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Dizzy Question


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I have been experiencing hard starting, rough idling, poor fuel mileage problems for quite some time and one of the fixes I attempted was replacing the original dizzy (with Pertronix, but otherwise of unknown age or history) with a new IE mechanical advance unit with electronic trigger.  The install went OK, but while attempting to reset timing, seemed like I had to twist the dizzy nearly 180 degrees to find the timing ball.  New IE unit didn't improve the situation, and in an attempt to rule out a bad new dizzy, I eventually put the original back on.  While searching on the topic recently I found a post where someone said something like "firing order 1,3,4,2 with 1 closest to fan and 4 closest to firewall."  My question is if the plug leads are in the right order on the dizzy cap, does their spacial orientation make any difference?  Seems if the rotor is spinning in a circle and contacts the plug wires in the correct order, then which way they are pointed in the engine bay shouldn't matter.  Maybe I'm wrong.  Here is a pic of how mine currently sits with the 4 wire facing roughly towards the fan, the 2 wire next facing the coil, the 1 wire towards the firewall, and the 3 roughly towards the brake booster.  Base 1973 '02, new Weber 32/36, new alternator, new mech. fuel pump, electric pusher fan only, valves recently adjusted and sound good. Sorry for the long post and TIA for any thoughts.




'71 02 - parts car with not many parts left

'73 02 - weekend toy and money pit

'74 04 - sold in '91

'03 325iT - for trips and bad weather

'03 50cc Honda Scooter - for my 2 mile commute

'06 50cc Honda scooter - wife's commuter

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I don't have the answer (I'm actually working through similar problems...) but I will tell you to watch that the wires leading from the electronic trigger DO NOT get up against the rotating shaft of the dizzy.  Mine did and wore through the insulation...


I've read that Pertronix has two different triggers, one with wires off the right side of the trigger, and one off the left side.  My IE dizzy had wires off the left side and they have to be routed around the shaft.  The trigger with wires off the right side are routed straight out the side of the dizzy with no chance of getting against the shaft.


If yours is like mine, I'd suggest putting a small zip-tie on the wires inside the dizzy as a stop against the rubber grommet to keep from pulling them from the outside.


As for your timing issue... sounds like you might have stabbed the dizzy one tooth off?

'69 Granada... long, long ago  

'71 Manila..such a great car

'67 Granada 2000CS...way cool

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If you are referring to spatial orientation as basically the general direction the wires are pointed- no that makes absolutely no difference...


The order that the wires plug into the dizzy cap is all that matters and that the other end of each wire goes to its correct spark plug... Of course the 5th big wire out of the center of the dizzy cap goes to your coil...


Just think of the dizzy as a 4 way switch that is triggered by the rotor arm swinging around and triggering the "on" switch for that spark plug...


Sounds like you found TDC for cylinder 1 by siting the ball on the flywheel- thats good. Then when you inserted the dizzy the rotor arm should end up pointing to wire 1 on the cap- you probably noticed how the arm slightly turns as you insert the dizzy and the gears mesh. You have to take that turning of the arm into account as you insert the dizzy so that when it is finally in place the rotor arm points in the right direction which would by the contact point inside the dizzy cap for wire number 1....


All this is my experienced based on a stock setup- not sure how things may be different with an electronic trigger! You probably knew all this though...

Edited by pilotnbr1

74 tii
"I know just enough to be dangerous"

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It is VERY easy to install the dizzy 180 degrees off.  The timing marks appear twice during the 4-cycle process.  (Suck, Squeeze, Bang, Blow.) You can verify TDC with the valve cover off.  #1 cylinder (front of car) has BOTH valves closed, and the alignment dowel pin in the cam/cam sprocket is up. (Top of radius as apposed to crank sprocket.)



Edited by jdeitch

1975 Polaris 2002 (RAT 02E), 1962 mini Cooper S

1994 Land Cruiser - expedition vehicle, 2012 VW Touareg TDI.
2002 restoration blog - http://rato2e.blogspot.com/

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hard starting, rough idling, poor fuel mileage problems

Are the auxiliary venturis snug in your weber?

I recently shimmed mine and it seemed to help.

Oh, my brand new wires were defective too.

I found the problem by moving the timing light from wire to wire and watching for misses.

I was also glad I took the top off the carb and checked for loose screws and jets and things. I found several things to twist a little tighter and it runs a little smoother.

Edited by '76Mintgrun'02



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as long as #1 gets spark when it's at TDC, compression, where the distributor is in its rotation doesn't matter.


You can actually orient it any way you want, 1-3-4-2 is all that really matters.


Unlike a few V8's, the timing lobes are centered on 90 degrees...


I will offer up that if you're having idle issues, going to a mechanical- advance only distributor's

probably not the best step to take...

All else being equal, properly functioning vacuum advance should do a better job.




"I learn best through painful, expensive experience, so I feel like I've gotten my money's worth." MattL

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Just to clarify, the ball on the flywheel is not TDC. TDC is marked - if memory serves - by an "OT" and a line. Or by a notch on the front pulley on some versions. AS explained above, the body of the distributor can be anywhere - what matters is that the rotor is pointing to the #1 plug wire terminal when #1 piston is at TDC ready for firing (see above re cam lobes.

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When the dizzy is properly installed, the rotor contact arm should point to a small notch on the edge of the metal dizzy body (visible once the cap is removed) when #1 cyl is at TDC on the compression stroke.  Once you have that set, you can time the engine with a timing light and dwell meter to align the flywheel ball to the mark, and the proper 58-63 degree dwell.  Or just set it by ear 'till it sounds good.




'69 Nevada sunroof-Wolfgang-bought new
'73 Sahara sunroof-Ludwig-since '78
'91 Brillantrot 318is sunroof-Georg Friederich 
Fiat Topolini (Benito & Luigi), Renault 4CVs (Anatole, Lucky Pierre, Brigette) & Kermit, the Bugeye Sprite

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