Project Elly: Spluttering encore

This morning, I got up surprisingly early (for a Saturday) and headed back to the garage once more. I’d left Elly in a state of undress the night before (this line is especially for Sean Lyon) having utterly failed to get the ignition timing to behave as it should. Setting it bang on the manufacturers mark resulted in an engine that would not start.

I recalled having issues with this points box in the Dyane, so I removed it, grabbed Elly’s original points box, and fitted a new condenser to it, then reinstalled it. The ignition timing was reset as per the mark, and she fired very sweetly into life. Result!

Now that she’s road legal, I was able to indulge in a test drive. Certainly, on the four miles to the nearest petrol station, she felt like a car transformed. She was pulling much more cleanly than yesterday, with no hint of misfiring or spluttering. 18 litres of unleaded were poured into the tank, her first fill for almost two years, and I set off to do a full lap of the A44 and A4120 back home.

As we excited the excitingly-named Lovesgrove roundabout, I detected a misfire. Just the once, but definitely there. This was joined by further misfires as we snaked our way towards Aberystwyth. At Llanbadarn Fawr, things got pretty nasty. As I went to pull away at a mini roundabout, she began firing on one cylinder, threatening to conk out (in a manner that suggested she would not then restart). This felt familiar! Somehow, I coaxed her through the pair of mini roundabouts, and across the Morrisons roundabout. I headed into the car park to find a quiet spot to investigate.

Here we go again...

Here we go again…

I did have a spare coil with me, so I fitted that. All initially seemed well. Problem solved? At first, she seemed fine, but within a mile, a gentle misfire had crept back in. As we began the climb up the A4120, she began to miss more and more, occasionally backfiring for good measure. Backfiring? Ok. That made it feel more like condenser failure, as did the fact that it was far worse at lower engine speeds. I kept the revs up and struggled on, pausing in Pisgah to let things cool down.

She did make it back home, but conked out as soon as I pulled up. Left alone for a while, she was then fine and has been returned to the garage. Now, I’m pondering my next move. £165 on a new 123 electronic ignition unit and a resin-filled coil would probably improve things no end, but I also wonder about reviving my Velleman points-assisted ignition. I’ve got a press car coming on test next week, so there’s no rush to get Elly fixed. I am keen to get to the bottom of this quandary though. The good news is that, when not misfiring, she feels really good to drive. It is so nice to be back behind the wheel of this much-loved car. Thanks to all who made this possible. I just wish we could have a finer celebration of the fact that Elly is back! There will be opportunities this year – she’ll be at the NEC Restoration Show in March, and the Coventry Motofest in June. Fun times, they are a-coming!

2 thoughts on “Project Elly: Spluttering encore

  1. Congrats on getting Ellie going again! I’d go for the resin-filled coil before splashing out on electronic ignition, if you change more than one thing at a time you will never learn what it was that was causing the problem. From your description it sounds like typical coil issues, with it getting steadily worse then OK again when cooled down. If it’s the condenser, it usually runs like a pig ALL the time.
    Does the coil get hot? If the gap on the points is too small, it puts a strain on the coil as does an over-eager charging system. A gap of 0.5mm works best on mine.
    Treat yourself to £15 worth of strobe (cheap ones are fine) and a cheap multimeter so you can get the timing right and check the voltage is not exceeding 14.4 volts with the engine at full chat.
    Also get her going in the dark and see if you have any interesting blue sparks running over the electrics – remember Emily’s Dyane? It was a cracked coil in the rain that caused all her woes.
    Email me if you need any more help.

    • Thanks Simon. It feels pretty awesome to have her on the road again. I’m definitely ordering up a resin-filled coil, as I’m not convinced that any of the three coils I have to hand is much cop. A few years ago, Elly did have an over-charging issue, which may have done her own coil in, though she’s bang on 14.4v now. The coil certainly does seem to get hot, though the points gap is set to a generously-loose 0.4mm. I am also going to try and revive the Velleman kit – off to see a friend today who knows his way around them. I would be far happier to ditch the condenser again, even if it isn’t actually to blame for the current woes.

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