Did you notice that Doc Brown never changed the 1.21 gigawatt Flux Capacitor in his DeLorean? That’s because it worked, so there was no need to change it. Same for MGs.
Typical symptoms of a bad condenser are loss of power especially under load, occasional backfire out the carburetor, may or may not die. The problem usually occurs suddenly. Similar symptoms can be caused by a bad rotor, a grounded wire, fuel problems, and other gremlins, but let’s stick to condensers for this discussion.
“Back in the day,” a tune-up included replacing the condenser. However, most automobile manufacturers including MG eliminated condensers in the mid-70s when they changed to electronic ignition systems. Now days, condensers are often produced by off shore companies with little quality control. Failures are becoming more common. Sources of good condensers with the correct mounting brackets for MGs are shrinking.
Len Fanelli of Abingdon Performance (firstname.lastname@example.org) recommends condensers by Standard products / Echlin (NAPA). The Distributor Doctor (http://www.distributordoctor.com/distributor_condensers.htm) claims that he makes condensers that work and fit most MGs. Jeff Schlemmer at Advanced Distributors (http://www.advanceddistributors.com/) may also have suggestions for good condensers that fit.
Just about all distributor condensers have the same electrical properties, but different mounts. Some MG owners have adapted condensers for popular early 70s American cars to use in their MG distributor. To fit this 1970 Chevrolet condenser (left) into his T-series distributor, the owner ran the wire in the opposite direction. I found that a 1978 Plymouth Arrow condenser fits in my TF distributor. Or, drill and tap your breaker plate to accept condensers with various mounting brackets.
For emergency road repair, many MG owners carry an extra breaker plate with a condenser and properly gapped points. Only takes a couple of minutes to change the breaker plate and get back on the road.
Moss #163-700 (T), #551-055 (MGB & Midget); Advanced Distributors “25D Breaker Plate Assembly” (MGA)
You can make an emergency condenser for your tool box by attaching a couple of clips to a condenser:
If your condenser goes bad …
Attach the wire to the points-terminal on the coil or distributor; and attach the case to a good ground. No need to remove the bad condenser if it failed because of an open circuit inside.
I’m an MG newbee, so I write “Tech Tips” from a newbee perspective. Do you have a tip that you would like to share? Would you like to write a “TechTips” for more experienced MG owners? Contact me to participate.
Next month: It’s car show season!