Maytag Won't Spark


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The following comes from a recent topic on SmokStak, which can be found at Various individuals started, commented on and concluded the following bulletin board thread.

I need some advice on my Maytag twin. I have replaced the spark plugs, checked the contact for proper gap (.020), cleaned the inside of the flywheel and magneto, inspected the plug wires and tested it per the instructions found in the owner's manual. No spark. I was told that it had spark when I bought it, so I feel the problem might have occurred when I took it apart. I admit that I am a novice at this and may be missing something obvious. Suggestions? -Tom

You didn't mention it, did you change the condenser? What kind of shape is the coil in? - JD

Hi Tom. I would first suggest checking the condenser. You can use an Echlin FA 66 condenser available at NAPA parts stores. The bracket is different, but the condenser will work. It will run you $5. Next, check the spark on your coil by grounding the spark plug with the wire attached to the top of the fins. BE SURE TO ground the other wire. These coils where made of one piece of wire so if not grounded on both sides it goes looking for ground and will burn out the one side of your coil. Next, if you have spark at both sides try using a power drill with a socket to turn the crank shaft over. I'm not sure why this works, but I replaced a coil before and had similar problems, tried the drill after everything else could be checked and it started sparking. Good Luck - Lonnie

Since you say you feel it may have happened when taking it apart, check how you put the ring on the shaft that opens the points. It will be round, of course, with one side flat - I believe it is keyed. If put on turned around I am not sure it will open the points properly. - David

Have you tried cleaning the points? If it hasn't been run in awhile they may be oxidized. To clean, use emery paper or a points file, then drag a clean business card through to finish. You can check them with a continuity tester. With them closed you should get a reading. - Bob

I once had an old Clinton engine on a used rototiller I picked up. After I got the engine cleaned up I tried to start it. It fired once, but after that it had no spark. I tried cleaning the points with a points file and adjusting them to spec afterwards. Still no spark. I tried changing the condenser and magneto, still no spark. Finally, not thinking of what else it could be, I took the points off and touched them to a grindstone lightly, put them back on, adjusted the gap and presto, it started up on the first pull and on the first pull every time after that. -Bill

The point breaker cam has an arrow on it and the arrow has to be visible when installed on the crankshaft. The arrow will indicate a clockwise rotation. To test the coil and condenser make sure the points and condenser are well grounded to the backing plate. Install a piece of insulating material between the points, such as a piece of thick paper. Make sure all wires have a good connection. Remove one spark plug, leaving the wire connected to it, ground it to the engine. Remove the other wire and ground it to the engine. From the negative side of a battery connect a jumper wire to the backing plate. Another jumper wire connected to the positive side of the battery I brush quickly against the screw that connects the coil wire to the points. A spark should occur at the spark plug. If it does not, disconnect the condenser wire from the points. If a spark now occurs by brushing the wire at the same location the condenser is at fault. I always set the points on a twin maytag at .020 and the spark plug gap the same. I do not suggest nor recommend that anyone do the same, only relating how I do it. - Ed

SPARK FOR THE MAYTAG! It is too long of a story to post here, but I finally got it. Isn't discovery great. It still isn't quite running yet, but I suspect it must be something other than the mag. I will check the fuel lines, etc. Thanks to all of you for your input - I learned a lot with this project and am definitely hooked on old gas engines. - Tom

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Harry Matthews is a retired electronic engineer and gas engine collector from Oswego, New York, now residing in Sarasota, Fla.