Hopefully a simple fix?

I have a 1966 Ford Mustang, well that’s what the remand. engine year is anyway. A few years back I had put the car in a local body shop to do some restoration work on it. It was at the body shop for about 2 1/2yrs, which, for most of that time I’m sure it spent without being started. Well, before I had taken the car to the body shop, the engine ran smoothly without any problems. (I had gotten back from a mechanic shop, not too long before, which was installing some upgrades for me; power rear disk brakes, new radiator, bigger rear axle, etc.) When I picked my car up from the body shop it started and seemed to run fine still, even though it stalled from being out of gas at the first start and idling a few seconds. I drove small trips around town and/or started the car for some reason or another about every other day, for a few more weeks until I moved across country (from the southern east coast to the middle of the west coast).
The car was towed, with all for wheels off of the ground, behind my moving truck for the whole journey. When I arrived at my destination and started the car to roll it off the trailer, about 7 days later, it took a lot of pedal pumping to get it to start and then sputtered out. Every crank after that required putting the gas pedal almost to the floor to keep the car roughly idling. As soon as I let up, it coughed and jerked and sputtered back out. I let it rest to make sure it wasn’t an issue of flooding the engine, after pumping the pedal so much. But every time I tried to start it after that, the same thing happened. I’ve checked under the hood several times and checked under the car to make sure nothing rattled loose during the trip, but everything looks fine-except a great deal of black paint on my once new radiator is gone from around the cap and top of it, revealing shiny the metal underneath, if that means anything. The radiator was full of water though.
I have tested the spark plugs-good there, pulled the distributor cap and found that the rotor was hitting the plastic that was surrounding the metal points, at every single point; which I thought was from either the rotor sitting too high, or the cap points sitting too low for the rotor to pass smoothly underneath. So I replaced the cap with a new one, just to make sure I had the right cap on there. The same thing happened, as did with the old one, but I’m wondering if that is even an issue with the stalling because the severely chewed state of the old cap tells me that the rotor was smacking it even when the car was running fine.
Oh, I almost forgot the battery seems to have died recently, and it was replaced less than a few weeks before the move.
So, the only other thing I can think of off the top of my head, is that the fuel filter might be clogged after the bouncing of the car during the move might have loosened up some junk in the tank from it sitting so long in the body shop? But that makes me worry about the fuel lines as well… I did put some fuel cleaner in the tank, as well, when I got the car from the body shop to help prevent a clog.
Any suggestions?
Thanks in advance for any responses. I love working on my car, but I’m obviously still a novice in desperate need of some guidance.

Two words… Fuel & Filter

Just to clarify when I said “points” in the distributor. I was only using the word to describe the metal contact spots in the cap which the rotor passes under and that the spark plug wires connect to. The distributor itself does not have points as it was converted to an electric ignition by the previous owner.

To gsragtop: I’m hoping so, if that’s what you feel it is too, that makes me feel a bit better. Do you have any thoughts about the distributor issue as well?

The rotor should not touch the cap, I am not sure why this is. Did you replace the rotor or just the cap?

Remove the distributor cap and try wiggling the distributor shaft to check for excess play. If there’s a lot of play in the distributor shaft the distributor shaft bushing is worn. And that’s why the rotor is hitting the distributor cap and why the engine won’t run right.


To gsragtop & Tester: I replaced only the cap. When I saw that the same thing was happening to the new cap, I took off the rotor (which seemed rather loose and wobbly to me) and took it up to the part store to compare to a new one. The D shaped hole on the underside of the rotor that slides on top of the shaft was the same size in both the new and the old rotor, in other words the fitting on the old one didn’t look worn out at all, so I didn’t buy the new rotor. I did wiggle the distributor shaft and it was solid, no play at all.
This makes me wonder if the rotor is the correct one, since the car has had an electronic ignition conversion kit installed in it…though by a very anal and particular mechanic. Most kits I’ve seen online for a 200 in-line 6 (my engine) have different looking rotors than what I have. What’s on my car looks like the same rotor you get at an auto parts store if the distributor still had points. Is that normal? The distributor I believe is original or at least OEM because it has Ford stamped into the outside; it has a single vacuum advance unit. I tried to get the serial number off of it without having to pull the whole thing, but the last letter I can’t quite make out. It’s either a J or a U, which it seems like Ford made a lot of both (and everything in between) around that time. I’m not sure the brand of kit the mech used, but from what I’ve seen in pictures, it looks like it might be from motorcraft; the carb is a single barrel autolite.

I think you are probably getting the wrong rotor and distributor cap. Are you buying a cap and rotor for a 66 engine? Since the previous owner changed over to electronic ignition, you need to find out if he converted the original distributor with an aftermarket kit or if he got a Ford OEM distributor with the electronic module built in. If the later, then you need to figure out what year that distributor came from and get a cap and rotor for that year. Probably a 1977 or newer distributor.

If it is Ford OEM, then there is probably only one distributor for all the years after this engine went electronic until it was discontinued.

Next, you need to do a fuel pump pressure test to see if the fuel pump, lines or filter is clogged up. Then see if the choke is operating properly, which sounds to me like it isn’t.

One more thing, it is also possible that the distributor shaft is so worn, that the shaft is not only wobbling, but riding up when in motion. Try pulling up on the shaft, if it moves, you need a new distributor.

To Keith:Yes, the cap and rotor where purchased for a 66 engine; I took my old parts to the store with me when I made the purchases, so I could make sure I was replacing exactly what was already on the car before paying for them.
The previous owner was shipped out to Japan shortly after I purchased the car; which was why he was selling it-too expensive to take abroad. So I can’t track him down. Plus, that was about 8 or 9 years ago, now. Which is why I’m so confused that it ran so well for so long…until I rolled it off of the moving trailer recently. Plus the mechanic he used owned his own shop, but was getting on in years. I was told he retired & closed up shop several years back, so checking with him is a no-go as well.
I will go back under the hood tomorrow and try all of the tests & suggestions that you all have posted so far, and get back to you with some updated info, since it’s been a while since I last worked on it.
If I can get that last letter off of the distributor (along with the rest of the serial) where is a place that I can reference what year it is? I tried a few combinations, using what I thought that last letter, searching through the internet, but didn’t have much luck finding the year…or engine that it was originally paired with, for that matter.
I will try to include some photos as well, if it will help.

Thanks for all of the feedback so far guys!

Okay, I was able to get back to the car this afternoon. I replaced the fuel filter, even though I was able to easily blow air through the old one without restriction; replaced the rotor, which once popped into place on top of the shaft, still gives a little wobble, when I press on the front (metal contact part) of it and the back…kinda like a tiny seesaw action. So I played with the metal clip that is supposed to keep it snugly in place, but that didn’t alleviate the issue completely. I did wiggle, yank, pull up on, twist, etc, the distributor shaft every which way I could, and still no movement, what so ever.
The distributor has autolite stamped on it and from the pics I’m finding online, I’m pretty sure it’s a loadomatic distributor with a Mallory Breakerless conversion kit. So it’s not a newer dist. with the electronic unit built in.
Anyway, back to the fuel. I added Techron fuel cleaner to the tank and a few more gallons of gas, for good measure; sprayed the living… out of the carb. I turned the key and got excited as the car seemed to come to life…for a few seconds until the fumes from the carb cleaner ran out , apparently. I pumped and pumped and pumped the pedal, but it would not go vroom again; unless I sprayed the carb with more cleaner…then it choked back out again. Not smelling gas, I took out the fuel filter to see if gas was getting to it-nope. I was unable to do a fuel pump pressure test, but disconnected the hose that runs from the tank to what I’m pretty sure was the fuel pump, as it is the only other thing on the fuel line between the tank and the filter-(I couldn’t find my Chilton manual to verify). I had my boyfriend keep watch on the disconnected fuel line and turned the ignition to “on” to see if he could hear the pump-nothing. Then I tried to crank the car to see if any fuel was coming from the tank at all-not a drop. After reconnecting all the hoses back I had my boyfriend open the gas tank and put his ear to the opening to see if he could hear anything that resembled the sucking of gas while I tried to start the car and pump the pedal some more-nothing there either. Although nearby road construction was making a bit difficult to hear much of anything at times.
Here’s what my distrib looks like under the cap. The red block is actually black on mine though.
Going to get back at it tomorrow, any more suggestions? Does it sound like it could be the fuel sending unit, or could it still be the pump? What’s the best way to go about pressure testing the lines to find where the clog is before I go and start pulling things?

Also, I have a correction to make, I contacted Jasper again, and my engine is actually 69-74 3.3L 200, in line 6 cylinder. They said 69-74 because all of the engine castings were the same for in line 6’s during those times. They also said that it was a straight replacement of the core that was sent to them; in other words, the guy didn’t upgrade the engine year, so I’m now guessing that the distrib is also of that time period as well. Not unless a 66 distrib would fit with a 69-74 engine.?

I’ve never had a mustang but the pump is mechanical, one of those that runs off a lobe on a shaft on the engine, I take it? It hasn’t been converted to an electric pump, right?

Could you drop a temporary line from the fuel pump into a small portable tank to make sure that it and everything past the fuel pump works?

You can blow out fuel lines with some compressed air. If there is a serious clog, it may dislodge it and you can blow it out the other end but it is often better to just replace them on old cars. It is very difficult to get the varnish off the walls and that stuff will eventually cause clogs again.
It often is also not a bad idea to get the tank cleaned on an older car. Radiator shops can boil them out, clean them and reseal them for not crazy money.

removing the fuel line from the gas tank will not prove anything, you have to remove the fuel line at the carburetor. There is no fuel pressure on the tank side, just suction when the pump is working. You should get from 2-7 psi on the carb side with the engine running.

Quick test, remove the air filter and look down the throat of the carburetor, work the linkage. If you don’t see fuel squirting into the throat, then either the fuel pump is bad or the accelerator pump in the carburetor is bad.

There should be a vent tube to the carburetor fuel bowl. Try pouring about a quarter cup of gas into this vent, try the throttle linkage again. If it squirts gas, start the engine and see if it continues to run. The fuel pump could have lost its prime.

Will do! Thanks much, guys- let you know in a li’l while how this all pans out!

Hi, y’all! I haven’t forgotten about all of you who have provided me with so many leads to follow, but have had to back-burner this project for a few days. I have some news, but I want to check one or two more things before I post next. Thanks again for all your help- I know I would be rather lost without it!