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My 23 Buick has strong fire at the points  but no fire going to the plugs.Everything is brand new coil, points, Condenser, Rotor ,cap wires and Plugs.Last week I took it for a drive with no problems and parked it in my front yard all day later in the evening I started it right up and pulled it into the garage and shut it off.2 days later I went out early in the morning and tried to start it and it wouldn't hit at all and it flooded..I found that the plugs were gas fowled so I put in a fresh set of plugs and still no start.I can break the points with a screwdriver and they have healthy fire.I had a friend come over today and he spun the motor over with the switch on while I held the plug wire close to the plug and found no fire at all there. What am I missing?

Edited by carmover (see edit history)
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Quick checks I would do:

Check the electrical connections between the engine, the frame & battery. Loosen every connection, clean & re-tighten them.

Check for damage to the rotor or the distributor cap. Make sure there is good contact between the rotor and the center button terminal in the distributor cap.

 

 

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You also might want to check out the distributor cap.  If you have a Multi-Meter you might want to check for continuity on ALL of the wire positions.  I'd check the condenser also.

 

Terry Wiegand

South Hutchinson, Kansas 

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Pull the coil wire from the distributor cap and hold it 1/4" away from the engine.

Turn the ignition on. 

Have someone push the starter pedal in to rotate the engine.  it will jump a spark every time the points open on the cam.  

If you have no spark, then the rotor and distributor cap and wires are not the problem.  

If no spark, remove the dist cap and check if the distributor is turning when the starter pedal is depressed.  The gear could be spinning on the shaft.

If no spark, check for 6 volts at the + side of the coil, then see if the points are sparking when it is cranking. Observe if the points are opening and closing.  Could also be a bad coil or condensor.  Could be that an insulator is not in place on the point system and the points or a connection are grounded.

 

If you do have a coil spark while cranking and the dist is rotating, then the problem lies in the rotor or distributor cap or carbon piece in the distributor cap.  

Hugh

 

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I had dirty contacts on the back side of the combination switch, also a failed external ballast resistor.  Hot wiring the coil helped me trace down both.

 

Poor grounds as mentioned suck all the voltage when cranking and there is not enough left to fire the ignition.  The cheap foreign made twist knob battery cut off switches are famous for this.  Act just like a dirty battery post connection.  Ask me how I know.  

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Here is what I have come up with.When the engine turns over I took the coil wire out of the cap and it is firing like it is supposed to with the coil getting 6 volts.I cleaned up the contacts on the cap and cleaned up the rotor button I checked all wire to make sure that they are secure in the cap and on the plugs. The distributor is turning and the points are properly gapped and breaking and have very weak white fire.I installed a fresh new set of plugs gapped to 40. I have no fire going to the plugs at all.With the weak white fire I am suspecting that the condenser is going to be my problem.

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Terry the condenser was rebuilt exchange by Tom Van meeteren and all of the parts I got was new old stock and perfect.Every thing checks out perfectly and I have a call in for Tom and see what we can figure out.I have a brand new coil that I got from Restoration supply and I checked it with a meter and it also passed the spark test.

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I wouldn't put the bad mouth on Tom - I know him and he is a friend of mine.  I am referring to parts that come from Napa, O'Reilly's, and AutoZone.  Just about everything that these guys peddle is non-American made and there lies the problem.  From what you are saying here you are going to have to check every piece with a Multi Meter for continuity and rule out each and every piece as you go.  I am not an electrical genius, but when you get to a point where the current stops, it sorta makes sense to me that may be where the problem lies.  Condensers are not a high dollar item.  If I were in your shoes I'd buy a half dozen of them and try each one until you find one that works.  Take the unneeded ones back for a refund.  A lot less aggravation going that route.  It sorta sounds like you are between that proverbial rock and a hard spot.  What you really need to do here is shake ol' Jim Beam's hand, have a couple of good shots and get a good night's sleep and start anew with a fresh day.  You absolutely have to have the mindset that that old Buick ain't gonna whip you.  If you throw up your hands and holler - it wins and you lose.  There's a bug under the chip somewhere and you just ain't found it yet.  If each and every piece in your wiring system checks OK for continuity, I'd put my money on the condenser.  Keep us posted.

 

Terry Wiegand

South Hutchinson, Kansas

Edited by Terry Wiegand
GRAMMAR (see edit history)
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Thanks Gentlemen,I have checked everything out carefully and Ben I know why You asked that cause I have been there and done that.

2 hours ago, Terry Wiegand said:

I wouldn't put the bad mouth on Tom - I know him and he is a friend of mine.  I am referring to parts that come from Napa, O'Reilly's, and AutoZone.  Just about everything that these guys peddle is non-American made and there lies the problem.  From what you are saying here you are going to have to check every piece with a Multi Meter for continuity and rule out each and every piece as you go.  I am not an electrical genius, but when you get to a point where the current stops, it sorta makes sense to me that may be where the problem lies.  Condensers are not a high dollar item.  If I were in your shoes I'd buy a half dozen of them and try each one until you find one that works.  Take the unneeded ones back for a refund.  A lot less aggravation going that route.  It sorta sounds like you are between that proverbial rock and a hard spot.  What you really need to do here is shake ol' Jim Beam's hand, have a couple of good shots and get a good night's sleep and start anew with a fresh day.  You absolutely have to have the mindset that that old Buick ain't gonna whip you.  If you throw up your hands and holler - it wins and you lose.  There's a bug under the chip somewhere and you just ain't found it yet.  If each and every piece in your wiring system checks OK for continuity, I'd put my money on the condenser.  Keep us posted.

 

Terry Wiegand

South Hutchinson, Kansas

Thanks Terry,I have checked everything out and everything is pointing to the Condenser And I certainly wasn't bad mouthing Tom.He took good care of me and I got some real good New Old stock parts from him.I just want him to guide me through the testing procedure on the Condenser and if it turns out bad swap it out for me.I have checked out everything from the battery,Switch ,Coil,Cap,rotor, wires and Plugs.With Tom's help we should be able to see if it is the problem or rule it out.By the way this Condenser is not one of the round ones it is the one that takes up half of the distributor.And I have learned a lot from You Guys and I won't let this Buick whip me.

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Carmover,

    Are your spark plug wires carbon filament or solid copper wire type?   Have you checked continuity between each of the spark plug wire connections to the contacts inside the distributor cap?  

Edited by Mark Shaw (see edit history)
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The plug wires are copper and are in the correct firing order..The car ran perfectly a few days ago when I drove on a 10 mile trip but when I shut it off in the garage and then came back 2 days later it wouldn't hit at all it would just flood.I have checked everything and it has week fire at the points when they break which is a good indication that the condenser is not working.Tom and I are checking this out to see if that is the case.

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Going back over this: if you have good spark at the coil wire and nothing at the plugs it HAS to be cap and rotor related. It's grounding out somewhere. Usually a crack in the distributor cap or even in the rotor.  Ok not really a crack but looks like one if it's arcing there.

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About the only other thing it could be is a misalignment of the new cap & rotor.  I suggest you measure the height of the rotor contact relative to the cap contacts to make sure the are at the same height when the cap is installed.

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Mark,

How can he account for it running OK, shutting the engine off and then it will not run?  There is something going on here that is just not obvious.  I'm still leaning toward the condenser if the cap checks out OK from a continuity test.

 

Terry Wiegand

South Hutchinson, Kansas

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10 hours ago, Terry Wiegand said:

Mark,

How can he account for it running OK, shutting the engine off and then it will not run?  There is something going on here that is just not obvious.  I'm still leaning toward the condenser if the cap checks out OK from a continuity test.

 

Terry Wiegand

South Hutchinson, Kansas

  It seems he has checked everything else.  So, he needs to check the not-so-obvious now. Remember when I found a ball of solder shorting the points in my 15 speedster?  The cap might not have been completely locked down or the rotor may have had something under it to make it run. I am just suggesting other options....

 

Edited by Mark Shaw (see edit history)
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Ron,

     Consider looking at your engine while trying to start it at night.  I had a blue glow on my new plug wires.  The spark plug wiring cover may not be doing you any favors also.  Try removing the wires from under the spark plug cover and the hold down bracket.  Perhaps they are going to ground.  Just run the wires loose from the distributor cap to the plugs.  Regarding a replacement condensor, the last year for the Buick 6 is 1930 (series 40).  Most autoparts stores don't list anything into the 20's.  Napa lists 2 different condensors.  This is an easy to get condensor for your car.   It's just not listed in the books.   

 

Hugh       

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Edited by Hubert_25-25 (see edit history)
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Attached is a  picture of the correct correct condenser, rotor, point arm and dist cap for Carmover's project.    The condenser is Delco #13560 and is NOT readily available at any NAPA store.    The rotor in the picture was used on 6 cylinder engines thru 1922.   The four cylinder model in 1922 used the rotor that Hubert has in his photo.   Someone mentioned that the rotor and cap weren't down on the distributor cup properly.   The design of this cap is either it's on or it won't be on.   It has a raised ring around the base with two flats and a indexing notch.  If those features are not properly lined up, the cap won't go onto the distributor and won't stay on.   If the rotor has something under it,  the cap won't go on at all.  

20210307_124551.jpg

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According to my parts book, the rotor and cap for a 1923 Buick 6 cylinder is 1923 thru 1927 6 cylinder.  Same as on his 1925, so he could have the same cap and rotor for both his cars and keep one spare.  I suppose that 1922 style cap and rotor in the photo will function.  A different part number because of the old style way of attaching the wires.   My point about the condensor is that the car requires a condensor.   Lots of configurations to accomplish the same results.  He is not going to find a locally sourced cap, rotor, and points easily, but a condensor he can get and determine why his car will not run.     

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For my 1925 Pierce Series 80 (had two of 'em for 20 years), I was never able to find an original NORS condenser that didn't leak badly when tested on a Sun machine, probably due to the wax paper insulation used in those days.  I found that the condenser for a 1962 Ford full size 6 (223 cid) had the same capacitance (about .022-.026 ufd IIRC).  I never did modify the distributor plate to accept the modern-size condenser, so attached the pigtail to the low-tension coil terminal (the one providing current to the points) and grounded the condenser's case--even a wire with alligator clips will work quick-n-dirty as a ground.  That's also a quick roadside fix.

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1 hour ago, Grimy said:

For my 1925 Pierce Series 80 (had two of 'em for 20 years), I was never able to find an original NORS condenser that didn't leak badly when tested on a Sun machine, probably due to the wax paper insulation used in those days.  I found that the condenser for a 1962 Ford full size 6 (223 cid) had the same capacitance (about .022-.026 ufd IIRC).  I never did modify the distributor plate to accept the modern-size condenser, so attached the pigtail to the low-tension coil terminal (the one providing current to the points) and grounded the condenser's case--even a wire with alligator clips will work quick-n-dirty as a ground.  That's also a quick roadside fix.

Forgot to mention that the Pierce used a Delco 6-cyl distributor (#17042, takes cap #15436), very similar to the Buick distributor in question.

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Hugh,

 

The Distributor Cap in the photo that Tom posted will not fit a 1923 Buick Six.  That particular cap was used on the 1916 thru 1920 Light Six.  1921 and 1922 were the same with 1922 being the last year for Delco threaded post caps on a Buick Six.  I am not trying to be a wiseguy here - a person who is not thoroughly familiar with Buick ignition parts could possibly see that photo and think that this is what is needed for carmover's engine when in actuality a 1923 Buick Six used a single piece molded distributor cap.  I have a 1916, 1920, (these two use the cap that is shown) and a 1922 Buick.  With that said, I am pretty familiar with what goes on these cars.  I am not picking on Tom because he is as sharp as they come on these old ignition parts.  I think that he might have made a typo in his posting.

 

Terry Wiegand

South Hutchinson, Kansas

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Remember Terry my 23 has a 22 engine in it and uses those very parts that are in Tom's picture.On the cap it cannot be put on wrong and as I have said the car ran great a few days ago and if one wire was not sparking I would say it was a bad wire but when none are sparking I wouldn't think they would suddenly go bad at one time.The cap also passed the continuity test just fine all insulators are in place and I see no signs of arking anywhere in the distributor.It has 6 volts going to the coil and correct voltage to the points which are firing every time they break but with weak white fire.The spark doesn't look like it should.Tom is sending me a replacement Condenser tomorrow.I have high hopes that this will fix it if not I thank you guys sticking with me.

 

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Hugh,

I am not calling you out - I was simply trying to point out that the cap in the photo is not for a 1923 Buick Six engine.  I see where carmover set the record straight in telling us that he has a 1922 engine in his 1923 car.  That certainly clears up a lot of questions and explanations as to what fits what.  I'm going to be gluing linoleum onto running boards tomorrow morning and I am going to let you guys figure this thing out and I'll read about it after it is all over.  I still think it could be the condenser.

 

Terry Wiegand

South Hutchinson, Kansas

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  • 2 weeks later...

I had three of the best old car mechanics working with me all day yesterday we got the car firing on all six and we did a cold valve adjustment and the car is almost starting but not starting.It is hitting and is making the last sound you hear before the engine starts but is not quiet starting.I set the carb adjustment with the fuel needle opened 1 full turn and the air turned even with the ratchet.We pulled the car down the road and never could get it to crank.We also checked the timing and is right on the money.We are getting a lot closer but not cranking yet.Any Ideas will be welcome.

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Just for something different to try:  Remove the ethanol from the gas.  It's easy to do just add 10% of the volume of gas with water.  Then use this pure gas for starting and see if there is an improvement to your problem.  On other thing I would do is to put a vacuum gauge on the intake to see if you have  an adequate amount to adequate get the air fuel into the combustion chambers.

 

I left my 1953 chevy sit for a year with ethanol gas  in the car.  When I went to start it wouldn't do anything.  I found the entire fuel  system gummed up with a white gel.  I had to replace all fuel lines, clean the gas tank, and rebuild the fuel pump and carb.

 

I'm lucky, we can still buy non ethanol gas locally.  It's about 20 cents a gallon more than the ethanol junk.

 

Bob Engle

 

 

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Robert one of the mechanics said the gas had a funny smell to it but to me and the other 2 guys said it smelled like regular gasoline.I have been running non ethanol fuel in all of my cars but I did do one questionable thing I put 5 gallons of regular gas on top of the non ethanol fuel.Another thing is the mechanics said the way it is starting to want to run  but won't fully start is characteristically bad fuel or water in the fuel.I am thinking about draining and cleaning the whole fuel system.And whatever this is coming from the tank is getting to the combustion chambers.

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Drain the vacuum tank.  Crack the fuel line to the carburetor and let the gas run out.  Get a small kitchen type funnel and you can refill the vacuum tank with known fresh gasoline.   Push down on the tickler on top of the carburetor until gas comes out.  Now you have all fresh gas to start with.   Consider removing the carburetor inlet aluminum piece and spraying starting fluid into the carburetor.  Once it starts and warms it, it will likely be able to burn all the old gas out.   

 

Hugh 

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Hugh, it doesn't have a working vacuum tank.Someone gutted the vacuum tank and installed an electric pump and regulator and ran a copper line through the vacuum tank to the carb.Unlike on my 25 the carb hasn't been modified to stand any extra pressure.I am going to empty the carb bowl, drain the tank and blow lines out and replace fuel filter. and remove the inlet pipe at the tank and check the screen . Then refuel with fresh non ethanol fuel. 

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