View Full Version : '78 Dodge 400 ignition problem

01-29-2011, 08:31 PM
I failed today to get a friends old dodge van running. He broke down yesterday at a shopping center and I was able to get him and his wife home late last night with their grocery's.
Started the day with a new coil, then after no spark we took the ignition modual to a local parts store where it was tested and failed. New one was installed with a good ground and no luck.
The high tension coil wire was tested and no reading on the multi-meter so that was changed. No spark.
The only thing left is the pick up coil in the distributor.
I have never changed one, but it looked simple enough, then I learn that this isn't as easy as I thought.
A parking lot in the winter isn't the ideal work place and the fingers are starting to go numb, and the vehicle needs more skill than I can give it, so it was towed off to a shop. Now this family is very poor and I am saddened that I was not able to get them going, but was able to get them home, 45 miles out in the bush. Now they are stranded at home for at least 2 weeks.
What else might I have done?
Why is a pick up coil fasted with a clip under the advance plate requiring the removal of the distributor??
I ha to buy non magnetic feeler gauges and then didn't use them:smack:

01-30-2011, 01:30 AM
Do you know if this is this a Lean Burn truck? I think by '78 it was optional on some trucks. This was an early electronic spark control system that was notoriously hard to troubleshoot. Unless you're really familiar with it or have a good manual next to you, there's not much you can do. Plus there's the added uncertainty of the fact that mechanics tended to replace the Lean Burn components with conventional ones when they broke, so you don't know what's in there 33 years later.

01-30-2011, 09:18 AM
Thanks for the reply Jack,

This is no lean burn. Had one of them and do know what you are referring to and I did replace the distributor to a points system back then.
And the lean burn was only 1/2 the problem back then, That Thermo-quad carb was a battle also. The one I had was anyway. I had to make my own gaskets because the dealership and nappa, GT and one other area parts stores opened every kit they had and couldn't find the correct gaskets for that carb. That was 1985<> and with a '77 Cordoba. I remember blowing several mufflers wide open when the lean burn acted up.

The Owner of this Dodge 1 ton van has a chiltons repair manual but when I looked for info on the pickup coil its just too general. Covers air gap but even the exploded view isn't very close. It shows a down dog leg for the vacuum advance and the correct one is flat with 2 alignment pins with one of then a cut groove for a snap ring or pin. I actually though it was held in magnetically, I could lift it and turn it and it would snap back into place. Its in a hard to see place and my bi-focally's seem to work the best when they are between my teeth, If you know what I mean.:rolleyes:

Also I need to add there is power on the + and - coil terminals when cranking. No power on terminals with key on.

01-30-2011, 05:37 PM
Also I need to add there is power on the + and - coil terminals when cranking. No power on terminals with key on.

Checked the Ballast resistor?

01-30-2011, 11:43 PM
Checked the Ballast resistor?

No but that is a thought. If I had spark upon cranking and then no spark I am thinking.
Its at a repair shop now and it will be interesting to see what they find.