Part 2 of the 1972 Dodge - The Engine Miss
So back to that 1972 Dodge I purchased with an engine miss. To pinpoint the engine miss, I checked all of the obvious things. Spark plugs were clean, wires seemed fine and were properly routed, cap and rotor looked new.
When I checked the points, they were way off, so I adjusted them to the correct gap setting. Unfortunately, that did not solve the problem, as the same miss was there. Replaced the condenser. Still no improvement.
Just then, my dad came out to the garage to see how I was doing. He said “seems like the points aren’t set correctly.” I said that I had adjusted them, and they were now set correctly. He double checked and found that the points were way off, so apparently I had not tightened the screw sufficiently. But still, the engine ran rough. After checking a few more things, my dad said “it still sounds like the points to me.” So he (now tripple) checked the gap. Again, the points were way off. That gave him an idea.
He had my turn the engine over by hand, while he checked the gap on each of the 8 distributor cam lobes. Interestingly, when one lobe was perfect, the one completely opposite it was way off. We pulled the distributor to find that the distributor shaft was bent. I replaced the distributor with another we had in the garage, and the engine ran perfectly.
The big mystery though was, how in the heck did the distributor shaft get bent?
Well, the mystery was soon solved.
The first day I drove the now smooth running truck to school, a classmate told me the truck used to be her dads. She then went on to tell me that her dad and her uncle pulled the engine from a good running Dodge Dart to put into the truck, but after they put it in the truck, they could never get the engine to run well again. Apparently her dad gave up after a while and sold it to her uncle. The uncle in turn, gave up and traded the truck in to a local car dealer. The car dealer could not get it running, so sold it to a customer who thought he could fix the problem. And it was that guy who sold me the truck.
But at least the mystery was now solved. You see, the engine was a 318 small block Mopar. The distributor stand in the very back of the engine (behind the carb). Apparently when the guys were changing the engine, they must have bumped the distributor sufficiently hard into the fire wall as they were installing it, thus bending the shaft.
Amazingly, about a decade later, I ran into the same thing again on another old Mopar I picked up on the cheap. This time, it took me about 5 minutes to pinpoint the problem.