Drum Roll Please – And The Answer To The Mystery Final Fix Engine Breakdown Is….

, , ,
tada 4

Good old American Sears goodness.

What? You think I am not going to force you to click on the story to find out? With the weather the way it’s been, no boating, so no story material. Heck we have even tapped out ebay. China patterns. SOS! So, you want to know what the final fix was? So did we, for about two hours.

tada 6

How are the plugs looking? GOOD!

First it was pouring outside, so thank goodness for a boathouse. We had a trusty tester, and first we had a very strong spark, at the coil, and the points. So? Move to fuel for a quick check.

tada 3


Sprayed starter fluid, possibly to much, but dam if she didn’t start. Ran like a wet turd.. OK that’s a visual you may not want in your head. Anyway, so its fuel? Right? We start by taking out the needle, FINE!


All good!

OK is fuel getting to the carb. YES, Take off fuel lines? YES, FUEL. ALL GOOD. OK to be at this point we are looking at each other. WTF?

Tada 2

Oh! I know that look! WTF! Look!

OK, back to the electronics. Start with the Condenser. Just start replacing stuff to replace it. It has spark after all.


Take a deep breath..Hold.. and…

Tada 1

wǒ cào condenser! Trust us it’s a curse word!

Turn the key, and VROOM! PURRRRRRRR. WTF! That’s it. No drama, just a crappy wǒ cào Condenser. Brand new one, only to be replaced by another wǒ cào condenser.

tada 5


The good news. We have another wǒ cào condenser and knowledge now! Maybe buy them by the case. That’s the master plan I am sure. Carry around a box of condensers. The Coast Guard will now make you carry extra condensers like flairs or life jackets. IT’S ALL A CONSPIRACY!

Thanks to Jimmy for being there and seeing that I was not the idiot I felt like, and to Dave VanNess for sending out two of everything just in case.

Tada 10

Running like a champ!

Dave is going to be doing an article on Condensers for the Smith Mountain Lake gangs Newsletter and we will share that right after. It all makes perfect sense once Dave explained it. Of course all I remember is that the Coil and Condenser or complete opposites. Just another normal love affair! So for all of you that called out Mr Crap Condenser! YOU ARE WIENERS!

23 replies
  1. Dan T
    Dan T says:

    By the number of responses yesterday, I’m sure you’ve deduced that we are more interested in broken boats than perfect everything works great boats. It’s a problem. Can’t wait for the next disasterous breakdown. Happy boating!

  2. Jim Staib
    Jim Staib says:

    So had you listened to those of is who preach Pertronix there would have been a different story and you could have been boating!

  3. Bill Hammond
    Bill Hammond says:

    Can you say, “Electronic Ignition System” here?? LOL! Glad it worked out so quickly and easily!

    • Dennis Mykols
      Dennis Mykols says:

      I agree, we had chapter “Shake Down” cruise yesterday, and out of the 12 boats that showed up at the ramp, 1 did not start.. A 1954 Chris Craft Holiday with a 6 volt system. Electrical systems seem to kill a great planned boating day every time.

  4. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    WA-CHEE-WEE! What an event!

    The first condensers I had trouble with were from Carquest. That was on American Beauty with a 12V system. The one that pooped out on me last year was a very old one on Yorktown, a 6V system, that I am unsure from where it came.

    I think the real question is “Is anyone making a quality condenser out there, and where can we buy one?”

    I have been meaning to call Jim Staib to ask: Are there 6V and 12V condensers or are there just condensers. It is not that vital since last year I purchased 4 Pertronix kits from Jim, but I still want to have a set of points and cond. on board in case something goes askew!

  5. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    I have a friend who works on Model A’s and old Jeeps and the like. He told me that he had changed about two condensers in 30 years of mechanicing until around 2014 when he replaced about 8 in one year.

    Part of the trouble could be that we as consumers simply buy a new one and are not pushing for some sort of warranty, so the manufacturer does not even know they have a problem.

    Or they are Chinese built and they don’t care and are laughing at us. “OH ha ha wook at dos dummb Amewicans who buy owr $0.02 condensa for $6.00 den bweak down in dair bwoat. HA HA Woody Bwoata have big articul dis week on bad condesa’s.”

  6. Jack
    Jack says:

    Last summer we took a break from a ride and then the 1948 Chrysler Crown wouldn’t start. No spark. Got a tow and did a major tune-up. The ignition internals were pretty bad. All new parts now. I am now considering a Petronix to get better spark especially for starting. We use the boat a few times a month and that first start is often a challenge due to gas. Same issue with my 1961 Chrysler. The gas evaporates so fast when sitting that the carb bowl is always empty. I know some that have solved this with an electronic fuel pump. Years ago I had a 1959 MGA that ate coils, so I carried several at all times. Never did sort out the problem. Matt, is electronic in your future or are you going to wait until you use the six pack of compressors?

  7. Old Salt
    Old Salt says:

    I’m looking forward to Dave Van Ness’s report. I would have thought that since you had spark it was not an electical issue… We are all lucky to have Dave and other experts like him working in this Woody Boat lifestyle to keep our not so trusty boats purring alone!

  8. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    yeah yeah…so my like fiber washer allowing a ground out was wrong……watch out for it if you continue with those ancient parts…..it will fool ya.

    Raining for weeks, going boating anyway….f…it…..

    John in Va.

  9. John Stolte
    John Stolte says:

    I believe the problem with the condensers is related to the government insisting that the materials that they were previously made out of no longer be used. I’ve had the same problem with the heat pump at home and that’s what the air-conditioning techs tell me, the condensers are no good since the government took out whatever it was that was inside condensers that made them work apparently gave us cancer too

  10. Tom H
    Tom H says:

    Cut one of the condensers apart and you will see there is not too much to them. Just some foil and some insulating material rapped around and around in that little can. Tune ups in the “old days” included a condenser but I very rarely ever saw one go bad in my 25 years turning wrenches. I bet if you look closer on the condenser box it will say Chicago Electric.

    • charley quimby
      charley quimby says:

      Yep… Nothing starts the old six-banger Hercs. better than a pertronix and 12 volts cranking a six-volt stock starter. Those starters will take it because of their massive windings. I used six-volt starters in my Chrysler 300 Cs and Ds with no ill effects and those were 10:1 compression Hemis. I use an HEI in my APBA Hacker, and always carry a spare module. A little judicious upgrading never hurts. Points systems in cars are bad enough; in boats, a little more serious.

  11. Greg Shaw
    Greg Shaw says:

    Condensers (are really capacitors) have always been a problem child when dealing with older ignition systems. (40+yrs mstr. mech.) To fully understand everything about them I refer you to a post that gives a great pictorial dissection and review. It also gives possible better units to use over the crappy units being made in asia. Enjoy …….. http://www.nonlintec.com/sprite/cap_failure/

Comments are closed.