Condensers and their questionable quality

This theme seems to repeatedly occur for me. Brand new internal cap going bad prematurely on a V1, left me stranded. No problem, switch to external one. Problem solved right? Wrong! Wether it's from Treatland, Advance Auto, O'Reillys or even Napa, all are questionable. Most recently an external from O'Reillys on an M1 Colt let me down before I could even clock a number of test runs after the rebuild.

A mechanic friend who serviced Nissan and Hyundai would tell me of customers bringing their cars in unable to make them run right after just installing tune up parts from Advance Auto and such. He would tell them he would throw them away and install genuine OEM parts.

I once was stranded in a 90 Saab 900T because I didn't replace the cap and rotor as general maintenance. The parts store crap lasted not even a year. I was stranded and would have used a cap and rotor if it was made out of old egg crates just to motor on. But really?

Have any of you found a source for higher quality caps that last as long as they should? As a rule these things fail just sitting in a drawer for too many years but you can't even count on Blue Streak brand anymore.

Suggestions? I'm adding a clip on external cap to my tool kit. They usually fail as open, not shorted so it should get me home.

Re: Condensers and their questionable quality

I'm currently running an Echlin alternator condenser ( EP30 ) on my '57 Simplex .

I had to return the first one I ordered , as it was no good . Probably open .

I have tried a couple of old stock condensers without any luck , supposedly different brands .

There are guys that use only Bosch condensers with good results . I have not .

Re: Condensers and their questionable quality

Probably Fred /

> Frank Bailey wrote:

> -------------------------------------------------------

> This theme seems to repeatedly occur for me. Brand new internal cap

> going bad prematurely on a V1, left me stranded. No problem, switch to

> external one. Problem solved right? Wrong! Wether it's from

> Treatland, Advance Auto, O'Reillys or even Napa, all are questionable.

> Most recently an external from O'Reillys on an M1 Colt let me down

> before I could even clock a number of test runs after the rebuild.

>

> A mechanic friend who serviced Nissan and Hyundai would tell me of

> customers bringing their cars in unable to make them run right after

> just installing tune up parts from Advance Auto and such. He would tell

> them he would throw them away and install genuine OEM parts.

>

> I once was stranded in a 90 Saab 900T because I didn't replace the cap

> and rotor as general maintenance. The parts store crap lasted not even

> a year. I was stranded and would have used a cap and rotor if it was

> made out of old egg crates just to motor on. But really?

>

> Have any of you found a source for higher quality caps that last as long

> as they should? As a rule these things fail just sitting in a drawer

> for too many years but you can't even count on Blue Streak brand

> anymore.

>

> Suggestions? I'm adding a clip on external cap to my tool kit. They

> usually fail as open, not shorted so it should get me home.

Bosch condensers like in puch sachs mopeds are the best

The stock ones in my 43-year-old bikes still work perfect

I got a few NOS ones awhile back to replace ones that were missing in Stator plates and they worked like new

I believe that you could still find them though I don’t know if they would match up to the CEV ones v1 engines come with sizes and farads/microfarads

Re: Condensers and their questionable quality

The main failure mode for automotive condensers is moisture getting into the part; this degrades both the plates and the dielectric.

Re: Condensers and their questionable quality

Re: Condensers and their questionable quality

the only true replacement is a CDI

Re: Condensers and their questionable quality

A Bosch condenser for any mid-70's air cooled VW is a good product. Longer wire already has two spade connectors for more options mounting externally, costs around $12 from a VW source like JBugs

Re: Condensers and their questionable quality

I'll look into the EP30 and VW Bosch options. Thanks all for the suggestions.

Re: Condensers and their questionable quality

Richard Eberline /

I test each condenser/capacitor for MFD. Most fail for the heat/cold it lives in. A good clean ground helps. Honda and Japan make a VG condenser. I solder most of the the wires on the condenser after the install on the stator. When they start to go, you get misses, then the engine quits 15 mins. into the ride. Let the engine cool down and it will start up for 10 to 15 mins. Tester Supco MFD10

Re: Condensers and their questionable quality

That's a nice testing unit. Too fancy for me. I like the ohm meter method. I made an old MK2 Jaguar run right almost 20 years ago. That condenser is still just fine. Everyone now goes with the Pertronix conversion or in mopeds, CDI. I favor the simplicity of points and condenser although the electronic ignition in my Honda lawn mower has been bullet proof.

Re: Condensers and their questionable quality

> Frank Bailey wrote:

> -------------------------------------------------------

> That's a nice testing unit. Too fancy for me. I like the ohm meter

> method. I made an old MK2 Jaguar run right almost 20 years ago. That

> condenser is still just fine. Everyone now goes with the Pertronix

> conversion or in mopeds, CDI. I favor the simplicity of points and

> condenser although the electronic ignition in my Honda lawn mower has

> been bullet proof.

Key there^ . ;)

Re: Condensers and their questionable quality

Dirty30 Dillon /

An ohms test on a DMM will give you p/f reading but the actual tester will actual tell you how healthy it is.

I've had multiple condensers test ok but not function in situ

Re: Condensers and their questionable quality

Back in the day people in the electronics repair field would charge capacitors then toss them to you. The same type would heat vice grips and other tools in shop class then ask you to help put them away. Fun times.

I guess the answer is to find quality parts or convert to a known reliable CDI replacement, like my lawn mower...

Re: Condensers and their questionable quality

> Dirty30 Dillon wrote:

> -------------------------------------------------------

> An ohms test on a DMM will give you p/f reading but the actual tester

> will actual tell you how healthy it is.

>

> I've had multiple condensers test ok but not function in situ

Yeah, a multimeter, even one that can measure capacitance, won't tell you anything about ESR.

Re: Condensers and their questionable quality

> Frank Bailey wrote:

> -------------------------------------------------------

> Back in the day people in the electronics repair field would charge

> capacitors then toss them to you. The same type would heat vice grips

> and other tools in shop class then ask you to help put them away. Fun

> times.

Or turn electrolytic caps around when they're not looking, so that they turn into little confetti cannons when they turn on their circuit... ;)

Re: Condensers and their questionable quality

Probably Fred /

> Frank Bailey wrote:

> -------------------------------------------------------

> Back in the day people in the electronics repair field would charge

> capacitors then toss them to you. The same type would heat vice grips

> and other tools in shop class then ask you to help put them away. Fun

> times.

>

> I guess the answer is to find quality parts or convert to a known

> reliable CDI replacement, like my lawn mower...

In industrial electronics class late 70s we would take large farad capacitors that were for radio transmission and tube set amps, charge them on the power supply to 300+ volts put a piece of tape on one lead so it wouldn’t accidentally discharge and take them to the next class and shock/attempt to shock each other and our friends.

I was always on the look out for a lump in a paper folder they would carry or bump in flannel shirt pocket and they were looking at mine to see if I was hiding any too. Great fun!

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