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blank blankFIAT Dino
  Almost a Ferrari


Ouch ! This FIAT Dino Distributor has been abused.

After getting the car running (6-1-04) and driving it to work, I found it still ran rough even though now it had fresh gas and non-leaking gas tank. I started doing some diagnostic work to see what was wrong, it ran good in the higher RPM's above 4,500 RPM to the redline but ran rough at lower RPMs and was very hard starting. I assumed it was my carburators out of sync and improperly cleaned of the old gas, so I drove it around for a while (about 40km) and it did not help. I put the timing light on it and found the timing so far off I was surprised the car ran, it had to be around 30° BTDC, just a guess since it was so far off the marks. I moved it down to 10° BTDC and the car idled down finally and ran really smooth, wow what a difference, so I took it on the road and it ran really bad. I had a hard time getting over 2,500 RPM without stalling and could not no matter how hard I tried get over 4,000 RPM, so I knew something was very wrong. Frustrated I gave up and was going to take it to a shop, I called Richard Guerra in Nipomo and he asked "did you check the advance?" DOH...I felt STUPID, no I had not. I quickly went out and found that the car was rock steady at 10° no matter what the RPMs were, that was my problem...no advance and it is why the car was so highly advanced when I purchased it, they were trying to make it run at higher speeds like freeway speeds (more likely race track speeds, even if it was on the street).

I dismantled the distributor to look at the weights and was litterally horrified at what I saw. Some F...ing idiot had welded (YES WELDED) the weights in place on the pins so they could not advance. Why would someone do that is beyond me, I can't even imagine someone that stupid.

FIAT Dino Spider Distributor Dino Distributor welded together
My first view of the stupidity why?

I found that purchasing the parts was not going to be fun, I was told I needed to purchase the weights from a Ferrari parts place and the pins that they rotate on from Superformance in the UK and hunt down the bearings by going to a bearing shop and getting equivalent bearings. I didnt mind the bearing part as I have done that often on my Singer's but while browsing the Superformance site I found they had everything so I ordered it all from them. 2 phone calls later and he tells me he does not have the pins, why didn't he tell me that the first time ? So I complain that I really need them to get the car on the road and he says he has some rejects that will fit but will need to be welded in since the hole is too big in the bottom for a good solid fit. I am ok with that. Then when I get the parts $!&*$(#@ they dont fit together ! The holes in the weights don't allow the little sleeves to slide in, they are the same diameter and a press fit and they are supposed to be a sliding fit. I have heard of Superformance QA issues but this was my first time with a problem and also my first order from them so its not promising. I call GT Car parts in Phoenix to order up a set of weights and they dont come with the springs, he says they are not available. So now I cant return the Superformance weights because I need the springs...this is getting expensive. I ended up taking the weights to a machine shop and having them reamed out the 2tho. they need and voila, I have all the parts I need.

I put in new bearings also just because I have it apart even though the old ones felt good. So now I have the distributor together and it runs pretty good but its really slow getting up in the revs and struggles around 2,500RPM. Richard and his friend Tom come down and they agree the car is not running correctly so we dismantle the distributor yet again. Richard who has done this before says forget it the springs are way to tight, the advance is not working until the higher revs. He plays with the springs and we finally only insert one spring per side instead of 2 per side (the 2 long ones) and reassemble.

Man, this thing runs like a dream now. Revs freely and happily and sounds sweet.

The base showing the keyed shaft that holds the drive plate on, the 2 square parts on the ends of the plate go into the camshaft (actually into the plastic spacer but close enough)
The main distributor shaft/drive part, this shows the pins that Superformance sent that don't work.
This shows how the pins were peened over at the factory, Superformance recomends peening and then a touch of welding to make sure the pins stay put. Since my new pins would not work, I ended up buying a new shaft and did not replace the pins.
The way the springs are supposed to be used and work with the weights, note the spring length and pin length. Where the little washer goes is up to debate, I was told where it is on the picture, some people said up against the other end of the pin. It makes more sense where it is since the spring holes in the weights have a non-flat bottom and the washers make it flat that way giving a good "seat" for the springs. The location of the long/short springs is important though for the proper advance. Of course if you read the text on this page, you will note that the spring from Superformance are much too strong, I ended up using only spring per weight.
The final assembly the first time with both springs in, note the grease (see text below about the grease)
The way it slides together.
more of just the way it goes together.
If you look at the first picture at the top of the page, you will note that you can see the weights through holes. Since I have a electronic pickup and no points (can be seen here), I did not want to mess that up with grease, so I cut up a Dr. Pepper can and made grease shields.

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