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Spitfire 123 ignition help!


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Afternoon folks,

Almost at my wit's end with this one. I purchased the 123 distributor with the preset curves - fairly simple install - red to the + side of the coil, black to the -. When I tried starting the car it turned over but the starter solenoid was clicking in and out. The engine doesn't want to run/catch at all. 

At some point in the past a 1300 dolomite engine and starter has been installed so the solenoid is on the starter not the scuttle. 

Does anyone have any obvious ideas? I've attached pictures of the various wiring locations.

New coil to match a ballasted ignition system. The original connection for the distributor is red and white banded and goes to the - side of the coil. 

Any suggestions welcome!






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Have you got the wire from the solenoid that supplies 12V direct to the coil while the engine is turning over on the starter? If not, the coil and distributor won't be powered when cranking. 

Also check if the 123 is happy running off 6V (the way you have it wired) as it may want a 12V supply.

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8 minutes ago, glang said:

I cant understand what the red/white wires are doing on the coil as that -ve terminal should just have a dizzy wire (black) to open and close it to earth....

That's what I'm stumped by. The car was rewired about twenty years ago before I got it. The red/white wire disappears into the loom, then a spade connector emerges for the distributor to hook up to. 

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Small update from the dark. There was a loose spade terminal on the starter solenoid - tightened up and the clicking has gone. 

With the king lead on the rocker cover I've got a good strong spark from the coil. Still doesn't want to start though. 

Does anyone running 123 have the starting setting/best curve for a 1300? I've attached the 123 table, but unfortunately it doesn't mean much to me. I was going to aim for 'C', but that hasn't worked. 


Edited by abandonearth
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Well, solved it. Thank you for all the helpful hints. 

Went back to first principles and started afresh. The instructions with the 1-2-3 are far from comprehensive and clear. I've attached a PDF that I found online that helps somewhat if anyone else finds themselves in my position. 

The 123 instructions suggest static timing to ATDC, this is no good - 10° BTDC is what is needed. The attached doc also provides a clue as to which curves are appropriate for which car. 

Thanks again. 


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To be fair I read it (and see on their video) that you set the engine to its correct timing BEFORE removing the old dizzy. Then you install the 123 unit and, without turning the engine, rotate its body until its LED just lights which means your timing is then set as before. You do it up in this position which allows you to start the engine and check the timing with a strobe....

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As Glang states, totally agree. I have them in all three of my cars and all very simple to install. Big fan of them. The one in my Saloon has been in there for about 15 years and has proved itself to be very reliable. If on a trip, I carry a spare cap and rotor arm, just in case.

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