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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I purchased a 1978 RC not too long ago. It was an original owner car that had been sitting for the past 20 years.

My plans were for a CTD swap, but since it has less than 50k Orignal miles, I am interested to see if I can get it started.

360-4 bbl TQ

It is about 15 years since I was heavily into cars like this, and I feel like I have forgotten all the basics.

I rebuilt the TQ, changed the starter and I have had it “started “ a few times. For very short periods, seconds.

I pulled a plug and I don’t have spark. But I have power to the ballast resistor, the “electronic ignition “,  a couple other items that look like the ignition components and the coil. 

So my next logical guess is the coil, right?

Maybe it is bad and would work intermittently. It’s probably the original coil from 78.

So , instead of throwing piece by piece into the ignition system, should I just get a MSD?

I have ran them before on a few vehicles, but I had 2 of them go bad either just before or just after 12 months and they would not warranty.

Is it any better product now? Did I just get a couple lemons?

I see many people running msd for 20+ years.

I will have to locate my book from my last Ramcharger.



TLDR:  Not getting spark, power to coil 
Where to go next.

 

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44D said:
So I purchased a 1978 RC not too long ago. It was an original owner car that had been sitting for the past 20 years.

My plans were for a CTD swap, but since it has less than 50k Orignal miles, I am interested to see if I can get it started.

360-4 bbl TQ

It is about 15 years since I was heavily into cars like this, and I feel like I have forgotten all the basics.

I rebuilt the TQ, changed the starter and I have had it "started " a few times. For very short periods, seconds.

I pulled a plug and I don't have spark. But I have power to the ballast resistor, the "electronic ignition ", a couple other items that look like the ignition components and the coil.

So my next logical guess is the coil, right?

Maybe it is bad and would work intermittently. It's probably the original coil from 78.

So , instead of throwing piece by piece into the ignition system, should I just get a MSD?

I have ran them before on a few vehicles, but I had 2 of them go bad either just before or just after 12 months and they would not warranty.

Is it any better product now? Did I just get a couple lemons?

I see many people running msd for 20+ years.

I will have to locate my book from my last Ramcharger.

TLDR: Not getting spark, power to coil
Where to go next.
MSD's eliminate a lot of issues with old ignition system.
Especially since getting a good ECM box these days is iffy.
If you went that way... you would be wise to check all the original wiring associated with the ignition stuff under the hood. And the wiring going through the bulkhead plugs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Ok so I was looking for other options and there is an HEI distributor for $65

Or I do the HEI module for $20 plus some wiring.

The latter sounds like it will be quickest and cheapest.

I’m still trying to throw as little money at this as possible to determine whether this engine is usable.
 

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opinion : myself , I like to make it run BEFORE I go modifying stuff , adding layers of what if's such as I wired it wrong , this don't play well with that etc.   
you want 12v to + of coil when cranking .  the dizzy then tells the ecu when to apply the - ground to coil . rust in the dizzy , poor mechanical bolted down ground to / of the ecu .    bad ecu ( condensers have a shelf life ..) bad pick up in dizzy . mice wires ...... 
 

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I've got a pretty basic engine, went to a streetfire CDI box because I needed the clean tach signal for the EFI I put on it.  It's been in about 2 years and I haven't had any problems with it, other than it gets grumpy if voltage drops low during cranking. -8F this morning, no battery likes these temps.
 

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Check to make sure you have a signal to the NEGATIVE side of the coil. Easy test is to use a regular test light. Attach the clip end of the test light to the POSITIVE battery post and test the negative post of the coil while the engine is cranking (you may need a helper). The test light should be blinking/pulsing, if it is not blinking the ignition module is likely bad or has poor wiring...the other possibility is the pickup in the distributor is not working, however most of the time the module and/or wiring is to blame
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for all the replies so far,
I will try the coil/ test light test then , either way it looks like I would be getting into a coil.
So I will try that next.

Then I think I will fab up the HEI module wiring.
 

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44D said:
Thanks for all the replies so far,
I will try the coil/ test light test then , either way it looks like I would be getting into a coil.
So I will try that next.

Then I think I will fab up the HEI module wiring.
If you have signal to the negative side of the coil and still no spark then the ignition coil is bad... this is assuming new spark plug wires, cap and rotor.
 

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I would follow what the others suggest, check out the stock set-up & maybe get it to working before making modifications & going to an aftermarket system.

When it come to aftermarket ignitions, I personally bypass fighting WWll & go straight for the atomic bomb & get a magneto. But it's usually overkill for most other people's applications.

Bucky
 

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LOL , yeah ok BUT ya got that backasswards , around ww2 a magneto was the thing , LATER we went to points with a coil instead ........... mags are real "old" school ............  ;D
 

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And hence we have thread after thread about folks with ignition failure issues.
Except for me.

Bucky
 

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712edf said:
And hence we have thread after thread about folks with ignition failure issues.
Except for me.

Bucky
A common issue for sure.
I would suggest to all rookies to do a search around here for existing forums.
Although searching around here can be exhausting too. ;D
 

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I guess what worked for me was to pull the plug from cyl. #1, bump it with your finger over it till you feel the air pressure to get it to tdc, then pull the dust. Cap to make sure it’s timing is in the ball park. When I bought mine a kid screwed with it till it didn’t run and the timing was way off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I just moved it from a storage yard over to my shop so I should be able to get a little more time to work on it.

I put tires and wheels on it yesterday.  It had 33s in the back, the original polyglas spare on the right front and some low profile car tire on the drivers front.  It looked ridiculous.
Even not running it is a 100% improvement.

I had also a 360 so I can rebuild without having to pull this one. It came with near new ignition components, so I will be switching those with the ones on my RC.
 

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I did the HEI conversion due to bad wiring in engine compartment. Very easy to do  HEI modules available everywhere. Spare in the glovebox. Starts on almost first revolution. Blows the Chevy boys minds when they see it. It's mounted on firewall  Have put them on several duraspark fords with great results

 
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