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Condensers.

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Born Loser Avatar
Born Loser Silver Member Matthew Taylor
Land O Lake, Florida, USA   USA
In reply to # 1473557 by TR3driver I agree, definitely bad parts. And it does seem like we are getting more of them lately; although the problem has been ongoing for many years.


But a condenser can be changed in just a few minutes on the side of the road. Quite a bit more effort to change a Pertronix (and I have seen them fail), especially since it affects the timing. You also get a spare condenser every time you do a tune-up, since the old one is almost always fine. Spare Pertronix is kind of expensive.

The thing that drove me to throw the Pertronix back in the parts bin is that it won't work if the battery voltage is too low. My gear drive starter will still turn the engine (slowly, but fast enough to start) on about 6 volts; but the Pertronix quits at 8 volts. I'm not sure how far down the points will still work; but it's much lower than enough to turn the engine. Most of you will never have that problem I guess; but I can't count how many times I've gotten the car started on just the last little glimmer of battery, often pushing it myself. The thought of an 'improvement' that can make it not start when it would start without the improvement just seems absurd, to me.

But every aftermarket electronic ignition I've owned has let me down at least once.



At least 15 years - my tune up had a bad condenser right out of the box, and the second only lasted about 200 miles...

I can swap back in forth between the Pertronix and the points on the side of the road, no problem. My timing was not impacted at all. The kit just replaced the plate the points mount to - 2 screws if I recall correctly.

As far as the low power - I cant say thats been an issue. I have lost 2 generators since the conversion. I have had a battery so dead, the starter would not even turn over, and gave it a good roll down a parking lot, popped the clutch, and drove her home, no problem.

As for reliability - who knows? I have run this one 15 years, with no problems. I have another Pertronix (the entire dizzy) in my Spit, and its been a daily driver for 2 years now - no problem with either. In MY experience, they are bullet proof, and completely reliable. But others swear they crap out every month - I dont know what to say, just has not been my experience at all.



Matthew
1960 Triumph TR3a
1970 Triumph Spitfire MK 3
2012 Mini Cooper SS Convertible

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CJD john durant
Southlake, Texas, USA   USA
In reply to # 1473557 by TR3driver

But every aftermarket electronic ignition I've owned has let me down at least once.

Through the '70's and 80's I went through the fad of having to get the latest greatest aftermarket ignition...Accell, Mallory, MSD. They were all incredible ignition systems. Often the idle would improve about 200rpm just with the improvement in spark. But, and it's a big but, I quickly learned that none of them lasted very long. If I got a year out of a system I was on borrowed time. Eventually I decided to leave the performance stuff at the track. For my street cars I would go with the best version of the OEM ignition available. I realized that none of the aftermarket companies had to warranty their products as long as the car manufacturers did.



John
Southlake, TX

'55 TR2

Fred Winterburn Avatar
Ripley, Ontario, Canada   CAN
You haven't tried one of my CDIs then smiling smiley www.capacitordischargeignition.com

In reply to # 1473613 by CJD
In reply to # 1473557 by TR3driver

But every aftermarket electronic ignition I've owned has let me down at least once.

Through the '70's and 80's I went through the fad of having to get the latest greatest aftermarket ignition...Accell, Mallory, MSD. They were all incredible ignition systems. Often the idle would improve about 200rpm just with the improvement in spark. But, and it's a big but, I quickly learned that none of them lasted very long. If I got a year out of a system I was on borrowed time. Eventually I decided to leave the performance stuff at the track. For my street cars I would go with the best version of the OEM ignition available. I realized that none of the aftermarket companies had to warranty their products as long as the car manufacturers did.

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Fred Winterburn Avatar
Ripley, Ontario, Canada   CAN
Pertronix 1 will actually switch down to 6V with the 12V version, and then it abruptly quits working, but it's useless below 8 or 9V because the spark energy is so low. See the attached write-up I did a few years ago. I prefer points, but points need to be maintained. If triggering a CDI, a good set of points will last a very, very long time, Some new CDIs don't put enough current through the points to keep them clean but that is another matter and not the only design deficiency. Fred

In reply to # 1473557 by TR3driver I agree, definitely bad parts. And it does seem like we are getting more of them lately; although the problem has been ongoing for many years.

Not just Triumphs either. I had the engine in my 95 Buick professionally rebuilt; and the water pump drive gear was defective. Skinned the teeth off in only 5000 miles or so.

But a condenser can be changed in just a few minutes on the side of the road. Quite a bit more effort to change a Pertronix (and I have seen them fail), especially since it affects the timing. You also get a spare condenser every time you do a tune-up, since the old one is almost always fine. Spare Pertronix is kind of expensive.

The thing that drove me to throw the Pertronix back in the parts bin is that it won't work if the battery voltage is too low. My gear drive starter will still turn the engine (slowly, but fast enough to start) on about 6 volts; but the Pertronix quits at 8 volts. I'm not sure how far down the points will still work; but it's much lower than enough to turn the engine. Most of you will never have that problem I guess; but I can't count how many times I've gotten the car started on just the last little glimmer of battery, often pushing it myself. The thought of an 'improvement' that can make it not start when it would start without the improvement just seems absurd, to me.

But every aftermarket electronic ignition I've owned has let me down at least once.


Attachments:
Pertronix Energy or Lack Thereof.pdf    36.2 KB

KingstonO Avatar
KingstonO Simon Oliver
Vancouver, BC, Canada   CAN
Having followed Bruce's link to TRF's less-than-flattering description of their own tune-up kits, I'm thinking I might go further afield in my search for reliable parts. I'm going to order a pair of hinges from Rimmer Bros. (UK), and I'm wondering if anyone has experience with their ignition parts. Adding a couple of points/condenser/rotor kits to the hinge package might be the way to go.

Your Winterburn CD Ignition looks excellent, Fred, but I'm still aiming for something a little simpler!

I've enjoyed reading all the contributions to this thread .. thanks for taking the time!

brucejon Avatar
brucejon Bruce Jones
Santa Cruz, CA, USA   USA
1962 Triumph TR3B
1963 Triumph TR3B "Tupperware TR3"
1969 Triumph Spitfire MkIII
1972 Triumph TR6
In reply to # 1473682 by KingstonO Having followed Bruce's link to TRF's less-than-flattering description of their own tune-up kits, I'm thinking I might go further afield in my search for reliable parts. I'm going to order a pair of hinges from Rimmer Bros. (UK), and I'm wondering if anyone has experience with their ignition parts. Adding a couple of points/condenser/rotor kits to the hinge package might be the way to go.

Your Winterburn CD Ignition looks excellent, Fred, but I'm still aiming for something a little simpler!

I've enjoyed reading all the contributions to this thread .. thanks for taking the time!

Sorry I should have been more specific. If you read carefully, and go to the next page you can see that trf offers an updated condenser. I was trying to help you find your source. https://gar.zeni.net/trf/add_confirm.php?new=LU423871&clicksource=webcatalog/specials13.15

KingstonO Avatar
KingstonO Simon Oliver
Vancouver, BC, Canada   CAN
Hi Bruce .. Short attention span! I certainly should have gone to the next page .. these items have potential! Thanks for getting back to me.

Cheers, Simon.

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CJD john durant
Southlake, Texas, USA   USA
In reply to # 1473654 by Fred Winterburn You haven't tried one of my CDIs then smiling smiley www.capacitordischargeignition.com

In reply to # 1473613 by CJD
In reply to # 1473557 by TR3driver

But every aftermarket electronic ignition I've owned has let me down at least once.

Through the '70's and 80's I went through the fad of having to get the latest greatest aftermarket ignition...Accell, Mallory, MSD. They were all incredible ignition systems. Often the idle would improve about 200rpm just with the improvement in spark. But, and it's a big but, I quickly learned that none of them lasted very long. If I got a year out of a system I was on borrowed time. Eventually I decided to leave the performance stuff at the track. For my street cars I would go with the best version of the OEM ignition available. I realized that none of the aftermarket companies had to warranty their products as long as the car manufacturers did.

Well, most of the boxes I have used were CD units. The Texas heat, 105 degrees plus in the summer, is what seems to kill them. I have to ask, what is different with your box that you think it will take Texas summers?



John
Southlake, TX

'55 TR2

Fred Winterburn Avatar
Ripley, Ontario, Canada   CAN
Component choices mostly, but I was referring to reliability and longevity for other reasons, not specifically heat. Heat and cold will bring out other design deficiencies faster than anything else even if the components have the temperature ratings. There are at least 4 of my units running in Texas and two in Arizona, some in Australia too. No failures due to heat yet. Fred

In reply to # 1473736 by CJD
In reply to # 1473654 by Fred Winterburn You haven't tried one of my CDIs then smiling smiley www.capacitordischargeignition.com

In reply to # 1473613 by CJD
In reply to # 1473557 by TR3driver

But every aftermarket electronic ignition I've owned has let me down at least once.

Through the '70's and 80's I went through the fad of having to get the latest greatest aftermarket ignition...Accell, Mallory, MSD. They were all incredible ignition systems. Often the idle would improve about 200rpm just with the improvement in spark. But, and it's a big but, I quickly learned that none of them lasted very long. If I got a year out of a system I was on borrowed time. Eventually I decided to leave the performance stuff at the track. For my street cars I would go with the best version of the OEM ignition available. I realized that none of the aftermarket companies had to warranty their products as long as the car manufacturers did.

Well, most of the boxes I have used were CD units. The Texas heat, 105 degrees plus in the summer, is what seems to kill them. I have to ask, what is different with your box that you think it will take Texas summers?

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Fred Winterburn Avatar
Ripley, Ontario, Canada   CAN
This discussion and others about poor condenser quality got me thinking about a replacement. See the thread I started on the MG forum. I think this capacitor makes an excellent replacement and certainly tests better than the standard condensers I compared it to. Some soldering skill and an old condenser shell is all that is required for the job. The capacitor isn't cheap, but then again, it isn't cheaply made either. Fred
http://www.mgexp.com/phorum/read.php?1,3580196

South San Frncisco, california, USA   USA
days late, etc. not to badmouth stuff that others have had good luck with (Pertronix, I threw that back on shelf also).
A firm in UK (SwiftuneUK) sell an external mount condenser ($$, but neat kit) and a points set whch appears to me
to be built stouter than the Lucas replacements we buy today. I tried them as part of an assault on the engine running issues.
Can't say this was The answer, but things are good. The external condenser is clad in heat-shrink collar, so you cant see it, has leads
and terminals... Able to mount it such that is gets air from the cooling fan... and maybe runs cooler... while I wonder the
condenser inside dist might get a lot of heat transfer from the engine block ultimately...
(for some reason the Pertronix worked like gangbusters for about five minutes running, then
engine went into backfiring, near stalling... barely could make it home... tried it twice... , my bad luck.)
(and would seem I installed incorrectly...)
w

CJD john durant
Southlake, Texas, USA   USA
I've said it before...it sure seems like there are more threads about faulty Petronix than there are about faulty points/condensers. In theory a decent optically triggered and transistor driven ignition should last decades. It just seems like the Petronix is missing some stamina in the long run. I've never run it, so I can't back that statement up.



John
Southlake, TX

'55 TR2

Tonyfixit Avatar
Tonyfixit Tony M
Duncan, British Columbia, Canada   CAN
My interest in EI kits stated in the early 70's when I was asked to help fit various EI kits to an Morris Marina for evaluation by a motoring magazine.

I was impressed by the improvment most of the kits gave over the stock points and condensor, but reliabilty was a BIG issue. Some units failing in hours!

However, by the 1980's EI was standard on just about every new car, and seting points or dodgy condensors became a thing of the past. Often we would not even consider what is under the distributor cap of our car during it's entire life!

With this in mind, when I bought my 74 Spitfire, one of my first considerations was to convert from points/condensor to electronic ignition. I bought an Allison optical kit which promptly died wihin a week.

While temporarily back to running (badly) on points, I began to wonder 'why could we not also have an ultra reliable EI system like those fitted to our daily driver cars?'

Within a few hours I had convered my stock Delco distributor to run with the EI internals from a Toyota truck.
That was now over 20 years ago, that same system is still in place untouched and unadjusted.

Now I know most people want a simple to screw in kit, presumably and ironically so that they can easily convert back to points ignition if/when their EI craps out! Which, alas, they do, far too often.

The last time I looked a Petronix kit cost about $100 usd that is not small change considering what these units are.
Lower cost units (from china) can be purchased, but I have no idea if they are more or less reliable than petronix (but a least you could afford to have a few spares on hand :-( )

EI has huge advantages over our stock points systems, even more so as time goes by and distriutor shafts become a little sloppy, cams wear and the quality of new points and condensors (this is now a very small market) becomes quite iffy.

I feel aftermarket EI manufacturers should step up to the mark and do better, offering better quality control and an end product more in line with the reliability and durability we have come to expect from OE ingnition systems over the last 30+ years.

Born Loser Avatar
Born Loser Silver Member Matthew Taylor
Land O Lake, Florida, USA   USA
In reply to # 1488852 by CJD I've said it before...it sure seems like there are more threads about faulty Petronix than there are about faulty points/condensers. In theory a decent optically triggered and transistor driven ignition should last decades. It just seems like the Petronix is missing some stamina in the long run. I've never run it, so I can't back that statement up.


I have heard that too. Just not my experience. Mine is on year 16, zero issues. Liked it so much, put one the father-son Spit project. Its been his daily driver for a couple of years now...



Matthew
1960 Triumph TR3a
1970 Triumph Spitfire MK 3
2012 Mini Cooper SS Convertible

Tonyfixit Avatar
Tonyfixit Tony M
Duncan, British Columbia, Canada   CAN
Just to clarify.

Petronix is a Hall effect triggered system, NOT an optically triggered system.

I do not know of ANY OE system that uses (or has used) an optical trigger.

It would be interesting to dysect a failed petronix to try to assess 'what' has failed.

As I suggested in my previous post, for the last 30+ OE systems have become 'bulletproof' to the point where the average car owner no longer considers their ignition.

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