Ignition problem ?

Wed Dec 15, 2004 10:34 am

Hi again !

Spent about 4 hours yesterday morning plowing snow with my '53 Farmall Cub; went back out late afternoon to try and plow a few more inches that had just fallen, but the ol' girl wouldn't start-up again. Its a 6-volt regular ignition (no magneto, has distrubuter cap, points, coil, etc).

It was cranking fine, and the carburator ended up getting flooded. I pulled the distributer wire from the coil to check for spark and no spark at all.

I checked, cleaned, and tighted coil wires, but still nothing.

A similar thing happened several weeks ago when I was getting ready for winter plowing. I had a new cap, rotor, wires, points, and condensor handy, but I didn't want to replace everything (didn't want to cause more problems!).

But I did change the cap and rotor and cleaned all the plug wire ends, and wire connections on coil, but it still wouln't start. Then I pulled the distributer wire to coil to check for spark, and it sparked and started right up.

It started up fine in the morning, and ran fine for the 4 hours I was plowing, parked it back in the garage, and later it wouldn't start--no spark from coil.

I figure it must be the coil, or possibly the condensor. I guess I will try buying another coil (hopefully I can find one!), and see what happens.

Any ideas what the problem may be ?

Any way to tell if the coil is actually bad ?
Or the condensor is bad ?

I assume the ignition switch is okay since the starter cranks fine, or maybe not ?

I do have a voltmeter, so I should probably check to see if the coil is getting power (didn't think of doing it last night... too tired!) ?

I dred more snow coming, and not being able to plow!

Thanks guys !

Ken H (airmojo)
Hambden, Ohio (we get more snow then Chardon, OH!)

Wed Dec 15, 2004 10:52 am

It may just be the connection on the high voltage wire from the coil to the distributor. Is the fit good and snug? Or does it slip on and off easily? They are exposed to a lot of moisture when plowing snow so the coil could be the problem. Check your primary voltage at the terminal on the hot side of the coil when you have the problem. Also just for giggles, wiggle the secondary wire.
If the coil does end up being the problem, generic 6 volt coils do the job and are readily available. (and cheap) If you want a coil like the original, they are available also but will not be as cheap.

Wed Dec 15, 2004 10:54 am

You are looking in the right direction. I think it will work out for you. I had the metal tip fall off the rotor on a C twice over a couple of years, It uses the same rotor. Condensers and coils are the first suspects. Don't forget coils get into the 10,000 of thousand volts. Heat and cold with epansion and contraction get to them when accompanied by vibration.

Last edited by beaconlight on Wed Dec 15, 2004 11:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

distributer question too...

Wed Dec 15, 2004 11:18 am

Thanks Bigdog and beaconlight for your suggestions... I'll see what I can find out.

I just remembered that when I had the distributer cap off when I first had this problem, I seem to remember a cover over the points and condensor, and I could not get it off... I would think it would come off easily.

Does it just pull or pry off, or is it screwed down ?

Thanks !

Wed Dec 15, 2004 11:51 am

on my 63 lowboy it has a thin gasket and just pulls off. gets sticky at times. With 4 hrs plowing you could have moisture on a cracked cap or carbon deposits in the inside of the cap. That wouldn't stop spark at the coil though. The covers of caps get cracks at times too and moisture there shorts out the High voltage so no or poor spark at the coil. Checking and cleaning the points and changing the condensor would be my first things. While you are in there check for moisture too.


Wed Dec 15, 2004 12:12 pm

If I post thisright you can see the insides of a dist that is for sale on Ebay.
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vi ... 08300&rd=1


Wed Dec 15, 2004 2:50 pm

Thanks Bill... I figured it MUST just pull off, but it sure is stuck tight and I didn't want to force it and break it if there was a trick to taking it off.

Ken H

beaconlight wrote:If I post thisright you can see the insides of a dist that is for sale on Ebay.


Wed Dec 15, 2004 4:36 pm

Because of the difficult angle to get to the internal distributor parts, I'll bet that condensors don't get troubleshot as much as they probably should. If a condensor is suspected, there's an easier way to kluge it in...just mount another one on the outside somewhere and hook it anywhere to the lead running from the coil to the points. Electrically, it wouldn't matter, and there's a dandy place for a tremporary mounting right there on the coil mount screw. Be sure there's a good ground for the condensor case, and don't forget to disconnect the installed (suspected) condensor and tape the lead to isolate it from the circuit. When the problem is solved, you can install a known good condensor in the distributor if the old one checks bad through elimination.

Or is this an old, well-known trick?

Wed Dec 15, 2004 6:13 pm

Check for voltage to the coil first, you can also use an analog type voltmeter (I hate those digital ones :twisted: ) to see if the voltage pulses when cranking to see if the points are opening and closing, if they are and there is no spark from the coil when the lead is held near a good ground then it is prbably a bad coil.

My cub is very vulnerable to getting moisture in the distributor cap, spray it out with WD40 (WD stands for water displacement :P ), and wipe out to dry the cap.

Re: Ignition problem ?

Wed Dec 15, 2004 7:59 pm

airmojo wrote:I assume the ignition switch is okay since the starter cranks fine, or maybe not ?

A bad ignition switch won't keep it from cranking. Since it was running when you shut it off then there was no spark when you tried to restart, the ignitin switch is a definite suspect. Doing voltage checks at the coil as already suggested should reveal a bad switch.

Mon Dec 20, 2004 10:06 am

Well, I got my Cub running on Friday... had to take a vacation day to try and get it working... snow was predicted for the weekend and we sure got it... about another 12 inches by Sunday afternoon !

The problem was the points... I cleaned and regapped and she started right up... I think the points were completed closed (grounded out?) which is why I was not getting any spark from the coil.

I had a helluva time trying to rescrew the adjusting bracket side of the points back in after I had removed it to clean up the points... real teeny hands would help !

Thanks again for all your help!

Ken H

Mon Dec 20, 2004 11:21 am

So good to hear that you are running again..