Finally, after countless hours of head scratching and troubleshooting I got the Rover back up and running. If you’re following along at home, I previously had it put back together after major rust repair work all over the truck. Then I decided that the functional, but weak ignition system should be addressed.
I ended up replacing every component of the ignition system (except for plug wires) and performing every test you can imagine to determine why it was misfiring, backfiring, or otherwise not running.
The final round fired from the parts cannon was a new OEM distributor. Previously I tried to replace the original distributor with a Pertronix unit, which was defective. After that endeavor, I tried replacing the magnetic pickup unit (the black box on the side above) on the old distributor. The truck would run on about 2-3 cylinders with this setup, so ultimately I decided to scrap the whole thing and order a new one.
Protip for any other Land Rover owners, the website lrdirect.com has really good prices on OEM parts. They ship from England, but the shipping is overnight express and the parts are very reasonable. I paid $180 with shipping for this distributor, when the same one available from Atlantic British was $225 before shipping.
Anyway, Saturday I was able to find some time to get the new distributor setup and installed. Other than having to use the old oil pump drive attachment (which you can see at the very bottom of the old distributor in the picture above) the new distributor was plug and play.
I’ve probably pulled and re-installed the distributor 20 times at this point and it really doesn’t get any easier. It’s situated awkwardly under the top radiator hose and between the thermostat housing and the water pump. Seating the hold down clamp and nut is a contortionists exercise and there is a 95% chance you will drop something and have to crawl around under the car finding it.
Once the distributor was in, the car fired right up, and a single tear rolled down my face. I was able to set the timing, but ended up advancing it more than i thought i needed to as it was bogging down and stumbling if revved the engine quickly. Timing is currently set at 9 deg advanced, stock is 6. I might even go a little more advanced if I open up the plug gaps a little.
So it feels good to have the thing working again. I cant even count the amount of times I’ve cursed this thing in the past year and threatened to sell it as a project. I’m glad its finally working, and hopefully reliable. We have some plans to take it on a couple trips later in the year.