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Old 06-05-2011, 04:53 PM   #1
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1983 31' Airstream310
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Angry 454 help!

Hey yall, I am completly frusterated! I have a 1983 airstream 310 with a 454 that has not been run for three years, I have drained the tank, replaced the frame fuel filter, had the quadrajet rebuilt, new distributor, new rotor, new cap, new furl pump, new thermostat, new gaskets from the intake up, new timing chain, new plugs, new plug wires and still this beast backfires through the carb and out both of the blown up mufflers. I have had a ase mechanic working on it and had it running, at idle but still would back fire. He finnally threw in the towel and quit the project! what am I missing?
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Old 06-05-2011, 05:06 PM   #2
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The distributor was out... first things, first, re-check timing.

BF thru carb..intake valve, thru exhaust, exhaust valve. How's the compression?

Did you have the heads off? Cam timing could be off, are you sure the marks were lined up?, cam gear & crank gear. Unless you have a cracked valve something was put together out of sync.

What was the reason for the overhaul?
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Old 06-05-2011, 05:17 PM   #3
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Check the plug wires to ensure that they are going to the correct ones. That includes ensuring that they wired for the correct direction of rotation. (Big Block Chevrolet Engine Specs-Torque Specs-Cylinder Numbering-Firing Order-Distributor Rotation-396 402 427 454 Cid-BB Chevy V8) It sounds overly simple that the wires are hooked up on the cap for the wrong direction of rotation, but I've seen excellent mechanics make this mistake. Big block Chrysler distributors turn the opposite direction of Chevys, for instance.

Then check the timing. Make sure that the #1 cylinder is at the top of the compression stroke when the rotor is at the #1 wire on the cap, not the exhaust stroke. (The piston is up on either)

When an engine is timed with the #1 cylinder is on the exhaust stroke it is 180 degrees out of time. It will act like it wants to start but will backfire (through the carb) and afterfire (out the exhaust) but will refuse to start.

Since you managed to get it to idle, I kind of doubt that either of these is your problem, but be aware of the possibilities.

Having a couple of wires running to the wrong cylinders or having the timing vastly off could lead to symptoms like you describe.

Best of luck! Waking up a long sleeping engine can be a frustrating experience.
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Old 06-06-2011, 06:20 AM   #4
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Thank you guys for the recomendations, I checked compression and it was awesome and the reason for the tune up was bf thru the carb and out the exhaust. The engine has 47,424 original miles so as far as I know the cam was never out and when we had the intake off the cam looked fine. I will try the above recomendations this week and then post the results.
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Old 06-06-2011, 06:25 AM   #5
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Jumped timing chain

Burnt intake valve

Sticking valves

Unopening exhaust valve, rocker arm, push rod bad...

and all of the items in #3 post 18436572 (I remember that like it my SS number or something)
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Old 06-06-2011, 06:25 AM   #6
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You may have two plug wires crossed. Depending on the two, it may still idle smoothly but backfire on those two cylinders. Also, make sure #1 is really #1, and not #2. Chevy engines have an odd side and even side, unlike Ford, that has 1234 on one head, and 5678 on the other head. Firing order is 18436572.
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Old 06-06-2011, 06:51 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander63 View Post
You may have two plug wires crossed. Depending on the two, it may still idle smoothly but backfire on those two cylinders. Also, make sure #1 is really #1, and not #2. Chevy engines have an odd side and even side, unlike Ford, that has 1234 on one head, and 5678 on the other head. Firing order is 18436572.
Look at the spark plug placement, the plug thats furthest forward is #1, #2 first other side Etc.
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Old 06-06-2011, 08:17 AM   #8
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Did it backfire for previous owner? You replaced the timing chain, was it retimed using the right mark, on a Dodge I used to own it had two timing mark reference points, one was right on the other must have been for something else.
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Old 06-06-2011, 08:32 AM   #9
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set the crank at top dead center and pop the distributor cap and see if the timing mark is pointing exactly at the #1 wire.

any chance of taking a video of the engine running and acting badly?
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Old 06-06-2011, 10:10 AM   #10
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set the crank at top dead center and pop the distributor cap and see if the timing mark is pointing exactly at the #1 wire.

any chance of taking a video of the engine running and acting badly?
Again, when the crank is at TDC, ensure that #1 is on the compression stroke, not exhaust. The timing mark will be at zero at the top of both strokes. If you set the distributor to the #1 wire while at the top of the exhaust stroke, it will be 180 degrees out of time, as I mentioned above. Really easy to do.
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Old 06-06-2011, 10:49 AM   #11
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The solution to a similar problem with my 455 was a new vacuum timing advance control on the distributer.
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Old 06-06-2011, 02:30 PM   #12
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UPDATE, First of all thanks for all of the recomendations there will be a video posted this evening. I fired up the old beast and, on the advice of a friend, tested the wires and found that cylenders 1,3,5 are dead, not firing, now what? Stuck lifters, valves???
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Old 06-06-2011, 04:10 PM   #13
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UPDATE, I fired up the old beast and, on the advice of a friend, tested the wires and found that cylenders 1,3,5 are dead, not firing, now what? Stuck lifters, valves???
You reported in post #4 that compression was fine so that shows lifters/valves should be OK and neither of them will create 'not firing' that you describe, though it is strange that all three cyl's with no spark are all right next to one another.

You said in post #1 that new plug wires were installed. Were these made up or factory lengths? If they were made up is there a chance that three of them were not made up correctly? Maybe try a known good wire for each of these to test.

I can't remember off hand if 1983 had the ign. module in the distributor and as far as I know a bad one usually wont fire at all but if yours has one I sure would check that too.
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Old 06-06-2011, 05:06 PM   #14
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You say that 1,3,5 are dead, no spark thru the wire?, no spark thru the plug with it removed, was it complete new distributor you installed?

If you haven't already pull the suspect plugs and check for cracked insulators, hold them right side up, Iv'e seen the insulators fall and cover the gap.
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