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I have a 1979 Mercruiser 140 I/O in a 17 Ebbtide. No spark…

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I have a 1979 Mercruiser...
I have a 1979 Mercruiser 140 I/O in a 17' Ebbtide. No spark even though points and condenser were replaced last year at a marine dealer and he said it ran fine. When we tried to run it this year it wouldn't start. Drained and replaced the gas and no spark. Turned the key to run and manually opened the points, no spark. Can you give me steps to try to get this working? My next step would be to get another condenser and try that.....is that the correct procedure? Are automobile condensers the same as marine? Could I get it at auto store or would I have to go to the boat yard?
Submitted: 8 years ago.Category: Boat
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Answered in 16 minutes by:
6/24/2010
Marine Mechanic: James, Marine Mechanic replied 8 years ago
James
James, Marine Mechanic
Category: Boat
Satisfied Customers: 4,111
Experience: 12 years Certified marine mechanic, performance boat builder
Verified

Hello, welcome to JustAnswer.

 

What method did you use to verify that there is no spark?

Have you verified that the coil has voltage at the pos (+) terminal when the key is in the run position? If not, you need to do that.

If there in no voltage you need to check that the safety lanyard (if equipped) is properly installed. If it is, you need to test the key switch for 12 volts at the "I" terminal with the key in the run position. If it is not there, replace the key switch.

If it is there, you need to test the safety lanyard switch (if equipped) This can be done with either a test light or ohm meter. Turn the key to run position and test both contacts of the switch, with the lanyard in place, you should have 12 volts. If no voltage, replace the switch.

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Customer reply replied 8 years ago

What method did you use to verify that there is no spark?

 

Besides it not firing when I sprayed starter fluid in the carborator and tried to start (this has always got it going in the past), I turned the key to the on position and then manually opened the points and got no spark.

 

Have you verified that the coil has voltage at the pos (+) terminal when the key is in the run position? If not, you need to do that.

 

There is 12+ volts at the pos terminal of the coil.

 

If there in no voltage you need to check that the safety lanyard (if equipped) is properly installed. If it is, you need to test the key switch for 12 volts at the "I" terminal with the key in the run position. If it is not there, replace the key switch.

 

If it is there, you need to test the safety lanyard switch (if equipped) This can be done with either a test light or ohm meter. Turn the key to run position and test both contacts of the switch, with the lanyard in place, you should have 12 volts. If no voltage, replace the switch.

 

Can you tell me what this switch might look like and where it is located?

Marine Mechanic: James, Marine Mechanic replied 8 years ago

The safety lanyard isn't the problem if you have 12 volts at the coil. Your boat probably doesn't have one if you don't know where it is. It's like a key on a jet ski. You attach it to yourself so that if you were thrown from the boat it would kill the engine.

The reason I asked about the way you checked for spark is because of how you said you manually opened the points. The coil fires when the points close. Not when they open. You need to use an in-line spark tester to verify that you have no spark. Not firing on starting fluid is not a verification. If you have no compression, your engine wont fire. If you have a severe vacuum leak, your engine wont fire.

Test your coil by rotating the engine until the points are open. Hook a wire to the coil neg (-) terminal and pull the coil wire out of the distributor cap and lay it on the engine so it is about 1/4 inch from a clean (unpainted) ground.

Make sure the wire you attached to the coil is not grounded and turn the key to the run position, this will charge the coil. Then carefully touch the other end of the wire you attached to the coil to a different ground on the engine. DO NOT TOUCH THE END OF THIS WIRE!!

As soon as you touch the end of the wire to ground, the coil wire should give a nice spark. If it doesn't replace the coil.

If it does spark, your problem is in the points, cap, rotor or wires.

Make sure the points contacts are clean. If it has been a while since the cap, rotor, and wires were changed, change them. Re install and gap the points and verify whether or not there is spark by using an in-line spark tester.

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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
It does have a spark when tested per your instructions. I have ordered the parts and will proceed to replace the ones listed when they arrive. Will let you know status when they are installed.
Marine Mechanic: James, Marine Mechanic replied 8 years ago
OK
James
James, Marine Mechanic
Category: Boat
Satisfied Customers: 4,111
Experience: 12 years Certified marine mechanic, performance boat builder
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
Thanks James,

I finally got the parts in. I also got a tester and tried it before replacing the parts and the spark was there but weak. Replaced the points, condenser, rotor, and plugs. Runs great now........sorry it took so long.

Joe
Marine Mechanic: James, Marine Mechanic replied 8 years ago
I'm glad you got it going!
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