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She Just Won't Start

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#1 ryanlogsdon

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Posted 14 April 2019 - 10:55 PM

Hi Everyone,

 

I bought a '62 Morris Mini a year and a half ago in England and shipped her home, myself.  I'm new to mechanics (I'm a programmer by day), but I've always wanted this car, and I want to learn to fix it myself.  My diagnostic skills are no where near yours.

 

A few months back, the generator broke.  I replaced the generator and put a trickle charger on the battery.  And she started running again, but the battery wouldn't get recharged.  Turned out the 10 month old battery was defective. I swapped it out and kept the trickle charger on the new battery, but it still won't take a charge.

 

I gave it 2 weekends, just letting her sit at home.  Now she's not starting at all.  I tried push-starting her yesterday, and that resulted in me and my neighbor pushing her home.  First time ever that a push-start didn't work (I used to have battery problems, so I'm no stranger to the push-start).

 

The far-right terminal on the voltage regulator, (reading left to right: A1, A, D, F, E) ... "E" was very low, showing about 0.6 volts.  So I've got a new voltage regulator, too.  Now I'm seeing 13.2v, 13.2v, 0v, 0v, and 6.6v.  I'm not sure that D & F should be at zero though??

 

I thought that while she was down, I'd switch the electrical system from positive-ground to negative-ground.  I did that last night, and I polarized the generator, tapping a wire from positive battery lead to the smaller lead of the generator a few times (it sparked as expected).  And because I'm sitting here, twiddling my thumbs, not knowing how to get her running, I also swapped the spark plugs out.  She REALLY tries to turn over, but it's not going.

 

Here's a video of her trying to start.  We're trying my friend's trick of spraying a little WD-40 directly in the carburetor.  That didn't work...

 

https://youtu.be/690sUgciuUI

 

Any advice is really appreciated!

 

Thanks,

Ryan



#2 Moke Spider

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 12:15 AM

Hi Ryan,

 

Welcome to the forum and to Mini ownership - oh the joy :D

 

The voltages you've noted down at the Regulator Terminals - are these with the engine running (and at what RPMs - even approx will do) or with the engine and key off ?

 

In regards to getting her started again, It sounds from your video like it maybe firing - just - but I'm not certain.

 

It always come down to 2 basic things if it's turning over - Fuel and Spark.

 

In this case (given the liberal doses of WD40) I'd suggest checking you have spark. Pull a spark plug out. If it looks black and wet, then it's likely flooded in which case, may as well pull all plugs out and dry them off. While they are all out, keep the plug leads away from the spark plug holes in the head and turn it over a few times to get rid of some of the excess petrol in the cylinders.

 

While you have the plugs out, may as well clean them up with a wire brush.

 

Plug one of the Spark Plugs in to one of the HT Leads and let it rest on the car somewhere but don't hold it. Then crank it over a couple of times while looking at the plug so you can see if in fact you do have a spark. You may need to do this out of daylight or bright light to see it.

 

If you have spark, then it;s likely the ignition timing is a little retarded, in which case, you just need to slacken off the clamp around the distributor a little and then turn the whole distributor in a clockwise direction by about 2 or 3 degrees. Don't go too far. If that get's her running, while I respect you are keen do do your own repairs, I would suggest you have it turned professionally. If done haphazardly it can lead to serious (and expensive) engine damage.



#3 ryanlogsdon

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 12:44 AM

Hi TMF,

 

Thanks for all the suggestions, I'm going to try it out now.

 

Here's what I can say so far:  the voltages were with the engine not running and with the key turned on.  If I have the key vertical (or completely out), the voltages are 13.8v, 13.8v, 0v, 0v, 0v (that order is A1, A, D, F, E).   ...so the only difference is that when the key is in and turned, E reads 6.6v, and with the key out, it reads zero.

 

I completely replaced the spark plugs this morning.  Want to see some gunk?  Here are the old ones. ryanlogsdon.com/mini/spark.jpg  ...but like I said, I put in new brand new Champion spark plugs about 8 hours ago.  Also, I gapped the spark plugs to what their website said: 0.024".

 

Thanks,

Ryan


Edited by ryanlogsdon, 15 April 2019 - 12:45 AM.


#4 ryanlogsdon

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 05:35 AM

Spark update:

 

I waited until it got a little dark to try the spark test. I didn't know if the plug needed grounding, so what I did instead of pulling the plug out was I put a screwdriver in the HT lead and moved the screwdriver a few mm away from the chassis ground (where I grounded the horn).  I tried every lead, and none of the 4 sparked to ground.

 

I'll try turning the engine over a few times in the morning, then pull a spark plug out to check for wetness.

 

Thanks,

Ryan



#5 johnR

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 07:00 AM

Probably best to put a spark plug in the HT lead and then rest the plug on an exposed metal part of the engine block to test for spark.



#6 phillrulz

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 04:55 PM

Spark update:

 

I waited until it got a little dark to try the spark test. I didn't know if the plug needed grounding, so what I did instead of pulling the plug out was I put a screwdriver in the HT lead and moved the screwdriver a few mm away from the chassis ground (where I grounded the horn).  I tried every lead, and none of the 4 sparked to ground.

 

I'll try turning the engine over a few times in the morning, then pull a spark plug out to check for wetness.

 

Thanks,

Ryan

 

Well sounds like you have no spark. 

Few things to check 

 

Distributor check - 

 

Check the HT leads are all connected to the distributor, including the one from the ignition coil. 

 

If all are connected open up the distributor, there is two clips and inspect inside the distributor cap. There should be a central carbon spring mounted electrode this take the HV from the coil and distributor it via the rotor arm, inside the cap will also be 4 brass lugs part machined to allow the rotor arm to spin inside. Check these for oxidation. also check the rotor arm for oxidation and erosion due to sparks. 

 

Check the points are not welded shut and do open and close when the distributor is turning ( put car in gear and roll it the rotor arm will turn with the engine and close and open the points). 

 

If distributor and points are okay we can look at checking the coil ( make sure its not open circuit and not dead short) youd expect anywhere from 1ohm - 3 or 4 depending on ballasted or non ballasted. Also may be worth checking voltage from coil to ground just turn the key to the "run position" with the  points open check for voltage on the coil +. 



#7 ryanlogsdon

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Posted 18 April 2019 - 12:36 AM

Hi Guys,

 

You're right, there's no spark.  I made sure the HT leads were all tightly connected, too.

 

Next, I opened the distributor.  The 4 points in the cap were a little white & oxidized.  I cleaned them up (I've cleaned much worse around the car).  I dropped the car into 1st gear, gave it a good push for a foot or 2, and watched the arm spin in one full, slow circle (pretty cool; I'm really liking learning about the mechanics).

 

Here's the cap.  All cleaned up.

 

Here's the arm.  Looking a little dirty is all.  I don't really know what an eroded arm vs a good one looks like.  Are we ok here?

 

I checked the resistance of each spark plug wire.  All around 8-9 k Ohm, but when I pulled them straight, a couple wires dropped to zero resistance.  I imagine there's a break in the wires connecting to the endpoints.  And if so, do you guys have a favorite / recommended brand or store to buy from?

 

I'm really shaky on how to check the coil.  Could you walk me through these tests?  The voltage was 12.7v, tested from both wingnuts.  I thought I'd see ground on 1 side and 12-13v at the other.  Also, when I tested the resistance across these points, I got a zero reading.  I'm assuming I'm doing something wrong.

 

Thanks for all your help!

Ryan



#8 Earwax

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Posted 18 April 2019 - 06:50 AM

Just checking ,  is the car positive earth>



#9 DeadSquare

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Posted 18 April 2019 - 07:01 AM

Hi Guys,

 

You're right, there's no spark.  I made sure the HT leads were all tightly connected, too.

 

Next, I opened the distributor.  The 4 points in the cap were a little white & oxidized.  I cleaned them up (I've cleaned much worse around the car).  I dropped the car into 1st gear, gave it a good push for a foot or 2, and watched the arm spin in one full, slow circle (pretty cool; I'm really liking learning about the mechanics).

 

Here's the cap.  All cleaned up.

 

Here's the arm.  Looking a little dirty is all.  I don't really know what an eroded arm vs a good one looks like.  Are we ok here?

 

I checked the resistance of each spark plug wire.  All around 8-9 k Ohm, but when I pulled them straight, a couple wires dropped to zero resistance.  I imagine there's a break in the wires connecting to the endpoints.  And if so, do you guys have a favorite / recommended brand or store to buy from?

 

I'm really shaky on how to check the coil.  Could you walk me through these tests?  The voltage was 12.7v, tested from both wingnuts.  I thought I'd see ground on 1 side and 12-13v at the other.  Also, when I tested the resistance across these points, I got a zero reading.  I'm assuming I'm doing something wrong.

 

Thanks for all your help!

Ryan

 

 

"The Points", are to do with that curved spring thing, below the rotor arm in the photo.

 

The shiny bit of the distributer spindle is a rounded off square.  As you push the car in 1st, (it is easier in top), observe the way that bit of plastic is moved by the rounded off square shaft.

 

It should be moving those corroded contacts which make and brake the current to the coil.

 

If you haven't got any instructions, there is bound to be an explanation on gurgle.



#10 ryanlogsdon

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Posted 18 April 2019 - 07:48 AM

Just checking ,  is the car positive earth>

 

This past weekend, I converted it to negative earth.

 

- turned the battery around, negative to ground

 

- swapped the battery terminal connectors

 

- clipped a lead to the positive terminal and tap-tap-tap'ed the other end of the wire to the small lead of the generator to polarize it (it sparked, so when I get it running, we'll see if it's polarized!)

 

When I was reading up on what I needed to do, I didn't see any other steps.  Please let me know if I'm overlooking anything.

 

Thanks,

Ryan


Edited by ryanlogsdon, 18 April 2019 - 07:50 AM.


#11 gazza82

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Posted 18 April 2019 - 08:19 AM

Did you swap coil connections? Wrong polarity and spark is much weaker.

#12 phillrulz

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Posted 18 April 2019 - 07:15 PM

Hi Guys,

 

You're right, there's no spark.  I made sure the HT leads were all tightly connected, too.

 

Next, I opened the distributor.  The 4 points in the cap were a little white & oxidized.  I cleaned them up (I've cleaned much worse around the car).  I dropped the car into 1st gear, gave it a good push for a foot or 2, and watched the arm spin in one full, slow circle (pretty cool; I'm really liking learning about the mechanics).

 

Here's the cap.  All cleaned up.

 

Here's the arm.  Looking a little dirty is all.  I don't really know what an eroded arm vs a good one looks like.  Are we ok here?

 

I checked the resistance of each spark plug wire.  All around 8-9 k Ohm, but when I pulled them straight, a couple wires dropped to zero resistance.  I imagine there's a break in the wires connecting to the endpoints.  And if so, do you guys have a favorite / recommended brand or store to buy from?

 

I'm really shaky on how to check the coil.  Could you walk me through these tests?  The voltage was 12.7v, tested from both wingnuts.  I thought I'd see ground on 1 side and 12-13v at the other.  Also, when I tested the resistance across these points, I got a zero reading.  I'm assuming I'm doing something wrong.

 

Thanks for all your help!

Ryan

 

 

The reason you had 12v on both sides is the points, is the points would have been open. or you have a problem, the points open and close which sends a pulse of low voltage 12V through the coil. As the points open the magnetic feild in the coil collapses and generates HV a few thousand volts which the distributor then sends to a spark plug. 



#13 gazza82

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Posted 18 April 2019 - 07:26 PM

The old trick to clean the rotor arm was to rub it on the tyre wall ... that way you don't open up the space between arm and dizzie cap ...

#14 phillrulz

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Posted 18 April 2019 - 07:26 PM

The points   look a bit dirty and when the rotor arm turns do the points open ( spread ) and close (make contact) ?

 

 

The way i understand mini ignition works is the rotor turn which opens and closes the points, the points close sending 12v through the coil when they open the coils magnetic field colapses and the coil produces HV, this HV travels down the coil to distributor lead, the HV travels via the graphite electrode to ther rotor arm which transfers the HV via the brass contacts you checked. The HV leads take it from the distributor to the plug and the voltage return th "ground" via the engine. Which im guessing you have an earth strap on.

 

I know nothing about positive ground models as i thought about that before. 



#15 ryanlogsdon

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Posted 19 April 2019 - 05:04 AM

Did you swap coil connections? Wrong polarity and spark is much weaker.

 

Thanks for the tip. I've swapped the ignition coil wires now.

 

And thank you guys for explaining the distributor points as well.  Makes sense.  

 

I've rolled it again, this time in top gear (not 1st gear!); the points open and close fully.  The coil is showing 12-13v on both connections with the points open, and it gives the same reading closed: about 12.9v on both sides.  Also, I'm only measuring 0.2-0.3 ohms resistance (not kOhm, just single-digit Ohms).  Bad ignition coil?







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