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1967 Herald won't start

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caddis Chip Addis
Wayne, Pennsylvania, USA   USA
Greetings!
I am a new owner of a 1967 Herald 1200 convertible. I had it checked out last week and all checked out - a few things need attention like brake work, but, nothing that would seem to prevent car from starting. Shop did recommend electronic ignition. Today I had the car out and stopped at the hardware store. When I left the car would not start. Ran into a old car buff friend (owned a spitfire) and he too could not figure it out... He checked the coil - saw spark. Fuel pump is pumping gas. Has old distributor. He suggested a new pertronix kit, rotor, new plugs and wires, and dist cap. Is there anything else that could be the culprit or does this sound like a reasonable place to start?
Thanks for any help!
Chip

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Tonyfixit Avatar
Tonyfixit Tony M
Duncan, British Columbia, Canada   CAN
The basic tests are:

Can you get a spark to jump 3/8" from the spark plug wire connector to a good ground when cranking the engine?

If yes:

If you pour a teaspoon of gas down the carburettor will it fire when you crank?

The above should tell you if you have an ignition problem or Carburettor/fuel problem.

tapkaJohnD Avatar
tapkaJohnD John Davies
Lancaster, Lancashire, UK   GBR
Tracing electrical problems are always a matter of following the volts, using a multimeter.
A digital 'meter is so cheap, that there's no reason not to get one: https://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Automotive-Multimeters-Analyzers/zgbs/automotive/15707471

That's not so true here, as you have a spark at the coil and a 'meter doesn't measure High Tension volts!

But the principle is the same, follow the volts, which because they are High enough to spark make it easy on you.
Remove a plug, and tape or wire it to the engine where you can see the spark gap.
Turn over the engine and see if there is a spark there.

If there is, the question now is, does the spark arrive at the correct time?
Your workshop manual - you do have a workshop manual, do you? If not your going to spend a lot of time asking Qs on this board and and others are going to spend even more typing out screeds of advice!
Check the ignition timing: To save me doing a lot of typing, Google is your friend. This short video is on a 948 Herald, one of the first, but the procedure is identical on yours:

This is 'static timing'. 'Dynamic timing' with a running engine can come later.
Good luck!
John

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Herald948 Avatar
Herald948 Andrew Mace
East Nassau, upstate NY, USA   USA
Chip, how long did this car sit before you bought it? How much have you driven it since purchasing it? And how much has been done to "prep" it for use again? I'm thinking that you might have a problem with old fuel, possibly also including a good bit of silt and other gunk in it. I'm seeing this constantly nowadays in my Triumph fuel pumps and carb float bowls. In my case, and I'm sure directly related, in recent years I've been getting carb jets plugged up in a way that I never saw "back in the day"!

As I recall, your car has dual SUs rather than the original Solex, so you wouldn't get the same sort of jet "plugging" that I do. But you can still see that silt buildup in the fuel pump and float bowls. So even if you are getting fuel, you might not be getting all you should.

As to the distributor, I'll assume it's still the original Lucas, right? Again in recent years, there's been a huge batch of really awful rotors that tend to fail suddenly and completely, paired with a fair number of condensors that tend to do the same. There's good stuff out there, but it might take some digging. In particular, those rotors literally can and do fail suddenly, so replacing that is a pretty good place to start.

True story: a buddy of mine was driving his MGA about 10 years ago and had that sudden failure. I couldn't get him going where he was stranded, so he had the car towed to his house. Next day, I stopped over with an old rotor that I had literally "borrowed" out of my 1957 Standard Pennant (same basic Lucas distributor), popped it into his car, and it started right up! The real irony was that he then bought a new rotor...and we actually went through pretty much the same thing again not too long after that!

But back to your car. IMO, the various electronic ignitions are fine, but their biggest benefit is to the wallets of those who manufacture and sell them. Millions of British cars have run exceeding well on the original Lucas points, rotors and condensors since Joe Lucas started cranking them out. Also note that at least 80% of those who recommend you getting an electronic ignition will also recommend that you keep the old parts in the glovebox "just in case"! Kinda says something about the long-term reliability and durability, doesn't it? winking smiley My recommendation is simpler: 1. get proper quality bits inside your distributor; 2. any old bits that were still functional should be tossed in your glovebox! I almost never throw away old ignition bits unless they're physically ruined!



http://www.fairpoint.net/~herald948/database/

tapkaJohnD Avatar
tapkaJohnD John Davies
Lancaster, Lancashire, UK   GBR
If it is a rotor problem, try the Distributor Doctor: http://www.distributordoctor.com/

No idea if he has a US agent but his RED rotor arms have aquired a very good reputation here.
John

caddis Chip Addis
Wayne, Pennsylvania, USA   USA
Thanks, Andrew, for the help! I'm not sure how long it sat, but, I have been driving it around with no issues until now. I'm not exactly sure where I should look for the silt build up but I will poke around. I'll start with the rotor and report back. Best regards, Chip

caddis Chip Addis
Wayne, Pennsylvania, USA   USA
Thanks, Tony. Leaning toward ignition, but, I'll report back shortly...

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caddis Chip Addis
Wayne, Pennsylvania, USA   USA
Yes, I have the workshop manual and will see what I can find. Thanks, John, for the advice!

caddis Chip Addis
Wayne, Pennsylvania, USA   USA
Here's the sequence of what I did to solve the starting problem:
1. changed out the rotor - no luck
2. Changed the spark plugs - needed done anyway - no luck
3. Installed Pertronix electronic ignition - PROBLEM SOLVED.
4. Threw in new coil for good measure.
And, yes, I kept the old distributor parts.

Considered changing the distributor wires, but, they seem to be in pretty good shape.
Thank you all for the advice!

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vancouver, washington, USA   USA
Chip
Start with the simple stuff first. Rule #1 most carburetor problems are electrical. Before buying a new rotor and a Pertronix unit make sure your points open when the cam on the distributor pushes against the arm on the points. If the points don't open there's your problem. Use a match book cover as a gauge should the points need adjusting. Next make sure the ground wire from the plate that the points are mounted to is intact. Should you install a Pertronix or some similar unit it is imperative that you install a red or blue rotor.
Mike C

caddis Chip Addis
Wayne, Pennsylvania, USA   USA
Thanks, Mike. Yes, used a red rotor!

vancouver, washington, USA   USA
Chip
I guess I replied before reading your post about your success in getting the Herald running. Love my 1200. Going to an All British Field Meet north of Seattle tomorrow. Got stuck in a class of trailer queens but what the hell. I've driven mine from Portland to as far as Hailey, Idaho (Sun Valley)I guess that was around 1400 miles. . Just got back from a trip to Joseph, Oregon. 800 mile round trip. Installed a D-type overdrive. Made all the difference in the world. My wife prefers the Herald over my TR6 and TR250 for comfort. My TR6 is my fave.
Mike C

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