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B&S Engine-elec. ig. vs points & condenser

Posted by squirejohn (My Page) on
Sun, Jan 16, 11 at 11:27

I have an old (30 +- yrs.)B&S engine that's hooked up to a water pump that is used to water garden. Until I stopped using it about 5 years ago I'd have to replace the points & condenser two or three times a year. My local small engine shop said he could fix that by installing electronic ignition, which he did.
Alyhough the engine runs "fine" the rpm's seem very low and it doesn't pump water for beans. I can't seem to increase the rpm's and am thinking about going back to points and condenser, but not if I need to replace them frequently.
1. Is there any way to increase the rpm's with elec. ignition?
2. What would cause freqeunt failure of points & condenser?
I'd appreciate any thoughts you might have.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: B&S Engine-elec. ig. vs points & condenser

  • Posted by ericwi Dane County WI (My Page) on
    Sun, Jan 16, 11 at 18:23

Ignition points are opened by a cam, & the camshaft can leak enough oil to create a mist, which will contaminate the points, and cause them to fail sooner than expected. I can't think of any reason why an electronic ignition would cause low rpm's and reduced power. I would discuss this with the local mechanic who worked on the engine.

RE: B&S Engine-elec. ig. vs points & condenser

Gee's what HP? you can almost by china honda knockoff for the price of parts and labor, and little more for new briggs.

RE: B&S Engine-elec. ig. vs points & condenser

  • Posted by baymee LehighValleyPA (My Page) on
    Mon, Jan 17, 11 at 6:15

The points should last for years; not sure why your fail. Are they genuine?

I installed electronic on one 5HP Briggs a few years ago and never had any problems with it.

Can't you adjust the speed?

RE: B&S Engine-elec. ig. vs points & condenser

"Is there any way to increase the rpm's with elec. ignition?"

1. I converted a number of the B&S w/o a problem. I feel something is possibly bad or out of adjustment. Have you mentioned the problem to the installer?

"What would cause frequent failure of points & condenser?"
2. I feel the crank's seal is bad and allowing blow-by/oil to contaminate your points. If the condenser is actually failing vs being replaced it could be another problem.

3. My question to others and the installer. " Would a bad coil cause the points & condenser to fail" vs not fire?? In most cases I feel these items are routinely replaced vs tested.

Excuse the late reply due to not being able to log-in. If you are having the log-in problem, report it at the Contact Us at the bottom. I got an instant reset today vs no replies the last 2-3 days.

HELLO! loger

RE: B&S Engine-elec. ig. vs points & condenser

Thanks for the responses. It would seem this is probably not a quick (cheap) fix. Unfortunately the person that installed the electronic ignition passed away. This spring I'll take it to another small engine repair shop and get an estimate to repair. I can get a suitable replacement engine and pump for less than $200 so I'll see if it's worth fixing.

RE: B&S Engine-elec. ig. vs points & condenser

Adding a seal should be less if the old engine is in good shape related to cylinder wear, compression, crank bushing and etc.. I still feel the electronic kit should have solved your problem w/o an RPM problem.

Other points:

1. If the installer was well at the time, did he get all installed/adjusted properly and you had good RPM?

2. Have you noticed oil on the points in the past? Have you had any kick-back or sheared flywheel keys?

3. I need help! Are the points still used as a switch/signal with the electronics (I did my last about 1990)? The last kit at this site

verifies the points and condenser serves no purpose with the electronic ignition (as I thought I remembered). Therefore, I would make sure the key-way is not damages (flywheel tight to specs) and the air gap is .010 (guessing w/o checking or an index card thickness from the flywheel.

4. There could be a fuel restriction or fuel adjustment issue if the engine had RPM initially.

5. Please let us know how the engine ran initially after the electronics was added. If it sat for any time, “History”!


RE: B&S Engine-elec. ig. vs points & condenser

It's been at least five years since I used the engine (went to an electric pump but now need a gas engine pump re different water source) so my memory might be a little fuzzy.
However as I recall there was no noticeable oil on the points or condenser.
The engine used to run for about a half hour or so and then stop. I'd have to wait until it cooled down before I could restart it, and finally it wouldn't start at all so I'd replace the points and condenser and the whole procedure would start over again. I got sick of that and had the electronic ignition put in.
I suspect it was the condenser (I don't know what a condenser does) as the points looked fine.
After the elec. ignition was installed it ran fine; (i.e. never shut down), but the rpm's were very low and fiddling with the throttle and carb adjustments didn't work.

RE: B&S Engine-elec. ig. vs points & condenser

The world changes on the Briggs that had a point box rather than underneath the flywheel. I assume by the age that they were under the flywheel? I hear what you are saying about the RPMs being low after the update. Does this have an airvane type governor? Model type and code could help here. It is reasonable to assume that the carb may need cleaning in addition to the repair after 5 years of sitting.

RE: B&S Engine-elec. ig. vs points & condenser

I'm going to suggest something that I'd never have considered a couple of years ago. Why not replace the engine? I've read a lot of posts on the web about the Honda Clone engines offered by Northern Tool and others for under $200. Sure, they're made in China which distresses me, however, what isn't? The reviews are good, the price is low compared to a Briggs.

Getting a 30 year old engine back in shape is going to take time and $$, believe me, I've got enough of them around here that I've done exactly that.

Are we trying to keep the America that was alive by keeping the old iron running? I'm wrestling with this one myself and admittedly the old engines are much better than the new ones. If they work, if you can get parts, if working on them is indeed a labor of love, etc.

Enough with the soapbox, going out and plow snow with a '82 Roper...... :-)


RE: B&S Engine-elec. ig. vs points & condenser

I squeezed a few more hours out of an ancient David Bradley tiller, by converting it to a CD ignition. The cam bushings were shot making the point gap erratic. The engine was a 3.5 hp B+S horizontal. I used parts from a 3.5 B+S vertical shaft for the conversion. No details, This was 25 yrs ago.

RE: B&S Engine-elec. ig. vs points & condenser

It sounds as if the Briggs was too small for the job. In its younger days, did it do the job w/o getting hot and stopping? The condenser stores a charge that helps the coil fire the spark plug. Is that a close enough description of the condenser's function? I would also feel enough heat could breakdown the condenser. Opinions on the last 2 sentences Please! loger

RE: B&S Engine-elec. ig. vs points & condenser

The points are under the flywheel. I can't get to the engine until spring to check on model hp etc since it's frozen in a shed. I think it's a 3 1/2 or 5hp. It's quite heavy with the cast iron Sears pump. I'd guess about 40 to 50 lbs.
The pump ran fine when I got it, used. It was rigged with a 1" inlet and a 3/4" garden hose type outlet. I split the outlet and ran two hose sprinklers with less than 10' head and two 50' hoses. Those two sprinklers could cover my 50' x 30 garden.
I don't think it's under-sized since my 3/4hp elec. pump can do the same job.
If I can't get this fixed for a reasonable price I'll buy a new pump and engine rether than replace the engine. A 1 or 2 hp pump/engine should work just fine and there are several out there for less than $200.

RE: B&S Engine-elec. ig. vs points & condenser

Andy , your are quite correct there are numerous small engine site's that provide the China Honda Clones that you describe at a very affordable price . Unfortunate to many peoples opinion they are reliable offshore engines. I have one on a Honda HS that is running on its second yr flawless . Hate to support offshore , but sometimes its simple economics when it comes to repairing or oem replacement decisions vs offshore .

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