View Full Version : Engine: How to re-seat 51 Champion Distributor After Removal

02-18-2012, 05:52 PM
Good evening, all. I had to remove the distributor to have the starter rebuilt. Starter is back in, but
the distributor that normally drops right in does not want to seat. I had removed it a couple of times before to work on stuff, and had no problems getting it out or back in.

The end of the distributor shaft is slotted, with an offset groove, so it's hard to goof up, but
whatever it mates to has moved around inside the hole.
The car has not moved, and nothing on the engine has moved since I took it out.

What is the best tool to reach in there, and what am I reaching for to re-align that part?

Virginia Beach

02-18-2012, 08:14 PM
The Champion Six distributor is driven off the back of the oil pump. I think the only tool you want in there is the end of the distributor shaft.
Do you have the shop manual?

02-19-2012, 04:40 AM
The manual says i''m feeling for the tongue of the oil pump drive shaft.
I'll feel around with a brass screwdriver to see if the shaft flopped to one side or something.
I can't really see down into the hole.
Would the oil pump shaft move around much when/after the distributor comes out?

The distributor shaft felt like it was catching on something (didn't want to disengage) when I took it out, which was unusual.
I've had to take it out 3-4 times before to do different things, but it slid out and back in like butter before.
I've got 40psi oil pressure at idle, 15-20 under load, so I don't expect a bad oil pump.


Dwain G.
02-19-2012, 01:21 PM
Did you loosen the pinch bolt on the distributor clamp and leave the clamp in place? You may just need to loosen its hold-down bolt and/or spread the clamp a little.

02-19-2012, 01:48 PM
Just a thought and please don't be offended if this is over simple and you know this already it, but, if when you sat the distributor down on your bench/ground/seat/fender/whatever if the gear turned then the sloted end will not line up with the oil pump drive on most motors {I have no personal experience with this motor in particular, just speaking motors in general} so you may want to pull the dist. cap, if you did not already, and lift it up and turn it on the drive gear by a tooth or 2 each direction to see if it was the dist. that moved not the motor....sorry if this is below your skill and experience, but thought I would throw it out.

02-19-2012, 08:11 PM
Dwain, I didn't remove any brackets on the Champion, just removed the retaining bolt from the engine block
and lifted the distributor out.

The shaft stops going in 1.5 inches before it should bottom out. I suspect the oil pump shaft shifted a bit.
I'll try again when the weather clears, first by just applying some oil on the distributor shaft end, and if
necessary, feel around in the hole to see if the oil pump shaft could have shifted somehow and needs
to be center up to mate with the distributor shaft end.

The weather may clear enough to look at it again tomorrow, or it could be Tuesday.


02-19-2012, 08:15 PM
Hi, Kmac. The end of this old Autolite distributor is slotted, and the slot is off-center. There is no gear on it.
I've been careful to note where the nose of the vac advance should point to, and to set the rotor button back
at Number One rotor cap position, the way it came out. This one is (normally) much easier to get in/out
than a geared drive distributor. I wonder if the oil pump shaft that it meshes to could have wobbled a little--
I'll try putting some oil on the distributor shaft end and /or feeling around in the hole to see if I need to center
up the oil pump shaft, which has the male end that meshes with the slot in the end of the distributor shaft.


02-19-2012, 09:59 PM
If the engine has not been disturbed the distributor should go back in with a little wiggling. I used to always bench set my points because it was so easy to remove and replace the distributor on a Champion six. If the vacuum advance is facing the correct way, you should be able to turn the rotor a little at a time until you find the sweet spot. Did you have the cap off when you were trying to get the distributor back in?

02-20-2012, 05:14 AM
52Fan, yes, I took the cap off to give it more room to slide off. I was feeling by turning the rotor cap, but it bumps into something before it drops all the way down.
When I removed it, it felt funny, like it didn't want to disengage as easily as the times before when I had it out; don't know why.
The points have maybe twenty miles on them (last time I removed the distributor was to replace those) but I'll check them over.
Found a guy who did a good job rebuilding the distributor last year, along with another who rebuilt my old vacuum advance. It was running really nice at speed, but I've sent the carb
back to the guy who rebuilt that for examination (running REALLY rich and idle screw did nothing, until you removed the idle screw, then it smoothed out a lot). This time I had to remove
the distributor to get the starter rebuilt.


02-20-2012, 03:56 PM
Problem solved, and it was operator error.
I had put the retainer bolt back into the block so I wouldn't lose it or mix it with other bolts, and forgot it was still there.
It of course blocked the bracket, preventing the distributor dropping in. I've done dumber things, but not recently.
The good news is there was no problem with the car, and it dropped in quite easily. I also discovered what felt like it was "hanging up" on removal. I only removed one
coil wire, and the red wire was somewhat in the way, causing me to pull out at a slight angle, not straight enough. That was enough for the bell-shaped shaft
end to hang up on the lip of the opening.

Many thanks to all who responded.


02-21-2012, 11:04 AM
Good to hear that things turned out well. I was concerned that you had come upon a new concern for Champion owners. Nice to find out that it was just a problem that we all have from time to time.