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Triumph Repair/75 spitfire no spark


QUESTION: Hey, I have a 75 spitfire I just picked up and its got a no start issue. The car has compression and fuel but the spark is intermitten basically i only have spark when i release the key from cranking the motor.

ANSWER: Hi Clay,

First thing to test is the voltage to the coil with the key in the "ON" position and again in the "Start" position. If the voltage is low (9v or less) in the "Start" position, Connect up a second known good battery as though you are jumping off a car with a dead battery and test the voltages again.

Another test is to remove a spark plug and connect the plug wire to the plug and lay the plug on a metal part of the engine and have someone spin the starter and watch the spark. (not in bright sun light) The spark should be blue in color and thick as a pensil lead. A spark that is hair thin and colored Yellow or Orange is a weak spark and usually not start an engine.

Let me know,


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QUESTION: Ok thank you very much! I'm having the car towed to my house so I will let you know what happens thank you. By the way have you seen the slave cylinder ever seize up? It had a rock hard clutch peddle when I first got there. I bled the system n worked the peddle for a while seems to have about 3 inches of travel now.

ANSWER: Yes, I have seen Slave cylinder pistons freeze in their cylinders and mastercylinders do the same and the release bearing slider also can freeze up. Any time you have a failure of either the slave cylinder or the master cylinder you should either rebuild both or replace both. Never do just one.


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QUESTION: Ok thanks I replaced both the slave and clutch master working well now. I have spark now and have fuel and compression but motor kinda sounds like it wants to kick over but, let's out a backfire instead. I know that the spark wires are on the right cylinders but not sure where the distributor needs to sit, it was loose from the previous owner

Hi Clay,

Here is a quick rough method to see if the timing is far off. Remove the spark plugs and put each plug on it's wire and lay all of them on a metal part of the engine. Lay #1 where you can watch it spark. Put your thunb over #1 plug hole and have someone spin the engine over and watch the #1 plug spark. When the compression of #1 comes up, it will blow your thunb off of the plug hole with a "POP" sound. It will look as though the spark on #1 plug (a "Click") is made by the "Pop".  If you have a ("Pop"-"Click") or a ("Click"-"Pop") then the timing is probably so far off it will not start. It is best to chack each cylinder the same way.

If your "Pop" and "Click" are not at the exact same time then turn the didtributor until they are the same time. This is not as accurate as needed for ignition timing but is close enough to have it run. If you get it right then set the timing accuratly with either a timing light or use the 12v test light method to set timing and lock down the distributor.

let me know,


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Howard M. Fitzcharles III


Triumph TR-4 up & Spitfire, and Engine theory


Dealership line mechanic on MG, Triumph, Jaguar for 15 years, Instructor in commercial mechanics school 2 yr. Product information manager for piston and valve manufacture, Instructor & hotline answer man for import car parts importer 15 yrs.

Associate member SAE EAA member

Import Car magazine

ASE Master Auto with L-1 certification up to 2000

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