I bought a replacement distributor

I found a replacement distributor on eBay for $75. When I saw this I contacted the seller and asked if the shaft was tight and everything was included – including the coil. He replied back that there was not very much play in the shaft and it included the coil. He also said these were take out distributors.

So when I received the distributor last week, the first thing I did was check play in the shaft since that is what was wrong with the one I took out of the shaft (too much up and down play resulting in a squeal). It had a tolerable amount, but not what he said – not very much. All of the screws looked to be untouched for a long time, so I didn’t remove the cap to check for a coil or other internals.

Yesterday I had time to work on the Jeep, so my plan was to scuff the paint off and repaint along with cleaning the inside and lubing everything – basically getting it ready to install in the Jeep.

First off was the inspection. It had a light green paint on it which reminded me of the interior color of armored vehicles. The model number matches the distributor that I removed from the Jeep, so that isn’t a concern. The shaft had some surface rust and a little pitting, so I used the bench grinder wire wheel to remove that for inspection. Once cleaned, I noticed the missing spring clip at the bottom of the shaft. No problem – I have one on the old distributor. I was also missing the hold down plate.


Next I removed the cap. Here’s where the fun begins – as always! First, there was (what seemed to be) corrosion around the top of the coil, there was a little rust on the screws and the rotor was cracked. Then I tried to check the operation of the advance weights/springs – NO MOVEMENT! Upon closer inspection I saw a little rust. I clamped the shaft in the vise, sprayed with some rust penetrant and wiggled the distributor base until I started getting some movement. I finally got them to move, but it wasn’t smooth and easy – a teardown was in order!

So I began by removing the point plate, coil and noise filter. Next I drifted out the pin in the collar under the distributor base (forgive me, I don’t know their proper names). Then I pulled the shaft from the base (this took a little effort). Once the shaft was out, the advance cam (the part that the rotor sits on) horse shoe retaining spring (under the felt in the top) was removed, but the advance cam wouldn’t budge! Back to the vise! I opened the vise enough to clear the weights but still catch under the advance cam legs. Next, I used a punch to drive the shaft down and out of the advance cam. Then I removed the weights and springs.


Cleanup time!  Next, I sprayed engine degreaser on the base and cap, waited, rinsed and repeated until it was clean. Then I sanded until all of the remaining paint was smooth and feathered. Then I sprayed a couple of coats of Rustoleum on them. While the paint was drying, I used the time to clean up the internals. Using the wire wheel on the bench grinder, wire wheel on the Dremel, sand paper and Scotch Brite, I cleaned up all of the rust. I also cleaned the “corrosion” from the coil (I don’t think it was corrosion, but it looked like it). Once that was done, I reassembled the weights/springs and advance cam on the shaft – I applied a light coat of grease on all contact points before assembly. I installed the horseshoe retaining spring and felt pad, then a few drops of oil on the felt. Everything moved as it should when I tested it. Next I cleaned up the points plate and filed the points.

When the distributor base was dry, I greased the shaft and inserted it into the base (with the shims in their proper place). When I installed the retaining collar , I noticed there was MORE up and down play than before! Maybe it had less rust now = more play? I don’t know. My fix was to remove the collar and fab a thicker shim that goes between the collar and base. I found a washer that had the exact inner diameter. I slid it on a bolt and secured with a nut. Then I chucked it in the drill and spun it against the running bench grinder stone until it was the right diameter. Once the diameter was correct, I used my belt grinder (bench model) to remove about 3/4 of the thickness. I held the washer against the belt using a welding magnet. I tested the fit every so often (on the shaft with the collar installed) until I had just a little up and down play of the shaft. Then I applied a light coat of grease to the base, both sides of the washer and the collar – then reassembled for the last time!

Next, I cleaned up all of the brass items – noise filter retainer, cap inspection plug, drain plug and big screw (I don’t know what that is for) on the wire wheel and reinstalled them on the base and cap. Then I installed the coil, points plate, used rotor, o ring and finally, the cap! I also removed the hold down plate from my old distributor, cleaned it up and installed it.


So much for a sand and paint job on this one! What might have taken 2 hours ended up taking about 6! But now I have a distributor that (hopefully) I can install in the Jeep and have it work (without squeaking) first time.

So the plan for next week when I’m off is to drain the gas that has been sitting for over a year and blow out the lines. Luckily, I used non ethanol gas and Stabil, so hopefully there’s no varnish or sludge in the system. I am going to order a new companion flange and seals for the T/C and diff also.

Once all of the leaks are sealed, it will be time to put her up for sale! I thought long and hard before I made this decision. I have owned this Jeep since 1997 and spent 14yrs restoring her. The reasoning behind selling this one 1) I don’t NEED or have the storage space for 2 M38a1s, 2) the USMC one is more rare 3) I always wanted a USMC one once I learned about M38a1s and 4) this one has been sitting for almost a year and a half without time to fix it. I will be selling my other M100 with the Jeep.

I will post another update next week when I get her running again.

New battery

While I was troubleshooting last week, I went ahead and bought a new battery fire the Jeep do they I wouldn’t have to keep switching them back and forth. Good thing I still had $$$ left on the gift card I got from work – cost $115 after tax!

Also while troubleshooting, I got her running pretty quick. When I got back in the shop, I heard a squealing sound. I listened around and finally laid my hand on the distributor where I felt a grinding/rubbing. I pulled the distributor out and found A LOT of end play in the shaft – around 1/4″. I decided to switch out the internals into my spare distributor because the weights were very loose on their pins also. Once everything was switched out I reinstalled it. After playing around with it for a few minutes getting it timed, I realized it was off 180deg! I pulled the internals BACK out and turned the point cam (?) 180deg and reassembled. At that point, I didn’t have enough room to adjust the distributor to fire at #1. The only fix was to reindex the oil pump. I enlisted the help of my wife for a couple of tries before she had to leave. I finally got it to the point that I could get 5btdc after another 15 min or so. I tried to start it a few times before finally throwing in the towel for the time being. I’ll get back on it shortly.

A little mail call

Well, of course I’ve only been working on the 64 M38a1 and doing NOTHING with this one. Hopefully that will change over the summer and I’ll have time to play with BOTH of them. Three Denton rally is coming up in a couple of weeks – I am taking the 64 this year, so I’m doing everything I can to get it ready! Only a few more small things and a couple of large things (get it running right and change the clutch and flywheel) before she’s done.

Anyway, I thought I would share a couple of pics of what I ordered from the MVPA – no true M38a1 lover should be without one!

I don’t really like the M2 .50 cal mounted on it, the b.o. drive light on the wrong fender, or the stars with USMC rear bumper (on the bottom pic), but not many people will know the difference. I STILL might send them an email regarding it being an inaccurate representation – something the MVPA should know better than selling!


It’s hard to believe that this blog is still getting the traffic that it is after 5 1/2 yrs! It’s still averaging about 800 views per month even though I have moved on to working on my ’64 M38a1 and not updating this blog very much. Thanks for the support! I don’t get any money for the traffic on these blogs (although I wish I did) – I just do it to (hopefully) help someone out on their project M38a1

Nice day for a ride

I got the jeep out of the shop today and took her for a nice ~15 mile ride – because it is 76deg in SC today! She’s mighty dirty because she’s been sitting in the shop while I’ve been doing the body work on the ’64 M38a1.

White she was outside of the shop, I went ahead and turned the rear top bow brackets around, which required adding and repainting them – glad I had some 24087 in the spray can left! I found this info on the g503 forum last night. Always wondered why it was so hard to get the bows to fit in between the rear brackets!

Also found out that the wing screw for the brackets is supposed to be installed from the inside!

When I was backing out of the shop, I backed into a chair sitting behind the jeep – I can’t do anything without messing something up! At least it was only the tag!

Small update – nothing major

Nothing much to update on. I haven’t been doing much with the Jeep. I took the doors and side curtains back off for summer and only drove it a couple of times. I have started working on my USMC M38a1 again which led to a little problem on THIS Jeep. I bought the same group (size) 24 batteries that were in the other Jeep when I bought it. When I got home I started to install them – they wouldn’t fit! As it turns out, the battery specs changed and they are about 3/8″ wider than the old batteries (who knows how old they were).

Anyhow, I opened up the battery box on this Jeep to measure the batteries before I went back to Wal-Mart to get different ones (my goal was to get a size in between these and the large ones that didn’t fit – which doesn’t exist!). When I pulled the battery box lid off I was greeted with corrosion on the outboard battery and tray! I removed the battery, flushed it with water and sprayed everything down with a battery acid neutralizer. I repeated until all of the acid was gone. Then I resprayed the battery hold down and tray with rust converter. I need some type of durable coating that I can spray it with. I checked the bateries’ voltage. The inboard battery was strong (with OVER 12v), but the outboard battery was weak (at 10.34v). I put it on the trickle charger overnight. It was showing charged, but when I unhooked it, it slowly fell to around 11v. I put it back on charge for a couple of days and tested again – it only dropped to 11.3v! So I put it back on charge yesterday before we left and will let it charge until we get home on Friday. Hopefully it will come back to full charge this time (because I don’t want to have to buy ANOTHER $115 (after taxes)  battery).

The only thing I can think of that might have caused this is the other Jeep. I was using these batteries to crank it when I was trying to get it running right. I ran the batteries pretty low a couple of times and I forgot to turn the switch off once, which killed them! When I put them back in this Jeep, the regulator must have been overcharging to compensate for the weaker battery which boiled it over. Sometimes I HATE 24v systems!