[Healeys] Car dies suddenly
pollpete at ix.netcom.com
Thu Mar 21 14:05:20 MDT 2019
Check your battery posts. I suffered a mild rear-ender, repaired, no apparent
need for a new battery. Six months later the car started dying, just as you
describe. Drove me nuts until I finally noticed hairline cracks in the battery
case running from the negative post. When the battery heated up the connection
would fail, cool down back in business, etc.
On 3/19/2019 10:45 AM, Michael Oritt wrote:
> 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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