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Old 05-27-2008, 07:48 PM
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350 engine help cam off a few teeth?

Alright so its a 350 chevy in a 72 el camino. The car started when we put new cables on it but it backfired through both the carb and the exhaust. I went in and noticed the distributor was off a tooth, so no big deal I pulled it out and turned it. Now I just got a new timing light so I can give you what I know.

- The car does not even try to start from 0-12 Deg. below top dead center. Does not even bat an eye even with starting fluid.

- The car actually tries to start when the timing mark on the flywheel is at the very top of its rotation. (as in it is in verticaly inline with the center bolt on the crank.

Now the lady we bought it from said her brother put in a new timing chain. Does this sound like the chain could be off a few teeth? I would rather not pull drain all the fluids and pull the cover just to see it is in the right spot.

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Old 05-27-2008, 09:01 PM
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Without pulling it apart you wont know. If you are certain the spark timing is right and it wont start then there is a problem elsewhere.
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Old 05-28-2008, 10:50 AM
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There is a chance that when he installed the timing cover he put a timing tab that was in the wrong position. Some chevy's have a balancer with a line that is straight up at TDC and some are pointing off to the side at TDC.

And having the distributor off one tooth wouldn't have done anything. You would have just had to turn the cap more to get it to where it would fire.
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Old 05-28-2008, 12:17 PM
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I hate to admitt this but I have installed a cam gear backwards, but lined up the dots on the crank pulley(marked the same tooth on the other side to "line them up") and thought everything would be fine. Had the exact same symptoms as you are having. It was actually off by 3 teeth and the car sounded like it wanted to start but would not. We flipped it around and fired right up.

It was a sbc too. Just my experience, I would take the timing cover off and check the gears. I bet one or maybe even both gears are on wrong.
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Old 05-28-2008, 02:36 PM
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Thank you so much for the quick responses guys! I figured thats what it was as I have never seen starting fluid not do anything to a car. After hearing that the guy who had the car before us put in a new timing chain I knew that was one of the problem areas. I'm probably going to pull it on friday and I'll let you know what I find.
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Old 05-28-2008, 04:17 PM
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If you will run a compression test on just a few cylinders that will tell if the cam is timed correctly. If the compression is good so is the timing. If the compression is way off chances are so is the cam timing.
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Old 05-28-2008, 04:49 PM
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so should i expect to get very low compression readings if its off? but if its on it will be higher? and I forget Ive done compression tests before but do you pull all the plugs at once or just one at a time?
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Old 05-28-2008, 05:08 PM
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I would first verify TDC on piston vs TDC on timing mark.
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Old 05-29-2008, 08:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Racrm3
and I forget Ive done compression tests before but do you pull all the plugs at once or just one at a time?
Compression check is done with ALL spark plugs removed and carb at WOT. Remove coil wire so there is no spark. Install tester in spark plug hole and crank engine over at least two full revolutions. Note reading on gauge. Remove gauge, reset to zero and repeat the test for the remaining cylinders. Results for each cylinder should be within 10% of each other for best performance. Big cams will usually yield lower numbers due to overlap.

If you post your results here; someone will surely critque the results for you.
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Old 05-29-2008, 08:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Racrm3
Alright so its a 350 chevy in a 72 el camino. The car started when we put new cables on it but it backfired through both the carb and the exhaust. I went in and noticed the distributor was off a tooth, so no big deal I pulled it out and turned it. Now I just got a new timing light so I can give you what I know.
You state that the engine started but backfired thru the carb and the exhaust.

If it actually started and ran; all it would seem to need is for the timing to be adjusted (rotate the distributor slightly to advance or retard the timing as needed) and then the carb might need adjusting. Pulling the distributor and changing the location added to your problems.

If the engine actually just popped thru the carb and never actually ran, it could be that the distributor was installed 180 Degrees out.

Rotate the engine so that the #1 piston is at TDC on the firing stroke. Remove the distributor cap and note the location of the rotor. It should be pointing to or just before the #1 cylinder electrode in the cap. If it isn't, then the distributor is installed in the wrong location. Remove and re-install.
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Old 05-29-2008, 09:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frisco
You state that the engine started but backfired thru the carb and the exhaust.

If it actually started and ran; all it would seem to need is for the timing to be adjusted (rotate the distributor slightly to advance or retard the timing as needed) and then the carb might need adjusting. Pulling the distributor and changing the location added to your problems.

If the engine actually just popped thru the carb and never actually ran, it could be that the distributor was installed 180 Degrees out.

Rotate the engine so that the #1 piston is at TDC on the firing stroke. Remove the distributor cap and note the location of the rotor. It should be pointing to or just before the #1 cylinder electrode in the cap. If it isn't, then the distributor is installed in the wrong location. Remove and re-install.

that is true, the engine did start but was incredibly rough, and when a timing gun was put on it the mark on the harmonic balancer was nowhere near the timing tab connected to the timing chain cover. That is why i figured something was wrong with the cam gear being off a few teeth. so if the engine wouldnt even start anywhere if the gears were off a few teeth? So could it be a wrong harmonic balancer? And I will get the compression tests results up tomorrow to see what the heck is wrong with this thing.
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Old 05-29-2008, 09:23 AM
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If it was incredibly rough but did actually run, I would be looking to make sure you have the plugs wires in the correct firing order.

1-8-4-3-6-5-7-2 in a clockwise rotation.

If the dizzy was installed in the correct position while at TDC on the Exhaust stroke it would not run, if the timing chain was installed incorrectly it would not run. The compression testing may or may not show you anything because you have no starting point to compare it to.
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Old 05-29-2008, 09:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Racrm3
that is true, the engine did start but was incredibly rough, and when a timing gun was put on it the mark on the harmonic balancer was nowhere near the timing tab connected to the timing chain cover. That is why i figured something was wrong with the cam gear being off a few teeth. so if the engine wouldnt even start anywhere if the gears were off a few teeth? So could it be a wrong harmonic balancer? And I will get the compression tests results up tomorrow to see what the heck is wrong with this thing.
If the cam sprocket or the crankshaft sprocket were off the engine would not have started and run at all.

The harmonic balancer is probably OK but the timing pointer may be the wrong one for that balancer.

The pointer can easily be checked by rotating the engine until the #1 piston is at TDC on the firing (compression) stroke. At his point look at the proximity of the '0' mark on the pointer to the score mark on the balancer. The two should be close to being in line with each other. If not then the pointer is the wrong one or the outer ring of the balancer has slipped. If the outer ring has slipped, the balancer must be replaced to avoid damage if it comes completely off.

If the pointer and the mark on the balancer do line up fairly close; the next thing to check before rotating the engine is the rotor under the distributor cap. It should be pointing close to where the #1 terminal is in the cap. If not the distributor is installed incorrectly.

Also do as Double_v23 has suggested and check the spark plug wires to see that they are routed correctly. Getting #5 & #7 reversed is a common error.
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Old 05-29-2008, 09:58 AM
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I agree about it running, I must have missed that part. We were able to get ours to stumble at wide open throttle with the sprocket off mark but it sounded like crap. If you are saying it ran fine then I would agree you could pretty much rule that one out.
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Old 05-29-2008, 10:14 AM
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yeah it did actually fire and run rough, so maybe i do have the distributor in wrong now. I know it is at top dead center on the first cylinder when i put it in because i stuck a straw in the spark plug hole to feel that it was up. Im positive that the spark plug wires are in the correct order
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