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Triumph TR3 - Distributor Wiring Puzzle

Dear TR Braintrust,

Iíve just discovered something mildly alarming regarding my plug wiring. If you look at my distributor cap from the driverís side of the car, the plug leads coming from the distributor connect as follows: the upper left wire goes to cylinder 3 (counting back from the front of the car), the upper right wire goes to cylinder 1, the lower left wire goes to cylinder 4, and the lower right wire goes to cylinder 2.

In all the photos Iíve collected online showing engine views, the wiring is different: the upper left wire goes to cylinder 1 (counting back from the front of the car), the upper right wire goes to cylinder 2, the lower left wire goes to cylinder 3, and the lower right wire goes to cylinder 4. How can it be that my cap is wired differently to the cylinders? The firing order would still appear to be the same, but the points in the distributor cap at which the cylinders fire appears to be off from everyone else by 90 degrees.

The car seems to be running fine. Any idea whatís up? If it would help, I can e-mail you a pic of the distributor wiring as it appears my car.

Many thanks,

Bill Stagg
1961 TR3A
Bill Stagg

Bill: Are you sure you are looking from the same angle? On my car looking at the block upper left is #1 but looking to the front upper left would be #3. If you are out 90 degrees then presumably all the other timing associated items must also be out. As a quick check when # 1 is at TDC where does your rotor point? I think it should be at #1 plug.
Tom Addison

Hi Bill - Sure was great to meet you and Mary Beth. You seem to make such a happy two-some. I'd love to get copies of your digital shots you took at TRA.

I suggest that you pull up ther drive shaft for the distributor and index it 90 degrees as they say in the manual. Then re-set the wires as mine are - as you saw them in Auburn, Indiana. Check that the rotor "points" to #1 cylinder as shown in the photo the manual and you should have it OK.

Have now driven "TRusty" over 2000 miles in 8 days. I was pleased to get the longest driven award (965 miles) as well as on Sunday driving to Kokomo and back to see the BRG TR3 "Scrappy" of Janet and Steve Hedke from California in the Great Race. I've known them for 20 years.

Happy TRing

Don Elliott

Ok, Wiring Puzzlers, here's brainteaser #2:

I just received my new magnecor plug wires. They are 7mm Magnecor Metallic Inductance CN RFI and EMI suppressed. The core is a ferrimagnetic base.

The terminal that fits on the coil is of the push-on type. My Lucas coil is of the screw-in type, and I am currently running the wire that came with the car, simply a push-in connector stuffed into the coil. At the bottom of the coil terminal is a screw head, to which I assume the wire needs to terminate.

Having never set up a screw-in type connector before, here are the questions (I already have the screw-in nut for the coil and the split washer for the wire):

1. How should the wire be prepared and connected to the washer?

2. How should the washer/wire be placed in contact with the terminal in the coil? Should it touch? Should there be a gap?

Any help from you coil-heads would be much appreciated.

Best regards,

Bill Stagg
1961 TR3A
Bill Stagg

Hi Bill - Slide the black plastic screw-on part onto the end of the cable from the coil. Then there should be a small sort of brass flat washer which is split or cut from the edge to the center hole. Normally, the wire strands would be twisted and fitted through the center hole in this brass flat washer and bent over flat - not to have the brass flat washer fall off. The screw-in part then holds the flattenened over wire strands in contact with that flat head screw we see down in the top hole in the coil.

In your case with no strands, screw in a small wood screw through the hole in the brass flat washer, up into the center core on the wire and screw down the black threaded retainer. The flat head (or round head) on the end of the screw head (now facing downwards) will be held in contact with the flat head screw in the bottom of the hole in thetop of the coil.

If you don't have the brass flat washer, use any clean flat washer that fits. Stainless would be best.

Don Elliott, 1958 TR3A
Don Elliott


Eureka! Sounds easy enough. Thanks for bailing me out.

I take it you and TRusty arrived back from Mosport ok. What was the grand total mileage racked up on your jaunt last month, or have you arrived home yet? Are you venturing to VTR/TRF in August? I'm considering making the run from Indiana, possibly sans my lovely navigator.

Having had the concours experience, I'm considering leaving the wiring and distributor cocked in their current 90-degrees-off position. The winter is a much better time to tackle something that might jeopardize any good riding days. Er, driving days.

Welcome home!

Bill Stagg

I got back Monday morning from TRA in Auburn, Indiana and mosport in ontario where I took in 4 fabulous days of Triumph racing. I drove "TRusty" a total of 2459 miles in all over 15 days and had the top down for
the whole trip. I took 3rd in my TR3A concours class (87 points) at TRA US National Meet in Auburn Indiana with over 71,000 miles on "TRusty" since my restoration in 1990. The winner in my class bought his car a year ago from the original owner with only 16,000 miles on the car and had it restored
completely - total body-off. And he trailered it to TRA from Rhode Island in bubble wrap (it looked like a condom) held on with duct tape. And he only beat me by 3 points.

I was also awarded the longest distance plaque with 965 miles driven in a TR. BTW, they also gave me the plaque for the person who drove the farthest - in any sort of car !

The only trouble I had centered on my starter which would start fine, but then wouldn't let the small pinion gear slide back out the way and the teeth
on the flywheel were just zinging the teeth on the pinion making as horrible sound. I pulled out carb #2, then the starter, took it apart, cleaned the
shaft and re-lubed it and put it all back in in 2 hours at Mosport on Wednesday. It's fine now.

Don Elliott, 1958 TR3A
Don Elliott


It was great to finally "meet" TRusty at TRA, but the kicker was your presentation of the car. The Canadian and British flags in the engine bay were appropos, but the London "Underground" tube/subway sign hung beneath the front of the car frame was inspired, as was the thoughtful kneeling rug for viewing said sign.

Now I see what makes concours winners competitive...

Bill Stagg

This thread was discussed between 17/06/2003 and 03/07/2003

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