Well the new Distributor (the RIGHT ONE THIS TIME) arrived thrusday evening. I got up today and had to go to Sears and got this nifty little 6pt socket / universal joint all in one (# 43201) for $8.49 plus tax. Beat having to heat up and bend a 6pt box/open wrench to get the holdown bolt loose. The bolt is long enough that you either have to raise up the distributor while undoing the bolt, or just un do the bolt a few turns then hand loosen it.
Pulled the old one out and it was apparent that the gear was really causing the problem. It was worn almost to a knife edge on the teeth. The teeth also verify what I was seeing in the oil(iron sludge on the end of the magnetic bolt) . So this should stop. Otherwise the distributor looks good. So I'll clean it up, remove the "screen/filters", put a new gear on, and set it in storage for future use either in the 02, or the 95 Jimmy (late 95 model year with the 96 Crabtower distributor).
The new distributor is all cast / machined aluminum. Fit and finish is good. Brass contacts on the cap and rotor. Rotor has two pins and a lock block. The vents underneath are NOT on the bottom of the tube. They are drilled into the BACK side of the vent tubes.
Took me 13 minutes to change out the distributors from 1st wire pulled to last wire installed and started. Ran for 10 minutes at idle to make sure it wasn't binding, and that oil pressure was good (actually it went up a couple pounds). IDLE was smooth with no intermittent studder, and absolutely NO OFF IDLE MISS/SHUDDER. Engine speeds by my scanner at idle was tighter than before. Timing used to vary from 11.0 to 22.0 degrees. Now it varies between 17 and 20 at idle.
On the road performance is like night and day. Before you could feel the miss and it felt like it had bad u-joints or at least one with lots of slop. Now it's quiet, smooth and a with good deal more pep to it. Throttle reponse is VERY GOOD!
@ 55mph in 4th I can cruise @ 14-15" on the vacuum gauge (using my foot). Before it was 11-12 and it would dog on the slightest incline. Now it just takes it in stride. Torque converter started locking up again too, for some reason. So highway gas mileage has gone UP too. Before with 11-12" mercury, I could get 16-18, Now with 14-15" I'n getting instant economy of 27-28 which should translate to about 23-24mpg full tank running on the highway. Using Cruise control is tantamount ot throwing gasoline out the window. using cruise, Vacuum on level ground to between 8-12, constantly varying. and on the slightest incline dips to sub 5". What a waste. But GM still insists that we have it in the trucks/cars.
I'm happy with it from a performance standpoint. Wife is happy because it doesn't throw her around when it shudders.