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  #1   IP: 74.196.210.38
Old 04-12-2018, 02:16 PM
sailr sailr is offline
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engine won't start

I have a 1968 C&C redwing 30 with an atomic four engine. Engine ran fine and then it set up for several months when I was ill and unable to run it. There is no spark to plugs so I replaced the coil and condenser. Still no spark when I tried to crank. Engine turns over very strongly (batteries are fine) I saw here that there is supposed to be a 20 amp fuse in purple wire from ignition switch to positive terminal of coil. The wire from positive terminal to ignition on my engine is green and I can't find a fuse anywhere that I can see. Unfortunately the design of the redwing is such that I can't see the entire run of the wire. The ignition switch is in a portion of the port side of the cockpit with the controls for acceleration and forward and reverse. I haven't been able to check if there is power in the wire going to the coil yet. Weather (rain and high winds) have kept me from the boat. Should there be power to the coil if I turn on ignition as if I was trying to crank the engine? Or will there only be current when I actually turn the key to point where the motor turns over? Any help with information would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 04-12-2018, 11:55 PM
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sailr, Welcome to the forum.
To answer your 2nd to last question, YES..there should be 12-ish volts to the coil (+) post if you have the key on but not cranking. This can burn up the coil if left in that position too long, so get your meter all ready and check it quickly (several seconds should be fine..if you leave it on and go to the head and come back, who knows?) Coils usually last forever with points, unless someone burns it up with an oversight like leaving the key on for an extended period.

So, it cranks fine and won't start...are you sure there is no spark? What about fuel? Is it puddling in the bottom of the carb? As long as there is ZERO gas smell, it is safe to pull a plug wire and see if it will arc a nice bright spark across some shiny metal ground on the engine while cranking, maybe even the spark plug tip. This will tell us if there is a spark. One more check, when you replaced the condenser, were you careful not to upset the points? Be sure they are opening and closing too..this would have to be checked with the distributor cap off while cranking by hand or starter. 0.18-0.20" I think is gap number on points.

Keep sending updates to our Q's and we'll keep helping 'til the old girl runs again!

sidebar- I used to race on a Redwing 30 in my youth out of Solomons, MD..the boat is now in Oxford, MD, and still sailing as far as I know..last saw her in about 2015.
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Last edited by sastanley; 04-13-2018 at 12:11 AM.
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Old 04-13-2018, 12:13 AM
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It could be as simple as a little corrosion on the points contact, preventing current flow. He replaced the coil and condensor. Didn't mention the points.
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Old 04-13-2018, 03:48 AM
JOHN COOKSON JOHN COOKSON is online now
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The ignition system is divided into two parts. The boat's part and the engine's part.
Part 1. Be sure electricity is getting to coli + when the key is in the on position as mentioned by Shawn. If not there is a wiring or switch problem. Getting electricity to the coil is the "boat" part of the ignition system.
Part 2. - The engine's part.
Remove the wire that goes to the points from coil - . Turn the engine until the points are closed and take a resistance reading from the end of this wire to the distributor breaker plate. S\B zero ohms. Possible problems: Points not conducting or wiring problem.
Next turn the engine to open the points and take same resistance reading. S\B an open circuit. Possible problems: There is a short somewhere. Condenser or wiring. Check the wiring closely. Sometimes there is a place where the insulation is worn away where the wire goes into the distributor.
Then gap the points to the correct gap. Pull the large wire out of the center of the distributor and hold it near the ground (the engine) while the engine is being cranked. A blue white 1/2-3/4" spark is good. Possible problems: Coil is weak or shot or the condenser a goner.
Put the large wire back into the distributor. Pull a wire off a spark plug and attach it to a loose spark plug. Hold the plug on the engine to ground while you turn the engine. Possible problem: Something is haywire inside the distributor.
You now have spark.

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Old 04-13-2018, 02:12 PM
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Thanks for Info

I appreciate all the information and suggestions. I have already tried the coil and spark plug trick and still no spark. I need to try to see if there is current coming from the ignition to the coil. If there is none then I guess I need to look at rewiring or replacing the ignition switch which is gonna be a PITA. At this time I'll place a 20 amp fuse in the circuit where I can get at it. I guess the new coil could be bad. If current check on wire to coil is positive then I'll get another coil and try.

I can't do anything for a few days as we are having thunderstorms and high winds in the Lake Charles area and being down in a hole and being bounced around is not my idea of fun.

Again thanks for all your willingness to pass on information to me. Kinda brings a tear to the ole eyes
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Old 04-13-2018, 03:52 PM
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Many a "key switch" get replaced around here. Do check to see if the switch is conducting. Or try a hot wire from the battery to start and check the ignition half (thanx John).

Dave Neptune
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Old 04-13-2018, 04:06 PM
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A classic mistake, at least for me, is when the condenser [or points] is changed the re assembly sequence for the condenser lead, coil lead, insulator washer[s] on the distributor post for the points is easy to get mixed up - small parts working in low light if you don't remove the distributor. The engine will turnover fine but secondary ignition spark will be non-existent. Another dumb mistake on my early model A4 is leaving the hinged oil fill open and it touches the distributor grounding out the spark current. Again, engine turns over well but won't start. Some of the pros on this site can correctly and effectively address some more complex issues and give you a good answer in couple of sentences but your problem may just be simple one. As mentioned before, a little invisible corrosion on the points quickly removed with a fine point file or emery cloth may also solve your issue. good luck
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Old 04-13-2018, 05:42 PM
JOHN COOKSON JOHN COOKSON is online now
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Divide and Conquer

A military strategy that has been used for many centuries.
In an engine we have the boat's part and the engine's part of the ignition system. Viewing the system as a whole can lead to unnecessary, ineffective shotgun parts replacement.
So the FIRST STEP when there is "no spark" is to cheek for "12 volts" at coil +. If you don't have a meter handy a simple spark test with a short length of wire coil + to ground will do.
To trouble shoot the boat's part of the ignition system:
Disconnect the wire from the switch\key to the coil at the key and the coil. Use a volt meter to see if you are getting "12 volts" to the key. Turn the key on and use a volt meter to see if there is 12 volts at the terminal that the wire to the coil was connected to. You can tap the key\ switch with a screw driver handle while taking readings if you suspect an intermittent problem.
Next connect a jumper wire to one end of the wire from the key to the coil. (Most likely a purple wire.) Lead the jumper wire to the other end of the boat's wire and take a resistance reading at these two ends. S\B zero ohms.

TRUE GRIT

Edit: BTW have you been keeping the valve on the raw cooling water intake closed while on start cranking?
Another welcome to the forum.

Last edited by JOHN COOKSON; 04-13-2018 at 05:48 PM.
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Old 04-14-2018, 12:15 AM
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Another Louisiana person. So I'm not the only one! :-)
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Old 04-14-2018, 08:06 PM
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These 'no start' situations are no fun - whether it's your Atomic 4 or your weed whacker. My first test is always a short blast of starting ether. If the engine starts and runs for a few seconds on the ether, you know you have a fuel issue. If the engine doesn't respond to the ether, you know you have a spark issue.
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Old 04-14-2018, 08:11 PM
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closed raw water valve

Yep I closed the raw water valve after a couple of tries. I had heard and read some place that one guy flooded his engine by cranking the engine for a while when it wouldn't start. I've rebuilt an Atomic four in a Catalina 27 before, but never had the problem with it not starting. The raw water system had all the passages closed off from the PO who had not flushed the engine or maintained it. Had to use a drill bit to open up the concrete like mess occluding the passages. Cured my overheating problem! I'm really dreading having to crawl down in the lazarette on the port side to try to get to the wiring and ignition. I'm 73 with psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. I'm just not flexible LOL. If you are familiar with a 68 C&C redwing 30 the lazarette on the port side is deep and narrow. I'll have to take a small step stool down into the lazarette so I can climb back out of the thing after I do the work. Wish me luck. Weather is supposed to get better with no rain in the forecast and hopefully the winds will die down so I can get the work done. Thanks again for your suggestions and information.
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Old 04-14-2018, 08:29 PM
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Parts of the story missing

. . . or in other words, one step at a time. No need to crawl into the laz if tests don't indicate a problem there. Have you tested voltage between the small coil + post and the engine block ground with the ignition switch on? The definitive answer to that question will tell us if you need to crawl. I read back through the thread and didn't see anything.
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Old 04-15-2018, 03:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailr View Post
I'm really dreading having to crawl down in the lazarette on the port side to try to get to the wiring and ignition. I'm 73 with psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. I'm just not flexible LOL. If you are familiar with a 68 C&C redwing 30 the lazarette on the port side is deep and narrow. I'll have to take a small step stool down into the lazarette so I can climb back out of the thing after .Thanks again for your suggestions and information.
Sometimes it seems that a boat was designed by a navel architect\engineer that didn't like their job.
Good news.
If the wire key -> to coil + is shot you can run a new wire by the easiest route. There is no need to follow the route of the existing wire. One consideration: The longer the run the bigger the wire needs to be.

TRUE GRIT
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Old 04-15-2018, 01:30 PM
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Thanks for Info

Well Rain is out of forecast and winds seem to be dying down. Tomorrow (Monday)I go and try to check the wire from ignition to coil for current. That should tell me something hopefully. No current then have to crawl into lazarette and find out if there is a fuse somewhere or check ignition switch to see if there is a problem there. Thanks again for all your responses!

Sailr
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Old 04-16-2018, 10:45 AM
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Don Moyer Check-List

Reminder that our leader had this no-start check list in newsletter a few years back. This has systematic approach others have discussed.


http://www.moyerphoto.com/moyermarineNL/2-1-14.html
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Old 04-17-2018, 03:40 PM
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and the search continues

Well I made it to the boat and did the test on current to the coil. It was positive. Both voltmeter and eyeball test showed current to coil. Got a spark when I got wire close to engine. I would have loved to check to see if there was a spark from the coil wire to distributor, but alas my arms were not long enough to reach the ignition and the coil wire. I did check points and rotor and they were clean and points were open and not stuck together.. Now just have to coax the Wifey to go with me so she can do the ignition switch thing so I can check if coil sends spark. I know it is getting gas from the fumes when I flooded the carb from tuning engine over. I shut off the gas valve so it wouldn't explode if there did happen to be an errant spark. I guess I'll replace the spark plugs if there is spark from the coil. Seems as though if condenser was bad and the coil was good, I would still get a weak spark through the plugs. Any more suggestions? I am certainly open to any and all comments and suggestions.
Sailr
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Old 04-18-2018, 03:08 AM
JOHN COOKSON JOHN COOKSON is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailr View Post
. Now just have to coax the Wifey to go with me so she can do the ignition switch thing so I can check if coil sends spark.
Sailr
Skip the "Wifey".
Get a remote start switch instead. Available at your local auto parts stores for 3 or 4 bucks. I keep mine on the boat so it is handy when I need it.

TRUE GRIT
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Old 04-18-2018, 08:10 AM
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Well, maybe a little more than $4. But when you see what it does you'll realize you can accomplish the same thing with some wire that you probably have lying around anyway. A switch is recommended, which you might have hanging around in the same box as the wire, but they don't call it "hotwiring" for nothing.

https://www.harborfreight.com/12-vol...tch-35448.html
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Old 04-18-2018, 08:37 AM
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It seems like you have fuel, at least to the carb, and there's a strong possibility of spark, at least to the distributor.

The proper functioning of the carb is a big and frankly likely issue to resolve, but there are some easy spark troubleshooting steps that can be ruled out first.

When you took off the cap to check the points and such, are you POSITIVE that you put the plug wires back on in the proper order? As the rotor spins, that order is 1-2-4-3.

It is not 1-2-3-4, which is easy to do by mistake.

Nor is it 4-3-1-2...in other words, 180 degrees out of proper phase. This is possible if your engine has an unusual installation, as mine does with a v-drive, but you're comparing your setup to somebody else's with the standard installation (ie, the "forward" plug is #4 instead of #1). It can also happen if at some point the distributor was put in out of phase, which also happened to me. It's like wearing a watch upside down - it works fine, as long as you know what you're looking at.

It took me days of hapless frustration many years ago on a mooring in the rough Hudson River to figure this out after I replaced my points. I now have pieces of tape labeling each socket on my distributor cap with the proper plug, and meticulously label new caps like this before installing them.

If you're reasonably confident that is OK, the next thing I'd be checking is is fuel pressure to the carb (check the forum for suggestions on a $20 fuel pressure gauge, which is perhaps the most useful troubleshooting tool you can have on the engine), followed by the cleanliness of the carb passages since it is possible that the fuel is stale and the passages have gotten gummed up.

Once she gets running I'd suggest burning down the current fuel ASAP, and treating all the future fuel that ever goes into the tank with Sta-Bil or equivalent, if for no other reason than to help rule out stale ethanol-laden fuel if there are performance questions in the future.
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Old 04-18-2018, 12:53 PM
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Old 04-18-2018, 12:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Al Schober View Post
These 'no start' situations are no fun - whether it's your Atomic 4 or your weed whacker. My first test is always a short blast of starting ether. If the engine starts and runs for a few seconds on the ether, you know you have a fuel issue. If the engine doesn't respond to the ether, you know you have a spark issue.
Sailr, did you ever try this? Might shortcut a bunch of troubleshooting.
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Old 04-19-2018, 12:08 PM
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and the search continues

Yep I tried starter fluid. Problem is there is no spark to spark plugs..

All the wires are in correct position on distributor cap and run to the right plug.
have them all labeled.

Problem is I bought a new coil and not sure it is good since I can't check the coil wire to distributor.

I forgot to check that the negative wire to distributor from coil is intact and working. So along with checking wire from coil to distributor and that negative wire to coil I need to get that done.

I'll check on remote starter also. After that I don't know what to try. It may be that the coil I bought is bad and I will have to buy another if the parts place won't exchange it.

Thanks again for all the advice.
Sailr
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Old 04-19-2018, 11:07 PM
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"After that I don't know what to try."

Easy Sailr, try to have patience.

How does one eat an elephant? One spoon at a time.

Many fellas replace everything and still have the original or a new problem. One system at a time.

These guys have walked many a "dead" A4 back to life.
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Old 04-20-2018, 12:42 AM
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Seems I'm lecturing a lot lately

Sailr, the guys are trying to help but you're the one on the front line, boots on the ground so to speak so everyone is relying on information provided by you. The first thing I'd like to suggest is let's stop the guessing. Guessing is not troubleshooting. Throwing parts at the guesses is not troubleshooting either.
  1. Based on information you've provided I understand you measured voltage (not current) between the small coil + post and the engine ground with the ignition switch turned to RUN. Good, but how much voltage? Please get back with a number, should be between 10 and 13.
  2. You said, "The points are open, not stuck together." Good, but as the engine turns, are they closing too? This is easily checked with the ignition off, distributor cap removed and turning the engine by hand at the flywheel with an MMI hand crank or a modified 13/16" spark plug socket, counterclockwise facing the flywheel. Removing the spark plugs will make it easier to turn. Please confirm the points are closing and opening as the engine turns.
  3. Have you measured the points gap at its maximum? Yes or no. If yes, what was the measurement?
  4. Before buying another new one, coil function can be easily tested by one person. Remove the black wire off the small coil - post and connect a one foot 14 gauge wire to the empty post. Strip back the other end of the wire and set it so it doesn't touch anything. Have the thick secondary coil wire in the center of the coil and the other end such that you can hold it with insulated pliers (pull the boot back to expose the metal end connector) with one hand when the time comes. Turn on the ignition switch to RUN. Hold the loose end of the thick coil wire about 1/4" away from the engine block or head (pliers please). With the stripped end of the 14 gauge wire in your other hand, touch and remove the bare end to the engine block in split second intervals. You should see a snappy blue spark jumping from the end of the thick coil wire to the block. If not, the coil is dead and NOW you have a reason to replace it. Please reply with the exact result of this test. Be sure to turn the ignition off before reconnecting the original wire to the small coil - post.
  5. What was the internal resistance of the coil you bought? Should be a number between 3/4 and 3.
  6. During your prior efforts/parts replacements did you remove the distributor from the engine? Yes or no.
The precise answers to these questions will help us help you. Please help us.
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Old 04-20-2018, 03:06 AM
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Let's Get On The Same Page

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailr View Post
Problem is I bought a new coil and not sure it is good since I can't check the coil wire to distributor.
Sailr
I think you are referring to the large wire that runs between the center of the coil and the center of the distributor??? Or the wire from coil - to the distributor???
Please tell us what the problem is with checking either wire.

TRUE GRIT
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Old 04-22-2018, 06:13 PM
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and the search continues

Ok I have spark from the coil. Finally got a chance to check it out.

So now I need to check if rotor is actually making contact with top of distributor cap, if rotor tip in making contact with contacts on distributor cap for each wire to spark plugs, and if points are opening and closing.

If the condenser is bad I should still have a weak spark to plugs right? That was a problem I had before was the condenser was bad but I still got a weak spark, but not enough to initiate combustion. Can a bad condenser cause there to be no spark?

Current on wire from ignition switch to + contact on coil measured out at 12 v.

I remember on a Catalina 27 that I had in Hawaii had a real persnickity attitude with distributor caps. I went thru several before I got one that would work and transfer the sparks to the plugs. I don't know if it was a manufacturing defect or what. I tried replacing rotors with the other caps that wouldn't work and it made no difference. When I replaced the one cap that had worked, everything ran like a top.

That was 1994 and caps and rotors were cheap, now the cost is almost prohibitive for that kind of experimenting.

I digress anyway the distributor cap on now worked fine until I had to let the boat sit up for several months.

The distributor was never removed from the engine or position changed.

Winds and thunderstorms are back so will be a few days before I can get back to the boat. Lake Charles, LA is really having a bad time with rain and strong winds. I also pulled a muscle in my back messing around on the boat so have to heal up a bit. Doesn't pay to be Old!

sailr
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