Coil Wire Issue Help Please - ClassicOldsmobile.com


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Old February 1st, 2018, 08:41 AM   #1  
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Coil Wire Issue Help Please

Okay,
I purchased a 72' Cutlass with a 455. It has a standard points distributor.
Car runs fantastic for 15-20 minutes then just starts loping at idle or on the road.
When I say loping, I mean dramatic power loss, like the ignition cuts out and connects again every other second.

In tracing the + coil wire (RED) it terminates at the IGN spade in the fuse block.
This Red wire is also outside the factory wiring loom. It looks like it has been there a long time. Although I have read in other posts it should be a Yellow wire.

I will say that a novice owned the car by the many bad after market stereo & gauge connections now repaired.

So, if I recall and in checking the service manual wiring diagram, this "Pos" coil wire should go to the starter solenoid thinking the main BAT post lead correct? or is it one of the smaller solenoid studs? I hate loosing my memory.

Also, if memory serves isn't there a resistor in that wire? Knowing the correct gauge of that wire would also be helpful.

Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

Dave/streets
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Old February 1st, 2018, 11:04 AM   #2  
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Sounds like they had an HEI in there, then someone switched to points and used the same 12v wire vs a resistance wire. If your not worried about originality you can use a ballast resister in line with the wire from the ign terminal. You would also need to ad the bypass wire that ran from the starter solenoid to the coil+ terminal.

Perhaps you may get lucky by following the harness to see if they just capped and stowed the original resistance wire.
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Old February 1st, 2018, 12:20 PM   #3  
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Are you sure it has points and not an electronic conversion kit inside a points-style distributor? Running full 12V to the points won't cause the problem you describe. It WILL cause the points to pit and burn out prematurely, but not run fine for 15 min before breaking up. If it IS an electronic conversion, the symptoms sound like a classic electronic module going bad. If it really is points, it could be the condenser going bad. It also could be fuel related and not ignition at all.
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Old February 1st, 2018, 06:10 PM   #4  
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Hello Joe
It is good to hear from you again. You helped me with my 66' Toronado in the past (still have it.)
Your expert advice and guidance is always greatly appreciated.

I am pretty certain it is an electrical issue. Had some time today and pulled the distributor.
Someone had replaced the distributor wire to the coil and I found a gash in it rubbing against the bottom plate (pictured.) As it is a negative lead, I don't know if the plate has any DCV in it and it shorts it out after warming up????

I also observed that the distributor shaft has a lot of vertical play in it. I measure 1/8" when I believe a new or reman is 1/16" so I'll plan on replacing it. The po had siliconed the O-Ring and the vacuum advance pod was bent anyway.

Back to the "+" coil wire issue, it appears the po ran a hot wire from the "+"coil to the IGN spade in the fuse box. Why, I don't know. This can't be right.

Would you suggest removing it and make a new wire from the "+" side of the coil to the "I" ign side of the starter solenoid as a way to start eliminating the problem(s)?

If so, do you recall what gauge wire it is and is there a fusible link or resistor in line?
I had read somewhere the 12 vdc needs to be reduced to 6 vdc before it gets to the coil.

Thanks,
Dave


po's repair



If you look closely at the red wire where it goes down to the hole in the dist.you will see a nick
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Old February 1st, 2018, 06:27 PM   #5  
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Just saw your post OC,
I was thinking along those lines. No such luck with finding the original resistance wire.
It is surprising it doesn't have an add on HEI, it has headers, Edelbrock, built trans etc.
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Old February 1st, 2018, 06:30 PM   #6  
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That nicked wire could cause your irregular ignition issues, replace it with the proper wire.. As I explained above the wire from the starter to the coil+ terminal is a bypass wire that only is there to provide full battery voltage during start. You need to either find or install the resistor wire that also connected to the coil+ terminal and ran to the bulkhead connector and provides power with the key in the on position. The alternative to that is to simply hook an ignition ballast resistor in series with the currently installed wire.

The movement in your distributor is not an issue and if you suspect the vacuum advance can is faulty replace it also.

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Old February 1st, 2018, 06:41 PM   #7  
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Great explanation OC and the diagram is the best one I have seen.

I'm picking up a reman distributor tomorrow and see what AZ has in the way of resistor wire.

I'll let the forum know how this works out.

Thanks again for all the help.
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Old February 2nd, 2018, 03:55 PM   #8  
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Coil Wire Issue Help please

Quote:
Originally Posted by oldcutlass View Post
Sounds like they had an HEI in there, then someone switched to points and used the same 12v wire vs a resistance wire. If your not worried about originality you can use a ballast resister in line with the wire from the ign terminal. You would also need to ad the bypass wire that ran from the starter solenoid to the coil+ terminal.

Perhaps you may get lucky by following the harness to see if they just capped and stowed the original resistance wire.
2/3/2018 OC,
I hope this doesn't get to complicated. I spent the day tracing wires and am surprised the car ran. Factory color codes for the wiring do not match the car in several issues. I have the 72' service manual and one of those laminated wiring diagrams from CCW.com which btw don't match each other. It's almost as if someone replaced some of the engine compartment side of the wiring.

That RED wire going to the "+" coil outside the loom I mentioned turned out to be a plain wire tapped into 12 vdc under the dash. It appears you are correct in that for some reason there was an HEI dist there once or the po didn't know what he was doing.

In digging deeper into the wire looms, there is absolutely no (factory) yellow 20 gauge resistor wire to be found. Not even the bypass to the starter is there. It has a blue & a black besides the main battery power cable. One on each side of the solenoid and they look added.

I have tried hardware stores, auto parts stores & the Internet, but can't find any resistor wire unless I get 100'. I bet 25 -30 years ago it wasn't a problem.

To top it off and make my day, I R&R the distributor. I had transferred all the markings and it went right in. Started poorly, yes I advanced and retarded, but it misses and now smokes. It might be that I fried the condenser or points.

Also,

What I had learned when transferring the plug wires is the po had the 1975-later firing order where # 1 is at 7 o clock looking from the firewall on the cap instead of the 1970-74 cap wiring where # 1 is at 11 o clock. Not that that matters, the car ran great before the swap.

I do understand adding a ballast to the coil, but would still be out of luck on the by-pass resistor wire-coil to starter.

What are your thoughts on straightening this mess out?

And thank you for your time & help.

Dave
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Old February 2nd, 2018, 04:25 PM   #9  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by streets View Post
I do understand adding a ballast to the coil, but would still be out of luck on the by-pass resistor wire-coil to starter.
The bypass wire is a regular copper wire, not a Ni-Chrome resistor wire. And by the way, the resistor wire wasn't available from auto parts stores back in the 70s-80s - dealer only item. You could buy ballast resistors at the local parts store, though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by streets View Post
To top it off and make my day, I R&R the distributor. I had transferred all the markings and it went right in. Started poorly, yes I advanced and retarded, but it misses and now smokes. It might be that I fried the condenser or points.
Did you adjust the points with a feeler gauge prior to installing the distributor? And were these the points from the other distributor or some that came with the reman distributor?

Last edited by Fun71; February 2nd, 2018 at 04:27 PM.
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Old February 2nd, 2018, 04:28 PM   #10  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by streets View Post
2/3/2018 OC,
I hope this doesn't get to complicated. I spent the day tracing wires and am surprised the car ran. Factory color codes for the wiring do not match the car in several issues. I have the 72' service manual and one of those laminated wiring diagrams from CCW.com which btw don't match each other. It's almost as if someone replaced some of the engine compartment side of the wiring.

That RED wire going to the "+" coil outside the loom I mentioned turned out to be a plain wire tapped into 12 vdc under the dash. It appears you are correct in that for some reason there was an HEI dist there once or the po didn't know what he was doing.

Bet it was an HEI, very simple and common swap.

In digging deeper into the wire looms, there is absolutely no (factory) yellow 20 gauge resistor wire to be found. Not even the bypass to the starter is there. It has a blue & a black besides the main battery power cable. One on each side of the solenoid and they look added.

You can run your own 12ga wire from the solenoid I terminal to the coil+, just follow the harness. The resistance wire is a very stiff nichrome like wire. If you can't find it, a 1.35 ohm ballast resister can be bought at your local parts store. Post a parts wanted classified and see if some one has a engine harness available for your car.

I have tried hardware stores, auto parts stores & the Internet, but can't find any resistor wire unless I get 100'. I bet 25 -30 years ago it wasn't a problem.

To top it off and make my day, I R&R the distributor. I had transferred all the markings and it went right in. Started poorly, yes I advanced and retarded, but it misses and now smokes. It might be that I fried the condenser or points.

If it ran well before you R&R'd the distributor, it should now also. Double check your work and firing order, you need to set dwell and timing.

Also,

What I had learned when transferring the plug wires is the po had the 1975-later firing order where # 1 is at 7 o clock looking from the firewall on the cap instead of the 1970-74 cap wiring where # 1 is at 11 o clock. Not that that matters, the car ran great before the swap.

The different #1 placement is based on whether you have points or an HEI. The distributor does not care where #1 is as long as the rest of the firing order is correct.

I do understand adding a ballast to the coil, but would still be out of luck on the by-pass resistor wire-coil to starter.

Answered above.

What are your thoughts on straightening this mess out?

And thank you for your time & help.

Dave
You'll get it straightened out. There can be a lot of mods done to cars over time, some good some bad.
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Old February 2nd, 2018, 05:20 PM   #11  
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Hi and thanks for the advice Kenneth.
Now I'm confused as I believe there were (2) separate resistance wires for the starting circuit with a points distributor setup. If the starter to coil bypass wire gets a constant 12 volts, I would think it would burn up the points as it's supposed to have 6 volts in the Run mode.
And yes, the points & condenser came with the reman distributor and I checked it . They were already set at .16 and tightened down. That's what makes me think I already burned them up. They were getting a straight 12 volts. And because of the way it is wired, they had an HEI distributor in it. That and apparently the firing order is made up for 1975 & later HEI. I will rerecheck the firing order, replug the distributor to match the TDC if needed (start over). It is either bad luck that the point's/condenser is fried or the po was just lucky.
If this doesn't work, I might cut my loses and go with an HEI, but am concerned it may not fit clearance wise. It's tight with the points distributor already (455.)
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Old February 2nd, 2018, 05:27 PM   #12  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldcutlass View Post
You'll get it straightened out. There can be a lot of mods done to cars over time, some good some bad.

"You can run your own 12ga wire from the solenoid I terminal to the coil+, just follow the harness. The resistance wire is a very stiff nichrome like wire. If you can't find it, a 1.35 ohm ballast resister can be bought at your local parts store. Post a parts wanted classified and see if some one has a engine harness available for your car."


OC,
are you saying I need (2) ballast resistors as replacements for the (2) resistor wires, per the diagram?

Dave
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Old February 2nd, 2018, 05:33 PM   #13  
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No there is only one resistance wire, and it supplies around 9 volts when the key is in the run position. It originally ran from the firewall bulkhead connector to the coil+ terminal. The plain bypass wire running from the solenoid is just that. It bypasses the resistance wire and supplies full battery voltage from the starter to the distributor only during start. I doubt you burned up your points already and the firing order is the same for both a points or HEI distributor. I had bought a Cardone remanufactured distributor a few years back. Somehow they had gotten grease on the points and it would not run right. No amount of cleaning corrected the issue. The auto parts store would not exchange just the points, they needed to exchange the whole distributor.
Remember the rotor on an Olds engine turns CCW.
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Old February 2nd, 2018, 06:13 PM   #14  
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Quote:
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No there is only one resistance wire, and it supplies around 9 volts when the key is in the run position. It originally ran from the firewall bulkhead connector to the coil+ terminal. The plain bypass wire running from the solenoid is just that. It bypasses the resistance wire and supplies full battery voltage from the starter to the distributor only during start. I doubt you burned up your points already and the firing order is the same for both a points or HEI distributor. I had bought a Cardone remanufactured distributor a few years back. Somehow they had gotten grease on the points and it would not run right. No amount of cleaning corrected the issue. The auto parts store would not exchange just the points, they needed to exchange the whole distributor.
Remember the rotor on an Olds engine turns CCW.
I bet you just nailed it. The reman distributor is from Cardone and I recall it having a generous amount of grease on the cam. I'll know tomorrow if some of it flew off & landed on the points. it would explain a lot.

After rereading the diagram I misinterpreted the "Resistor bypass wire often 20 gauge yellow" as another resistor wire. It is just what they are calling a plain wire. I hate reading to much into something simple.

My apology to Kenneth in my reply.
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Old February 3rd, 2018, 09:20 AM   #15  
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This might be some helpful info for you, Streets. My GTO was putting 12V on the coil. I put new points in, ran it about 400 miles, and the points were shot. The car wouldn't start. Changed points and the car would start. It doesn't take long for the points to be shot.

A quick test for you would be to throw in a new set of points, fire it up and drive it. I'm betting it will run fine -- for a while. Then fix the wiring and live happily ever after, knowing that the problem was fixed.

BTW, if, after the wiring is fixed, the coil is getting about 8 volts while running, it's good.

Last edited by 69 Ragtop; February 3rd, 2018 at 09:23 AM.
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Old February 3rd, 2018, 09:34 AM   #16  
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Also FYI, NAPA still sells a "distributor lead wire - primary" for the ridiculous price of $13.29:
https://www.napaonline.com/en/p/ECHLW40

It would go a long way toward cleaning up your setup.

This guy on Ebay will sell you one for $5.00:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/DDL44-Equiv...ZTxs0G&vxp=mtr

Last edited by 69 Ragtop; February 3rd, 2018 at 10:33 AM.
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Old February 3rd, 2018, 10:28 AM   #17  
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Have you checked the dwell angle?. It should be 30 degrees.
Normally if the points gap is correct the dwell will be right too. But you have a reman distributor, so I recommend you check it anyway.

Roger.
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Old February 3rd, 2018, 12:01 PM   #18  
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Coil Wire Issue Help Please

69 Ragtop & Roger
thank you for the suggestions and history.

This morning I pulled the distributor and at looking at the points, found a spot where it had arched & made a bit of a lump. I tried to take a picture, but would need a better camera for it to come out. These were new points and condenser in a fresh reman Cardone distributor.

I only have (1) spare brand new set of points and condenser which I am saving until I can find a 1.35 ohm ballast resistor and install it. NAPA is closed today (Sat.) Advance, O'Reilly & AZ said 3-5 days as special order, besides, these were all .8 ohms.

Looking at the cam on the reman distributor, the generous amount of grease had thinned out and didn't get to the points. So I lightly sanded them & rechecked the gap-Okay.

I found TDC & restabbed the distributor. I also moved the firing order on the cap to reflect the 1970-74 diagram order. It fired right up.

Like I said before, it is very apparent the po replaced the firewall side of the wiring making this difficult to troubleshoot. The color codes don't match up. Also, there is nowhere in the wiring harness near the coil or anywhere else where there are terminals for the coil hookup. I have one Red wire (no resistor) going to the coil and plugged into the IGN spade on the fuse box.

In tracing all the wires coming out of the fuse box for power with the key on I found (6) less the 12 gauge Red going to the horn relay. What I also found was a solenoid looking device on the drivers side wheel well next to the washer bottle (pictured.) I do not know what it is and am wondering if it is somehow part of a critical circuit.

Also, found a relay on the passengers side wheel well with (3) leads coming out of it. The center (black) wire has been cut. The other (2) are (green.) It is my thought it may be a relay for the A/C or heater. My fan does not work.
My apology for the picture quality in advance.

Any help identifying these two would be greatly appreciated.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Solenoid ! Q.jpg (1.39 MB, 9 views)
File Type: jpg PS Relay Q jpg.jpg (1.41 MB, 9 views)
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Old February 11th, 2018, 08:14 PM   #19  
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The Blower Motor Relay is near the power brake booster, closest to the fender, 12v is supplied through an in-line fuse holder lead coming from the horn relay's 12v post.
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Old February 12th, 2018, 06:46 AM   #20  
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Thanks marty59,
I have that one down now and tested for power. Still no power to the purple wire blower motor.

I also figured out the first picture of the bottom two is the windshield washer pump. Feel a little stupid on that one, I always thought they were built into the washer motor.

The last picture of a relay on the passenger's side fender has me stumped. It has 3 wires coming out of it and the center wire is cut.
Would you know what it's for?
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