A bit scared of fiddling with the ignition

After putting on new plugcaps and fiddling with the ignition…
No sparks…
So, now back to the instruction manual and going for it…

You had spark before? Time to use a test light, to verify operation of the points.

Yes i will.
I just bought a multimeter too so i can check the condensator as well and i know now how to check the bobine by letting him spark just before the 6th cylinder.

I also downloaded the symptom and diagnosis chart as part of the workshop manual i also downloaded in full version. So i have a full description for dismantling and reassembling if necessary.Joy… :fearful:

If you replaced the points I would start there and check that they are isolated from the baseplate.

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I am going to dis and reassemble the whole lot.

Take a tip from me. Not messed with points and condenser for a while. Setting the “gap” with a feeler guage always my “downfall”. A dwell meter saved me, a few times…



if I understand you correctly, you only put on new plugcaps. What is that? These days we typically don’t just put on what I’d call “Kerzenstecker”, but mostly replace the entire HT loom, which is pretty foolproof as long as you mark the wires and replace them one by one in the correct order - and even if you mess it up, you’d have spark. So what did you do?

Before you pull everything apart, I’d rather try to get back to square one than risk to add more sources of failure. One thing you can do though without further disassembly is test spark before the distributor.

Good luck


75 XJ6L 4.2 auto (UK spec)

Hi Jochen,
Thanx for your reply. I’ll will take your advice and do the right thing before, as you say, i mess things up. I any case i have a full workshop manual with all the instructions so i would be able to do things in the right way. Maybe i was bit too enthousiast. Still i am anyway.
What type of distributor do you have?

Sorry Pim,

can’t help out on this one - my PO installed a 1-2-3 ignition around 2006. Until today it has performed flawlessly … touching wood.

That being said I’m fairly sure that this swop was unnecessary (he also exchanged the carbs). When I bought the car in 2007, it was running kind of weird. Then I found out that five plugs were sooty black, while #1 was white. Quickly we identified a vacuum leak between intake and head near #1. Ever since the intake gasket was replaced and the vacuum leak fixed, the car has been running sweet - the new carbs and the electronic ignition may have helped as well.

As long as the distributor shaft has no play there is no need to replace the distributor though.



75 XJ6L 4.2 auto (UK spec)

Well shiver me timbers.
I have the same symptom!
12 456 black with sud and the three shiny!
So maybe i’ll go for the gasket too!

We tested ignition with a Sun motor tester - shown good on all six cylinders. Then we pulled the HT wires one by one during idling: clear effects for ## 2-6 (falling idle speed, lumpy), practically no effect for #1. Then we checked by spraying some brake cleaner around the intake. Again clear response in idle around #1. That was all it took for diagnosis.

Intake gaskets are readily available. You can spend a lot of time with optical upgrades on the right hand side of the head and the intake while it’s out. You might even take the opportunity to optimize the head’s inlet ports (you’ll clearly see just where the intake gasket sits).

Don’t let yourself be intimidated though by the force it takes to remove the intake from the head. The gasket makes a very good connection. Eventually it will brake …

Good luck


75 XJ6L 4.2 auto (UK spec)

Hopefully the seal :slight_smile: :slight_smile:


I should have seen that … well, if you’re out of luck the aluminium will brake instead of the seal …


75 XJ6L 4.2 auto (UK spec)

“Optimize the head’s intake ports” !!! In USA speak, “port the heads”.

My son has been refreshing his ancient Case tractor.
The head included small dams. Old tech to atomize the mix. Disproven, merely causes a puddle and over rich running… “Hot Rod Case” ???

Many decades ago, I adopted a little Briggs and Stratton lawn mower engine to a pedal car. For my toddler son. Ugh, too fast !!! Detune! richened the mixture, cut down the RPM"s. The “car” sans Briggs still exists in the rafters of my shop…

Carl :

If you went that far to fiddle with your ignition, why don’t you
get an ignition kit to get rid of the points.

That is very simple to install and comes with all the instructions.
You will never have to fiddle with points.


I am contemplating on doing just that. Do you have advice on which kit might do the trick?

Scuster has a very good point about points !
Compared with electronics they are very unreliable and of constant need of attention.
I did this on my old Fiat and it just transformed the engine.
You set it once and it’s done, and that’s the point !!

Pretronix. A popular brand. Inserts or in some cases the entre distributor…



though my own 123 ignition seems to disqualify me to give advice like that and I hate to pour some water into your wine …

These cars were designed with points ignition and ran perfectly well with it. Not only 40 years ago, but in fact for over 40 years without too much hassle. Mind you a well-tuned engine doesn’t need to have its timing set every other week. Maintenance is limited to breaker contacts, rotor and a cap every now and then. My Spitfire has seen a handful of breaker contacts, two rotors and no cap in the course of 40+ years and 150000 km. That’s it. No problem. Ever.

Today, if you’ve got a serious problem, life seems so much easier if you find something guilty: throw money at it, replace it with some modern and advanced stuff and the problem is gone …

No. My PO invested into new carbs and an electronic ignition, but the problem remained, because he missed the vacuum leak.

And what is worse: Even the super easy drop-in popular solutions aren’t always as easy and drop-in as you’d like them to be. Sometimes there are issues with a resistor, they need a different coil or the tacho doesn’t work and you end up swapping one construction site for another. And one thing not to be forgotten: if your electronic ignition fails after 8 years - will you get spares and have you kept the documentation to understand the red and black wires?

That doesn’t mean that electronic ignition systems are bad - there are at least three sides of this coin:-) …

Sure, modern high tech needs electronic ignition. If you’ve upgraded your engine, electronic ignition may be the way to go. If you go racing or otherwise want to adapt timing curves, electronic ignition is gorgeous.
Likewise, if your distributor’s shaft is wobbling and a “new” distributor or its overhaul would cost an arm and a leg, why not replace with a cheaper electronic ignition.
Finally, if you cover large distances in your classic car you might be better off with an electronic ignition as the replacement consumable parts mentioned above are of a much worse quality than 30 years ago and will last not so long as the ones in my Spitfire I mentioned.

Maybe what I’m trying to say is: keep focused on the problem - don’t let yourself be taken astray on apparently easy fixes; don’t touch running systems unless called upon; repair only what is broken: if you need your ignition timed, a new rotor, points, cap and HT wires - do just that! 98 % you’ll be a happy camper for many miles to come and you won’t even realize you have an old-fashioned points ignition while you drive.

Good luck


75 XJ6L 4.2 auto (UK spec)