Another dead Pertronix story - Vintage Mustang Forums
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post #1 of 40 (permalink) Old 08-25-2019, 02:58 PM Thread Starter
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Another dead Pertronix story

This could have been worse than it was, but the moral of this story is the Pertronix failure's you hear about are true, and I just learned it. I know there are some out there that work great, and mine was too. Lesson learned on my part.

So last Sunday I had to make a 200-mile (round trip) drive, and everything lined up that I could take a Mustang. The weather was nice, I wasn't on a deadline, I only had my wife as a passenger, and didn't have anything big to bring back home. I was really looking forward to it too, because I haven't had much time to drive one this summer, which has been disappointing. Shortly before my wife and I planned to leave, I drove it from its parking spot (fired right up), and parked it in front of my house. I gave it a quick waterless wash to get the dust off of it, then about 20 minutes later, the car was shining, and we were ready to leave. I got in, tried to start it, and it absolutely refused to fire. I didn't spend much time cranking it because I knew something was wrong. This car is a pretty mild build, and extremely well behaved. Thinking either ignition or possibly flooding, I grabbed a spark plug socket, pulled the #1 plug, and it was a nice light tan with no sign of problems. I had my son crank it over while I grounded the plug, and nothing, no spark whatsoever. Defeated, I then got my other son and the three us us pushed it back to its home. There went the Mustang drive.....

Because of what I've read, the Pertronix was the first place I targeted. I called Dan Nolan, because I knew he would be able to supply points and a condenser that weren't some of the junk ones I've also heard stories about. They arrived in the mail a couple days later, and I just got them installed. Before I touched anything, I verified the car still wouldn't start, and it was just as dead as it had been. Out came the Pertronix, and in went a set of points. At first try the engine started with a vengeance. I'm now going to set the timing, then cross this off my task list.

The only good part of this story is that it failed before I left my house. The way things usually work, I should have been stranded at the furthest possible point from home, so I was really lucky there. Also, for reference, this was a Petronix II, purchased 1/18/14, on a mostly stock 351W, it was fed without a resistor wire, and it had just a tad under 3000 easy miles on it. I bet these points last a lot longer.

Last edited by mqu02; 08-25-2019 at 03:00 PM.
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post #2 of 40 (permalink) Old 08-25-2019, 03:06 PM
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Curious.... Has anyone ever had a Pertronix 1 fail on them....! Anyone?!??

I've never heard of any Pertronix 1 failures.......Only on the II and the III units.....maybe because there is more going on with those units...


I've also heard stories of where people have been sitting in there car with the ignition to the "ON" Position and just listening to the radio and NOT "ACC" Position and have actually Fried their Pertronix units.

)

Tony K.
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post #3 of 40 (permalink) Old 08-25-2019, 03:11 PM
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Mine did. That's how I ended up with an HEI!
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post #4 of 40 (permalink) Old 08-25-2019, 04:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NEFaurora View Post
Curious.... Has anyone ever had a Pertronix 1 fail on them....! Anyone?!??

I've never heard of any Pertronix 1 failures.......Only on the II and the III units.....maybe because there is more going on with those units...


I've also heard stories of where people have been sitting in there car with the ignition to the "ON" Position and just listening to the radio and NOT "ACC" Position and have actually Fried their Pertronix units.

)

Tony K.
Mine has been working for about 25 years. But, I do keep spare points in the tool bag, just in case.

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post #5 of 40 (permalink) Old 08-25-2019, 04:37 PM
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Knock on wood, my P1 has been working fine for 7 years and 25,000 miles. I have left the key on acc quite a number of times doing electrical work too but never left it on in start position.I'm going to be back in Florida in 10 days, I hope I didn't jinx myself. I do have a reserve P1 unit AND a set of points (and a matchbook cover). That insurance policy seems to work for me.

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post #6 of 40 (permalink) Old 08-25-2019, 05:07 PM
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Parts fail; tires, batteries, coils, points and so on. So why not a pertronix 1 ?

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post #7 of 40 (permalink) Old 08-25-2019, 05:15 PM
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You could have gone to the parts store and bought a set of Standard Ignition Blue Streak points and condenser.
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post #8 of 40 (permalink) Old 08-25-2019, 05:19 PM
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Quote:
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Mine did. That's how I ended up with an HEI!
Which version please?

I have a PIII running in my car, and a spare PIII, and spare PII. I had not heard of any PIII failures yet where they were using the full 12v and proper Ohm coil?
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post #9 of 40 (permalink) Old 08-25-2019, 05:43 PM
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Mine was a P1. And no, I did not leave the key on to kill it. And yes, I did have a separate 12v wire run to it.
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post #10 of 40 (permalink) Old 08-25-2019, 06:06 PM
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PI failures tend to happen when installed without a full 12V or when the driver leaves the ignition in the run position without the engine running. To the OP, any chance you left the ignition on while cleaning the car?

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post #11 of 40 (permalink) Old 08-25-2019, 07:17 PM
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Quote:
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PI failures tend to happen when installed without a full 12V or when the driver leaves the ignition in the run position without the engine running. To the OP, any chance you left the ignition on while cleaning the car?
the OP had the P-2.

I've had 3 failures with the P-1 units . All different. One was DOA, one failure showed up as a misfire, and one was like the OP's; it just died in use.

They are pretty reliable considering how much volume of the Pertronix there is. For such an inexpensive device, one can't expect much quality control, and that's just what Pertronix delivers.

After my Pertronix episodes, and a 15 year affair with MSD, I made the complete circle and went back to the stock points and condenser ignition. My car's were just as reliable, went just as fast, and the engine compartment looked MUCH cleaner.

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post #12 of 40 (permalink) Old 08-25-2019, 09:03 PM
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The night before this year's Fabulous Fords Forever, I was cleaning my car at a friend's house. I had driven it close to 500 miles to get there. I pulled my car into his garage with no issues. Took a couple of hours getting it all cleaned up, and then fired it up to go to a little club-run car show. It ran like crap. Managed to make it to the show, but I made an entrance with it sputtering and stalling. When we got back to his house, we found a real small crack in the distributor cap between #7 and #8.

Another time, my ex-wife was driving the Mustang for awhile while I drove our other car back and forth to work. One day I took the Mustang out for a drive, and it was running like crap. I asked her how long it had been like that, and all I got was the dumb look. You know the one I mean. I checked it out and found that one set of the points (Ford dual point distributor) had broken in half and were just flopping around under the cap. Bought a new set and it was all good.

The point of all this? Stuff happens - be it old, new, OEM, etc.
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post #13 of 40 (permalink) Old 08-25-2019, 09:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NEFaurora View Post
Curious.... Has anyone ever had a Pertronix 1 fail on them....! Anyone?!??

I've never heard of any Pertronix 1 failures.......Only on the II and the III units.....maybe because there is more going on with those units...


I've also heard stories of where people have been sitting in there car with the ignition to the "ON" Position and just listening to the radio and NOT "ACC" Position and have actually Fried their Pertronix units.

)

Tony K.
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post #14 of 40 (permalink) Old 08-25-2019, 09:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NEFaurora View Post
Curious.... Has anyone ever had a Pertronix 1 fail on them....! Anyone?!??

I've never heard of any Pertronix 1 failures.......Only on the II and the III units.....maybe because there is more going on with those units...


I've also heard stories of where people have been sitting in there car with the ignition to the "ON" Position and just listening to the radio and NOT "ACC" Position and have actually Fried their Pertronix units.

)

Tony K.
Half a dozen P 1's in 28 years with no failures.

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post #15 of 40 (permalink) Old 08-25-2019, 10:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NEFaurora View Post
Curious.... Has anyone ever had a Pertronix 1 fail on them....! Anyone?!??

I've never heard of any Pertronix 1 failures.......Only on the II and the III units.....maybe because there is more going on with those units...


I've also heard stories of where people have been sitting in there car with the ignition to the "ON" Position and just listening to the radio and NOT "ACC" Position and have actually Fried their Pertronix units.

)

Tony K.
Seriously? I've posted lots on this subject. I had two fail, back when they were called Perlux (same exact item as today's Pertronix).
My opinion is that they're JUNK. They seldom give a warning. Either outright failure or the engine runs really funky..... and then it
fails. I've said it before..... just what electronics really like, the extreme heat inside a distributor. On the "Pertronix" 1, grounding
it to the engine and voltage are really critical..... as well as not leaving the ignition switched on. And with the Pertronix units there
is no guarantee that following these mantras will keep you running. As with most companies, they have seen fit to offshore their
electronics- definitely not the same quality they were back 30 years ago when they were the darlings of UPS and the Post Office.

I've had them all and run they all. I have a closet full of NOS electronic ignitions. I'm not a fan of Pertronix.

As the drill sergeant said, "I taught you everything you know. I didn't teach you everything I know."

"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so."
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Last edited by GT289; 08-25-2019 at 10:19 PM.
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