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replacing distributor 351W -- advice welcome!

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  • replacing distributor 351W -- advice welcome!

    Ok. It is an 84 PCM 351 engine with an original Prestolite distributor. The distributor has some rust issues, and the mechanical advance is getting stuck advanced, which makes it difficult to restart the engine, and causes the engine to idle quite high (1100 rpm or so) after a run on the lake. I've figured out that I can remove the cap, reset the advance to base timing by hand, and the engine'll fire right up.

    What I've done is purchase another Prestolite distributor. It is not the same part number as the one on the boat (I could not find that one), but rather a part number that would have been available on an Indmar 351 a couple model years newer. It is a brand new part. Not a rebuild.

    I think I've got the engine at TDC. And I should add that this engine actually runs quite well with the exception of the advance issue mentioned above, so I'm pretty sure the current base timing is correct. The degree mark is at zero and lined up with the pointer. And the rotor is pointed in the general direction of the number one plug wire. I'm a little afraid of screwing up the next steps lol. my plan is to mark the new distributor with tape to match the old distributor so I know rotor to distributor locating. Not sure how to mark so that base timing is similar though (mark shaft relative to intake manifold??)

    And of course I as yet have no idea if the old distributor will come out easily or if it will put up a big fight. I've also got to change over the trigger wheel and reader for the electronic conversion that is on the old distributor. I don't anticipate any problems with that.

    I'm most afraid of screwing up the timing somehow. Any pointers welcome. I do have a timing light.
    Last edited by strad; 01-23-2014, 10:24 PM.
    1984 Stars and Stripes Powerslot
    White with blue stripes. purchased 9/2012

  • #2
    I replaced mine a couple years ago. I had the same concern about getting the timing close, i didn't want a backfire through the carb damaging my power valve.

    I used a sharpie to mark plug wire numbers on the old cap. Then i took a yardstick and placed it across two of the terminals with the wires removed and put a mark where the other end touched the back of the drivers seat. Then remove the cap and did the same with the rotor. Inserted the new distributor with the rotor lined up and the added the cap and adjusted it to the mark on the seat. Replaced the wires and fired her up. A quick check with the timing light and i was maybe a degree out of timing.

    Comment


    • #3
      This job can be a little intimidating, but once you have done it successfully, it's no big deal. The problem usually come from trying to take shortcuts.

      If you mark the distributor location and where the rotor points sufficiently well, installing the new dist should be easy enough. Remember the gears are helical cut so you have to account for that when you are lining up the rotor to drop the dist into place. Take lots of pictures of the whole procedure. You will likely reference them more than you would think.

      If it doesn't work out, starting from scratch is the best way to ensure you are doing it right anyway. Using a remote start switch to get the #1 cylinder to the top of the compression stroke is easy. This is where most guys fail and are actually at the top of the exhaust stroke.

      I remember at tech school when the instructor made us take the dist out of the engine on a stand and spin the dist and engine so we would have to re-install from scratch. One of the guys was off a bit and got a backfire out the exhaust which blew the exhaust hose from the muffler and threw a 2' diameter fireball across the shop floor. That was good for an afternoon of laughing!
      - Peter
      TANDEM AXLE PACKAGE - $950 DELIVERED WHEEL IMAGE
      5 14X5.5 T06 WHEELS W/5 ST215/75R14 KENDA LOADSTAR RADIALS SS CENTER CAPS, LUGS, MOUNTED, BALANCED & READY TO INSTALL

      PM or email me for tire, wheel or package pricing.
      CARBURETOR REBUILDING - $125 + PARTS
      LED lights, Chrome & Powder Coated Lugs
      2 LED 6" BRAKE LIGHTS DELIVERED $25

      tiresplease@gmail.com

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      • #4
        Everyone likes to overcomplicate this. Unless youre starting from scratch, the position of the engine is unimportant (no need to be at TDC of the compression stroke for #1). The position of the rotor is also unimportant... it can be facing any which way. When reinstalling the new dizzy, the rotor can face a completely different direction... again, totally unimportant.

        The only thing you need to do, is before you pull the old dizzy and wires, note where the rotor is pointing relative to the cap. For example, the rotor may be pointing "just before the post for cylinder #5". Then, put it back together the same way. The rotor can be facing a different direction, so long as you install the plug wires and rotate the distributor such that the rotor again faces "just before the post for cylinder #5" then youre golden. Just keep your firing order handy (13726548 for LH) and remember that the rotor always rotates counterclockwise (as viewed from above).

        There is no way to keep your base timing the same when pulling the distributor and reinstalling. All you can do is get the new one in a position close enough for the engine to start, and then set it as you normally would with a timing light.

        Comment


        • #5
          Well, good practices say to have the number one plug wire facing to the front of the motor. Most mechanics in the industry expect it to be at this location and most manuals instruct it that way.

          With the engine at TDC on number one you want the rotor to point to the number one cylinder.

          With just a little more time and effort it can be done with a little more detail.

          A little how to.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5a2X9mSSlQY
          Tim
          Gone, surfing.

          Comment


          • #6
            Distrib

            Are the caps the same; since they are both prestolites? Then you could just swap the distributer keeping the cap wired until you get it running (limiting variables).

            When I did it, I was off by one plug wire which is detectable immediately if you know the symptoms. Moved everything one plug over and we were in business... (thanks to a lot of help from the board)...

            Last winter I switched from a pretolite to a Mallory(I think that's what it was). I sent it in to get rebuilt and they sent me a new one. My conversion was a bit more complicated as I had no resistor (Removed when I switched the prior distributor to a pertronix) and different coil. Now its back to a resistor setup and new coil....

            Best of luck
            Cj

            Comment


            • #7
              Yeah I'm aware of the potential for cap difference. The rotor fits-- figured that out already. The new dizzy has screw mounts on it for fastening the clips on just like the old one. Have not sat down and looked closely enough yet though.
              1984 Stars and Stripes Powerslot
              White with blue stripes. purchased 9/2012

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by strad View Post
                Yeah I'm aware of the potential for cap difference. The rotor fits-- figured that out already. The new dizzy has screw mounts on it for fastening the clips on just like the old one. Have not sat down and looked closely enough yet though.
                Well, for air fair and some beer I'd come help you!!
                Tim
                Gone, surfing.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by CantRepeat View Post
                  Well, good practices say to have the number one plug wire facing to the front of the motor. Most mechanics in the industry expect it to be at this location and most manuals instruct it that way.

                  With the engine at TDC on number one you want the rotor to point to the number one cylinder.

                  With just a little more time and effort it can be done with a little more detail.

                  A little how to.

                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5a2X9mSSlQY
                  Every manual I have seen shows the location of post #1 on the cap notionally, but it does not need to be in that spot for any purpose. I have never heard of a mechanic expecting the post to be in any particular position, as its location is completely unimportant.

                  Yes, the engine needs to be near TDC (actually closer to 10deg BTDC, but 0 is close enough) on the compression stroke of cyl #1 for the engine to run. That doesnt mean you need to put the engine in that position in order to swap a distributor since the engine is currently wired up and running.

                  If you were starting from scratch, I would agree. Otherwise, it is just overcomplicating the issue.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by CantRepeat View Post
                    Well, for air fair and some beer I'd come help you!!

                    Yup, and after that we'd have to lake test it of course ;-)
                    1984 Stars and Stripes Powerslot
                    White with blue stripes. purchased 9/2012

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Soak it

                      If you haven't done so already, I'd get some penetrant sprayed around the base of the distributor to give it time to soak in and hopefully allow an easier removal. It's a pretty tight fit when in good condition, any rust to sieze it up is where it gets difficult. Spray it several times before getting into it and hope for the best. Good luck.
                      1988 Tristar 190 Sport, 351W w/GT-40's, 1:1 Velvetdrive

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by MikeyOrange88 View Post
                        If you haven't done so already, I'd get some penetrant sprayed around the base of the distributor to give it time to soak in and hopefully allow an easier removal. It's a pretty tight fit when in good condition, any rust to sieze it up is where it gets difficult. Spray it several times before getting into it and hope for the best. Good luck.
                        X10000.

                        JTR
                        1983 MasterCraft Stars and Stripes
                        Cream/Red Metal Flake
                        "Powerslot"
                        "The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of GREED-the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of all men will pass, and dictators die and the power they took from the people will return to the people and so long as men die Liberty will never perish."
                        -Charles Chaplin-
                        sigpic

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                        • #13
                          replacing distributor 351W -- advice welcome!

                          Ok haven't done it yet. But I do know that the dizzy is not stuck in there which is good. I think I have to go back to points temporarily at least. I don't think the trigger wheel for mine, which is the early style rotor, will fit the new dizzy, which has the later style rotor. To which side of the coil does the single wire from the dizzy connect? I mean the one from the points.

                          Edit unless any of you know that the trigger wheel will swap from clip down to screw down type dizzy's. Which would be nice lol.
                          Last edited by strad; 02-10-2014, 09:04 PM.
                          1984 Stars and Stripes Powerslot
                          White with blue stripes. purchased 9/2012

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Black wire from point distributor connects to negative contact on coil. Can't help with trigger wheel question.
                            James

                            1989 MasterCraft TriStar 190 SE
                            sigpic

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Pretty sure they are not interchangeable. What brand EI are you running? Should be able to check by application.

                              And as per usual, James is correct on the wire question. Don't forget to utilize your ballast resistor if it was bypassed for the EI.
                              - Peter
                              TANDEM AXLE PACKAGE - $950 DELIVERED WHEEL IMAGE
                              5 14X5.5 T06 WHEELS W/5 ST215/75R14 KENDA LOADSTAR RADIALS SS CENTER CAPS, LUGS, MOUNTED, BALANCED & READY TO INSTALL

                              PM or email me for tire, wheel or package pricing.
                              CARBURETOR REBUILDING - $125 + PARTS
                              LED lights, Chrome & Powder Coated Lugs
                              2 LED 6" BRAKE LIGHTS DELIVERED $25

                              tiresplease@gmail.com

                              Comment

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