Engine completely and suddenly dies

If your engine has been running fine and suddenly dies and will not fire at all while cranking on the starter, check:

Fuel – assuming you have some in the tank!

  • Remove a fuel line from one of the carbs
  • With the fuel hose suitably directed to avoid anything hot, turn on the key and see if the pump is working

Ignition –

  • Check for a spark at the points. If there is not, check the condition and setting of the points. If that is OK, then –
  • Check wiring to the coil and distributor for breaks – as insulation ages it can get brittle, crack and precipitate this. (Especially if the insulation has been subjected to oil)
  • If there is a spark at the points, check the rotor arm. This is perhaps the most common cause of the engine suddenly going dead. A hairline crack in the rotor arm will gather dirt and allow a short circuit to its spindle. (refer photo) Even new rotor arms die occasionally! A simple diagnosis for rotor arm failure is that there will be a spark from the HT lead from the coil to the cap, but no spark at the spark plug leads. (Though this would also be the case if the distributor cap cracks around the centre HT socket)
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