This was turning into some kind of Chess match, myself versus the Chinese.
In today’s global economy it has become very difficult to purchase American made automotive parts. Most of that work has been shipped off-shore due to the lower cost of personnel. I dare say if you walked into any of the major parts chain stores with a list of 50 automotive items, 90% or better would be manufactured outside of this country. The real downside to that is the quality or lack thereof that comes with those parts. This actually becomes a hidden expense in wasted installation time and the time spent obtaining the part in the first place. So far on this project, I had lost out to a starter solenoid and a defective ignition distributor. There was more to come.
In my part of the country the UPS is now handing off packages to the US Postal System for delivery. Not all packages but quite a few are coming this way now. As the days dragged on, I kept watching the Big Brown Truck drive right by my garage, no delivery. In fact I started to think the driver was just screwing around with me, the package was on the truck but he just wasn’t going to deliver it. I was running out of time. Our schedule called for us to be on the road the Tuesday prior to Thanksgiving Day heading to Florida. Along on that trip was supposed to be an open trailer carrying a Jeep. There were now 4 days left before leaving and I had a Jeep that wasn’t running. I checked on the shipment of the distributor and yes it was on it’s way but there was no indication of when it would arrive.
The following day as I watched the UPS truck drive by once again, I noticed there was something leaning against the mailbox post. I went to check and sure enough, it was the distributor and it had been delivered sometime that day by the postal service. They just put the delivery at the mailbox, it could have sat out there all evening long. Anyway, I was anxious to get it put in and see if the engine would fire up okay. And it did, it was a little rough as I noticed I had some issues going on with the hydraulic valve lifters so I wanted to be sure and check those clearances again. But the engine wouldn’t shut off, not until we stuffed enough rags on the carburetor to gag it. We looked around, we checked wiring and couldn’t detect anything that seemed to be in error. So we started it again and the same sequence occurred, I now had an engine that would start and run but wouldn’t shut off. So we got out the light probe again and started breaking the problem down. The first thing that we noticed was that with the ignition in the on position, the wiring harness leading back to the cabin was getting extremely hot. To the point where the ignition wire going to the solenoid was not touchable. So we cut the harness open looking for something that was causing the problem. We traced it all the way back to where it enters the cabin and goes into the steering wheel shaft. It didn’t make any sense, this had not been a problem with the old engine and certainly if something was crossed up before, the wiring harness would have melted and possibly burned. Finally we narrowed the problem down to the starter solenoid – again. While this one would at least operate and allow the engine to be started, apparently something inside it was not releasing plus keeping a high resistance on the ignition wire. I really did not want to go get a third Chinese solenoid. I had one option on this, I had a real American built starter solenoid that I had purchased about 10-11 years ago and it was part of my spare racing parts stash. I did not want to let it go, who knows if I can ever find another good one? My son finally convinced me that we had to at least try it and see if that was causing the problem. So after installing this solenoid, the ignition wire going back to the switch remained cool to the touch, the Chinese had won another round. But after we started the engine again, we were still faced with the same problem – it wouldn’t shut off! So here we go again, breaking the problem down and trying to figure out where the ignition was getting power from after the key was turned off. After making a number of test hits, it turned out to be feedback from the alternator field wiring. With the alternator spinning, it was producing enough voltage to power the distributor and in turn keep the engine firing, even without a connection to the battery in place. I had to take apart the wiring harness going to the alternator and place a diode in the circuit that would allow us to “energize” the alternator to get it working but keep the voltage from feeding back to the distributor. With that in place, the engine would now shut off as it should.
I now had a little over one day left to sort out any remaining issues. I could still hear something in the engine but decided that I would be better off getting all of the systems topped off with fluids, other items dressed and tucked away plus re-taping a major portion of the wiring harnesses. I also had to get the Jeep loaded on the trailer so I really needed to take it for a short drive. That was done without much of an issue although the lifter noise was starting to be bothersome and I also had too much ignition lead. I loaded up the Jeep and then put some additional tools in the truck that I felt I would need to resolve the remaining issues. I would be in Florida with the Jeep for almost a week – certainly enough time to correct a few minor tuning issues. Ha, shows what I know.
Next: Who’s knocking?