98 civic no start after timing belt change

Hi folks. I have a 1998 Civic LX. Just under 160K miles. Ran when I bought it.
Some background. I am not a novice home mechanic. Been wrenching my own
stuff for at least 40 years. I have done a number of timing belts on older non interference volvo 740s, never a problem, other than the time I forgot to tighten the camshaft gear bolt.....8*))).
I decided to change the timing belt on the civic. Found and used a step by step set of directions from one of the civic forums on line. Pulled it all apart, changed the belt and water pump and tension pully. I used a mirror to align the two side marks on the camshaft gear with the head to block surface. I aligned the crank pully with the mark by the oil pump. I set the engine to TDC before starting (at least I think I did, never checked it against the distributor rotor), and made sure that I didn't move the crank or the camshaft much more than I needed to during disassembly, and always restored it to premovement position.
I set the tension according to directions, and afterwards, it felt like it was at the correct tightness.
I did unbolt the crank position sensor and let it hang, but I don't think I disconnected it. Not sure at this point. The clearance from the sensor to the crank was a bit more than my thickest feeler guage, I think .040" plus. I tried to set it back to this clearance during reassembly.
The car cranks over but never attempts to fire. I did check for spark, and had a strong spark, but now don't have spark. I believe I have fuel. I hear the fuel pump cycle when the key is turned on, and the plugs are wet and I smell fuel.
Compression is fairly even, something like 115 to 125 across the four cylinders.
The car hadn't seen a tuneup in some time. Plugs were almost worn out, air filter dirty, and when I pulled the distributor cap, the rotor contact that sends the spark to each wire during rotation is pretty nasty, along with the plug wire contacts inside the cap. I scraped them all as clean as I could, still no start.
All fuses in the fuse box are good.
I'm suspecting that maybe I have the belt 180 degrees out. Or, the crank position sensor is bad, or maybe I broke a wire to it during the work.
Another factor, although slim, is that I took between 1 and 2 months to do this. I work a lot, and worked on this nights and weekends when I could. So, the car sat, but that shouldn't have caused any problems. The battery was disconnected during this whole time. I also put a charger on it, just in case it was giving the ignition system a low voltage. I have seen no starts when a battery was weak.
I will be pulling the timing covers to recheck things, or at least the top cover. Then I'll set the crank at the single mark, verify that the distributor is at #1, and check the camshaft position.
Have I missed anything? This is my first honda, don't usually mess with these things. From the directions I used it's all basics, nothing magic. Either I broke something or didn't set things correctly.... or some random part broke on coincidence.
Oh yeah, when I first put the belt on, I rotated the engine by hand 6 revolutions, and encountered no interference, and all the timing marks came up to the correct position. Also, before I tried to really start it, I pulled all the plug wires off and cranked the engine over for several revolutions thinking that if there were a valve strike, that maybe the starter wouldn't be strong enough to bend it versus the engine running definately would.......
Sorry for the length, wanted to give all details......
Any thoughts?
thanks, /glenn
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You may have killed the coil with that action.
From your description of the car's neglected history, the coil has already had a hard life, and you may have pushed it over the edge.
Do you have a tachometer on the dash? If so, does the needle jiggle just the tiniest amount when you crank, or is it dead-still?
--
Tegger

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Yup, it has a tach. I just tried it and no movement at all.....
So, where is the coil in this thing? Buried inside the distributor cap perhaps? Being that there isn't a coil wire, that's the way it looks.
One thing I don't understand is that I had spark. I pulled the wire furthest away from the distributor, put the plug into the wire and put it on the valve cover under the throttle cable (to hold it tight to the cover) and got a bright spark. But, later on, the same test showed no spark.
My plan is to replace the distributor cap and rotor, they are currently junk. I suppose I should also get a coil while I'm at it, yes?
So, if it still doesn't start, any other thoughts?
Another question. If the crank position sensor was bad, I never would have gotten spark the one time it sparked, correct? Or, is the sensor telling the ECU something else?
thanks for the help. It may be a day or two before I get to the parts store.....
thanks, /glenn
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That would be more the igniter, then.
Does the Check Engine light remain on while you crank? Or does it go off two seconds after the key is turned to "II"?

Is the Check Engine light ON while you crank? (after the initial key-on 2 seconds, that is).

Good. Take the time to troubleshoot this properly before you blow cash on unneeed parts.
--
Tegger

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Hi Tegger, check engine light comes on at key position II, and then goes off within the 2 seconds you described. It does NOT come on during engine cranking.
Igniter, ugh. Last time I was involved with one of those, it was mondo expensive just for the part. Is there some sort of test procedure for that part?
Is it worth the $$ for the Haynes book on this car? I pretty much avoid chiltons due to them being mostly useless in my experience, but have had good luck with the Haynes books on just about any vehicle that I've worked on.
Until I find a way to check things, I think for now, I'll pull the top timing cover and verify the crank/cam timing in relation to the distributor.
As far as I remember, TDC is TDC every time the #1 piston is at the top of its travel, until the camshaft is involved. Then, when the camshaft is involved, one time at TDC is the fire position and the next is the exhaust position.
So, providing that I put the crank at the right mark, (TDC mark at the arrow near the oil pump), and put the camshaft at the right mark (the 2 notches even with the head/ block surface) and the UP arrow up, that should put the distributor rotor at the #1 plug wire. Right? In other words, is it possible to get the system 180 out?
Thanks for all the help, /glenn
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Good...
Very cheap if you just pull one off a wrecked Honda.

There is indeed. <http://www.tegger.com/hondafaq/faq.html#startrun

Do not trust either of those for anything.
Get the straight goods from Honda itself: https://techinfo.honda.com This is the same information the dealer gets. $10 buys you 3 days of all-you-can-download.

And you're aware the TDC mark is the one all by itself on the pulley?

Yes, it's possible.
With the #1 cylinder (the one next to the timing belt) at TDC compression, the distributor rotor should point at the #1 position on the distributor cap.
--
Tegger

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208.90.168.18:

By the way, TDC compression will have all valves CLOSED for the #1 cylinder. The rockers should be OFF the cam lobes.
--
Tegger

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Yup, knew that, but forgot about it. I'll pull the valve cover during the checks to make sure. When I pulled the timing cover, I just loosened and lifted the valve cover just enough to get the timing cover off. My very first vehicle was a 59 VW, and it was vitally important to adjust the valves on them, so I spent a lot of time looking at valve trains. 8*)))) Couldn't see the camshaft, but used other methods to ensure the valves were fully closed for the feeler guage check.....
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Understood. I'll have to make time for this once I've tested the unit.

Yes I am, thanks.

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Agreed on having the FM (from RTFM). I ordered the Camry manual for my wife's car a couple of weeks after we drove it home and I ordered the one for my Fit that evening. Haven't the one for her Camry and I haven't "needed" the one for my Fit. Note the quotes. I fiddled some with the suspension and I already knew (from information rather than experience) that you can kill yourself pretty easily if you don't do things just right.

--

- dillon I am not invalid

"You idiots, it's rape, pillage,THEN BURN!!!"
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Yup, manuals are good. Up to this point, I've had excellent luck with Haynes for several other vehicles over the years. I bought the Haynes for the civic. I also covers CR-V and integra. For the first time, I'm disappointed in Haynes. The paper quality is not much better than the toilet paper I use, and I have already found errors and/or misinformation in the book.
As to killing yourself, that's usually my first thought when I do stuff. One of my first jobs (over 40 years ago) as a teenager was working in a local garage. I was taught well. I am now an electrician, and I find it easier to kill ones self doing that than working on cars. I'm all good with dying before my time thanks.
As to the fanaticism I find in this newsgroup, I find it amusing. I bought this car to save money on gas. Otherwise, I wouldn't have anything to do with it. I've had some not so good experiences with japanese vehicles, and swore never again. But, times are tough. I normally drive old school rear wheel drive volvos. At least on those I'm not constantly breaking rusted nuts and bolts like on the jap stuff.
So, thanks to Tegger for being so much help during my times of stress. Your website is pretty good, and I'll check it out again if I have questions. I use a similar site for my volvo repairs. There is an FAQ for the 740/940s that answers EVERY question you might have. That along with the Haynes and I can fix anything on those cars.
thanks, /glenn

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snip
It lives !!!!!!! Good call. Yup, the coil.
I followed the on car test for the igniter in your .pdf, and according to that, the igniter was bad. Following a hunch, I pulled the coil and found the telltale arcing signs on it. The infamous figure '8' and the rainbow streaking. So, went to the parts store and bought a coil, cap and rotor, and once it was back together, it fired right up.
So, either I misread the .pdf, or it's not quite right..... ??
Thanks for all the help. /glenn
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