Yesterday, Sunday, after setting all the valves, installing the intake and putting the valve covers on, I decided to put the damper on the crank.

I always like to install the damper very close to zero, with #1 piston ready to fire (compression stroke).

After moving the crank to the zero position and checking to see if #1 piston was at the top, I tried to drop the distributor into place. It would not go into the hole and seat. I removed the distributor and looked down into the hole and everything looked good. I moved the crank a few degrees and tried to drop the distributor again, with no luck. I put a long screwdriver down into the slot in the top of the rod that drives the oil pump and it would not turn!

Panic! All I could think about was, the only new part on this whole engine, other than rings, was the new oil pump, with pick-up welded to the pump that I ordered to go from a standard pressure oil pump to a high volume oil pump. I had done everything recommended in the pump installation instructions. I had removed all the cover bolts, check the inside for burrs and smoothness and reinstalled the cover bolts using Loctite. I had checked the pump to make sure it rotated smoothly before installing it. I had used the old pump shaft, which is aftermarket with a steel sleeve that goes around the oil pump shaft. Unlike the factory SBC shafts with the plastic sleeve that snap into place on the oil pump, this one just drops into the passage and the oil pump is bolted on the #5 (thrust) bearing cap.

HERE IS THE LESSON LEARNED: After, or somehow while, you bolt that oil pump on, make sure that shaft is not bound up before you put the pan on! (Some people don’t try to drop the distributor until after putting the engine into the car! I would have really been upset!)

After thinking of several ways to get this thing free, I decided to remove the pan and the oil pump. The oil pump was still free and the shaft was in excellent condition. It had just been bound up and the slots had not aligned properly between the oil pump and the shaft. After flipping the engine a couple of times, on the engine stand, I had everything working properly and the distributor dropped right into place (I removed the left bank valve cover to make sure of the firing position of #1 piston and got the distributor pointing exactly where I wanted it). This is another of the many engine building lessons (mistakes) that I will have to remember.

Today, 1/19/09, I finally installed the damper.