1973 Dodge Ramcharger spark

Electrical problem
1973 Dodge Ramcharger V8 Four Wheel Drive Manual

I just got this truck yesterday and i'm trying to get it running but it has an electrical issue. Sometimes it will get spark and sometimes it won't. Also the whole distributor moves when I try to start the motor. I'm not a electrical kind of guy so I need help bad! The motor is freshly rebuilt with only about 1,000 miles on it. It has a 318 in it.
Do you
have the same problem?
Sunday, November 29th, 2009 AT 3:16 PM

1 Reply

You already found the clue. The distributor should not be moving. I assume you mean the body, not just the center shaft and rotor.

Pop the distributor out and look at the bottom end of the shaft. You'll see it looks like a flat blade screwdriver, and can only go in two ways. Really hard to screw it up compared to GMs and Fords.

If you look down in the hole in the block, you'll see the gear that meshes with the camshaft to turn the distributor. There's a shaft built into that gear that drives the oil pump. Make sure that gear is fully seated and meshing with the camshaft gear.

To see if the ignition system is working, check for spark at the coil wire while turning the distributor shaft by hand. You can do this with the distributor cap removed. If you have spark now, you will have it when the distributor is properly seated.

If you still have no spark, two common problems with easy fixes are a burned out ballast resistor and incorrect air gap for the pickup coil. Part of the ballast resistor is bypassed by the ignition switch during cranking. If the resistor is burned out, the engine will run as long as you hold the ignition switch in the crank position. The engine will stall as soon as you release the key. This used to be a REAL common problem, luckily with a cheap fix.

The air gap of the pickup coil inside the distributor must be.012" and must be measured with a brass feeler gauge because the metal arm of that coil is a magnet. A regular steel feeler gauge will stick to it, giving an incorrect "feel".

Many years ago, on one of my cars, I couldn't get the rotor off during a tune-up. I used a hammer and screwdriver to crack it off. When it split apart, it pushed the pickup coil to a gap of.018" That extra.006" caused a no-start condition! That's the thickness of two sheets of paper.

Holler back if you still have no spark.

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Tuesday, December 8th, 2009 AT 5:33 AM

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