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Vitesse - Accuspark Electronic Ignition


OB96
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Hello All,

 

I've bought an accuspark electronic ignition kit to try and resolve some power problems I've been having with my 1965 Vitesse 1600.

I ordered the negatively earthed kit, as I had thought that's what my car would be set up with given it has a Delco distributor.

However looking at the car, it seems like the battery is earthed on the positive peg, so it looks like the car may have been switched at some point.

The information given with the kit seems to say you need a different kit for different vehicle polarities.

My questions are:

1) Can I just take the battery out and turn it around to go back to a negatively earthed setup?
2) If I do swap the battery connections, do I also need to swap the connections to the other electrical components (i.e. swap connections on the dynamo/starter motor/distributor)?
3) If swapping the battery is not an easy job, I think it's possible to just rotate the coil that came with the kit so it is also set-up for positive earth, in this case can I still use the kit or is the unit that goes in the distributor actually different for positive/negatively earthed cars?
4) Finally, if none of the above are possible, I could always just sent back the unit that goes in the distributor and get the one for positively earthed cars.

Any guidance would be fantastic, I'll put some pics of the battery/distributor/coil for reference.
 

Thanks

Oliver

Vitesse Battery.jpg

Vitesse Coil Polarity.jpg

Vitesse Coil.jpg

Vitesse Distrubutor.jpg

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I think a 1600 Vitesse may have been positive earth from the factory.

To swap it, you do three things:

1) swap the battery terminals (note that they are different sizes so you need to change the terminals over on the cables)

2) swap the coil connections

3) re-polarise the dynamo. Check on YouTube for instructions but in essence you disconnect it and briefly touch battery positive to the field terminal a few times.

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Hi,

Just gave this a go:
- Turned the battery around and reattached cables.
- Put in the negative polarised electronic ingition kit.
- Detached leads from dynamo and sparked the field terminal with positive lead from battery a few times.
- Put in new coil with connections on the other sides (for negative polarisation).

The car is still not starting, wondering if there's something I've missed? It was initially starting but running poorly, then when I replaced the points it would struggle to start but would sometimes catch, though would die fairly soon after, now not starting at all.

Seems I've made the situation a little worse haha!

Any ideas? The one thing I have not managed to do is repolarise the control box. Think I have a lucas unit. My Haynes books seem to have a different layout to the control box I have behind the battery, unsure which connections need to be made to repolarise:



All the best

Oliver
 

Vitesse Control Box.jpg

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1 hour ago, Nigel Clark said:

Hope you don't have a radio or stereo fitted. That won't tolerate having the polarity reversed.

Nigel

Hi Nigel,

What do you mean by that? Do you mean that I would be unable to reverse the polarity on the car even if I followed the suggested steps?
In that case, would it just be a matter of switching everything back to the original postively earthed set up and buying a positive polarity electronic ignition kit?

Thanks for the assistance, I'm a bit stumped with this one.

 

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1 hour ago, OB96 said:

The one thing I have not managed to do is repolarise the control box. Think I have a lucas unit. My Haynes books seem to have a different layout to the control box I have behind the battery, unsure which connections need to be made to repolarise:

If the photo you attached was supposed to be the control box then you're mistaken. That's the fuse box.

I don't believe the control box needs to be repolarised - it's not polarity sensitive AFAIK.

Nigel is right that if you have a positive earth radio fitted you should stick to positive earth. I'd rather assumed you didn't as they're not that common. It may also have been the better route from the start. In fact, if when your first post said "to resolve some problems" you meant it's suddenly refused to start then you shouldn't have gone down the electronic ignition route in the first place. Only do that when your engine is running but may have clearly identifiable points-related faults. There aren't many of those.

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1 minute ago, NonMember said:

If the photo you attached was supposed to be the control box then you're mistaken. That's the fuse box.

I don't believe the control box needs to be repolarised - it's not polarity sensitive AFAIK.

Nigel is right that if you have a positive earth radio fitted you should stick to positive earth. I'd rather assumed you didn't as they're not that common. It may also have been the better route from the start. In fact, if when your first post said "to resolve some problems" you meant it's suddenly refused to start then you shouldn't have gone down the electronic ignition route in the first place. Only do that when your engine is running but may have clearly identifiable points-related faults. There aren't many of those.

Ah right, I hadn't realised that was the fuse box. Out of interest, where is the control box in the Vitesse? I can't see in near the battery anywhere.

The reason I've gone down this route is that the car was intially running but had problems with low power, I'd gone over everything in the fuel system which seemed to be functioning correctly. I noticed the points were badly pitted and the gap was pretty wide so changed the points. With the new points, it was still running but was actually worse than before, cutting out after a short time. I figured that, as changing the points seemed to affect the issue, that the problem might be connected to the ignition system, hence the electronic conversion.  I am very open to the idea that the original problem might have been caused by something else entirely, just trying to work through everything to try and eventually hit on the solution!

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Hi, I dont know if the car is new to you but if so its worth going through the complete list of engine checks when having a running problem. That is:

valve clearances, carb float levels, carb diaphragms and dash pot oil (strombergs only), points gap and correct operation of vacuum advance, ignition timing (if running this is best done with a strobe light and then you can also check the mechancial advance is working), carb mixture and balance.

Once youve crossed these off if theres no change then you can start to look for more unusual causes... 

The control box is on the inside of the bulkhead not far from the fuse box but up underneath the dash so access isnt ideal☹️

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1 hour ago, OB96 said:

Hi Nigel,

What do you mean by that? Do you mean that I would be unable to reverse the polarity on the car even if I followed the suggested steps?
In that case, would it just be a matter of switching everything back to the original postively earthed set up and buying a positive polarity electronic ignition kit?

Thanks for the assistance, I'm a bit stumped with this one.

 

I meant that a radio could be destroyed by reversing the polarity, or at least blow a fuse. Happily not applicable in your case!

It seems you have followed the right procedure to reverse the polarity, so in theory the car ought to start. I would advise checking the wiring of the electronic ignition and coil carefully, and ensure the distributor base plate is properly earthed.

Nigel

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1 hour ago, OB96 said:

Out of interest, where is the control box in the Vitesse?

Other side of the bulkhead somewhere above the passenger's feet. It's a while since I've looked in detail as mine has an alternator.

1 hour ago, OB96 said:

I noticed the points were badly pitted and the gap was pretty wide so changed the points. With the new points, it was still running but was actually worse than before, cutting out after a short time. I figured that, as changing the points seemed to affect the issue, that the problem might be connected to the ignition system, hence the electronic conversion.

Well, yes, but... It really ought to run fine on points. There's no good reason for it not to. And if the points are new (and I hope you changed the condenser too?) then not running well - indeed running worse than before - strongly points to a different problem. One which will not be fixed by replacing the points again, even if by an electronic unit.

Did you re-set the timing after changing the points? If the old ones were in a sorry state and had a wide gap, fitting new (with the proper gap) will have thrown the timing way off, possibly enough to explain the even poorer running. And when you changed to EI, if you didn't re-set the timing then it absolutely IS so far out that it won't run. You ALWAYS need to re-set the timing when you fit an EI unit.

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Thanks for all the help.

I did have the carbs serviced before starting any of this and the vacuum advance is function properly (NB I have actually bought some stromberg CD150s which I'm restoring to replace the current Solex carbs but that's a project for another day!). I'd changed the condensor too and had set the gap to within the recommended range.

I think Nigel you may have hit on the issue.

1 hour ago, Nigel Clark said:

ensure the distributor base plate is properly earthed.

I removed the earthing wire in the distributor as I didn't think this was needed with electonic ignition. I'll put it back in place and let you know how I get on.

I confess I haven't rechecked the timing yet, though I haven't altered the distributor position since the start. I'm hoping to pick up a timing gun tomorrow but I understand I'll need the engine to start first in order to adjust this?

Thanks again

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19 minutes ago, OB96 said:

I haven't rechecked the timing yet, though I haven't altered the distributor position since the start. I'm hoping to pick up a timing gun tomorrow but I understand I'll need the engine to start first in order to adjust this?

You will need the engine running to use a timing light but you should start by setting the advance approximately using a light bulb. Disconnect the coil LT wires and connect them to a bulb instead. Then turn the engine to the correct static ignition - 10deg BTDC or thereabout (may be a bit more on a 1600). Now slacken the distributor clamp and turn the ignition on. Turn the distributor anti-clockwise until the lamp is on, then carefully turn it back clockwise until the bulb just goes out. That's your base setting, so clamp it up, ignition off, return the wiring to normal and see if it's any better.

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the 1600 control box is fitted under the n/s  A post kick board

and agree you dont need a strobe to check static timing on an electronic unit   it is just a transistorised switch triggered by a magnet or such 

but the timing will as Rob says  wil/can l be miles out compared to the old points  just use a small bulb like a panel lamp 

Pete

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39 minutes ago, OB96 said:

I think Nigel you may have hit on the issue.

I removed the earthing wire in the distributor as I didn't think this was needed with electonic ignition. I'll put it back in place and let you know how I get on.

Yes the earthing of the Accuspark unit is critical as its internal switch has to connect the -ve wire from the coil to earth so that the current flows through the coil to charge it up ready for a spark to be produced. The other wire going to the Accuspark unit is +ve to operate its electronics and obviously isnt required when using points....

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1 minute ago, johny said:

Yes the earthing of the Accuspark unit is critical as its internal switch has to connect the -ve wire from the coil to earth so that the current flows through the coil to charge it up ready for a spark to be produced. The other wire going to the Accuspark unit is +ve to operate its electronics and obviously isnt required when using points....

Sorry Johny, just to clarify:

I have connected the black wire attached to the ignition unit to the negative terminal on the coil, and the red wire to the positive terminal.
The cord I removed was the one which used to sit under the condensor and attached at the side of the distributor (I assume an earthing cable...?).
 

If I understand you correctly, are you saying that the black wire connects the negative terminal of the distributor to the ignition unit, which then needs a further wire to ground it to the side of the distributor? 

I will try and get the wire back in place later this week and will see how it goes. Will also try and time the engine with the static method as suggested by Rob. As far as I could see, there was no mention of polarity in the manuals I have. It is a 1965 1600 and I'm the 3rd owner from new, I believe the car is almost entirely original, so would have thought it was a positive earth from the start.

 

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7 minutes ago, OB96 said:

Sorry Johny, just to clarify:

I have connected the black wire attached to the ignition unit to the negative terminal on the coil, and the red wire to the positive terminal.
The cord I removed was the one which used to sit under the condensor and attached at the side of the distributor (I assume an earthing cable...?).
 

If I understand you correctly, are you saying that the black wire connects the negative terminal of the distributor to the ignition unit, which then needs a further wire to ground it to the side of the distributor? 

I will try and get the wire back in place later this week and will see how it goes. Will also try and time the engine with the static method as suggested by Rob. As far as I could see, there was no mention of polarity in the manuals I have. It is a 1965 1600 and I'm the 3rd owner from new, I believe the car is almost entirely original, so would have thought it was a positive earth from the start.

 

If you wire up the Accuspark incorrectly and start the engine the unit will blow . How do I know 😱😱😱

Paul 

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2 minutes ago, OB96 said:

Haha well fingers crossed it isn't knackered yet. I think everything was correctly installed other than the grounding wire, not sure if that will have buggered the unit. Hopefully still functional...

I successfully blew the unit due to incorrect wiring , explained what id done to Accuspark and they supplied another unit at a discounted price . The only way I found I had blown the unit was to go back to points 

Paul 

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48 minutes ago, OB96 said:

Sorry Johny, just to clarify:

I have connected the black wire attached to the ignition unit to the negative terminal on the coil, and the red wire to the positive terminal.
The cord I removed was the one which used to sit under the condensor and attached at the side of the distributor (I assume an earthing cable...?).
 

If I understand you correctly, are you saying that the black wire connects the negative terminal of the distributor to the ignition unit, which then needs a further wire to ground it to the side of the distributor? 

I will try and get the wire back in place later this week and will see how it goes. Will also try and time the engine with the static method as suggested by Rob. As far as I could see, there was no mention of polarity in the manuals I have. It is a 1965 1600 and I'm the 3rd owner from new, I believe the car is almost entirely original, so would have thought it was a positive earth from the start.

 

Its ok you have the Accuspark correctly connected but the metal base of the Accuspark is part of the circuit and must be earthed as otherwise theres no way the coil can have a current flow. However unfortunately this might not be the end of the problem as even with that little earth wire removed the Accuspark may still already be earthed through the internals of the distributor... 

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15 hours ago, OB96 said:

I have connected the black wire attached to the ignition unit to the negative terminal on the coil, and the red wire to the positive terminal.
The cord I removed was the one which used to sit under the condensor and attached at the side of the distributor (I assume an earthing cable...?).

An electronic ignition unit ALWAYS needs three connections - supply, ground and coil. If the Accuspark has only two wires, then the ground connection is the mounting lug and the distributor base plate needs its earth strap just like it did on points. The Lumenition pickup has three wires (but isn't even the complete unit).

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