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Death by Distributor cap
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magpie81
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2016 10:19 pm    Post subject: Death by Distributor cap Reply with quote

My 87 all stock Vanagon has been showing some serious running issues that do not seem to be mentioned here directly. What would cause the center carbon/composite contact to burn away in only 500 miles? All that remains is the brass spring and tiny backing plate where the contact once was. This is the second one to fail in this way in this short of a distance. The most recent tune-up she got all new plugs, wires, cap and rotor. Any assistance or feedback is appreciated.
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Tom Powell
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2016 10:26 pm    Post subject: Re: Death by Distributor cap Reply with quote

Could this be caused by wiring the coil backwards? Or did the carbon button just fall out and disappear?

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Wildthings
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2016 11:58 pm    Post subject: Re: Death by Distributor cap Reply with quote

Maybe it is time to change brands, I have pretty much stopped using Bosch for anything any more.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2016 9:03 am    Post subject: Re: Death by Distributor cap Reply with quote

The contact may have been stuck in the cap and not riding on the rotor. This would have caused the spark to jump the gap there. That is just a guess. What brand cap and rotor did you install originally?
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2016 9:13 am    Post subject: Re: Death by Distributor cap Reply with quote

The amount of voltage in an ignition system is determined how difficult the spark gets to ground. High resistance is where I would focus my attention. Check the wiring and spark plugs.

Cheap is not good place to be when buying ignition components. There is a reason good spark plugs and wires cost what they do.

Bosch is a good company, but nearly as good as what they used to be. NGK is also worth investing in too.

Of course the carbon button is there when it leaves the factory, but that does not mean it made it to your VW. Make certain the new one has a button and replace the rotor too.
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tasb
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2016 11:00 am    Post subject: Re: Death by Distributor cap Reply with quote

When I restore distributors I rarely use brand new components anymore. I use NOS components.
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mbwesty
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2017 12:47 pm    Post subject: Re: Death by Distributor cap Reply with quote

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


My 88 Westy's been running like crap. This is a 2 yrs old, less than 20k miles, cap that had caused it. I think the center contact was some how stuck or not moving freely. The funny thing was this was a replacement to one that its center contact had fell out during shipping and it was lost as I was opening the box. I also recall I had to push the center contact of this replacement one back in before installing. I guess my point is they just don't make them like they used to . I had never had this happened to me before.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Now, just out of curiosity, what's the difference between these two caps? They both fit my 88 Westy. The one to the left is P/N 03214, and the right's P/N is 03212. The 03214 is couple bucks more expensive and comes with the black plastic jacket. Without the jacket they both look the same to me. I wonder why online they say get the 03214.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2017 2:25 pm    Post subject: Re: Death by Distributor cap Reply with quote

mbwesty wrote:
Now, just out of curiosity, what's the difference between these two caps? They both fit my 88 Westy. The one to the left is P/N 03214, and the right's P/N is 03212. The 03214 is couple bucks more expensive and comes with the black plastic jacket. Without the jacket they both look the same to me. I wonder why online they say get the 03214

The black cap has a metal insert. The goal is to prevent the small spark between the rotor and the cap to generate electrical noise everywhere in the engine bay.
If you use the 03212, you're supposed to have a metal shield around your cap, visible in this photo.

There's also another cap floating around for these vans, the 03360. It's supposed to only be mated on the 038/205AC distributor used in some 90/91 vans, but it can be fitted on the earlier distributor too (someone installed one in my van). I have a 03214 waiting to be installed.

A lot more info here:
http://www.oldvolkshome.com/ignition.htm#V8691
http://www.oldvolkshome.com/ovhignbo.htm
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mbwesty
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2017 2:51 pm    Post subject: Re: Death by Distributor cap Reply with quote

jmranger wrote:

The black cap has a metal insert. The goal is to prevent the small spark between the rotor and the cap to generate electrical noise everywhere in the engine bay.


Si, thx! The metal insert your talking about is the one where the clip touches outside on the jacket? So if the jacket is still good I suppose I could just reuse it on a 03212? I can't always get the 03214 where I shop. Thx!
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2017 3:35 pm    Post subject: Re: Death by Distributor cap Reply with quote

mbwesty wrote:
Si, thx! The metal insert your talking about is the one where the clip touches outside on the jacket? So if the jacket is still good I suppose I could just reuse it on a 03212? I can't always get the 03214 where I shop. Thx!

I'm assuming it contains more metal than just the clip. I'd love to see one x-rayed, but that machine's still on the wish list Laughing
The latching clips latch on orange material on the 03212 and on the metal tab on the 03214. Probably not enough difference to matter.
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mbwesty
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2017 5:34 pm    Post subject: Re: Death by Distributor cap Reply with quote

jmranger wrote:

I'm assuming it contains more metal than just the clip. I'd love to see one x-rayed, but that machine's still on the wish list Laughing
The latching clips latch on orange material on the 03212 and on the metal tab on the 03214. Probably not enough difference to matter.


Yeah, I bet you that's more metal that that jacket contains. Perhaps the jacket material is conductive. I should check. I think I will just reuse the jacket when only an 03212 is available to me. The 03214 plus shipping could easily be $25 alone. Also, back in the days I could hear engine interference on my FM when had used the wrong plugs, I kinda don't think its enough for the cell signals--microwave signals? I am on Pandora full time.
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kamzcab86
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2017 10:17 pm    Post subject: Re: Death by Distributor cap Reply with quote

1.9L DJ engines
To VIN M-105000
    Distributor #025905205N uses Cap #027905207 (Bosch 03212 w/ separate metal grounding ring #059905209)


From VIN M-105001
    Distributor #025905205AF uses Cap #027905207A (Bosch 03214 w/ integrated grounding cap)


2.1L MV engines
To VIN L-060000
    Distributor #025905205M uses Cap #027905207 (Bosch 03212 w/ separate metal grounding ring #059905209)


From VIN L-060001 to VIN M-105000
    Distributor #025905205AC uses Cap #030905207 (Bosch 03360 w/ separate metal grounding ring #030905209)


From VIN M-105001
    Distributor #025905205AG uses Cap #051905207 (Bosch 03368 w/ integrated grounding cap)


Considering GoWesty (et al) sells the 03214 cap for the 2.1L when the VW parts catalog shows 03368, the two appear to be interchangeable. Thus, if you can't find a 03214, look for a 03368 (standard equipment on 1990-1993 Digifant Cabriolets*).

[*Interestingly, the 1984-1989 Cabriolets also use 03212 & 03214 caps... so, if you have a Cabriolet of the same vintage as your van, you can swap caps.]
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msinabottle
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2017 12:59 pm    Post subject: Re: Death by Distributor cap Reply with quote

Thank you, kamzcab86!

I've been trying to figure that out for a long time. Jim Blazer told me that he doesn't like the shield on a Vanagon distributor, metal OR plastic, as they can make it possible for charge to arc from plug to plug. I pass that along in ignorance, but Jim Blazer certainly is NOT ignorant of Vanagons and their ways.

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jmranger
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2017 5:11 pm    Post subject: Re: Death by Distributor cap Reply with quote

Thanks for the info Kamz.

Two quick questions: the prefix letter is the model year, correct? So they were still producing 1.9L in '91? Or is the DJ the 2.1 112i that never made it on this continent? And just to complete my bookmarks, is that info from a publicly accessible website? Thanks.
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derekdrew
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2021 11:41 am    Post subject: Re: Death by Distributor cap Reply with quote

The old system was where there was a metal shield around the distributor grounded to the engine. In the new system, the metal shield seems to be integrated with the cap, and you can see a metal contact point on the side of the distributor cap.

Why would they provide access to the metal contact point for the EFI shield that is integrated with the distributor cap unless they intended for you to attach something to that metal and then ground it on the engine the way the old system worked. In other words, where are the attachment parts that attach to the exposed metal contact point in the new style distributor cap? I am looking at a cap 03214 in my hands and wondering how to ground this cap, or what to do with the exposed contact area that seems intended to attach to something.
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MarkWard
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2021 11:49 am    Post subject: Re: Death by Distributor cap Reply with quote

derekdrew wrote:
The old system was where there was a metal shield around the distributor grounded to the engine. In the new system, the metal shield seems to be integrated with the cap, and you can see a metal contact point on the side of the distributor cap.

Why would they provide access to the metal contact point for the EFI shield that is integrated with the distributor cap unless they intended for you to attach something to that metal and then ground it on the engine the way the old system worked. In other words, where are the attachment parts that attach to the exposed metal contact point in the new style distributor cap? I am looking at a cap 03214 in my hands and wondering how to ground this cap, or what to do with the exposed contact area that seems intended to attach to something.


Got a picture of what you are looking at? From memory, one of the cap clips would seat against the part I think you are asking about. The original all metal cap had a short ground lead that went to a spade connector under one of the distributor screws.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2021 11:50 am    Post subject: Re: Death by Distributor cap Reply with quote

The hold down clip on the distributor body provides the ground path.
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0to60in6min
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2021 12:50 pm    Post subject: Re: Death by Distributor cap Reply with quote

a story to share...

a while ago, my daughter came over with her Carat to visit ... the next morning it didn't start... cranks well but no start...

I looked around and found that one of the distributor clips was not ON... the hidden one on the other side not visible..... the dist. cap was on but slanted with only one clip... I took it out and the inside of the dist cap was quite bad and the rotor too. I replaced both and it started right up...

I don't know why one clip was off and still a mystery to me...
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tasb
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2021 8:37 pm    Post subject: Re: Death by Distributor cap Reply with quote

The Carrot wrote:
The hold down clip on the distributor body provides the ground path.


It's a clamp not a clip/ The clip holds the cap onto the distributor body.

Cap clips do sometimes come loose and can break.
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The Carrot
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 09, 2021 8:36 am    Post subject: Re: Death by Distributor cap Reply with quote

The clip is the part that I am referring to. There are two of them and they are both held in place in a groove on the metal body of the distributor. One of them does the job of providing a ground path to the black plastic suppression cover via the molded in metal contact at the clips contact point.
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