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spark tester - '78 Spit won't start

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czehner1 Avatar
czehner1 Silver Member Charles Zehner
Littlestown, Pennsylvania, USA   USA
Hi, I'm a newbie, I bought a '78 Spitfire (56K miles) with an aftermarket hardtop about three weeks ago. When the prior owner dropped it off I drove it around to the garage and parked it. I went to start it yesterday and it just turns over, but does not start. Prior to attempting to start the car I had put a Lucas distributer cap and rotor on, new plugs gapped at 40 (I put them back to 25), new gas filter, and cleaned the outside of the carb so I could actually see what type, Weber. When it wouldn't start I put the old distributor cap and rotor back on, no luck. I had re-gapped the plugs to 25. I had a larger gap since it has an electronic ignition. Looking down the carb, if I move the throttle I see gas squirting in so I figure not a fuel issue. I went out and picked up a spark tester and put it on one of the plug wires. It lights up initially when turning the key and lights up when I turn the key off. I would have expected the spark tester to flash ever time the rotor hit that plug wire. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Oh, I did use starter fluid. Thanks, Charlie

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Pats54 Avatar
Pats54 Gold Member Mark M
Maynard, Mass, USA   USA
1979 Triumph Spitfire 1500
2012 Volvo C70 "The Weekender"
Charlie this may seem stupid but is the rotor spinning?

The reason I ask is I just had a no spark issue and that was the cause
I had left the dizzy bracket lose to set the timing and headed out for a ride
Not that I had gotten that far.

Quick fix but worth a check.

Greg1835 Avatar
Greg1835 Greg S
Rudolph, Wisconsin, USA   USA
Did you have to start it to drive it to the garage or was it never shut off when delivered? Not that he would try and pull a fast one on you or anything, but ........

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czehner1 Avatar
czehner1 Silver Member Charles Zehner
Littlestown, Pennsylvania, USA   USA
I'm not sure what a dizzy bracket is, but I went out and looked where the rotor was positioned, put the cap back on and tried starting the car. It's like it wants to start, but just can't. The carb backfired twice and it sounded like tractor. I was careful to put the rotor back on in the right direction each time I took it off. There's a little wiggle when I grabbed the rotor and checked.

czehner1 Avatar
czehner1 Silver Member Charles Zehner
Littlestown, Pennsylvania, USA   USA
I started and drove the car to the garage. I actually was impressed when I started it. I just turned key and it started right away.

Greg1835 Avatar
Greg1835 Greg S
Rudolph, Wisconsin, USA   USA
A little wiggle? Is the rotor wiggling on the shaft or the whole shaft wiggling? You should be able to turn the rotot/shaft a little ways in one direction, but if the rotor is loose on the shaft, that's a problem.

Davebert Avatar
Davebert Dave C
Montreal, Quebec, Canada   CAN
You might have flooded the engine, I think the webber has an acceleration pump so every time you press the peddle you spray gas into the engine where the SU and ZS only relies on vacuum to drawn in gas. Next time just leave the car alone for 5-10 minutes with the throttle open and retry without stepping on the throttle.

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Lizzard d id
san jose, ca, USA   USA
And this is why I tell people to do one thing at a time .
Replace a cap and then go for a drive , then regap the plugs and take it for a drive , etc etc etc . Then if it fails to start or runs badly you can go back to the last thing you were working on and eyeball that one thing .

You need three things for it to fire up , compression , fuel , spark .
I bet you have compression , I bet you have fuel , I bet your wire are on "funny". I got 10 cents on the firing order being "funny".

czehner1 Avatar
czehner1 Silver Member Charles Zehner
Littlestown, Pennsylvania, USA   USA
I checked the rotor. It is not moving and the distributer only moves a little in one direction. I did see that the red wire from the electronic points replacement unit to the coil had duck tape on it. I soldered it and shrink wrapped it. Then I noticed that the brown and lavender wire going to the same place was separated from the crimped connection. I just re-crimped it. Then I noticed there was a wire not connected to the negative side of the coil, which I put back. I don't know if I caused any of this, since I tie wrapped wired that had bread ties on them. Yesterday, I was reading how to buy a Triumph on this site. The guy said for every tie wrap deduct a $100.00. What kind of deduction do you do for bread ties? The car still wants to start and back fires from the carb. I did notice the choke was 3/4 of the way closed. I opened it all the way, but still no luck. I need to correct all the wiring. It seems like it's a timing thing.

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czehner1 Avatar
czehner1 Silver Member Charles Zehner
Littlestown, Pennsylvania, USA   USA
Each time I changed the distributer cap I had the other one right beside it and changed one wire at a time. Also, when changed the spark plugs I did one at a time. I'll check the firing order.

spitfire50 Avatar
spitfire50 Paul Mugford
Rochester, N.H., USA   USA
Charlie,
Firing order 1-3-4-2 counterclockwise. From your "wants to start and backfires through the carb" statement you may be off by one position on the cap. So 1 may be at 3 or it may be at 2. It is quick to move the four wires either direction and try starting. If it doesn't work you put the wires back.
Good luck,
Paul

colodad Avatar
colodad Silver Member Calvin Williams
Grand Junction, Colorado, USA   USA
You mentioned
"a spark tester and put it on one of the plug wires. It lights up initially when turning the key and lights up when I turn the key off. I would have expected the spark tester to flash ever time the rotor hit that plug wire."

ignition switch contacts ?

when the car was at operating temp, they do start quick. cold engine takes a few turns.

photos to check your rotor (crank at TDC) and plug wire positions, #1 is the front cylinder.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2017-11-06 08:37 AM by colodad.


Attachments:
cwIMG_2135 crankshaft TDC.jpg    47.3 KB
cwIMG_2135 crankshaft TDC.jpg

cwIMG_2328 cap plug wires.jpg    57.7 KB
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cwIMG_2329 rotor position with timing mark at TDC.jpg    51.8 KB
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czehner1 Avatar
czehner1 Silver Member Charles Zehner
Littlestown, Pennsylvania, USA   USA
Thank you all. I really had the spark plug wires screwed up on the distributor. I search engine my problem and it took me back to this site. Someone put a picture here with the cylinders and distributor cap. I'm good with pictures. I went out in garage and did what the picture showed. I turned the key and varooommm. This site is like a self help group for Triumph owners.

Greg1835 Avatar
Greg1835 Greg S
Rudolph, Wisconsin, USA   USA
Glad you got it sorted, Charles. Hey Calvin, that autographed edition of your engine could be a collectors piece sometime in the future!winking smiley

Lizzard d id
san jose, ca, USA   USA
10 cents ? Who bets so low ?

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