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Hi, getting my father-in-law's 1952 'A ready for his auction sale. It has always started right up for him before, ( I grew up with Allis WD, Ford 8N, NEVER worked on a J.D. :) And he just drove it out to the yard to clean up for the sale two weeks ago, then wouldn't start again. The points were badly burned (melted!?), and my brother-in-law tried to help him last weekend. I went up this weekend to put in new points, and found the coil wire in a spark plug wire, and no idea which wires go where. Can anyone tell me which sparkplug wire goes in the top port of the distributror, and which on the bottom? Both the same length and can't find anything on line to tell me and photos are inconclusive since both go back into the "tube conduits" to the plugs.

Also, there is no NO spark at the points (installed new). He said there WAS spark last week (w/ the burned out points; fiber block literally burned off, SOMETHING got real hot! :-( I have restored a Model-A Ford and working on a '57 Studebaker, and grown up on a farm; I DO know how to change points! Can't figure out how that is possible (that he had spark before, but I don't now). But his memory isn't so good. Regardless, I'm a mechanical engineer, not EE, never truly understood the coil and condensor system to trouble shoot with my multimeter. Any guidelines on troubleshooting fundmentals? I tried opening and closing the new points with my Fluke probes; went from 0V closed to 0.15V when open; just enough to actually change. Does this indicate condensor? That is my first suspicion but haunted by statement "there WAS spark until you started monkeying with it" (said with a grin, but still.) I DID check to make sure the condensor connection isn't grounded out against the breaker plate. Can't figure out ANY other way installing new points could eliminate spark IF it existed before that. Thanks!
 

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Hello and welcome.
Best I can remember the top spark plug wire goes to the left side. With only two wires it's easy to switch if they're wrong.
Check the voltage at the coil if you have 12 volts there and no spark that's likely your problem. Change the condenser they ain't that expensive.
You say he was cleaning it. Electricity and water don't like each other real well. Could be how the problem started.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hello and welcome.
Best I can remember the top spark plug wire goes to the left side. With only two wires it's easy to switch if they're wrong.
Check the voltage at the coil if you have 12 volts there and no spark that's likely your problem. Change the condenser they ain't that expensive.
You say he was cleaning it. Electricity and water don't like each other real well. Could be how the problem started.
Thanks Dave,
no, he was bringing all the tractors and equipment out to clean, so had not done so yet. "it has always started fine' (everyone says; my wife learned to drive on that tractor :) ) . My dad's farm is only 8 miles away so I've never spent any time with his equipment. But we live about 3 hrs away, so not so convenient. He IS going to get a condensor for it, but not sure with his heart problems he'll be able to put it in (thus selling everything off; THAT is killing him too :-( . Hopefully a condensor takes care of it, was preparing for it NOT and what to do next, if another trip up there is necessary before the sale just to get it started. Thanks again!
 

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Well, as usual not just one problem. Put in new condensor, still no spark. Fortunately grabbed my '57 Studebaker's coil 'just in case' before going up to the farm, and put that in. SPARK! :) Still woudn't start though! Found he had the original John Deere owners manual! Yay! Do you suppose the thing has a circuit diagram in it? Unbelieveable!! BUT, it did specify that the plug wire from left (flywheel) side of engine should be in the TOP distributor port.. OK! Checked continuity with my multimeter, and TAPED the wires in place (as they fall right out everytime you bump them!). One more thing off the list, right? NO START! Spark at the plugs. Compression. Only thing left is gas, right? Took apart carb.... Tried again. No start! Some backfiring. I had to leave, Frustrated after two wasted weekends and sale this Thursday. Dad-in-law called 15 minutes later as we drove back to St.Paul; 'got it started, went out and swapped the plug wires just in case, started right up!". ARGGHH!. Original owner (50 years ago!) must have timed it 180deg out, as I TRIPLE-CHECKED the continuity on plug wire and correct position. Now I'll never hear it run; sale is Thursday and I'll be at Mayo Clinic and can't be there. BUT, thanks for the help here in getting it started, he was MUCH relieved yesterday afternoon.
 
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