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MG MGA - Distributor Rebuild time?

1957 1500 misfire, backfire, bucking. I swapped out the distributor with the one off of my 1600 including cap, rotor and all. Problem solved. I reinstalled the 57 dizzy just to make sure that the problem wasn't in the cap or wires. ( I know, that was dumb... should have checked all of that before the swap) Misfires again. Swapped just the cap and wires.... no change. The only thing I did not change out was the condensor and points. When I had the dizzy out the cloth covered wire that grounds to the diz body was disintegrating. I taped that wire to insulate it. Is this wire the likely culprit? Is it rebuild time? Is British Auto Electric still the recommended rebuilder for So. Calif?
David Holmes

"misfire, backfire, bucking" just means to me that it is way past time for tune-up. Since you replaced the disty with excellent results, I would suggest first changing the points and condensor. It is a cheap-enough test. Check for freedom of motion and spring tension in the advance mechanism and the vacuum diaphragm operation. As for the wire you mentioned, disintigrated cloth insulation is no problem, as long as the debris doesn't get on the points. The copper conductor failing is a problem.
C Schaefer

I sent my dizzy to Jeff at Advanced Dist. He rebuilt it and added a pertronix unit. I was extremely pleased.

Kris Sorensen

I second the vote for Jeff Schlemmer. He is do an excellent job by all accounts. Check his site:

He frequents the forums and can usually be contacted there.

Jim Ferguson

David, another vote for Jeff. Use the curve worksheet and he can set up your unit with a cutom tailored curve that will really wake up your car. Most are so worn or a mis match of old parts that the curve is far from ideal.
Bill Young

Hey, Thanks everyone and I'll sure keep Jeff in mind but I'm afraid I will need to apply for the DPO certificate as my problem was indeed a bad condensor or bad points. I just couldn't believe they could be bad after less than 2000 miles. So, of course I jumped right to "bad distributor". I feel pretty dumb but I did learn to pull the distributor pretty efficiently with fat fingers and all. Thanks for your support. I love this forum!
David Holmes

Some pictures of a distributor test:

Does your A have the newer "Tomahawk" advance mechanism or the olded "Brass Knuckles" version?

If you have a tomahawk, going to an electronic ignition will be "almost" as good as a rebuild. Shaft wobble changes both timing and delivered energy due to dwell changes. An optical ignition is least sensitive to shaft wobble but hall effect units work well enough.

All electronic points eliminate the little fabric insultated wire and the condensor.

Of course if your rotor is hitting your dizzy cap, then rebuilding or replacement are your best options.

Hope this helps,
Bill Eastman

Wow, what a cool post. Thanks piles,Bill.
David Holmes

Hi David - It does seem as though there are lot of repro condensors around that fail very quickly. They are often in fake Lucas boxes as well. A colleague had his car (MGB) fail after the little fabric covered wire inside the dizzy snapped. It took us quite a while to find it as it looked Ok on the outside!
Cam Cunningham

David, you can get a brand new electronic distributor from Moss for $210, either pos or neg ground. Just fit and forget. Set the total advance to 34% with an adjustable strobe light and use Hi. octane fuel.
Works well for me. Sean
S Sherry

This thread was discussed between 19/10/2008 and 24/10/2008

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