Man I love tools and shop equipment! Tools are like an extension of yourself. Tools are what enable a good mechanic to be great. Some people are born with a knack for working with mechanical things, yet others are totally baffled by them. For a person with the gift many things come naturally in the garage, but even the best mechanics need accurate, quality tools and diagnostic equipment. It doesn't get any more quality than Sun Equipment. Sun Distributor Testers were the standard for every automotive shop for many, many years. Today, you can't walk into a dealership service bay or independent automotive repair shop and not see a Snap-On scanner or three. This is what it takes to do the job today. Back in the day, cars may have been simpler and more primitive, but the need for accurate diagnostic equipment was very real. The good shops would always have a distributor tester. A good restoration shop should have the same. So here is my new toy:
This is a Sun MDT-50 distributor tester circa mid 1950's.
This is an original, unmodified unit. It came with a few manuals and new unused test charts for the scroll.
The data scroll is a iconic feature of many Sun models.
Unfortunately this machine appears well worn, and hasn't been used for some time. I planned on tearing into it for a restoration straight away, but I got excited and had to test her out first!
I winged this guy up to 3000 RPM and it purred like a cougar!
I bypassed the ancient battery holders with some jumpers to see if the meters worked.
Mr. Tachometer was happy to wake up after a long hibernation.
The dwell meter didn't appear to be functioning correctly, nor was the strobe light for the degree wheel. These machines are loaded with very old electrolytic capacitors, so I'll replace all of them with a kit from Paramount Distributor Company. I'll also have to come up with a couple of power supplies to power the meters. One is 3 volts and the other is 1.35 volts. While I have it apart, I will repaint everything, lube the motor, replace any wiring and fix anything else I find wrong. I plan on putting together a Frankenstein Testerby using this machine, my Snap-On Counselor II oscilloscope and my Champion spark plug machine's pressurized air chamber to re-create a live ignition system for in depth testing.
This model is equipped with an electric vacuum pump. It purred to life when I hit the switch but didn't produce any vacuum. A new diaphragm is in order.
Also included was a bunch of adapters for various configurations of distributors. I really dig these original Sun boxes!
Bathroom reading: You gotta have this stuff! I collect vintage documentation like crazy because it's usually the only way to get the data and specifications you need to do things right. And the illustrations are pretty...
Stay tuned for more distributor tester action here at the Philosopher's Wrench. I'm going to dig into this thing and then write about it. Man that sounds like fun!