Distributor Stuck!
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500, 472, 425, 368 Discussion, Distributor Stuck! in Cadillac Engine Technical Discussion; Trying to remove my distributor. It is stuck, I mean absolutely immobile. The shaft has a little play, so it's ...
  1. #1
    Brother_B's Avatar
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    Distributor Stuck!

    Trying to remove my distributor. It is stuck, I mean absolutely immobile. The shaft has a little play, so it's the housing that's stuck. Just spent all day trying to pull it. Any ideas?

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  3. #2
    The Ape Man's Avatar
    The Ape Man is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Distributor Stuck!

    Been there. Be prepared by having a spare unit. The trick is to get the housing to twist ever so slightly and keep working it back and fourth without stressing it enough that it will snap the neck. There isn't much point in spraying magic spray toward the base as the magic stuff won't go past the O ring. This stiuation changes once the thing starts to move. I like brake fluid for moving stuck stuff. It kills paint though.

  4. #3
    Brother_B's Avatar
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    Re: Distributor Stuck!

    Well I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one to have experienced this. Everyone I have mentioned it to acted like I was crazy. I have a new HEI distributor to install. Since I don't care about the old one, except for snapping it off, I think I'll try to clamp a breaker bar to it so I can get some real twist action on it. The other option was to try to hook a come-along between it and a tree in my neighbor's yard! Thanks.

  5. #4
    The Ape Man's Avatar
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    Re: Distributor Stuck!

    That's pretty much what I did. Snapped the thing right in 2. The drive still held the 2 broken pieces together and made it an even larger pain. Mine was in a '75 500. Funny thing was I always kept the lockdown a little loose to change timing. I sold the car to someone who drove it for a few years and totalled it. The engine was then put into another car and driven for a few more years. I bought THAT car from the guy a few years after and the thing came back with a distributor that was frozen in place!
    Anyway, try to get it moving a little at a time before you take out the BFH.

  6. #5
    JTraik is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: Distributor Stuck!

    You will have to carefully bang it out with a hammer, as crazy as that may sound, it worked for me and I didnt end up breaking it. Just remember to slobber it up with anti-seize upon re-installation.

  7. #6
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    Re: Distributor Stuck!

    BFH worked! BFH allowed me to twist it an RCH, and then up and out. Thanks guys. It's a good thing I was junking the old distro though. I had to drill two holes in it to attach my Twist-O-Matic (TM). Now if I can just get the new one working...


  8. #7
    JTraik is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: Distributor Stuck!

    Very clever design, could I see a picture down the center of that pipe?

  9. #8
    The Ape Man's Avatar
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    Re: Distributor Stuck!

    Maybe you can list the proper curse words for us also. I really like that home made whatever it is.

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    Re: Distributor Stuck!

    Thanks for the interest! I used a hacksaw to cut tabs in one end of the pipe, then used a vise to press the tabs inward, creating the slot for the breaker bar. Drilled two 3/8" holes in the distro, inserted two 12" long pieces of 3/8" all-thread into the holes and put washers on the all-thread underneath. Then slid the piece of 3" Sched 40 pipe over top of everything and sat it down on top of the distributor. Drilled the matching two 3/8" holes in a piece of channel, stuck the piece of channel on top with the all-thread poking through its holes and fastened with 2 more nuts. Tightened it all down. Slid the round bar into the slots in the pipe and then I had all the leverage I needed. The tall piece of pipe was, of course, to elevate the breaker bar above all the other crap in the way (AC compresser, belts)

    Not sure if curse words are allowed, but the curious can check this link for BFW and RCH. Obviously Ape Man knows what a BFW is, but there may be some that don't know RCH, chuckle chuckle. What I really want to know is the origin of the term "dead nuts", meaning "right on the money", as in "I set the timing at 5* BTDC dead nuts". So far it's a mystery that even Google can't solve! Anyways hope this saga has been entertaining so far. I'm just glad Phase I is complete. Oh yeah, don't worry, I cleaned up the chips from the drilling before I pulled the distro out.

    http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Appendix:Military_slang




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    Re: Distributor Stuck!

    Forgot the pic that JTraik asked for!


  12. #11
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    Re: Distributor Stuck!

    Brother B,


    RCH is my personal favorite......no, seriously.....



    Cheers,
    Tyler

  13. #12
    rkmccurdy is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Distributor Stuck!

    The distributor in my 1970 Cadillac Coupe DeVille convertible was totally stuck and here is how I got it unstuck. I am not much of a mechanic at all and had never replaced a distributor before but this worked for me. My thanks to the people who posted information on this as it was a help to me.

    My Cadillac is now running very well with a new Davis Unified Ignition, an HEI (High Energy Ignition with no points). The engine is a 472 and the points distributor probably had not been moved in years, if not decades, and I was unable to adjust the timing since the distributor just would not move (yes, I did loosen and remove the distributor lock down nut first).
    I tried spraying PB Blaster on it for a year or so and I don't think it even reached the area where it needed to. So here is what I did and I hope it helps other people as this forum helped me to know that I was not alone with stuck distributor problems.

    The key was removing the AC compressor on top of the motor and this allowed me to get a 10 inch pipe wrench around the base of the distributor right where it meets the engine block. I used a cheater bar about 3 feet long made out of the handle of some pruning shears I took apart (and put back together after so I can still prune). With the AC compressor out of the way I was able to get about a 1/3 turn when the distributor finally budged using the pipe wrench and cheater bar and it felt great to actually get the stupid stuck distributor to finally move. Looking from the front of the car, the pipe wrench was oriented at about 10:00 O' clock and I pulled it towards me counterclockwise. I then reset the pipe wrench and cheater bar to turn the distributor clockwise back towards where it was and I repeated this until the distributor worked itself out and I felt that great feeling of accomplishment.

    Warning: I turned the distributor too far and the conical vacuum chamber on the distributor crunched into a plastic/metal thermal vacuum widget with three vacuum hoses coming out of it, so I broke the three vacuum hose fittings. If you are careful and don't turn the distributor around too far (I was turning it 360 degrees once I got things loosened) you won't have a problem with this. Fortunately I had another from a spare engine.

    Once the distributor was out I cleaned around the hole in the engine where it fits in and cleaned the old distributor, then I put it back in just to see how it goes. My old distributor was pretty chewed up, if you are more careful you may be able to reuse yours. I wanted to go to an HEI anyways and narrowed it down to a Davis Unified Ignition or an MSD. The Davis was $320 and an extra $99 for new wires that fit it, the MSD was around $300 but needed a $200 box plus the cost of new wires to fit it. Since the Davis was less expensive and a simpler install I went with that and I like it. Both the MSD and Davis look like excellent options. The Davis distributor comes in different colors including, clear, which is what I bought so you can see it spin inside and if it is dark out you can see sparks as the rotor turns.

    As I wrote earlier, I am not much of a mechanic and had never replaced a distributor before, so if I can do it you probably can too.

    The MSD website has some great video tutorials on how to install a distributor that really helped me to do it right. Thanks to the MSD videos I learned the easy way that the top dead center (TDC) mark on the harmonic balancer lines up with the timing mark for TDC on the number 1 cylinder for both TDC on the exhaust stroke and TDC on the compression stroke. You want TDC for the compression stroke so remove the number 1 spark plug, put your thumb over it (no fingers in it or possible crunch) and on the compression stroke it will blow through the spark plug hole and you will feel it. Definitely watch the MSD video tutorial on timing and installing a distributor! The Davis also came with good instructions and they have good information on their website but no video tutorials that I found.

    I want to mention I really like the Davis Livewires spark plug wires. They fit great and were numbered to make life easier and more idiot proof. The spark plug wires for the old points distributor will not fit the HEI.

    You can probably keep the hoses attached on your AC compressor and just move it out of the way for this operation so you can probably keep it pressurized and just reattach it.

    I just removed my AC compressor as it wasn't working anyways. Neither is the heat but I'll get to that some other time as the first priority is to actually get the car to run well. It took me a few trips to NAPA to figure out the right size for the alternator belts as the stock ones drive the AC compressor as well, but I worked it out.

    You will need to loosen the alternator belt and power steering belts before removing the AC compressor. This was fairly easy. The gas inside an air conditioning system is nasty and bad for people and the environment so it is best not to let it out, a properly equipped garage can do that. If you do let some AC gas out don't breath it and wear eye protection.

    I am glad to say that after doing all this myself, my Cadillac actually started the first time and I was able to properly adjust the timing. It is now running better than it ever has in the two years since I have owned it.

    I hope this helps anyone else who has a stuck distributor on their Cadillac 472

    My email is rkmccurdy@yahoo.com

    Good luck and happy driving!

    sincerely, Ross

  14. #13
    The Ape Man's Avatar
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    Re: Distributor Stuck!

    Old thread! I had the good fortune of encountering another frozen distributor since these posts. This time was much less gruesome.

    It's actually good to see other people with this problem. I feel better now.

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