I stopped at O’Reilly for a distributor and ignition wires and came home with whatever they said fit.

When I pulled the stock distributor it has a black and red wire. But the new one only has a green wire.

Spectra Premium VW06 Distributor https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000..._api_i_DislEb4GCGJE3

Am I on the wrong track? Or can I just plug it into the positive on the coil and assume it’s ground into the clamp?

Original Post

The new distributor with the green wire appears to have points and condenser. Your old one has a Pertronix or similar electronic ignition module.

If you change back to points, the green wire goes to the NEGATIVE terminal on the coil, and switches the ground side of the coil to charge/discharge the coil. The POSITIVE terminal of the coil is unused with points, and has 12V at all times when the ignition is on(this powers the Pertronix module if used as well as gives the coil power). 

Ryan in NorCal posted:

Looks like I’ll take the distributor back and start again. Thanks.

I know folks here swear by CB’s MagnaSpark. Any others to recommend that I could pick up today?

I have had previously and now have a Pertronix Flamethrower 2 electronic system and they work well too. 

Ryan...just trying to help here. You didn't answer my question why you changed out your original distributor. You may benefit understanding what else your existing distributor has in in now such as the advance springs and maybe more. 

Thanks David. I’ll take a deeper look at the existing distributor.

I started all this after my car started taking a lot more cranks to start and was dying a couple blocks down the road even after warming up. After pushing the car home a few times I want to get it sorted.

Spark plugs were covered in black carbon so I think I’m running rich and sparks were weak or missing.

And when the car takes a while to start, it leads to flooding, which probably makes the spark plugs even worse. At least that’s my amateur take on the issue.

I‘ll take a closer look at the stock distributor today. Maybe I can just replace the spark plugs and cables and get back on the road. Or I’ll have to get the Magna Spark. What do you think?

If it had been running OK before this started, I would start with just new plugs, plug wires, distributor cap and rotor, keeping your old distributor for now.  

 If you go to a Magnaspark II in the future, you’ll need the “kit” that includes all new plug wires, too, because the Magnaspark II uses a high energy cap with different wire ends than a stock VW-style distributor cap.

Anyway, if you try the first, cheaper option, drive it for a few days or a week before doing anything else to see how it seems.

The next step would be to adjust the fuel mixture screws on the carbs, but wait until you’ve driven it for a while first.

To adjust the fuel mixture, very slowly turn in one mixture screw at a time at idle (engine warmed up) until the engine stumbles slightly, then back it out 1/4 turn - it should smooth out.  Repeat on the other three mixture screws.

Anything more than that gets you into the Magnaspark realm and/or having someone do a serious carburetor adjustment.

Ryan in NorCal posted:

Thanks David. I’ll take a deeper look at the existing distributor.

I started all this after my car started taking a lot more cranks to start and was dying a couple blocks down the road even after warming up. After pushing the car home a few times I want to get it sorted.

Spark plugs were covered in black carbon so I think I’m running rich and sparks were weak or missing.

And when the car takes a while to start, it leads to flooding, which probably makes the spark plugs even worse. At least that’s my amateur take on the issue.

I‘ll take a closer look at the stock distributor today. Maybe I can just replace the spark plugs and cables and get back on the road. Or I’ll have to get the Magna Spark. What do you think?

I'm not well enough qualified to give you a tutorial on how to troubleshoot the problem Ryan but it would be important to know what's in your existing distributor as a base to start with. 

This distributor is assembled with a aftermarket ignition system like I said before. So your new distributor is not wrong generally...

What I directly see on your photo is, that the rotor disc is mounted in the wrong position. There is a mark on the disc witch should point to Cylinder no. 3, witch is not the case like it is now.

 

Best

@Ryan in NorCal--

Click this link for the wiring diagram for an original (1970) Beetle. It might help clear up your original question.

That's an aftermarket Comp-u-Fire module in the old distributor (or the EMPI clone). The new distributor is points and a capacitor. Points are extremely old-school (not that there's a single thing wrong with that)-- kind of the drum brakes of ignition. The Comp-u-Fire makes things wayyyyy easier for a home mechanic. 

I'm just guessing here, but you probably pulled the plugs and bought the distributor and wires based on the soot on the plugs, correct? You likely don't need them, if you can take what you've got back.

If you want to proceed, your existing points replacement module has two wires, the red one is connected to keyed power (probably coming from the "15", or "+" terminal) on the coil, and the black one is connected to the negative terminal ("1" or "-") on the coil. On the new one, you'd connect the green wire to the negative terminal on the coil and lose the red one altogether.

... but there are other things to consider here. One is that the distributor has to be in the proper position for the car to start, then you'll need a timing light to set the final timing. You'll also need a tach/dwell meter to set the points correctly. It'd be a lot easier to move the module over-- but once you do that, you may as well just leave the entire distributor.

If you are concerned with the condition of your ignition system, changing the cap and rotor is what we always used to do in a tune-up (if your distributor was using points and condenser, we'd change those as well). The distributor never got replaced unless there was something wrong with the advance curve.

... but back to the black plugs. I'd be willing to bet that even a properly set up and operating ignition won't fix the black plugs. Hotter plugs might help, but I'd be willing to bet money that the problem isn't ignition at all. I'd bet you have dual Kadrons, don't you?

Kadrons always run rich. You can work on leaning them out, but they're pretty bad on the idle circuits and the needle and seat are really terrible. If you are generally satisfied with how the car runs (and with getting less than 20 mpg with a sub-100 hp engine), then change the cap/rotor/wires and the spark-plugs with something at least one step hotter.

Good luck.

 

Ryan, if your car's been sitting undriven in a damp garage for most of the past few months, and the contacts on the cap and rotor were already worn, that could well explain why you're suddenly seeing stumbling and misfires. Moisture collects under the cap and corrodes the contacts.

As noted above, a fresh cap and rotor are the obvious places to start.

And you do know that, when putting the distributor back in the car, its shaft needs to be aligned in the same position it was in coming out, right?

 

The good part is that the clamp is still on it.

Ryan-- If you put it back with the clamp on and spin the rotor (while pushing down slightly on it) the until the tang on the distributor drive drops into the slot on the pinion down in the case, there's a 50/50 chance it'll be right. If it's not, loosen it up, raise the rotor slightly, spin it 108*, then repeat the process.

Good luck.

Stan Galat posted:

 

If you want to proceed, your existing points replacement module has two wires, the red one is connected to keyed power (probably coming from the "15", or "+" terminal) on the coil, and the black one is connected to the negative terminal ("1" or "-") on the coil. On the new one, you'd connect the green wire to the negative terminal on the coil and lose the red one altogether.

Which is basically what I said above.

Distributor 101: Pop the cap and turn the engine over by hand(wrench) until the rotor points to number 1 cylinder(notch on distributor top face) AND crank pulley is at TDC(top dead center). ONLY THEN pull the distributor so you know where you started from. At TDC, the distributor drive(look in with flashlight) should have an offset slot that is parallel to the crankshaft(pointing forward/back to the direction of travel). The slot should be offset toward the passenger side of the car.

IF you have an 009 or the like, set total timing at 3000 rpm to about 32 degrees BTDC.

That's correct, Gordon... if it's a decent distributor. There's only one way they can go in when everything is right, but I've seen Asian 009 copies that are able to be put in 180* off. They sit cocked, but if you aren't sure what you are looking for, it feels like it could be right.

Gordon Nichols posted:

I might be wrong, but I don't think you can get a VW distributor into the drive pinion 180 degrees off.  The keying tabs are offset to one side so it will only install one way.  

Right?

Correct. Which is why you set it to #1 and TDC before you pull it out. I've seen a lot of improperly indexed distributor drives. Which is another issue........

I learned a trick: When you build your motor, left side of the engine case is in the stand with the seam up. After you assemble the crank and install all the bearings and the crank and cam are installed, install the distributor drive and spacers while they are REALLY easy to get to. Don't forget the lifters on either side(and the top side lifter retaining springs). And don't forget the assembly lube. Then Permatex Aviation Seal the case and assemble, and torque.

You can install the distributor temporarily if want. It holds everything in.

You guys are the best. Will do. Thanks for walking me through step by step. I didn't get a chance to work on it today. I'll start with the above and see where that gets me.

As far as how I got here—I think Mitch is on to something. I haven't driven it more than 200 miles in the past few months due to travel and weather. At first, I noticed it took longer to turn over than usual, but assumed it was due to lack of driving. So I let it warm up and drove down the block. It died. After a while it started back up (as if it was flooded). I replaced the battery to start (~3.5yo). Started up a bit faster, but same story. Pushing it home. Waiting a bit. Starting up and driving it up the hill into the garage. Losing confidence in the electronic system started here. And now I just need to dedicate the time to following your instructions above.

95% of all carburetion problems are ignition.

But...

the Opinionated Pipefitter posted:

 ... but back to the black plugs. I'd be willing to bet that even a properly set up and operating ignition won't fix the black plugs. Hotter plugs might help, but I'd be willing to bet money that the problem isn't ignition at all. I'd bet you have dual Kadrons, don't you?

Kadrons always run rich. You can work on leaning them out, but they're pretty bad on the idle circuits and the needle and seat are really terrible. If you are generally satisfied with how the car runs (and with getting less than 20 mpg with a sub-100 hp engine), then change the cap/rotor/wires and the spark-plugs with something at least one step hotter.

Good luck.

 

 

With those terrible Kadrons, Ryan has been motoring all over northern California pretty happily for the past few years - even on some roads that were paved.

No popping, no misfires, no stumbles, no cutting out, no pushing the car back home.

I suggest that it's not a general failing of the Kadrons that has made for a pretty sudden change in how the motor's running. I'd get these ones back to running like they were first and then decide if it's time to upgrade.

 

What Mitch said- figure out what changed and fix it. Yeah, Kadrons need low fuel pressure to survive, but I'm surprised at that little rant, Stan. There are (tens of?) thousands of Kadron dual carburetor sets out there with the majority running hundreds of thousands of miles, getting good mileage and being generally pretty  trouble free. I know they're not as sophisticated as Webers or Dellortos, and along with the low fuel pressure requirement mentioned above, other than needing the throttles shafts bushed once they have some miles on them they're a decent little carburetor set for the money. They are a great way to learn about dual carburetors on a milder engine and definitely have a place in the hobby.

That sounds like every service call I've ever run. "It was working great before it quit".

Something that was working happily with no popping, misfires, stumbles, cutting out, or pushing of the car is no longer working as happily-- so what used to be is not as important as what presently is. As we are all trying to help without the benefit of seeing or listening to the car, moving in the direction of general weakness seems prudent... and Kadrons are notably weak in the needle and seat. His needle valve being fine last fall doesn't mean it is fine now.

It's either spark, fuel, or something mechanical-- it's a rule. My money is always on spark. But on the off chance it isn't, I'd move from there to the known weaknesses of the fuel setup

... or not. Your mileage may vary. I'm no good at this game, so I'm tapping out.

 

Uh, I agree with all that you just said, I think. I'd fix the Kadrons, if they're what's broke.

I thought you were suggesting above that we start with just tossing them. For a new build, I'd strongly suggest Webers (or Dels) over Kadrons, but Kadrons are what he's got and has been driving with some degree of comfort.

First though, I'd try a new cap and rotor.

 

... so we do agree on something, anyhow. I'd start with the cap/rotor/wires/plugs, as I suggested 22 posts above.

After wondering what the heck caused the stir, I reread everything I put up on this thread. I think the issue may have been my own selective quoting of my 8 paragraph opus from yesterday, particularly the sentence which read, "Hotter plugs might help, but I'd be willing to bet money that the problem isn't ignition at all." The bigger problem is probably that I'm offering more information than was being requested, which is why this will be my last post here.

Clearly, I think (as I generally do) that the stumbling problem is ignition. I say again, "95% of all carburetion problems are ignition".

In the quoted sentence,  was talking about the sooty plugs... which I don't think are likely germane to the stumbling problem. I never told him to trash his carbs, just tried to point him where I'd look if the problem did turn out to be fuel.

In the future, I think I'll just sit on my hands for threads like these. There's almost never a positive outcome in participation.

 

Stan Galat posted:

95% of all carburetion problems are ignition.

But...

the Opinionated Pipefitter posted:

Kadrons always run rich. You can work on leaning them out, but they're pretty bad on the idle circuits and the needle and seat are really terrible. If you are generally satisfied with how the car runs (and with getting less than 20 mpg with a sub-100 hp engine), then change the cap/rotor/wires and the spark-plugs with something at least one step hotter.

Good luck.

 

Agreed. The biggest problem I've seen is fuel overpressure. Lots of people put a mechanical fuel pump on, bolt and go so-to-speak. Sometimes those pumps put out 5 or even 10 psi, and need a big stack of gaskets or a regulator to drop the pressure down to 1.5. No more, no less. And yes, Kadrons(Solexes) can run absolutely fine and stay that way a long time, until a float hangs up. Or the seat gets worn and overpressured.

Just one opinion, but hey, that's what you get for free advice over the internet with no way to actually tell what the problem is. I sometimes have a hard time figuring out a problem with the car in front of me! And then you get to get advice by committee. And then some guys tap out, which I completely understand due to the frustration of trying to give advice that some people will absolutely not take(but not in this case). 

 

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