[Healeys] Car dies suddenly

Michael Oritt michael.oritt at gmail.com
Tue Mar 19 20:07:21 MDT 2019

Hi Michael--

Firstly my condolences to you and your countrymen for the terrible event
that happened last week.

As to the B/W wire's being the culprit I tore it out long ago and replaced
the stock cutoff switch with a superior marine unit with plated contacts,
so scratch that as a cause.  As I posted elsewhere I am hoping to actually
find the definite issue such as a defective component or a failing
connection, etc. rather than launching into replacing coils, changing
disty's etc. and then waiting for something or nothing to happen.  I'll
start by going through the ignition circuit beginning with the key switch
and see if I can find the offending bit, etc.  If no luck then I'll start
on the Mallory Unilite which, being an electronic system (Hall Effect?) ,
has no condenser.

Thanks for the input and we'll stay in touch--Michael

On Tue, Mar 19, 2019 at 9:34 PM Michael Salter <michael.salter at gmail.com>

> Hi Michael,
> 100's do have the master switch grounding wire to the master switch so it
> might well be worth checking.
> The symptoms sound very similar to those I encountered with a faulty coil.
> Mine would run for about 30 minutes fairly consistently before suddenly
> dying.
> Even when the engine would not start the bad coil still produced a
> significant spark each time the open points were shorted with a screwdriver
> which I at the time, mistakenly,  felt confirmed that the coil was actually
> okay ... it wasn't.
> I was only able to confirm that the villain was in fact the coil by
> installing a replacement.
> I have encountered very similar symptoms with a faulty condenser which was
> confirmed by spraying it sparingly with ether to cool it down and then
> finding that the engine started immediately.
> As I'm sure you are aware a fuel delivery problem never causes the engine
> to stop dead ... it typically sort of peters out!!
>  I would recommend trying the condenser trick and then, if a regular coil
> can be used as a substitute for the Mallory try a substitution.
> M
> I wonder where the term "peters out" comes from ... Google time.
> On Wed, Mar 20, 2019 at 2:13 PM <simon.lachlan at alexarevel.plus.com> wrote:
>> I’m presuming that the car’s a 100? You make reference to 4 plugs…..
>> Do 100s have the dreaded white wire from the on/off switch in the boot?
>> Do 100s have the switch even? Anyhow, that wire shorting out has caused
>> endless tears.
>> Or is it a black/white wire?
>> Worth a look.
>> Simon
>> *From:* Healeys <healeys-bounces at autox.team.net> *On Behalf Of *Michael
>> Oritt
>> *Sent:* 19 March 2019 17:46
>> *To:* Austin Healey <healeys at autox.team.net>
>> *Subject:* [Healeys] Car dies suddenly
>> Yesterday morning I went out for a drive and after about five miles the
>> car suddenly died. There was no rough running, sputtering or missing
>> leading up to it—the car simply died. I coasted to the side of the road and
>> after about 30 seconds since the key was still on I pushed the start
>> button. To my surprise the car started immediately, revved freely and idled
>> smoothly. A bit perplexed I decided to drive on to see what would happen
>> now that I was paying close attention. The car accelerated smoothly and ran
>> fine for about 1/2 mile and then it died again in the same manner as
>> earlier. I shut off the key, popped the hood and examined the ignition
>> system. Everything seemed fine—all spark plug leads were firmly in place as
>> was the lead from the coil to the distributor. The power wires to the coil
>> were tight and the harness/connector to the distributor (see below) seemed
>> fine.
>> After scratching my head for a couple of minutes I got in the car, turned
>> on the ignition and pushed the start button. Again, the car started right
>> up and ran normally. With fingers crossed I headed for my shop/garage,
>> about ten miles away and got there without any further event. Though the
>> problem did not seem to be fuel related I decided to verify that this was
>> not a fuel delivery issue. I have a double-headed SU fuel pump wired to a
>> switch mounted just behind the driver’s seat which allows me to switch
>> between pumps as well as turn the fuel pump off. While I was running the
>> car at highway speeds it ran perfectly on either pump and when I selected
>> the “off” position it slowly lost power as I expected it to—but in no way
>> like it had suddenly twice died 15 or so minutes earlier. This indicated I
>> was not dealing with a fuel issue but rather something related either to
>> the ignition system or to the primary wires that run to it.
>> This morning I dove a bit deeper to try and diagnose the problem. The car
>> has a Mallory Unilite ignition system tied to an MSD coil which has been in
>> place and performed faultlessly for a number of years. I removed the
>> distributor cap and everything appears to be okay, at least visually. The
>> interior of the distributor was clean and dry as was the cap, leads, carbon
>> contact, optical reader, etc. Mallory specifies the use of a ballast
>> resistor in the lead from the power source to the coil and with the engine
>> fast-idling I tested 12.5 VDC to the resistor and about 5.5-6 VDC out of it
>> and at the positive coil terminal.
>> I have a large low-oil pressure light that is mounted in the dash in
>> place of the original overdrive switch. It is wired from the ignition
>> switch through a 10 psi normally-closed switch mounted in the oil pressure
>> gauge sender line and then to the light. I point this out because both
>> times when the engine shut down yesterday the light immediately came on,
>> from which I conclude that the ignition switch itself is not the source of
>> the problem. And though I did not remove the ignition key switch the wires
>> to and from it seem tight and intact.
>> So my question is: What do I do? I hate to throw parts at it without
>> finding something that appears to be defective but I don’t know where to
>> start any further tests, etc. I also don’t want to simply wait for the
>> issue to happen again. BTW over the weekend I drove about 150 miles with no
>> issues whatever. Beyond installing four new plugs last week I have not
>> performed any work related to the ignition system. All
>> suggestions/questions welcome….
>> Best--Michael Oritt, BN1
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