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  #1  
Old 12-23-2008, 12:34 AM
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JVMopar JVMopar is offline
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Default Ballast resistor problems.

The neighbor has a '88 dodge wrecker and it's been eating ballast resistors like candy. It'll run for about an hour then die. No power to the coil. So another new ballast and it's good for a while longer. It's been through 5 so far. I think he should just bypass the ballast as without points there really isn't a need for it. What are your thoughts?
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  #2  
Old 12-23-2008, 05:38 AM
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I dont run a ballast on anything, dont know what they are for.
This is on ten vehicles I drive, I must just be lucky. Since I quit running the ballasts I havent had a coil go out
I would ditch it.
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  #3  
Old 12-23-2008, 08:23 AM
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The ballast is there to protect the coil from over heating and failing. If you are continuely blowing ballast resistors there is a problem somewhere in the electrical system. Either a short to ground or is the charging system working correctly with 13.8 to 14.1 volts suppling the ballast.

Don't "ditch" the ballast until you find out what's going on or you will be melting wires or blowing coils.
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  #4  
Old 12-23-2008, 09:36 AM
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Default Since the ballast

Drives the coil, I'd bet the coil has developed a low resistance to ground on trhe primary side. Replace the coil.
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  #5  
Old 12-23-2008, 09:43 AM
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The ballast is used to lower the voltage at the coil. When they had the points ignition the voltage was lowered with the ballast to keep the points from burning up rapidly. Since the truck doesn't have points I wanted to do away with it but wasn't sure how the coil would handle it or the ECU. Some electronics won't handle more than 9 volts and since the ECU drives the coil's negative side I was worried about ECU failures if I bypassed it.

I'll check the charging system and then bypass it.
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  #6  
Old 12-23-2008, 10:49 AM
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Unless you have a stock coil you can skip the ballast.
If it says 12 volt, give it 12 volts.
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  #7  
Old 12-23-2008, 12:00 PM
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You can't ditch the ballast or you will damage the coil and or ecu. You might check to see if you have a bad coil or ecu to begin with.
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  #8  
Old 12-23-2008, 12:32 PM
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Well I got a little more info today. It's been overcharging. So there is his problem. The coil is the same as a 2.2L turbo car which is fed 12 volts so no problems there. I'll have to experiment with my own truck as I have several I can do it with, but I suspect that the ballast isn't needed as the coil should have enough resistance to use up a couple of volts.
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  #9  
Old 12-23-2008, 01:26 PM
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Have him put a new battery in it. The ballest resistor should be fine.
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  #10  
Old 12-23-2008, 01:58 PM
beepbeepsrule beepbeepsrule is offline
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JVMoPAr,

I think if the over-charging culprit is found (voltage regulator or alternator or wiring problems) the resistor problem should go away.

One solution even after the charging system is fixed is to buy a coil that needs no external ballast and fix up a LARGE (10-12) gauge wire to jumper across the ballast resistor. A parts store should be helpful in finding a 12 volt coil that is internally ballasted and has no need for a ballast resistor. A different coil may require a change in the coil wire boot, I'm just sayin'.

Coils are designed for external ballast or are designed to handle it internally, one or the other. Ballast is not just for points systems, it is to keep the primary circuit current from spiking/crashing due to the coil load as it changes due to rpm and heat and actual spark plug load feedback from the secondary circuit. Fluctuations in primary current will affect the secondary circuit in an amplified manner. It is important to keep the primary load electrically weighted or ballasted so it will not swing widely.
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Last edited by beepbeepsrule : 12-23-2008 at 01:59 PM. Reason: spelling
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  #11  
Old 12-23-2008, 02:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JVMopar View Post
Well I got a little more info today. It's been overcharging. So there is his problem. The coil is the same as a 2.2L turbo car which is fed 12 volts so no problems there. I'll have to experiment with my own truck as I have several I can do it with, but I suspect that the ballast isn't needed as the coil should have enough resistance to use up a couple of volts.

The computer in a 2.2 turbo motor varies the dwell to the coil so just because its fed 12 volts the current is still controlled to prevent it from over heating. It might even be worse with the 2.2 coil running at a constant voltage.

You really need to know what you are doing if you start mixing and matching parts from systems that work differently. The 2.2 coil may very well be contributing to the ballast resistor failing and it could very likely have an over heating problem if run at a constant 12 volts.

Its not the voltage that destroys the coil (they have 10's of thousands of volts on the secondaries), its the power they have to dissipate as heat. The heat generated can be impacted by increasing the voltage, reducing the resistance or changing the duty cycle of the coil (dwell).

My recommendation would be to use a stock coil with a stock ballast resistor or an aftermarket coil with its recomended ballast.
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  #12  
Old 12-23-2008, 07:14 PM
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I knew no one would agree, but like I said, I have no ballasts on anything I drive. Must just be luck huh.
I had the same thing happen with an old truck I got running a couple months ago. I used the 87 dippy alt that was on the motor, but I failed to change the 70 trucks mechanical voltage reg, it blew every bulb out in the truck, I couldnt believ it, oh and it was short a couple grounds, so when I turned the lights on that day, it must of backfed through all the grounds and not one light was left in the truck. I shut the truck off and put the elec v reg on and problem solved. While I had the guages out to replace the bulbs, I bypassed the amp guage. Headlights, tail lights and marker lights all blew too. The only bulb saved was the dome light, but the wiring isnt complete to that.
But the coil lives. No ballast on it.
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