Texas T Parts sells distributor kits and ignition coils to go with them. How specific are these coils? The distributor is basically a VW distributor body, points and condenser. What is the source for the coils that Texas T sells, and could one use other coils with their system? That is, could you get a coil from NAPA or someplace else that would work just as well?
What about VW supply houses?
I know you have to stick with 12v or 6v or mess around with resistors. But given that, how interchangeable are these coils?
Parts are readily available. Once you have the numbers from the body of the distributor, you should easily be able to find what vehicle it was made for and thus what parts fit be they from Napa, Bosch, O'Reilly or wherever. I made it a practice to keep the year&type of car and part numbers and store them in a sealed bag with the registration and insurance info for the T they belong with. These are typically VW distributors with all the related parts pretty available at your average parts store. Even if the clerk behind the counter is clueless and can't use your part #, they can usually figure out what the computer says you should have for a 1970 Type 3 VW (or whatever).
Go to Bubba's Bugworld or such, and ask for a VW coil for the voltage you need. Cheap is good.
Autozoner and such will grill you with 20 questions about engine size, etc.
Where I mounted mine 15 years ago.
Tell Auto Zone you have a '62 Volksbuggen for 6V, '68 for 12V.
The distributor doesn't care what the voltage is. The points are just a switch that interrupts the battery voltage circuit supplying the coil. Apparently the condenser doesn't care either since VW used the same ones on 6V and 12V.
I ran a 12V coil on 6V for years without issue so I guess it didn't care either.
I went to Auto Zone, and got a 1970 VW 12v coil. I will be trying it today. I believe that if you have a 6v coil and try to run it on 12v w/o a resistor, you will smoke the coil. The coil that I got from Auto Zone says that it is for 12v and has an internal resistor.
The reason for all this nuisance is that I just installed a new Texas T distributor, and the coil failed after just a couple of drives in the T. In their defense, they are sending me a new one free, but I am trying to get the T running sooner. I thought that perhaps they had sent me a 6v coil by mistake, but after checking carefully they are sure it was 12v. So it was probably just a defective coil.
Being a Model T guy, I am rather new to distributors, so I am on a learning curve here.
But it looks to me like ignition coils for points/condenser systems are fairly generic given a 12v or 6v system.
Jon - just like anything else with a T (or any car for that matter) don't troubleshoot with parts. Texas T has a really good reputation and has tons of their distributor kits out on cars.
If the coil just up and failed I'd look for a short or some kind of wiring issue before you install the next coil - otherwise you're liable to have the same problem.
The number of true manufacturer's defects where a part is just no good before you ever run it is absurdly low. Most of the time there's another issue causing the problem, a part failing or breaking is just a symptom.
Not trying to insult your intelligence at all. I'm very competent with vehicles and with my T but sometimes I get so excited about getting back on the road that I do silly things that I can't believe I didn't catch before I tried to get out of the garage.
Are your plugs gapped correctly? What kind of plug wires do you have? Are you really confident that the new coil/distributor is wired correctly? You have a gorgeous '14 Runabout in your profile picture, if that's the car this distributor is on what is your battery/charging setup? Are you sure that the coil you have IS bad?
Just some things to think about and double-check before you have another coil go bad on you.
Thanks Seth. I appreciate the input. The car was running great with the distributor for a couple of days, so if there is something wrong with the installation, it was something that gradually affected the coil. The battery is a big muscular 12v Optima spiral cell battery that I trickle charge with a Battery Tender frequently. I have good old copper twisted wires for the ignition (the ones that came with the distributor kit). Plugs are brand new Autolites gapped at 35 thousandths.
I am not overly concerned that I might have the second coil go bad. If it does happen, that will just be another clue...
My feeling is: "If you don't like these kinds of problems, you shouldn't work on old cars!"
OK. Well, I put the new 1970 VW coil from Autozone on, and it fires right up and goes putt-putt 'real good'. So it was the coil. As Seth has said above there remains a chance that there is something else causing the coil to conk out, but time will tell on that. We will see. I'll keep my AAA Card and cell phone with me just in case...
Maybe those VW coils just don't like being on a 100 year old Ford, and they decide to go on strike after a while -- we will see.
For now I will apply Occam's Razor and accept the simplest hypothesis -- that it was a bad coil.
Pray for me.
Here is a picture of the installation:
Snazzy installation, Jon. You need to put some miles on that thing.
I've driven heaps of miles with Bosch coils, and never a hiccup. Were you able to see where the bad one was made? My guess: Brazil or ChiCom.
Every time a distributor coil burns out on tour it is installed with no resistor and it says right on the coil "Made in Taiwan, internal resistor". What ever the cause, they are not too reliable. Keep an extra under the seat and you will be able to deal with it.
If possible try to find one that says "Robert Bosch, Made in Germany". I bet one of those would last forever.
The bad one was made at Texas T Parts...! Of course, I have no idea of where it was really made. Who knows...Viet Nam, Korea? I am not so confident that coils are just bullet proof because you get them from Texas T Parts. Where do they get them? Autozone? I got the distributor kit from Texas T Parts because of the reputation of their distributor kits, and I am still pleased with their distributor kit. It works good! The fact that a coil went bad on my car really proves nothing. At least I have the thing working good now, and we will see if it continues to do so.
I agree Royce. I may just get a Bosch and put that on.
These are the Bosch Part Numbers for the 0231 178 009 VW Distributor that is most commonly used with a Model T engine.
The original use was with a Beetle 1949-December 1953 * 25HP to Eng 1-695 281
Distributor: VW 211-905-205E, Bosch VJR 4 BR 8/1 (0231 129 019) > 211-905-205F, VJR 4 BR 25/1 (0 231 129 010) > 126-905-205 (0231 178 009)
Points: 01 001
Condensor: 02 170
Rotor: 04 008
Cap: 03 019
Coil: 00 001 (Blue Coil: 00 016)
Vacuum Can: None
Ignition Wires: 09 001
Thanks Sooo much! I think I will get a genuine Bosch coil and put that on.
Here are a few more pictures:
Lots of elbow grease in this old girl!
Nice bracket and position away from the exhaust manifold !
Here is a helpful website on Bosch coils, the good , the bad and the ugly...
It's jungle out there!
Coils very often fail due to heat. The wiring distance is of no concern on either the primary or secondary other than routing the spark connection. Early 1901 Curved Dash Olds had the coil under the passenger side front seat and routed the spark wire all along the inside of the body back to the rear most part of the body, then across to the spark plug. It seems silly by today's standards but it worked. I would mount the coil where it gets the absolute least amount of heat but then also try to keep it dry. Perhaps on the dash on the driver's side. Where you have it mounted it will be in the hot air flow coming through the radiator and also get the heat of the motor and exhaust manifold. Your workmanship is beautiful and I am only suggesting that your coil location is not very good. If you have a Raychem type infrared temp gun - check the temperature at any specific point on the coil for repeatability after the engine is fully warmed up and the engine compartment is fully warmed up. Then temporarily hang it on the other side of the motor away from the radiator and motor as far as practical and repeat the temperature measurement on the same spot on the coil after the same warm up period. You might find that revealing. Early Ford V8's had terrible reliability with their coils mounted on the front of the motor right behind the radiator. The failure mode was heat and more of it.
As you see above, mine is in a cool location, and out of sight except if you go search for it. It has sparked along in the ugliest weather, after being removed from a high mileage Porsche 914.
Nine inches of rain that day enroute from Syracuse.
Aridzona at temps above 114, which the natives admit is hot.
Thanks for the temperature input, John. I will keep that in mind, and if another coil fails, I will certainly investigate that first. I mounted it there (on the frame up front) simply because many folks told me that is where most people put them on early cars. I have a 'Blue Bosch' coil on order that will replace the Autozone coil that is on there now as soon as it arrives.
Jeff mentioned that the coil/ condenser combination doesn't matter. I'd always heard that it did. That is: the coil & condenser were a "set". Another item from my past concerns the coil/battery connections as in with a positive ground battery system the coil would be hooked up backwards: the power wire to the coil would go to it's negative terminal and it's pos. terminal would go to the points. Senior moment perhaps?
No, Charlie, not a senior moment! That sounds right to me too. I have a negative ground, so I hooked it up the standard way.
The condenser in my opinion is not a critical item with regard to its value in uF but the type of condenser is very critical. The T coil condenser will fail quickly if the wrong type of condenser is used inside. So will the condenser used with a distributor. The voltage rating of the condenser is generally the same for both 6V and 12V systems because the critical part of that voltage rating applies when the points open up and the primary current then begins to "ring" or oscillate and rise to a higher voltage than either 6 or 12. It goes up into the hundred of volts range for a moment. The primary of the coil is usually marked with the +/- polarity markings and is a voltage polarity indication. The + mark should be wired such that it ends up at the positive voltage source and the negative mark gets wired to the negative voltage source (for a T that is ground via the points). In truth the coil will run the motor if wired either way but there are some claimed advantages with regard to coil performance, carbon build up on the spark plug electrodes... that I cannot verify or disprove so since someone thought it important enough to wire it one particular way and so marked the coil primary connection polarity on the coil - that is the way you should wire it. If I see one wired backwards I typically point it out to the owner of the car and tell him to fix it when he gets back home. It doesn't seem to be a critical item and some guys never fix it yet still seem to show up on tours with cars that are running that way.
I have heard secondhand that the condenser value in uF can have an effect on point wear - the wrong value can cause material to slowly transfer from one point contact to the other over time, causing a "mountain" of material on one contact and a "valley" on the other. Which way to go in uF (up or down) to correct the condition, I don't remember.
The mountain & valley Mark mentions is in part caused by systems using DC voltage for ignition. The correct condenser is supposed to keep this at a minimum helping to reduce sparking but I think it's a secondary feature of the condenser. I also believe that T coils running on mag/AC have extended point life because of the AC. It transfers the material back & forth between the two contacts and prevents a build up. Excuse me, I just got up.
Contact points info.doc (57.9 k)
Looks like the upload didn't work, gonna try again.
Thanks, Ken for the document.
Thanks, Ken. I put the two items on Paint, and made jpg:
Note that the description and pictures above are for a negative ground electrical system. Just reverse the + and - signs for a positive ground system.
Model T's have negative ground system. The pictures are correct for Model T usage.
Yep, thanks for the clarification, Royce.
It's interesting that you also had the coil go bad that was supplied with the Texas T
dist. I had two go bad shortly after installing the Dist. & coil. One was on my car and another on a friends. Texas T did send me a "No Name" replacement for one of the coils but I ended up Replacing them with Bosh? coils and no more problems. I did add a ballast resistor in addition to using a coil with internal resistor.
I am using a Pertronix module in my Texas T dist.& According to Pertronix, for the 12 vdc module they recommend 4-1/2 Ohm resistance. Between the coil internal resistance and ballast resistor.....I was able to get 4-1/2 Ohms.
ALSO! Very IMPORTANT.....add a small ground wire from the dist. housing to the block or frame. Because the Texas T dist. fit so loose...you loose ground return and the engine will intermittently miss. I do not know why a ground wire is not supplied with the kit or adding a ground wire is not covered in the instructions.
Our good friend Royce may have that answer....Smile!
Thanks Rick, that's what I was trying to post.
I got no answers better than yours Les. My opinion is the Texas T 12V coils need a external resistor even though the instructions on the coil state otherwise. They seem to be very high fail rate parts when installed as per the directions.
Ok, you guys. Here is what arrived in the mail yesterday:
The coil on the right is the Texas T coil that failed. The coil in the middle is the "Blue Bosch" coil that was originally made in Germany for the VW, but is now made in Brazil by Bosch. I got this coil from Amazon in only two days. The picture that they show on Amazon is WRONG. It is the so-called Bosch "Silver Coil" -- not as good as the Blue Bosch, but the one Amazon sent was the true blue Bosch coil. A reviewer at Amazon pointed this out, so I ordered one and got the good one.
It passes all the tests for a Blue Bosch.
1) Part number on the bottom is correct for the Blue Bosch. Check
2) It has 3-way terminals on both posts. Check
3) If you shake it you won't hear oil sloshing around. Check
4) It has 3-4 ohm primary resistance. Check
I will put it on the car today and let you know what happens.
When you shake the Texas T coil, you hear oil sloshing around. It has 2-way terminals on both posts (shown removed in the picture). It does not have the Bosch Part numbers on the bottom. I have not checked the primary resistance. I think it is just a little bit misleading that Texas T Parts shows a "blue" coil on their website, but sends something else. Here is their picture on their website:
It just occurred to me that mine, pic above, is 40 years old.
Ricks - You probably have one of the original German-made Bosch coils. The best of the best!
Charlie, I said that the condenser doesn't care if it is 6V or 12V due to the fact that if you look up the part for a 65 or 66 VW which is 6V, it is the same part number as one for a 67 or 68 VW which is 12V.