Trouble Starting - Team Camaro Tech
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post #1 of 31 (permalink) Old Sep 24th, 09, 10:25 PM Thread Starter
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Trouble Starting

I'm having trouble getting my HEI to spark. My old coil had a connector going to it which had a yellow and a black wire (on that same connector). I assume that was the positive to the coil... We have hooked that up to the positive on the HEI coil (sans yellow wire because it was very lightly smoking after having the ignition on for a few minutes...). I have an aftermarket tach hooked up (the green wire in the photo). The other three wires are in a single, keyed connector and come from the base of the distributor.

We lined up to TDC at 0 on the timing tab, rotated the oil pump shaft so that the distributor would drop in and line up with the #1 post where it typically is and the vac advance around 45* or so. We cannot get it started. Any ideas? Here's the photo of the cap if it matters...

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post #2 of 31 (permalink) Old Sep 25th, 09, 01:23 AM
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Re: Trouble Starting

The yellow wire is a resistive wire that drops some of the voltage to the points so they don't burn.

HEI wants a good 12V to run. Test w/ 12V direct from a good source and if it works wire it more correctly. Google is your buddy.
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post #3 of 31 (permalink) Old Sep 25th, 09, 11:11 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Trouble Starting

That's odd because the yellow one didn't have 12V on it. The black one with the fiber sort of wrapping did... Either way, when I get home from work, I'll be running a new wire to see if it works.

Thanks
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post #4 of 31 (permalink) Old Sep 25th, 09, 12:01 PM
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Re: Trouble Starting

Jeff be careful. All HEI's are not the same. You didn't mention what kind you have but some take 12V direct and some require a ballast resistor between the ignition and coil. Check your manufacturer's instructions.

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post #5 of 31 (permalink) Old Sep 25th, 09, 02:18 PM
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Re: Trouble Starting

The wires from the module inside hook up to the coil connector, and only those wires, would be the terminals closet to the inside of the cap.
The other terminal labeled "TACH" obviously get tach wire/lead.
The terminal labeled "BAT" gets, as suggested, straight igniton switched 12 volts.

Inside the coil cap, there is a bare wire going to one of the coil mounting screws for ground. it must be hooked up.
Don't forget the spring loaded plunger/button with foam/neoprene washer for rotor connection.

And I believe, there is a difference between yellow & white HEI (CCW rotation?) and red & white HEI (CW rotation?). Vacuum advance can will be the key; can mounted on left side, CW rotation, can mounted right side, CCW rotation.

Maybe others will expunge their knowledge with the color combination.

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post #6 of 31 (permalink) Old Sep 25th, 09, 04:48 PM
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Re: Trouble Starting

That rings a bell, Everett. I think the wires are yellow and red for a CW one.

Jeff,

The two wires that were on the old distributor you spoke of....the black fiber one was the resistor wire. It dropped the voltage down for the points system. The yellow one was wired to the R terminal on the starter. It only became energized when you took the key to the "start" position and put a full 12 volts on the points.

What you want to do is run a 12 or 14 gauge wire from the fuse block inside the car. There is a position marked "IGN". It is hot when you turn the key to "Start" and when in "Run".

It will run with the old resistor wire but not well.

Your timing is probably just not advanced enough. I can't get mine to fire with less than 12 degrees of advance.

Do this:

Take off the distributor cap. Rotate the motor around until the rotor is coming to where the #1 post should be. Stop the motor so the mark on the damper is lined up with the 12 degrees advanced or 12 BTDC mark on your timing tab.

Now, remove the rotor. You'll see eight triangles cast into both the distributor body and the rotor body that are pointing toward each other. Loosen the distributor clamp and move the distributor slightly so that the triangle points are lined up directly pointing at each other. Then lock the distributor back down and make sure it doesn't try to move. Reinstall the cap, rotor, and everything else. If the power to the distributor is right, it will fire. Make sure that the wire is on the IGN spade and that it is hot when the key is turned to "Start", not just to "Run".

You'll then have to set your full timing but 12 advanced will get it started.

I posted HEI installation method I always use in another thread:
https://www.camaros.net/forums/showthread.php?t=166030

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post #7 of 31 (permalink) Old Sep 25th, 09, 05:07 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Trouble Starting

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steiner View Post
That rings a bell, Everett. I think the wires are yellow and red for a CW one.

Jeff,

The two wires that were on the old distributor you spoke of....the black fiber one was the resistor wire. It dropped the voltage down for the points system. The yellow one was wired to the R terminal on the starter. It only became energized when you took the key to the "start" position and put a full 12 volts on the points.

What you want to do is run a 12 or 14 gauge wire from the fuse block inside the car. There is a position marked "IGN". It is hot when you turn the key to "Start" and when in "Run".

It will run with the old resistor wire but not well.

Your timing is probably just not advanced enough. I can't get mine to fire with less than 12 degrees of advance.

Do this:

Take off the distributor cap. Rotate the motor around until the rotor is coming to where the #1 post should be. Stop the motor so the mark on the damper is lined up with the 12 degrees advanced or 12 BTDC mark on your timing tab.

Now, remove the rotor. You'll see eight triangles cast into both the distributor body and the rotor body that are pointing toward each other. Loosen the distributor clamp and move the distributor slightly so that the triangle points are lined up directly pointing at each other. Then lock the distributor back down and make sure it doesn't try to move. Reinstall the cap, rotor, and everything else. If the power to the distributor is right, it will fire. Make sure that the wire is on the IGN spade and that it is hot when the key is turned to "Start", not just to "Run".

You'll then have to set your full timing but 12 advanced will get it started.

I posted HEI installation method I always use in another thread:
https://www.camaros.net/forums/showthread.php?t=166030
Thanks! I'll give that a shot when I get home. A question about lining up to 12 BTDC: My harmonic balancer has a "Vertical TDC" mark on it. I assumed (when I first dropped the distributor in) that when that mark lines up to the 0 on the timing tab, that's TDC, right? Or, does that mean that when that mark is directly on top, it's at TDC?

OK. So, given whatever answer that is, I of course have the timing tab with advance and retard marks on it. There are also a series of gradations on the balancer as well. So, if I want to go to 12 BTDC, do I line up the 12 mark on the balancer to the 0 of the timing tab, or do I line up TDC to the 12 mark on the timing tab (assuming it goes that high - can't quite remember). Or do both those methods yield the same results?
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post #8 of 31 (permalink) Old Sep 25th, 09, 05:13 PM
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Re: Trouble Starting

Quote:
Originally Posted by jkaufman View Post
There are also a series of gradations on the balancer as well. So, if I want to go to 12 BTDC, do I line up the 12 mark on the balancer to the 0 of the timing tab, or do I line up TDC to the 12 mark on the timing tab (assuming it goes that high - can't quite remember). Or do both those methods yield the same results?
Choice B: I line up TDC to the 12 mark on the timing tab.

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post #9 of 31 (permalink) Old Sep 25th, 09, 09:14 PM
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Re: Trouble Starting

Quote:
Originally Posted by jkaufman View Post
Thanks! I'll give that a shot when I get home. A question about lining up to 12 BTDC: My harmonic balancer has a "Vertical TDC" mark on it. I assumed (when I first dropped the distributor in) that when that mark lines up to the 0 on the timing tab, that's TDC, right? Or, does that mean that when that mark is directly on top, it's at TDC?

OK. So, given whatever answer that is, I of course have the timing tab with advance and retard marks on it. There are also a series of gradations on the balancer as well. So, if I want to go to 12 BTDC, do I line up the 12 mark on the balancer to the 0 of the timing tab, or do I line up TDC to the 12 mark on the timing tab (assuming it goes that high - can't quite remember). Or do both those methods yield the same results?
The vertical TDC mark will be pointing straight up at 12 o'clock when at TDC. I don't really know why it's on there other than the fact that some balancers changed their TDC mark over the years so some tabs did as well. Your TDC mark should be between 1 and 2 o'clock when that mark is straight up.

Both of the methods you state will yield 12 degrees BTDC if you have a degreed balancer. As you rotate the motor/balancer clockwise, you should see the numbers get closer and closer to zero as they go through the timing tab. When you're at 12 degrees, the 12 on the balancer will be at the 0 on the timing tab and the 0 on the balancer will be at the 12 BTDC on the timing tab.

You also need to verify that you're at TDC for #1 like I posted in that other link when you set the distributor in. The zero timing mark on the balancer comes through the timing tab twice, both at TDC for 1 and TDC for 6. The crank rotates twice for every one rotation of the cam/distributor.

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TKO 600-Moser 3.42-Detroit Truetrac
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post #10 of 31 (permalink) Old Sep 25th, 09, 10:07 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Trouble Starting

Thank you for clearing that up Steiner. Now I'm pretty sure I know what's wrong. I had never seen a balancer with a "vertical TDC" mark on it, so it confused me. I ended up sinking the distributor when the vertical TDC mark was at 0 on the timing tab. Then I tried it at 12 degrees BTDC. Now, I know that I just need to line up the 12 on the balancer to the 0 on the timing tab.

My helper bailed for the night, so I guess that will happen tomorrow. I'll report what I find! Thanks again.
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post #11 of 31 (permalink) Old Sep 26th, 09, 03:24 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Trouble Starting

OK. I bumped the starter around until I got it very close to 12 BTDC (it landed at 14 - I figure that's close enough to get it started, right?). I pulled the battery and took it to Kragen to have them charge it up - it needed 45 minutes on the charger. While that was charging, I pulled the distributor, lined up the oil pump shaft so it was pointing between cylinders 3 and 5 (best I could tell with my screwdriver), then dropped the distributor back in. It took a few tries to get it to sit all the way down.

The mark on the distributor base for cylinder 1 was just after 6 o'clock or so. I removed the rotor and saw the triangles you guys are talking about. It looks like there are several around the base of the rotor and several around the inside base of the distributor body - concentric. I rotated the base CW and lined up the triangles (does it matter which way I rotate the base - CW or CCW?), tightened the distributor base, and re-installed the rotor and cap.

We cranked it a few times and adjusted the distributor base because it was only at 8 BTDC instead of 12-14. Maybe I lined the triangles up by turning CW when I should gone CCW? A couple times we heard a pop like something tried to fire but never got anything more than that. We had the plug gaps at .045" so we tried bringing them back in to .035" to see if it would fire any easier. Now, for some reason, we are getting intermittent voltage because the timing light wasn't lighting anymore.

Am I at least on the right track now?

EDIT: By the way, I ran a new 12 AWG wire from the IGN terminal on the fuse block under the dash (there was nothing plugged into it...??) to the "BATT" terminal on the distributor cap. The black wire (resistor wire) still is hot. Where is that coming from then?
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post #12 of 31 (permalink) Old Sep 26th, 09, 05:46 PM
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Re: Trouble Starting

Power on the black wire is coming from the ign switch.
True, there is not anything hooked to the IGN terminal on the fusebox. Good source of HEI power.

Intermittent power may be a faulty ign switch contacts. Might hook up a toggle switch temporarily with battery power and use the timing light the same you crank and adjust initial timing while cranking. CCW advances timing, CW retards timing.

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post #13 of 31 (permalink) Old Sep 26th, 09, 05:56 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Trouble Starting

Okay. We got it started about 15 minutes ago or so. We immediately ran it up to 2k rpm and let it go for about 5 minutes and then varied the rpm a bit for the next 5 minutes between 1800 and 2200 rpm or so - never below 1500. Then, all of a sudden, it started to pop, sputter, and backfire through the carburetor - and it shut off.

We tried to start it back up but it kept popping and sputtering. What does this mean and what do we do now since we didn't get a full 20 min on the cam?

EDIT: Here's a video of it popping while starting. Because it kept popping, we didn't let it start... I'm not sure what to do...
http://s734.photobucket.com/albums/w...reak-in003.flv

It's also 100 outside right now - not sure if that has something to do with it...

Last edited by jkaufman; Sep 26th, 09 at 06:09 PM.
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post #14 of 31 (permalink) Old Sep 26th, 09, 06:27 PM
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Re: Trouble Starting

If you dropped the distributor in like in the link I posted, the triangles would've been very close to lining up. It would've just taken a small bit of rotating the distributor base in whatever direction necessary to get them right in line. So, if you only had to move it maybe an eight inch or so, you should've been on target.

How were the valves adjusted? That's the only thing I can think of that would let one start cold and run fine for five minutes and then start acting up once the lifters got pumped up good. Did you get the distributor clamp tightened back down good so it had no chance of rotating while the engine was running? Also pull the HEI dust cap on the coil and check the wires. It's easy to pinch those.

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TKO 600-Moser 3.42-Detroit Truetrac
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post #15 of 31 (permalink) Old Sep 26th, 09, 06:45 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Trouble Starting

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steiner View Post
If you dropped the distributor in like in the link I posted, the triangles would've been very close to lining up. It would've just taken a small bit of rotating the distributor base in whatever direction necessary to get them right in line. So, if you only had to move it maybe an eight inch or so, you should've been on target.

How were the valves adjusted? That's the only thing I can think of that would let one start cold and run fine for five minutes and then start acting up once the lifters got pumped up good. Did you get the distributor clamp tightened back down good so it had no chance of rotating while the engine was running? Also pull the HEI dust cap on the coil and check the wires. It's easy to pinch those.
So, do you think I'm perhaps a tooth off with the distributor? Each time I dropped it in, I had to kind of jockey the base and rotor to get it to sit down flush so it didn't feel like I was forcing it. Should I pull it out and do it again without moving the base at all - just use the rotor (once it's down on the oil pump shaft) to help it down?

The distributor was tightened down pretty good. It takes a bit of force to rotate it by hand so I doubt it moved at all while running. However, the back post on the distributor cap rotates right into the firewall if I turn it too much CCW. So, should I remove the distributor, rotate the oil pump shaft so it's more in-line with the block (this last time when we got it started, the oil pump shaft was pointing towards #3 cylinder), and drop it back in being careful to not rotate the base as I lower it in?

By the way, the triangles were basically right in the middle. So, I had to advance the distributor about a half inch maybe (CCW) to get them to line up. If I had retarded it (CW) to line them up, I probably would have been retarded past ATDC...

When you say the wires could be pinched, do you mean the three (red, black, tan on mine) that come out between the base and the cap and get clipped into the connector on the side?
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