Timing issue?

RustBucket

Greasemonkey
Feb 8, 2018
107
24
18
#1
Swapped distributors on the 81 Elky and the 81 Malibu.
Did the "paper in the spark plug" trick and bumped the engine and ran the wires according to firing order on the elky and everything turned out fine. Car runs (hooray)

Did the same for the Malibu but it won't start. Just farts out the exhaust. Check these pics of the spark plugs from the Malibu. What causes this? Both cars were running fine before the distributor swaps so parts are fine.
 

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MrSony

Comic Book Super Hero
Nov 15, 2014
3,647
1,235
113
Des Moines, Iowa
#2
My guess is it's 180 out. Take the valve cover off and make sure both valves of #1 are closed (rockers loose, or pushrods should spin with your fingers with almost no resistance) and try again. bet ya the rotor is pointing the complete opposite direction. Also either clean those plugs up, or buy new.
 

RustBucket

Greasemonkey
Feb 8, 2018
107
24
18
#3
My guess is it's 180 out. Take the valve cover off and make sure both valves of #1 are closed (rockers loose, or pushrods should spin with your fingers with almost no resistance) and try again. bet ya the rotor is pointing the complete opposite direction. Also either clean those plugs up, or buy new.
I bumped the engine until I had compression on the #1 spark plug, then I dropped the distributor in to where the rotor pointed towards the #1 cylinder then placed the cap back on and plugged all the wires according to the firing order, starting with the #1 spark plug wire right where the rotor was pointing. I did all this on the el Camino and it fired right up but it won't work on the Malibu. The car was running before I swapped the distributors from the Malibu to the el Camino. IDK what is wrong and yes I cleaned the plugs with a wire brush.
 

bob64

G-Body Guru
Mar 30, 2017
504
240
43
Niagara Falls, Canada
#4
If it is popping on the exhaust stroke it's 180 degrees out, exhaust stroke also has compression, low but it's still pushing exhaust out.
 

MrSony

Comic Book Super Hero
Nov 15, 2014
3,647
1,235
113
Des Moines, Iowa
#5
Just for giggles, pull the dizzy out and wherever it is right now, swap it 180 degrees. if it's pointing at the firewall, make it point towards the radiator, etc.
 

64nailhead

G-Body Guru
Dec 1, 2014
668
375
63
Upstate NY
#6
Spark plug issue appears to be burning oil. I'll bet the top of the piston is covered in a hard, black, rough substance. Do they all look like that? How did this run prior to swapping distributors?

Here's what I would do if that motor was mine (but I'm a bit anal retentive) : run a manual compression test since you are swapping the plugs (and you do need a new set of plugs ASAP). If the compression test is good implying all cylinders within 15-20 psi, then get it timed correctly and then begin on an 'engine cleaning' program. Whether it's Sea Foam, a homemade concoction of ATF and motor oil, water, etc, doesn't really matter, but you can be rest assured that the gunk on the valves and pistons is causing some timing and performance issues. That's the stuff that makes a motor ping badly. What really works excellent to clean is a meth injection kit, but that's somewhat of a pain to hookup unless you can manage a homemade system with your washer pump and reservoir.

I don't think you're 180 out from what you described, but a ultra quick way to check is to swap the plug wires from one side to the other. Recheck with a timing light and if it runs, then I'm wrong. Please answer the questions and we'll see if we can get it running.
 

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