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1987 Tristar - Not Cranking, No Clicking

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  • 1987 Tristar - Not Cranking, No Clicking

    Guys, I picked up this 1987 Tristar recently. I was told by the previous owner someone messed with the wiring but it had since been fixed. It also had water up to the floorboards late last year. I am not getting the engine to crank and there is no clicking at the solenoid when I turn the key.

    I picked up a new starter, electronic conversion kit, disty cap, plugs and wires, and battery. I installed everything and bypassed the ballast resistor. I am not getting the engine to crank or click. The lights and accessories will light up but nothing when I turn the key. I have ruled out the ignition switch since I am getting 10.2V at the coil positive connection. The lanyard is already bypassed and should allow the engine to crank regardless.

    When the wiring was previously fixed it looks like things were done incorrectly, however I was told the boat running after fixing the wiring. The first picture I am posting is the original distributor cap/coil and ballast resistor connections with the point setup. This cap has the clip downs. A single purple wire was coming out of the distributor to the negative post on the coil. There is also an orange wire going to the ballast resistor and then to the positive coil connection. There is a grey wire coming out of the loom and is the tack lead connected to the "positive" terminal on the coil. Finally, there is a purple/pink wire going to the ballast resistor and then to the carb. You can faintly see the four wires that are coming out of the loom under the coil. Based on this original setup I think the orange wire is the battery power from the ignition, grey wire is the tach lead, and the purple/pink wire is the exciter wire or the choke? and last wire is the oil sensor blue.

    Now onto the current setup with the electronic ignition and new disty cap. Vince sent me an excellent wiring diagram I have not seen on here before - see attachment. I connected the black wire coming out of the distributor cap to the the negative on the coil. I connected the red wire coming out of the cap to the positive on the coil. The grey tach is on the positive coil (not sure this is correct according to the wiring diagram). I also removed the orange wire going to the ballast resistor and sent it straight to the positive on coil. The purple/pink wire I left going to the ballast and then to the carb.

    I have a feeling my problem is the ground or the ground wire. It was siting in water and may have corroded but the connection on the backup the engine looks good. Vince and I also bypassed the neutral safety switch by putting both white wires on the same post on the trans. I also have confirmed that the connections from the starter to the relay are correct and have a picture of that as well.

    Today when I get out there I am going to jump the battery negative to the ground to make sure it is not the ground wire corroded. I have an ohm meter but don't know how to measure resistance on the ground. I think I have read it has to be ZERO not .9 or something small. Where else can I take reading to isolate the issue?

    Thanks in advance for your time and help. I hope to get this thing fired up soon.

    Bill

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    Wiring Diagram_87 Tristar.pdf

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  • #2
    Didn't have time to go through your post thoroughly but two things jumped out. You need a minimum of 11.5 volts at the coil positive to make the electronic ignition work. You should also remove and clean all battery connections with a wire brush. Looking good can be very misleading. I will be back on here late for a more complete answer if you still need it.
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    • #3
      Cranking

      Well I tested the relay switch and was getting 12.5v in but nothing was coming out. I assume that the out side of the relay to the selenium should be hot with 12.5 with the key in the in position? So I tapped the selenoid cable to the battery side of the relay and it it kicked the selenoid/starter. So can I say that the relay switch is the problem? Or is it possibly the ignition switch? The ignition switch is getting 11.6v in the on position. I'll be back out there in the morning.

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      • #4
        You are on the right track, If you are getting battery voltage to the S terminal on the solenoid with the key in the crank position (small wire from ignition switch) and the solenoid isn't engaging, you have a bad solenoid.
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        • #5
          Wow, heavy corrosion. The distributor must have been fun to remove?

          First I would remove ground cable from engine block, clean the paint off the mounting surface with a file and also clean the cable end. Re-install and try it.

          You may also have a bad kill switch at the throttle lever. You may have to bypass it.

          How's the starter itself look? If it went underwater you should send it out and have it rebuilt.
          Copper hates being under water.
          I was njskier on here.

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          • #6
            Another thing to do is check the resistance of the battery cables. They can look fine but have corrosion inside the casing and cause problems. Use an ohm meter. Google the resistance chart for size and length of wire. There should be very little resistance.
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            • #7
              Yes, consider replacing your battery cables. You can get the raw materials pretty cheap online, if you can learn to crimp (easy). I was having similar problems until I replaced all of the heavy cables on the boat.

              Also, have you tried moving the distributor yet? Mine looked like yours (well, not quite that bad) and I had to use a slide hammer on it to even get it to move. First things first, I think I'd throw a new starter in there. One of the Arco gear reduction jobs.

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              • #8
                I have the brand new Arco in there now. So that means it's the relay correct? Once I install the new relay then I'll make sure the EI and Flamethrower II are bypassing the ballast resistor. I'll drain the gas and put fresh gas in. I should have just bought the Mallory disty with the EI built in. I am very doubtful as well and may just order it. Well try and get her fired up and go from there.

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                • #9
                  Should I wait to get a new distributor before cranking it?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Distributor is just a housing, gears and bearings. You've got all the good stuff for it already. The new ones are nice, but I think you'll be OK as long as everything in that one feels tight. Make sure your advance springs and the rest of the mechanical advance is in good shape.

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                    • #11
                      Distributor

                      Here is the dilemma, I should probably replace the distributor. I have a clip down cap now and the Electronic ignition for the clip down cap but I also have a EI for the screw down cap and a screw down cap here as well. I also have new points rotor and cap on hand but the plate is toast. I don't want to shell out $400 for a new disty but can get a older nos prestolite with the screw down cap for $80 bucks. I could put the points in it for cheap. Or should I just get something like this: http://m.ebay.com/itm/Mallory-Single...105?nav=SEARCH and use my clip down EI kit? Not sure if the Prestolite EI will work with the Mallory Disty. I have a FlameThrower II coil. Or should I get it going as it is now and replace the disty later. I do need to have it in the water by May 15 or could lose my slip. I'll get pictures of the springs in the morning but the disty is in bad shape. Any recommendations to replace the disty and use the parts I have would be helpful.

                      Thanks for everyone's input so far!

                      Bill

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Tristar87 View Post
                        Here is the dilemma, I should probably replace the distributor. I have a clip down cap now and the Electronic ignition for the clip down cap but I also have a EI for the screw down cap and a screw down cap here as well. I also have new points rotor and cap on hand but the plate is toast. I don't want to shell out $400 for a new disty but can get a older nos prestolite with the screw down cap for $80 bucks. I could put the points in it for cheap. Or should I just get something like this: http://m.ebay.com/itm/Mallory-Single...105?nav=SEARCH and use my clip down EI kit? Not sure if the Prestolite EI will work with the Mallory Disty. I have a FlameThrower II coil. Or should I get it going as it is now and replace the disty later. I do need to have it in the water by May 15 or could lose my slip. I'll get pictures of the springs in the morning but the disty is in bad shape. Any recommendations to replace the disty and use the parts I have would be helpful.

                        Thanks for everyone's input so far!

                        Bill
                        This would be the way to go. You could certainly run points for a while. you are likely to have problems with electronic ignition until you resolve the resistance issues that are preventing you from having battery voltage to the coil.
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                        • #13
                          I was facing you same dilmena, and bought one of the NOS distributors from eBay. After having some problems with the advance (I was only getting like 6 degrees of advance) I brought it to a speed shop and he said the springs were all wrong (even though the distributor is supposed to be the exact one for this application).

                          So, YMMV but I had to throw another $50 at the distributor to get it re-springed/advanced. If I had to do it again I'd probably just get a new Mallory EI distributor.

                          You may have lots of problems trying to remove that distributor. I hit on mine for days with oil and drifts. Eventually I had to yank it out with a slide hammer contraption. I'd start spaying the base with penetrating oil now, no matter what you do, because you'll certainly have to re-time it anyway.



                          Chain wrench got it to budge... a centimeter.



                          Took a slide hammer with a 3-jaw puller to finally get it out.



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                          • #14
                            Issues

                            Guys this is killing me. I replaced the starter selenoid switch. If I jump the two big posts the starter will engage and turn. I am getting 11.7v at the S post when the key is in start/crank position. The orange wire on the I post also gets 11.7v when key is in starting/crank position. I cleaned the area the selenoid switch bolts to the block to make sure I have good contact there.
                            I get 12.4v at the orange post on the ignition key switch and also 12.4 coming out of the yellow/red stripe post on the ignition switch leading me to believe there is not problem with the key switch. I also get 12.4 on both ends of the circuit breaker on the Yellow/red wire. I bypassed the neutral safety switch to take that out of the equation.
                            I also cleaned the ground on the battery cable to the block. I can not find the 50amp breaker only the circuit breaker. I checked connections there and everything seems to ok. The red battery cable coming of the selenoid switch goes to the breaker, this has 12.5 going in and coming out of the breaker. The orange and purple connection at the distributor gets 12.4v when the key is in the in position.
                            This is still leading me to think a ground issue still. Maybe replace the negative battery cable. Any thoughts or further testing please let me know ill be out there today.
                            Brand new Interstate 650 cranking battery is installed. I also installed the new starter from skidm. The problem is the small red fire coming off the selenoid switch is not powering when the key is in start/crank position.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Two difficult concepts to understand in wiring on your boat and trailer are voltage and amperage. Volts are pretty simple and easy to measure. Amperage gets a little more confusing. It's basically the flow of electricity. If you have a battery cable with high resistance, it's like a water pipe clogged with years of crud. You get water when you turn on the faucet, but not much volume. A battery cable with high resistance might measure full or almost full battery voltage, but when you try to use it, it can't flow enough electricity to work.

                              I'm not sure where you are at with the problem now. When you turn the key to the start position, what do you get? Nothing? A single click or clicking at the solenoid? After you try to start, do the battery cables feel hot?

                              You probably need to use an ohm meter to measure the resistance of your battery cables. You need to disconnect both ends of the cables and set your ohm meter to a low reading and see what you get. By looking at the chart, you should real almost zero resistance as the numbers on the chart are for 1000 feet of wire.
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