View Full Version : FJ40 Electronic Ingintion Upgrade Problem(s)

07-16-2009, 11:48 PM
I have run into trouble with my swap over to an electronic ignition; 1978 FJ40 Distributor, 1985 FJ60 ignitor and coil. I got everything put in, wired up - but the truck would not start. I've got fuel in the sight glass and spark at the plugs. This led me to suspect the timing was off. I rotated the distributor in very small increments then would have TheBoomBoom crank the engine. At the same time I had a timing light hooked up and was looking for ball or line to show up in the timing window - I never did see them in the window. At this point I should have stopped and sought some help/guidance. :o

But, instead of calling it a night I decided to give it one last go. This time without the timing light and keeping the truck cranking while I rotated the dizzy. As I rotated counterclockwise the truck began to sound like it was getting ready to start, but the vacuum diaphragm on the dizzy met the dipstick. So, I pulled the dipstick and rotated the dizzy some more. The engine is still cranking and then BOOM - my valve cover blew out the valve cover gasket. It was a loud boom.

TheBoomBoom stopped cranking the truck, hopped out saw smoke coming up from the engine asked about needing the fire extinguisher (we didn't) and eventually got around to asking what happened. My first response was something along the lines of "I don't know but it can not be good (with a couple of expletives)". As I replay the events leading up to the boom, I'm not sure I know what caused the pressure build up. Was it cranking the engine with the dipstick out? Was it a lack of oil (I'm pretty certain the dizzy is fully seated) pressure? Or is it something else?

I removed the valve cover and there was some smoke/vapor rising up and there is oil in the head - but I did not try to start the engine. I did blow/suck on the PCV valve and it is working. I removed the RTV so that it does not fall into the head. Before trying to start the engine again - How do I determine if there has been damage done?

Presuming there is no damage, once I put the valve cover and gasket back on - how do I go about getting the timing int the ballpark so that I can get the truck running and set the timing?

I probably should have put this paragraph up further - Prior to removing the old distributor I rotated the engine to the TDC line. I did not look to see if it was at the top or bottom of the stroke for the #1 cylinger but I noted the rotor on the old distributor was pointing towards the #1 cylinder. I removed the old distributor and put in the new one so that the rotor was pointing towards the #1 cylinder. I did not crank the engine during the time I pulled the old and inserted the new. I did not put a mark on the old distributor and the engine block prior to removing the old distributor - instead I made a mental note of the dizzy diaphragm orientation and put the new distributor in so that the dizzy diaphragm orientation was the same - in retrospect this was probably not a good idea.

07-17-2009, 07:59 AM
Thought about this a bit more last night and this morning. This afternoon, I will do a compression test on all six cylinders. The numbers will give me an indication of any damage that has occurred. The last compression numbers I have were from some carb tuning that was done to pass emissions and IIRC the numbers were around 110.

I'm still puzzled/ignorant as to what caused the blow out and would appreciate any insight from the group.

Air Randy
07-17-2009, 09:41 AM
I'm pretty sure you havent suffered any damage. All that happened is you had gas build up in the cylinders from the excessive cranking and when you turned the distributor you gave it spark at the wrong time. From the sound of it the cylinder fired just as either the intake or exhaust valve was opening.

From your description it doesnt sound like you installed the distributor 180 degrees off but that is how it is acting.

I'm wondering if you have the main body of the distributor rotated 180 off even though the rotor is pointing in the right place? Try pulling the dist out and rotating the body so that the internal pickup is 180 degrees from where it was, but put the dist back into the same tooth so the the rotor is pointing at the same spot. If that doesnt work return to go and get the BB in the window with the piston at TDC and set the rotor to point to #4.

07-17-2009, 11:32 AM
No worries, been there before. Woke up the entire neighbourhood last time I did that. :hill:

Internal combustion engines are more explosive than you think....no spark led to a fuel buildup in the crankcase and then you got her to fire and boom! You can check your pushrods to see if they are bent but it's not like you are playin' with J**p parts. It's a Toyota!

Static time your engine. I have the crank if you don't have one but a screw driver works just as well. You will have to use the screw driver if you have a winch installed. Rotate the engine to TDC or 7degrees on the compression stroke. FSM will show what cylinder the rotor should be pointing at. With the ignition in the on position, ground the #1 spark plug and rotate the distributor until the plug sparks. Rotate the dist back to just before you heard the spark and tighten everything down. Should fire right up. To find the compression stroke, stick a wad of kleenex in the open #1 spark plug hole, when it pops out, you are on the compression stroke. You have to be careful not to go past but 180 degrees and you know you are wrong, 180 more and you are back on. The BB should just enter the window and then you button it all up. A timing light isn't going to do you any good unless the engine is running. Timing changes with RPM so it has to be fine tuned for your year... 7degrees BTDC at 750 for example...

You anywhere near Wheat Ridge? I'll come over an do it if you need me to. I can walk you through the process if needed.

07-17-2009, 06:03 PM
Thanks for the information guys. What happened now makes sense to me. I'm going to give it another go this evening. I'll go straight back to square 1.

Pull the distributor
Hand crank engine to the BB on compression stroke
Mark the distributor body where the #1 plug is on the cap
Remove the distributor cap
Rotate the distributor shaft till the rotor points to the mark on the distributor body
Look at the blade on the distributor, then set the oil pump to the same alignment - typically rotor points towards #5 on the block
Put the dizzy in so that the blade seats in the pump and the rotor points to the mark on the dizzy body - typically rotor points towards #4 on the block
Put the cap on the dizzy
Put a spark plug in the wire from #1 on the dizzy cap
Connect the spark plug to ground
Turn the key on
Slowly rotate the distributor to where the plug sparks

When I get to this point, I should be spot on (or within a couple of degrees of) 7 degrees BTDC - then I can expect the truck to fire up. If I can't get to this point I may take you up on your offer Mike. I'm on the south side but could hook up the tow bar and head your way.

07-17-2009, 09:11 PM
Hardest part for me on this swap (I have the ignition from a 60 too) was getting the distribtutor to "fall" into the correct gear slot when fully seated.

One the bright side, you will LOVE the electronic ignition over the points!

07-17-2009, 11:06 PM

I followed a more methodical approach to installing and setting the static timing and it fired right up at 5 degrees BTDC. I set the timing to 14, the BB is right at the bottom of the window and she idles nice. Took it for a test run and there is more low end power but less on the top end. Tomorrow, I'll fine tune for highest vac using the Romer write up.

I did have damage from the BOOM. My valve cover was bowed out in the middle. I didn't notice until I put it back in place and it did not sit flush with the edge of the head:eek:. I didn't try to pound it back into shape and instead opted to put a different valve cover on. Its nice when you have the right spare part in the garage:thumb:.

Mike:bowdown:, Randy:bowdown: thanks for taking the time to post up answers to my questions. As with just about every project I take on I continue to learn and am very appreciative of the support from the club membership and those that frequent our forums.


07-17-2009, 11:24 PM
From your description it doesnt sound like you installed the distributor 180 degrees off but that is how it is acting.

Reflecting on it I am pretty sure that by not paying attention to which plug number on the old cap the rotor was pointing to and focusing on the rotor being pointed to the #1 on the block - when I put the distributor in with the rotor pointing to #1 on the block I was 180 degrees off on the cap. Even though this is the small cap electronic dizzy, it is still bigger than the points dizzy.

07-17-2009, 11:27 PM
Hardest part for me on this swap (I have the ignition from a 60 too) was getting the distribtutor to "fall" into the correct gear slot when fully seated.

I took me a while to get it down as well. Its one of those things that seems intimidating but once you have done it you realize it is very easy.

07-17-2009, 11:47 PM
Congrats Ricardo :thumb: