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10/23/13 1:38am - Original Message: 'Had to get towed tonight'
daveo76
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Vancouver, WA - USA

Vette(s):
1976 Silver/Firethorn. L48, 4spd. Original 2 bolt, vortec heads, 9.4:1 CR, Speed Pro Cam: 224/224@0.050, 112 LSA, Eagle Steel Crank.

Joined: 8/25/2005
Posts: 830
Left me stranded just a half mile from my house tonight.  I was driving under power and suddenly she just quit on me.  Tried to get it started again while coasting, no go.  Fortunately had enough momentum to get her into a grocery store parking lot.  Pretty sure it is a no spark situation.  I can see fuel squirting into the primaries and the cranking is very smooth and consistent, not catching at all.  This happened once years ago and I got it towed to my house.  It was the HEI module that time.  Since the symptoms were so similar tonight I took a chance and bought a cheap module from the parts store down the street (even had to borrow a 1/4" socket from them to get the rotor off) and replaced it i the parking lot, under the light of the sodium lamps.  Still no go.  I decided the parking lot repair was not going to happen, so I got it towed home.  All I've done so far is put a voltmeter on the primary wire to the dist and noted that it was 11.4 volts.  Is that low?  I'm assuming even if it is low, it should still be enough to fire the coil?  Other than that, I'm thinking the next two things to look at are the coil and the pickup mechanism.  The coil is only about a year old, but the pickup is original to this dist.  

The dist is a cheap HEI unit.  You see them in the Summit and Jegs catalogs, no-name.  I would not buy one of those again.  Regardless of what the problem here is, I think it may be time for a better HEI or possibly rebuilding my original.  (the pickup failed on the original).  Suggestions?  I might be able to get a Performance DUI from a neighbor at a fair price, we'll see.  Anyone know if the stock ignition shielding will work with a Performance unit?  The cap seems to be taller than the stock versions.  

Only the second tow in 12+ years, not too bad, but still wish I could have got it running in that parking lot!


____________________________________

 

1976 Silver/Firethorn.  L48, 4spd.  Original 2 bolt, vortec heads, 9.4:1 CR, Speed Pro Cam: 224/224@0.050, 112 LSA, Eagle Steel Crank.
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10/23/13 12:50pm - Reply: 'Re: Had to get towed tonight'
Adams' Apple Lifetime Member
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Duncanville, TX - USA

Vette(s):
#1-1974 L-48 4spd Cp Med Red Metallic/Black deluxe int w/AC/tilt/tele./p/w-p/b/ Am-Fm/map light National/Regional/Chapter NCRS "Top Flight" #2-1985 Bright Red/Carmine Cp.L-98/auto Member: NCRS, NCRS Texas, Corvette Legends of Texas

Joined: 11/8/2003
Posts: 19449
Pull a plug wire and check for spark before going any further.
The "Batt" wire on the dist cap connector should have battery voltage anytime the key is on, AND while cranking. Be sure to check voltage while cranking. You might have it there with the key on, but might loose it while cranking. Also, check it several time while turning the key on/off, and see that it gives the same reading each time.
Coils normally don't fail instantly like that, but it could happen.
The pole piece(pickup) can certainly fail like that, with no/little warning. Check the wires going to it form the module...if they look weird, or you can see bare wires, that's your problem.
Can't recommend any particular aftermarket dist., BUT...if you find the pole piece is bad, replacing it, and the coil, along with the new module you already replaced, would give you basically a new dist anyway. The mechanical part of the dist is just hardware....unless it's broken physically, there's really not much to fail on that.
Sorry about the breakdown, but glad you were close to home, and not 1000 miles away! Thumbs Up


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Joel Adams
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10/23/13 9:00pm - Reply: 'Re: Had to get towed tonight'
daveo76
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Vancouver, WA - USA

Vette(s):
1976 Silver/Firethorn. L48, 4spd. Original 2 bolt, vortec heads, 9.4:1 CR, Speed Pro Cam: 224/224@0.050, 112 LSA, Eagle Steel Crank.

Joined: 8/25/2005
Posts: 830
Thanks, Joel.  After having the batt on trickle charge all night I'm up to 11.6 with key on Run and it goes down to about 9.5 while it's cranking.  I pulled #1 plug wire at the plug and leaned the boot against the stearing gear box so I could see a spark while my wife cranked - nothing.  (embarrassed to ask, but what is the correct, safe way to check?  I've been shocked a few times doing it wrong).  So pretty sure it's a no-spark issue.  And I think it has to be the coil or the pickup or something else electrical in the dist.  I'm going to get the coil tested at the parts store and if it comes up good, I'm just going to get a new dist.  

If I can't get the friend's DUI (Davis Unified Ignition - very good ratings from users on the net) I think I am going to go with a GMPP HEI out of Jegs or Summit.  This is what they sell with some of the crate motors and it sounds like it is made by MSD.  Any experience?  


____________________________________

 

1976 Silver/Firethorn.  L48, 4spd.  Original 2 bolt, vortec heads, 9.4:1 CR, Speed Pro Cam: 224/224@0.050, 112 LSA, Eagle Steel Crank.
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10/23/13 10:10pm - Reply: 'Re: Had to get towed tonight'
Case75
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, - Canada

Vette(s):
1975 Corvette 383 stroker w/Patriot 190 heads, Eagle stroker kit, Comp 279TH7 cam, DUI distributor, Edelbrock 7116 intake, Edelbrock 1806 carb, Hedman Hedders, TH400 w/TCI Breakaway 2400 stall, Transgo 1-2 shift kit.

Joined: 6/19/2012
Posts: 230
Sorry to hear of your troubles Dave. I can attest that getting towed home is not a happy experience. I bought a DUI this summer but have not used it yet. They are very well made and a great company to deal with. I think it will fit under the shielding. Look forward to learning from your misfortune if you don't mind.

____________________________________
 
Build Date: May 7, 1975. 383 w/267 RWHP/310 RWTQ
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10/23/13 11:03pm - Reply: 'Re: Had to get towed tonight'
rraider1
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Woodland, WA - USA

Vette(s):
1977 T-Top,350,Auto Black Ruby Pearl,Steeroids R&P conversion

Joined: 10/14/2003
Posts: 1152
Hey Dave  I have a distributor you can use to test, if you what to illuminate that as the problem.
 
You can get at harbor freight a spark plug tester for a few bucks. it just goes in line between the wire an the spark plug and the center will glow letting you now you have spark I have one you can use if needed.
  
That voltage seems low do you have another battery that you could swap in?


|UPDATED|10/23/2013 8:03:52 PM (AZT)|/UPDATED|


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Bob R
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10/24/13 12:48am - Reply: 'Re: Had to get towed tonight'
daveo76
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Vancouver, WA - USA

Vette(s):
1976 Silver/Firethorn. L48, 4spd. Original 2 bolt, vortec heads, 9.4:1 CR, Speed Pro Cam: 224/224@0.050, 112 LSA, Eagle Steel Crank.

Joined: 8/25/2005
Posts: 830
Thanks guys!  Greg, I'll definitely keep you posted.  Lesson #1 I've already posted: don't buy the knock-off Chinese HEI's.  Even if this one is not the problem, it's still not a very well made part.  I've always had concerns about things like the connectors on this unit - just not quality stuff.  Sounds like you've made it past that lesson by buying the DUI - it does seem like a very good unit based on stuff I've read.  And I think you're right that it will fit under the shielding, their FAQs say it has the same dims as stock.  How come you haven't installed yet?  

Bob, thanks.  I may be taking you up on the loaner distributor.  I'm also concerned about the voltage on the primary wire, especially the drop down to less than 10 when cranking.  Could a bad engine ground cause that?  Other thoughts?  


____________________________________

 

1976 Silver/Firethorn.  L48, 4spd.  Original 2 bolt, vortec heads, 9.4:1 CR, Speed Pro Cam: 224/224@0.050, 112 LSA, Eagle Steel Crank.
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10/24/13 9:17am - Reply: 'Re: Had to get towed tonight'
cthulhu Lifetime Member
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Hot Springs, AR - USA

Vette(s):
69 Conv #'s Match 427, TKO-600, 3.36HD-Posi, T/T, PS, PB, PW, SP, Lthr, Comp Mag 270 & Pro Rlr Rockers, Edel Air-Gap RPM, BG SD 750 MS, MSD 6AL+Tach Dist+ Blaster SS+Wires, Hly Bl Fuel Pump, K&N, Jet-Hot Hkr Side-Pipes,Steeroids, Al Rad, Spal Fans

Joined: 4/24/2004
Posts: 3194
daveo76 said: Thanks, Joel.  After having the batt on trickle charge all night I'm up to 11.6 with key on Run and it goes down to about 9.5 while it's cranking.  I pulled #1 plug wire at the plug and leaned the boot against the stearing gear box so I could see a spark while my wife cranked - nothing.  (embarrassed to ask, but what is the correct, safe way to check?  I've been shocked a few times doing it wrong).  So pretty sure it's a no-spark issue.  And I think it has to be the coil or the pickup or something else electrical in the dist.  I'm going to get the coil tested at the parts store and if it comes up good, I'm just going to get a new dist.  

If I can't get the friend's DUI (Davis Unified Ignition - very good ratings from users on the net) I think I am going to go with a GMPP HEI out of Jegs or Summit.  This is what they sell with some of the crate motors and it sounds like it is made by MSD.  Any experience?  



I always use a #2phillips scredriver with insulated handle.  I insert into the plug boot and then hold the handle of screwdriver to get the metal a 1'4" or less from a good ground
 
and antique car ownership is why I own a flat bed trailer with a winch.  ive had to tow way too many times :-(


|UPDATED|10/24/2013 6:17:51 AM (AZT)|/UPDATED|


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10/24/13 12:16pm - Reply: 'Re: Had to get towed tonight'
Adams' Apple Lifetime Member
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Duncanville, TX - USA

Vette(s):
#1-1974 L-48 4spd Cp Med Red Metallic/Black deluxe int w/AC/tilt/tele./p/w-p/b/ Am-Fm/map light National/Regional/Chapter NCRS "Top Flight" #2-1985 Bright Red/Carmine Cp.L-98/auto Member: NCRS, NCRS Texas, Corvette Legends of Texas

Joined: 11/8/2003
Posts: 19449
daveo76 said:  After having the batt on trickle charge all night I'm up to 11.6 with key on Run and it goes down to about 9.5 while it's cranking.

A battery that has been charged all night should have at LEAST 12.5 volts. Voltage under around 10v while cranking leans to the battery not being good. Doubt it is a ground problem, but you can check anyway. Also doubt the low voltage is causing it to die, and not run now, but the battery does need to be tested/replaced. Ouch
On the other hand...low voltage and electronics is a bad combo. If you can get another car up to it, and some jumper cables, you might give that a quick shot to see if the low voltage is keeping it from starting...


|UPDATED|10/24/2013 9:16:06 AM (AZT)|/UPDATED|


____________________________________
Joel Adams
C3VR Lifetime Member #56    
My Link


(click for Texas-sized view!)
             NCRS

"Money can't buy happiness -- but somehow it's more comforting to cry in a CORVETTE than in a Kia"
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10/24/13 12:30pm - Reply: 'Re: Had to get towed tonight'
danascar
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Germansville, PA - USA

Vette(s):
1974 Coupe 358ci 4 speed Black w/Medium Saddle interior w/79 custom leather seats

Joined: 1/28/2010
Posts: 763
I used this company for my distributor on my 74. Seems to be a very well built unit and lifetime guarantees, and the best part very reasonable priced.

____________________________________
http://www.c3vr.com/member_uploads/14001_14100/14006/IMG_256920168147411r.jpg


 
Dan T
 

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10/24/13 2:07pm - Reply: 'Re: Had to get towed tonight'
rraider1
Former Member
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Woodland, WA - USA

Vette(s):
1977 T-Top,350,Auto Black Ruby Pearl,Steeroids R&P conversion

Joined: 10/14/2003
Posts: 1152
Just thinking. If your Alt is not charging the battery properly, and the battery is now bad. if you where driving with running lights or lights the voltage would drop to a point the car will die. the battery can have a bad cell. once again at idle the alt may not be producing the voltage needed to keep it running. when you try to start it is it cranking slow?

____________________________________
Bob R
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10/24/13 8:04pm - Reply: 'Re: Had to get towed tonight'
Case75
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, - Canada

Vette(s):
1975 Corvette 383 stroker w/Patriot 190 heads, Eagle stroker kit, Comp 279TH7 cam, DUI distributor, Edelbrock 7116 intake, Edelbrock 1806 carb, Hedman Hedders, TH400 w/TCI Breakaway 2400 stall, Transgo 1-2 shift kit.

Joined: 6/19/2012
Posts: 230
daveo76 said: Thanks guys!  Greg, I'll definitely keep you posted.  Lesson #1 I've already posted: don't buy the knock-off Chinese HEI's.  Even if this one is not the problem, it's still not a very well made part.  I've always had concerns about things like the connectors on this unit - just not quality stuff.  Sounds like you've made it past that lesson by buying the DUI - it does seem like a very good unit based on stuff I've read.  And I think you're right that it will fit under the shielding, their FAQs say it has the same dims as stock.  How come you haven't installed yet?  

Bob, thanks.  I may be taking you up on the loaner distributor.  I'm also concerned about the voltage on the primary wire, especially the drop down to less than 10 when cranking.  Could a bad engine ground cause that?  Other thoughts?  



Dave, I haven't installed the DUI because I haven't had an engine in it since August. I'm dropping a 383 in it next week and will be installing the DUI then. Good luck with your problem.

____________________________________
 
Build Date: May 7, 1975. 383 w/267 RWHP/310 RWTQ
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10/25/13 2:15am - Reply: 'Re: Had to get towed tonight'
daveo76
Standard Member
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Vancouver, WA - USA

Vette(s):
1976 Silver/Firethorn. L48, 4spd. Original 2 bolt, vortec heads, 9.4:1 CR, Speed Pro Cam: 224/224@0.050, 112 LSA, Eagle Steel Crank.

Joined: 8/25/2005
Posts: 830
Adams' Apple said:
daveo76 said:  After having the batt on trickle charge all night I'm up to 11.6 with key on Run and it goes down to about 9.5 while it's cranking.

A battery that has been charged all night should have at LEAST 12.5 volts. Voltage under around 10v while cranking leans to the battery not being good. Doubt it is a ground problem, but you can check anyway. Also doubt the low voltage is causing it to die, and not run now, but the battery does need to be tested/replaced. Ouch
On the other hand...low voltage and electronics is a bad combo. If you can get another car up to it, and some jumper cables, you might give that a quick shot to see if the low voltage is keeping it from starting...




I don't think there is a problem with the battery, but I didn't do enough checking last night and didn't give out enough info.  Battery is new (this spring) from Costco.  It has always cranked fast and always charged properly.  Last night I did not check voltage at the battery only at the distributor hot lead.   Tonight, battery is showing 12.76 at the terminals and now showing about 11.7 at the distributor with key at Run.  Still drops down to 9.5 (at dist) while cranking.  If batt was bad, I think cranking would have slowed down on Tuesday night quite a bit, considering the amount I did.  (Checking for fuel problems, messing around with distributor and then trying again multiple times, etc.)  It never slowed down.  Reason I was asking about a bad ground is it seems like losing a volt between the battery and the dist seems like a lot.  But I did check the engine ground tonight and it is all intact and the connections on both ends are tight.  Does it seem like I'm losing too much between batt and dist?  



____________________________________

 

1976 Silver/Firethorn.  L48, 4spd.  Original 2 bolt, vortec heads, 9.4:1 CR, Speed Pro Cam: 224/224@0.050, 112 LSA, Eagle Steel Crank.
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10/25/13 2:20am - Reply: 'Re: Had to get towed tonight'
daveo76
Standard Member
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Vancouver, WA - USA

Vette(s):
1976 Silver/Firethorn. L48, 4spd. Original 2 bolt, vortec heads, 9.4:1 CR, Speed Pro Cam: 224/224@0.050, 112 LSA, Eagle Steel Crank.

Joined: 8/25/2005
Posts: 830
danascar said: I used this company for my distributor on my 74. Seems to be a very well built unit and lifetime guarantees, and the best part very reasonable priced.


Dan, thanks for sharing this link.  Seems like a pretty good unit and cool that it's made in North America.  Good price, too.  If the DUI unit that my friend had at one time doesn't work out I will definitely consider this one.  One question: Do you have to use the cap that it comes with or will a standard HEI cap fit?  




____________________________________

 

1976 Silver/Firethorn.  L48, 4spd.  Original 2 bolt, vortec heads, 9.4:1 CR, Speed Pro Cam: 224/224@0.050, 112 LSA, Eagle Steel Crank.
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10/25/13 12:49pm - Reply: 'Re: Had to get towed tonight'
Adams' Apple Lifetime Member
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Duncanville, TX - USA

Vette(s):
#1-1974 L-48 4spd Cp Med Red Metallic/Black deluxe int w/AC/tilt/tele./p/w-p/b/ Am-Fm/map light National/Regional/Chapter NCRS "Top Flight" #2-1985 Bright Red/Carmine Cp.L-98/auto Member: NCRS, NCRS Texas, Corvette Legends of Texas

Joined: 11/8/2003
Posts: 19449
That looks like a standard base HEI, with an Accell coil/cover. The stock GM HEI cap & rotor should bolt right on, if needed. 

____________________________________
Joel Adams
C3VR Lifetime Member #56    
My Link


(click for Texas-sized view!)
             NCRS

"Money can't buy happiness -- but somehow it's more comforting to cry in a CORVETTE than in a Kia"
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10/25/13 1:01pm - Reply: 'Re: Had to get towed tonight'
danascar
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Germansville, PA - USA

Vette(s):
1974 Coupe 358ci 4 speed Black w/Medium Saddle interior w/79 custom leather seats

Joined: 1/28/2010
Posts: 763
daveo76 said:
danascar said: I used this company for my distributor on my 74. Seems to be a very well built unit and lifetime guarantees, and the best part very reasonable priced.


Dan, thanks for sharing this link.  Seems like a pretty good unit and cool that it's made in North America.  Good price, too.  If the DUI unit that my friend had at one time doesn't work out I will definitely consider this one.  One question: Do you have to use the cap that it comes with or will a standard HEI cap fit?  




Yes, as Joel said it is a stock style cap that you can use a stock style coil and cover with.


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Dan T
 

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10/26/13 9:09pm - Reply: 'Re: Had to get towed tonight'
daveo76
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Vancouver, WA - USA

Vette(s):
1976 Silver/Firethorn. L48, 4spd. Original 2 bolt, vortec heads, 9.4:1 CR, Speed Pro Cam: 224/224@0.050, 112 LSA, Eagle Steel Crank.

Joined: 8/25/2005
Posts: 830
Wow, am I embarrassed.  Embarrassed  It's fuel, not spark.  I checked again using Ben's method (thanks, Ben) and could see regular sparking on #4 while my son cranked.  And then I put a little fuel down the throat and it started and run rough for a minute or two.   I'm gonna be mad if I got it towed and it was just out of fuel.  But I don't think so - only gone 155 miles on this tank, I've gone considerably more than that on a tank lately.  Hmm,  maybe trip meter died on me and I didn't notice.....  But probably more likely the fuel pump??  My 9 year old daughter was riding with me at the time and she swears that the bump we heard (sounded like we drove over a loose man hole cover) is the source of the problem - we did hear it right before it died.  Could it have been the fuel pump grenading on me?  Do they ever have catastrophic failures that make a noise?  I ruled out fuel at first for two reasons: 1) it died very suddenly and wouldn't run at all after that and 2) I could see and smell fuel squirting from the primaries when I was doing the parking lot diagnosis.  Maybe it just wasn't getting enough to run?  

Tomorrow I'll dump 5 gallons in the tank and see what happens.  I guess next step after that is to pull the pump and take a look.  Man I hope the fuel pump eccentric on the cam didn't round off on me....


____________________________________

 

1976 Silver/Firethorn.  L48, 4spd.  Original 2 bolt, vortec heads, 9.4:1 CR, Speed Pro Cam: 224/224@0.050, 112 LSA, Eagle Steel Crank.
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10/27/13 8:02am - Reply: 'Re: Had to get towed tonight'
Case75
Former Member
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, - Canada

Vette(s):
1975 Corvette 383 stroker w/Patriot 190 heads, Eagle stroker kit, Comp 279TH7 cam, DUI distributor, Edelbrock 7116 intake, Edelbrock 1806 carb, Hedman Hedders, TH400 w/TCI Breakaway 2400 stall, Transgo 1-2 shift kit.

Joined: 6/19/2012
Posts: 230
I'm glad you found the reason for the problem Dave, Now to just find the culprit. :)

____________________________________
 
Build Date: May 7, 1975. 383 w/267 RWHP/310 RWTQ
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10/27/13 10:50am - Reply: 'Re: Had to get towed tonight'
rraider1
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Woodland, WA - USA

Vette(s):
1977 T-Top,350,Auto Black Ruby Pearl,Steeroids R&P conversion

Joined: 10/14/2003
Posts: 1152
you can take the line off the carb add a piece of hose if necessary. run it into a container (coffee can) have someone crank the engine to see if fuel is being pump by the fuel pump.
If you can check the pressure  I think it is 7 to 9 psi .
If you would like some Help I will be available Mon. or some other evenings
 
 
 


|UPDATED|10/27/2013 7:50:09 AM (AZT)|/UPDATED|


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Bob R
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10/27/13 10:47am - Reply: 'Re: Had to get towed tonight'
danascar
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Germansville, PA - USA

Vette(s):
1974 Coupe 358ci 4 speed Black w/Medium Saddle interior w/79 custom leather seats

Joined: 1/28/2010
Posts: 763
Had that happen to me once...it was the filter plugged inside the carb inlet.



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Dan T
 

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10/27/13 11:33pm - Reply: 'Re: Had to get towed tonight'
daveo76
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Vancouver, WA - USA

Vette(s):
1976 Silver/Firethorn. L48, 4spd. Original 2 bolt, vortec heads, 9.4:1 CR, Speed Pro Cam: 224/224@0.050, 112 LSA, Eagle Steel Crank.

Joined: 8/25/2005
Posts: 830
Yep, really embarrassed.  Poured five gallons in the tank and the Censored thing started right up.  Can't believe I didn't try that in the parking lot.  But I know I saw fuel going into the primaries, just must not have been enough.  $108 down the tubes.  Oh well, never will make that mistake again.

The one positive benefit is I definitely have decided to upgrade that distributor now.  I know it wasn't the main problem, but there is still something not right.  It is missing now at medium RPM and I can kill the motor by just barely touching the cluster of red, black, yellow wires between the dist body and the coil.  It's time for that guy to go.  Thanks for the help with my inquiries, even though they weren't quite the right ones to be asking!  


____________________________________

 

1976 Silver/Firethorn.  L48, 4spd.  Original 2 bolt, vortec heads, 9.4:1 CR, Speed Pro Cam: 224/224@0.050, 112 LSA, Eagle Steel Crank.
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