Solving ignition problems

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Dirty contacts and rotor arm

My Mini was having a few problems starting on a morning. Nothing serious, it just required a lot of choke and holding the ignition key forward just that little bit longer. This is usually a sign that you have a weak spark.

After removing the distributor, the first thing I noticed was all the white flaky crud on the contacts. This came off easily with a small flat headed screwdriver. I then used some emery paper (wet n dry) to file off the rest of the crud until I had 4 shiny metal contacts.

I then removed the rotor arm and cleaned all the crud off its metal contact with emery paper and replaced it back into the distributor.

Clean contacts and rotor arm

You can see the state of the contacts and rotor arm in the before and after photos. Once clean, I refitted the distributor cap. Mine only has two spring clips holding it on so it is easy to remove.

I had a bit of spare time so I removed my spark plugs one at a time and checked the gap. According to my Haynes manual the electrode gap should be 0.8mm. My feeler gauges only went up to 0.63mm so I overlaid a 0.3mm gauge on top of a 0.5mm gauge in order to measure the gap. All four plugs were spot on.

Removed spark plug and feeler gauges

After replacing the plugs I put the key in the ignition and turned it. The engine was still a little warm and without using any choke or pressing the accelerator it started first time. And I only had to turn the key for a split second!

Sometimes it's the little jobs that don't cost you anything but a few minutes of your time that are the most rewarding.

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