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How to clean distributor cap contacts????


37PackardMan
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Don't know if this has been discussed before....but I'm sure most old cars have this problem.

Over time, the  distributor points and rotor develop  an insulating black coating which inhibits good spark.

Eons ago an owner could simply go to the local dealer or auto parts store and buy  a new cap and rotor.

Now we have to make do and refurbish what we have.

I am curious to know what others have developed to clean without eroding the brass.

Anyone know of a solution to dissolve the  stuff without damage????

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I use a small sharp screw driver to knock off the crusty stuff on the cap contacts and Scotch Brite to LIGHTLY clean the rotor blade.

I do not sand the center spring on the rotor, as that would wear down the carbon contact in the cap. just wipe it down with a bit of MEK on a paper towel.

 

If you want to get real technical you could use a Dremmel with a buffing wheel and dip it in Brasso. just use a LOW speed on the Dremmel

 

Mike in Colorado

 

Edited by FLYER15015 (see edit history)
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In your engine tune up drawer you should have small tune up end wrenches, a point file, spark plug gapper, emery paper/cloth, distributor cam grease, assorted vacuum hoses, and vacuum hose plugs. I also have a exacto knife and two types of dentist picks and a dentist mirror and a inch pound scale and a dial indicator for measuring distributor bearing/bushing shaft runout. You also need a tube of dielectric grease for distributors with a electronic module mounted in the distributor used as a heat sink.  In your metal paint locker you should have a gallon of carbon tetrachloride for cleaning contacts and distributor internals.

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2 hours ago, Spinneyhill said:

Really? That stuff is highly carcinogenic! Wear suitable protective equipment, including breathing gear, if playing with it.

Yes Really. Yes it's carcinogenic and so is gasoline as are many other things in this world that we use on a daily basis in the automotive and aviation field .

CAUTION: as with all this other stuff mentioned do not play with it. Use it in a responsible manor.

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32 minutes ago, 37PackardMan said:

I have everything but the carbon tet.  Does that dissolve the black buildup on the rotor and points?

 

The reason for the use of Carbon Tet. is that it doesn't leave a residue on contact points. The residue is what causes the points to arc and burn again. The black residue is erased by using your point file, then clean with Carbon Tet.

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I don't think using a point file is a good idea to use on the points.  The points are not flat;  they are curved.  If you flatten them out to remove the black, you destroy the uniformity between the rotor and the contact.

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3 minutes ago, 37PackardMan said:

I don't think using a point file is a good idea to use on the points.  The points are not flat;  they are curved.  If you flatten them out to remove the black, you destroy the uniformity between the rotor and the contact.

GM A/C Delco Points are not rounded off and the receiver point especially in high performance point sets has a hole in the middle. Bosch Points are flat too, but don't have a hole in them. The reason they are flat or squared edged is be cause electricity like to jump off a sharp edge better than a rounded edge, this hold true of Cap and rotor and spark plugs. 

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