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Joined: Sep 2020
Posts: 73
Just to answer the direct question, how do I adjust dwell:

Adjusting the points gap adjusts the dwell.

Dwell is an indirect indicator of point gap.

Hank: 46 Chev 1/2ton shortbed
2018 Miata RF
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 8,538
Dwell is an indirect indicator of point gap.[/quote]

Yes. If the gap is correct the dwell will be also.
A dwell meter is a good way to check the gap before you open any thing up. Hook it up & start the engine.

They say money can't buy happiness. It can buy old Chevy trucks though. Same thing.

1972 Chevy c10 Cheyenne Super
Joined: Dec 2019
Posts: 10
There is a direct correlation between gap and dwell. If you get the gap right the dwell will be right. I've seen people use the flap from the cardboard carton that the new points came in as a feeler gauge. One thing to note, if you adjust the points to the correct gap and then tighten the clamp screw, the gap will change. You have to learn how much it changes then initially set the gap off by that much so it will be correct after you clamp it down. Always check after you tighten the screw.

Joined: Nov 2021
Posts: 9
JimboTX Offline OP
1954 3100 5 window
Thank you Lincoln for the info. Always learn from what you post.
What's not clear to me is if you believe the new 12v coil I installed caused the new points to burn.
As background, truck has been sitting for a few years after uncle became ill. I acquired the truck from his widow and my cousins. He had the system switched over to 12v from 6v, and drove it for years afterwards. I do not know what exactly had been done in the 6v->12v conversion, but know my uncle was a man who would have done it "right".
After replacing the complete fuel system I then turned to the ignition system and replaced with new components: plugs, wires, distributor cap, rotor, points, condenser.....and coil. I replaced the 6v coil he had on the truck with a new 12v coil - the only "change" from what was installed. The truck started right up and idled for 20 minutes or so and it started sputtering and died. I don't know at this point if it died from fuel or spark. At that point it wouldn't start back up. I eventually decided to replace - again, the points and condenser. It was then that I discovered the badly burned points. The plastic on the arm of the points had even melted some and the arm showed signs of being overheated. Thinking that the 12v coil could have burned the points, I reinstalled the 6v coil to see if it would start. After replacing the points, condenser and reinstalling the 6v coil the engine started.
So, I'm wondering if the 6v coil is the correct coil to be using with this system that has been converted from 6v to 12v? Or, is the 12v coil correct, and try it again and see if it burns the points again. Your knowledge here would be greatly appreciated.

Last edited by JimboTX; Sat Jan 22 2022 03:31 PM. Reason: wording correction

Finally bought my uncle's 1954 3100 that has been in the family since new.
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 10,770
Grease Monkey, Moderator General Truck Talk & Greasy Spoon
Leave the coil alone! If it ran for years with it then it must be right.

'62 Chevy C-10 Stepside Shortbed (Restomod in progress)
'47 Chevy 3100 5 Window (long term project)
‘65 Chevy Biscayne 4dr 230 I-6 one owner (I’m #2) “Emily”
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Joined: Feb 2004
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Kettle Custodian (pot stirrer)
Before playing "musical chairs" with parts again, How about doing some tests with a voltmeter and/or an ammeter? Points can handle a maximum current flow of about 5 amps without burning out prematurely. 3 1/2 to 4 amps is better. Some "12 volt" coils are intended to run without a resistor. Ford usually ran coils that had the proper primary circuit resistance to allow the points to have a reasonable life span without needing an external resistor- - - - -They were willing to accept a reduction in firing voltage during a cold start in exchange for longer point life. GM and Chrysler took the other approach- - - -Use a lower resistance coil primary winding for a hot spark while cranking, and protect the points with a voltage-dropping resistor during normal running with the charging system operating. There's no "right" way to do it- - - - -Just use the proper combination of parts and accept the downside that comes with either choice.

On a stovebolt six running a 12V system, I'd choose to use the coil and ballast resistor listed to fit a 55-64 Chevy V8 passenger car, and the foot switch on the starter with the small side terminal to bypass the resistor during starting. All those parts are designed to work together, and there's no guesswork about coil voltage. As usual, there are two kinds of ignition parts- - - -original equipment Delco-Remy (NOT AC-Delco) and "wrong"! NAPA "Echlin" brand ignition parts or "Blue Streak" are the top of the line where non-GM replacement parts are concerned.

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Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 1,977
Nowhere is your discussion did you indicate that this "6V to 12V conversion" had a ballast resistor installed. Or during replacing parts was it mentioned. HRL is spot on if you want this truck to run correctly.
Note: Buy a ballast resistor for a late 50's truck and a 12 volt coil that has the words stamped on it: For use with external resistor.

1956 3100 Pickup/Red/350/3sp OD/PS/Disc Brakes
1957 Bel Air Sport Coupe/Red/355/TH350/PS/Disc Brakes
2017 Silverado LT Single Cab SB/Black/5.3/6 Speed Trans
1947 Willys CJ2A w/F-Head engine
Joined: Nov 2021
Posts: 9
JimboTX Offline OP
1954 3100 5 window
Fred, both the previous 6v coil and the new 12v coil I installed have ballast resistors. When I bought the new one, I made sure I got 12v with resistor. When I reinstalled the 6v, I put the old resistor back on.

Finally bought my uncle's 1954 3100 that has been in the family since new.
Joined: Dec 2018
Posts: 1,567
Hanks custodian The best way to adjust dwell on a stovebolt is with an HEI !! You'll have real, dependable, long running ignition repairs are available at any parts store. Keep a pickup coil in the glovebox and a little handful of tools so you can change it !! Build your own HEI so you understand what it takes,it's pretty simple with tools you already have on your bench.

Joined: Dec 2018
Posts: 1,567
Granpa49 Sounds like you have been there and done that !! I done it years ago,glad there is so much better equipment out there today ! For people who enjoy conquering antiques go for it !!!

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