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Difficulty timing a 1995 Chevy 454ci

OutofTime
Explorer III
Explorer III
I'm helping my brother clean up a 1995 Gulfstream Sunsport that is built on top of a 1994 Chevy P30 Chassis. It comes with a Chevy 454 big block v8. For the life of me I can't get the thing to fire off. I've verified spark, fuel and air. According to the directions on the air cleaner the timing should be set to 4 degrees BTDC on the number 1 wire. I've tried timing to that and I get nothing. I've read that if you use the timing marks at the 5 o'clock position, use cylinder number 5. Tried that too and nothing.

I made the assumption the harmonic balancer has slipped so I tried timing it the old fashioned way by pointing the dizzy at cylinder number 1 while it's on the compression stroke before reaching TDC. Nothing. I'm pretty sure my wire order on the dizzy is correct and that the spark plugs aren't fouled out.

Anyone have any advice?
129 REPLIES 129

OutofTime
Explorer III
Explorer III

Hello all.  It's been awhile but I can finally put to rest why this 454 ran so poorly.  My brother and I are currently doing an engine swap for his RV and we finally had the chance to pull the intake manifold... broken and bent pushrods everywhere.  A lifter was out of it's hole as well.  I'm not sure if a pushrod escaped due to bad lash, or a cam lobe wiped, or a valve got stuck but I think one rod got loose then started banging around damaging others.  I'm pretty impressed it was even starting on command.

The 454 we are putting in has no such issues so I think as long as I put everything back together correctly the engine issue should  finally be put to rest.  I am filming the process of engine removal and installation if anyone would be interested in that.

Stim
Explorer
Explorer
A comparison-
I have had Chevy 1/2 ton 350 cuin PU's with Carburetor and throttle body.
Carb's averaged 10-12 MPG.
Throttle body averaged 18-20 MPG.

OutofTime
Explorer III
Explorer III
Correct. 4L80E essentially is a TH400 with overdrive. I've done my research since my last post and I've figured out how to swap in a TH400 and maintain the TBI system if that's the direction my brother wants to go. The guy we got the powertrain from also threw in a quadrajet carb so we can go that route as well if that's what my brother decides. His rig, his money, my labor units.

The hope is to get started on engine removal this weekend, but I may be busy doing storm prep instead. We'll see.

Stim
Explorer
Explorer
The 4L has overdrive, the 400 does not.

OutofTime
Explorer III
Explorer III
Hello all, I finally have updates. After much conversation and finding a really good deal, I have acquired a new 454 with less than 60k on it and I'm going to swap it in. A turbo 400 trans came with it but this rig uses the 4L80E so not sure if I am going to convert down to the Turbo 400 or keep what there though it has 250k on it.

OutofTime
Explorer III
Explorer III
Bikeboy57 wrote:
Outcome?


I've had to put this project on the backburner at the moment. A deer totaled my wife's van and I've been quite busy fixing up the replacement for it. I picked up a Starcraft converted 1997 Ford E-150 as the replacement. The outside and inside are near perfect.. but it turned out the engine needed some serious love. And the brakes, and the O2 sensor, and the wheel speed sensors.... and so on and so on. After I get this new van up to my standards I'll pivot back to the RV.

Currently where we stand there is the old water pump is off and the new one is prepped and ready to go but needs to be installed.

Bikeboy57
Explorer
Explorer
Outcome?
Richard and Rhonda
1999 Newell
Subaru Outback toad

enblethen
Traveler
Traveler
opspaces: I have tried several times to convey this several times to the OP.
Cap, rotor and crank all must be in sync.

Bud
USAF Retired
Pace Arrow


2003 Chev Ice Road Tracker

opnspaces
Nomad
Nomad
You're probably already planning to do this. But once you have the timing chain at verified TDC check that the timing marks and distributor rotor are also at TDC or #1
.
2001 Suburban 4x4. 6.0L, 4.10 3/4 ton **** 2005 Jayco Jay Flight 27BH **** 1986 Coleman Columbia Popup

enblethen
Traveler
Traveler
Don't forget a Fail-safe thermostat!

Bud
USAF Retired
Pace Arrow


2003 Chev Ice Road Tracker

OutofTime
Explorer III
Explorer III
Fan clutch has already been swapped as part of doing the water pump. Plan is to replace pump, hoses, fan clutch and then do a flush with water, then fill with fresh coolant. That will stop the coolant leaks. Eventually the hydroboost and the steering lines will need to be replaced. Probably some brake lines as well. Only then will I not get covered in grease every time I poke under the front.

udidwht
Explorer
Explorer
OutofTime wrote:
Flyfisherman128 wrote:
So at the beginning of the thread you said you got nothing.. nothing as far as the motor goes or nothing on your timing light.. then further down the thread you said it kicks but won't run.. that sounds like a bad distributor module.. could be lots of other things but that's cheap and easy to change


I know this thread is a bit of a saga at this point :). Over the course of this process I have replaced the entire ignition system with brand new ACDelco parts. It will now start at the bump of a key. However I need to do further testing with the engine warmed up, which currently I can't do because the water pump bearings are completely toast. That's why I'm pulling the pump. Since the pump is out of the way it isn't that much more effort to pull the timing cover and check for a jumped chain or a sloppy one, which could very well be why the engine is still not running right.

To be clear, all the work I've done is making it run better, but it's not right.


If you do the water pump don't forget to replace the clutch fan as well. With north of 200K on the engine the timing chain very well may be the issue with the miss in the ignition system.
1994 Fleetwood Southwind Storm
P-30 chassis 7.4L 454 TBI 58,301 miles and counting....(as of 06/08/19)
VIN# 1GBJP37N4R3314754
Flight System Generator man 360 (PM me)

OutofTime
Explorer III
Explorer III
Flyfisherman128 wrote:
So at the beginning of the thread you said you got nothing.. nothing as far as the motor goes or nothing on your timing light.. then further down the thread you said it kicks but won't run.. that sounds like a bad distributor module.. could be lots of other things but that's cheap and easy to change


I know this thread is a bit of a saga at this point :). Over the course of this process I have replaced the entire ignition system with brand new ACDelco parts. It will now start at the bump of a key. However I need to do further testing with the engine warmed up, which currently I can't do because the water pump bearings are completely toast. That's why I'm pulling the pump. Since the pump is out of the way it isn't that much more effort to pull the timing cover and check for a jumped chain or a sloppy one, which could very well be why the engine is still not running right.

To be clear, all the work I've done is making it run better, but it's not right.

Flyfisherman128
Explorer
Explorer
So at the beginning of the thread you said you got nothing.. nothing as far as the motor goes or nothing on your timing light.. then further down the thread you said it kicks but won't run.. that sounds like a bad distributor module.. could be lots of other things but that's cheap and easy to change

OutofTime
Explorer III
Explorer III
udidwht wrote:
OutofTime wrote:
Updates

After much sweating and swearing the water pump is off. Next step will be to pull the timing cover and check for a jumped tooth and/or sloppy chain.


There is a cross member underneath that can be removed for easier access to front of engine. This is the cross member to remove...

https://www.irv2.com/forums/f65/what-did-you-do-to-your-old-rv-today-133779-444.html#post5713099

Once out it gives this access...

https://www.irv2.com/forums/f65/what-did-you-do-to-your-old-rv-today-133779-443.html#post5712066


I pulled that crossmember at the very beginning so I could get clear access to the 5pm timing marks. I've also had the lower shroud dropped. Now I have the upper shroud off as well. A decent amount of real estate to get the timing cover off.