by Callum Tooey
So we left part 1 having returned home via recovery with my first 'proper' classic (well OK technically speaking my previous '85 Reliant Rialto fit our group criteria but having owned Reliants previously this was a totally new experience). It was so late by the time I returned home that my partner never actually saw the car.
With Nutmeg now languishing in my garage, my partner spent the week constantly pulling me away from the windows where I'd be sneaking a peek in disbelief at the fact that she was actually in there. I ordered parts that I knew were needed, a new coil, airbox and paper air filter (it had a K&N fitted directly to the carb), spark plugs. The new coil arrived within a few days but due to work commitments I knew I'd have to wait until the weekend to do any work.
The weekend finally arrived and my Dad and uncle had agreed to come over and help me to fit new parts. I checked the voltages across both the old coil and the new one, they were reading equal which I thought was odd but hey, that was the diagnosis of the recovery mechanic so who am I to question it (I now know this isn't the right way to check coils).
My uncle arrived first but with limited tools (mainly metric) we struggled to remove the old coil from the car, we tried testing it by simply connecting the old coil, I was optimistic but after cranking the engine multiple times she still failed to start.
We pulled some spark plugs and they were dry, strange I thought as fuel wasnt a diagnosed fault? We checked the fuel to the carb, check, somehow it wasn't entering the cylinders, it must be blocked we thought, we decided to check the spark at the plugs, also nothing... 'Two different faults?' I exclaimed 'What are the chances of that!'
My uncle replaced the old coil with the new one, with the understanding that it eliminated the coil as an issue, my Dad arrived with two heavy toolboxes full of AF tools 'You can have these son!' He said, whilst watching me almost buckle trying to lift them out of his car boot.
With the correct tools at our disposal we had the carburettor disconnected and removed, my plan was to find a specialist who could professionally clean it. Deciding nothing more could be done with the car that weekend I removed the battery to charge it and we retired for a well earned cup of tea.
I spent the following week calling around various places to attempt to have the carburettor cleaned, one company enthusiastically told me they could rebuild it for around £300 odd and that they were the sole specialists for this however there were time-frame issues and I would need to send the carb away to be worked which, I spoke to a local firm who said they had never done one before but 'could give it a go' and to drop it off and it would be done 'whenever'. I politely declined and decided to strip it down myself to clean the jets using my manual as the guide.
Stripping it down proved to be relatively easy, in hindsight though I should have wore some eye protection as spraying carb cleaner over-zealously into every nook and cranny of the carb was enough to catch a nice spray of it in my eye which I can say categorically, stings like a b*tch.
After taking a breather and discovering I wasn't going to lose my eyesight I reassembled the carb and stored it again ready for refitting that weekend. This was a big weekend for me as I had decided to work on the car by myself, reassuring myself that you don't learn until you throw yourself into it.
Refitting the carb proved to be a slight hassle as although the right hand bolt is easily accessible, the left hand bolt was impossible to reach with a socket and I could only get a quarter turn on the bolt, I noticed that if I could refit the choke cable and put it 'on' this would move some of the obstruction giving me half a turn which made it slightly quicker.
After confirming the carburettor was refitted I refitted the battery and decided to try to start her again, I don't know what I expected to be honest as she turned over definitely but still refused to start. I tested for a spark at the points and spark plugs, nothing on either.
Becoming frustrated, my Dads voice echoed in my head 'Should have bought a Morris Minor'. "No - I will fix this" I decided, this is 2018 and we have technology now to help! Out came my phone and onto Youtube, testing for sparks the usual search terms but nothing helped.
I had bought another distributor, a new rotor arm and a new electronic ignition so I decided to fit these to the car, again under the perhaps misguided impression that they removed a possible 'reason' for the car not to start. After fitting these parts I tried once more to start her, but all this succeeded in doing was draining the battery. Light was fading now so I locked up the garage, and retired back indoors.
Needless to say, I was at a low point here, I made a disappointed post to vent on the group Facebook page, strongly disheartened by the days events and wondering if I had truly bitten off more than I could chew here. That post instead showed me why I am a member of the group in the first place when another member, Colin, offered to call me and talk me through it.
Taking time out of his work to talk me through the basic mechanics and checks I had performed, he said something that caused me to perk up 'You have checked the coil right?' Of course I have, it had voltage across it 'Yeah that's fine but what about the resistance?'
'The resistance?' I thought, Colin had to dash off for work but told me to look into it, a quick Youtube video later and I realised I'd been checking the coil wrong, I didn't need to check voltages I needed to measure the ohms! After rushing out to the garage I grabbed the old coil and checked the resistance, it was around 3 ohms for the primary circuit and around 9 for the secondary.
With my manual only stating an ohm resistance of 4.5 for the coil I had no idea if this was within tolerable levels so disconnected the new coil and tested it, the first circuit proved slightly higher but there was no reading for the secondary proving that my 'new' coil was actually a dud.. Could it really be that simple?
Well a new coil has been ordered... and I guess you'll have to wait for part 3 to find out!
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