I thought I would have a closer look at the condenser issue this month (April). The old condenser I put on at the end of last month, to get the car back in to the garage, was also faulty but good enough to run the engine on tick-over. I only found out it was dodgy because I thought I would take the Corsair for a quick spin to warm it up in readiness to taking it out to the Haynes Breakfast meet the following day. I barely got out from my road and the car was lurching all over the place under light acceleration, very quickly suspecting the condenser, I headed back for home and put the car away. A week later, after some contemplation I decided to go the electronic ignition route (Powerspark) but also bought a new coil and couple of spare condensers as back up.
It was just as well I got those back up condensers. On the Thursday before Good Friday I fitted a new condenser to replace the suspected faulty one, and all was fine – no lumpiness on the throttle blips. So with renewed confidence I took a look at replacing the points and (new) condenser with the electronic ignition module. But it didn’t seem to line up concentrically with the magnet that fitted to the rotor arm spindle. Needless to say, it didn’t work when I tried to start the car. With the points/condenser set-up I took the Corsair for a drive out on Saturday (20th) to Westmoors and then back via Blandford for pet supplies. All seemed ok but for a rattle that I couldn’t pin-point that came from the front underside of the car.
From an earlier email, Powerspark got back to me with my issue to suggest detaching the module (two Allen bolts) from the baseplate and flipping it over. When I tried this the module was still not concentrically aligned but not as much as before. They also gave me further clarification on the wiring which brought to my attention something else that I (and others) hadn’t before.
The issue that I had failed to see, for all the time I’ve had the Corsair, was it turned out my ignition coil was set up in a reverse polarity configuration. Whilst still working it could be part reason for my poor cold winter starting and possible condenser failures. I switched the polarity, so that my condenser wire went to the negative terminal of the coil and the other wires from the wiring loom went to the positive terminal. Sunday, I took the Corsair for a lovely sunny and warm drive to Sturminster Newton and back home via the A357 through Shillingstone to Durweston and the A350. The rattle was becoming un-nerving especially at slower speeds over road imperfections and deceleration. The steering all felt fine but the rattle sounded like something loose and metal on metal tapping.
Monday (22nd), I jacked the car up and removed the road wheels to make a closer investigation of the front suspension parts. The inspection revealed nothing, no loose nuts, broken springs or worn joints. I took the car for another drive out this time, to Tisbury, with the rattle seemingly getting worse especially over rough road surfaces. I tentatively drove through Semley to Tisbury, back via Ansty and the A30. It wasn’t until I parked up in the garage, turned the engine off, got out of the car and then shut the car door that I heard the rattle from the engine compartment, but only faintly. It led me to consider the water pump may be at fault, as I had changed the fan belt last Thursday, re-tensioned it on Sunday and hence the new noise. The slight water leak form the water pump had also seemingly stopped.
STOP PRESS: The internet has flagged up another possible answer, it could it be a broken clutch plate spring pinging about in the bell housing bouncing off the flywheel, which seems to fit the description of when I hear the noise. I emailed Precision Clutch Components for advice, only to visit their shop on Saturday and to come away with a new clutch plate.
In addition to the clutch spring diagnosis, Powerspark had sent me another new base plate to suit my distributor so I had another go at fitting the new base-plate to transfer the electronic ignition module on to. It fitted as it should and lined up with the magnet on the rotor arm spindle. However, I must have damaged the module during an earlier fitting as I wasn’t getting a spark at the spark plug. Back to the points set up and by now a flat battery.