Ignition System

There are many ways to send a spark to the cylinders. One of the oldest systems is known as breaker points. Breaker points are a mechanical switch that opens and closes as the engine turns. The points are mounted inside a distributor, a mechanical ignition control device. The distributor contains a mechanical system for determining when to trigger the points so as to fire the spark plug at the right time. When the points open and close, they generate a signal of 12 volt pulses.

The pulses run to a coil, which is often inside a housing about the size and shape of a soup can. The coil amplifies from 12 volts to 40,000 volts or more. This high voltage runs along a thick wire to a connection in the center of the distributor cap. The ...

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