Maximum frustration overload 1966 V2! - Impala Tech
Troubleshooting Diagnosing problems

 
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-09-2015, 08:48 PM Thread Starter
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Maximum frustration overload 1966 V2!

Here is my issue in its full glory. Please bare with me through the story I'm about to write. cliff notes when possible.

Buy 1966 regular Impala 283 with 2 speed power glide and factory AC.
Drive car home (30 miles).
Car seems and drives fine, no issues at stops, nothing.
Get home, turn off car for about 5 minutes, turn on car, car dies, wait a few seconds and turn on car again, it doesn't die, drove it around for about 15 minutes, park car.

3 days later try to start car, it will turn but not crank over. I mess with carb, I can't see fuel squirt (nothing in general, may be fine). I have a friend try to start car while I look, I see fuel getting in to fuel filter but not sure if it's enough.

I buy starter fluid, charge battery (battery good needs charge, I figure I ran it down) spray 2 quick shots, car fires up and continues running. I drive it around for about 20 minutes and park it, car died in reverse right when I was about to throw it in park. I try to turn it over, no lights no nothing, checked battery, negative was loose and won't tighten correctly.

Next day I buy connectors and shim for negative terminal post, car starts up fine, drive it and park.

Next day car starts fine, drive it around then park it.

The next day starts fine again, I drive to get food, park it, starts back up fine, and park it.

This goes on for a couple days, car seems fine!

I figure the problem has been fixed and I don't drive it for a day... Wait for it

Today I go to start it, it starts up, I walk over to my other car to get my smokes, I hear the car is going to die, I run back to car to give it some gas, too late car dies. Damn it! I figure it hasn't been driven in a day, pump it three times, go to start the car and it wants to go but just not making it there.

I feel like the battery isn't giving it the juice it needs, I suspect the battery is running low again, it's 4 years old, I'll take it to get tested. I get the wild hair to rip out the alternator as well to test that too. They can't test alternator and the battery needs a charge again. I only tried to start the car twice so I figure maybe the battery might need replacing because two times isn't going to drain my battery. I buy a new battery and alternator (it was 50 bucks so I said **** it). I install everything, go to fire it up and it won't start. It literally feels like it's just about to crank over but it just won't do it.

I have yet to look at spark plugs, that's for tomorrow.

Does anyone have a clue what may be the issue?

When the car starts it seems to run and work just fine, it continued to do so until I let it sit untouched for one day. I'm not a mechanic, I'm just a guy who's mechanically inclined and likes to tinker with stuff. I love my impalas, having owned a 64 SS and regular 65, I kinda learned some of the issues these things have. Right now, other then checking the plugs, I don't know where to go.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-10-2015, 12:23 PM
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You have a car that was designed to operate trouble free for five years. GM didn't want it to last forever because they want to sell you a new car every two to three years which is why old car sheet metal and trim changed nearly every year. There was social pressure to drive a new car, not to be seen in one that looked like an older car that indicated you were too poor to buy a new one.

As such your car has rusted, and the rubber parts have rotted away by design. The plastic insulation on the wiring and the terminals have also suffered the ravages of time (the PCV plastic insulation used on the wires was supposed to die as rapidly as the previous, but more expensive, rubber insulated cloth covered wiring used with the older six volt systems which it replaced in the early fifties). In addition to corrosion and sun fade as well as oxidation of the interior fabrics your car is using technology that was a break through in automotive engineering a half century ago, but today it is a source of your problems.

Your electrical system is designed to use the battery as the source of all electrical power. The alternator on your car is nothing more than a battery charger; a trickle charger actually as it can not keep up with the electrical drain on the battery should you turn on the head lights (which is why you have a parking light setting on your light switch that allows you to drive at dusk with navigation marker lights lit like a ship under power).

The other big problem is the fact that the car body is made of steel not copper, so half of all electrical circuits rely upon a metal that doesn't conduct electricity very well. Once it begins to rust (which happens at every point a sheet metal screw is used to cut through the black oxide temporary coating that kept the parts from rusting when sitting on a shelf before assembly) the rusty metal reduces the conductivity of the electrical connection to the point it will not conduct electricity at all with a twelve volt power source.

There is one other design problem with your car's motor running reliably. That is the inductive ignition based upon a breaker point and condenser to activate the ignition coil. The factory provides full nominal twelve volt power to the points when cranking the car because the battery voltage drops to nearly eight volts due to the 200 plus amp load that the starter motor draws. When running the ignition is powered through a resistor wire to drop the nominal twelve volt system to only eight volts. This is done to prolong the life of the points which burn up as there is an electrical arc caused by the circuit being broken that transfers metal from one side of the point to the other.



This reduces the distance separating the face of the points which reduces the time the current is turned off (this is called the dwell angle and requires a special meter to adjust). Here is a picture showing you the tools you will need to work with a points ignition. (The dwell meter is included in the big black boxed meter):



Your ignition system is as important as the carburetor and fuel supply, and a problem with either will prevent the motor from starting.

Big Dave
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-10-2015, 09:03 PM
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Well I tell you what I do. I buy and replace my alternators with one wire units. It gets rid of the old alternator and regulator. This requires some rewiring. I also replace the stock distributor with a mid 80's HEI unit. Wired to a keyed 12 volt souse. These cars run so much better with these modifications. Not everyone will agree on these mods, but they have worked for me for darn near 20 years.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-11-2015, 07:04 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dadstoy View Post
Well I tell you what I do. I buy and replace my alternators with one wire units. It gets rid of the old alternator and regulator. This requires some rewiring. I also replace the stock distributor with a mid 80's HEI unit. Wired to a keyed 12 volt souse. These cars run so much better with these modifications. Not everyone will agree on these mods, but they have worked for me for darn near 20 years.
Hei wouldn't be a bad idea at all.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-15-2015, 05:30 PM
 
 
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I used to have problems where you drive somewhere and then go to leave and the car won't start and indeed it was the old points distributor that was causing problems even with brand new points and condensers, I upgraded to a Mallory uni-lite distributor and have never had problems since.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-16-2015, 11:08 PM
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I haven't had much luck with the Mallory lasting long term. The light for the shutter seems to burn out. I've switched to Pertronix Ignitor III and matching coils in original distributors.

My Impala had a chinese knock off HEI that didn't work, so I bought the Pertronix billet original look-a-like for that. Instant start ups.

'62 Impala SS 409 TH350
'66 Chevelle SS 496 M20
'70 Chevelle SS 396 M20
'67 Camaro ss/rs 350 PG
'38 Chev coupe street rod
'54 Chev 210 2 door
'69 Chev C10
'89 Chev R3500 roll back
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-17-2015, 09:17 AM
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I have been using all original equipment in all my cars and trucks since 1968. With a good tune-up now and then and an adjustment or two in-between, they run just fine.

My '72 C-10 now is pretty amazing. It can sometimes sit as much as 3 months. Other than a few seconds more cranking time, it starts right up and can be driven anywhere.

I last tuned it a few years ago (I do like Heavy Duty Borg-Warner Points though).

Bill

-Parting Out over 75 '58 to '73 Full Size Chevy Cars-

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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-17-2015, 09:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 62BillT View Post
I have been using all original equipment in all my cars and trucks since 1968. With a good tune-up now and then and an adjustment or two in-between, they run just fine.

My '72 C-10 now is pretty amazing. It can sometimes sit as much as 3 months. Other than a few seconds more cranking time, it starts right up and can be driven anywhere.

I last tuned it a few years ago (I do like Heavy Duty Borg-Warner Points though).

Bill
You're absolutely right. Before dependable electronic ignition, millions of cars were driven billions of miles. With a little maintenance they worked very well.

We have become very spoiled with instant starting and driveability from the cars of the last 15 years. The real benefit of an electronic conversion is the increased spark and wider plug gap to burn the gas more efficiently. Faster starting, better performance and dependability while appearing original..

'62 Impala SS 409 TH350
'66 Chevelle SS 496 M20
'70 Chevelle SS 396 M20
'67 Camaro ss/rs 350 PG
'38 Chev coupe street rod
'54 Chev 210 2 door
'69 Chev C10
'89 Chev R3500 roll back
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