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Old 08-03-2017, 10:09 PM   #1
Cadillac Kid
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New HEI Distributor, 350 won't sart?

Hello everyone. Sometimes I hate life, I just want to drive my truck.

A few days ago I pulled out the original points distributor from my 1974 c10 with a 350. I installed a Proform#66941R HEI distributor. Seemed like a decent unit, it had good reviews. I know a lot of aftermarket distributors are crap these days. The truck will not start. It ran 1 week ago. It just cranks and cranks now. Sometimes pops through the exhaust, a few times it ran briefly but at very low rpm and then stalled. Will not stay running at all now, just cranks. My truck has a factory tach that I have not wired to the new distributor yet. I also changed the plugs and gapped them at 45. (Not sure if that makes a difference).

This is what i've done.
I dropped it in, and routed the spark plug wires. I ran a new 12 gauge wire from the ignition terminal on the fuse box to the BATT terminal on the distributor, so it has full power during crank and run, etc. I've installed HEI distributors into cars before, so I don't know why this one is giving me trouble. I verified with my multi-meter that I have power at the distributor during crank and run, I have gone over the firing order at least 6 times. The most recent time I removed the plug wires completely from the motor and just started from scratch because I was frustrated.

The distributor is not 180 degrees out. I rolled the motor over three different times with a breaker bar, finger on #1 spark plug hole felt compression, lined up balancer to about 6 degrees to get me close.

I pulled a plug and grounded it to the header (later even used a test lead to ground because I didn't think it was grounding well enough) it produced a very weak orange spark. So weak it was barely getting to the other side of the spark plug and was very inconsistent. I am at a loss, the distributor has spark but its like its too weak to start the motor. I hate to say it but I think my new distributor is a dud.. I don't know what else the problem could be?

Timing good, firing order checked 6 times, power checked at distributor cap and module multiple times??
Anyone have any suggestions, I'm open to anything at this point. Sorry for the long post. Thanks!

-Gavin
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Old 08-03-2017, 10:47 PM   #2
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Re: New HEI Distributor, 350 won't sart?

Might pull the coil and make sure the ground strap is installed correctly and wires are inserted into the proper slots. Might also double check the button in the center of the cap.

Don't trust that the factory assembled it correctly. Might have been a new employee's first one.
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Old 08-04-2017, 12:52 AM   #3
Dayton601
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Re: New HEI Distributor, 350 won't sart?

just a thought, make sure this part is correctly installed, I discovered recently mine wasn't, the carbon button was sitting on top of the round rubber washer, it should have been under it, with the spring coming through, and the button down,
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Old 08-04-2017, 05:53 AM   #4
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Re: New HEI Distributor, 350 won't sart?

Are you getting a full 12 volts to the distributor? I hate to trash proform but their reputation isn't for quality.
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Old 08-04-2017, 08:45 AM   #5
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Re: New HEI Distributor, 350 won't sart?

So it did run fine, and now it wont? If that is the case I would try swapping the ignition module.
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Old 08-04-2017, 05:24 PM   #6
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Re: New HEI Distributor, 350 won't sart?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillac_al View Post
Are you getting a full 12 volts to the distributor? I hate to trash proform but their reputation isn't for quality.
Yes. I put the positive lead of my multi-meter in the BATT terminal of the distributor. 12 volts when the key is on, and 9.5-11 volts when cranking.

I understand. I figured since the $50 distributors are mostly junk, if i spent twice as much money I'd get a good one... Right.
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Old 08-04-2017, 05:28 PM   #7
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Re: New HEI Distributor, 350 won't sart?

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So it did run fine, and now it wont? If that is the case I would try swapping the ignition module.
It did run fine with the old distributor. It has yet to run with this new distributor. Only idled and coughed once.

I'm going to head out in a few minuets and take the coil out to make sure everything looks right in there. I'm hoping to find something obviously wrong.

Thanks for the quick replies.

-Gavin
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Old 08-04-2017, 05:36 PM   #8
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Re: New HEI Distributor, 350 won't sart?

When you checked for compression were you on compression or exhaust stroke. I'd bet you're 180 out!
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Old 08-04-2017, 06:52 PM   #9
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Re: New HEI Distributor, 350 won't sart?

Roll the engine over with your finger on the spark plug hole until you feel presure coming out of the spark plug hole, correct?

I took the coil out and noticed the metal piece surrounding it is painted black. I took my multi-meter and there was no continuity anywhere on the black pice. I know that the coil has a ground wire that goes to one of the hold down screws for the coil, then grounds to the ground strap from below and that goes to the black wire plug on the cap. I ground the paint off with a dremel and I'll see if that makes a difference. Don't have time to work on it right now.

-Gavin
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Old 08-04-2017, 07:17 PM   #10
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Re: New HEI Distributor, 350 won't sart?

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Originally Posted by Cadillac Kid View Post
Roll the engine over with your finger on the spark plug hole until you feel presure coming out of the spark plug hole, correct?



-Gavin
Yup!!
But you can feel pressure on any cylinder as you rotate it.
When the timing mark gets closer to zero the pressure should push your thumb right off.
If your cap cleaning doesn't help it only takes a few minutes to move the rotor or swap around the wires.
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Old 08-05-2017, 06:52 PM   #11
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Re: New HEI Distributor, 350 won't sart?

Us who run HEIs ALWAYS carry a spare module & rotor button. Throw a new rotor button on there, you need to keep a spare anyway. Good luck!
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Old 08-07-2017, 04:12 PM   #12
Cadillac Kid
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Re: New HEI Distributor, 350 won't sart?

I sent back the Proform distributor after a little more investigating. I had more concerns about its quality. I purchased another distributor from a different brand. I'll give an update once I get the new one installed. Hopefully it will give me no trouble. Thanks for your suggestions everyone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by andyh1956 View Post
Us who run HEIs ALWAYS carry a spare module & rotor button. Throw a new rotor button on there, you need to keep a spare anyway. Good luck!
That is a good tip. Thank you.


-Gavin
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Old 08-25-2017, 03:48 PM   #13
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Re: New HEI Distributor, 350 won't sart?

Update: Dropped in the replacement H.E.I. last week and she fired right up. Problem solved. Thanks for the suggestions everyone.

-Gavin
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Old 08-25-2017, 04:01 PM   #14
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Re: New HEI Distributor, 350 won't sart?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cadillac Kid View Post
Update: Dropped in the replacement H.E.I. last week and she fired right up. Problem solved. Thanks for the suggestions everyone.

-Gavin
curious, what brand did you change to, from proform, that worked?
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