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Thread: EFI distributor teardown

  1. #1
    LXi User ecogabriel's Avatar
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    EFI distributor teardown

    A few months ago I replaced the shaft bearing in my TEC distributor – 1986 Accord LX-i. I documented the teardown with pictures so everybody that may want to do it would have an idea of the task before them.

    However, consider it as an illustration; it is not a recommendation or suggestion on what should be done and how.

    This was the second time I took the distributor apart; the first time I replaced the shaft seal because it was leaking badly. From the outside, it looked like the distributor o-ring was the problem, but it was not –the photos will show that later.
    Things I used


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    * Bearing. Nachi 6201/012NSL. I got the exact OE bearing at CBR bearing, www.cbrbearing.com. $19 + shipping.
    I could not find a cheaper replacement. The bearing I got is the EXACT bearing it was installed in my distributor – same bearing brand, same bearing code, and same origin (Japan!). Given the price of a rebuilt distributor, it was an easy decision for me to replace the bearing.
    * Silicone grease. Allows for heat transfer from the ignitor to the distributor (its body acts as a heatsink). Radioshack carries those (about $3 each).
    * Shaft Seal. It fits several Honda distributors in addition to the 3G EFI distributor. I got mine on Ebay, but they can be bought online. Price: $9 to $15. I believe the seal is a NOK brand.
    I did not replace it because I had done it before; (I did it when I first got the car) but wanted a spare just in case (it also fits my 93 Civic).
    OPTIONAL items
    Those things may not be necessary, but it may be a good time to replace some things since the distributor is completely apart, while some others may be handy if something unexpected happens and there is no other way to go to the hardware store to get additional items.
    * Phillips screws (pan head, 5mm) Different lengths are better (8mm, 10mm, 12mm); they’ll be useful if some screws get stuck and the heads damaged. Also useful are some lock washers for those screws.
    * Philips screwdriver. A good one that fits the head of the above mentioned screws is a necessity. I do not have an impact screwdriver, but I bet getting one with a good bit it may make quite a difference when dealing with stuck screws.
    * A 4mm tap. One of my distributor cap screws broke the first time I tried to replace the cap. I drilled the broken screw out (1/8” drill bit would work) and then re-tapped the hole.
    * Center punch. Used to mark the different parts before disassembling so they can be re-assembled in the same position. Maybe a sharp tip point may be used too.
    * Punch to remove pin inside of distributor (EFI sensor triggers). A regular nail (3-5mm thick may do the trick too)
    GENERAL OBSERVATIONS
    Plastic items inside the distributor (connectors, wire sleeves) get brittle with time and exposure with heat and chemicals, so one should be VERY CAREFUL when manipulating them. For instance, when I replaced the shaft seal at the base of the distributor, the wires going to the sensors (CRANK and CYL) that command the electronic fuel injection were really, really, stiff. I had to be very careful when pulling out the sensors not to disturb the wires as I feared breaking the wires’ sleeves or the wires themselves.
    Overall, being gentle when manipulating all the internal parts ends up paying off.
    I got myself a comfortable working place and plenty of time. I waited until I got the house for myself so I would not be bothered with anything or by anyone; I even turned the cell phone off. That also gave me time to pause, take photos to document the process, and make notes on how certain things were assembled together before taking them apart.
    The time I spent doing this was about 2 hours; but time here takes a back seat to the need of NOT breaking anything and documenting several things that are crucial in getting the car running again. This distributor does not only control the ignition but also controls the electronic fuel injection, so extra care has to be taken to avoid screw ups.
    Last edited by ecogabriel; 03-30-2012 at 03:49 PM.
    If it ain't broke... I fix it!



  2. #2
    LXi User ecogabriel's Avatar
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    Re: EFI distributor teardown

    Replacing the distributor bearing requires an almost complete distributor teardown. By contrast, if only the distributor shaft seal has to be replaced, only the lower half of the distributor (the one closest to the engine) needs to be disassembled (step #7). That will become clear (hopefully) from the photos.


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    Got the distributor out of the car (unplug ALL wires and connectors) and then remove the two bolts and nut that attaches it to the engine. Then I took it to my work area – our kitchen.
    Unscrew screws (A) to remove the ignitor cover. The actual ignitor is underneath that cover and it has to be pulled gently away from the distributor body. The silicone grease (white stuff around the ignitor edge) can be seen.
    Unscrew screws (B) to remove distributor cap. Mine look different from what the regular screws are (pan-headed Phillips) because the original ones broke off. I used that type because I found it easier to remove them when trying to replace the cap or rotor with the distributor in the car.
    (C) is the coupling that goes in the camshaft and makes the distributor turn. There is a pin inside the coupling that is kept in place by a spring ring; both are easy to remove BUT before doing that one MUST record the position of the coupling relative to the distributor shaft. I center-punched the coupling assembly and made a similar mark in the distributor shaft.
    Last edited by ecogabriel; 03-30-2012 at 03:53 PM.
    If it ain't broke... I fix it!

  3. #3
    LXi User ecogabriel's Avatar
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    Re: EFI distributor teardown

    Distributor cap removed.


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    On the opposite end of the distributor (where it goes in the engine) there is a mark in the distributor body AND in the coupling assembly (in the next picture). When both marks are aligned, the distributor rotor points to the #1 cylinder (as shown in the photo). I then removed distributor rotor and dust cover.
    With the distributor aligned as in #2 there is chamfer in the distributor shaft that aims in the same direction as the distributor rotor (to the #1 cylinder)



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    Here, the mark in the distributor body is aligned with the mark on the coupling assembly (C); that alignment makes distributor rotor to point to #1 cylinder. I MARKED (with a center punch) the relative position of the coupling piece and the distributor shaft so it could be re-assembled later in the same position (marked M, yellow and black marks).
    ONCE THE POSITIONS OF BOTH COUPLING ASSEMBLY AND DISTRIBUTOR SHAFT HAVE BEEN RECORDED, I took the coupling assembly out; there is a small ring around the outer edge of the coupling that keeps the pin that holds (C) and the distributor shaft together. Removing it makes possible pushing the pin inside; it should slide right out. With the coupling (C) removed I made a note on the spacer washers I found there. I kept the parts together for ease of re-assembly.
    If it ain't broke... I fix it!

  4. #4
    LXi User ecogabriel's Avatar
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    Re: EFI distributor teardown

    Next, I removed the reluctor (D) by prying it from opposite sides using two flat screwdrivers. There is a small pin inside the reluctor (it can be seen in the picture) I was careful not to lose I – it keeps the reluctor in place by applying pressure to the shaft.



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    There is a legend stamped on the reluctor (opposite side of the pin) that indicates which side is the “top” side. I made a note about the “up” side.
    Under (E) there is a screw that attaches the upper part of the distributor shaft to the lower part. I removed it with a sharp tip, and once done that I unscrew the Phillips screw in side and removed it.
    Now with little in the way the vacuum advance can be removed. Although not pictured, remove the small c-clip that attaches its arm to the distributor plate and then remove the two screws that attach the vacuum assembly to the distributor. Damn c-clip! It has too much spring action it jumped out of sight when trying to remove it… it does not affect functionality anyway so I did not bother trying to find it.
    If it ain't broke... I fix it!

  5. #5
    LXi User ecogabriel's Avatar
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    Re: EFI distributor teardown

    The reluctor sensor (F) can be seen once the reluctor has been removed. The two screws to the sides of the wiring hold it in place; unscrew them and (F) pulls right out.
    (Note the ghetto cable protection I had to improvise using a piece of hose; the first time I took the distributor apart the original one disintegrated. I would like to see something more OE-like in there but it has held fine so far)



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    Now, I went for distributor plate. Remove distributor plate by removing the two (G) screws. There are two small tabs under the screws that hold the plate tightly in place. Taking screws and tabs out is a little complicated because the area is magnetized.
    It is a good idea to check the condition of the distributor plate; it turns to advance and retard ignition timing. GENTLY push the attachment (H); it should turn easily especially after doing the “lazy distributor overhaul” (google it in the website).
    I marked two screws as (H); one is clearly seen, the other barely so. IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO REMOVE THEM, SO I DID NOT DO IT.
    Now, GENTLY, GENTLY, GENTLY, I pulled the distributor plate out. I checked it out carefully; DO NOT REMOVE THE PLASTIC RING. Got it?
    DO NOT REMOVE THE PLASTIC RING; DO NOT TOUCH IT, DO NOT PLAY WITH IT, JUST LEAVE IT UNDISTURBED.
    I sprayed the plate with WD-40, dry it, and then lubed it with light oil. I had used grease the previous time I took the dizzy apart, but it hardens over time and makes the vacuum advance to work more slowly than it should. (I noticed the difference after re-assembly and test driving the car)
    If it ain't broke... I fix it!

  6. #6
    LXi User ecogabriel's Avatar
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    Re: EFI distributor teardown

    Carefully remove the two springs (I). After that, I removed the centrifugal advance weights and pulled the top part of the distributor shaft. Although not pictured (yet) only the plate holding the distributor bearing is in place and can be seen together with the three screws that hold it in place.
    I needed to do some work on the lower part of the distributor – remove the EFI triggers from the distributor shaft – in order to be able to remove the lower part of the distributor shaft.
    (Unfortunately, the photo was taken with the shaft already moved so the weights are not in the recesses in the upper distributor shaft)



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    If it ain't broke... I fix it!

  7. #7
    LXi User ecogabriel's Avatar
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    Re: EFI distributor teardown

    Now at the bottom side of the distributor I unscrew the (K) screw first; it holds the connector for the CRANK and CYL sensors housed in the lower half of the distributor.
    Notice the opening nearby the lower right (J) screw and how different that part is from the other two. If the distributor shaft seal leaks, the oil inside the distributor will drain out through that hole. From the outside, it will look as if the distributor o-ring is leaking but it is not.
    I then removed the three (J) screws. I marked the housing where the top and bottom meets (not pictured). It was not really necessary in my case because the two halves could only be assembled in ONE way.
    I pulled the lower housing away from the upper housing; with that, the sensor triggers can be seen attached to the bottom half of the distributor shaft (their removal is in step 9)



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    If it ain't broke... I fix it!

  8. #8
    LXi User ecogabriel's Avatar
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    Re: EFI distributor teardown

    Lower half of the distributor showing both EFI sensors (CRANK and CYL). (L) is a gasket sealing the lower and upper halves of the distributor.

    (OPTIONAL) SHAFT SEAL REMOVAL



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    There should be NO OIL inside this chamber. If there is oil inside, then the shaft seal (M) that sits under the sensors’ mountings must be replaced.
    Changing the shaft seal ONLY is less complicated than replacing the bearing because only the bottom half of the distributor has to be removed. Remove the camshaft coupling (3b) remembering to mark both the shaft AND the coupling to re-assemble them as they were before, and then the screws holding the lower and upper halves
    To replace the seal, both sensors have to be removed. However, extreme care should be exercised because the wiring may be very, very, hardened. When I took them out to replace the seal, I made a note on how the sensors were positioned so I did not have to mess with the wiring on re-assembly. Taking a photo and marking one of the sensors would likely be even better. The note worked for me but maybe the photo is better for others.
    The old seal can be pried out with a screwdriver; when I installed the new one, I packed it with grease on its open side (it will go towards the cylinder head) to prevent the spring inside from jumping out when pushing it into its housing. I also greased the lip that would touch the distributor shaft (and later the shaft itself).
    The brownish residue all over the distributor’s insides was – I believe - result of oil inside the chamber because of the leaking shaft seal.
    Last edited by ecogabriel; 11-21-2011 at 02:38 PM. Reason: wrong photo
    If it ain't broke... I fix it!

  9. #9
    LXi User ecogabriel's Avatar
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    Re: EFI distributor teardown



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    Continuing with the teardown, the triggers (N) must be removed before the distributor shaft (S) can be removed from the shaft bearing. The position of the trigger with respect to the shaft must be marked. Again, use some physical marking; I used a file to make a small mark at the lowest end of the distributor shaft aligned with one of the triggers (N1 marks)
    To remove the trigger, there is a small pin between the two triggers. It fits tight in its hole so it has to be pushed out with a punch and a hammer (a thick nail may work too).
    With the triggers out I pushed the shaft (S) out of the bearing. It comes out through the upper part of the distributor. It may need to be gently tapped; I used a hammer’s wooden handle for that. There was a washer (or two, cannot recall) so I kept them together with the shaft and made a note about their location just in case.
    If it ain't broke... I fix it!

  10. #10
    LXi User ecogabriel's Avatar
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    Re: EFI distributor teardown

    (the photo is pretty bad) Turning the upper distributor body around, I removed the three (O) screws. With that I took the bearing holding plate (P), and then I removed the bearing pushing it from the other side. I cleaned the housing where the shaft bearing goes to ensure proper seating.



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    RE-ASSEMBLY TIPS
    I did not document the re-assembly; assembly was the reverse of removal. Below there are a few remarks.

    I used anti-seize compound for all the screws –the same used for the spark plugs.
    Even though I have no plans of taking the distributor apart EVER again, you never know. I just used a little dab on the treads.
    The distributor shaft hast to go all the way down in the bearing bore (remember to re-install the washers I mentioned when the distributor shaft was removed).

    The fit between shaft and bore is tight, so a little hammering with a piece of hard wood may be necessary. Otherwise, there will be problems when re-attaching the distributor plate (C) later (not enough clearance, and risk of breaking the plastic ring).
    NEVER use a hammer directly on the shaft; it may deform and make re-attaching of the upper distributor shaft difficult or impossible.

    I applied a THIN layer of heatsink grease to the distributor where the ignitor sits. I found applying it to the distributor body much easier than to the ignitor.
    VERY LITTLE grease is necessary; its function is improving heat transfer between the ignitor and the distributor body. The excess heatsink grease will come out when the ignitor screws are tightened (it is normal). LESS IS BETTER.

    I hope it helps to keep 3G Accords and 2G EFI Preludes running on the streets. Sorry for the long posting and maybe too much writing.
    I also apologize for the convoluted writing with letters instead of arrows or circles but I do not have a decent editing program for photos (neither know how to use a decent one if I had one)
    Last edited by ecogabriel; 11-19-2011 at 04:02 PM.
    If it ain't broke... I fix it!

  11. #11

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    Re: EFI distributor teardown

    This, sir, is a worthy write up. You even found the OE bearing that was reputed to be lost to the mists of history. Very well done!

    Mods, please sticky!!!! This is very valuable info.
    Dr_Snooz

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  12. #12
    LXi User ecogabriel's Avatar
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    Re: EFI distributor teardown

    Update on the distributor thread.

    Surfing the internet I stumbled across a cheaper replacement for the OE bearing here

    http://bearingsdirect.com/store/inde..._detail&p=4667

    In case the link does not work, the bearing code is 6201-ZZ-012.

    It is shielded instead of sealed (the OE is sealed) and I suspect it is a bearing from China. Apart from that, given that there is no exposure to anything inside the distributor it should work just fine. Incidentally, I remember reading on another thread that someone used this type of bearing in his distributor.

    Another alternative for anyone wanting to refresh their EFI distributors with a new bearing.
    Last edited by ecogabriel; 12-15-2011 at 06:58 AM.
    If it ain't broke... I fix it!

  13. #13


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    Re: EFI distributor teardown

    I have noticed that there are now new aftermarket FI distributors available from Rock Auto and eBay. Of course, it's cheaper to DIY, but for this particular assembly I have found that new is better. I just don't know if the aftermarket units are of quality construction. I am currently running a TEC distributor that I stumbled across brand-new on eBay about three and a half years ago. It was still in the dusty, old Honda box. I paid $75 for it. I did rebuild mine much like you show in this thread and it worked fine. I still have my OEM rebuilt unit if anyone desperately needs it. I put a lot of work into it, including drilling out the holes in the weights to install bronze bushings rather than the plastic ones that were original.

  14. #14


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    Re: EFI distributor teardown

    I know this is an old thread but it is extremely useful and well written. Here is a secondary link to all of the pictures.

    Index of /system-f/3g_accord_dizzy

  15. #15

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    Re: EFI distributor teardown

    Seeing that I'm a mod now, I took it upon myself to sticky this thread. Thank you ecogabriel!
    Dr_Snooz

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  16. #16
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    Re: EFI distributor teardown

    Hi, I got two seal related questions for this teardown:
    - has anyone needed to replace the distributor housing seal - the one between the bottom part of the distributor and the rest of it... pictured close to L on the pictures. If so where can I get it? I havent pulled it apart yet, but i am predicting that it will be really brittle and dry. If I can't get it can I use something else?
    - Does a typical cap and rotor set come with a cap seal?
    Seems like the weakness of these distributors is their rubber components!
    Thanks for the help!

  17. #17
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    Re: EFI distributor teardown

    Ok I have an update for your guys:
    Went to dealership. They had the housing seal/o-ring (1 day order), but not the cap gasket seal. I decided to get the housing seal.

    Re-conditioned the distributor tonight:
    - replaced the small o-ring that mates to the engine (from ebay)
    - replaced the shaft seal (from ebay). the inside of the lower assembly was really clean, so I think my oil leak was from the o-ring not the shaft seal, but I replaced it anyways.
    - replaced the lower housing seal (from honda)
    - replaced the cap and rotor (honda - same price as most aftermarket part suppliers)
    - since i couldn't find the cap gasket, and the original one was pretty hard and cracked in spots, I decided to use a little bit of permatex (grey) to seal up the badly cracked spots. hopefully i dont have to replace the cap soon, but I think if i have issues with the distributor again, I'll just order this one:
    Distributor Richporter TD01N Fits 86 89 Honda Accord 2 0L L4 | eBay

    Let's hope that does the trick and solves the oil leak.
    Cheers!

  18. #18
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    Re: EFI distributor teardown

    Need some better pictures on this.
    1988 Lxi owner since August 1995
    336k miles running strong!
    Now running E85.

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