Author Topic: ignition tuneup - need advise  (Read 95 times)

Offline CudaJon

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ignition tuneup - need advise
« on: December 05, 2018 - 09:11:21 pm »
Hello to the group  - it's been awhile
This winter I'm taking advantage of the down time to redo the ignition system and replacing the Dist. Cap and rotor, Voltage regulator, ignition coil and ballast resistor and the associated wiring.  I have a 73 Cuda 340 and would like to keep everything near original.  Was going to replace the coil with a MSD Blaster but want to keep the ballast resistor.  Can anyone recommend replacement parts that would 'plugin' without any modifications.  Looking at summit and there seems to be lots of choices.
Thanks!!




Offline 70chall440

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Re: ignition tuneup - need advise
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2018 - 09:50:11 pm »
For regular tune up stuff I would just go to your local auto parts store. These items do not need to be "high speed" unless you are doing more than this. That said, I can understand the distributor cap and if you think the distributor is bad then so be it, but if the rest of the stuff isn't broke, why replace it?
Current Mopar
70 Challenger RT 440-6, 73 Cuda (under const)
05 Durango, 99 Dakota, 01 Ram 4x4, 14 2500 4X4, 10 PCP Challenger RT, 01 Viper GTS ACR, 52 B3B w/330 Desoto Hemi, 70 Hemi RR, 61 Jeep FC170
Past Mopars
9 x Challengers. AAR Cuda, 4 RR, 2 GTX, 4 Chargers, etc... (too many to list)

Offline jimynick

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Re: ignition tuneup - need advise
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2018 - 11:07:19 pm »
Mike has a good point. The later aftermarket parts like the voltage regulators have a lousy reputation for premature failure as well. If you swap out the ballast resistor, throw the old one in the glove box, you can thank me later. I'd wring out the wiring with a meter and if there's no appreciable losses, then why not just clean/rewrap and reinstall it? Your car, your call.  :cheers:

Offline 70chall440

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Re: ignition tuneup - need advise
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2018 - 11:25:38 pm »
Mike has a good point. The later aftermarket parts like the voltage regulators have a lousy reputation for premature failure as well. If you swap out the ballast resistor, throw the old one in the glove box, you can thank me later. I'd wring out the wiring with a meter and if there's no appreciable losses, then why not just clean/rewrap and reinstall it? Your car, your call.  :cheers:

 :iagree:
Current Mopar
70 Challenger RT 440-6, 73 Cuda (under const)
05 Durango, 99 Dakota, 01 Ram 4x4, 14 2500 4X4, 10 PCP Challenger RT, 01 Viper GTS ACR, 52 B3B w/330 Desoto Hemi, 70 Hemi RR, 61 Jeep FC170
Past Mopars
9 x Challengers. AAR Cuda, 4 RR, 2 GTX, 4 Chargers, etc... (too many to list)

Offline CudaJon

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Re: ignition tuneup - need advise
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2018 - 09:45:08 am »
First thank you all for the feedback, it sure is nice talking to knowledgeable folks -REALLY!   So right now the car will not turn over, it's sitting in a very cold garage (Northeast region) and I believe it's getting gas and obviously oxygen also strong starter and battery. I don't know the history of the engine or the parts on the engine, purchased the car two years ago and this winter is the first this happened so my thinking was to just go ahead and start replacing the items. I'm not a mechanic and my tools and diagnostic skills are limited in this area. I was first going to start with spark plugs and new wires then replace the ballast resistor - this seems like a weak link from my gathering in this forum. The coil from my reading could be replaced by MSD blaster type but then the resistor is not needed and I don't want to mess with the wiring. So maybe I do one thing at a time and slowly workup to replacing items until the engine kicks over and if not then I more on to the gas line I guess.  I apologize for this method of trouble shooting but I would like to get to the other side of the problem without getting bogged down.   Thank you for reading...

Offline 70chall440

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Re: ignition tuneup - need advise
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2018 - 12:39:32 pm »
Ok, the "rest of the story"...  :bigsmile:

You need to diagnose your problem/s before you start throwing parts at it. Believe me, I (and probably most here) have down this more than once and while it "seems" like a good idea will only exasperate your problems. You need to know what is working and what isn't so you have a baseline to move forward.

Think of it like this; the car doesnt start now so you replace all those parts and when done, still won't start, now what?

- So, you believe its getting gas (have you looked into the carb and seen it squirting in?)
- You know its getting air
- This leaves spark which is where this this thread started. You need to determine what is working and what isn't
  - pull a spark plug wire, hold it near a ground (head bolt) and have someone turn over the engine with the key on (or cross the starter relay) see if you have spark. If you don't,
       - then follow it to the cap checking the wire, if that is good
       - if the wire is good, pull the cap and inspect the inside and the rotor
       - if they are good, then you need to check the coil or replace it.

You do not need a MSD Blaster coil to make this run, a normal replacement coil will work. There is nothing wrong with the MSD coil but unless you are upgrading the rest of your ignition you are not really doing much other than spend money. Yes, there are good, better, best products on the market but cars are symbiotic meaning everything must/should work together. Replacing one part is not usually going to make a big difference.

Having said all that, you can go ahead and do a normal tune up replacing the plugs, wires, cap, rotor and if necessary the coil but i would strongly recommend that you figure out what is going on first or at least do not replace the coil until you know its bad.

There are a number of reasons an engine will not start, ignition is typically the reason but not always, the other needed component for starting is compression and if you don't have that all these parts are not going to help. Reasons for no compression usually boils down to worn out cylinders (rings not seating), bad valves (valves not sealing/seating), hole in piston, bent valves, etc.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the battery. You must have a good battery and good connections. Probably the most overlooked issue is having a good ground. These cars historically had very bad grounds, you have to make sure that all of the connections are clean and tight (at both ends) and that the battery has enough charge and is in good enough condition to turn the engine over.

You have to approach this methodically, one step at a time and you will get to a conclusion and hopefully get it running.

I hope this helps, I check this many times a day so don't hesitate to come back on here and ask questions or make statements.
Current Mopar
70 Challenger RT 440-6, 73 Cuda (under const)
05 Durango, 99 Dakota, 01 Ram 4x4, 14 2500 4X4, 10 PCP Challenger RT, 01 Viper GTS ACR, 52 B3B w/330 Desoto Hemi, 70 Hemi RR, 61 Jeep FC170
Past Mopars
9 x Challengers. AAR Cuda, 4 RR, 2 GTX, 4 Chargers, etc... (too many to list)

Offline CudaJon

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Re: ignition tuneup - need advise
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2018 - 02:08:08 pm »
I miss Paul Harvey...


Ok plan is formulating. I took the air filter housing off and opened the plates of the carburetor while moving the throttle and saw the mist of gas just now. Earlier when it did not start a week ago without thinking put some gas down the carburetor to no avail, I guess that is why I concluded it was the spark and the cold doing something. 


I may deviate from your advise of witnessing  a spark from each plug due to little assistance and just go ahead and change out the plugs and wiring and then cap and rotor. I'm quite curious on the condition of the plugs anyways.  I agree with your logic on the coil and will consult this forum again when I get to that point.


As far as the condition of the engine, I ran the car now for 2 years and I have never had any issues with performance, noise, knocking, burning, smell, etc but my disclaimer is I don't have a trained ear so we shall see. The other piece of information I failed to mention until now is that during the good weather after a good ride > 30 minutes or so if the car sat in the drive way for about 45 minutes, it took a while to start, could say it started hard, it's not heat absorption of the starter - I slayed that dragon and it has a fresh battery. Took care of both of those the first summer. It would seem to me that cold and heat have a influence. Wiring?


So I think I"m going to go ahead and purchase plugs/wires/cap and rotor and may get a ballast resistor to boot to at least have one on hand. May take some pictures of the plugs to get some comments.  I do want to learn about this stuff...


Thank you Mr. 70chall440 and the rest of gang... I may drift of frequency but stay tuned!!


Offline 70chall440

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Re: ignition tuneup - need advise
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2018 - 03:11:39 pm »
Just let me add something here by way of a quick story. I once had a 67 Satellite 383 4spd that I bought from a local Chevy dealer for $150 (many years ago). It started and ran good, however I let it sit for about a week or so, went out to start it and no go. I checked everything, attempted to prime it by add some gas down the carb, etc. nothing seemed to work. A friend of mine came over (older guy) and said, "well we know its getting spark and air, and we think its getting fuel, so it isn't getting enough of something". We proceeded to pour more fuel into the carb (like quite a lot) and boom, it started. turns out that it was a weak fuel pump and semi plugged filter. It was trickling fuel into the carb which allowed me to see a "mist" when manually working it, but it was not providing enough fuel to start.

Point is this, spray some starting fluid into the carb, not a great amount. See if it fires (probably won't run), if it does its a fuel issue, if it doesn't its a spark issue.
Current Mopar
70 Challenger RT 440-6, 73 Cuda (under const)
05 Durango, 99 Dakota, 01 Ram 4x4, 14 2500 4X4, 10 PCP Challenger RT, 01 Viper GTS ACR, 52 B3B w/330 Desoto Hemi, 70 Hemi RR, 61 Jeep FC170
Past Mopars
9 x Challengers. AAR Cuda, 4 RR, 2 GTX, 4 Chargers, etc... (too many to list)

Offline CudaJon

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Re: ignition tuneup - need advise
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2018 - 04:05:17 pm »
OK will do Sir!  Report back this weekend.

Offline 70chall440

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Re: ignition tuneup - need advise
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2018 - 05:37:14 pm »
 :2thumbs:
Current Mopar
70 Challenger RT 440-6, 73 Cuda (under const)
05 Durango, 99 Dakota, 01 Ram 4x4, 14 2500 4X4, 10 PCP Challenger RT, 01 Viper GTS ACR, 52 B3B w/330 Desoto Hemi, 70 Hemi RR, 61 Jeep FC170
Past Mopars
9 x Challengers. AAR Cuda, 4 RR, 2 GTX, 4 Chargers, etc... (too many to list)

Offline AARuFAST

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Re: ignition tuneup - need advise
« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2018 - 07:30:38 pm »
I am assuming the car was running.  Should have electronic ignition.  Electronic Ignition box could be gone.  Check if it has good ground.  Check coil wires are tight on coil. Check ballast resistor.  Starter relay wires are clean and tight.
When was the fuel filter replace. Can  you smell gas in carb. 
1970 AAR Cuda
1970 Gran Coupe Ragtop. 1 of 66
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Offline jimynick

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Re: ignition tuneup - need advise
« Reply #11 on: December 07, 2018 - 11:37:49 pm »
the ballast resistor on the firewall is notorious for suddenly failing. I once drove my 340 Dart to the store, came out and all it would do was crank- not a fart otherwise. Changed the ballast- I'll refer you to my prior advice- and away she went. With these cars, you should always have a spare BR in the glove box. Give that a try and see. As for checking the spark, make sure it's in neutral or park. Turn on the key to run and stick a screwdriver across the big and little connections on the starter relay. It's on the lft inr apron behind the battery. That should crank it and I'd put an old plug- or a new one for that matter- in the socket and lay the plug on the intake or exhaust ( a ground) and see if the system fires that plug. That'll eliminate a very important variable. If you've got ignition, then, as mentioned, you've likely got a fuel issue. Try Mike's advice about the ether trick and see if it fires. DON'T go crazy with the ether either. Sorry, I couldn't resist. Good luck.  :cheers:

Offline 70chall440

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Re: ignition tuneup - need advise
« Reply #12 on: December 07, 2018 - 11:47:17 pm »
All good advice and I completely agree with Jimy on the guidance to not go overboard on the starting fluid, doesn't take much. Too much will probably end in a significant emotional event such as a huge flame, broken motor, etc.. Just a squirt will tell you what you want to know.

As to the remote starting, again Jimy is correct, I personally like to use a remote starter switch with clips and push button, HF sells them cheap or you can easily make one, or just use the screwdriver. I don't like to use the screwdriver technique if I can do it another way only because it arcs the main stud, also it tends to scare the hell out those not accustomed to doing it.
Current Mopar
70 Challenger RT 440-6, 73 Cuda (under const)
05 Durango, 99 Dakota, 01 Ram 4x4, 14 2500 4X4, 10 PCP Challenger RT, 01 Viper GTS ACR, 52 B3B w/330 Desoto Hemi, 70 Hemi RR, 61 Jeep FC170
Past Mopars
9 x Challengers. AAR Cuda, 4 RR, 2 GTX, 4 Chargers, etc... (too many to list)

Offline CudaJon

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Re: ignition tuneup - need advise
« Reply #13 on: December 08, 2018 - 03:38:59 pm »
OK tried the starter fluid and no joy.  Did one short blast everything seem strong but just didn't turn over.  Did one more for good luck and same result.  Soooo it would seem the spark is drawing my attention.  I did check the wiring and everything seems secure, have not did any ground testing but it is on my list. I think if I saw someone actually do the remote starter to check the plugs, I would attempt it. Trying to enlist someone to give a hand. 


From the advice may replace the BR first since this (I think) is straight forward to accomplish.  I do want to change out the plugs just to see the condition.  Thank you everyone - the saga continues...

Offline 70chall440

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Re: ignition tuneup - need advise
« Reply #14 on: December 08, 2018 - 05:49:12 pm »
When you say didnt turn over I assume you mean it didnt fire? The engine is turning over (as in rotating by the starter) correct?
Current Mopar
70 Challenger RT 440-6, 73 Cuda (under const)
05 Durango, 99 Dakota, 01 Ram 4x4, 14 2500 4X4, 10 PCP Challenger RT, 01 Viper GTS ACR, 52 B3B w/330 Desoto Hemi, 70 Hemi RR, 61 Jeep FC170
Past Mopars
9 x Challengers. AAR Cuda, 4 RR, 2 GTX, 4 Chargers, etc... (too many to list)