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Discussion Starter #1
Hey all, I am in a bit of a confusion after an electrical failure in my 66 coupe.

I was nearing the end of a five hour drive, when I notice my headlamps starting to dim on me. Being foolhardy and so close to my goal, I decided to keep going and try to make it home. At the next stoplight, my car just outright died. After getting off the road, I was able to jump start it, but the very soon after turning the lights back on, it started to sputter. As soon as I turned off the lights, it went back to normal.

Today, I went back and drove it home in the daylight, about a 15 minute drive, and over the last half mile, it started sputtering and dieing on me. Each time, I was able to start it back up again and keep going, but it seemed to dislike being put under load.

My first assumption was that it was my voltage regulator, partly because I had been noticing momentary voltage spikes on several drives preceeding this one, but I had not yet been able to get to an auto parts store.

I believe I can rule out the battery or alternator, as my previous alternator failed 9 months ago, and has run fine since then on the new one. Further I had my battery tested at that time, and it was perfectly fine.

My real concern, though, is that once I replaced the voltage regulator (with a replacement from NAPA) I have been entirely unable to get the vehicle to start. It turns over fine (I am still jump starting it, as my battery is still dead and I do not have access to a charger), but acts rather like there is no spark at all.

I am runnning a Petronix ignition unit instead of points, could this have been damaged by the regulator's failure?

Is there something I am missing? This bugger really has me confused this time.

Thanks.
 
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Well it's certainly possible that the voltage spikes could have ruined it. I would check the output of your wires with a voltmeter to see what they're putting out. Also, don't be so quick to rule out your alternator or battery for that matter. I've seen em go bad in 1 month, so 9 months would be nothing. You can take your battery and alternator to most any local parts store like Auto Zone and what not and they can test them. Especially if you bought some cheap-o alternator from Auto Zone or whatever, those things aren't worth the paper your receipt is made from. Sometimes in life, buyin the cheap stuff is just as good as the expensive stuff. But sometimes, you get what you pay for.
 

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First buy a charger, even just a basic one. They last forever (I've had mine since 1978) and you'll always need one at some point in life!


Easy test. If you get the car started and it will idle, while running, disconnect the negative battery cable. If it immediately stalls, that means the alternator is not putting out. If it keeps running, the alternator is working (at least for that moment).
Note: If if does continue to run, lay the negative cable you disconnected (that's why you disconnected the negative, not the positive so it won't short out against them metal frame) down on the radiator support so it doesn't fall into the fan. Then go shut the motor off. Now reconnect the negative cable with the engine off so you don't spike the voltage regulator.

Your car runs off the alternator output. The battery is only there for power for the starter motor to start the car. If the alternator stops putting out, the car will run off the battery until the battery dies and then you have nothing to run or start with.

If the car does keep running, I'd say you have an intermittant alternator, regulator, or wire issue. Tough to trouble shoot. May just start w/ the regulator, then alternator, then wires. The fact that the car loosses voltage while running would make me say it's not the battery. A car will run all day long without any battery in it as long as the altrenator is supplying power.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
The fact that my car died tells me I HAD a charging problem.

My real worry is the fact that it will NOT start after I replaced the voltage regulator. I was prepared to still have a charging issue after replacing it, but it seems I took a step backwards.

I am going to get my alternator and battery checked this afternoon, and I will check my fuel system for blockage. Is there anything else I should check?

Thanks.

P.S. I didn't notice until I removed the old regulator that it had a condensor attached. As such I did not purchase a replacement. Could this be causing me trouble? Further, should/can I easily obtain a replacement?
 
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Oh man, don't sweat it, condensers are a dime a dozen. Most likely, your local auto parts store already has them in stock. Even if there computer doesn't show anything(though it should), they usually have generic ones out in the aisles. I know I've seen em at Advance where I live. Just take your old condenser and match it up, easy as pie.

Let us know what the alternator and battery test come out to be and we'll go from there. I've never tried to start my car without the condenser so I don't know if it would cause that effect or not, and I don't know what exactly the condenser does for the car in the first place. I do know what a condenser does(it stores voltage, another word for it, for us electronics geeks, is a capacitor) but I don't know why the car needs one. Perhaps it needs the extra voltage to power the headlights, I've never took a hard look into it.
 

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Hello.:)The condensor is for noise suppression.It keeps the alternator hum from coming through the radio and has nothing to do with starting the car.It would be kind of strange if you had all of a sudden developed a fuel system problem.I would pull a spark plug and ground it out on something while a friend cranked the car to see if I was getting any spark.Be sure to hold the spark plug with some insulated pliers or something because it will really light you up if you are getting a spark.It sounds as if the jump starting of the car has killed the pertronix unit.They are pretty sensitive to electrical spikes.That's why I keep a breaker plate with the points and condensor all set up and ready to go in the glove box.Good luck.:)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Veronica, you were right, the Pertronix unit was shot. -_-

I swapped it out for some points and it fired up right away.

One last question: How often do the Pertronix units fail? Is it worth purchasing another one, or should I just stick with points? I must say I definitely prefer the Pertronix, just based on its performance and ease of use.

Thanks a ton.
 

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Forgive my noobness, what exactly is MSD? Google tells me that they are a company that makes ignition components, but what is the advantage of their products, and is it worth the price when I have an inline 6 that is mostly stock?

I am not trying to build a Hi-Po vehicle here, this car is just my hobby that gets driven daily.

Anyways, thanks a ton for sharing your knowledge.
 
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Yes, that's exactly what MSD is, a GREAT ignition company. Every popular racing sanction uses them(NASCAR, NHRA, IHRA, etc.). Their items are EXTREMELY reliable and the best on the market. I can't say enough good things about them. I could go into more detail if I was given a certain product to talk about, but generally speaking, all of their stuff just rocks. And I'm saying this from personal experience, not to mention that all the guys I race with(several of them that go over 150 MPH in the 1/4 mile) all use MSD as well.

Although, in your case, I don't think you necessarily need it. I mean, if your breaker/points setup gets to a point where it's just not reliable, then yes, by all means, MSD is the definition of reliable. But for just a street-cruisin stocker, I see no reason to spend the money.
 

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Hi again.:) MSD , which stands for Multiple Spark Discharge, makes ignition components for what are primarily performance applications. I've had cars that someone had installed them in, but I always take that stuff off. One of my cars is a 'K' code 65 fastback that is essentially stock through and through with the exception of the roller rockers, and slightly modified exhaust and it makes a very respectable showing of itself. The MSD system has this big red box that goes under the hood that is just hideous.The system also has waaay too many extra wires, which in my opinion also looks terrible. If I was campaigning a pure race car I would use the MSD, but on a street car the extra 4 hp just aren't worth all of that ugly.My hipo jumps off of the line so hard it will change your hat size for a moment :gringreen with the stock dual point distributor, a pertronix coil, nuthin' special plug wires and autolite plugs.As far as how long the pertronix points replacement modules last, it's hard to say.I've had one in my convertible for about 20.000 miles without a whisper of trouble.I went through four of them in the hipo in as many months.That's why I keep the breaker plate with points in the glovebox of my convertible.I don't want to be bringing the kids home from school and have to push the thing for the last mile and a half.While it is true that I am a top contender in my weight class for Women's 5000 Meter Mustang Pushing, it still isn't something that I enjoy doing. :nogrinner
 
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While it is true that there is a big red ignition box(not really all that big, about 7-8 inches by 3 or 4), it can be easily hidden up under your dash or wherever you please(with the wires running through an existing hole in the firewall.

And you will get a bit more than the 4hp gain if you use a complete MSD ignition(coil, ignition box, distributor) and at least a good set of 8 or 9mm plug wires, it will rock your socks off. A big advantage, and is partly why all the racers use them, is because of the rev limiter that is available in most models. You can put in, lets say a 6,000 RPM chip. Well, if you exceed 6,000 RPM, it will shut your car off until the motor comes back down below that point. It's a nice feature in case you miss a shift or whatever the case may be. But as Veronica said, for a street car, your points setup should be fine. If you find yours to be unreliable or too much maintenance, then an MSD setup is a nice addition.
 
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