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Steel distributor gear reality

January 10 2018 at 4:22 PM
Ray Bischoff  (Login Mercougar67)

Has anyone actually/really/truly wiped out an engine by not changing the distributor gear when installing a retro fit roller billet cam? We all like to say how you gotta due this, but is REALLY necessary? The stock gear is steel, too, I believe.

I'm not asking for a lecture about how it's only another $100 or "why take a chance" etc. Has anyone driven a car without changing the gear long enough to determine the life expectancy? If so, what failed?

Real life experience need only apply.

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Tom P
(Login tomposthuma)


January 10 2018, 4:31 PM 

Not me, but a friend who didn't want to spend the bucks and slapped a 70's Duraspark into his carb'd roller 5.0. It ran well for a couple weeks then started missing and quit completely in the middle of an intersection. The gear teeth were razor thin and a few broke right off and stopped it from spinning. The oil was full of filings, bearings and cylinder walls were ruined. Cam itself wasn't harmed.

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(Login Barry_R)

Seen a couple failures

January 10 2018, 4:58 PM 

Most recent involved a car brought in from out of state. Customer reported very poor running and expected major repair. Distributor gear failed, and partially spun on the shaft.
Barry Rabotnick

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john vermeersch
(Select Login johnvermeersch501)

The stock gear isn't steel, its cast,will last about

January 10 2018, 5:45 PM 

200 miles before the gear teeth wear off, and the dizzy stops spinning. While maintaining the Ford Racing Tech Line,. this was one of the most frequent calls, "my crate engine quit running" why ??? Read the instructions !!!!

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(Login RCV)

Steel gear

January 10 2018, 8:19 PM 

Now to the other side of the coin, What about replacement STEEL gear with Hyd. roller cam. I installed a Crane roller and was going to use Crane's steel gear. I was warned by several people to go ahead and use Bronze, which I did and haven't had any problems. I know it will eventually wear but this is in a Boss 429, so I didn't want to take a chance.

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Brent Lykins
(Login blykins)

I would not use bronze.

January 11 2018, 2:55 AM 

It will wear.

If you have a cast core camshaft, then use a cast iron gear. If you have a billet core camshaft, then use a steel gear.

That rule has not let me down in 15 years.

A lot of camshaft companies will tell you to run bronze gears because they simply don't sell steel gears, or you get a GM fan on the tech line.

Another major factor in how well a gear survives is the installation dimension. Ford gears are not like GM gears. You can't just pop the old one off and put the new one back in the same place and put the pin in. The install dimension needs to be checked and rechecked upon installation. There is a spec and the gear has to be in that spec, or it will wear or cause major damage.

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(Login machoneman)

Bronze: only o.k. for race engines...

January 11 2018, 5:00 AM 

that get torn down regularly. Even then, as Brent stated, use a steel gear on a steel roller. We used to run the Accel-supplied bronze on a race car engine and it barely showed wear. But as a drag engine, running time even for a whole season was counted in hours, not thousands of miles.

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(Login Bad427stang)

Good advice from both here, no bronze if you put any miles

January 11 2018, 6:36 AM 

If you ever see one that has high miles, they just vanish. First they get sharp from wear and then the teeth just go away.

A buddy's 302 in a street driven 68 Mustang, well cared for, low street spring pressure, nothing fancy with oil pressure or RPM just quit running one day. We pulled the distributor and it looked like someone took a grinder to the bronze gear.

I follow the same rule and Brent, we put a steel gear, at the correct height, and never looked back
[linked image]
- 70 Fastback Mustang, 489 cid FE, Victor, SEFI, TKO-600 5 speed, 4.11 9 inch.
- 71 F100 shortbed 4x4, 445 cid FE, headers, RPM intake, 1000 HP series Holley, 4 speed

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(Login Faron)

Brent is spot on , one small point to add

January 11 2018, 6:40 AM 

You Must put moly gease / lube ( same stuff as cam breakin lube ) on any new gear cast steel or brass

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