Tentatively optimistic in the wake of Tuesday's distributor swap. I've made one adjustment so far, turning the distributor a bit clockwise after the starter struggled to spin the engine over.
This has been a consistent issue for most of the last five years and I'd always it was a starter issue. Especially when the engine was warmed up, the starter was working as hard as it could. I'm not a great mechanic, and I never thought that maybe the distributor was a bit too advanced or retarded, perhaps causing a buildup of cylinder pressure keeping the engine from spinning easily. Certainly sounded like it, especially Wednesday morning when I tried to fire it up. This time, the starter was dragged to a standstill, pushing hard against the crank--even worse than ever before.
After that little adjustment, though, the engine spins over at least twice as fast as before--strongly, no hesitations. Unheard-of in 5 years of tinkering!
This is all the same issue I've been trying to work out for a while, especially after getting stranded a few times in the last year. It seemed for a month or so that I made things better with the exhaust work I did in November, but that's also when the weather started getting cold.
As soon as things warmed up again, the drivability troubles started again--starter having trouble turning the engine, getting worse as the engine warmed up, dragging the battery charge down (and looking for all the world like a bad starter). Once the engine started (IF it started), it ran fine. Idle was a little ragged. Hard to judge gas mileage, since I hardly go anywhere lately. Haven't been to Fort Pickens since my back-to-back day trips in February of 2011 (here and here). Haven't been back to Fort Pike since my time and gas-wasting road trip out there in 2011. Power? Hard to tell there, yet, but if the starting issue is solved now, I'm up for a Pickens trip.