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Can you get your hands on a simple code reader to get any trouble codes from the PCM (Engine Computer)? Since the check engine light came on, there should be trouble codes in the PCM. Get them and post them on this page please. They will point us in the direction of the cause of your problem.
Yes, that was my first thought too. I don't have a code checker but I'll check around to see if I can borrow one.
I borrowed a code reader and it said
O0340 Camshaft Position Sensor A Circuit (1 or single sensor)
Some googling tells me this is something like an old distributor drive assembly with a rotor on top and a stator in the cap. Located in the back of the engine - hard to access.
Would this cause the symptom of not cranking? and the ammeter drop?
The cam sensor tells the PCM when to fire the injectors. If the sensor is bad or damaged, the injectors will not fire and the engine will not start.
It is tight to get to the sensor. It is in the same spot the distributor would be. The cam sensor mounts on top of the synchronizer with two bolts. I think they are 1/4" socket. They are small. But you will have to remove the sensor and inspect the hall effect on the synchronizer below.
There should be a half moon trigger wheel inside the synchronizer. If it is gone or bent up, the synchronizer will have to be replaced along with the cam sensor.
You will need a special tool to align the synchronizer properly because the sensor has to be timed properly to fire the injectors.
"But you will have to remove the sensor and inspect the hall effect on the synchronizer below."
What is hall effect?
Below is a picture of the hall effect.
Basically a trigger wheel.
It is a half moon crescent that passes past the magnet in the sensor.
What happens is the magnet comes loose from the sensor and bounces around in the synchronizer and breaks the crescent.