My ’69 Camaro (the saga)

My ’69 Camaro (the saga)

Aug 11


I’ve had my ’69 Camaro convertible for over twenty five years. It’s one of the last cars my dad and I restored together before I moved out, life took over, and I had less and less time to spend with him wrenching, sanding, and painting. I miss those days.


This car has always had a tendency to heat soak the starter and leave me stranded. Even with a new 400 small block transplanted in it (after I spun a bearing in the 327 a couple years ago), it left me stranded at the gas station and had to be flat bed home. I got fed up with it and it has just been sitting the last couple of years. Sort of a time out, if you will.


This past Winter I decided I want to get it back on the road this year so I bought a high torque starter (the small one on the left) to replace the regular worn out one (the larger one on the right). I wanted to start working on it earlier this summer, but with the rain and all I figured it could wait.


About a week ago I finally had some time to wrench on it, but it turns out the new starter won’t line up and the gears won’t mesh with the flywheel. The pinion gear on the new starter has 11 teeth and is supposed to be a direct replacement for the original 9 tooth one I’m replacing, but after many wasted hours of trying to get it to line up and the teeth to mesh, I call bullsh*t on that. This thing just won’t line up period. Unfortunately, I’ve had the starter way too long to return it. Crap!


High torque starter

Mini starter on the left won’t line up

Ebay and Skip White’s Performance Shop to the rescue! I picked up a shiny new 3 hp mini high torque starter (9 tooth pinion) and put it on this past Saturday. It’s a straight bolt pattern configuration, bolts right up to the 400 small block, and works exactly as it should. No shimming and no cussing. Let’s fire it up and get this thing timed!…. Well…. ummmmm… the Camaro seems to have other plans…..


New high torque starter

New kick ass starter from Skip White’s Performance

The new starter is in, she’s rollin’ over like she should, but … now it won’t fire. What the fu… (whoa! watch the language)?!?!


So, now it’s time for troubleshooting 101:

– Fuel? –> Check

– Spark? –> Nothin’ (Sigh… It ran when I parked it. C’mon! They’re all new parts. C’mon!)


Here’s a shot of the dismantled HEI distributor on the bench getting ready to have all its vitals (pickup, coil, ground wires, etc…) checked. Everything I can troubleshoot checked out fine so that meant a trip to the parts store for them to test the ignition module. The ignition module checked out fine (really????).


HEI Distributor

HEI Distributor


So I buy some dielectric grease, head home, put it all back together (for about the 10th time), and it fires right up first try. Really? Don’t get me wrong, I’m really happy it fired up; but I honestly don’t know what caused it not to fire before and can’t say I trust it since I don’t know what was broke. The only thing I did different was I left the tach wire off, but that really shouldn’t make a difference. Especially since everything was working when I parked it including the tach.


By the time I got it running, it was late on Sunday and I was just done. What should have been an hour or two on Saturday went well over the time I set aside to work on this. My plan now is to set the timing and mess with the tach sometime later this week.


To be continued…


1 comment

  1. Bob

    Yeah, those Camaros are known to cook starters.

    Hope the new starter fixes it for ya and you get ‘er on the road soon!

    Nice car man!


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