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Tan, MerCruiser Certified Technician
Category: Boat
Satisfied Customers: 11077
Experience:  40 yrs. experience with complete engine repairs both inboard/outboard and MerCruiser Certified Technician.
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1989 Ski Challenger. Ignition condensers keep failing.

Customer Question

1989 Ski Challenger. Ignition condensers keep failing. Suspect ballast resistor but where is it located?
JA: Sometimes things that you think will be really complicated end up being easy to fix. The Marine Mechanic I'm going to connect you with knows all the tricks and shortcuts. Tell me a bit more about what's going on so the Marine Mechanic can help you best.
Customer: I replaced the coil and new condensers. Coil says external resistor required but don't know where it is located
JA: Is there anything else the Marine Mechanic should be aware of?
Customer: no
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Boat
Expert:  Tan replied 1 year ago.

Hello. My name is Tan.

Could I get the make, model and serial number of the engine please?

Many engine have a resistor wire and not a ballast resistor.

Check voltage at the ignition coil key on what is you voltage?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
sorry , engine is 1 1/2 hours away. it is a U.S. marine 351 cid . Will investigate when i return next weekend. thank you
Expert:  Tan replied 1 year ago.

Usually what burns up condensers is to much voltage or a bad ground to the distributor. Many distributors rely on the bracket at the base of the distributor as a ground. This isn't a good ground over time corrosion gets between the bracket and the distributor causing a poor ground. So the easiest way to solve this issue id to run a ground from the distributor to a good engine ground.

If you have to much voltage then the resistor has shorted causing direct voltage to the coil. If you have 12 volts to the coil the easiest way to remedy that is to by a coil with an internal resistor.

Are you sure the original coil didn't have an internal resistor?

If you put a coil that requires an external resistor and you don't have a resistor wire or ballast that could be the problem.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
owners manual specs call for coil with external resistor. will investigate ground at bracket and test voltage. thank you
Expert:  Tan replied 1 year ago.

Being that the boat is 1989 is it possible that has been changed. Someone could have eliminated the resistor wire due to an ignition issue in the past. The easiest way to verify is to test voltage at the ignition coil key on. If you have 12 volts then there is no resistor.

Post back with findings and questions.

Thank you.Tan