I've got just about everything needed to get my '86 K5 up and running
after a fire took out a portion of the wiring harness and distributor.
Just a couple more small pieces and I'll be back in business.
I had to pull the HEI to get the harness out without destroying it (the
toasted wires were pretty delicate). I marked it so I'm pretty
confident about putting it back in correctly.
The fire had melted a huge hole in the cap, and in the process of
putting out the flames, water got in there. The inside of it is pretty
nasty. Before I reassemble it, what's the best non-water-based product
to get the grime out?
Also, if anyone can help me locate a small part, I'll be very thankful.
The short harness that comes from the firewall and to the distributor
was toasted. It's a 4-pin connection going down to a 3-pin, with the
4th pin off to the side. The 3 pin connection plugs into the 3-pin
side of my 5-pin ignition module. This piece is half internal to the
distrib, and half sticking out the back.
A picture of it can be found here:
You can see the module on the left, and the 3-pin connector to the
right. The piece about 1/2" further down the wire is held in place by
the cap, between the cap and distributor base. As you can see, the
4-pin connector on the end is toast. If you can find one of these,
I'll gladly take it off you hands. I'll need it to get spark!
Get a can of electric motor cleaner. It cleans as good as brake/carb cleaner
but is non-conductive. Also non-to-cheap.
Loosen up all the bad stuff with a small screwdriver first and get out what
you can with compressed air. Re-dielectric grease the module to...the heat
would have ruined it, if not, the cleaner will.
Well I've found 2 replacement modules on eBay for roughly the same
price (about $20ea including shipping).
Is electric motor cleaner available at a parts store or will I have to
search for it?
I have the module out and the only thing still in the distributor is
The only things I ever find in Radio Shack are:
1) clueless young employees who know nothing about anything remotely
electronic (ask 'em where they keep the 555 timer chips)
2) cheap versions of what I need, if they have it at all
3) lack of organization
4) frustration and anger that I didn't have when I first walked in the
But I will *try* to find it there. :-)
"Radio Shack...You've got questions, we've got blank stares."
Top 6 Reasons you will NEVER see me inside a Radio Shack
1. If you attempt to browse for something, and do not appear to Middle
Class income level. You get Treated like a thief. This Includes wearing
Uniforms while shopping.
2. Most of the Employees are not only Untrained in Electronics
Operations, They get rather rude when you know 100 Times what they do.
3. Most Radio Shacks do not stock parts or tools to build electronics,
repair electronics, or test electronics.
4. Radio Shack is focused on selling junk like Computer Accessories,
Cell Phones, Walkmans, & answering machines. Not on people trying to
test, repair, or build.
5. Even their "Store" or "District" 'Managers' get an Attitude when You
(The Customer) do not chose to divulge *YOUR* Personal Information.
Wither it is your Home Address, Business Address, Home or Business Phone
Number(s), Name, Ect. This Information is *NOT* for Warantee Claims or
Merchandise Return. This Is Information for Bulk Mail, Telemarketing, &
for sale to other Companies, Organizations, Law Enforcement, and Privet
Parties thru the Companies they sell to. It Skirts the National
Do-Not-Call-List because *YOU* Have done Business with them in the
*LAST* 6 Months. The American Public at Large has a Legal Assured Right
of Privacy. Radio Shack does not believe in it.
6. Radio Shack Employees & Management Frown on Cash Sales. This is due
to Reason #5. They will get RUDE if you Insist on Cash. ON All U.S.
Paper Currency it states: Legal Tender FOR ALL DEBTS Public & Privet.
Legally, in the USA of you take any form of payment you can not refuse
Legal Tender (U.S. Currency) of any denomination Used in side the U.S.
Borders (This Excludes the One Thousand Dollar Bills only used in
Sorry for the Rant, Ill step off my soap box now.
I remember back in the late 80's when I started going to Radio Shack,
there were still plenty of wise old men working there.
I won't go into my rant about the infinite value of "wise old men",
however I'll just say that replacing them with young punks was a very
bad move. Unfortunately, the middle-aged men of then (who were usually
trained under old men and are now approaching 'wise old man status')
have opted for other, better paying lines of work than the usual hourly
pay Rat Shack has to offer.
Now it's young 20-somethings working there "until graduation", which
means hunting for a "real" (usually independently owned) electronics
I guess I have been lucky, and have three good stores in my area,
Note none of the three are in a mall.
But one has to face the facts as well, very few people build or repair
electronic devices any more, its cheaper to just replace them. We
become a throw away society. Hell I work on POS terminals, and
in most cases the customer can buy a new terminal cheaper than replace
a main board. That's sad, when one considers a pos terminal is a
a built in color lcd display and a touch panel and a magnetic card
plus an operating system. Its this way be it Sharp, Panasonic, IBM,
Micros, even nasty Squirrel terminals. These things aren't slouches
10/100/1000 nics, as many as 6 com ports, 2-4 usb ports, parallel
port, onboard video
and sound running P-4 processors and 512 Mb of DDR memory with decent
15-17 inch displays..
In my younger days I always preferred Lafayette Radio over
Radio Shack, they had way cooler stuff..
Advantage one of Growing up with a Electrical Engineer for a Dad. I was
expected to learn some of it.
I remember being a kid (im 31 now). Going with my Dad to work on
Saturdays, going in to the "Computer Room" Where the Main Frames were. A
room kept at 60 F Year Round. I Remember him changing the disks in the
drives. Watch the opening of the Movie War Games. They show some of
those old Drives where you lifted the cover and removed the disk stack
and replace it with another. Heck I remember when I was about 10, 50 MEG
(not Gig) Maxtor Full Bay Hard Drives were the baddest M-F's around. I
helped my dad fix 2 of them that came defective (both bad solider
joints) and remember putting those HD's in my 8086 & 8088 computers.
Compared to my old Atari 1200XL they Replaced they were the Rad-iest
Computers on the Market for Home Systems at the time.
Guess I aint your ordinary Redneck-Biker-Mechanic.
Sounds kinda like my story.
My dad started programming in Fortran in the early-60's on mainframes.
Punch cards were the input, and printers were the output. No keyboards
or screens. He passed the courses but didn't use it till the
early-70's when as a draftsman he re-wrote the non-working software
application that his company (Anderson Electric, later to be bought by
Square D) used to determine size and strength requirements on electric
He switched to BASIC in the late-70's and by 1983 had produced AMS. It
was one of the very earliest software packages for Auto Parts stores
that did Point of Sale, Inventory, and Accounting. His only real
competition was a large corp. called Triad. He'd started developement
of AMS on a TRS-80 model 1, then a model 3 and 4. He re-wrote it to
run on the CP/M operating system and got a fully working package up and
running on a Kaypro II (I have the still working Kaypro in the spare
bedroom). He needed a true multi-user platform and found it in a
company called Action Computer Corp. Actions were available in a huge
desktop model or a tall 19" rack format. Used an S-100 bus. One
common card for the HDD/FDD controller, and each user had it's own Z-80
processor and RAM on a card, going serially to a Kimtron KT-7 dumb
At this point we're still talking early-to-mid-80's, and all this stuff
was in our house. I'm 29 now, so well before I'd reached the age of 10
I was surrounded by all this cool stuff like reel-to-reel tape drives,
8" floppy disks (REALLY floppy!) and 30 meg hard drives with 15"
platters. Which reminds me of a story he relayed to me...one of the
big racks he'd installed in a warehouse was "walking" across the floor
and unplugging itself. All the vibration from the 15" hard drive and
all the fans were enough for it to roll on it's casters across the
concrete floor, LOL...
By the time I'd reached 1990, I was pretty well versed in DOS...which
isn't a big deal now, and certainly wasn't to me at the time, but it
seemed to be to all these "adults" that couldn't operate a computer
without a menu system to select their apps.
My 'training' via Dad consisted of troubleshooting hard drives for bad
sectors, performing low level formats (remember those?) when necessary
and using diagnostic software to determine whether they were worth
keeping around as spares. By the time I was 14, my best friend and I
had watched Dad enough to know what we were doing and we went into
business selling PCs. Legit too...had a business license and
It's funny that by 16 I was considered a badass by some, and I didn't
let my skill set grow with the industry. Now I'm just average.
Still...your comment about the Maxtors made me laugh. Around '91 I was
running a BBS in Knoxville on an 8MHz 286 that I'd rescued from the
dead. It was my workhorse, troubleshooting PC. I stuffed a 55meg
Maxtor in there whose bearings had by shot for a couple of years. It'd
previously spent years runng 24/7 in one of Dad's customer's parts
stores. That thing absolutely screamed---literally! Sometime's it'd
spontaneously get 3-4 times louder, usually at 3am. I had grown
accustomed to it's sound and could sleep right though the noise except
when it decided to get really loud for those short little outbursts.
Anyway...I'm rambling here. Really just reminiscing. It's this love
of the "good stuff" that has me studying Assembly programming for the
x86 platform even as I write this. I set up a 486 as my programming
test machine on the other side of the room.
You know some of those old MFM hard disks could be formatted using an
RLL controller with 26 sectors per track instead of 17....a 40MB
Seagate became a 65MB drive :-)
I miss "my" old days....
You were and are more in to it then me. My dad had a BBS, ran it from
88 till 93. He sat my brother and my self down in late 1993 and asked us
if we had any interest in operating a ISP. He already priced the T-1 & a
25 phone line pair. Neither of us was that interested.
My brother who is 26 works in a I.T. Department at a Environmental
Engineering firm. Our dad was A "I.T." department before their was such
a thing (Jr Executive) at a Mechanical, proto-type, machine control &
Electrical Engineering firm. I took after my dad's Mechanical Abilities
(former NHRA SS/A racer, Pro Mechanic, Vehicle customs).
I used to be able to do simple design work in Auto Cad (don't ask the
version), I used to slap computers together from parts (I can still do
simple repairs on mine), used to fix broken car radios. For a few years
I even did some Website design and graphic work.
These days... I can still use a Unix Terminal, do simple Electronics
work, manage not to screw up my windows XP-Pro, or kill my P-II 450. I
use a OLD Omni-Key 102 Keyboard (had it since 1988) made by North gate
systems with a adapter to IBM PS-2 style plug.
The closest I got to running an ISP was back in like '96...Me and dad
became resellers for a local ISP. They're still around, you gotta dig
through the phonebook for one though.
If you know/knew AutoCAD you may be interested in this...I found a
website called emachineshop.com. You can download their free
Windows-based software and design a part. Then you can submit it over
the web and get an instant quote on how much it'd be to have it built.
They have several different methods of building metal parts and it
seems it'd be really good for prototyping. I plan on using them to
prototype some guitar parts I've had ideas for.
I wish I'd been exposed to Unix at an earlier age. It just wasn't
important enough to have around the house. Dad was having good success
when he switched over to a DOS platform with an application called
MultiLink that allowed for memory management and multiple tasks
(multiple terminals). The company later released a full OS called
PC-MOS which did the same thing without requiring DOS as a platform.
I'm running Linux at home now, but haven't got into it enough yet. I'm
probably gonna take a Unix class to beef up my skills. Using it
reminds me of when I was first starting with DOS and didn't know
I take after my Dad too...He and I were both professional musicians. I
did that exclusively for while. I'd like to get back to that. Sure
beat working for a living!
It the same at Discount Autoparts Stores. There are a few real parts
stores left here. They are staffed by the wise old men, and w-o-m in
training. Unless im after shit you can't fuck up (a can of starting
fluid, spray paint, oil) I avoid discount auto parts stores.
At a Discount Parts Stores they hire people for their ability to look
something up in a database. Then give them minimum wage. Most of the
managers at such places are not qualified to even test a starter
properly. Let alone have any real time automotive repair knowledge. I
say MOST because I know of one that does. He used to work on his 67
Pontiac 2 door full size, and I watched him rebuild a poncho 400 for it.
He is wise enough to know when not to give advice. A rare breed in a
discount store. Rarer Still he has the inventory memorized often knowing
the part number with out need to "look it up".
And that's at the best...
I'm far from knowing everything about vehicles, but I know enough to know
that these people are often clueless. Sometimes they're also rude...I've
been in a few where an employee was on the phone having a very rude
conversation using bad language.
I'll never forget the time I dragged a spent Wal-Mart auto battery into one
such store to confirm what I was pretty sure I knew--that the battery was
toast. Instead of just testing it, the guy there proceeded to give me a
whole recitation on why Wal-Mart car batteries were awful.
My experience has been the opposite, and I made sure he knew that. :-) If
Wal-Mart had only had a similar battery AND if I could have waited, I
wouldn't have given them the business...
In the after market world there are two battery manufactures producing
85% of what's sold in this country, Johnson Controls and Excide.
And one is no better or worse than the other. They both seem to go
in cycles of producing top line products and then absolute junk.
So price and warranty are my deciding factors when I buy replacements.
The retailers, like Wal-Mart, Sears, AutoZone etc switch manufactures
based on which one will give them a better price.
So you can go to Sears and spend 59.99 for a 5 year warranty 12 months
free replacement and then pro-rated the last 4, or go buy the exact
same one from AutoZone for $59.99 but get a 7 year warranty, free two
year replacement, then pro-rated the last 5.
To me, an auto parts store is the last place to go for repair advice.
What I expect
from a counterman is to know his parts. The advantage of the old
houses was their ability to stock multiple brands. For instance, I am
a diehard Raybestos
brake parts fan, for American cars, but Beck Arnley blows them out of
the water on foreign
parts. The so called "discount houses" push stuff too much. Wanna
make a Chevy run like
crap, install a set of Bosch Plugs and Wires. I haven't seen a parts
store in the last 15 years
that had the proper equipment to even test a starter. That toy they
have on the counter is a joke.
And most computerized battery/alt/starter testers are ok as long as
all the basics were checked
first. How they going to get under the vehicle to check grounds and
cables? To many parts get condemned when all they need are terminals
cleaned. and then there's autozones fabulous
The 400 was ok, but I liked the 389 better,
Years ago, Dad started working with some folks developing what they
dubbed E-Cat, short for Electronic Catalog. It was a genius idea. You
could enter the year, make, and model of a vehicle and then narrow your
search down by engine, whether or not the car had A/C, etc... Then
pick the category (electrical, belts, gaskets, etc...) and you could
pretty much nail down any part #. The idea was to replace the big
paper parts catalogs.
It was a good idea...they were just dumbing down the job to make it
quicker, but I feel my Dad may be partially responsible for the number
of idiots working in parts stores, LOL.
There is a dude at Pep Boys (and I HATE Pep Boys) that remembers the
make and model of my K5, he only has to ask the year. He's the only
reason I still shop there. And yes, he's one of the older dudes there.
Don't even get me started on their shop manager.
Hmmm...yes, they do seem to have clueless employees around these days...but
that I can understand. Also, their selection of cool goodies seems to have
dropped in recent years. It looks like the forefront of the store is AV
stuff, remote control toys and possibly cell phones.
But if you know what you're after, must have it now, and don't mind spending
a few minutes looking in the back...they might just have it.
I still find some of their goodies interesting too. And the bargain table
isn't half bad...I got a rather nice "stick meter" that way...
(640x480, 145KB). It
is invalueable, especially when testing alternators and generators.
I usually don't ask 'em questions...if one of their sales staff comes
around, I tell 'em I've found whatever it is I happen to be looking for. One
of these days maybe I should ask about vacuum tubes!
I've got to ask--because I am curious--how did your Blazer catch fire? And
do you have pictures of the rest of the truck?
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