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Distributor won't go all the way in

Discussion in 'Chevy Trucks' started by Rocky, Aug 19, 2005.

  1. Rocky

    Rocky Member
    Messages: 30

    Hi, I just put a new rebuilt engine in my '80 K30 and I can't get the distributor to drop all the way into place when it is set to #1 on TDC. Where it sits is just about a gasket length up to high, not where it hasn't engaged in the oil pump shaft which would make it sit about a 1/2" higher this is just about driving me nuts. If I try to set it into place in most any other location it will drop right in but not in the proper timing. I've tried turning the engine over to see if it will drop into place but no go and the engine does run pretty decent with the hold down bolt snugged up to hold it from popping up. As it sits right now it wobbles and I can tell it's not seated properly and I even tried turning the oil pump shaft 180 degrees to see if that would help but no go on that. Anybody got any ideas? I hate to just tighten it down as I know something isn't right because I can get it to engage fully when I set it in place out of time. BTW, the timing chain marks were lined up OK before I installed this engine and I doubt there is any problems there as it will start and run OK the way it is it's just sitting up just about the thickness of a gasket and wobbling when you try moving it as it sits. I even tried another distributor and have the same results. Thanks for any responses in advance. Rocky
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2005
  2. Mebes

    Mebes Senior Member
    Messages: 409

    Sounds like you have tried all the things that I would have tried already.
    1st I would think that it is hung up on the oil pump rod.
    2nd Try to drop it in out of time to see if it fits properly.
    3rd I would think bent shaft of bad tooth on the distributer, or a bad tooth on the cam.

    But since you were able to drop it in out of time and it fit that covers all of these problems.

    It's been 10 years since I have rebuilt and engine, so I don't know if this will work for your situation.

    But here are 4 suggestions.
    1. Look closer at the oil pump and see if it is missing a shim or something like that.
    2. Loosen the oil pump bolts a little, drop in the distributer and tighten the oil pump bolts back up.(do not crack it)
    3. Try removing the oil pump rod out of the hole and then drop the distributer, to see if it fits correctly.
    4. Wait for someone else to post a better suggestion.
    Good luck
     
  3. Rocky

    Rocky Member
    Messages: 30

    Thanks for the suggestions. I went out and played with it some more and I'm at the point now where I think I'm going to snug it up and run it as is and see what happens during break in. Only thing is I'm moving out to Connecticut from Illinois in the next couple weeks and don't want to wind up in Ohio with a broken whatever??? Jeez, what a rip this engine has been. I bought this off a guy on eBay last October and have been working on it a little at a time ever since so I don't even remember now if there was anything out of the ordinary when I installed the oil pump or not and the bottom has been buttoned up for quite some time anyway. Last week I got the engine all installed and went to prime the oil pump and heard a gushing of oil while I was doing it down by the torque converter. I couldn't figure out what was going on there until I got looking at my old engine and surmised that the plugs around the cam must have been missing. Sure enough I pulled it back out and all 3 plugs were GONE. I installed those and figured I'd better check things again so I primed it again and found that the housing on the block above the oil filter was cracked. I have a feeling the rebuilders 17 year old son that delivered it must have been doing some burn outs like he did when he pulled out of my driveway and flopped that poor engine around in the back of his truck. I got the housing brazed up and that seems to be holding fine as I've run the engine for a half hour at high idle in case it had a new cam installed. BTW, I emailed this guy I bought the engine from and he never got back to me. I also checked eBay to see if he was still running with 100% good feedback he bragged about and sure enough he is. Unfortunately for me I'm way past the 30 day limit they give you to leave that feedback. I also have a feeling the warranty he gave me is worth just about the price of the paper it's written on. Oh well, whatrugonna do...
     
  4. Rocky

    Rocky Member
    Messages: 30

    Last night as it was getting dark out and I couldn't see very well I thought I had that shaft all the way in properly but now that it's daylight I can see I'm right back where I started. Your mention of shims or maybe a gasket on the oil pump has got me thinking now. I can't remember putting anything between the oil pump and the block and if there was something I'd almost guess that it would be the thickness of what I need to make this distributor go all the way down. I'm just wondering if I goofed or what is going on...
     
  5. Mebes

    Mebes Senior Member
    Messages: 409

    Don't quote me on those shims, they might think you are nuts at the auto store.
    Like I said It's been a while since I rebuilt an engine.
    I'm not sure that there is such a thing on that setup, but that is what I would be looking into next. (after the other things that you tried)

    Keep in mind that if you are missing a shim or gasket on the oil pump then your rod is to long, and over tightening the distributor hold down blot may crack the oil pump.

    Also if you were able to get the distributor all the way in when the marks were not lined up correctly than the oil pump and rod are probably ok, and you have some other unrelated problem.
     
  6. Rocky

    Rocky Member
    Messages: 30

    I looked in a manual and there is no mention of a shim or gasket so I doubt that's the problem. I borrowed a timing light from a neighbor as most of my tools have already been moved out east and I'll try determining if I do in fact have it timed correctly tomorrow. I actually have 3 extra distributor gaskets so if push comes to shove I'll try putting those in and see if that helps for the time being.
     
  7. derekbroerse

    derekbroerse 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,377

    Chevys don't use shims.

    About all I can think of is the oil pump drive shaft. They are typically retained by a sleeve from the pump to the shaft. This sleeve is either a plastic snap-on piece (stock) or steel which is typically pinned onto the shaft. I have had them before where they are rather ignorant to get to seat on the pump--usually once they get on they are miserable to get off too, or the plastic breaks. I suspect if it was a plastic coupler, with all the monkeying around you've had to do it would probably be broken by now, so I will guess it is steel....? Steel ones are often harder to seat because they don't flex like plastic.

    This, of course, assumes that the shaft is a Chevy piece, not from another engine that got mixed up, but that seems unlikely. Then again, leaving the plugs out of the rear oil galleries....well I guess anything is possible. (Speaking of which, in stock form they are press-in, most quality engine shops will tap them for a pipe plug...)

    Unfortunately, it sounds to me like you may need to drop the pan. :( At least with the pump off you could drop the distributor in and if it bottoms then you know it is in the pump. You could try taking a heavy flat screwdriver and putting it down the hole (engaged with the driveshaft) and give it a good rap with the hammer--while I'm sure it can't be good for anything the oil pump is all steel and iron so it probably won't hurt it--but it may help bottom it if it is hanging up.

    I guess worst case you could do a little filing on the contact surfaces of the shaft (off the engine and well cleaned afterwards)... while I don't recommend this (kinda butch!) if the pump or shaft is machined wrong the only other choice would be replacement. I can't see this being the case though, probably the shaft is not seated.

    I can't see much being wrong with the gear on the cam, it should spiral its way in. Take a peak with a flashlight down the hole and look for obvious damage.

    Has the engine been decked/milled for compression? I've never heard of one being machined so far that the distributor could be too tall... usually the fit between the pump shaft and the distributor is pretty sloppy...
     
  8. Rocky

    Rocky Member
    Messages: 30

    This is actually the original distributor and oil pump from my old engine and I do vaguely remember a plastic retainer on the oil pump but by vaguely I mean it could have been from past experience. It's been so long since I put the bottom end together I can't be sure now. It is pumping good oil pressure so I doubt there is any real problem down there. I've tried another distributor from my '78 K20 with the same results. I don't know anything about if it was decked or not but I doubt it would have been done that far. Oh well, I guess I'll look things over again this afternoon and see what I can come up with. If I can't get it to fit with the 3 extra gaskets after making sure it's in proper time that thing you mentioned about grinding off a little of it would probably work too. I know what you mean about a butcher job but ya gotta do what ya gotta do and I'm not inclined to pull that engine back out again unless I'm real sure of what's going on. Thanks again for the responses.
     
  9. ratlover

    ratlover PlowSite.com Addict
    from IL
    Messages: 1,325

    You said you turned it buy hand 180 degrees.....did you just try turning the oil pump drive a lil bit? Stick a screw driver down there and twist a bit. also if it will seat just slightly outa time then why not twist the didtributor or move the plug wires till its in time? Those lil plastic colors can be a PITA
     
  10. Rocky

    Rocky Member
    Messages: 30

    Just wanted to let everyone know that I made it out to Connecticut from Illinois with the truck and the distributor seems fine although I haven't really looked at it in weeks. Didn't use any oil but I averaged 5 mpg hauling a small trailer and way overloaded on the truck. Close to $500 in gas. It runs great though...
     
  11. TJS

    TJS PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,342

    Rocky,
    Where are you in CT. I live in CT.
    Later.
    T.J.
    www.tjsperformance.com
     
  12. murphyslaw

    murphyslaw Senior Member
    Messages: 443

    so you got the destributor to sit down all the way? i have noticed the same thing on chevy engines in the past, and it you put them one click back and move the spark plugs accordinly to make up for the move. seems like alota times they sit down in any groove besides the one its suposta.
     
  13. Rocky

    Rocky Member
    Messages: 30

    I'm in Coventry now. Like I said I haven't looked at the distributor in weeks and especially after this trip to see if it's finally fallen into place where I can lock it down tight. I snugged it up before I left enough so it wouldn't be flopping around or moving but that's as far as I've got. No oil drips coming out the distributor hole so it must be close enough for now. I've got more pressing issues like where/how I'm going to unload all my crap and set up shop with +10" rain every day in the last 7 days. I think it rained 5 times all summer out in Illinois. I'll get back to it eventually but it's not a high priority right now. Richard