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Old 10-30-2010, 02:00 PM
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Help With Hei

My truck quit on me last night on the way home. I re-started it several times within 2 mi. until it refused to start again. Had to tow it home 3 more mi.
It will start occasionally and run for a minute and die. Sometimes it won't even start. Fuel pump is ok (confirmed). Replaced the module with a good one and the same thing happens. I hooked up my timing light to check for spark and it started and ran for another minute and shut down again. When it dies, it's like the key was shut off BAM, no spark. timing light won't flash during cranking after it dies. Evey module that has ever gone bad on me before just quit cold turkey. Would the little resister on the end of the module cause this problem?
Everything else has power.

79 350 sbc Anyone have any ideas before I bust out the sledge hammer?

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Last edited by sqzbox; 10-30-2010 at 02:06 PM.
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Old 10-30-2010, 02:10 PM
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Two possibilities.

Magnetic pick-up in distrubutor is bad, or the small wires coming out of the pick-up are broken inside the insulation. Coil has gone bad and quits after it heats up.
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Old 10-30-2010, 02:31 PM
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The wires are a common issue, the heat an oil get to them after a while. The mag pick usually just dies. Have you checked when it wont start to be sure the 12V feed is still there, you may also want to make sure you didnt loose the engine ground. I have seen the ground loosen up and exhibit exactly what you are seeing. Could also be an ignition switch that is going bad.
Coil is also a possibility but it usually takes longer than a minute or two to cool down.
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Old 10-30-2010, 04:51 PM
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Hot wire it by running a jumper from the battery positive post to the "+" terminal of the coil- where the 12VDC supply usually goes. Disconnect the 12V supply before hooking up the jumper to the battery positive post. This will eliminate the ignition switch, neutral safety switch and all the associated wiring and will isolate the problem to the distributor or coil if the problem persists.

If the fine wires from the magnetic pick up are bad, sometimes disconnecting the vacuum advance- which stops the motion of the wires usually caused by the vacuum advance- will allow the engine to remain running. In that case, the wires would be the culprit.
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Old 10-30-2010, 05:54 PM
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When it does start it runs good. You can raise the rpm up and down and it runs like there's nothing wrong with it. Then Bam! it quits. No spark.
I work nights moving 36-40 semi trailers from whse. to Toyota and get home around 4 am. I am cooked and in no mood for head games from my truck!
Daylight is a premium for me and can't get the truck up hill into the garage so I"m having to work on it outside on the edge of the road (no fun).
I did check the ground strap from block to f-wall and it's ok. I'll check the batt. feed next time no start. If it's ok, I guess it's time to drop in the new billet dist. sitting in the box in the garage. My problem with that is "made in china".
Cobalt, I run my adv. from ported and it doesn't move at idle. Idle is set at 600 in N 450 in gear and has run like new untill this problem. The engine is a 79 but the HEI is out of the old engine which was a 76 same as the truck.
Could be the poor dizzy is just worn out. I'll run the tests mentioned tomorrow. thanks.

Last edited by sqzbox; 10-30-2010 at 06:05 PM.
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Old 10-30-2010, 06:12 PM
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If it dies instantly then it sounds like it is electrical. Here's something I've seen quite a bit...take the dist cap off and take a close look at the rotor. See if there is a hole burned in it near the center. If there is then just install a new rotor and you should be on the way unless that fried another module.
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Old 10-30-2010, 07:40 PM
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Thats the second thing I checked after looking in the cap. All good. To make matters worse, the truck fenders are 4ft. high. I'm positive it's elec. as the spark disappears when it die's and no spark when trying to re-start. It acts exactly like a bad resister on a point system. That's why I was curious about the resister thats in there might cause the same problem on HEI.

Anyone?

Last edited by sqzbox; 10-30-2010 at 07:49 PM.
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Old 10-31-2010, 02:48 PM
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If the resistor you are talking about looks like a condenser, that's to suppress RF noise. AFAIK it will not kill the ignition if it happens to go bad- but then again I have never had the same problem as you are having.

Looking at an OEM distributor, the noise filter seems to be attached permanently to the plastic terminal that the module plugs into- in any event, a gentle tug did not unplug it, even after removing the module, pigtail and suppressor assembly from the distributor.

You could unscrew the little bracket that grounds it and wrap it in something like electrical tape to insulate it from ground long enough to see if that helped, but if you have a replacement I personally would use that and would not care if it came from Northeastern Bumfucque.

Good luck.
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Old 10-31-2010, 02:50 PM
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Well guess what? A new 65,000V polished aluminum billet HEI distributor from KMJ performance solved the problem. Checked the batt feed wire and it was good so I dropped it in this morning. Set timing to 8* adv. re-set the A/F ratio took it for a ride and holy crap, straight up to 5 grand in all three gears and never missed a beat! The 34yr old HEI just gave it up I guess. Not sure what the problem was but I suspect the coil was cooked. Along with the new 10.2 mm procomp wires there's no shortage of spark now.
At this point, I would recommends the 49.00 dist. from KMJ a good deal. I haven't messed with the adj vac. advance or the weight springs yet as it runs like it did with the old dist. except better.
Thanks to all for the help. checking the battery feed was the right idea as I would have been pi**ed after putting the new one in and having the same problem.
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Old 10-31-2010, 02:57 PM
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[QUOTE=cobalt327]If the resistor you are talking about looks like a condenser, that's to suppress RF noise. AFAIK it will not kill the ignition if it happens to go bad- but then again I have never had the same problem as you are having.

Looking at an OEM distributor, the noise filter seems to be attached permanently to the plastic terminal that the module plugs into- in any event, a gentle tug did not unplug it, even after removing the module, pigtail and suppressor assembly from the distributor.

You could unscrew the little bracket that grounds it and wrap it in something like electrical tape to insulate it from ground long enough to see if that helped, but if you have a replacement I personally would use that and would not care if it came from Northeastern Bumfucque.

Good luck.[/QUOT

Yeah "condenser" not resister. I think my mind is going after 60yrs 10mo.
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Old 10-31-2010, 03:13 PM
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Glad it's cured. That distributor does sound like a deal- I can't buy wires and a coil for less than the whole damn distributor costs!

And if you don't have one, you can make a oil system primer out of the dead player.
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Old 10-31-2010, 03:23 PM
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KMJ has dropped the dist. price to 39 bucks. The 10.5 procomp wires were 27 bucks but went up to 37 bucks now.
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Old 10-31-2010, 05:24 PM
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Took the truck for a 1hr. cruise, ran great but, lost some bottom end in the process. I'm thinking about the weight and spring kit from the old HEI might cure that. Absolutely no instructions came with it on adjusting the adjustable vacuum advance. Does it add or subtract advance degree's or just control the rate of advance? Which way do you turn it for what adjustment?
I have no clue unless someone has already figured it out or done the trial and error method so I can save some time. It seems to run like it is set at factory specs like before I put the weight and spring kit in. If I could compensate with adj. the vacuum advance without having to take the cap off again it would make my day not having to climb up in the engine again.

Last edited by sqzbox; 10-31-2010 at 05:29 PM.
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Old 10-31-2010, 06:25 PM
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8* Initial may be a little conservative, you may want to try 12-14, might wake it up a bit
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Old 10-31-2010, 09:02 PM
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Maybe this new dist. is different but the old hei at 10* initial gave me problems with slow cranking on hot re-starts but did ok a 8*. I put a weight and spring kit in it with both med springs and it really boosted the bottom end real touchy pedal off idle and no ping on 87 octane. The power curve has changed to mid range on up where it used to be off idle to above mid range.
I need bottom end power for off roading. The pedal even feels heavier because the advance isn't coming in as fast as it used to with the old HEI.
The truck rarely see's over 60 mph with the 4:10's and at 4,800lbs I need it down low to go!
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