuit via the coil to the spark plugs, but lets first clarify the low voltage circuit.

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Very good discussion. I had power to the points and in the other side when touching. I think I have three choices 1. the new coil is bad ( unlikely) 2. The points are shorting against the distributor wall somewhere ( possible and I may revisit the insulating washers on the bolt) or 3. A bad wire from the coil to the cap. (possible)

If the ignition is on and the cap is off should I see a visible spark between the points every time they get close?

I will do some more testing Saturday thanks all for the input.

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2. The points are shorting against the distributor wall somewhere ( possible and I may revisit the insulating washers on the bolt)

Just to clarify this critical point: yes, there are insulating washers on both sides of the "bolt" that runs through the side of the distributor, but there must also be a sleeve of insulation on the bolt as it passes through that hole to keep current from shorting to ground at the distributor body. That sleeve had deteriorated on mine to the point that I had an increasing occurrence where the engine would stop dead in its tracks while underway. It took me quite awhile to discover what was causing that. I finally recreated a new sleeve made out of insulation cut from a modern spade lug connector because it had just the right ID & OD to slide over the bolt, yet fit inside of the hole through the distributor body.

I'm not saying that's your problem, but just looking at the washers may not be enough.

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Very good discussion. I had power to the points and in the other side when touching. I think I have three choices 1. the new coil is bad ( unlikely) 2. The points are shorting against the distributor wall somewhere ( possible and I may revisit the insulating washers on the bolt) or 3. A bad wire from the coil to the cap. (possible)

If the ignition is on and the cap is off should I see a visible spark between the points every time they get close?

I will do some more testing Saturday thanks all for the input.

Every time the points are bumped open by the distributor cam, the primary (low voltage) circuit through the coil is interrupted and, so yes a visible spark at the points should occur each time this happens. If you think about, it if the cam has 6 lobes on it, for every revolution of the distributor, the points interrupt the primary circuit 6 times and thus the 6 spark plugs are fired in sequence.

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Reviewing my post above, I must emphasise that the spark you are observing as the points are opened is only verifying that power is flowing through the primary circuit and then stopping as the points are opened. This event is what then triggers the high voltage spark from the coil to the plugs.

In order to get a spark from the coil we must first make and break the primary circuit if that makes sense ??

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Does the '32 have a condenser across the points like my '36 does? It doesn't show in Phil's electrical diagram picture. If so, this is designed to suppress this "spark" at the contact points. So if there is one, and it is effective, then you may not see a spark between the contacts of the points.

Also, if there IS a condenser in there, and it is bad by being shorted, that will kill the ability of the points to control flow of electricity to the coil. The current will in effect always be on. Therefore the collapse of the magnetic field doesn't occur and there is no high voltage in the secondary windings of the coil. Consequently there is no spark.

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Yes the car had a condensor so I replaced it with a new one. It is mounted on the outside of the distributor body and the wire connects to the outside of the distributor stud next to the wire coming out of the coil. I regret that I'm stuck at work because I really want to check the insulation of the stud. I'm thinking it would be a good time to replace the points if I can find some. The part numbers for the points are deco 1855520 or d-109 I think?

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Guest DodgeKCL

Electrical current has the property of wanting to continue to flow even after the circuit is opened. In hydro/nuclear electricity generation plants they have huge compressed air cannons that are used to blast away the current 'spark' that keeps right on flowing when large conductors are switched off in the course of the plant's operation. The same thing happens in our small high voltage cct. in our cars. As the points open, the current 'flashes' across the points and burn them over time. Instead a condenser/capacitor is placed electrically across the points to absorb any current in a parallel cct. Also in the next instant after the points open, the magnetic field collapses and current is forced ,or tries, to flow in the reverse direction to the battery current that charged the coil in the 1st place. This rush of current is what is stepped up to a higher current, by the winding turns number, in the secondary. But this current too will burn the points as it jumps the point gap so the cap charges up to this current also. The circuit is actually an oscillator and the coil and condenser/capacitor in the next instant trade this charge current back and forth until ,for resistance and heat reasons, it dies out. But the cap serves the purpose of saving the points from cavitating over time. Because you want ALL the current to flow onto the condenser/cap plates, the value of the cap must match the value of the coil's inductance. The old name for the circuit is a 'tank' circuit and is very common in radio work. Basically a capacitor in parallel with an inductor. When the value of the cap matches the value of the inductor, all the current will stay on the caps plates and none will try to jump the points gap. This in radio work is called 'tuning' and is called a ' tuned circuit'. I suspect they chose the middle of the engine revs as the tuning point for their calculations. (F res= 2 pi /square root of LC) 'F res' is the resonant frequency of the tank circuit and would be, I believe, a point at half the speed of the point circuit. The coil and cap tank cct. wanting to keep their trading of current up to the speed of the engine. Since the value of the cap cannot be changed during the operation of the engine, this is why the high voltage/spark current drops as the engine speeds up. The Q of the cct. is in the center of the engine operation range and looks like the shape of a 'bell' if you were to draw it out. Good at the bottom speeds,best at the middle speeds i.e. most used road speeds and poor at high road speeds where the car was not expected to live.

As far as I can tell, the value of the coils, in Henries, never changed over the years and so the caps are always around .22 mfd. to .25 mfd. Even my Honda motorcyles had these values of cap in microfarads. I use modern caps in my vehicles. When the cct. is in 'tune' and no current is flashing either going 'up' the cct. across the points or 'down' the cct. across the points, the points will no longer show any sign of burning/cavitating. My points do not burn as I took the time to put in a modern cap of the exact right value and they just get 'dusty'. Something they couldn't do years ago because caps manufacture was not up to the job. But electical cct. laws and equations have not changed so it is possible today to make the cct. work the way it should of but Kettering couldn't get it to because of the crappy wax paper condeners/capacitors of the day. Must of been frustrating.

Just as an added point. I've noticed that the term 'voltage' has taken over for 'current' in a lot of these discussions. Voltage does not flow and does no 'work'. Only current flows. Remember everthing in electrical or electronic circuits is 'current injection'. Voltage is only there to 'pressure' the current to flow. You'll be scratching your head forever if you only check for voltage. Voltage can exist across a cct. having a resistance of several megohm, basically an open cct., and no current will flow to light that bulb. Why? Because the internal resisitance of your meter is around 10 Megohm and it only needs a few microamps to show a voltage reading. You have to get into the habit of breaking into a circuit to check for current flow or at least reading into the circuit in ohms. Our ancestors read current all the time. Notice when they were checking the condition of a battery they put a gizmo on the battery that punched through the tar on the battery case and loaded the cell for current BEFORE the checked for the 2.25 voltage. You can have 6/12 volts across a charged battery and have absolutely no current behind it in the electrolyte solution. None. And you can swear you charged that battery last night and why does it not start the car? Why? Because the internal resistance of the battery is gone 'high' and is not a few mhos. A mho is the value of resistance when you drop below 0.0 ohms. This is why they use hydrometers to check for specific gravity but how many of you have one and use it? Not many I'm guessing.

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Does the '32 have a condenser across the points like my '36 does? It doesn't show in Phil's electrical diagram picture.

Since both my 32 DL6s came to me with condensers, I've always assumed that the lack of one in the manual's wiring diagram was an oversight. They both attach with an identical screw into a threaded hole in the distributor body so that must be original.

There is a spark across the points when you manually open them, but I would call it pretty weak.

I'm thinking it would be a good time to replace the points if I can find some. The part numbers for the points are deco 1855520 or d-109 I think?

Those points show up fairly frequently on eBay. I keep a few extra so let me know if you're having trouble finding one.

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While in this discussion, how does the average guy measure the capacitance (in mfd) of any one of the caps use in vehicle circuits? How does one check a capacitor/condenser to know if it is a viable working part using the tools available to the average home mechanic?

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I know it can be done. BUT, the cars I work on don't know the differance. I have a pretty good stash of VW condensors, DB's don't care. I'm not sure the distances that we drive it would reallly make a differance as long as there is one there of some value. They will run without a condensor too, but it burns the points faster. It's a good way to test for a bad condensor.

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I have spark!! Horray, I replaced the points and inspected the insulators on the distributor stud. The insulator washers looked good with a little dirt and rust. The same was true with the three insulator washers that protect the the stud bolt from distributor body. The car was hooked up with the old switch and coil going to the + on the new coil and the - on the new coil to the distributor. It is getting spark so I will leave it for now. The spark

Looks good and the whole +,- thing with polarity thing is as clear as toilets flushing in different directions:) either side of the world it flushes right! Thanks everyone I have certainly learned a lot. Now to changing the oil and carberator. This car so enjoyable to work on. I think my back is ready to take the fenders off.

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I have spark!! Horray, I replaced the points and inspected the insulators on the distributor stud. The insulator washers looked good with a little dirt and rust. The same was true with the three insulator washers that protect the the stud bolt from distributor body. The car was hooked up with the old switch and coil going to the + on the new coil and the - on the new coil to the distributor. It is getting spark so I will leave it for now. The spark

Looks good and the whole +,- thing with polarity thing is as clear as toilets flushing in different directions:) either side of the world it flushes right! Thanks everyone I have certainly learned a lot. Now to changing the oil and carberator. This car so enjoyable to work on. I think my back is ready to take the fenders off.

What carburetor are you going to be running on the car?

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The last '32 I helped work on had a Tillotson (don't know if it was the original carb) and we replaced it with a Carter DRT-08. The car ran like a dream with that carburetor installed. Here is the DRT-08...

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I am saying that the Tillotson on the car I worked on was no good and if yours is no good, too then I would replace it with the Carter. There are some on ebay, but be sure you ask questions and send dimensions of the throat size and mounting bolts center to center to verify they are the same as yours.

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The DRT-8 is what came factory-installed on the DL6 (that's what the manual shows). As John says, there are several styles of the that carb (for example, John's picture shows the correct long accelerator pump vs a short pump version) so, if you decide to go with that one, check specs.

Both of my DL6s came with Carter BB-1 carbs (photo #1)...a popular swap-out by dealers and garages because it is a very reliable, great performing carb.

You are fortunate to still have the Burgess intake silencer (photo #2), as they were often discarded down the road, and they are frightfully expensive to replace.

Hard for me to help with the oil filter, since neither of my cars have an original filter setup. The manual shows the filter mounted on the engine (photo #3). Some were later swapped out with after-market canisters with paper filters mounted on the firewall (like one of mine, photo #6), my other has a more recent mount (on the engine) for a modern spin-on style filter (photos #4 & 5.

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DodgeKCL states, "The windings of the transformer, which is what the ignition coil really is, are wound in manufacture in a certain direction. They cannot be changed obviously. But it's an electrical engineering fact that the transformer will output a higher potential when hooked up the way the design engineers wound it for. "

However (and I can be wrong here) forty years ago you could purchase specific coils for "+" and "-" ground systems. These had their high-voltage and low-voltage inner windings grounded together on either the "+" or "-" terminals, according to the battery-terminal grounding to be used. Now, all coils are wired only for "-" ground systems. That is, the design engineers design the modern coil only for "-" grounded systems.

Hence, any modern coil used in a car, battery grounding notwithstanding, must be wired for the "-" terminal of the coil to ground, that is, to the distributor.

A pencil-spark test will confirm this, with the better spark obtained if the "-" terminal is connected to the distributor, even in a "+" grounded electrical system.

Edited by JB-ed
spelling (see edit history)
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Tilliston is a good carb, there are alot of them still in use and are sought after by some. I would look for the correct original carb but see if you can make the Tilliston work until you find one.

I wouldnt spend the money on the Carter if yours works fine, the Carters can be very expensive.

What does your oil filter look like?? It can be rebuilt and I can show you how if you like. I have an extensive pile of literature on the original filters if that would help

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  • 3 weeks later...

Im getting ready to just test run my 1936 its a body off restoration I have 2 coils one that is still connected to the intion and i have an extra that has the back off of ,their is 1 screw in the center , how do i connect this to bie pass the ignition switch just to get it to run ? the screw in the center has an insulator tab under it do i just ground it out to the side of the coil that is grounded to the frame , this is a positive ground car ?

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