Rebuilding the distributor

Today I was just waiting around the shop for a local contractor to show up to give me an estimate on some landscaping. While I was waiting, I finally picked up my old rusty spare distributor and tore into it (been meaning to do it so I could see what parts I needed to order for it). I had already took the points plate, breaker cam and weights/springs off – they were pretty rusty and one spring fell apart.

I punched the pin on the shaft out. It took a little effort to get the collar off of the shaft because of all the varnish on the shaft – looking back, a little carb cleaner would’ve taken that right off and the collar would’ve slid right off. The shaft came right out of the top of the distributor housing then. I went ahead and stripped everything off of the housing that I could. I chased all of the holes to clean them out. I sprayed the entire housing with carb cleaner and scraped/scrubbed her down to get it good and clean for inspection.

I cleaned the shaft, breaker plate and all components that I planned on reusing with the wire wheel on the grinder, a wire brush and carb cleaner to get all the rust and varnish off of them. Next, I put a little oil on the shaft and slid it back into the housing. There was a little bit of lateral play, but it was very little – the bushings are OK. There was a slight vertical play, but it is OK. I removed the shaft and cleaned everything with brake cleaner this time to get the oil off and get the housing ready for paint. I taped up the housing.

Distributor housing

Next, I sprayed the housing with gloss black brake caliper paint – it was the only gloss black spray paint I had, and I am glad I used it – super hard, and dries very fast!

While the second coat was drying, I went and found my spare distributor cap housing. It had silicone in the inspection hole plug hole, and a bad distributor cap. I removed the silicone and cap and cleaned it up with carb cleaner inside and out. I had to use some sand paper to soften the edges of the paint that was left after the carb cleaner got done with it. I cleaned it up with some brake cleaner, taped the spark plug wire posts up, and sprayed 2 coats of caliper paint on it.

When I was done with that, the housing was DRY, so I oiled up the shaft and put it in (don’t forget the LARGE diameter washer on the shaft BEFORE you install the shaft!). Next, don’t forget the SMALL diameter washer before the collar. I used an 8p nail sanded to a tight fit in the collar/shaft hole – I had to hammer it in. I used the Dremel to cut the pin off on both sides, then a carbide bit to shape the pin to the shape of the collar – worked great!

Next, I took inventory of everything I need to buy to finish my rebuilt spare distributor. I am going to need: distributor cap, Distributor cap housing inspection plug, 6 cap screws and star washers, o ring, coil hold down screws and star washers, weights and springs, and either points and condenser or M151 breakerless ignition.

After taking inventory, I looked at my capacitor and the wire was about to break. I cut the wire off and took a new piece of military wire and soldered it to the wire stub. I put some shrink tubing over the soldered joint and put another piece over the other end and crimped a ring terminal on that end and shrink tubed that end. I reinstalled the capacitor and all of the external fittings and stuck the cap on for a final pic:

Distributor - painted

Now, to order those parts so I can finish it up!

I also decided to change the front black out marker “doors” – I don’t think they show the turn signals good enough. I put the military conversion lenses on them – I already had them. Here’s an old pic – I didn’t take one today.

Turn signal lenses

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2 responses to “Rebuilding the distributor

  1. This is a wonderful Blog Wilf. I have a 1953 M38A1 and have found it very helpful. Loads of great info and easy to understand for us laymen. Pics are great too.
    Thanks. John from Canada.

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