General old engine thread (points and carb) [Archive] - GrandAmGT.com Forum

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jordanGT
09-24-2004, 06:28 PM
I have a 1980 dodge st. regis. It had an electronic distributor, but I swapped that out for a points distributor. I have a hot wire coming off the batter that I twist into a wire coming off the coil, then to the distributor. I have another hot wire off the battery that I use to contact the hot wire off the starter. (It's not a street car, obviously, from the description of the wiring) I've got the firing order and the cylinder order on it. The motor is a 318, and the firing order is 18436572. ok, now as I plug the plug wires into the cap, I plug in the wire for cylinder one where the rotor's pointed? Then do I put cylinder 8's wire in clockwise or counterclockwise from cylinder 1's? I'm sure this seems like an elementary thing to most on here, but I'm having the darndest time trying to get my motor started. I got cylinder #1 as close to top dead center as I could (using the finger over the plug hole method), then dropped in the distributor, then plugged in my wires. I've even reversed my wires, and I still can't get it to fire up. I know it's getting gas, cuz 1.) I've put some gas in the carb and 2.) the first time I cranked it I didn't have the fitting tight on the line from the fuel pump and shot some gas outta there until I tightened it up. That makes me think it has to be something I've done wrong with the distributor or plug wires...I know the distributor's getting juice cuz I shocked myself with it once... Can anybody here Help me out? I really want to get this thing running tonight or early tomorrow so I can fix the flat on the back and drive it onto the trailer to take it out to a friend's and weld it up. Thanks.

MagusXIII
09-24-2004, 07:03 PM
Jordan,, do you know EXACTLY which terminal on the distributor cap is Cylinder 1? If not, you can always A, find publications that show a diagram of the plug wires connected, B, check and see if your distributor cap has a mark for the #1 cylinder and go from there.

You found TDC pretty well enough. Once you found it, remove the distributor cap and take note of where the rotor is pointing. That will give you the position as you already know. Take note of where that is on the cap. Now..crank the engine a few times W/O the cap in place to find rotor rotation direction.

Have you tried arcing a plug wire at the plug end to ground to see if it is indeed sending a pulse into the plug wire? Or have you connected a timing light while cranking it to see if it will fire the light?

Is this a single or dual point distributor? Have you set the point gap and dwell settings ACCORDING TO THE DISTRIBUTOR MANUFACTURER settings? Aftermarket distributors often times have different diameter cam lobes inside and as such, the dwell for a Mallory will be different from an Accel or OEM distributor. If it is a dual point unit, have you made sure to block open one set of points while adjusting the other's dwell? Do you have access to a "dwell/tach?"

Lastly, are the points and condensor in good shape? have you observed to see of the points are opening and closing properly?

If you do not mind me asking, why did you go to a breaker points distributor? Electronic distributors such as the venerable GM HEI system are so much more accurate and give MUCH better coil saturation at high RPMs. My first car, a 74 Nova SS 350, had points ignition and its 100mph plus power stunk because the points opened and closed so fast that the coil could not store a decent charge before the plugs fired. My next car, a 77 malibu, while slower overall, had more power at high speeds because it was an electronic ignition system.

I hear ya about being shocked off the distributor. I was working on a mid 70s Buick V8 with the distributor up front. I was shocked and did the natural reflex of pulling my hand away. Problem was...the fan was right in front of me. I whacked my hand into the running fan. Thank goodness it was an air conditioned car with a fan clutch or I would have had a nice chunk of my palm below my thumb sliced off. I just escaped with a nasty bruise.

edit: If worse comes to worse, throw in a Vertex magneto in place of the distributor! :D

jordanGT
09-24-2004, 07:50 PM
It's cuz it's my demolition derby car :metal: the points are much simpler to wire; less stuff to worry about.

Thanks for the stuff to think about; I'll give it a try tomorrow when I'm refreshed; I'm about beat right now. :crazy:

MagusXIII
09-24-2004, 07:56 PM
It's cuz it's my demolition derby car :metal: the points are much simpler to wire; less stuff to worry about.
Gotcha. Granted, this is a Mopar but the GM HEI was one of the very best early electronic distributors out there. It was wired up just as easily as the points system. My uncle had one in his 23 Tbucket and it was as easy to wire up as his accel dual point unit. I know jack squat about mopar ignitions though.

Thanks for the stuff to think about; I'll give it a try tomorrow when I'm refreshed; I'm about beat right now. :crazy:
Good luck. :)

jordanGT
09-24-2004, 08:15 PM
isn't the HEI a coil-in-cap setup? I'm pretty sure you just have to run a hot wire to a switch (or twist wires) and then to the distributor. that's what'll find its way into my wagon for this summer.
the mopar electronic ignition has some extra control modules (which weren't with the car), and just a bunch of wiring. Much simpler to grab a points distributor and a new coil and go with it. It's also a possibility to convert to HEI on the mopar, but this motor's gonna be gone with the car, which will get 1 or 2 (if i'm lucky) runs out of it before it's gotta be stripped of sellable stuff and then scrapped.
The chevy small block I'll get after this will probably be transferred from car to car by season, so I'll go ahead and spring for the HEI on that one (if it doesn't already have it on there when I get it, which I hope it will).

Wow, I'm definitely rambling...

MagusXIII
09-24-2004, 08:31 PM
isn't the HEI a coil-in-cap setup? if i'm thinking of the correct thing, you just have to run a hot wire to a switch (or twist wires) and then to the distributor. that's what'll find its way into my wagon for this summer.
Yuppers. It was wired up by running a wire from the battery into the positive lead on the coil. All triggering mechanisms were under the rotor just like the points and condensor. IIRC, the GM HEI used a magnetic pickup to replace the points and condensor, hence the ease of wiring it.

The chevy small block I'll get after this will probably be transferred from car to car by season, so I'll go ahead and spring for the HEI on that one (if it doesn't already have it on there when I get it, which I hope it will).

If the SBC engine was made after 1974 or 75, it will have HEI

Jordan, check your PMs. :)