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Old 02-24-2008, 04:35 PM   #1
theaspenator
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318 problem

A friend and i recently dropped a low mileage 318 in his 1979 dodge aspen (engine had bad compression). What we didn't know is that the crank had been turned with out the timing chain. So when we hooked everything up and tried to start it we got nothing. After looking through some manuals we found out about the timing chain problem and proceeded to tear apart the front assembly. We then lined up crank and cam and put everything back together and still can't get it to start. The biggest problem is when I try to start it it just wont crank over fast at all. We have good spark and we are pretty sure all wires are hooked up but why is it so slow cranking over.

Last edited by theaspenator; 02-24-2008 at 05:13 PM.
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Old 02-24-2008, 05:49 PM   #2
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When you say you "dropped a low mileage 318 in " that forms in my mind the idea that you took a running, low mileage engine out of something else------

So why and how did it "get turned" without the chain?


The point is, this engine may not be what it seems. It may have other problems, and may have been screwed with. Has it been re-ringed? If so, you may have binding from rings too tight--which can be caused, for example, by debri left down in the ring grooves.


Otherwise, if you "think" the engine is in good shape--and I'm not sure this is no--

the basic causes of poor cranking speed are

low/poor/ bad/ undersized battery

poor battery connections or undersized/ poor cables, or not connected to the block at the ground

poor starter,

Have you tried a good set of booster cables?

Try to find a friendly mechanic with a good battery tester. There are all kinds of fancy digital things available nowadays, but the one standard of all time is called a "carbon pile."

With a carbon pile you can do at least two things:

test the battery for cranking amperage, and

measure the starter amperage draw
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Old 02-24-2008, 06:02 PM   #3
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The engine was rebuilt and ran fine. We traded to a guy and he had it running great something happened so we got it back and put it in the aspen. Then we found the timing chain off and were not sure how the crank had been turned and not the cam. Iv tested the battery and its putting out a solid 12 volts but its possible that its too small ill give that a check. Also it has a brand new starter.
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Old 02-24-2008, 06:28 PM   #4
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We know this engine is good, had it running in a ram charger a while back and sounded great. As for the timing chain issue its a long story, it started when we traded this 318 for a thought to be good 360 and found out it had a cracked oil galley. We talked to the guy about it and he agreed to give back the 318. While he had the 318, he had put it into a ram charger and got it running and sounding great. When we told him about the cracked oil galley in the 360, he agreed to give back the 318, but he wanted the intake and oil pan. When he gave us the engine it didn't have a timing cover or chain on it. We had assumed that he had not turned the crank without the chain on and proceeded to put a new chain a sprockets on. I'm not sure if he accidentally turned the crank or did it on purpose to be a jerk. Also could a poor battery starter combo cause the car not to even sputter. Although the starter is in good shape/low mileage, it could be going out considering it would be the 4th one from autozone, never buying a rebuilt one again. I guess we can take it in and have it tested.

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Old 02-24-2008, 07:45 PM   #5
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It certainly could be the starter. Just because one is "rebuilt" or even new, (and for that matter, a battery could be new)----one or the other could still be bad

Do you have a voltmeter? What is the starting voltage durinr crank? Have you tried booster cables?
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Old 02-27-2008, 05:32 PM   #6
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Well i found out that it was partly the starter and mostly that the oil pump drive shaft had been rotated so the timing was way off. do you have any suggestions for removing that shaft and placing it in correctly?
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Old 02-27-2008, 06:10 PM   #7
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You don't have to remove the shaft.

There is only TWO reasons why Mopar oil pump shafts are put in a certain way, and why the distributor is put in a certain way, and why the wires are put in a certain way

One reason, is so that the plug wires will lay a certain way, because these were originally assembled on a line

Second, is that the average mechanic that is used to working on these can glance quickly at the engine, and right away, "see what he expects."

You CAN time a V8 like this:

Drop the pump shaft in "any old way"

Put the distributor in so the vacuum advance is "about" where you want. This is true of any V8 that I'm aware of, but NOT V6's because of the "odd fire" "even fire" situation.

With your distributor in, simply bring no1 up (TDC) ready to fire, and drop the no1 plug wire in WHEREVER THE ROTOR POINTS.

In your case, are you sure that the timing chain hasn't slipped?
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Old 02-27-2008, 07:26 PM   #8
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thats good to hear, and yes i'm sure that the timing chain hasn't slipped because its a brand new chain.
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Old 02-27-2008, 08:15 PM   #9
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Stupid me. I forgot to tell you what TO do, that is, if you want to "fix" the shaft. I'ts been a long time since I've done this, but I believe you can just turn it by using a big screwdriver in the slot in the gear. I believe that will make the gear "turn up" the helical gear on the cam. The gear and shaft simply drops in, turns down into the cam gear, and then you put the distributor in.

If you decide to "fix" the gear, you want it so that after it spirals down into place, the slot --according to the book--points to the FRONT intake bolt on the drivers side head.

Frankly, I don't know if I'd bother. What makes you think the timing is off, is the distributor vacuum advance turned way front/ rear?

Have you checked the marks on the front balancer? (Use a positive stop) Does it "kick back" on start, or backfire?
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Old 02-27-2008, 09:12 PM   #10
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we had the vacuum turned in the opposite direction of the number one plug with the old wire setup which ran fine on the other engine. i did what you recommended in one of your earlier post and changed the number one plug wire to where the rotor was pointing when the number one cylinder was at tdc. Where would i point the vacuum advance? also what do you mean by kickback? and no it does not backfire.

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Old 02-28-2008, 10:20 AM   #11
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The reason I asked about kickback, is that would indicate the timing was way too far advanced. Normally when you start advancing an engine, at some point the starter wil start to "kick" or grunt as the engine tries to fire. The timing is so far advanced, it is actually trying to "kick back" the starter. This is easy to figure out--either pull out the coil wire--which stops the spark-- or move the distributor CW which will retard it. If the starter speeds up, then it is trying to kick back. If it is backfiring, it may be too retarded.

Since the gear seems to be wrong for the distributor, I would just point the advance in convienient place where you have some room for movement, on the passenger side, and so that you can get your wrench in. Then, at TDC, start no1. If, after you time it, the advance is jammed up against the firewall, or is near hitting the carb, --that is--an awkward spot, you can just rotate the wires one hole one way or the other, and retime the thing.

Once again, that's why the book tells you to put the gear and dist. in a certain way--so things "fit" convieniently.

They way you are doing this should be no problem--as long as you can move the dist. enough to time it, and keep the advance away from the carb or valve cover/ firewall, etc.
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Old 03-01-2008, 06:48 PM   #12
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well, it turned out to be the battery, starter and timing. I've got the timing close now and still have some adjustments with the carb. other then that it runs great. i'll post a video on you tube later once all the tuning has been done. Thanks for all your help.
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Old 06-19-2010, 04:14 PM   #13
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engine problems

I have a 1937 plymouth coupe with a 318 thats out of a 75 dodge van and i put a mild cam in it and a four barrell carb and when i get up to highway speeds and at 2000 rpms and higher rpms the car sueges and doesnt want to keep running or when i romp on it around a corner its like nothings there then all of a sudden it takes off and goes and i have put non ethanol fuel in it mnoved the fuel lines and cleaned the car and it still does it and dont know what to else to do and would like some advise please and thank you
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Old 06-19-2010, 04:36 PM   #14
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start a new thread. this is old and tired, and there will be plenty of ppl to help,
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chevy?!!? i own hot wheels faster than that.
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Old 06-19-2010, 04:36 PM
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