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Technical Picked up a 53 Olds Rocket 303

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by AD_NAPCO, Apr 21, 2017.

  1. AD_NAPCO
    Joined: Mar 14, 2008
    Posts: 415

    AD_NAPCO
    Member

    Ok, so I finally got a little time with the truck tonight about an hour before dark. I'm pretty frustrated. I can't get this thing to behave right at all. I have gapped these points really really close... Like .008-.010 and I still can't get better than about 27* dwell by the meter. I think this has my timing really retarded now because if and when it tries to fire it's shooting a puff of blue flame out the header and puff back through the carb as well.

    So my questions to you guys are these:

    If the initial gap by the book is .016, is it normal to have to go down this much and still not get 30* dwell? Seems extreme to me.

    I guess I'm going to pull the distributor again and do what I should have done in the beginning, which is, check for wear. So, seeing as I've never really inspected a distributor for wear before... What do I check for? Is it end play? Side play indicating a worn bushing, etc?

    If all that's good, I'm thinking the best thing for me to do is to try to hunt up a good breaker plate for this distributor that has good threads so that I can get the proper adjustment action on the points. I think the 1/4-28 allen head is so much bigger than the 8-32 it's supposed to be that it's not allowing for the right adjustment or something.

    Anyway... Thoughts, opinions, suggestions, advice... It's all appreciated. Thanks!
     
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  2. BJR
    Joined: Mar 11, 2005
    Posts: 6,828

    BJR
    Member

    I would try another dwell meter. The one I have just connects to the coil wire and ground, not any spark plug wires. You may not have a problem other then a bad dwell meter.
     
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  3. AD_NAPCO
    Joined: Mar 14, 2008
    Posts: 415

    AD_NAPCO
    Member

    Yeah that's one thing I had seriously considered before. I realized this morning I must have been really tired when I posted before about the meter I have. It's just like yours in that it just hooks to the ( - ) side of the coil and ground. I was thinking about the timing light when I mentioned that induction clip and got screwed up...

    In any case, I did a little digging and found a LOT of negative reviews on my particular meter on Amazon. I have had mine for probably 10-12 years or so but only used it a handful of times. It's an Actron CP7605. I picked it up at Sears. I just called our Sears to see if they had any dwell meters in stock. Turns out that part of the store is vacant because the whole thing is being closed down as of the beginning of September... :( Sad times.

    Anyway... I tried all three parts stores in town and only one of them actually had staff that even knew what dwell is, much less whether or not they had a meter to measure it. Unfortunately, the answer is that no one has a dwell meter on hand. So my options are ebay, or amazon... Unless someone has a recommendation on a reliable meter with a digital dwell function, I'm tempted to get an old USA made meter from ebay.

    Any recommendations? It's kind of a gamble as most of the ones I've seen on there say 'untested.' in the descriptions.

    So I did go back out this morning and tried it one more time with no luck. I pulled the distributor and checked for shaft wobble. The problem is that I really don't know what I'm looking for or how to measure the play exactly. I can feel some side to side play on the shaft when I grab the gear and rock it, but knowing how much is too much... I'm lost. I can't really feel it at all if I grab the top of the shaft where the rotor attaches and rock there.

    Here's another question. Should this distributor be shimmed, and or should it have a gasket between the housing and the block? Would that gasket act as a necessary spacer? There was nothing there when I pulled it, spacer, shims, or gasket.

    It does not look to me like it'd be physically possible to seat the distributor without engaging the oil pump drive on this motor. Is that correct?

    Although it does seem that it's possible to get it one tooth off.

    In any case, it's too darn hot out there right now to fuss with anyway. I'm hoping the wife will be able to pick up a pop-up canopy at a decent price when she runs into town in a while. Otherwise I gotta do this in the morning and at dusk.

    Oh, also... I need to wait for the air to clear a bit. There's a big grass fire about 15 miles from here and there's a fair amount of ash in the air right now. No bueno to be breathing that, and with the heat, it's just too stifling to wear a mask out there.

    Thanks again!
     
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  4. tubman
    Joined: May 16, 2007
    Posts: 5,572

    tubman
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Set the points to the factory setting. If it runs good, that's all you need. Back when that was new, nobody had a dwell meter in their home garage and only the top shelf tune-up shops and dealership had them. Quit chasing the dwell; get it running like you want and that's it. If you can't get it to0 run good, then start chasing things down; dwell would be low on my list of things to check.
     
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  5. AD_NAPCO
    Joined: Mar 14, 2008
    Posts: 415

    AD_NAPCO
    Member

    That sounds reasonable. That was actually my original goal in all this. The main issue, and why I started chasing dwell, is that the motor is racing.

    So, for the sake of argument, let's just say I get it fired up again ( right now, after all this fiddling, it won't ) with the points gapped by the book at .016 and it's still racing ( 1800 - 2400 rpms has been the range ), what would be your mode of attack to get it to idle down? Just jump straight to timing it with a vacuum gauge?

    I think I'm shooting for an idle of around 450.
     
  6. tubman
    Joined: May 16, 2007
    Posts: 5,572

    tubman
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I'd start with the carburetor if I were you. You seem to have had two main problems : the "racing" you are talking about and all of the gas in the oil. Both of these point to carburetion. I have been following this, and I skimmed it again, and I don't remember you saying anything about the carb except for the vacuum and fuel lines. Being that it's a 4 BBL, there are twice as many things that can go wrong. It looks clean on the outside, but how about the inside? I hesitate to recommend tearing into it, because I don't know your level of experience, and kits for these are expensive. If you do, be very careful that you don't break any gaskets and keep careful track of what you do. I would expect that it is a Rochester, which is good because they are easier to work on than the WCFB's that occasionally came on these. Although not a rank amateur, I was able to do one of these a couple of years ago and it wasn't bad.

    As to timing, I have used a vacuum gauge to time engines and it has always worked well. My technique is to advance it to the point where it shows the highest vacuum and then retard juuuust a bit. Also, I don't know for sure, but 475 rpm seems a little low for the idle on one of these. The worst thing is that you're not sure where the problem really is. I would get the ignition set as close to factory settings as I could and working the best I could get it, and then move to the carb. Also check again for vacuum leaks. I missed a vent on a 2GC once that drove me crazy.

    Good luck and if it starts getting to you, leave it alone for awhile. I'm sure you'll figure this out because the engine seems to be in pretty good shape overall.
     
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  7. AD_NAPCO
    Joined: Mar 14, 2008
    Posts: 415

    AD_NAPCO
    Member

    The gas in the oil, I'm pretty positive, had to do with the fact that I blocked off the the two vacuum ports on the fuel pump rather than making a loop between them. Pretty sure I tore the diaphragm which let the fuel in. So then I drained and replaced the oil and rigged in the electric pump.

    I rebuilt a 4GC a few years back using the shop manual for my 56 324, and it was fairly straightforwad, although roughly 4 times as complex as the Rochester 1 bbl's that I've done a lot more of.

    Hoping I don't have to crack this one!

    I'm probably going to let it be for a few days and just see what surfaces on this thread for advice rather than keep on beating my head against a wall in this heat.

    I'm sure I can get it licked eventually. Hell I'm learning something with every trip out there so that's worth something. I already learned that I didn't understand dwell as much as I thought I did before this all started so that in and of itself is a win, even if I still don't have it running right.

    Here are the specs I found, and it actually says 425 for a manual trans, and 400 in drive for an auto!

    http://www.secondchancegarage.com/public/549.cfm
     
  8. tubman
    Joined: May 16, 2007
    Posts: 5,572

    tubman
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I watched your first video again. I think that it was running as well as could be expected given the situation (oil pressure excepted). I'd guess it was either something you did after that, or more than likely, some crap in the fuel system came loose and clogged something up.
     
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  9. AD_NAPCO
    Joined: Mar 14, 2008
    Posts: 415

    AD_NAPCO
    Member

    Yeah those were the days... ;)

    This has been a bit of a goat-rodeo for sure. When I first had it running, I had not messed with the dist or points/condenser at all. Then it was inexplicably not firing and hard starting, after having literally just started easily. I had gone from nice hot blue spark to weak pink spark for no apparent reason. So that's when I looked at the points and saw some pitting and got a case of the 'might-as-wells' and decided to change points/condenser. That's when I discovered the threads for the hold down screw in the base plate were stripped badly and the screw was just spinning, thereby allowing the points to float all over the place.

    Then the saga of attempting to repair the breaker plate ensued. The hole was sloppy enough that I could not use a 10-32 screw which would have been on size up from the 8-32 it was born with. I have it band-aided now with the way too large 1/4-28 bolt.

    After this is when I put the dist back in and it was no longer hard starting. It would, at that point, pop right over and ran good... At least in the sense that I didn't hear any misfiring. It was just idling really fast as noted above.

    This is when I was advised that I needed to get my dwell sorted out so that I could then get the timing in order, etc...

    So at this point the issues are, like you say, probably a combination of things, and I'll just have to go through a process of elimination.

    One good thing though is that each time I've run it, the cold oil pressure has come up. Last time I had it running, albeit at the high RPM idle, the cold pressure was at nearly 50 psi which is a HUGE improvement. Who knows, by the time this is all sorted the compression might even be closer to being an even 120 on all cylinders too!
     
  10. Dwell and timing rule to always follow. Set dwell first because dwell changes timing. Timing as said earlier by BJR does not change dwell.
     
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  11. GMC BUBBA
    Joined: Jun 15, 2006
    Posts: 3,385

    GMC BUBBA
    Member

    Got your PM , i have a ton of Olds distributor cores and can get you any parts you need like the breaker plate etc.
    Just let me know , i just read the thread for the first time.....
     
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  12. AD_NAPCO
    Joined: Mar 14, 2008
    Posts: 415

    AD_NAPCO
    Member

    Thanks @GMC BUBBA ! I returned your PM.
     
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  13. Fedcospeed
    Joined: Aug 17, 2008
    Posts: 2,011

    Fedcospeed
    Member

    I had a 56-57 distributor rebuilt for my 49 303 engine that uses the window cap. Should make the dwell situation a bit simpler
     
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  14. AD_NAPCO
    Joined: Mar 14, 2008
    Posts: 415

    AD_NAPCO
    Member

    That would be much
    That would be much simpler... So is it just the cam journals that are bigger in 56? For some reason I thought the drive gear was different too.
     
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  15. Fedcospeed
    Joined: Aug 17, 2008
    Posts: 2,011

    Fedcospeed
    Member

    The drive gear needs to be correct.Had to have the correct one for the 49 engine.
     
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  16. Paul
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 15,288

    Paul
    Editor

    Any Oldsmobile distributor '49-'64 will fit but if the distributor is from '59-'64 you will need to swap your gear on to work with your D shape oil pump drive.
     
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  17. AD_NAPCO
    Joined: Mar 14, 2008
    Posts: 415

    AD_NAPCO
    Member

    So a 56 distributor should be a drop in, gear and all?
     
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  18. Paul
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 15,288

    Paul
    Editor

    Yes
     
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  19. AD_NAPCO
    Joined: Mar 14, 2008
    Posts: 415

    AD_NAPCO
    Member

    @Paul Thank you! That's really good to know!
     
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  20. Fedcospeed
    Joined: Aug 17, 2008
    Posts: 2,011

    Fedcospeed
    Member

    Thanks for the clarification(wow big word) Paul. I was gonna post that today cause I wasnt quite sure of the years.Using a window cap is an added benefit
     
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  21. BradinNC
    Joined: Mar 18, 2014
    Posts: 213

    BradinNC
    Member

    [QUOTE They just looked at me like I farted when I asked if they had them. [/QUOTE]
    Thats pretty funny, Reminds me of one somebody used on me a long time ago. "you look like a hog looking at a wristwatch". Never forgot that one!
     
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  22. AD_NAPCO
    Joined: Mar 14, 2008
    Posts: 415

    AD_NAPCO
    Member

    So, I never did hear back from Bubba. He must be real busy. Anyway, I've been busy so I hadn't had a chance to go out and work on the truck until today. Since I had a feeling I wasn't going to be hearing about that breaker plate, and other parts, I went ahead and popped for the Pertronix unit and coil. Just got them installed and she fired right up. Now I just gotta get the timing / mixture / idle sweet spot... Or as sweet as possible for now. I'll post video soon.
     
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  23. AD_NAPCO
    Joined: Mar 14, 2008
    Posts: 415

    AD_NAPCO
    Member

    Here's some video... After I shot it I adjusted the timing so the pointer is at the leading edge of the window... Didn't make much difference but after watching the vid this will make sense.

    Check out the video and let me know your thoughts. I wanna get the idle to where it ought to be, and obviously get the best vacuum at idle. Pointers are always appreciated! I gotta get this sucker put back together and on the auction block asap. Need to shore up the savings account in prep for hopefully buying this house soon.

    Thanks guys!

     
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  24. AD_NAPCO
    Joined: Mar 14, 2008
    Posts: 415

    AD_NAPCO
    Member

    So I fooled around with the truck a bit more this morning. I think I have it running about as good as I can get it for the moment. I need to get it all put back together and up for sale, so this will be the final vid of it running other than the one I shot for advert purposes.

    Thanks for all the help guys. Once it's cooled off I gotta get all the wiring stripped out, manifolds pulled, and the front sheet metal all installed...
     
  25. AD_NAPCO
    Joined: Mar 14, 2008
    Posts: 415

    AD_NAPCO
    Member

    Got the truck all put back together and ready to put up for sale... Much as it breaks my heart. :(

    So much potential. So many years of hunting for parts... I'm hanging on to a few of the really tough parts but what is here consists of some real unicorns. This cab, along with the doors, is truly the definition of rust free... I have NEVER seen one that didn't have wasted cab corners and lower cowls, and most of the doors are rotten along the bottom sometimes all the way up to the middle. This thing does not have even a speck of rot anywhere. It came from a Department of Forestry 1 1/2 ton truck.

    The 1939 only rear fenders are in very nice shape... Some rot where the running boards attach, but not so much that they couldn't easily be fixed. No wrinkles, and no farmer straps ever welded to them...

    Then there's the grille. These 39-40 only GMC grilles are SO hard to find in any shape at all, and usually they are just beat to death and or missing the bottom third, along with the chin underneath.... Anyway, the grille is not perfect, but it is REALLY close. The chin is super nice as well.

    Also it has the 15 x 6" artillery rims that came on the 3/4 tons this year.

    I pulled the rear end from a wrecked when near-new 54 Olds 98. It has 3.23's. Nice highway gears. No trans in it. I figure the next owner will be able to figure out exactly what they want in that department.

    So anyway I'll be throwing it up on ebay over the weekend and we'll see what happens.

    [​IMG]
     
    Chrisbcritter likes this.
  26. I was researching about 10 years ago, and there was a company that was building a conversion kit to match a TH 400 to the early Olds. I will have a look, but I think it was Transdapt.
    It required that you cut the original bellhousing of the TH back to the main case, then their adaptor bolted to the front of the TH transmission.
    The project didn't go forward, so I lost track of the information. I will have a look.
    You made a great choice, in terms of not picking up the Dynaslow. I had one in my Buick powered 47 Chev, (broke, still in high school), until I found a 3 spd for it. I hated that transmission more than I hated yellow wax. It was a piece of crap.
     
  27. Last edited: Aug 11, 2017
  28. Josh, the truck is spot on. If you were on the left coast it would be in my stable! Good luck on ebay. Sorry to see it go.......I feel a strange sense of connection to it for some reason:rolleyes::rolleyes:

    videos would not work????
     
  29. AD_NAPCO
    Joined: Mar 14, 2008
    Posts: 415

    AD_NAPCO
    Member

    Well, the bidding was not what we'd hoped. I think it was probably one of two things. Either just bad timing, or it's not far enough along for serious bidders to see themselves in the truck, or the potential... I don't know. Either way, after selling quite a few rigs on ebay over the years I got the feeling that the pattern of bidding was just not there so I pulled it a bit early. Me and the wife both were not feeling the motivation. It's kinda one of those things were ya just wanna see that bidders are as excited as you are for something or else it's just not worth it.

    Sooo... Looks like we'll be keeping the truck for at least the foreseeable future.

    Thread mission accomplished getting this motor running! Thanks for all the help fellas!

    BTW: Videos should all work now.
     

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