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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
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    Plano, Texas
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    Default Help with Ignition Problem

    Was wondering if I could get some help with an ignition problem. My 63 Riviera would not start so I began checking the obvious things, spark, fuel, etc. It turns out my coil went bad, so I thought! It would not create a spark. I pulled the wire from the coil out of the distributor and had my wife crank it over, held the end of the wire to the engine block... no spark. So no big deal, went to Auto-zone and got a new coil. Same thing, no spark. Took the coil back to Auto-zone, they gave me a new one. And again no spark.

    All that being said. My coil has a Red and a Black wire going to the Positive Terminal. And a black wire from the points to the Negative terminal of the coil.

    The back wire going to the Positive Terminal of the coil is giving me 12 volts with the ignition key turned to on. So that one is coming from the battery. The red one gives me nothing. According to the shop manual this one is the Resistance wire that is supposed to protect the points from burning out.

    It says that once the ignition key is turned to start (Cranking) then power comes from the battery to the coil. So I'm not sure what I'm missing. Or if I'm making any sense... ignition is not my strong suit. My question, is there some sort of fuse or something that may had burned out that I'm missing?

    Any suggestions are appreciated.

    I've attached a pic:
    IgnitionWires.JPG

    Thanks,
    Scott
    -Scott
    1963 Buick Riviera

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    DFW area Texas
    Posts
    414

    Default Re: Help with Ignition Problem

    I will try to help,

    Ignition coil supply voltage should be thru resistor so that it gets reduced voltage in "run" position. It only gets full 12v in "crank" from the starter. So you should have low voltage with key on and 12v while cranking. If you have this, replace points and condensor.
    TexasJohn55...........................Wasn't born in Texas but I got here as quick as I could.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    near Atlanta
    Posts
    1,241

    Default Re: Help with Ignition Problem

    If your 'run' voltage is 12, a new coil will run that way for about a month (using it as a driver) then the coil will die and its bottom will be pooched out. If you aren't seeing 12v at crank and less at run then check switch and wiring.
    Patrick

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    SE PA
    Posts
    1,821

    Default Re: Help with Ignition Problem

    Sounds to me like your points or condenser are bad and you are not getting the trigger to fire the coil.

    As already stated + side of coil should have 12 volts only while cranking and lesser voltage ( around 8 volts ) while running. If you have 12 volts all the time the points will burn .
    LOU

    70 GSX STAGE 1 QQ #554
    73 RIVIERA

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    LI,NY
    Posts
    19,835

    Default Re: Help with Ignition Problem

    Im going to help you out. This is a Buick factory troubleshooting flow chart for points ignition systems. Follow it and you'll get your answer as to why you have no fire. Let us know how you make out.

    20161230_232146[1].jpg

    (sorry its sideways)
    Jason Cook
    BPG #1675
    "Expert in obsolete technology"

    1968 Riviera GS- some assembly required
    1969 Riviera GS- my first car
    1969 GS-350
    1970 Stage 1 4 speed Aquamist
    1970 GS-455 Bamboo Cream beater
    1971 GS 455 11.93@113.36
    1972 GS-350
    1970 Stellar Industries vintage go kart

    Deo duce, ferro comitante

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    LI,NY
    Posts
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    Default Re: Help with Ignition Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by gsx455-4ever View Post
    Sounds to me like your points or condenser are bad and you are not getting the trigger to fire the coil.
    A distinct possibility!
    Jason Cook
    BPG #1675
    "Expert in obsolete technology"

    1968 Riviera GS- some assembly required
    1969 Riviera GS- my first car
    1969 GS-350
    1970 Stage 1 4 speed Aquamist
    1970 GS-455 Bamboo Cream beater
    1971 GS 455 11.93@113.36
    1972 GS-350
    1970 Stellar Industries vintage go kart

    Deo duce, ferro comitante

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Simi Valley, CA
    Posts
    4,387

    Default Re: Help with Ignition Problem

    An easy check for points failed is to have someone crank the engine over while you have a meter or light attached to the negative side of the coil. If you don't see a flicker of the light or variation in voltage in the meter, your points are not opening or closing. My guess would be not opening, due to the rubbing block worn out. This would be a good time to buy a Chassis Service Manual and electronic ignition (if you want more reliable ignition), if you want to be able to fix your car without dropping a ton of money.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Plano, Texas
    Posts
    25

    Default Re: Help with Ignition Problem

    Thank you all for the suggestions. I purchaced a PerTronic electronic ignition, coil, and wire set for my car instead of new points and condensor. Installed everything exactly as the instructions directed and as this guy did: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyk22-sVRhE

    I also tested the Red and Black wire coming from the firewall. Here are my findings.

    • The Red Wire which I believe to be the resistance wire gives me no voltage in all scenarios. Key On, Off, or Cranking.
    • The Black Wire, gives me 12 volts with the Key in "On" Position and when trying to crank it fluctuates down between 7-8 volts. This sounds like the opposite of what it's supposed to be doing!


    My battery may be low from trying to crank so many times so it's on the charger now. Perhaps I need a new battery too.

    -Scott
    -Scott
    1963 Buick Riviera

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    LI,NY
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    Default Re: Help with Ignition Problem

    I posted a troubleshooting chart....
    Jason Cook
    BPG #1675
    "Expert in obsolete technology"

    1968 Riviera GS- some assembly required
    1969 Riviera GS- my first car
    1969 GS-350
    1970 Stage 1 4 speed Aquamist
    1970 GS-455 Bamboo Cream beater
    1971 GS 455 11.93@113.36
    1972 GS-350
    1970 Stellar Industries vintage go kart

    Deo duce, ferro comitante

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Wellington, New Zealand
    Posts
    281

    Default Re: Help with Ignition Problem

    I had a similar (but different) problem with my Pertronix in a 63 Wildcat. Check the black wire from switch has voltage while cranking, I had a 12v wire that dropped voltage during cranking; the moment I found the right wire (black) and hooked it up, all go. All the testing I did with ignition turned on showed spark but it just wouldn't fire once cranking till I got the correct wire.
    I have no resistance wire (removed) or ballast resistor in my setup.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Plano, Texas
    Posts
    25

    Default Re: Help with Ignition Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by buick64203 View Post
    I posted a troubleshooting chart....
    Thanks Jason,

    I'm looking through that now. I'm not sure if this applies completely now that I've installed the electronic ignition. I also purchased new points and condenser. I may install these if I can't get the electronic ignition working.
    -Scott
    1963 Buick Riviera

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Plano, Texas
    Posts
    25

    Default Re: Help with Ignition Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by roadrunnernz View Post
    I had a similar (but different) problem with my Pertronix in a 63 Wildcat. Check the black wire from switch has voltage while cranking, I had a 12v wire that dropped voltage during cranking; the moment I found the right wire (black) and hooked it up, all go. All the testing I did with ignition turned on showed spark but it just wouldn't fire once cranking till I got the correct wire.
    I have no resistance wire (removed) or ballast resistor in my setup.
    Thanks, I'll check this as well. I have brand new Electronic Ignition and brand new points and condenser. I'd ought to get one of these working!!!

    I've got the Pertronix in now so I'll go with your suggestion for now. Sounds very similar. When you say black wire from switch. What exactly are you referring to when you say switch, the ignition key that you turn to crank?

    Thanks,
    Scott
    -Scott
    1963 Buick Riviera

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    LI,NY
    Posts
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    Default Re: Help with Ignition Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by NewSchool View Post
    Thanks Jason,

    I'm looking through that now. I'm not sure if this applies completely now that I've installed the electronic ignition. I also purchased new points and condenser. I may install these if I can't get the electronic ignition working.

    It doesn't now. I guess that was your second mistake- installing the electronic ignition conversion before you first diagnosed what went bad to make the car not start in the first place.
    Jason Cook
    BPG #1675
    "Expert in obsolete technology"

    1968 Riviera GS- some assembly required
    1969 Riviera GS- my first car
    1969 GS-350
    1970 Stage 1 4 speed Aquamist
    1970 GS-455 Bamboo Cream beater
    1971 GS 455 11.93@113.36
    1972 GS-350
    1970 Stellar Industries vintage go kart

    Deo duce, ferro comitante

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Plano, Texas
    Posts
    25

    Default Re: Help with Ignition Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by buick64203 View Post
    It doesn't now. I guess that was your second mistake- installing the electronic ignition conversion before you first diagnosed what went bad to make the car not start in the first place.
    Yes, I know! I should had done that first. I'm going to mess with the electronic ignition for a bit. If I can't get anything going I'll put the new points and condenser in and go through the diagnosis chart you posted.
    -Scott
    1963 Buick Riviera

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    ct.
    Posts
    3,581

    Default Re: Help with Ignition Problem

    A '63 Riv. as well as a '63 Wildcat has a diff. ignition switch than, let's say a '64 & up. The black wire on the ignition switch is for 12 volts ONLY while cranking. It DOES NOT come from the starter. I went thru this on a '63 Riv. at my shop a few yrs. ago. Since the '63 switches are ONE YR. ONLY I used a more readily available '64 & up switch & ran a Yellow wire from the starter solenoid "R" terminal up to the + side of the coil. Since this '63 had the original starter there was NO "R" terminal on the starter solenoid so I had to replace the solenoid. In this case it solved MANY MULTITUDES of problems we were having all at the same time.


    Tom T.
    Tom Telesco
    Classic and Muscle Automotive
    12 Cook St.
    Norwalk, CT 06853-1601
    Day Phone 203-324-6045 ET
    NailHead Mini-Starters '53-'66
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    Many parts to numerous to list
    "If I can't get it, you don't need it!"

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Wellington, New Zealand
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    281

    Default Re: Help with Ignition Problem

    Perhaps 'hotwire' the coil from the battery. If that works then trace the wiring issue.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Oakland Gardens, N.Y.
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    27,208

    Default Re: Help with Ignition Problem

    Also realize that while cranking, the starter motor load will drag down the voltage to something like 9-10 volts IF the battery is fully charged. Being your battery is run down from all the no starts and cranking, 7-8 sounds about right.
    Larry
    1998 "Fully Optioned" SC3800 Riviera
    70 GS 455 Stage1, TSP 470, 602 HP@ 5900, 589 TQ @ 4900
    TA Hyd Roller Cam, 230*/238*, 112, .544"/.577" lift, 4-7 swap
    MSD Digital 6+, Ignitionman Distributor w/MSD trigger
    THM400 with Ultimate 258mm converter, Gear Vendors OD
    AED 1000 HO Carb, 800 CFM 7042240 Quadrajet
    8.5 10 bolt, 3.73's Race weight 4025lbs.
    Best E.T. 11.54 Best MPH, 116.06
    Larrymta@verizon.net, GSCA #291
    BPG # 1063
    N.E. GS/GN Club Assistant Director

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Location
    Perth Western Australia
    Posts
    87

    Default Re: Help with Ignition Problem

    Stop what your doing before you cost yourself more money for nothing.
    You must properly diagnose a fault before just throwing parts at it
    Never modify a system that does not work in the hope that afterwards, it will (if you stuff up the modification, you now have 2 problems to find)

    I am an auto electrician and sort this stuff out quite often, but I must say, not on your exact car (I am in Australia and they arnt thick on the ground here)

    First thing is a test light is much more preferable to use than a multi meter for testing this problem. If you don't have one, buy one or make one, they are not expensive
    and also, make sure its a light bulb type, not LED

    Old school car = old school tools.

    As the chart above suggests, tests are done systematically, skip tests only if they become irrelevant.

    Now, to test for power on the + of the coil, 1 end of the test light to earth (neg of battery, clean shiny metal somewhere) then put the probe end on a known pos power source (pos battery terminal is good)
    Make sure the light lights, it does? good, this means the light works and the earth for your light is good.
    Turn the key to on/run position, touch the probe to the + of the coil, light lights, ignition switch and wiring (including ballast) ok, pending later testing to see if the ballast has been bypassed.
    No power on the +, make sure key is in the right position and not on accessories or something, If correct, faulty ignition switch or ballast.
    Some cars (most likely applies to yours) have a resistance wire built into the harness for the ballast, others have a separate resister block bolted to the firewall (normally about 2" long and white ceramic)
    If the ballast is blown, you need to find and repair this, but a normal symptom of a blown ballast is the car starts then stops when you let go of the key.

    Ok, so you have power (don't care about voltage , but as an aside, a good charged battery is always needed for electrics to work properly) with the key on, turn the car to crank (use the key to do this, not hot wire so you don't bypass the circuits we trying to test) Is there still power at the + of the coil? if yes, is it bright or dull? , if its dull or no power at all, put the probe on the battery pos again and turn the key to crank, if its about the same dull, then its ok
    if its not, most likely means the factory bypass system is not working and you need to fix this.

    Now, I could keep going on and writing a book on how to diagnose and repair a simple circuit like this, or I could tell you to buy a service manual where someone has already typed out how to repair this circuit or the simple way to
    test the power side if your net electrically minded is to put a wire from the pos of the battery to the pos of the coil, if it starts and runs, you have a power supply fault to the coil, if it don't, then its on the distributor side (- side of the coil) or the coil itself.
    Keep posting your findings, but don't buy more parts or change anything until you know for sure you need to.

    Google points ignition system and you should find a general picture that shows how it works and as you said you have put a pertronics in now, the points testing is irrelevant except that, as the engine turns, it still must "pulse" on the - side of the coil.
    I cant look at your car, but I have to say, I am not confident in your installation of the pertronics, it might be right or it might not be.

    Just as an aside, sometimes its cheaper in the long run to get a professional out to fix things if your not sure whats going on.
    Good to learn though, but learning normally costs money one way or another

    Good luck
    Mick
    58 Buick Special
    60 Dodge Phoenix
    60 Plymouth Fury

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    DFW area Texas
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    414

    Default Re: Help with Ignition Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by NewSchool View Post
    All that being said. My coil has a Red and a Black wire going to the Positive Terminal. And a black wire from the points to the Negative terminal of the coil.

    The back wire going to the Positive Terminal of the coil is giving me 12 volts with the ignition key turned to on. So that one is coming from the battery. The red one gives me nothing. According to the shop manual this one is the Resistance wire that is supposed to protect the points from burning out.

    I've attached a pic:
    IgnitionWires.JPG

    Thanks,
    Scott
    Get a schematic and fix the wiring issue.
    TexasJohn55...........................Wasn't born in Texas but I got here as quick as I could.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
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    DFW area Texas
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    414

    Default Re: Help with Ignition Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by roadrunnernz View Post
    Perhaps 'hotwire' the coil from the battery. If that works then trace the wiring issue.
    First try this.
    TexasJohn55...........................Wasn't born in Texas but I got here as quick as I could.

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
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    Plano, Texas
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    25

    Default Re: Help with Ignition Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by TexasJohn55 View Post
    First try this.
    I'm going to try this in the morning. The Battery is charging now.
    -Scott
    1963 Buick Riviera

 

 

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