Sunday, August 26, 2012

swappin parts

so one of my fellow vanner friends out in Ohio, Mike Nemec, had his old distributor still sitting on a shelf (he put a v8 in his astro) and sent it out my way via another friend in exchange for a cigar the next time I see him.

There are 2 screens in the bottom of the OEM distributor that are supposed to be vents, and apparently GM found they didn't work so well, and issued a tech bulletin to punch them out for proper air flow and drainage of moisture.
I popped those out on the "new" one.

Today was my day for swapping it out, never done one before, and much to my surprise, it was simple and easy. 5 minutes, done.  I had a couple of the wires backwards at first, and once I got them sorted out, the van ran fine.

I also put a new MSD cap and rotor on it, as well as replacing my coil (older MSD for new style MSD)
(yes, I realize a wire is missing, see below)

I noticed that the post for the #2 wire on the old cap was discolored,

so I looked inside the boot and it was all corroded, and when I went to check the other end on the plug, I discovered why....

so now I need to order a new set of wires.. and I have headers, so I can't just use any "direct fit" set off the shelf.  my current wire set is 4 moroso and 2 accel wires, so now I am looking for new wires, might get another moroso set, so they are all the same.

UPDATE 7/10/2014

I haven't had any issues since doing all this when driving in the rain, but I also haven't had to drive in any tsunamis like the one that caused this...  so I came up with an easy fix in just in case.

12"x24" magnetic sign, primered to match the hood.

Almost can't see it.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


So yesterday, I decided to clean out the garage and get it ready for tearing the van apart. (has been more a storage and staging area for other projects over the summer)
A friend came over to help me move a couple larger items, and we got to talking about what happened with the van, so I get the bright idea to hit the starter so he can hear it... and I'll be damned, it starts right up and runs perfect.

OK.... I guess that rules out the timing gear/chain. So now I'm looking at it as a moisture issue, because there was water flying area from under the hood.
I have a louvered hood, and with the crazy freakish rain we were having, I think I had way too much water get in under the hood.  the cap and rotor definitely need to be replaced, and the terminal on the coil is cooked.  I'm also concerned about the rust on top of the distributor, no idea what is considered normal and what is bad...  

so I am ordering cap, rotor and coil, and debating what to do about the distributor as I research it more.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

it finally happened....

This weekend I had planned on heading to Super Somer van and truck show in Somers, CT.
The trip started off like any other, last minute packing, store stops, etc..  and then I'm off and running.  Van was running great, but the weather sucked!  serious rain... having to run the defroster to keep the windows clear isn't any fun when your hot and damp already.
I'm trucking south on 95, my GPS is tossing out alternate routes to avoid multiple traffic hang ups, it's still raining like hell and it's getting dark... suddenly I hear a "pop" and the van dies... oh crap.
I'm in the middle lane doing 70 and slowing down quickly, I'm trying to head for the breakdown land but have a tractor trailer next to me, thankfully he sped up and I was able to get all the way over.
I hit the key... van turns over, no fire, and it sounds awful.. I'm pretty sure the timing gear broke.
will have to wait till I can get the front end ripped apart to get at it and see!
Thankfully I have AAA premiere, which has a 1 time (annual) 200 mile towing, I was 130 from home, so I had to use it.  but man... it was so worth it... 130 miles at $4.00 a mile!?
After 1.5 hours, the driver finally shows up, and he gets the van up on the ramp without touching the air damn (thank you!) and we get on the way.

  this guy couldn't maintain the speed limit if you lit a fire under his ass!  we would be doing 60, then 40, then 60... he was drifting all over the road, texting, taking calls...  a drive that should have taken 2 hours took over 3.
BUT!  he redeemed himself when we got to the house... he backed the truck up and dropped the ramp right at the garage door and lowered the van right into the garage.  of course, it's ass backwards... but there was no way we were getting in the other way around.

 I'm really bummed I didn't make it to the van run.. I was really looking forward to it, but I'll call it a blessing in disguise that it happened now, and not say... a couple weeks ago on the way to/from the nats?!

 All in all... I have owned the van since december of 94, and it has 244331 miles on it, and this is the first time it has let me down and needed a tow.  I can't complain about that at all!