Engine loses spark after starting - Team Camaro Tech
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old Dec 14th, 09, 10:25 AM Thread Starter
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Engine loses spark after starting

This is my first post but I have searched the site and read probably 100 posts with no success so hopefully I am not repeating a question. I will also preface that I am new to the hobby and learning as I go so pardon any misuse of terms in advance.

I am looking for possible suggestions/solutions to an electrical problem that is driving me up the wall. I just recently purchased a 67 RS Convertible and rewired the entire car with a Classic Update Kit from American Autowire. I have power to everything (even rewired the RS lights and they work now) but lose spark at the plugs. It has a newer 350 crate engine with an accel coil and HEI distibutor. I do not have the model numbers handy. When the ignition is in the on/run position I have power to the + and - posts of the coil. I have gotten it to start twice, each time running long enough to get 1-2 miles from my house only to have it die and then no spark at the plugs. I added a ground wire from the firewall to the block after the first time it died and boom it started right up. I took it for a spin only to have it die the second time a mile from my house. Again, no spark at the plugs but power going from the coil to the distributor. I am thinking my wife has a chip on it that will keep me within a mile of the house now .

I have seen many posts on timing but I am not skilled enough to go that deep nor do I think that is the case because when there is spark, it fires right up no problem. I am also trying to avoid pulling the distributor at all costs since I have no clue how to put it back correctly. Has anyone seen something like this where spark is lost after driving a short distance or have any troubleshooting suggestions on how to find it?

Any and all help is appreciated.
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old Dec 14th, 09, 10:43 AM
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Re: Engine loses spark after starting

welcome to team camaro!!..does it have the control module in the dist? sounds like the coil might be bad? or a loose connection, at the dist?
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old Dec 14th, 09, 11:11 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Engine loses spark after starting

Thanks Sparky.

Not sure on the control module question. What is that and how do I find out if its in the dist?

I have been thinking it might be a bad coil but not sure how to tell other than just buy a new one. If it were bad, would it still start once but then lose spark after driving? That's what is throwing me off.

There is a 3 wire plug coming from the coil (brown -, red +, and black ground) and that is plugged into the dist directly. I have checked all connections externally and they seem to be solid and I pulled the cap and everything appeared to be solid that I could see.

I have a plug out and grounded against the block and there is ZERO spark at the plug now. Does the fact that it would not spark at the plug originally and then when I added the new ground wire it started and ran only for a short time ring any bells?

The block is grounded from the exhaust manifold to the driver side control arm and the exhaust manifold to the firewall. That is also were I have the dist/coil grounded to the firewall.
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old Dec 14th, 09, 01:36 PM
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Re: Engine loses spark after starting

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Originally Posted by SPARKY69 View Post
welcome to team camaro!!..does it have the control module in the dist? sounds like the coil might be bad? or a loose connection, at the dist?
X2 the pick up module is in the dizzy where the wires are conected. That little blue thing


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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old Dec 14th, 09, 02:38 PM
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Re: Engine loses spark after starting

Just a couple of comments. First, to me it sounds like a bad module in the distributor. You can either take a gamble and replace it or take it to a reputable mechanic to check things out. Second... I would never have a ground wire connected to the exhaust manifold because of the typical corrosion there and the tremendous expansion from the heat of the exhaust. I would make sure you have at least two grounded braids from the firewall to the intake manifold or engine block.
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old Dec 14th, 09, 04:25 PM
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Re: Engine loses spark after starting

ground the motor and jumper the hot side of the coil.......

will it continue to run for longer times?

is so......

bad ground or possibly bad ignition switch.....

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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old Dec 14th, 09, 05:05 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Engine loses spark after starting

Steve,
Good points on the ground to exhaust. I just put them back where they were when it was running before so I will look for a better long term solution this week. I would take it to a mechanic but I can't get it started again and I am holding out as long as possible to get it towed somewhere.

John,
What do you mean "jumper" the hot side?

As far as running, the two times I got it started it ran idling in my garage for about 10-15mins and then I only got about a mile away from my house each time. There are zero motor issues while it's running, then poof no spark. It happened the first time with the original ignition switch so I replaced it with a brand new one and the it happened again. I still have power to everything with the ignition on, just no spark now.

I will try to add a couple more ground wires to the block and frame and see if that at least gets it started again. Perhaps I can post a couple pics of the dizzy and see if anyone sees something obvious. Also, the coil is an Accel 8140HV but I can't see the dizzy part number. I have no clue how old they are but they seemed to work fine when I first got the car.

Thanks everyone for the suggestions so far and keep them coming if there is something obvious that I am missing here. If I get it fixed I will post the outcome.
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old Dec 14th, 09, 05:35 PM
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Re: Engine loses spark after starting

Skeeter, Your mechanic would call that a pick up coil since you are running MSD ignition. The factory GM stuff would have a D1906 module that the pick up coil plugs into inside the distributor. No one has mentioned the fact that maybe this is running of of the factory resistor wire from ignition switch to the distributor. I'd put my money on the module being bad especially since it had run in the garage long enough to get warm.

Jeff
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old Dec 14th, 09, 06:39 PM
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Re: Engine loses spark after starting

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Originally Posted by yellow69RS View Post
Skeeter, Your mechanic would call that a pick up coil since you are running MSD ignition. The factory GM stuff would have a D1906 module that the pick up coil plugs into inside the distributor. No one has mentioned the fact that maybe this is running of of the factory resistor wire from ignition switch to the distributor. I'd put my money on the module being bad especially since it had run in the garage long enough to get warm.

Jeff
Thanks Jeff,
I know when my pick up coil was going out it just mad the motor miss fire when it got warm. I think if its not his module or bad coil, then John suggested the ignition switch which is another good point.

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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old Dec 15th, 09, 02:46 PM
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Re: Engine loses spark after starting

If in fact you do have an oem hei distributor with an internal module..I would head off to radio shack and purchase some heat transfer paste for a few bucks and smear some beneath the module and the distributor housing.
These modules will quickly overheat without this paste.
Do not confuse this with dielectric grease.It does not have the heat transfer capability of the white paste.

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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old Dec 15th, 09, 03:28 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Engine loses spark after starting

Thanks so far everyone. I have been out of town so I haven't had a chance to try any of the suggestions yet. I will try some of these on Thurs and post a pic of the dizzy with the cap off to see if there is evidence under there.
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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old Dec 15th, 09, 07:08 PM
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Re: Engine loses spark after starting

I second using white silicon grease on your new module. The fact that it stops after it runs for a while smells like a heat related problem. An improperly doped module could do that.

A while back someone suggested a simple trick to diagnose a possible intermittant electrical problem. Hook a test lamp up to the IGN connection point and see if the light flickers or goes out when the engine dies. If you've got a junk box of electrical parts, that might be a good DIY way of troubleshooting the problem if the module doesn't cure all.

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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old Dec 17th, 09, 04:36 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Engine loses spark after starting

Pic with the cap pulled away.
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old Dec 18th, 09, 07:36 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Engine loses spark after starting

Update if anyone cares to comment or explain why this change seems to work.

First, I unhooked all engine and dizzy ground wires along with battery neg. The dizzy is grounded to the firewall as is one of the engine grounds. That engine to firewall ground was what I added the last time I got it started. I then secured everything back to same location, no fire.

Then I unhooked the dizzy ground from the firewall and attached that ground to the exhaust manifold (short term as someone pointed out this isn't optimal for long term). So now the block is grounded to the chassis and the firewall and the dizzy is only grounded to the block. Boom, cranked and fired up immediately. I let it run in the garage for an hr and a half as it was 30 degs out and my wife wouldn't have appreciated having to tow me home at 9pm at night . No issues, or so it would appear, with it overheating anything or any element in the dizzy being bad. Now it ran at 800 rpms basically for that whole time with a few revs here and there but no hard street driving just yet. Given it has started twice before, then to leave me stranded a mile away, I am curious if anyone has any idea why this change of ground location may have resolved my issue? I remind everyone the dizzy was grounded at the firewall each of the first two times it started and then lost spark after a mile of driving.

I am not an electrician so if anyone can explain (and give me confidence) I would be all ears.

Thanks again to all that provided feedback as I may not be out of the woods and will circle back to these suggestions.
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old Dec 18th, 09, 07:59 PM
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Re: Engine loses spark after starting

If you have an Accel Supercoil....remove the four screws from the coil on the distributor cap and lift it up. See if there is a metal bracket that sits underneath one corner of the coil and runs to the middle connector on the cap where your three wire plug connects.

It should look like the one in the pic between the rotor button and rubber pad. If you need one I have one.



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