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Old 11-06-2019, 10:49 AM   #1
Atlfan65
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Need Advice! Do I Need a New Camshaft????

Hey everyone, needing some guidance here. Yesterday I tried to install a new distributor into my 1965 C10 stepside with a carbed stock Vortec 350. I dropped the distributor in but it needed aligned with the oil pump to drop in the final 1/4".

I'd been told to bump the engine over slowly and the distributor would drop down into place when everything lined up. Well, after lightly bumping the engine enough times for the engine to fully rotate over one time, the distributor still hadn't dropped into place. So I got a wrench and turned the motor over as slowly as I could by hand to try and get it to drop into place. No luck. But then I saw that the rotor was not turning as I turned the engine over... Yikes...

So I pulled the distributor out only to find that some of the gear teeth had been sheered off. I guess this happened when bumping the motor over? I was told to bump it over but I guess this was horrible advice that just cost me dearly. Where I need help is that I don't know the extent of damage that was done. Would the cam have gotten tore up too or do the cam gears sacrifice themselves to save the cam? It was a melonized steel gear which I understand is softer than the cam so I'm hoping that the gear took all the damage, but could very easily see the cam having been eaten up.

Finances for the truck are low right now and I'm really trying to avoid a new cam if I can avoid it. If I put a magnet into the hole for the distributor and can remove the teeth that were sheered off, would is be safe to try a new distributor or will the engine need torn apart to get any other metal out? Or is the cam probably destroyed anyways and it needs torn apart regardless?

Any guidance that you guys can give me is much appreciated. When I get home from work later I will try a magnet to remove any metal that I can. Then I'll drop in my old distributor and see if it rotates with the engine when I turn it over by hand. If I can remove the metal and the rotor spins with the engine being turned over like it should, would it be safe the say that the cam is alright??
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Old 11-06-2019, 11:02 AM   #2
geezer#99
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Re: Need Advice! Do I Need a New Camshaft????

Tear it down!
Only way to be sure!
Intake off, pan off!
Full inspection time!

I think you started with a bad gear on the dizzy. Dropping it in like you do shouldn’t cause that type of damage.
Bump it over or turning the pump tang both work fine.

You need to at least pull the intake!

Last edited by geezer#99; 11-06-2019 at 11:41 AM.
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Old 11-06-2019, 11:48 AM   #3
Atlfan65
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Re: Need Advice! Do I Need a New Camshaft????

Quote:
Originally Posted by geezer#99 View Post
Tear it down!
Only way to be sure!
Intake off, pan off!
Full inspection time!
Even with the intake and pan off I wouldn't be able to see any damage to the cam where the distributor gear meshes up though, the cam would need pulled right? I'm trying to avoid pulling the engine to take out the cam if it can be avoided. I work 70 hour weeks and don't have the time to do it all myself without taking weeks and weeks so I'd have to pay a shop if I want it done quickly.

I am by no means an engine expert. From what I can visualize though, if I were to "look through the engine" it seems like the metal from the distributor gear that sheered off would either stay on the cam or drop down to the pan. I can't visualize how the metal pieces could go anywhere else in the engine. Can someone that is more familiar with engines chime in on that? If that's true, that's why I'm hoping that after sticking a magnet down in the distributor hole, that I can pull out some of the metal pieces and that the rest would be in the pan out of the way of damaging anything.

If that all goes like it does in my optimistic mind and the metal pieces can be taken out of the equation, then I am down to if the cam is damaged where it engages the distributor gear. That's when I would drop in my old distributor and see if it rotates as you rotate the engine as it should without any play or binding. If not, the cam is obviously screwed, right? And if it does rotate, that would lead more to the cam being okay hopefully, right?

Basically if I am going to have to pull the engine to either inspect this cam or replace it, it's going to either 1) be expensive to have a shop get it done fast or 2) take weeks and weeks with my work schedule and no real garage to work in (working in the driveway on jack stands). I was hoping that someone could give me something more concrete like "oh no buddy you definitely wrecked the cam because it was a steel distributor gear. Brass would have saved the cam but the steel gear definetly would have caused damage" or "no the cam is probably okay and the distributor gears are meant to destroy themselves to save the cam. That is why it is so important to use the right distributor gear material. You just need to remove any metal and a new distributor gear."

I honestly don't know enough myself, but want to try what I can before devoting to pulling the engine.
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Old 11-06-2019, 12:11 PM   #4
garyd1961
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Re: Need Advice! Do I Need a New Camshaft????

I would pull the hood off so I could get a light and look down the hole for the distributor. You can do it without removing the hood but I would want to have a good look without the hood in the way.
If you can get all the missing pieces of gear out and the gear on the cam looks good you may be ok but I would give a slim chance of that happening.
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Old 11-06-2019, 12:37 PM   #5
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Re: Need Advice! Do I Need a New Camshaft????

At least with the intake off you can inspect the cam gear and look for debris.
Better than going fishing with a magnet in an iron block.

Or flip a coin.
Do it right or hope it’s good.

Good ruck!

Last edited by geezer#99; 11-06-2019 at 10:10 PM.
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Old 11-06-2019, 12:42 PM   #6
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Re: Need Advice! Do I Need a New Camshaft????

Have installed hundreds of distributors by dropping them in till the teeth on the cam and distributor gear meshed and bumped it with the starter till it dropped in line with the oil pump. I agree with geezer... it needs to be taken down to a point where you can examine the cam gear. Also the pan needs to be pulled and checked for any chunks of metal at the bottom.

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Old 11-06-2019, 03:10 PM   #7
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Re: Need Advice! Do I Need a New Camshaft????

Another way to get the dist to drop in is what I have done. Take a long flat blade screw driver and turn the oil pump shaft a little. Has always worked for me.
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Old 11-06-2019, 04:12 PM   #8
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Re: Need Advice! Do I Need a New Camshaft????

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Originally Posted by tdangle View Post
Another way to get the dist to drop in is what I have done. Take a long flat blade screw driver and turn the oil pump shaft a little. Has always worked for me.
This is how I always have done it.
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Old 11-06-2019, 07:44 PM   #9
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Re: Need Advice! Do I Need a New Camshaft????

If i was in your shoes i would first take the truck to someone you can trust to do the work right. Apparently by using someone else information will cost you. But with working 70 hours a week the extra money you can afford someone to do the work right the first time. You just need to find the time to drive it when you are not working.
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Old 11-06-2019, 10:16 PM   #10
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Re: Need Advice! Do I Need a New Camshaft????

Quote:
Originally Posted by GASoline71 View Post
Have installed hundreds of distributors by dropping them in till the teeth on the cam and distributor gear meshed and bumped it with the starter till it dropped in line with the oil pump. I agree with geezer... it needs to be taken down to a point where you can examine the cam gear. Also the pan needs to be pulled and checked for any chunks of metal at the bottom.

Gary
Any ideas to what ate up some of the teeth if bumping the starter wasn't necessarily a bad idea?
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Old 11-07-2019, 01:02 AM   #11
geezer#99
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Re: Need Advice! Do I Need a New Camshaft????

Post a pic of the teeth on the gear.

What’s the part number for your new distributor?

Or a link to it would help.

Last edited by geezer#99; 11-07-2019 at 01:15 AM.
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Old 11-07-2019, 01:32 AM   #12
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Re: Need Advice! Do I Need a New Camshaft????

2nd on drop pan and pull intake for inspection. Those lost teeth are in the motor somewhere. You really don't want to risk a small piece of metal getting past the oil pump intake and damaging the pump.

pull the plugs to make turning the motor over easier and try to inspect the cam gear from either the top or maybe the bottom.

I have used the long screwdriver method to tweak the oil pump when installing distributors.
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Old 11-07-2019, 03:33 AM   #13
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Re: Need Advice! Do I Need a New Camshaft????

You can get a USB endoscope (camera) for $10, tape it to a rod, dowel or screwdriver and look at the gear.

https://www.google.com/search?client...4dUDCAo&uact=5
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Old 11-07-2019, 07:46 AM   #14
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Re: Need Advice! Do I Need a New Camshaft????

Pictures of the distributor would be good. Couple of things may have happened. First is I suspect the the distributor was not aligned or setting down far enough into the cam gear. Second there may have been a problem with the new gear. The bumping the engine works fine if you have the distributor stabbed correctly and it is all but about a 1/2" or less from being seated. I drop em in like that all the time. I bump the engine over with a remote starter button while putting a little pressure on the distributor with my hand. Never use the clamp to put pressure on the distributor! Now that you have a bunch of metal parts in the engine that have to come out no matter what you just need to figure out a plan. I would pull it. If you have any plans like a cam swap or other performance improvements now may be the time to do it. I put a comp cam in my L31 and it really works well. I'll get the number off the cam card tonight.
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Old 11-07-2019, 12:02 PM   #15
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Re: Need Advice! Do I Need a New Camshaft????

Quote:
Originally Posted by Atlfan65 View Post
Any ideas to what ate up some of the teeth if bumping the starter wasn't necessarily a bad idea?
Possibility the distributor wasn't seated on the gears far enough. All I can think of.

As mentioned above, I have also used a long screwdriver to turn the oil pump shaft to line up with the slot in the distributor gear. Main pain with that is, crawling over the engine to look down the hole to get the screwdriver in.

Gary
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Quote:
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Quote:
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marv D View Post
Remember Murphys 2nd law of mechanical relationships... "OPPOSING COMPONENTS ATTEMPTING TO OCCUPY THE SAME SPACE, AT THE SAME TIME, GENERALLY END UP OCCUPYING ADJOINING SPACE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE OIL PAN"
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Old 11-09-2019, 07:13 AM   #16
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Re: Need Advice! Do I Need a New Camshaft????

I would not use that method of bumping it over, yet it does seem strange that damage occurred. Something must have been wrong with the distributor or oil pump. What is the source of your new distributor?
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Old 11-09-2019, 08:05 AM   #17
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Re: Need Advice! Do I Need a New Camshaft????

This is what I have always been scared of about bumping the starter to install a distributor. That's why I have never done it. At least others may learn from these bad results. The trusty long screwdriver is the only way to line up the oil pump drive.
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Old 11-09-2019, 09:06 PM   #18
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Re: Need Advice! Do I Need a New Camshaft????

Buddy of mine made this priming tool for me years ago. I use it or a big screwdriver to align the oil pump drive.
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Old 11-10-2019, 11:01 AM   #19
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Re: Need Advice! Do I Need a New Camshaft????

I set the dizzy in, lift and turn until the dizzy sets all the way down onto the intake manifold this telling me I am lined up with the oil pump....than I lift and turn the dizzy, by lifting the dizzy it turns the oil pump shaft just a bit because how the cam and dizzy gear is angled....NO NEED TO STICK ANYTHING IN THE ENGINE....or taking the hood off, laying on top of the engine with a light....none of that. simply lift and turn the dizzy a few times as you feel the oil pump shaft move with the movement lifting and turning of the dizzy...very easy to do once you understand what exactly you are doing. Get the number one piston up on TDC on compression stroke and point the dizzy to where the number one spark plug wire is...simple....no damage done !!


Where are the pics of the damage ?

Last edited by YoungPup1977; 11-10-2019 at 07:17 PM.
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Old 11-10-2019, 07:19 PM   #20
Atlfan65
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Re: Need Advice! Do I Need a New Camshaft????

It has taken a few days to have time to get back to the truck, but now I have an update. It looks like 5 pieces of the distributor gear broke off and I was able to retrieve them all with a magnet down the distributor hole. I retrieved 5 pieces and when you compare them to the damaged distributor, the pieces of metal match perfectly like a jigsaw puzzle and complete the distributor gear. It looks like I got lucky and was able to get all of the metal pieces out. I will attach pictures.

I then tried to pull the oil pan to make sure that there was no more loose metal in the pan but could not get the oil pan off completely. The cross member is in the way and it looks like I'd need to undo the motor mounts and lift the engine up to get it out the rest of the way. Well, I don't have the daylight or extra hands for that today. So alternatively, I put the magnet into the pan through the opening of the pan being dropped a few inches and ran it across the entire bottom of the pan and no metal came out with it. I left out the oil drain bolt and poked tiny holes in the caps of 2 quarts of oil and sprayed the inside of the pan with the 2 quarts of oil, almost like using the sprayer nozzle on the kitchen sink. I filtered the oil as it came out the drain plug and there was no metal there either. Seems like I was lucky enough to have the metal pieces get stuck in the assembly grease on instead of dropping down the pan. Or maybe any metal pieces that were in the pan came out when I drained the oil to drop the pan. Either way, no metal in the pan.

After all this, I dropped my old distributor with the original undamaged gear and it meshed up perfectly with the cam and oil pump, dropped down all the way smoothly. I turned everything over and it all rotated with the engine as it should. Before when the damaged distributor was installed, the rotor wasn't spinning as you turn the engine over because the gears weren't synced. Then I pulled the dizzy, turned the engine over about 30, dropped the distributor in, and turned the engine over by hand to make sure that the distributor gear meshed up well with that section of the camshaft too. Repeat, repeat, repeat until I had turned the engine over twice. Every time the dizzy dropped in and rotated as it should.

It seems to me that after everything above, the camshaft won't need replaced and didn't take the brunt of the damage. Thoughts? Maybe a defective gear casting? I'm going to order the new distributor gear and try installing it later this week.



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Old 11-10-2019, 07:23 PM   #21
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Re: Need Advice! Do I Need a New Camshaft????

Cannot figure out how to post pictures but here are links.


https://drive.google.com/file/d/1nyo...w?usp=drivesdk

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1noA...w?usp=drivesdk

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1nrI...w?usp=drivesdk

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1o-1...w?usp=drivesdk
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Old 11-10-2019, 07:49 PM   #22
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Re: Need Advice! Do I Need a New Camshaft????

I have no idea what that distributor fits but it is not a small block chevy. Post a picture of the entire distributor. I think thats the answer to what happened.
Jimmy
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Old 11-10-2019, 07:49 PM   #23
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Re: Need Advice! Do I Need a New Camshaft????

There is something wrong with that distributor gear... just can not figure it out.... is it upside down ?

Added a pic of a SBC dizzy and see how the cam gear is....
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Old 11-10-2019, 07:59 PM   #24
Atlfan65
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Re: Need Advice! Do I Need a New Camshaft????

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Originally Posted by PGSigns View Post
I have no idea what that distributor fits but it is not a small block chevy. Post a picture of the entire distributor. I think thats the answer to what happened.
Jimmy
I'm not near it to take another picture but I can guarantee it is for a small block chevy. Not sure what you're seeing that would say otherwise. It's a small cap HEI distributor meant for an 82 c10 that my buddy had. It came stock with an iron gear but I swapped it for a melonized steel gear from ACDelco part #10456413. My buddy didn't have the box anymore so I'm not sure what brand it is, so I swapped in a better module and MSD cap and rotor to be on the safe side. I'll try to have someone that is near it send me a picture to show you.
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Old 11-10-2019, 08:02 PM   #25
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Re: Need Advice! Do I Need a New Camshaft????

Swapped on backwards ? Most likely the dizzy never did set all the way down...the gear is backwards and will not mesh with the cam gear.

You indicated you had the old dizzy, does the gear on your old dizzy look like the dizzy you got from your buddy ? You can bump that starter all day long and it wont fall into place.

Last edited by YoungPup1977; 11-10-2019 at 08:15 PM.
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