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Well, it had to happen one day… not on the morning of a wedding I might add! I jumped into Peabody and set up the controls as I normally do for a cold start and I pressed the starter button. She turned over as usual but she didn’t fire!

Ok, keep calm, what to do next? I tried a few times whilst aware that you only get around 20 starts before the battery starts to dial the number for St. Peter. I whipped off the distributor cap and checked the rotor-arm and a couple of the spark plugs and their HT leads to the distributor. Tried again but no joy.

I have a check list of things to try when the car ‘fails to proceed’ written for occasions such as this. I prepared myself to go home and good read and come back later with the necessary tools.

Prior to leaving, I opened the bonnet (RHS) and had a good look around inside the engine bay. My garage is quite dark inside so I rely on a small wind-up torch to inspect in those nooks and crannies. After checking everything I could think of, I noticed that one of the low-tension wires from the coil to the ballast resistor was a little bit wiggly. Perhaps during driving, it had worked loose. With a quick tightening of a knurled knob I jumped back in the driving seat and voila, she started immediately I pressed the starter button.

From the Rolls-Royce Handbook:
“A ballast resistance is connected in series with the low-tension winding of the coil. Its function is to limit the current taken by the coil at slow speed, or if the ignition switch be accidentally left on while the engine is stopped. It also secures practical equality of intensity of secondary spark at all speeds.”

5.5 volt coil, low tension and ballast resistor Rolls-Royce 20-25

The original 5.5 volt coil, low tension wire and ballast resistor Rolls-Royce 20-25

I took Peabody out for a nice long drive to charge the battery and afterwards, put her back in her garage safe and sound.

When presented with a challenge such as this, my advice is stay calm, don’t kill the battery by simply trying again and again. Take time out to look for obvious problems such as a loose wire, a burnt rotor or damp electricals. Then, after a considered plan of action, take the necessary steps to try to diagnose the fault.

Then if she still doesn’t go, call the RAC. 🙂

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