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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am having a serious problem getting my Jeep started. I have tried just about everything I can think of, and it still won't start. I am pretty stumped, and I am hopping someone might shed some light for me.
I posted last week about getting my timing set correctly, I think the timing might be ok.. The reason my Jeep won't start is because I am not spark to the plugs.

MY set up is... A 350, with a Q-jet. I am running an HEI dist, with good 8 mil plug wires, and a set of good AC delco plugs. Everything is for the most part, Brand new. The engine only has 1200 miles on it
When I crank the engine I am not getting a spark at the plugs.
If I pull one of the plugs from the block, and ground the plug to the neg term of the Battery (with jumper cable) Then I get spark to that plug.. but it is weak, and not consistant. (I don't think it fires every time).
So I figured that maybe my engine block was not grounded enough. So I added 2 more grounds to the block. I now have a total of 3. Two of them are made from 0 gauge welding cable, and one of them is a 4 gauge battery cable. I used my volt meter to check the resistance between the neg term of the battery and the head on the motor, and I get almost zero.
With the plugs in the motor, I just can't get enough spark to start the engine.
I took the dist cap off, and checked everything out in there, and it all looks normal. Like I said, everything is brand new.

I am starting to wondering if there is maybe somthing wrong with my dist? Is it common for an HEI dist go bad? It seems like its just not providing enough power. Will a new dist solve this problem?
I am stumped.
Thanks for any help.
 
G

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Have you removed the control module inside the dist lately? And didn't use thermal compound when you re-installed it? If so, your module is fried...

Next option would be the coil....

Make sure you have a full 12 volts going to the HEI....you do not want to use the ballast resistor....read the recent post from Junk Yard regarding HEI and relays
 

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The fact it sparks at all says the pickup coil and module are OK (primary side.)
That leaves the secondary side. The coil is new? How 'bout trying the old one?
Have a look at the carbon button in the center of the cap.
But first - try running a wire directly from the + Batt terminal on the HEI to the (+) Battery terminal. Sometimes the supply voltage is weak (from the key switch,) bad connection, resistor still in etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the replys
I have not had the Dist apart at all. I got it new in the box, and when the engine went together, the dist was installed. Since I havn't taken it apart, I know it is assebled correctly.

When I put the 350 in my jeep, I also replaced all the wiring. I installed a Painless Universal harness. I do believe that the power for the coil comes from the Ignition switch. My ign switch is the orig one, and it looked a little worse for the wear. It wouldn't be hard for me to believe that there might be a lot of resistance in it.

Do I have to do anything special to run a wire from the Dist to the battery? Should I install a fues? If I should what size should it be? And should I install a switch? If I have the dist wired directly to the battery, does the chance exist that it will drain the battery if it sits for long enough?

And what do I do with the wire from the ign switch? Should I just insulate it, and leave it. Or does it need to be spliced into the wire that goes from Bat, to Dist? This sounds like the next step I should take.

Since this new dist went onto my new engine, I don't have an old one to test.
Thank you guys for your help.
 

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That wire is only a test jumper - temporary - if it runs you'll know the problem is in the present wiring. To shut it off, you'll have to disconnect that jumper. Don't leave it on, just test with it.

New doesn't always mean assembled correctly. But it's likely OK.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well, my No Spark problem continues.

Last night I set aside a few hours to work on the Jeep, and failed again to get it started.
I grabbed my volt meter, and tested first my Batter. It reads 11.96 Volts. (not bad since the Jeep has not run in two weeks, and I have used the starter a lot to try and get the thing started). I figure that 11.96 volts should be plenty for the HEI to produce spark and start the engine.

So, the first thing I did was to hook another ground wire from the (-) Bat terminal directly to the bolt that holds the dist to the intake. Then I hooked a "Jumper" wire from the (+) Battery term, directly to the (+) term of my HEI dist.
I hooked up my timing light (To see if there was going to be spark) and tried to start the engine..... Nothing.
The engine did not start. And according to my timing light, I got almost no spark at all.

So... Now I am guessing that the problem must be somewhere in the dist.
This is disapointing, because it is a brand new unit. It has 1100 miles on it. Is this a common problem?

I am going to pick up a new HEI dist today, and hope to install it this evening. I really hope that solves my problem, and my Jeep will be back up and running. I want to go out and play this weekend.
Thanks again for the help.
 

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As per our ongoing PM conversation...

HEI's, Especially aftermarket HEI's are prone to failure.

Lots of things can cause it, but since it was working and stopped after it came loose, I'd say you cooked the module or coil, especially after you stated that it only fired once in a while...

Loss of ground is a big issue for the HEI (or any ignition module) but it's certain death for the HEI because the ignition coil will discharge internally when the ground is interrupted.
Bad deal all the way around.

Hope you have better luck with the next one...

Some things you might try to increase your chances,

1. Take the module out and apply Radio Shack 'Heat Sink Compound' p/n 276-1372a under the module.
Make sure the mating surfaces are clean and flat before application.

2. Add a ground while you have the module out.
On the end of the module where the cap & coil connectors are, there is a screw that provides the ground to the module and ignition coil.
Make sure that screw uses an INTERNAL star type lock washer.

Use a longer screw, one that sticks out the bottom of the distributor.
Connect a 10 Ga. ground wire to that screw outside of the module and run it to the engine block or back to the battery negative (-) terminal.

3. Make sure you use your jumper wire for testing.
Either add a relay or make sure the resistor wire isn't in the feed circuit to the relay.
Feed relay and 10 Ga. feed wire would probably be the most absolute way to make sure your HEI is operating at peak efficiency.

4. Make sure your engine (engine heads especially) get at least a 10 gauge wire for ground.
The high voltage going to the plugs needs somewhere to get to ground, and if the engine isn't grounded properly the ignition coil will take a beating.
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Stock vehicles only used a 14 Ga. wire maximum to feed the ignition system, and they used a resistor wire to further cut back on current flow.
Larger wire and a Relay make sure your HEI gets fed on the INPUT side...

Your entire primary side of the ignition, coil and all, grounds through that screw, so adding a positive ground hurts nothing, and at the very worst is a pain in the ass to hook up,
BUT,
Will make your ignition much more powerful in the (likely) event that the shaft and aluminum housing don't provide enough ground.

Added ground wire will make sure your ignition gets an OUTPUT or ground.

Added ground wire to the engine head will make sure the high voltage side gets an OUTPUT...
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you again for the help JYG. Your tips will be helpful. I hopefully all goes well this evening, and I can get the Jeep back on the road. I will pay a little more attention to correct grounding this time, and hopefully this ignition system lasts longer than 1100 miles.
 

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Great advice JYG. I get most of my parts at Oreilly's and you can get heat sink compund from this chain and maybe others if you don't want to search out Radio Shack. Find the counter guy with brains and you can buy a little packet of heat sink for about 99 cents. It is white, not clear like the silicone grease. Also, is your HEI dist under warranty? If not, just get a good module first to try... no sense in buying another complete unit right now. I would recommend using a genuine GM module, otherwise find a good aftermarket brand with a lifetime warranty. Mine was $50 for the good one, versus $35 for the el-cheapo.
 

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Agree on the module.
New module and coil at the very worst is what it will cost.
GM modules are made in Mexico the last time I bought one, but at least they have some quality control...

Disagree on the heat sink paste.
Discount sores have a tendency to use dielectric grease or white lithium grease instead of real heat sink compound.

Radio Shack is the cheapest, but you can go to any computer components store and get computer module heat sink compound and it will work fine.

Grease, no matter what color from the discount sores will NOT work correctly.
If you have a module with dielectric grease or lithium grease under it you have a working module by dumb luck, not proper fore thought and planning...
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This is why I don't try and help more...

Do you think I plug Radio Shack because I like being asked for my life history every time I buy a switch or diode?
Or paying three times too much for cheap crap is my objective?

Radio Shack is the only place in rural areas you can find some of this stuff.
Electronics repair places that would have the proper nonconductive, water resistant heat sink compound are few and far between, and not every area has a computer parts sore yet...
Local stores are here one day, and gone the next, so they are unreliable...

'Heat Sink Compound' from any of the chain auto parts outfits is totally unreliable.
Hell, most of it I see catches fire which tells me it's petroleum grease, not silicone based with zinc, copper or titanium heat sink compound...
Aluminum isn't used in heat sink compound because it WILL burn when overheated...

Most of the time Radio Shack is within a rocks throw of Wally-World so that makes it even easier to locate...
It's a country thing... Called availability...
 

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I bought actual heat sink paste from the parts store. I am only saying this because sometimes, as in my case, Radio Shack is clear across town and this was a very good option. It was actual Borg Warner brand heat sink compound so I used it and I think it is going to work fine.

For what it's worth, I turned wrenches for GMC 1990-1996. The distributor for the TBI and first attempts at MPI engines had the same problem. We used GM silicone grease on the base of these modules, per their instruction (service bulletin). We never had one come back. However, if you can get to it, heat sink compund has got to be a better alternative.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Woooo Whoooo !
I am very happy to report that my Jeep is back up and running! And it is running better than Ever!
I swapped the coil last night, and dropped in a new dist. I redid the wiring per JYG's advise, and boy oh boy what a difference!
It fired right up better than it ever has. Once I got the timeing all set I took it out for a test drive, and I can't belive the difference. The performance of the engine is better now than it ever has been. I could not be any happier.

For anyone out there running an HEI ingnition system... Take the advise of JYG, wire your dist with a relay, and add the 10 Gua ground wire to the mounting screw he suggested. You will be happy you did.

Thank you all very much for your help.

Do not neglect grounding!
 

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Glad to hear your Jeep is running!
You have had a long battle with things and I'm glad you are up and running.

Don't throw too much credit my way, You did the work.
I'm just the messenger throwing a little common sense around when I can get a word in edge ways...

Glad I could help. Good luck with your future projects.
 

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question on the heat sink compund. how long does it last? especially in the engine bay environment? Is it something that I should go back and clean and re-goo every year, 6 months, never need too, when I do an oil change?
 

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I do mine when I service the ignition components.
Change the cap & rotor, new plugs, service the module kind of thing.

I do them as a matter of maintenance when there has been an under hood fire or the vehicle has been under water also.
(we live in an area where people drive off in 'back water', rivers get out of their banks regularly and people try and go through it with mostly disastrous results)

Heat sink compound is a high heat 'Grease' transfer paste by nature.
Heat in the engine bay won't make it run out, but I've seen the earlier stuff dry out.
Silicone based will appear to dry out around the edges, but still be paste under the module most of the time.

Silicone base heat sink past doesn't seem to dry out, but I've noticed bubbles or air pockets forming under it after it's been there a while.
I smear mine on in a garage, not a sterile operating room, so I'm sure there are impurities getting in to the paste no matter how clean the surfaces seem or how well I wash my hands...

Don't ask me how the 'bubbles' happen, I don't know.
My best guess is bacteria colonies living in the paste off-gas when the live and die creating air pockets, the slight discoloration and 'dry' spot I see in the paste.
I just reapply the paste when I change the cap and rotor and the problem is solved.
(Good time to check and clean connectors and terminals!)

Bacteria is a guess because it's never really been enough of a problem for me to do any large scale testing for.
 

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He He -- Sometimes it is hard to find real heat sink compound --
He He - something even harder to find nowdays - real points cam lube! All you get is dumb stares, or silicone dielectric grease, white grease, or who knows what!

3 parts houses in town here - none have it - but lots of older cars around. Go figure!
 

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Perhaps it's a matter of "points cam lube" properties not being available in an multi-purpose product during the '30s-mid '70's (when points were OEM)?

And now with an abundance of multi-purpose lubricants on the market, quite possibly 1 or more overlap the properties needed? /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/confused.gif
 

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As I remember - the points lube was a high fiber (why I don't know) high temperature sticky stuff. Engine oil or anything thin flies off, gets on the points screws them up.
Permatex, Delco, and a few others still have it, but parts houses don't usually carry it anymore. Many of the people working in, or for, parts houses have never had to deal with points.
I suppose that's technology?
He He - like asking them to multiply 23 x 32 without a calculator.

A small tube of point cam lube lasts a lifetime - you lose it before you use it up.
 

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Cam points lube at one time was a Whale product (up to the 50's), and at other times was lithium soap.
Lithium soap for lube is now damn near impossible to find.
Environmental concerns and all...

Lithium soap for lube might be a little more familiar as the lube in manual steering boxes up to about 1975 when the EPA went off the deep end about people handling lithium all day.
Absorbed and ingested it made people go off the deep end mentally and was linked to child birth defects.

Lithium soap is sticky and looks like it's half dried out when you take it out of the tube or can...
Really thick, and I think it would stick to oil!/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/ooo.gif
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On the same note, 'Baby Powder' and 'Talcum Powder' were both made of finely ground asbestosis until the 70s.
Interestingly enough, the size of most of the powder products were ground to exactly the same size the military uses for chemical weapons for maximum penetration into the lungs...
(now they are mostly corn starch)

Lead was considered a safe additive for everything from glaze on food dishes to paint to additives in food until the 60s.
Lead solder on food cans and lead paint wasn't outlawed until the 70's!
Lead glaze on dishes still isn't banned in this country! It's perfectly legal to sell lead glaze dishes for food use in this country.
Lead concentrations in the environment from lead additives in fuel are still a problem for food & livestock producers.
Food from countries that still use lead in the gasoline (Like South Africa and some south American countries) have such a high lead content it actually balls up in the processing machinery.
An example would be baby food producers using beans and fruit from South Africa, and Chocolate beans in particular have a lead content you wouldn't believe!
South American beef and soy beans are full of lead, among other things...

Dioxin and PCB were used in both skin lotion and underarm deodorant.
PCB's (Poly Chlorinated By phenols) were added to engine oil to help with heat transfer for about 30 years.
Every electrical transformer in the country was loaded with PCB's.
Even after the manufacture of PCB's was outlawed, dumping of the PCB laden transformer oil was allowed in all but one state...
Most of it being sprayed along rural road sides to control weeds and dust.

Dioxin was used in deodorants, bathroom and kitchen cleaners and in consumer grade weed killers.
Dioxin is a deadly poison and causes of multitudes of cancers and health conditions.
Impact on the environment is catastrophic.
Dioxin is 2,4,5,T off the benzine ring, and is considered the single most toxic substance ever invented by man.
Some of you may know it by one of it's military designations...
Agent Orange.

Hydrated aluminum was used in both anti-acids and underarm deodorant.
Now linked to alzheimer and colon and prostrate cancer.

DDT insecticide was powdered and mixed with water and/or heated and sprayed in residential neighborhoods to control misquotes.
DDT was sprayed directly on children and parents in city parks and at sports events and drive in theaters.
It was intended to control the Polio, Malaria, Yellow Fever & Encephalitis carrying misquotes.

DDT is directly linked to cancers, birth defects, respiratory problems you can't believe and tons of other health and environmental problems.
DDT nearly wiped out several species of birds including the American Bald Eagle, and is responsible for the extinction of at least 30 species of fish and 10 species of birds, all American song birds.
At one time the country was down to 300 American Bald Eagles and if it hadn't been for private breeding programs and gifts from zoos in other countries we wouldn't have the American symbol now...
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So, when you are told 'It's Safe!' Take note!
We have been lied to so often you can't believe a word big business or the government says!

Like now, saying Hand held cell phones don't cause brain tumors when 7 countries require you to sign a waver saying you are aware of the problem and are willing to take the risks...
But the US Government says there is no danger...

Add all you want, I'm tired and my dinner is done!
 

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Put a gob of meat in Coca Cola - look at it a day later - and we do that to our stomachs.

Put some Coca Cola, Pespi etc on an anthill - they love it. Now put Diet Coke or any diet drink on it - they all die - and we drink that stuff!

Margarine - ants and bugs won't touch it, but they love butter - why?

An American Heritage - the old timey prospector, skinny, baggy pants, jackass, brown or missing teeth etc. They used Mercury to catch the gold in their gold pans. A liitle mercury your teeth turn brown, a little more they fall out and you go nuts. More and they bury you. How much does it take? Less than a thermometer uses.

He He - when I moved out to the desert from LA years ago I kept smelling a funny smell, and had headaches constantly. I finally realized the smell was a lack of smog - clean air (well, cleaner.) I ran a vacuum cleaner hose from the tailpipe into the back window - I felt so much better! I had to wean myself off smog!
 
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