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Old 07-01-2008, 12:29 AM
cpdeeley cpdeeley is offline
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Question Hi, new member with a problem

My name is Chris Deeley, I have recently purchased a C&C 27 MII with an atomic 4. The boat was layed up in Toronto for five years in its cradle and uncovered. Remarkably, the boat is in fine shape, or at least the sailing part of it is. The Atomic 4 is so close to working I can taste it.

Here are the particulars: Rebuilt carb, Dismantled and cleaned fuel pump, dismantled and inspected intake impeller, flushed cooling system, two new batteries, new condenser, new coil, new points, fairly new plugs and distributor cap, new rotor.

I always Knew that as I replaced certain failed or failing parts I was always going to return to the one problem I was avoiding when I first tried the engine, no spark from the coil.

Heres the kicker, as my friend and I press the start button with the ignition switch on there is no spark . If you stop pressing the start button and flick the ignition switch in and out you get a spark. I assumed it might be the ignition switch was the problem. So we first bypassed the solenoid and then dismantled the switch to inspect. Bypassing and the dismantling of the switch proved all was in order. I guess I have some kind of short?

By the way, I accidentally purchased 2 older carb gaskets from moyer marine, 1is spoken for, the other is available to whomever is in need of one. I will mail it to the first reply on this site. I would only ask that Moyer Marine be compensated 50% ($2.50) in lieu of providing this forum. A gem of information

Thanks Chris
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Old 07-01-2008, 12:26 PM
SEMIJim SEMIJim is offline
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Are the points opening when and as long as they should?

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Old 07-01-2008, 10:20 PM
cpdeeley cpdeeley is offline
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Question Checking points

Hi Jim,

I'm new to all this. How do I test that?

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Old 07-02-2008, 12:10 AM
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msmith10 msmith10 is online now
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I'm a real amateur relative to some of the posters on this site, but here's how to set the points: Turn off the battery switch. Remove distributor cap. Turn flywheel by hand until breaker point contact with the distributor cam is riding on one of the 4 high contact points on the distributor cam. In this position, the points are at their maximum opening distance, which should be, as I recall 0.018-0.020". Check this with a blade type feeler gauge. If not correct, adjust by loosening the screw which holds the points to the breaker point plate a little bit, insert a screwdriver in the slot which spans the breaker point plate and the points, and twist a little. One direction will enlarge the gap, the other direction will close the gap. When correct, retighten the set screw. Loosening the screw a little will let you adjust as above without letting the points slide all over. This sets the "static" point timing, and if this is correct, the points will open and close the correct amount at the right time. If you don't get a spark with the points set statically, check the wiring. Make sure wiring to the coil is correct ( wire from alternator to the + coil terminal, wire to points connected to - coil terminal). Make sure wire from - coil terminal to points is not broken or shorting out on breaker point plate as it passes under distributor cap. Check for continuity of the latter wire also. I just spent 2 frustrating days with a no spark situation before finding that the wire from alternator to coil was broken at the alternator connection. Beyond this, you're beyond my knowledge base. I think you can have internal shorts in the starter or alternator that can cause no spark problems, but I don't understand that stuff- I just hope for simple problems, which it turns out, most things are.
Once you get the engine running, you can fine tune the ignition timing by rotating the distributor a little while the engine in running under a load to achieve maximum rpm. Just get the engine warmed to normal operating temp, and while pulling at your dock lines at normal cruising speed (probably 1400-1800 rmp), loosen the clamp holding the distributor to the block, and rotate the distributor a little in both directions until you get maximum rpm, then retighten the clamp. Your ignition timing is now fine-tuned.
I'd recommend you buy Don Moyer's A4 manual. Once you really start digging into the engine, you may also want to get his instructional DVD's. I have the one on the reversing gear operation, and it's well worth the money.
One more thing-- make sure your cooling water intake valve is closed whenever you are turning the engine over without actually starting the engine. Otherwise you'll be pumping water into the muffler, the water will back up thru the exhaust, and in a short time will enter the engine. If this happens, you'll get water in the oil (the oil on the dispstick will look like a weak chocolate milkshake) and this will require 4-6 oil changes to get the water out (another lesson learned the hard way). Open the intake as soon as the engine starts up, of course.

Last edited by msmith10; 07-02-2008 at 12:34 AM. Reason: additional info
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Old 07-02-2008, 09:15 PM
cpdeeley cpdeeley is offline
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Smile thanks

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Old 11-04-2008, 07:36 PM
Pater Pater is offline
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New member with a problem

I had a similar frustrating problem with no spark and found after I had installed new points, plugs, wires, rotor, cap and condenser that the wire between the points and the coil apparently had a small perforation in the insulation that had allowed water to penetrate into the wire and while laid up, corroded a section of the wire inside, causing a break in the continuity. I replaced that 8 inch piece of #16 wire with a new tinned and shrink tubed crimped on end piece and VOILA, spark! It's simple to check the continuity & resistance with an Ohm meter. My dad always said to fix the simple things first.
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Old 11-05-2008, 04:54 AM
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rigspelt rigspelt is offline
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Originally Posted by cpdeeley View Post
I always knew that as I replaced certain failed or failing parts I was always going to return to the one problem I was avoiding when I first tried the engine, no spark from the coil.
Welcome to the club! I'm refitting a new to me old C&C Mark II 27 that once lived in Toronto and then migrated to the salt.

I'm not clear on the sequence that does and does not produce a spark for you. There are two situations I'm imagining you doing:
1. Set ignition switch to on, press start button: no spark (how are you checking for spark?).
2. Ignore start button, set ignition switch to on: get spark.
Why no spark in sequence #1, if you get a spark in #2? Or am I misunderstanding?
If simply turning on the ignition switch produces spark, then is the start button OK?

I didn't notice anything in your post about the wiring and wiring connections, and second the motions by pater and msmith10's to check wiring. You might want to carefully inspect or simply replace the wiring and connections in the ignition circuit from starter to ignition panel to coil. I have encountered old wires that looked OK on the outside, but were black on the inside.

If your boat's wiring is original, the schematic posted here for a 30' C&C looks very similar to the schematic in the 27's manual. If you don't have the manual for the 27, check out and

I ended up stripping all the old ignition panel and wiring out of the boat, and have been rebuilding with modern schematics and modern parts to be on the safe side. That's a bit drastic, but this is my third boat, and hidden wiring problems have caused bugs for me in the past, so I want to start with a clean, known electrical system.
1974 C&C 27

Last edited by rigspelt; 11-05-2008 at 05:24 AM.
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Old 11-05-2008, 09:35 AM
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msauntry msauntry is offline
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Here, Here, Rigspelt!

Chasing electrical gremlins will eat up a lot of time. If you find questionable wiring on the boat and plan on keeping it for a while, do yourself a favor and rewire the important systems as soon as you can so you can enjoy the reliability of it as you tinker with other systems.

I had two old trucks with ammeters and had dash fires on both. The second truck I ripped out every old wire and ran a completely new and updated system. No more dim lights, dash fires or that trick with a screw driver on the starter solenoid to get it to start! (Though I always secretly enjoyed the looks on peoples faces when I'd poke around the right front tire and get the engine to roar to life!)
I've now rewired my second old boat as well and am glad I did.
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Old 01-07-2009, 04:24 PM
awesomepossm awesomepossm is offline
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Narrow down cause of no spark.

You have already got good advice on things to check for "No spark" However, it will help to focus the search for the cause on the right part of the ignition system. You do this by dividing the system up into subsystems and testing each subsystem. Start with the coil.

The coil is a transformer. It has a primary winding and a secondary winding. The secondary winding supplies the spark. This spark occurs when the current through the primary winding is interrupted when the contacts open. To test the coil:
Check the voltage supply to the coil. Disconnect the wire supplying voltage to the + term on the coil. Dont be confused by other wires that might be connect to the coil. Normally, there should be a wire from the ignition switch directly to the coil. This is the wire you want to locate. Sometimes, this same wire will supply voltage to the voltage regulator on the alternator. If so, there will be another wire from the + term of the coil to the regulator. The ignition switch might supply the voltage regulator first and then the coil in which case there should only be one wire connected tot he + terminal of the coil. Other wires connected to the coil might supply an RPM meter or an electric fuel pump so it can be confusing. I hope this info helps you sort out the correct wire.

Use a 12 V test light to put a load on the coil voltage supply. Hook the light between the wire and engine. Turn on the ignition. Use a volt meter to measure the voltage across the light. It should be 12 VDC.

You need the test light to put a load on the voltage supply to the coil to make sure you do not have a bad electrical connection between the battery and the coil. Without a load you can measure 12 vdc even with a bad connection. High impedance volt meters draw such a small current that a bad connection is easy to miss.

If you have good voltage to the coil, check continuity of the primary circut for the coil. To do this the points must be closed. Remove the distributor cap and inspect the points. If necessary, bump the starter until the points
are closed. Hook the test light up between the voltage supply to the coil and the + term on the coil. Turn on the ignition and the light should be lit brightly.

Test the coil secondary winding. Hold the end of the ignition wire from the coil to the distributor cap near the engine head. Use a screw driver to pry open the points. When the points open you should get a spark and the test light will go out. You have to have a good ground between the engine block and coil housing to get a good spark. This is part of the secondary circuit. Make sure that paint on the engine block, coil bracket or coil housing is not interupting the secondary circuit.

If you got a good spark, the problem is in the distributor system. e.g. crack in the distributor cap, bad ignition wires, damaged spark plug, bad rotor, etc. If you didnt get a spark, make sure the condenser/capacitor is not shorted. When the points are open, the test light should go out. If it stays lit, continuity in the primary circuit is maintained by a short in the condenser. If this occurs, disconnect the condenser form the points and test the coil again. If you get a spark, the coil is good. Dont worry about the coil yet if you didnt. The condenser helps prevent burning of the points The condenser is also part of the primary LRC circuit and in theory is matched to the coils resistance and inductance. Replace the condenser and test the coil again. If still no spark, replace the coil.

The fact that you get a spark when you turn the iginition on and off tells me that the problem is a short in the primary circuit. HOpe this helps
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Old 01-09-2009, 06:30 PM
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Excellent post, awesomepossm! I will be putting your troubleshooting description in my Atomic 4 folder for future reference. Thank you for putting the time in to type that out.

When I first bought my Erikson 29 the Atomic 4 had no spark due to a bad coil. I replaced the coil. It started fine, but I decided to replace condensor and points because I did not know their age/usage. After replacing the points and condensor I could not get a spark! After swapping out old and new on both parts I finally determined that the new condensor was defective. Lesson: Just because you replaced electrical components you cannot necessarily assume they will always be good. Hang on to the old ones to swap out if you have to troubleshoot your work.
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Old 01-11-2009, 01:43 PM
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Dana Mace Dana Mace is offline
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Welcome to the C&C 27 family Cpdeeley.
I bought a mark 3 last fall and love it. Be sure to click on the link that rigspelt so kindly left,so you can join the 27 association. the A 4 is fun to work on and I immediately after buying the boat, got the freshwater cooling kit and an electronic ignition. Trouble free summer.
Good luck and happy sailing
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