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MG Midget and Sprite Technical - Condensors!!!!

Been through 3 condensors in the past 2 months...
Yesterday spent all day redoing my timing completely from scratch a number of times, to have the missfire only stop when i replaced the condensor that had only 700kms on it... new condensor ok for a quick test drive at nothing over 3500 revs..
Then today went out for a thrash which saw about 4500 revs and the misfire started to re-appear.

I set the timing using a strobe gun and the points gap using feeler guages... the only thing that i could do better is get a dwell meter... but surely condensors should last longer than this ?

i know the condensor is failing when i start to get missfire and see the tach needle jump.It does seem that they fail very quickly if you take them above 4000, seem to be not too bad if you keep the revs low...

ive got a Datsun engine, but the ignition is the basic points condensor type as on the Austin A-series....

is it that condensors are just rubbish nowadays, or do i need to start to use a dwell meter to be able to run the engine at higher revs and not destroy the condensor ?
or should i just go for electronic ignition/CDi and have done with it...

Andy Phillips (frankenfrog)

Hi Andy

The quality of some aftermarket condensors can be very poor. The distributor doctor in the UK has a better selection or its a case of tracing NOS lucas stuff on fleabay. Not easy i guess in Thailand. One thing to check is that the connections are all tightand there is no short circits. Is the cap/leads and coil all in good order with clean connections

I still run the original set up as it performs ok and has to date never let me down. I know others prefer the electronic set up as it reduces maintenance. If you go down this route choose a reputable brand. there are several on the market and I am sure others on here will be able to recommend.
Bob Beaumont

it's as Bob has put many modern made condensers are crap (made in your part of the globe)

I recommend not replacing any condensers that are fitted to a car and are working and to refit the previous one or as Bob has put buying old NOS or for Lucas going to the Distributor Doctor -

this also applies to CB points

if you have a look in the Archives you'll find a list of many other poorly made new parts, rubber has been rubbish for a while too now
Nigel Atkins

We use these to make our own external condensers when we need one.

Peter Burgess Tuning

Try sanding off the finish where the condenser makes contact with the dissy as its ground ....and also check that the dissy body connection for the condensor is clean and bright....and check your ground wire inside the dissy isnt worn,brittle, dirty, oily ect

Mallory is notorious for burning out condensors as well ....its because newbies dont sand off the protective finish during install

Id look also to make sure you got good grounds and tight connections in the ignition system

I know these things get a bad rap, but i wonder how much or if we contribute to there failures

Prop and the Blackhole Midget

Once you get a condenser (modern name is capacitor) that works good, don't change it when replacing points. A good capacitor will last nearly forever if they are assembled properly. Cheers - Dave
David DuBois

Must admit to not sanding off the finish where
it mounts, will buy another one and try that and see if it makes a difference.
i am buying all these condensors/capacitors from the same shop, and although they come in OEM packaging they could still be a bad batch i suppose.
I will try and find another shop that has them in stock as well.

Good suggestion from Peter about the Farnell part, i had looked in the RS catalogue but couldnt find any, but forgot about farnell, i'll try that also...mounting it outside will also be a major improvement as at least it will be easier to replace without having to double check the points gap every time.

Since posting i have done more research and it does seem to be quite a big problem worldwide, with some people (who are very concerned about originality) actually stripping down old parts and transferring the insides from electronics parts.

i did try the Velleman DIY electronics ignition kit which does away with the condensor but keeps the points, but couldnt get that to work....need to revisit that at some stage...

Andy Phillips (frankenfrog)

Hi, Andy... Several years ago I had recurrent ignition issues that stranded me three times, and finally resulted in a trip home on a flatbed. I finally isolated the problem to the condenser, after noticing that the spark was weak and yellow when tested; that, and the car ran perfectly with a new condenser. I was running a Mallory dual-point at the time, so maybe there is a connection. Anyway, I still have the Mallory, but without the points and with a pertronix Ignitor. It hasn't missed a beat in years. Not really a sales pitch, just my own experience!


Gryf Ketcherside

After much research i have ordered a hall-effect points replacement from simonbbc...

Even if i managed to find a good capacitor, it would still be a worry in the back of my mind and effect my enjoyment... plus now i have another new toy to fit...;)

thanks for your advice guys...
Andy Phillips (frankenfrog)

Nick Swift of Swiftune sell external condensers which are superb..!

M T Boldry

Nick's are no more than the ones I linked to above.Just very expensive. I may do a webpage to show folk how to make a good looking condenser for a fraction of the price.

Peter Burgess Tuning

Points replacement kit from Simonbbc came yesterday, fitted it no problem, adjusted the timing a little.
Engine started first time and you can hear the difference , and with the strobe light on the pulley you can actually see that its running a lot more smoothly.
Good thrash up the back roads at 4-5000 rpm confirms it....
Good improvement for relatively little money i would say...

Andy Phillips (frankenfrog)

good news Andy

just think how much better it could be with a good quality fully electronic dissy :)
Nigel Atkins

I doubt very much one could tell the difference Nigel :)
David Smith

this one could David :)
Nigel Atkins

This thread was discussed between 02/01/2014 and 20/01/2014

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