The time has come to prostrate myself before the great Internet Oracle that is Opposite Lock.

My 1971 Beetle, pictured above, has a problem, and I’m at the end of my rope. Any ideas from the hivemind will be most welcome.

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The issue is a simple one: it won’t start.

Please don’t take me for a total rube - I’ve been working on aircooled VWs for 20 years, and I’ve scoured the forums and the vast wastelands of the VW-related web for the last week for a possible solution. But I have come up empty-handed every time.

That said, I fucking hate electrical problems, and I realize I’m not a savant by any means.

Here’s the problem in a nutshell:

  • Despite reading 12.2V where the ignition wire attaches to the coil with the ignition on, there is no spark from the coil to the distributor when the ignition is cranked.

    This is the case after swapping out THREE different ignition coils. The car cranks happily all day long, but the voltage drops across the coil to less than 8V when I crank it over, so I would assume at level there’s no hope for any spark!
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Here are the rest of the variables:

  • The car was running just fine before this problem happened
  • Freshly rebuilt original German Solex PICT 34 carb
  • Excellent fuel pressure
  • All fuses are good
  • Brand new battery with full charge (12.8V)
  • New ignition switch
  • New voltage regulator
  • New generator
  • New points set correctly, new condenser, new cap, new rotor, new distributor wires, and new spark plugs
  • Timing was on spec when the car died (009 distributor, so as good as it can be...)
  • With the ignition on, I read 12V along all paths in the ignition circuit from the battery, to the voltage regulator, to the light switch, to the ignition switch, to the fuse block, and all the way back to the coil
  • I tried to start it with a new patch wire from the fuse block to the coil, thinking maybe the original ignition wire was toast, still no luck
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I have followed all the advice I could find from the Bentley Manual, to Rob and Dave’s page, but still no solution.

Do I actually need to find a fourth coil?

Where am I losing the voltage?!?!

ARRRRRGHHHHHHH!

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