First off, I've hardly ever posted, but thank you all for your guidance; I've gleaned a lot of knowledge from these forum pages.
I've decided to look into my coils. I noticed that a couple cushion springs (K&W)are not sitting down against their rivets when the lower vibrator spring is pressed down. In other words, you would have to pull the cushion spring down to get the 0.005 (or other desired) gap. On its own (with the lower vibrator pulled down), the cushion spring is almost in contact with the upper bridge rather than down against the rivet.
The car runs okay, but I'm guessing it would run stronger with proper adjustment. Should I bend the rear of the upper bridge to add (or in this create) cushion spring tension on the rivet?
I don't have access to a good coil tester, so I'm kind of limited to anything I can do without one. I realize that's not ideal.
You are correct that the cushion spring tension should be causing the cushion spring to be setting against the head of the limit rivet when you push the vibrator spring down against the coil core but without an HCCT or Strobo-Spark you really might make matters worse by adding tension to the cushion spring without a means of determining if you have added the right amount. I say that because the car is running OK now although you might be surprised by how it runs if/when you have the coils properly setup. I would look around in your area or wait for responses to your post to see if someone in your area has an HCCT and you and he/she might get together to adjust your coils properly. The .005 drop is not as critical as the fact that the points are opening before they are driven open by the contact between the cushion spring and the limit rivet head. If your profile doesn't identify where you are - post back and tell folks where you are located and perhaps a member can help you. I am in Northern IL. You will also want to set the operate current more accurately again by using the HCCT or SS.
What John says is soooo true. I have both testers mentioned above and really like the strobospark. It is amazing the difference a small change on your coil makes in performance of each coil and you couldn't see it without a testing machine to accurately fine tune each one as well as match the four coil set as well as possible. So take his advice and do look into this, do not try to eyeball it blindly.
In one of my more Geekier moments I measured the force required to lift the upper point so the cushion spring just came off the rivet head.
I did this on about 10 coils which had already been set up using an HCCT.
They were all quite close to 20g. (About 17g to 25g as far as I can remember)
Chris, you must be an engineer! One of the young engineers that used to work for me had taken the time to measure, document, and plot the wear on his car tires from the time they were new to see how the tread depth changed over time and how well it correlated with the pro-rated warranty. He did this over the 50,000 mile life of the tires. He found that the wear matched the warranty quite well, apparently the tire manufacturer knew his product.
I'm disturbed that a 'young engineer' got 50,000 miles from his tyres. He should be having more fun driving than that implies!
Thanks for the input everyone. I guess for now I'll set the point gap, tweak the lower bridge for 1.3 amps in a simple tester, and call it good until I go all out.
Please contact me offline and I will see what I can do to help you with your coils.
Listen to John and Brent. If its running decent, you will likely make it worse by attempting to adjust anything. The gap is not REAL important. Its not like a set of points in a distributor. Adjusting the gap will upset the cushion spring tension.