Changing Distributors

Ghostultramarine

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A quick question. I have a new distributor that came with my car when I bought it last year.

I did not install it but swapped out the distributor cap and rotor (it was running poorly and I was trying to help teach my daughters, who are getting near driving age to learn basics like changing plugs, wires, etc but one thing at a time to see how each individual thing would affect the car’s performance).

Yes, it took a lot longer than I would have liked and some tears (like when one daughter broke a spark plug off trying to remove it).

Oh right, I did say quick question... (preamble aside)

Q: Can I just remove the old distributor and install the new one (without finding tdc first and using a timing light)?

I don’t have a timing light, no one I know does, they’re more money to buy than an electronic ignition here. No dwell meter.

The car is running poorly and it seems like it’s the points (never changed those) and since I’ve got the distributor instead of buying new points I’d like to install the whole distributor assembly (since I already have it!). It was a nice find in the trunk of the car, the seller never mentioned he’d bought it.

[I should do a thread on the car, too, not just individual posts ...)
 

70bigblockdodge

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Check the point gap on new distributor before you put it in (easier). I would just bump the engine over (screwdriver across starter relay) till the timing mark reaches TDC, then make sure rotor is pointing to #1 on cap (if not turn crank another 360°). Now pull the distributor, yes it takes a few seconds more but if something is wrong at least you know you started in the right place.
You know your timing will still probably be off. You can time by ear and pinging and be okay.
 

gyknot

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Assuming your car is a chrysler product, the short answer is yes.
Just pop off the distributor cap to see where the rotor is pointing. Pull the old distributor and put the new one in with the rotor in the same spot. With a mopar product it will only go in 2 ways. Correct, or 180 degrees off.
Absolutely check the point gap on the new one before it goes in. Much much easier.
That is my quick answer to your quick question. But yes, you can bring it up on tdc first if you wish.
 

volksworld

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other stuff to consider...is this distributor actually new? is it factory mopar?some parts house "rebuilt" distributors are pieces of crap built out of mis- matched parts and could result in something that has a completely screwed up timing curve...so at the very least i would check the part number on it, figure out what it came out of , and figure out where the timing needs to be set....i dont know what engine you have but a 383 and 440 distributor look identical but the shafts are longer on the raised deck blocks...if you dont have a timing light i'd be more inclined to swap the points and condensor out of it and leave the distributor position alone....down here timing lights are like $20 used as nobody really needs them anymore...do you have a parts house that rents tools?
 

Gerald Morris

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Its FAR batter to set the point gap on a distributor not on the motor. I did it otherwise until early this year, when I dropped a non-ferrous screw down into the distributor, not realizing it went THERE instead of off the thing. Consequently, it jammed the distributor, shearing the tab right off as soon as I cranked the motor. NEVER AGAIN! A classic case of a "short cut" making a BIG, EXPENSIVE DELAY.
 

volksworld

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rule #1...never fire anything up till everything is accounted for...assuming the missing fastener or tool wound up someplace where it cant do any harm and substituting another one is a recipe for disaster...
 

Gerald Morris

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rule #1...never fire anything up till everything is accounted for...assuming the missing fastener or tool wound up someplace where it cant do any harm and substituting another one is a recipe for disaster...

Agree WHOLEHEARTEDLY! I KNOW, when you "Hurry the **** Up!" you "Hurry the FUCKUP" AS I demonstrated to my loss and sorrow there.
 

Gerald Morris

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Q: Can I just remove the old distributor and install the new one (without finding tdc first and using a timing light)?

I don’t have a timing light, no one I know does, they’re more money to buy than an electronic ignition here. No dwell meter.
Bro, YOU NEED A TIMING LIGHT! Get one from Halifaxhops if you can't find a decent old Sears/Penske on eBay. DON'T waste your Euros on a NEW one, as the older stuff is better quality anyway.
 

Ghostultramarine

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other stuff to consider...is this distributor actually new? is it factory mopar?some parts house "rebuilt" distributors are pieces of crap built out of mis- matched parts and could result in something that has a completely screwed up timing curve...so at the very least i would check the part number on it, figure out what it came out of , and figure out where the timing needs to be set....i dont know what engine you have but a 383 and 440 distributor look identical but the shafts are longer on the raised deck blocks...if you dont have a timing light i'd be more inclined to swap the points and condensor out of it and leave the distributor position alone....down here timing lights are like $20 used as nobody really needs them anymore...do you have a parts house that rents tools?
It’s a 383.

No parts shops here have timing lights for rent. Already asked.

Yes, I do have to get one, but everyone seems to have gotten rid of them “to the farm” ... I’m sure lots of people just threw them away decades ago.

It’s an Autolite, says reman. But done here in Canuckistan. I guess it may be remanufactured Mopar. (Will it be stamped Mopar if it is?).

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Ghostultramarine

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Bro, YOU NEED A TIMING LIGHT! Get one from Halifaxhops if you can't find a decent old Sears/Penske on eBay. DON'T waste your Euros on a NEW one, as the older stuff is better quality anyway.
I know you keep saying I’m in Germany but you’ll have to go back to before the Angles, Saxons and Jutes to find my ancestors there. The rest will be found in Caledonia and/or Pictland (Scotland) at that time period.

I’ve checked the used buy/sell websites too. Nothing. Yes, Sears is a decent brand. We no longer have that store up here (but we still have ToysRUs).
 

garyh

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I like the Autoline Brand, Rockauto sells them. Much better than the Cardone **** Anyday.
 

Ghostultramarine

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Well, the distributor came pre-gapped at 0.017”.

Prelubed as well.

The only marks on it are an ‘A’ and a ‘B’ on the upper shaft.

The black distributor cap IS well machined and marked ‘Made in USA’. (Brown would be better but I am impressed with the machining and casting.). Isn’t black pre-66 or something? There shouldn’t be any problems, should there? (The one on there has a black inset on the top, while this does not.

It’s been raining today. After weeks and weeks of very nice hot weather.

I’m going to do what I do on my Harley to find TDC. I’m going to put the rear end on stands, put it in gear and rotate the wheel until I have exact TDC.

I was adjusting the brakes this spring and I was thinking it was easier to do this last year then eventually realized I probably had it in neutral. It didn’t seem that bad of a workout!

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So I pulled the rubber cap off and it’s full of brash shavings from the part store (Napa?) distributor cap...

How many went up and how many down...

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Ghostultramarine

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I like Autoline Reman.Carbs. too.

I’ll keep that in mind! I really don’t know what was done when on this car but if the ignition system (shocks, condition of top, every interior bulb being burned out) was any indication it must have sat for a number of years after being well driven.

My goal is a reliable daily driver restored as much as possible.
 

Big_John

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I’m going to do what I do on my Harley to find TDC. I’m going to put the rear end on stands, put it in gear and rotate the wheel until I have exact TDC.
That's not going to work with an automatic transmission.

Buy a timing light at Canadian Tire. $63 for the entry level Innova (I looked it up). If you are going to run points, you'll need to check the timing every time you change the points anyway. The whole "timing by ear" is OK if you have some experience, but the timing light is going to save you $63 in aggravation about the third time you open the hood and try to adjust the timing.

They have 2 in stock at the Saskatoon West store.
General PDP Template

A lot nicer version: General PDP Template
 

Ghostultramarine

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That's not going to work with an automatic transmission.

Buy a timing light at Canadian Tire. $63 for the entry level Innova (I looked it up). If you are going to run points, you'll need to check the timing every time you change the points anyway. The whole "timing by ear" is OK if you have some experience, but the timing light is going to save you $63 in aggravation about the third time you open the hood and try to adjust the timing.

They have 2 in stock at the Saskatoon West store.
General PDP Template

A lot nicer version: General PDP Template
I went this evening and picked it up. Thank you.

The basic version.

Just a note for those in Canada, a manager at Canadian Tire told me their product is priced way too high and the only reasonable way to purchase their products is when they are on sale (often 66 - 75% off on sales).
 
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