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I have a tale of woe that is now funny but wasn't at the time.
When I was 17 and had my first car, a '52 Ford flathead, I decided to install a Harman-Collins dual point - dual coil ignition to go with its shaved heads, 2-2s and dual exhaust. Now I was way over qualified to do this as I hardly knew a tachometer from a battery charger.
So I tore off all of the old ignition parts and put on the new stuff ... and it wouldn't start.
Checked to make sure everything was hooked up - yep had wires to both coils that went to the ignition switch, had wires from each coil to a set of points, some plug wire was first and it went to the first plug on one side the next wire went to the next plug on that side, etc, with the fifth wire going to the other side front, etc, and there were no extra wires or extra cylinders - so why won't it start?????
Finally learned that there was a thing called a firing ORDER. The 1953 Motor's Manual listed it as: 1Right, 1Left, 4R, 4L, 2L, 3R, 3L, 2R. So standing in front of the car I reconnected the plug wires. Still didn't start.
My Dad, who knew even less that I did about cars, could read, and pointed out that the book said "...as viewed from the rear of the engine...". So I rewired it again. Still didn't start.
Finally figured out that there was a direction in which the rotor turned and I had it wrong. Rewired the cap again! Still didn't start.
Much thinking and finally decided that the way the new distributor worked was for one set of points to fire the odd numbered plugs and the other to fire the even numbered plugs BUT this did not mean the odd and even numbered cylinders but really every other one in the firing order. Rewired the cap again. Still wouldn't start.
Now the above took over a month and I felt I was really close to having it right. But more thinking got me nowhere, I just had no idea what could be wrong.
Finally found out about at thing called a timing light, borrowed one and discovered that while the wiring was correct and aligned with the rotor, the rotor was about 90 degrees off. Or in other words, the distributor was installed wrong. Reinstalled the distributor and it started. Ran real well.
Decided to take a high school Auto Shop class that next summer.
And thanks to my neighbor who was an ex-Air Force Air Craft engine mechanic and could have done it for me in an hour but made me sweat over it for weeks so I really came to understand it.