<VV> What would make #1 distributor tower not fire?

Doug Mackintosh dougmackintosh at yahoo.com
Sun Mar 13 09:00:26 EDT 2016

I am baffled - hope you guys have some ideas for me.My daughter's 1964 Spyder is running stock parts, including the ignition system. Yesterday when I tried to set the timing, I did not get a signal off #1 plug wire for my timing light (using an inductive coupler around the wire). All 5 other wires gave a signal. Pulling #1 wire off the plug did not affect the idle, so I know it was dead. If I put a paper clip in the end of the #1 wire and point the sharp end at a ground point I only get a very faint intermittent spark and only if I hold it very close (say 1/16 inch) away. The other wires give a better spark, but it does not seem like the fat spark I am used to. I plan to compare it to one of my other cars today to confirm that. I tried all the following (even though some would not affect only one position) with no effect:
- Inspected the distributor cap for tracking, dirt, evidence of uneven wear- Replaced #1 wire with a used wire from a running car, tested for continuity- Replaced the distributor cap with a used one from a running car- Replaced the condenser with a new one- Replaced the rotor with a used one from a car that was running- Replaced the coil with a used one from a car that was running
The dwell is 30 deg right now and steady within about a degree. There does not appear to be a lot of slop in the distributor shaft. I set the timing using #4 for signal and it is reasonably steady (moves 1 degree). The car starts right up and runs fair-to-middling (a little stumble on tip-in, will pull to redline, but doesn't have the oomph it has when it is in tip-top tune). The gas mileage has been bad (low teens) lately, even given my difficulty keeping my foot out of it. 

Anyone have any ideas? Have you seen this before?Thanks! -- Doug Mackintosh Corsa member since 1996 Corsa/NC member since 1996, Virtual Vairs member Corvair owner 1969-1971 and 1996-on

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