Re: Mallory Distributor - Defender Source
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  #1  
Old December 27th, 2009, 12:25 PM
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phil
1995 Defender D90
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Re: Mallory Distributor

I have a Mallory and having stalling issues where it won't restart for a while, usually when engine cold. Also noticed been running richer then usual and crappier gas mileage. Read a few threads and some have changed module to e-spark from original. Also, I noticed my module has been warn where suppose to make contact/ ground, looks like it from spinning, it cut the metal strip. Can that be causing the stalls and difficult restart?
I read Hans had similar issue. Now, I can just swap to e-spark with no further conversion needed?
When it would not start I checked for spark and there was none.....
Thanks all so much for the countless help.....
cheers
phil
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  #2  
Old December 28th, 2009, 09:43 AM
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Hans Haase
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Hmmm....

Give me a bit to mull this one over in my head. One thing that comes to mind is interference in the mechanical advance mechanism, if the module has been rubbing against the outer housing. Not sure if a module swap will cure that, may need to dig around and see if there is an alignment issue.

-Hans
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  #3  
Old December 28th, 2009, 02:28 PM
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phil
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yea, I'm not sure whether its an alignment issue or simple wear & tear. It basically wore through the aluminum band on the module where the rotor & shutter wheel spins. Seems pretty tight in there, could it be that at one point the cap may not have been tight? Again, I'm assuming that the module is the cause of the occasional stall and no restart. From reading other threads, it seems very plausible.
How do you feel about the filter? can the alternating current and surges fry the module?
thanks a million..... my next visit to the Island may have to include a beer on me......
phil
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  #4  
Old December 28th, 2009, 11:50 PM
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Phil,
I replaced the mallory unilite module after I had a no start issue and found that the module was not passing the credit card test attached below.
I replaced it with an E-spark and added the protection of the filter at the same time. During the swap I discovered that i had a bad ground connection which could have been my original problem I later replaced the stock ignition coil with a Jacobs ultra coil. No problems since then. Hans also helped me and had suggested the alternate wiring which i did.
Good luck

"Step by Step Module Testing - Unilite® and E-Spark®
Tools Needed: Volt Meter or DMM, Credit Card or piece of thin cardboard
1.Important: If you are using a CD amplifier (Mallory Hyfire®, MSD, Jacobs, Accel 300+, etc) on your vehicle you must first unwire it from the system or you will not get a valid test result. You can bypass some of these with a supplied connector, but otherwise you MUST unwire it. After removing the amplifier you will need a ballast resistor installed in the system to prevent killing a good module (if you attempt to start the engine). Follow your distributor instructions for proper installation.
2.Remove distributor cap and rotor. The Mallory rotors are usually on pretty tight, but it is only a press fit. You will be able to get the rotor off by firmly pulling straight up, though in all honesty it may hurt a bit.
3.Turn the ignition key ON and use your DMM (Digital Multi-Meter) to measure supply voltage. First check voltage at the POSITIVE side of the coil by connecting the black lead of your meter to a good ground (engine block) and the red cable to the coil. The meter should read close to battery voltage. Now check voltage at the NEGATIVE side of the coil by moving the red lead from your meter to the negative side of the coil. Your meter should also read close to battery voltage. If everything is good here, continue. If you do not get "close" to battery voltage you need to make sure there is not a power supply problem. Take a jumper wire from the positive post on your battery to the positive side of the coil. If you still do not have a reading close to battery voltage at both sides of the coil the module is energizing the coil when it is not supposed to be doing so, replace the module.
4.With the DMM still connected to the negative side of the coil you are going to watch the meter while blocking the optics on the module with your credit card. Placing the credit card or other device between the towers on the module blocks the optics. When the optics are blocked the readings on your meter MUST drop below 2-volts. It may be just for an instant, or it may hold below two volts until you unblock the module. Either is OK. But if the voltage does not drop below 2-volts the module has been damaged and must be replaced.
5.Unblocking the module after step #4 and the voltage reading on your meter MUST return to battery voltage. If the voltage does not instantly jump back up, the module must be replaced.
EXPLANATIONS:

Based upon the test procedure above we can come to a few conclusions.
•If the battery voltage is not initially present you have either an electrical problem prior to the coil (ignition switch, low battery, etc), or the module is charging the coil when it is not supposed to. The module has been exposed to voltage spikes or installation errors.
•If the voltage does not drop when the optic is blocked the module is "open" and was also possibly caused by a power surge, excessively high resistance in the plugs or plug leads, or improper grounds. Replace the module!
•When the voltage always stays below 3.0 volts it means that the module has been spiked by high voltage or amperage, lack of a ballast resistor (if not using an amplifier box), or the wiring was incorrect. Replace the module!
•If the voltage only drops to 3-4 volts you will get a noticeably weak spark. This is also caused by poor grounds, or a power spike. Replace the module!
POSSIBLE CAUSES:
•Faulty charging system (stuck or shorted regulator/alternator), or high amp single wire alternators with a cheap diode.
•Ineffective or inadequate vehicle grounds. The module brown wire must be connected to the engine block. The vehicle grounds should consist of: Battery to Engine; Battery to Body; Engine to Frame; Engine to Body; Body to Frame
•Trying to start the engine using a battery booster-charger. Most of these have very dirty electrical signals which cause power surges or spikes. Disconnecting the battery, charging it, and then reconnecting it is the only correct way
•Using non-suppression plug wire leads. You must use suppression core type plug wires, no solid core wires (stainless steel or copper). Spiral core is best, but carbon core will also work.
•High amp stereo equipment that is not properly grounded or the vehicle grounds have not been updated to handle the added capacity.
•Direct shorts in the vehicle's electrical system
•Welding on the vehicle while the distributor harness is connected.
•Faulty starting system (excess starter drag, not enough voltage/amperage getting to the starter, worn brushes/armature).
•CB radio spiking on mic click into electrical system (typically only on power modified CB radios)."
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  #5  
Old December 29th, 2009, 12:35 AM
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OK, now that I've got my parking brake back together, let me take a chew on this one.....
Sorry I didn't have more time to respond before, but I had to get that other stuff done while my daughter was napping. Cold spell is supposed to arrive tomorrow, and I wanted to take advantage of the warmth.


The reason you see a lot of folks going with the E-spark upgrade is durability and cost. The older unilite modules (which are the ones still shipping with the distributors for some reason, probably just to get them out of inventory as fast as they can) are MUCH more fragile and easily blown out. The E-sparks are a drop in replacement, cheaper, and more durable. The alternate wiring that slowpoke there was referring to came on an additional sheet of paper when I bought my e-spark module. The E-sparks apparently can take a full 12 volts of juice, but not sure about the unilites, which are normally fed 6 volts. It made a huge difference when I went to the alternate wiring configuration.

It sounds like you may have an intermittant fault inside the module as well. I'd give it the "credit card" test which is in the other post there when it's not running, rather that just a spark test, to isolate where the problem may be. Could also be in the coil, did you keep the stock coil or change it with the distributor? Oh, and just to throw it out there, did you only swap in the distributor, or did you also add the Hyfire igntion box? I've seen more than a few posts around the net about that box being a pain in the ass with our fuel injection system.

But if you can snap a photo of where you've got that wear showing up, I'd like to see that as well. Very possible that a wobbly rotor could have done that, but have never seen it before.

As to the module blowing out, power surges can definitely do that. As can a bad alternator, which I suspect was the source of months of confusing ignition problems for myself. One of these days I really have to learn better how to give a more thorough test of the charging system than just watching my voltmeter in the dash.

And when in doubt, you can always contact the guy at Century Performance as well. He's far more knowledgable about the Unilite system than I will ever pretend to be. Most of the info I pass along in here comes from his website, and I try to steer folks his way whenever I can.

Ok, last thought. How are your plug wires? Stronger igntion systems can do a number on cheapie parts store brand wires, as I've found out.

-Hans
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  #6  
Old December 29th, 2009, 07:07 AM
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phil
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I'm unfortunately stuck at work all day & evening to give the excellent advise a run, but going to try to get it done tomorrow before going back to work......
I do suspect part of problem a weak ground, which I will also be replacing the main ground. I've been cleaning and rejuvenating grounds as i encounter them. Thanks Bryan directing me the routes of grounds, as I had no idea. I know for sure that the braided ground from engine to body is rotted and will be replaced. The others I'm not sure. All this could also explain my overcooling/ low temp readings I'm dealing with.

As far as the coil, I recently replaced with Bosch unit, alternator is a few years old, a Bosch as well. I did not change the ignition box. The plugs look ok, though probably change them for added security, which do you use Hans?
I'm going to try to test the system, and regardless, the module needs replacement. And I will also add the filter for added protection. I'm tempted to buy a spare and keep in glove box just in case. Amazing the e-spark are half the price!
Thanks Bryan and Hans and stay warm in this frigid NY day.......
phil
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  #7  
Old January 4th, 2010, 11:30 AM
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She back better then ever! So for future reference, I changed the ignition module with the e-spark, put the Mallory filter in between the harness and changed the beaded ground from engine to body. The starting issue seems to be resolved, as the idling and my overcooling issue. I guess the overcooling was related to the ground and was probably bad from the gauge sensor. Besides the beaded ground being old and corroded, some of the bolts and nuts had a decent amount of crud on them. I will be sure to check the other grounds and renew them.... hats off to Bryan and Hans for the solid guidance!
Hope everyone has a great new year!
cheers
phil




Quote:
Originally Posted by Hans
OK, now that I've got my parking brake back together, let me take a chew on this one.....
Sorry I didn't have more time to respond before, but I had to get that other stuff done while my daughter was napping. Cold spell is supposed to arrive tomorrow, and I wanted to take advantage of the warmth.


The reason you see a lot of folks going with the E-spark upgrade is durability and cost. The older unilite modules (which are the ones still shipping with the distributors for some reason, probably just to get them out of inventory as fast as they can) are MUCH more fragile and easily blown out. The E-sparks are a drop in replacement, cheaper, and more durable. The alternate wiring that slowpoke there was referring to came on an additional sheet of paper when I bought my e-spark module. The E-sparks apparently can take a full 12 volts of juice, but not sure about the unilites, which are normally fed 6 volts. It made a huge difference when I went to the alternate wiring configuration.

It sounds like you may have an intermittant fault inside the module as well. I'd give it the "credit card" test which is in the other post there when it's not running, rather that just a spark test, to isolate where the problem may be. Could also be in the coil, did you keep the stock coil or change it with the distributor? Oh, and just to throw it out there, did you only swap in the distributor, or did you also add the Hyfire igntion box? I've seen more than a few posts around the net about that box being a pain in the ass with our fuel injection system.

But if you can snap a photo of where you've got that wear showing up, I'd like to see that as well. Very possible that a wobbly rotor could have done that, but have never seen it before.

As to the module blowing out, power surges can definitely do that. As can a bad alternator, which I suspect was the source of months of confusing ignition problems for myself. One of these days I really have to learn better how to give a more thorough test of the charging system than just watching my voltmeter in the dash.

And when in doubt, you can always contact the guy at Century Performance as well. He's far more knowledgable about the Unilite system than I will ever pretend to be. Most of the info I pass along in here comes from his website, and I try to steer folks his way whenever I can.

Ok, last thought. How are your plug wires? Stronger igntion systems can do a number on cheapie parts store brand wires, as I've found out.

-Hans
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  #8  
Old January 6th, 2010, 09:50 PM
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Chris Davis
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Glad you got it taken care of!
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  #9  
Old January 13th, 2010, 11:24 PM
slowpoke496
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Phil,
Great to here you have the truck running good! Happy new year to you too! Jsut got back from Costa Rica where I saw a lot of great Defenders!! Take a look at this 110. My wife had to drag me away when someone told me the owner was looking to sell it!
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