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  • Spark Timing, Set It and Forget It, Timing info, Timing lights 101

    Spark Timing, Set It and Forget It,


    There are at least a couple ways to set the timing. You first must set the point gap, and I always set mine to .020" with the points setting on the highest part of the cam lobe. This remains the same whether you use the "A" cam or "B" cam. After the points gap is set, you can then push the spark lever all the way up, which is where it should always be when starting the engine. Now you can hand crank the engine until you just feel the timing pin drop into the cam gear detent. The engine is now on top dead center and ready to fire #1 spark plug. If the points aren't just starting to open, you must loosen the cam screw and rotate the cam until the rotor points to #1 contact and the points are just ready to open. I like to use the correct cam tool to hold the cam in position as I tighten the screw.

    If you like to use a test light to see when the points open, rather than just your eyes, then connect the clip to the red wire terminal on the coil, and ground the test light point to a head nut or other good ground. Now, when the points open, the test light will light up. If you go past the dimple in the cam gear, then just hand crank the engine almost two more revolutions to bring the cam dimple back around. If you put the tranny in high gear and push the car backwards to bring the dimple back into position, be sure to go back past the dimple, then hand crank slowly until the timing pin drops in, and stop. When you go backwards, you need to go past the mark and then turn it forward again to make sure all the freeplay is on the leading side of the cam.

    Double check the freeplay by lightly trying to turn the distributor rotor clockwise, and it should not move. The rotor turns CCW, so you want any freeplay taken up as you check the timing.
    Try turning the rotor counter clockwise and it should move to take up the freeplay. This will also let you know how worn the shaft tangs are.

    Also be sure the timing lever on the steering wheel will move the distributor upper plate arm from one side of the opening to the other side as you move the lever up and down. If it doesn't, then something will need to be adjusted. On the 2 tooth steering, the column can be rotated to help bring this into correct adjustment.

    Another way to set the timing is even easier, and I learned this method from Marco, the man with the Model A knowledge. When you hand crank the engine until the timing pin drops into place, the rotor should be pointing towards the right headlamp and in exactly the position as shown in my picture. With this method, you don't have to worry about where the spark lever happens to be. This will get you as close as you need to be for timing the points to open at TDC. Of course, once again, be sure the points are set to .020" and again this is the same whether you use an "A" cam or a "B" distributor cam.

    Be sure to use distributor cam lube on the rubbing block, and a drop of oil on the pivot pin. Also be sure to fill the distributor lube cup with oil about every 500 miles. You can't over lube the distributor and extra oil won't mess up anything.

    The spark lever should move the timing from TDC all the way up to 40 degrees BTDC, which I feel is too much advance. I never run more than about 30* on a stock engine, and an engine with higher compression will use even less advance because the flame spreads quicker with higher compression, so the peak pressure occurs sooner in the piston movement. You want peak pressure shortly after TDC, and not before. Too much advance can damage babbit, rods, and pistons.

    If the timing is too late, you can overheat the engine have loss of power.

    I'll also show a picture of the correct camshaft gear timing, as some books in the past have shown it in the wrong position. This must be right before you even worry about getting the spark timing right. The cam gear timing mark lines up to the RIGHT side of the keyway, not the left as incorrectly shown in some books.

    Once the timing is set, you just occasionally reset the points to .020", but don't have to mess with the timing again. Set it once and forget it. The only time you have to recheck the timing is if you loosen or remove the distributor cam.

  • #2
    This is from Larry Brumfield,

    Here’s a good and easy and accurate way to check to make sure you have your engine correctly timed. No test light required.

    Remove #1 spark plug and position it so you can see the plug spark by laying it on its side to touch a head nut for ground. Attach a wire from the distributor body to the plug to conduct the spark to the plug.

    Remove the other 3 spark plugs so the crank will be easier to turn. Remove the timing pin from the front cover and insert it back in the hole using the round end. Push the spark lever all the way up to the fully retarded position. Put the trans in neutral. Turn on the ignition. Take a hand crank and begin turning the engine over to allow the #1 piston to rise on the compression stroke. When nearing the top of the stroke, apply pressure with your fingers on the timing pin so you can feel it when the pin moves into the little dimple on the timing gear. In other words, you will be doing as one does when setting the timing.

    The very instant you feel the timing pin slide into the dimple, you should see a spark at the spark plug!

    Comment


    • #3
      Timing Lights 101

      I received a PM regarding the use of those Timing indicators that bolt onto the front cover. Are they needed? NO...

      Find TDC with the timing pin...
      Put a dot on the crank pulley and a dot on the front cover so that it is even with the dot on the crank pulley. The location of the dots on the pulley does not matter, just as long as they are directly across from each other.
      Use an adjustable timing light to check and adjust your timing...
      Example: Say your timing is set dead on spark lever up and using the light it's reading O deg.
      Now pull the lever half way down and you'll see the dots are no longer lined up.
      Turn the timing lite advance knob till the dots realign.
      Now whatever that reading is on the timing lite knob is how much you were advanced.

      If you have the older style light without the advance feature deep six it!!

      No timing plate needed and it keeps the original look if that matters to you.

      These dots will also aide in lining up TDC down the road.
      3 ~ Tudor's
      Henry Ford said
      "It's all nuts and bolts"


      Mitch's Auto Service ctr

      Comment


      • tbirdtbird
        tbirdtbird commented
        Editing a comment
        I'm with you.
        I have done the same, and actually made a pointer out of heavy gauge wire bolted to the timing cover so I can get the marks real close. The, marked off 1 and 1/8" on the pulley from the zero mark you just explained how to do. Then using a white office marker I divided that 1 1/8" distance into 5 equal sections. Each mark is 5°

        That way I can keep my old school Craftsman timing light, and still get good readings. I have bought 3 brand new timing lights in the past 5 years, with the dial back, and they all died within 6 months, just out of warranty. China has it figured out exactly to the day. And they were not cheap at 100 simoleans a pop

      • BNCHIEF
        BNCHIEF commented
        Editing a comment
        Same for me I have had my light for years and never a problem.

      • CarlG
        CarlG commented
        Editing a comment
        They might not be needed, but then most things I have on my truck that didn't come on it are not needed either.

        "But Dad, I really want one"

      • Mitch
        Mitch commented
        Editing a comment
        There is nothing wrong with having one on your car,Ii'm just trying to explain the basic principles of this procedure.
        Just because the suppliers sell it, that does not mean it's needed.

      • BILL WILLIAMSON
        BILL WILLIAMSON commented
        Editing a comment
        TIP# 31
        A Friend drilled the timing cover & inserted a straight 1/8" welding rod, with a POINTY WHITE tip!--Would that deduct points or would it need to be painted GREEN or BLACK?
        KDad

      • BNCHIEF
        BNCHIEF commented
        Editing a comment

      • Dennis
        Dennis commented
        Editing a comment
        Originally posted by CarlG View Post
        They might not be needed, but then most things I have on my truck that didn't come on it are not needed either.

        "But Dad, I really want one"
        Carl, can you tell us where you got the degree plate? I like it the best of all I've seen. I have a Snap-on light like Mitch mentioned and it works, I use the reflective squares that came with my snap-on digital tachometer for a better mark but they don't look attractive.

      • Patrick
        Patrick commented
        Editing a comment
        What ! You're trying to get me to throw something away ! You're sounding like JoAnn ! 3 timing lites is about right, one for each hand and a spare just in case. I'm trying now to think when I last used one.

      • Tom Wesenberg
        Tom Wesenberg commented
        Editing a comment
        Originally posted by Mitch View Post
        I use 2 tiny pinpoint dabs of white out
        I did the same thing last year for the engine I'm fixing as a temp for my 28. I use the dimple to time, but the dots can let me know when I'm getting close.

        The Dollar Tree white out pens have nice fine ball points, and contain a fast drying white paint.

        Timing Paint.JPG
        Attached Files

    • #4
      I've had mine like that for quite awhile, then some reflective tape squares.

      But then I see Carl's and I wanna be like Carl now. Yeah... "Dad he has one so why can't I ?? LOL But you just got an upper water connection like Carl, so what makes you think you gotta have a timing indicator"...

      Comment


      • #5
        Hey Dennis, I have one just like Carl, you want it? Cheap cause I don't use it, broke my timing light.
        You wana look waaay far up da road and plan yer route because the brakes are far more of a suggestion than a command!

        Comment


        • dmdeaton
          dmdeaton commented
          Editing a comment
          I want one like Carl also, cant find on Ebay.

      • #6
        Nurex Advance Info:

        For anyone who is thinking about installing the Nu-Rex centrifugal advance unit, a couple words.

        While I like this advance unit, it has one drawback. While having this installed, I needed to remove the distributor and in doing so lifted the short shaft and advance unit with it, and after reaching the gasket area the advance unit fell back into the valve valley which made me have to remove the valve cover for a second time to reinstall the advance unit back in the top of the oil pump drive.

        So, I called and asked if a set screw would hurt the performance of the advance unit, and the answer was No. So, I got my hands on another oil pump drive and drilled and tapped a hole and today drilled the advance unit and installed a set screw to anchor the advance unit in the top sleeve of the oil pump drive.

        Now, unless you are into 1/8th scale RC cars, I doubt you will be able to find the same screw I'm using, but no worry, I would simply get a 4-40X¼ or 6-32X¼ set screw and drill through the sleeve and into the advance unit lower drive enough to put some of the set screw into a dimple in the Advance drive.


        D3518BA6-B0F8-4F90-BC47-FCA665BF11B3.jpegEDBC5911-EEAF-4A2C-A6CC-BB04DBDBEE79.jpeg3F940718-FE43-4D3B-A377-CB15937E6550.jpeg42A9A1E2-50A4-4E78-A8C3-1839C59606E1.jpeg
        You wana look waaay far up da road and plan yer route because the brakes are far more of a suggestion than a command!

        Comment


        • Mark Maron
          Mark Maron commented
          Editing a comment
          i have used to for years and this is the first i have heard of anyone having an issue with that, you fix is a good one but puzzles me why the problem..

        • DaWizard
          DaWizard commented
          Editing a comment
          That short shaft simply stuck to the advance unit and raised it up out of the sleeve.

      • #7
        Timing TIP# 927

        SHUCKS, You can set your TIMING & do minor re-adjustments, By EAR!!!
        1 Spark UP, it should have a SMOOTH, RYTHMICAL sound, like TADA-TADA-TADA-TADA.
        2 Spark half down, it should have a FASTER, SMOOTH idle.
        3 Spark full down, it should have an even FASTER, but "ROLLING" idle.
        If you have ALL these, it's PERFECT & don't DIDDLE with it!!
        LATER, if your point gap decreases, just gap them properly & it'll be back PERFECT, again!
        AND, remember, MODEL As DON'T "JUMP" TIMING, unless the cam screw is LOOSE!!!
        There's been PAGES & PAGES written about the "mystery" of settin' timing, it's NO BIG DEAL!!
        Merry Christmasto ALL!
        KDad

        Comment


        • tbirdtbird
          tbirdtbird commented
          Editing a comment
          Bill, did you used to be a tap dancer ....TADA-TADA-TADA-TADA,
          Dave

        • Mitch
          Mitch commented
          Editing a comment
          Dad loves wearing Tutu’s

          SA K-sssooooon

        • BILL WILLIAMSON
          BILL WILLIAMSON commented
          Editing a comment
          Smart Assed Kid, Mitch, I'm a gonna' GIT YOU, BAD!!!---If you gonna' be a TURD, go lay in the BACK Yard!!!
          Ticked KDad

      • #8
        A fabulous timing video!

        Good morning everyone,

        A Happy Easter to you and your families.

        I have been watching various forums over the years and one thing that keeps popping up is setting the ignition timing on Model A's. Perhaps partly because it is often difficult to visualise the instructions when written down. I know I prefer to watch someone do something rather than try and follow a text.

        So over the last week I have put together a short video that hopefully might help new owners to set their cars running as they should be. Please see the link below:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OECApxvMMLI

        If you have any comments please let me know your thoughts.

        Tony


        Original Thread link

        Comment


        • H. L. Chauvin
          H. L. Chauvin commented
          Editing a comment
          Hi Tony,

          Thanks for taking your valuable time to share this detailed video in response to this often asked question by so many after their acquiring their first Model A.

          I always found that past Model A Forum written suggested Model A timing appears similar to different chefs writing different recipes for making soup .... similar recipes ...... and/or entirely different recipes ...... where no two (2) are exactly the same ........... but in the end, the good chefs still produce a satisfying meal.

          Happy Easter also to you and your family; <et Joyeuses Pâques à tous vos voisins!>

        • JDupuis
          JDupuis commented
          Editing a comment
          Happy Easter Tony, love the VFF button. Great video! Thanks for sharing with the world this valuable knowledge.
          Jeff

        • GoldstandardX
          GoldstandardX commented
          Editing a comment
          Hi Tony, thank you for taking the time to create such a detailed video. Very professional including the VFF Pin!

      • #9
        An easy way to understand backlash and it's effects on timing.

        Original Thread


        Thanks Paul for your amazing animated site
        http://modelabasics.com/Ignition.htm

        9.Remove the cap and rotor. Loosen cam locking screw until the cam can be turned. Note: A cam wrench can be purchased from one of the Model A venders, makes the job easier.

        10. Replace rotor and/or use the cam wrench to turn and line up the notch in the cam with the No1 contact point on distributor head.

        11. Remove rotor and/or wrench from cam and using your fingers slightly turn the cam in a counter clockwise direction, until the breaker points are fully opened.

        12.Slowly turn the cam back in a clockwise direction until the points just close.
        13. Lock the cam by securely tightening the cam locking screw. This method removes the backlash in the distributor shaft from affecting the timing.

        14.Turn on the ignition and with your fingers twist the cam counter clockwise. With the slightestmovement the points should spark. If it does not spark retime.

        Final check with the ignition on pull the spark advance lever down one or two notches and listen and/or have someone watch for a spark from the points. If the lever moves more then three notches retime.


        Make sure the spark lever is in the full retard position when setting
















        3 ~ Tudor's
        Henry Ford said
        "It's all nuts and bolts"


        Mitch's Auto Service ctr

        Comment


        • #10
          Hands off!!!

          A good trick to remember is that once you get the timing set dead-on, you never have to change it again, all that needs to be done is to monitor your point gap as the rubbing block wears. Just re-set the points periodically, and the timing will go right back to where it is supposed to be. Timing and point gap are closely inter-related.

          Sometimes you read of people struggling with their motors you see repeatedly, "and I re-timed it again and again and again and it still wouldn't run right" or similar. No need for that, time it once and move on

          So in reality, the stock system is quite easy to maintain. And the tungsten surface of the points will last a good long time. Good idea to use distributor cam lube (just a thin coating, such as a silicone grease) to reduce rubbing block wear. There have been some that said to use motor oil but it will just be flung off and contaminate everything, you need something heat resistant

          Comment


          • DaWizard
            DaWizard commented
            Editing a comment
            Just another small tip. When you put the new rotor on and shove it down to seat on the cam, check that it does not rub on the points. I have found that the depth of the hole in the rotor has been too deep and rubs on the points causing the engine to run strangely.

          • tbirdtbird
            tbirdtbird commented
            Editing a comment
            Good to know, Wiz

          • Mitch
            Mitch commented
            Editing a comment
            I heard reports of that before, thanks for the reminder

        • #11
          With a 6.1 BF head, we've had to retard the timing just a minor fraction with the test light method connected to the points arm. Also, a mirror helps as a secondary check to insure the timing gear indent is centered in the cover hole.

          Comment


          • #12
            Another decent timing thread
            3 ~ Tudor's
            Henry Ford said
            "It's all nuts and bolts"


            Mitch's Auto Service ctr

            Comment


            • #13
              Timing gear alignment VS timing pin alignment

              Removing the mystery

              https://www.vintagefordforum.com/for...132#post168132
              3 ~ Tudor's
              Henry Ford said
              "It's all nuts and bolts"


              Mitch's Auto Service ctr

              Comment


              • #14
                B0EF8D48-F4B6-4048-A819-FBAB70E5EFD7.jpeg
                3 ~ Tudor's
                Henry Ford said
                "It's all nuts and bolts"


                Mitch's Auto Service ctr

                Comment


                • #15
                  An example of late timing!



                  image_29093.jpg
                  3 ~ Tudor's
                  Henry Ford said
                  "It's all nuts and bolts"


                  Mitch's Auto Service ctr

                  Comment


                  • #16
                    Original Thread

                    I know these procedures have been beat to death. This was included in one of the Steve Wastler lots so I am sharing it. It was handed out at a Hershey, PA timing seminar in 2009. (timing for power ~ saving the babbitt) I will add it to our other timing topics thread in the performance / tune-up technical forum.
                    https://www.vintagefordforum.com/for...x-advance-info
                    Yes it looks like brother Steve may have spilled coffee on it




                    Scan0266.jpgScan0267.jpg
                    Attached Files
                    3 ~ Tudor's
                    Henry Ford said
                    "It's all nuts and bolts"


                    Mitch's Auto Service ctr

                    Comment


                    • #17
                      52CD1256-44E7-4ACA-AB27-4599E51C13FC.jpeg
                      3 ~ Tudor's
                      Henry Ford said
                      "It's all nuts and bolts"


                      Mitch's Auto Service ctr

                      Comment


                      • #18
                        Nurex Advance Technical Thread link
                        3 ~ Tudor's
                        Henry Ford said
                        "It's all nuts and bolts"


                        Mitch's Auto Service ctr

                        Comment

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