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.