We've acquired a 1977 Winnebago Brave with a Dodge 440. It had sat untouched for 17 years however, after replacing plugs, wires, gasoline, air cleaner, radiator, etc., it started & we were able to drive it around. We noticed that it had very strong smelling exhaust, & idle was kind of rough but still it would start easily & was drivable. Then suddenly it simply will not start. We are getting spark & gas, rebuilt the carb, replaced distributor, and some other parts (I'll get a list later from my husband) but are at a loss as to why it will not start. We finally found the timing mark, and it is out of time but how do we remedy this when it will not run? Any ideas and direction will be greatly appreciated, thank you in advance!

Tags: Winnebago

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We finally found the timing marks in the rear of the engine through a hole in the bell housing. The marks are on the flywheel.

Here's the workings of the ignition


Thank you!

I will add "8°BTDC" is on No. 1 piston. If you dont have a comprehensive knowledge of what that means (valves) then stop! You weren't specific if you actually loosened the distributor hold down and pulled the distributor trying to re-orient it. IF you did this you need to STOP, several here can help you but not if you jump the gun and then come here wonder what didnt work. We didnt see what you did so we cant tell you how to fix it.

Let me say that my husband is very familiar with working on engines & has rebuilt several. Unfortunately he doesn't like computers so I am the one engaging in the online forums while he is at work, I apologize if info gets lost in translation.

Here is what he's replaced so far: new fuel, oil & filters, checked vacuum lines (replacing some), rebuilt carb, new coil, new distributor cap & rotor, new plugs & wires, new ignition control module, new regulator, new ballast resistor, new starter relay. 

He has a service manual & set the plug wires & distributor cap according to the diagram within. When that didn't work he loosened the cap & turned it to no new results. The diagram in the manual indicates that timing should line up at 0 in the middle of btc & atc but when he lined up the timing mark at 0tc the rotor was at #2. 

After a few weeks of running the engine started smoking & idling roughly, then stopped & has not started since. It is getting spark & fuel, he has done a compression check. When the motor trys to turn there is fuel & compression blowback coming from the carb. It will not start no matter what he has serviced & replaced so here I am trying to find him some help in the best way I know how & I thank everyone who has been & will be kind enough to reply & offer their ideas & information as I would love to see him get excited about that old Winnie once again! :-)

What I am about to suggest is so rare an occurrence I am hesitant to mention it.

AS I mentioned in my previous post-[ "8°BTDC" is on No. 1 piston] , No.1 valves actuated by push rods, lifters, cam, timing chain drive cam gear, timing chain. I have seen timing chains stretch and "skip a tooth". But I might add this was on a HIGH horsepower racing engine.

Unless someone has another Idea my suggestion is manual inspection of the valve train, cylinder by cylinder using a feeler gauge. The front mounted distributor firing order should be in the manual. Here's a link that maybe a replay of your manual.


 It's something simple. Either the magnetic pick up is unplugged or not fitted right, a ground is bad, something vibrated loose, stuff like that. The Dodge ignition seems to leave a couple of components that are weak spots that could be checked and replaced for not too much.

I'll keep reading and hoping for you!!! I love those Winnies!

You may also want to verify the distributor rotor is turning when you crank the motor. I've seen a timing chain break before.

we just got a 76 brave with the 440 mopar and going through same issues!!  but it drove outta the field and home on the highway like a champ!!      Any info at all would be helpful as this is a new world for me  !

I don't have my old Dodge 440 anymore but you could check the neutral safety switch. Sometimes if that goes the ignition will NOT allow the engine to start because it thinks it's in gear. Try shifting into Neutral and starting or finding the safety switch and giving it a wiggle or tap. On my Allegro we stopped for gas and I wrenched the shifter into PARK at the pump. Upon filling up I got the dreaded "no start" at the pump with a line behind me!!! After a bunch of monkeying around I realized the switch was out of whack and stopped me from starting.

The 440 also has a timing mark attached to the front timing chain cover. That's where the magnetic pick up sensor is mounted. You may have to get under the front of the rig to see it. There's a notch in the harmonic balancer/ pulley.

Please post compression readings per cylinder wide open throttle, 6 compression strokes.

Sounds like slipped timing chain.

Never "throw parts" at an engine to try and solve a problem.

Ask me.




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