I don"t quite understand your failure description but the distributor is driven off the cam by a cam shaft distributor gear and a mating gear at the bottom of the distributor shaft.
As the cam thrust plate wears, it allows the cam to move fore and aft and thus the distributor shaft moves up and down. Usually this is indicated by the distributor rotor striking the top of the distributor cap. When this occurs, the rotor breaks and the engine won"t run. The fix is to pull the timing over and the cam timing gear and replace the cam thrust plate.