Points are inexpensive and usually last for several thousand miles. But if you think that carrying out the above procedures from time to time is too much of a chore you may consider it worthwhile to fit electronic ignition.
There are several makes available which can be divided into two basic types. The cheapest units still require the points and merely provide a more reliable and stronger spark at the plugs. Adjustment of the points is still necessary from time to time as the fibre heel on the moving point will still wear down and the points will eventually become 'pitted' although the manufacturers often claim that 'pitting' will be reduced. Eventually they will still require adjustment or replacement. We don't see any merit in retaining the points except that if the unit fails you can easily switch back to conventional ignition.
The more expensive systems replace the points box and centrifugal weights completely so there are no moving or wearing parts and once fitted you should never need to adjust the ignition or timing again unless the unit develops a fault. Once set up correctly, the ignition should be far more accurate than using the conventional points, weights and condenser, adjusting itself automatically to engine speed for optimum performance.
We have recently fitted a 'DG-Nition' system to one of our cars. This involves simply removing the points box, points cam and centrifugal weights and substituting the electronic unit. There are only three wires to connect up and fitting should take less than an hour with the instructions included in the box. A similar system to the DG is made by 1-2-3 and we understand that fitting is just as simple. There are probably other makes as well but we have no details of them.
The only problem we foresee with these points replacement systems is if the unit fails so we intend to carry the original points box in the boot, just in case! But we should point out that the condenser in the original system can also fail without warning so even if you use a conventional points box, carrying a spare is not a bad idea.
2CV POINTS & IGNITION TIMING
THE WESSEX DUCKS
THE WESSEX DUCKS
This is one of the main parts of the ignition system that will help keep your car starting and running well. At some time you will need to check, adjust or replace the contact breaker points. When setting the points and timing as described below, make sure that you donít leave the ignition on for more than a few minutes at a time or damage to the coil will result. Removing the plugs will make turning the crankshaft much easier.
Checking the points gap
Retiming the ignition
Most engines will already have a timing mark on the flywheel and crankcase but in case yours has worn off this is how to get it in the right place. The timing mark is the point on the flywheel at which the points open and the plugs spark. Rotate the crankshaft slowly clockwise with the starting handle. Watch the flywheel where itís visible near the starter motor and you will eventually see a hole about 20mm below the teeth. This hole must be lined up with a hole in the crankcase on the right as you look at it (left of car) - see photo. Line this hole up so you can pass a 6mm rod (there is a special tool, but a drill or screwdriver will do) through the hole in the crankcase and into the hole in the flywheel. Make sure the rod is straight (particularly if it is smaller than 6mm) and then Tippex a mark on the crankcase near the starter and on the flywheel and one flywheel tooth in line with that mark - see photo. FOR GOD'S SAKE REMOVE THE ROD BEFORE GOING ANY FURTHER!
To access the points, raise the bonnet, remove the fan grille, undo the cooling fan centre bolt (use a screwdriver in the flywheel teeth to prevent the crankshaft from turning), remove the fan and the rubber shield over the points box. Undo the three points box cover screws and lift off the cover. Check the condition of the points.
Points that are badly pitted or burnt need replacing but points that only have slight pitting and discolouring need not be replaced. To remove the points for cleaning or replacement, you must take the points box off the front of the crankcase by removing the bolts on either side of the box and disconnecting the spade terminal on the condenser. Remove the thin metal protector plate behind the box and clean any oil from the housing behind. To remove the points from the box undo the screws labelled '1' and '2' in the photograph taking note of the position of the various washers, insulation block and spade connector. The moving point and condenser can now be lifted out. To remove the fixed point, unscrew the points locking screw, again noting the position of washers.
If the points are still serviceable then clean them up. Otherwise fit new points and a new condenser (these are usually supplied with the new points). Lightly lubricate the points cam and the pin on which the moving point pivots. Fit the points and condenser in the box and refit the metal protector plate and points box on the crankcase with the bolts either side of the box. Reconnect the spade terminal on the condenser. Do not fully tighten the two bolts yet.
You now need to be able to turn the engine over. To do this you will have to refit the fan retaining bolt on the end of the crankshaft (without the fan!) and use a 14mm socket on it. Turn the engine clockwise until one of the lobes on the points cam opens the points to the maximum (the fibre heel on the moving point is on the peak of the cam lobe) and measure the points gap with a feeler gauge which should be 16thou (0.4mm). To adjust, slacken the screw which holds the fixed point and, using a screwdriver against the lever labelled in the photograph, adjust the gap to 16thou and retighten the screw. Now turn the engine so that the second cam lobe opens the points to its maximum (the fibre heel is on the peak of the cam lobe) and measure the points gap again. If the gap is measurably different this indicates a worn ignition cam and you should consider replacing it.
Now youíve got the points gap correct you must ensure that they separate at the right moment - i.e. at the timing mark on the flywheel mentioned above. Rotate the crankshaft so that the timing mark on the crankcase lines up with the mark on the flywheel. Take a small 12v bulb in a bulb holder with wires attached to its terminals and crocodile clips on the other ends. Connect one of the crocodile clips to earth and the other to the terminal of the coil (blue) which goes to the points (partly slide the wire off the coil to get a good contact). Disconnect the plug leads from the coil. Turn the ignition on. The timing light will light when the points open and go out when they close. Making sure the timing marks are still aligned, rotate the points box to the point where the slightest further movement turns the timing light on or off. Tighten the bolts either side of the points box and recheck the timing to make sure you didnít move the box whilst tightening.
You have now set the timing statically but feeler gauges are not a very accurate tool. A better way is to set the correct dwell angle. This is the angle through which the camshaft turns (in degrees) whilst the points are closed and should be between 106° and 112° for post 1970 2CV engines. There are 107 teeth on the flywheel and If you do the maths it equates 3.36° per tooth. So the points should be closed for 64 teeth on the flywheel and open for 43. Rotate the flywheel clockwise one tooth at a time with a screwdriver until you get to the 43rd tooth from the timing mark and Tippex another mark on the flywheel, distinguishable from the first mark.
Using the static timing light (ignition on), slowly rotate the flywheel to ensure that points open (the lamp lights) on mark 1 and close at mark 2 (lamp goes out). If mark 2 goes by and the points are still open the dwell angle is too small and the points gap is therefore too wide. Conversely, if the points close before mark 2 the dwell angle is too large and the points gap too small. Any adjustment to the points gap will also involve slight adjustment to the timing by turning the points box until the points again open at mark 1 (and close at mark 2).