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  1. #1

    Default Question on '49 Eight points gap and dwell.

    I recently purchased a '49 Chieftain business coupe with rebuilt original 8 and what appears to be original distributor body. Unfortunately the timing tab appears to be MIA.

    Anyway, the car starts pretty good and runs OK. While going through the ignition to correct the previous owner's botched 12V conversion I ran into a little issue. I'm reading about 42 degrees dwell angle and the gap seems OK on the points. Spec is start with 0.016" point gap and set dwell no more than 30 degrees.

    However, I can't get the car to start if I move the point set either way. The previous owner said it burned up a couple sets of points but I believe it was because he wasn't using a ballast resistor at first and the coil was a NAPA model that required one. When he did add one, he had the ignition power wired to the negative side of the 12V coil, and then a ballast resistor between the positive side of the coil and the distributor. (!). I initially rewired the existing components correctly with ballast resistor between ignition power and coil positive and drove for a while like that. This weekend I changed out the coil for one with internal resistance (no ballast resistor needed) and changed out the condensor to a 12V model to be sure that was correct. I also pulled the points and they looked OK but I went ahead and installed a new set.

    I fooled with the "gas selector" to advance and retard the dizzy but regardless of where I set it the car just would not start if I changed the point gap. It started and ran fine with 42 degrees dwell but wouldn't start if I changed the gap at all regadless of gas selector position. Does anyone have any input on this? My thinking is that as long as the gap is within spec to prevent arcing or burn that maybe the dwell angle isn't a big issue.


  2. #2


    Never mind. Got it figured out. The problem was moving to a new project after working on something else and being on auto pilot with a short circuit. Yep, had been troubleshooting the bad charging system and then when moving on to the ignition set up I'm pretty sure I had the ground lead for my dwell meter hooked to the alternator output stud instead of the alternator case. Was sitting there thinking about why I could only get reading on the meter with the car running but not with the coil wire grounded while spinning the engine over. Then my brain went to flashback mode and I could see the lead hooked up wrong. That's two hours I'll never get back.

    On a side note, anyone got a timing tab or pointer for a '49 straight eight they don't need?

  3. #3


    Try Gaylord Rachels in Fergus Falls, MN, or Ron Kiser in Murphysburo, Ill.

  4. #4


    Thanks, I'll look them up. Tried a couple of ebayers who were parting out cars and came up busted. Last resort is just use a piston stop and make my own. Also I went ahead and pulled the points and installed a Pertronix yesterday. Runs like crap but I'm pretty sure it's because it needs a gap adjustment between the pick up and cam sleeve. If I grabbed the distirbutor while it was running and pushed towards the engine a little it would pick right up and purr. The module is kinda on the bottom so that tells me that there's probably a little slop in the dizzy and pushing on it was moving the body (and thus the module) closer to the top of the shaft.

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