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Old 02-19-2005, 06:50 PM
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stripped cam gear

My neighbor's son put rings and bearings in his 79 jeep 304 engine and when he finished it was almost to tight to start but he finally got it running only to have it strip the teeth off the cam to distributor drive gear. After replacing the gear it ran for about 300 miles and then did the same thing. This time he tore it down completely and did a total rebuild .040 over,new cam,crank-the works, all machine work was done by a reputable shop and after assembly this time it seemed normal and ran fine for 480 miles-then same thing again! He has asked me to take a look at this thing but I am lost as to what could be causing this since I am not familiar with this particular engine. Any ideas as to what to look for?

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Old 02-19-2005, 07:04 PM
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The cam gear turns 3 things.
1 The cam. Does it spin freely by hand? New cam? New cam bearings?
2 The distributor. Does it turn freely by hand?
3 The oil pump. Does it turn freely by hand? New pump? Was it taken apart, checked, and pre-oiled? Did the machine shop install it this time?
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Old 02-19-2005, 08:14 PM
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is the dist. gear bronze or steel?
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Old 02-19-2005, 09:00 PM
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The cam and oil pump turns freely and the distributer is new, it is the gear on the cam that drives the distributer that is stripped(same gear each time). I have only looked at this thing briefly but I can't see anything that would cause this. This gear is not cast on the cam and is replaceable and I thought maybe there is some sort of procedure to properly set clearance between the cam gear and distributer gear as it does seem to be somewhat loose after installation. By that I mean I can feel some slop when I wiggled the rotor, not really excessive but it does feel a little loose. Dist. gear is steel.
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Old 02-20-2005, 08:14 AM
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ford has a similar problem with 302 , stripping the dist gear. what is happening when you install the dist the gear is bottoming out on the block, when you tighten the hold down clamp on the dist. it makes the dist almost impossible to turn , ie stripping the gear. how to fix this problem , install a shim on the dist where it mates the intake, go to your engine rebuilder or performance shop too buy these shims.
one way to check for clearence , is too install the dist in the block and check to see if the dist has a air gap between the intake and dist if there is install a shim, it should say on the package what shim is needed .
check out www.fordmuscle.com or www.corbalads.com they had an article on this problem a year or more ago
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Old 02-20-2005, 01:00 PM
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Thanks, raining real hard today I will check that out tomarrow.
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Old 02-20-2005, 03:58 PM
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Milling the deck excessively can cause that. They have distributor shim kits to fix the problem. Try getting some white lithium grease so that you can see what the gear mesh looks like with eveything tightened up.
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Old 02-20-2005, 06:37 PM
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This is a VERY common problem with amc motors (your 304 is an amc). The problem with amc motors is the oiling system, and the best way to make sure your gear doesnt strip is to get a matched set so they wear together. Check out american performance for matched sets, and go to www.amcforum.net for more help with your problem
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Old 02-20-2005, 06:48 PM
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Isn't the distributer mounted in the front cover on the 304s like the 360s? I had this same problem and the front cover was way out of alignment , it had no Dow pins to center the cover up for correct gear mesh. some one had left them out.
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Old 02-20-2005, 06:50 PM
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all amc 304-401 have the same dimensions, so yes the distribuor is mounted in the front. The problem lies in the timing cover, sometimes the oil passage gets too worn out and doesnt direct the flow of oil to the gear, or like you said it can be out of alignment.
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Old 02-20-2005, 08:29 PM
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I appreciate everyones advice and I now have some things to look for so I wont be totally lost. These gears are not wearing out from lack of lube they are disintegrating from some kind of stress problem in a very short time. I will look for the dist. gear bottoming out and I will check the timing cover for alignment also.
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Old 02-20-2005, 11:01 PM
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Im telling you that this is an extremely common problem, and what happens in amc's lack proper oiling on their distributor gears. When people change their distributors and put a brand new gear with the old one, they dont wear together and the cam gear gets stripped. Be sure to check out www.amcforum.net, youll get good help there (amc specific)
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Old 02-21-2005, 05:04 PM
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If you find it is not an alignment problem, They make a inexpensive kit that will supply oil to the gears that I have used on several AMC v-8's that cured the lack of oil problem.
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Old 02-21-2005, 05:30 PM
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Four-Rich--- I appreciate the info and I will definitely look into the oiling problem also. Still wet here today and this thing is outside so it will be tomorrow with any luck, I will let you know what I find. Thanks to everyone.
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Old 02-26-2005, 05:39 PM
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OK, I finally got around to checking this thing out and what I found was the dowel pins were flush with the timing cover face and did not extend into the block, thus in effect may as well have been missing. Also I told him about the oiling problem that was mentioned and we decided to take no chances and want to install the oiling mod but I have not had much luck finding it as none of the local auto parts can supply it. Any sugestions as to where to find the oiling kit? Thanks
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