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65 Riviera wont start


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My Riv stranded us last night in the middle of nowhere. Came off a hill and it missed a time or two and lost power. By the time I got to the bottom, the amp and oil light came on and it was dead. Got off the 2 lane highway and found the wire from the firewall to the hot side of the coil had slipped off. Nut had backed off and it came loose and was dangling. Tightened back up and still no fire. Getting fuel because it flooded out. Car has a Pertronix from the previous owner. Had it towed to a shop at home, and I went today and replaced the coil, because there was no fire last night when we removed the wire. Still no start, just spins over. Is it possible it fried the module on the Pertronix when it came loose? Shop is closed til Monday, and I do a lot of business with this guy, but he said his "old car guy" has retired, and don't know if they can do anything with it. I am at a bit of a loss; I'm a long time parts man, but ignition issues sort of elude me and I'm not sure where to proceed. Don't think it jumped time, because I pulled the cap, and spun it and the rotor is moving. Any thoughts?

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Well, that sucks. I had similar happen to me this summer, I decided to convert back to points. A little more maintenance involved, but if if points set up doesn't work it was my own doing, or lack of doing, as opposed to being at an electronic products whim.

Start with pulling a plug wire and hold close to the plug (almost touching), have someone else crank... see if there is a spark.

Go on pertronix website they have a troubleshooting chart for your module. Steve

 

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Hook up a test light and you should have power with the key on to the positive side of the coil. Now move your test light to the negative side of the coil and crank the engine. If you observe a pulsing light the Petronix is working. If you get a solid light it's not.

 

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13 hours ago, crowvet said:

Hook up a test light and you should have power with the key on to the positive side of the coil. Now move your test light to the negative side of the coil and crank the engine. If you observe a pulsing light the Petronix is working. If you get a solid light it's not.

 

Hooked test light up and made sure it was grounded right and working by touching the + side of the battery. No light at positive side of coil, and no light at negative side of the coil when cranking either. I know the rotor button is turning when cranking, but is it still possible it jumped time?

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Hi Mark,

  Did you have the key in the "on" position when you tested for voltage at the positive terminal of the coil?

  If you have a voltmeter check for voltage at the positive terminal again. When the key is in the "on" position there is a reduced voltage level at the positive terminal that a cheap test light might not pickup. I have experienced "no light" results when troubleshooting low voltage circuits if that voltage is below the threshold voltage of the test light bulb. If you use a voltmeter that will indicate if you have any voltage at all including reduced voltage.

  ...or use your test light while cranking the engine. During cranking the positive terminal of the coil should "see" full system voltage because the second wire at your positive coil terminal is a direct feed from the starter solenoid and should be hot while cranking.

Tom
 

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3 hours ago, 1965rivgs said:

Hi Mark,

  Did you have the key in the "on" position when you tested for voltage at the positive terminal of the coil?

  If you have a voltmeter check for voltage at the positive terminal again. When the key is in the "on" position there is a reduced voltage level at the positive terminal that a cheap test light might not pickup. I have experienced "no light" results when troubleshooting low voltage circuits if that voltage is below the threshold voltage of the test light bulb. If you use a voltmeter that will indicate if you have any voltage at all including reduced voltage.

  ...or use your test light while cranking the engine. During cranking the positive terminal of the coil should "see" full system voltage because the second wire at your positive coil terminal is a direct feed from the starter solenoid and should be hot while cranking.

Tom
 

I tried the light with switch on and cranking as well. No light either time. May go back down tomorrow and try the voltmeter. Got a friend who is convinced it has jumoed time from what I'm telling him, but it sure seems a weird coincidence that would happen AND the wire from the switch came off the coil at the same time.

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14 hours ago, jframe said:

I tried the light with switch on and cranking as well. No light either time. May go back down tomorrow and try the voltmeter. Got a friend who is convinced it has jumoed time from what I'm telling him, but it sure seems a weird coincidence that would happen AND the wire from the switch came off the coil at the same time.

  Check for voltage on the positive wiring terminal with the terminal removed from the coil. A bad module could be shorted to ground, same with the coil windings, basically "robbing" voltage away from your test light bulb because a short could be the path of least resistance.

  Even if you have a serious mechanical problem with the motor you still need voltage to the coil to have an ignition system. The starter, when engaged, should be sending full system voltage and the ignition switch, when "on", should be sending a reduced voltage to the positive wiring terminal.

Tom

 

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I would check the voltage at the terminals on the ignition switch BEFORE replacing unnec. parts. Although that should NOT stop it from starting/having voltage at the plus side of the coil during cranking.   AGAIN, although I just got done rebuilding a starter on a '65 Riv. that had the little contact inside the solenoid burned off & NOT supplying voltage to the coil in the crank position.

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On 11/28/2020 at 9:23 AM, jframe said:

Hooked test light up and made sure it was grounded right and working by touching the + side of the battery. No light at positive side of coil, and no light at negative side of the coil when cranking either. I know the rotor button is turning when cranking, but is it still possible it jumped time?

Possible, but doubtful. You need to have 9.6 volts to the positive side of the coil. I would check the plugs on the firewall. You may have a bad connection. Could also be a bad ignition switch. You could temporarily run a hot wire from the battery to the positive side of the coil and see if it starts. Do not leave it there as 12 volts is a bit to much voltage, but should work to confirm

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Poured down rain all day yesterday, so I couldn't go downtown and try some other tests. Shop called me this morning when they opened up, and said their two mechanics didn't think they could do anything with the car since their "old car" guy had retired. I sort of think fuel, fire and air is Mechanic 101, but apperently not in my neck of the woods. Sort of pissed me off because the insurance company probably won't pay another tow bill, but I'm going to have the damn thing towed home, and find a way to fix it myself. Got a good friend who is a tech at our Toyota store that is one of those guys who can fix anything from weed eaters to cars and boats; he said he and I would figure it out. Should have had it taken to the house to begin with, I guess. All good suggestions here to get started; keep them coming, and I just really don't think this thing has jumped time, everything points to a lack of spark.

Edited by jframe (see edit history)
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I like CROWVET's idea.  If you aren't getting voltage at the + side of the coil, a  temporary wire from the battery to the + side of the coil should remedy this condition, allowing the car to start.  This is the same issue I had with my 67 Chrysler when the ammeter died, and the same wire got the car started.   Same principle. If the car does start, then the timing isn't the issue, and there's no reason to think timing is the problem in my opinion.

 

And, as has been already mentioned, get the voltmeter on the + side of the coil, and have someone operate the key "on" and off (not cranking).  When the key is "on", the meter should read out close to 12V.  If no readout with the key in the "on" position, then 2 possibilities:  one, the ignition switch is faulty, or two, the wire from the ignition switch to the + side of the coil is faulty and may be grounding out somewhere under the dash. 

 

On my Riv, the wire from the points out of the distributor to the (-) side of the coil was faulty. The small wire was broken internally somewhere, and I couldn't get a consistent readout from the coil to the points.  My eureka moment occurred when I thought of putting a pertronix lobe sensing kit in the car, and when I did, the car proceeded to start up after not running for 22 years with the previous owner.  But that's not your issue, I only mention this to advocate for the Pertronix kit, with which I've never had any issues in 4 different cars. And I mention this to suggest that the wiring is old and could possibly be faulty from the ignition switch to the coil.

 

Finally, the starter seems like an unlikely culprit, since the car died while you were driving it.  I wonder if the "miss" you heard/felt was the engine dieseling a bit after the juice died.  

 

Edited by TampaRiv (see edit history)
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On 11/29/2020 at 11:12 PM, crowvet said:

Possible, but doubtful. You need to have 9.6 volts to the positive side of the coil. I would check the plugs on the firewall. You may have a bad connection. Could also be a bad ignition switch. You could temporarily run a hot wire from the battery to the positive side of the coil and see if it starts. Do not leave it there as 12 volts is a bit to much voltage, but should work to confirm

Now I'm getting somewhere. Just tried your idea about the jumper from the battery to the hot side of the coil. Fired right up like it was operating temperature. Put my Pertronix coil back on and retested the same way. Started right up. Thinking more and more the Pertronix module is fried, but thank God it hadn't jumped time. Wasn't really wanting to deal with that at Christmas lol. If I get another Pertronix, I may go with the 1181LS that does away with the magnetic ring and works strictly off the lobe on the dizzy. Also, I replaced the crappy forked wire connector that was on the ignition switch wire that came off in the first place. Really thinking that wire shorted the distributor module when it came off and started all this mess.

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I like the lobe sensing Pertronix kits.  I put one on my Riv, and all was fine from the start.   Same story with my '67 Newport with 383.  Glad to hear you're making progress, I know how vexing these electrical problems can be.

103_0875.JPG

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3 hours ago, jframe said:

Now I'm getting somewhere. Just tried your idea about the jumper from the battery to the hot side of the coil. Fired right up like it was operating temperature. Put my Pertronix coil back on and retested the same way. Started right up. Thinking more and more the Pertronix module is fried, but thank God it hadn't jumped time. Wasn't really wanting to deal with that at Christmas lol. If I get another Pertronix, I may go with the 1181LS that does away with the magnetic ring and works strictly off the lobe on the dizzy. Also, I replaced the crappy forked wire connector that was on the ignition switch wire that came off in the first place. Really thinking that wire shorted the distributor module when it came off and started all this mess.

I am glad it fired up, but I think what this proves is your coil and Petronix module are good. I think the only thing you are missing is power to the coil. A wiring diagram would show you where it comes from I am guessing a bad ignition switch, or a bad connection passing from the switch through the firewall. I just looked at a wiring diagram for a 64 and it shows a brown wire off the ignition switch, straight to the fire wall. It then changes color to what ever color you have at your coil. My bet is a burnt terminal or wire on your ignition switch.

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10 hours ago, crowvet said:

I am glad it fired up, but I think what this proves is your coil and Petronix module are good. I think the only thing you are missing is power to the coil. A wiring diagram would show you where it comes from I am guessing a bad ignition switch, or a bad connection passing from the switch through the firewall. I just looked at a wiring diagram for a 64 and it shows a brown wire off the ignition switch, straight to the fire wall. It then changes color to what ever color you have at your coil. My bet is a burnt terminal or wire on your ignition switch.

Correct...issues with the resistant wire and the ignition switch are very common. Kind of weird that it would happen at the same time the wire came off at the coil though...but coincidences happen.

Tom

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Just now, 1965rivgs said:

Correct...issues with the resistant wire and the ignition switch are very common. Kind of weird that it would happen at the same time the wire came off at the coil though...but coincidences happen.

Tom

The wire may have been loose for a long time and was creating heat at the switch? I think maybe it is proof that God loves Rivi's . He let the wire fall all the way off before there was a fire LOL Maybe the wire got knocked off removing the air filter. If it was loose it wouldn't take much.

 

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18 minutes ago, TampaRiv said:

As I look at my wiring diagram in the chassis manual, it appears the black wire off the ignition switch runs directly to the + side of the coil, with no stop-off at the fuse box.

Man, you guys have been MORE than helpful to this 33 year parts man turned amateur antique car mechanic! Thanks so much for all your replies; I'll try to keep updates posted. 30 degree temps here in Deep South during the day, and twenties at night limit my time to work on it, plus my 1 YR OLD Dewalt  torpedo kerosene heater is acting up, so it gets chilly QUICK.

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That still doesn't clear up the fact that there was still no power to that + wire (using a volt meter) at the coil + while cranking the engine with the starter because that circuit is entirely different than the circuit from the ignition switch through the firewall to the + side of the coil.

We now know that the problem is somewhere between the ignition switch going through the firewall & THEN to the + side of the coil.   In/during the cranking position while the starter is cranking the engine over the circuit from the ignition switch though the firewall & out to the + side of the coil is eliminated.   It's two entirely/different circuits.  The good news is that it starts with a jumper wire from the battery + terminal to the coil + terminal which eliminates the module.

There has to be a break somewhere between the ignition switch wiring AND from the starter wiring.

I'm guessing that the problem could still be an ignition switch in this case &/OR the contact inside the starter solenoid. So in reality there could be two entirely differnt/ inter-connecting circuits.

I hope I haven't confused you even more & that I've clearly explained it to you so that you may understand.

 

Tom T.

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3 minutes ago, telriv said:

That still doesn't clear up the fact that there was still no power to that + wire (using a volt meter) at the coil + while cranking the engine with the starter because that circuit is entirely different than the circuit from the ignition switch through the firewall to the + side of the coil.

We now know that the problem is somewhere between the ignition switch going through the firewall & THEN to the + side of the coil.   In/during the cranking position while the starter is cranking the engine over the circuit from the ignition switch though the firewall & out to the + side of the coil is eliminated.   It's two entirely/different circuits.  The good news is that it starts with a jumper wire from the battery + terminal to the coil + terminal which eliminates the module.

There has to be a break somewhere between the ignition switch wiring AND from the starter wiring.

I'm guessing that the problem could still be an ignition switch in this case &/OR the contact inside the starter solenoid. So in reality there could be two entirely differnt/ inter-connecting circuits.

I hope I haven't confused you even more & that I've clearly explained it to you so that you may understand.

 

Tom T.

Can it still be a solenoid issue, even though the starter spins over when the switch is turned?

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A for Sure YES.

 

I've seen the little terminal inside the solenoid be burned/missing which would cause NO VOLTAGE to the + side of the coil while cranking.  Look at an exploded view of the inside of the starter solenoid & you will see what I am talking about.  It's on the "R" terminal of the solenoid.

 

Tom T.

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2 hours ago, telriv said:

That still doesn't clear up the fact that there was still no power to that + wire (using a volt meter) at the coil + while cranking the engine with the starter because that circuit is entirely different than the circuit from the ignition switch through the firewall to the + side of the coil.

We now know that the problem is somewhere between the ignition switch going through the firewall & THEN to the + side of the coil.   In/during the cranking position while the starter is cranking the engine over the circuit from the ignition switch though the firewall & out to the + side of the coil is eliminated.   It's two entirely/different circuits.  The good news is that it starts with a jumper wire from the battery + terminal to the coil + terminal which eliminates the module.

There has to be a break somewhere between the ignition switch wiring AND from the starter wiring.

I'm guessing that the problem could still be an ignition switch in this case &/OR the contact inside the starter solenoid. So in reality there could be two entirely differnt/ inter-connecting circuits.

I hope I haven't confused you even more & that I've clearly explained it to you so that you may understand.

 

Tom T.

 

 

^^Everybody read that again. This thread is getting confusing, and Telriv's post above is exactly on point. You need voltage at the coil for the car to run, period.

 

Also the negative side of the coil should flash a test light as the points (or electronic module) unground and ground the negative coil terminal while cranking. This proves the coil is getting fired by the points or module.

 

Voltage is supplied from the key through a resistor wire when the key is on. It needs to be there. If it is not there, the car will not run.

 

During cranking, battery voltage is low because the charging system is not running and the starter is dragging the battery voltage down. In the interest of a hot spark for starting, battery voltage is sent directly to the coil while cranking. How is this done? There is an extra contact in the starter solenoid, and a wire up to the coil positive terminal. Telriv explained this. It has nothing to do with whether the starter works or cranks the car, or whether the key causes the starter to engage. It is there only to provide a hotter spark while cranking.

 

In order to have no voltage at the positive coil terminal while cranking, both the wire from the key to the coil, and the wire from the starter to the coil have to be dead.

 

If only the voltage from the starter is missing the car should start and run, It just might have trouble starting cold when the battery is low (due to the ignition system not getting enough voltage), but generally it should start and run.

 

If only the wire from the key is dead, the car should fire while cranking and then immediately stall when you let go of the key.

 

 

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  Both the ignition switched resistant circuit and the ignition positive which originates from the starter solenoid combine, or come together, at the terminal in the plug which feeds the engine harness at the firewall. From there, the two combined circuits feed current to the positive post of the coil via a single pink wire and a single terminal at the coil. Any failure of the crimp/splice at the terminal in the engine harness plug, in the pink wire, or a failure in the crimp between the terminal at the coil and the pink wire could mimic a failure of one or both circuits. Mark described the horse shoe shaped terminal at the coil as "crappy" and replaced it since he did his voltage checks, so maybe voltage will magically appear at the coil once again. Or...as has been proposed, both circuits may have failed. Coincidences happen....

  The resistant wire which originates at the ignition switch looks like it is cloth covered and different as compared to the other wires, and extends from the ignition switch to the firewall terminal/plug which feeds the engine harness under the hood.

  Good luck Mark!

Tom

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  Off the top of my head I think the positive from the starter solenoid makes its way to the engine harness plug via a 2 wire male and female plug in the area of the positive junction block/horn relay...there should be a purple wire which is the trip wire for the starter solenoid and a yellow(?) which eventually sends voltage back to the coil. It would be very, very easy to check for voltage on the yellow wire while cranking to troubleshoot the contacts in the starter solenoid....literally a 2 minute troubleshooting task

Tom

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55 minutes ago, 1965rivgs said:

  Both the ignition switched resistant circuit and the ignition positive which originates from the starter solenoid combine, or come together, at the terminal in the plug which feeds the engine harness at the firewall. From there, the two combined circuits feed current to the positive post of the coil via a single pink wire and a single terminal at the coil. Any failure of the crimp/splice at the terminal in the engine harness plug, in the pink wire, or a failure in the crimp between the terminal at the coil and the pink wire could mimic a failure of one or both circuits. Mark described the horse shoe shaped terminal at the coil as "crappy" and replaced it since he did his voltage checks, so maybe voltage will magically appear at the coil once again. Or...as has been proposed, both circuits may have failed. Coincidences happen....

  The resistant wire which originates at the ignition switch looks like it is cloth covered and different as compared to the other wires, and extends from the ignition switch to the firewall terminal/plug which feeds the engine harness under the hood.

  Good luck Mark!

Tom

Tom I think you must have hit it on the head. I replaced that bad terminal last night with a proper eyelet and rechecked using the jumper wire only. It started. I pulled the ignition switch tonight long enough to know the one Oreillys listed is wrong, so I put the oruginal back in. The plug APPEARS good. Car started immediately and has cranked a dozen times since. I am starting to think that crappy terminal I replaced may have been broken down the whole time and this fresh one may have been the ticket. Have to drive some and see how it does.

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3 minutes ago, TampaRiv said:

Ahhh, the old "loose wire" problem.   the next time this comes up on the forum, I'm just gonna reply "loose wire"!

Only thing I wished I would have done was try to crank it without the jumper wire last night when I repaired the wire. Now, I'm still not 100% that was it, because I DID remove and reinstall the switch tonight without trying to start the car first. Time will tell.

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