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Distributor problem with my 2.8

franklin2

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I have converted my 2.8 to a duraspark dist and HEI module. It has been running great for the past 2 years or so. I drive it daily to work and coming home the other day it just shut off like you turned the key off as I was cruising down the road at about 60 mph. I pulled over, it would not fire at all. Got it towed to my house and the first thing I did before I went inside was to spray some starting fluid in the carb. No help. I had been pumping the throttle linkage to see if there was fuel squirting. So apparently my module went out since adding fuel didn't help.

Next day I installed a new HEI module. Cranked it over, it sounded like it wanted to run, but would not take off. I figured I had drowned the sparkplugs. I pulled them and they were pretty wet with fuel. Ordered some plugs, but won't be able to get them till tomorrow. So I took the old plugs out, they were very wet. So I took brake clean and cleaned them off and dried them out, and re-installed them. Would not start. I put a little starting fluid in it again, would not start. Not even trying to fire.

I checked for spark, getting spark. I know I have fuel. It was cranking very evenly, but I though I should check compression. Easiest cylinder to check was #4, so I put the compression checker in there, cranked it over and the checker shot way up. But it also tried to start? So I cranked it again and it fired right up on 5 cylinders. Sounded ok, so I let it warm up a little bit.

Shut it off, took the checker out, put the plug back in and hooked the wire on it, then got in and tried to start it. Would not fire at all! I said to myself what are the odds? So I unplugged the wire on cylinder #4, and it cranked right up. Weird? So then I went to plug the wire back on #4 while it was running. Besides getting zapped, it went back on, smoothed out on all 6 cylinders and was it's old self.

Got it off the trailer and back up to put it inside the garage. As I was maneuvering into the garage it stalled on me. I went to crank it back up, nothing, just turns over. I go out and unplug #4, crank it over and it fires right up. I thought I may be jostling some wiring when I messed with the sparkplug wire, so I messed with all the wires while it was running, no change.

Got it into the garage, I think I have some sort of problem with my high voltage system. I am going to put the new plugs in tomorrow and try it. If that doesn't work I am going to take a peek under the dist cap and see what that looks like, and check all the sparkplug wires. Never had something like this happen before.
 


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RonD

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And the Coil?
 

franklin2

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Update;

Put the new plugs in, still no go. Swapped the coil out with another one I had, that was not hard to do and a critical piece to the system, but still no go. I was still able to pull #4 plug wire off and get it start.

So then I took the plug wires loose and pulled the top of the dist cap off. I have the large style thin cap with the adapter piece underneath. It had some black powder around the center contact in the cap. I noticed the terminals in the cap has some corrosion and a little burning, and it seemed to be a little off center, like the rotor is not exactly timed with the pickup wheel. But apparently it has been running like that for awhile. The rotor looked good.

I scraped the cap clean and washed all the black powder out of it. Put it all back together, no go. But now my little trick with #4 plug wire does not work anymore either.

I put a socket on the front of the engine and cranked it around by hand till the groove in the damper lined up with the pointer. I pulled the cap up slightly and peaked under there and while it was near # 1 wire, it was a little farther off than I thought it should be. Against my better judgement, I loosened the dist just a little bit and started cranking The engine while I tweaked it to make the rotor closer to #1 terminal. It started popping back through the carb, but would not do anything else.

The next thing I am going to do is get it around to #1 again, and watch the line on the damper and also take the valve covers off. The book says #1 valves should be shut and #5 valves should be rocking when at the correct mark on the damper. I am also going to do a little research, and see if it's common for something in the valvetrain of this engine to suddenly cut loose.
 

Sean4818

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I've seen this before. The fix was a new injector. If the injector sticks wide open it can flood the cylinder. Although in that case it should still fire up and just misfire on that cylinder. Just thought it was worth a mention. Best of luck to ya✌
 

ford4wd08

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I've seen this before. The fix was a new injector. If the injector sticks wide open it can flood the cylinder. Although in that case it should still fire up and just misfire on that cylinder. Just thought it was worth a mention. Best of luck to ya✌
No injectors on a 2.8.....
 

ford4wd08

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@franklin2

You sure it's not an ignition circuit issues? Maybe run a hot wire from positive side of battery to positive side of coil?

Just spit balling. Sounds weird for sure.
 

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Sure sounds like ignition problem. I’d check the splices from the convention to duraspark. I won’t preach because I have not removed my harness after splicing it in and soldered it together as I should. If you used butt connectors to make connections or worse yet scotch locks those are the places I would be suspect of. Good luck and keep us posted on your progress.
 

franklin2

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I have one of those inline spark checkers. Inline with one of the sparkplugs, and inline with the high tension coil wire itself, I get a steady spark indication. Just to be sure, I pulled the top of the carb off, it's full of fuel and squirting into the throat when I move the throttle.

I walked away from it, it's nice to have spare vehicles and not have to be under any pressure to get it going. But maybe tomorrow I will try to determine if it's out of time. I did some research and it's rare, but apparently once in awhile the fiber gear teeth do strip on the cam gear. I was flying along about 60 mph and had just come up on a construction zone where I lifted for the 45 mph speed limit, and that is when it quit. Maybe that is when it stripped some teeth, I don't know I will see if I can determine if it's off before tearing the whole front of the engine off.
 

ford4wd08

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I have one of those inline spark checkers. Inline with one of the sparkplugs, and inline with the high tension coil wire itself, I get a steady spark indication. Just to be sure, I pulled the top of the carb off, it's full of fuel and squirting into the throat when I move the throttle.

I walked away from it, it's nice to have spare vehicles and not have to be under any pressure to get it going. But maybe tomorrow I will try to determine if it's out of time. I did some research and it's rare, but apparently once in awhile the fiber gear teeth do strip on the cam gear. I was flying along about 60 mph and had just come up on a construction zone where I lifted for the 45 mph speed limit, and that is when it quit. Maybe that is when it stripped some teeth, I don't know I will see if I can determine if it's off before tearing the whole front of the engine off.
Are you confirming spark while cranking? That's I was doing with mine and it was showing spark on the start circuit, but didn't have it on the run circuit.

It was a simple short of the ignition switch that only occurred during the "run" position vs "start".

I could bump my steering wheel and kill my bronco for a while because of the ignition switch.
 

franklin2

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Are you confirming spark while cranking? That's I was doing with mine and it was showing spark on the start circuit, but didn't have it on the run circuit.

It was a simple short of the ignition switch that only occurred during the "run" position vs "start".

I could bump my steering wheel and kill my bronco for a while because of the ignition switch.
Sparking while cranking. Doesn't even try to sputter now. I didn't get to check the timing today, but am finding a high mileage engine can have gear teeth problems. Apparently the very early engines had a fiber type gear teeth, and these later engines had nylon teeth. I don't know how many timing chains I have changed on v8's after the nylon coating had cracked off the upper sprocket. GM and Ford both used the plastic coated sprockets.
 

ford4wd08

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Sparking while cranking. Doesn't even try to sputter now. I didn't get to check the timing today, but am finding a high mileage engine can have gear teeth problems. Apparently the very early engines had a fiber type gear teeth, and these later engines had nylon teeth. I don't know how many timing chains I have changed on v8's after the nylon coating had cracked off the upper sprocket. GM and Ford both used the plastic coated sprockets.
Yes on the timing gears.

I had a '95 F150 with a 300 straight six. It had a fiber timing gear. It let go when I was driving it and wouldn't start or run at all. Had to have a new timing set put in and it ran fine afterwards.
 

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Years ago I had a Ranger do this to me and it had a 2.8 in it. It ran acceptably well while I was fixing it up and then it just got harder to start and ran worse and worse until it wouldn't run at all, and it just kinda happened out of the blue. I was pretty irritated so I sold it and a couple other trucks to one guy and didn't do much troubleshooting... he called me later and said that the timing had jumped. He made it sound like the chain itself had jumped but it could have been the distributor gear too.
 

tw205

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No timing chain on a 2.8. Gear to gear.
 

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No timing chain on a 2.8. Gear to gear.
Oh that's right. I think that's why I was a little confused about what that guy told me. Hard for gears to slip a tooth unless they spin on the shaft or are just worn out.
 

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