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Topic Review (Newest First)
07-12-2011 11:43 PM
lt1silverhawk As I mentioned in an earlier post, I had the timing set but the bolt for the distributor clamp kept coming loose, allowing the distributor to rotate and throwing the timing off.


I messed with the bolt some more over the last couple of days and even tried using another one, but no luck.


Today, I went and bought a new clamp set. I put some loctite on the bolt that came with the set(has an opening for an allen wrench on the top end). When I tried installing it, the bolt wouldn't go in at first, and then went in all crooked. It turned out to be too big. I was afraid it may have possibly damaged the threads on the manifold. I tried the original bolt and clamp again and, this time, it tightened up with no issues.






As to the timing, it is set to let the truck run effectively without shutting down or bogging, but it is idling at 1500 rpm, a far cry from the way it idled before everything went wrong. The truck even shifts quite aggressively now. I really have to keep my foot on the brake pedal when shifting into reverse or drive.


According to "Chilton's Chevy / GMC Pick-ups and Suburbans 1970-87 Repair Manual" (1988 edition, see 1998 edition here), the tune up specs for a '77 model with California 350 HD are:
  • Spark plug gap: 0.060" - Currently what they are set to
  • Ignition timing: 2B (2 degrees before TDC) - Last set to 9 degrees TDC during distributor installation.
  • Idle speed on Automatic transmission in Neutral: 700 rpm - haven't checked that one yet.


I tried using the timing light quickly the other day but, because of the radiator hose and the belts in the way, it was impossible to see what mark it was flashing at. Will try again soon, also check on the idle speed in neutral, and report back.
07-07-2011 11:35 AM
lt1silverhawk
Quote:
Originally Posted by 123pugsy
You may have used the distributor bolt somewhere else.
I did have all the nuts and bolts and such organized in an egg carton, but they got tossed around a bit so may be that is the case. I've got a few "leftovers" so I'll go through those. Hopefully, it's not the threads in the intake manifold that have gone bad.
07-07-2011 06:09 AM
123pugsy You may have used the distributor bolt somewhere else.
07-07-2011 01:02 AM
lt1silverhawk
Quote:
Originally Posted by 123pugsy
Simple.

Disconnect vacuum line to the distributor.

Hook up positive and negative leads to the battery, hook up the wire to #1 spark plug wire following the arrow on the clipper onner device, start the truck and aim it at the tab.

Turn the distributor until you see the mark at 8 or whatever degrees BTDC you need.

Lock down the distributor.
Reconnect vacuum line and go for a spin.
Pretty straight-forward.


Quote:
Originally Posted by 123pugsy
BTW, when disconnecting one cable from your battery, always choose the ground.
Less chance of a fireworks display from your wrench grounding out.
Thanks, don't how I always manage to forget that.




--------------




So, the truck started perfectly last night.


This evening, I came home with the plan to finally move it out of the drive way and onto the street. I started it up and the engine struggled for a few moments before catching on. I let it warm up and run for a while before I got behind the wheel. Once I shifted it into Drive and it started rolling, it seemed to lose alot of power. It shut off after traveling 20 feet.


From that point forward, it would turn on but sputter and die quickly. My immediate assumption was that the timing may be way off. I moved the distributor back and forth, but no luck.


At that point, I decided that the gas in the passenger-side tank had now gone bad, so I mixed up a concoction of Stabil and Berryman Fuel Treatment and poured it into the tank. Then I went and bought two gallons of gas and poured that in. No change.


I noticed the choke plate was stuck in the open position so I closed that. Tried again and same thing; sputtering and back firing until shutting off.


I then messed with the distributor again and noticed that, although the bolt for the clamp was tight, there was plenty of gap between the bolt head and the clamp. I tried to remember if there was a washer that I may have lost but don't recall removing one. I stuck a gold terminal plate as a washer, but that didn't work and now the bolt doesn't tighten all the way. However, I managed to keep the distributor in place by setting the vacuum advance hose against the vacuum hose for the transmission so it doesn't move.


I then fired it up and messed with the idle screw on the carburetor until the engine sounded really strong. it was last idling at about 1500 rpm. I successfully drove it onto the street and parked it. No backfires or hesitations.


Next step is find out why the distributor's bolt won't tighten all the way, and then use the timing light to make sure everything is running as it should.
07-06-2011 04:03 AM
123pugsy Simple.

Disconnect vacuum line to the distributor.

Hook up positive and negative leads to the battery, hook up the wire to #1 spark plug wire following the arrow on the clipper onner device, start the truck and aim it at the tab.

Turn the distributor until you see the mark at 8 or whatever degrees BTDC you need.

Lock down the distributor.
Reconnect vacuum line and go for a spin.


BTW, when disconnecting one cable from your battery, always choose the ground.
Less chance of a fireworks display from your wrench grounding out.
07-06-2011 01:53 AM
lt1silverhawk Starting again from scratch, I decided to find TDC by sticking the screwdriver into the #1 cylinder spark plug. That worked out rather well, especially since I stopped at exactly 10 degrees BTDC.






I installed and seated the distributor, put back on the cap and rotor, which was now facing at about 5:00, and clamped down the distributor. I put all the spark plug wires back on, which is when I realized that the wire for cylinder #5 spark plug was a bit short, thus keep the distributor from turning counter-clockwise at a certain point. I swapped the wires between cylinders 5 and 7, but since they turned out to the the same size, it was a no go. I then re-routed the wire for cylinder under other wires and it seemed more lax.


I then put back the positive battery cable, and cranked the motor when I realized I had left the cheapo torque wrench hanging on the balancer's bolt head. After removing that, I also noticed that the distributor cap had come off.


So I did from scratch again. Except this time, the closest I could get to 10 degrees BTDC was 9 degrees BTDC, which was after quite a few tries (I have to turn the balancer from underneath the truck).


This time, the distributor seated down with the rotor facing about 6:30.






I put everything back in place, plugged the distributor's vacuum canister, went to crank the motor only to hear a loud bang at 11:22 at night. I got back out and saw the I never put back the spark plug for cylinder #1.


So I put that back in, along with the wire, unplugged the vacuum canister and hooked it up to the carburetor, moved the distributor counter clockwise, sprayed some starting fluid, and gave it a crank.


At approximately 11:47 pm, local time, the truck sputtered back to life. You can see the video here: 5:21.


As you can hear at the end of the video, the truck turns off with a loud bang. It was doing this a few months back as well and I fixed it back then by advancing the timing a bit.


I will mess with that tomorrow. (Yes Pugsy, I've got the timing light ready to go. Now school me )


So, I didn't get to cuss in Spanish tonight...




EDIT: The spark plugs are gapped at 0.60". I decided to leave them that way, at least for now, since the truck worked fine with that gap the last time it was started, right after the carburetor was rebuilt.
07-05-2011 10:46 PM
lt1silverhawk Hey Rice,
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rice44
ZEvery time i've retimed my truck i've had similar issues to what you are having now. And if turning the distributor 180 didn't help. recheck your TDC and reseat the distributor pointing at your #1 cylinder. Also check that your plug wires are in the right position. your rotor should also be pointing at the #1 plug wire when you lift the cap to peek at it. IMO its probably just something simple that you merely overlooked. It sounds as if you've done everything correctly but double checking never hurts.
I am contemplating redoing it from scratch. Except this time, perhaps set the balancer's mark at 10 degrees BTDC like I've read on a few pages*. The plug wires are definitely in the right position. But yes, checking again can only help.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Rice44
also did you gap the spark plugs at .045?
I believe the plugs are gapped at 0.60. Apparently that is what they are gapped at for HD trucks for that year in California. However, I did a tune up last August and the plugs I removed were gapped at around 0.50", if I remember correctly.

For now, as I redo everything, I can regap the plugs to 0.45"




----------------




The in-line fuel filters have been replaced.


Been reading up on the fuel and flames shooting out of carb and several places mention ed that a possible case is a stuck float. The quick fix would be to lightly hammer the carb on the side to get it unstuck. Otherwise, it may be time to clean the float bowl.


So I lightly hammered the side of the carb. No difference. Poured in some fuel. No difference. Just a misty white puff with an occasional flame.


Gonna get back on it. Redo TDC. Set to 10 degrees BTDC. Install distributor. Put on cap and rotor. Regap plugs to 0.45" (maybe tonight). Put on the wires. Shoot some starting fluid. Bow in prayer. Fire it up.


And if it doesn't work? Cuss in Spanish so the family doesn't complain (or just stick to flipping off the carb) and maybe try cleaning the float bowl.


Will report back.

*Shooting fuel out the carb!!
07-05-2011 10:12 PM
Rice44 Every time i've retimed my truck i've had similar issues to what you are having now. And if turning the distributor 180 didn't help. recheck your TDC and reseat the distributor pointing at your #1 cylinder. Also check that your plug wires are in the right position. your rotor should also be pointing at the #1 plug wire when you lift the cap to peek at it. IMO its probably just something simple that you merely overlooked. It sounds as if you've done everything correctly but double checking never hurts.

also did you gap the spark plugs at .045?
07-05-2011 08:45 PM
lt1silverhawk I removed the cap, rotated the distributor 180 degrees, where it fell into place. I placed the cap back on, hooked the fuel hose back up, gave it a crank. The engine would turn over a few times and then a puff of smoke from the carb. Video here:(0:14).






The battery seemed weak so I have it on charge now. Will try again once its fully charged.


I'm beginning to wonder if the original distributor position was correct and it is simply bad fuel: "Why is my carburetor spraying gas straight up? Chevy 350 edlebrock Carb?"


Will report back in a bit. Would really like to get this thing moving tonight.



EDIT: Working on replacing the aluminum fuel filters while the battery charges. Maybe dump in some fresh gas too.
07-05-2011 07:00 PM
lt1silverhawk
Quote:
Originally Posted by 123pugsy
Leave the wires on the cap.
Pull the distributor high enough to turn the rotor.
Wherever the rotor ''twists'' out at , turn it exactly 180 and it will ''twist'' down exactly onto the oil pump.
Then try to start it.

This is the most common starting problem with reinstalling a distributor.
Got it. Gonna be home in 30. Hopefully positive something to report in an hour.
07-05-2011 06:40 PM
123pugsy Leave the wires on the cap.
Pull the distributor high enough to turn the rotor.
Wherever the rotor ''twists'' out at , turn it exactly 180 and it will ''twist'' down exactly onto the oil pump.
Then try to start it.

This is the most common starting problem with reinstalling a distributor.
07-05-2011 06:05 PM
lt1silverhawk
Quote:
Originally Posted by 123pugsy
If the oil pump is not lined up, the distrbutor will not drop in so you must have got that.
It drops in, but I never made the attempt to straighten up the slot on the oil pump using a long screw driver.




Quote:
Originally Posted by 123pugsy
Are you saying since trying to start the truck you have not turned the distributor different directions to see what happens?
No I've been moving the distributor back forth, which is why I made several videos of the starting attempts and merged 'em into a few.




Quote:
Originally Posted by 123pugsy
Keep the bolt only snug enough so you can turn the cap by hand in either direction thru the starting process.
At some points, I didn't even have the bolt on. But I'll keep it bolted down just enough.



So now, when I turn rotate the distributor 180 degrees, do I leave the spark plug wires as is or do I redo them as well?
07-05-2011 05:41 PM
123pugsy If the oil pump is not lined up, the distrbutor will not drop in so you must have got that.

Are you saying since trying to start the truck you have not turned the distributor different directions to see what happens?

Keep the bolt only snug enough so you can turn the cap by hand in either direction thru the starting process.
07-05-2011 04:36 PM
lt1silverhawk
Quote:
Originally Posted by 123pugsy
When you drop it back in, make sure the rotor points exactly 180 degrees from where you started.

More than likely, you're off 180.

It should only drop in at the 180 degree as the key in the oil pump shaft is a slot.
Got it.




I've been doing some more reading at work, and there are two things that keep coming up that I did not do. They are:
  • line up the oil pump slot so its horizontally aligned ( 3:00 - 9:00) and,
  • set the timing to approximately 10 degrees BTDC
Should I have done those two things?




What I've been reading:

From www.73-87.com: Distributor Removal/Installation Procedure

From Chevytalk.org: Chevy 350 SB set timing
07-05-2011 12:14 PM
123pugsy When you drop it back in, make sure the rotor points exactly 180 degrees from where you started.

More than likely, you're off 180.

It should only drop in at the 180 degree as the key in the oil pump shaft is a slot.
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