Well, my son and I spent a good portion of the weekend pulling the timing cover off and the valve cover and replacing the sheered pin in the cam sprocket. I did all the research here and in the Wrangler forum and got all the steps taken care of. The timing and rotor, timing marks etc were all confirmed, and we buttoned it back up and - it started right up, after not running since it was rolled off the flatbed back in the fall. We were ecstatic, so we did a lap of the neighborhood with the doors off (in brisk 45 degrees). When we stopped to talk to a neighbor who had been asking baout our progress during the weekend, the 97 TJ 2.5L stalled out. It had been feeling very 'normal' and idled just great - sounded very strong and we thought we nailed it. Unfortunately, after letting it roll down the hill to our driveway, we wracked our brains to figure out what would cause it to be fine one minute and then stall and not start the next. It may be something to do with it warming up, but here is everything we tried after it ran the first time.
We sprayed starting fluid into the open throttle body, nothing. Pulled the #1 spark plug and saw it spark. Verified TDC mark with position of rotor in distributor (and verified rotor was turning, at least eliminating another sheared sprocket pin). It is getting fuel (can smell it) and spark, and of course air through throttle body. But after cranking and cranking, it still won't start.
Very frustrating to have the 'victory' lap end that way, and of course it put a damper on a great weekend showing my son the ins and outs of motors and repair. Does anyone have any ideas why it would start right up and then just kind of die? I tried again when it was cold again, still no start.