Author Topic: setting initial timing advance  (Read 447 times)

mygt350

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 202
  • Continuous caretaker of 5S228 since May 1967
    • View Profile
setting initial timing advance
« on: May 17, 2020, 06:03:16 PM »
Have a 351 Windsor that I am putting a MSD distributor in.

Have heard two different ways to set initial advance. One is ensure number one piston is on compression stroke by examining both rockers to ensure the valves are closed. Also check to see if TDC mark on balancer matches timing marker. Rotate engine until pointer is set to zero which is Top Dead Center (TDC) then stab distributor so that rotor pointer is close to where number one plug wire is attached to cap. However, you should be able to install distributor wherever you chose and simply rewire cap accordingly. cap can be rotated to get close to rotor button.

The other method is to set timing 10-15 degrees before TDC and stab distributor with rotor button pointing to where you want number one plug wire to go.. Number one plug wire can be anywhere on cap as long as correct firing order is maintained.

So, if I set it to 0 (TDC) and rotate cap to get 12 BTDC at idle or I set it to 12 BTDC then fire it up, results are same, I get 12 BTDC. Still need to adjust cap to ensure whatever initial idle I want is achieved.

So how do the timing experts install a mechanical advance distributor to get proper initial advance????

351 Windsor stroked to 408 with Crane roller, MSD distributor and Crane box.

Martin
5S228
Continuous caretaker of 5S228 since May 1967

The Going Thing

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 614
    • View Profile
Re: setting initial timing advance
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2020, 06:17:45 PM »
It doesn't matter what distributor you're using. You don't set initial leads. You need to be assured you're on the compression stroke at TDC.  If you're using a reproduction or original cap there should be a 1 on the cap.  Mark the top edge of the distributor housing with a sharpie dead-center where the terminal in the cap would be and you're good to go.  You set the initial with the car running.   
I drilled out the #1  terminal hole out and when I drop the distributor you can visually also verify exactly where the rotor is in the cap.

mygt350

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 202
  • Continuous caretaker of 5S228 since May 1967
    • View Profile
Re: setting initial timing advance
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2020, 06:27:29 PM »
It is a MSD distributor and cap does not have any marking to designate number one. But I set balancer at zero (TDC) on compression stroke. removed dizzy cap and dropped it in so that rotor was very close to where I wanted number one wire to be on cap. About 11 position on cap. Then, placed a scribe against pointer and marked where other end hit intake runner. Holding the scribe in place, set cap on distributor and rotated base until plug wire terminal for number one was perfectly aligned with edge of scribe.
Would drill a cap to visually see things, but I done have a spare MSD cap.
So I am correct to set balancer to TDB on timing tab and drop distributor so that pointer is really close to number one and rotate base go get it spot on?
Martin
Continuous caretaker of 5S228 since May 1967

Bob Gaines

  • SAAC Member
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 3754
  • Original Posts:14706
    • View Profile
Re: setting initial timing advance
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2020, 06:32:15 PM »
Have a 351 Windsor that I am putting a MSD distributor in.

Have heard two different ways to set initial advance. One is ensure number one piston is on compression stroke by examining both rockers to ensure the valves are closed. Also check to see if TDC mark on balancer matches timing marker. Rotate engine until pointer is set to zero which is Top Dead Center (TDC) then stab distributor so that rotor pointer is close to where number one plug wire is attached to cap. However, you should be able to install distributor wherever you chose and simply rewire cap accordingly. cap can be rotated to get close to rotor button.

The other method is to set timing 10-15 degrees before TDC and stab distributor with rotor button pointing to where you want number one plug wire to go.. Number one plug wire can be anywhere on cap as long as correct firing order is maintained.

So, if I set it to 0 (TDC) and rotate cap to get 12 BTDC at idle or I set it to 12 BTDC then fire it up, results are same, I get 12 BTDC. Still need to adjust cap to ensure whatever initial idle I want is achieved.

So how do the timing experts install a mechanical advance distributor to get proper initial advance????

351 Windsor stroked to 408 with Crane roller, MSD distributor and Crane box.

Martin
5S228
I am far from a timing expert but have done this so many times I have lost count. Is watching the rocker arms a good way of doing it ? Sure ,but  I put a finger or thumb over number 1 spark plug empty hole to determine compression stroke that way you don't have to pull a valve cover to look at rocker arms just the # 1 spark plug. Next rotate/bump engine to ether 0 or the initial advance setting . It isn't far when you are bumping the engine.  That is when you drop the dist in the proper clocked position or whatever modified one if so inclined.That position of course corresponds with the rotor in firing position under the #1 wire. It is good to have a oilpump priming tool handy because you sometimes have to move the hex drive of the oilpump a bit so that the bottom of the dist lines up with the drive so that the two mesh when dropped in.  Others apply pressure to the dist by pushing down on the top as the engine cranks so as to force it to mesh. I don't like that method but to each his own. I have never gotten the dist in perfect position to the point that it didn't need some further tweaking to be set at the proper initial advance. I do that after the engine starts with a timing light. On track engines the dampener is typically fully degreed (R model/TA)or have timing tape added to the dampener so as to confirm proper advance. On show cars I just do the initial timing set with a timing light because the dist and its advance curve have been checked on a machine when the dist was restored. Don't forget to erase the white timing mark on a show engine as that would warrant at least a mention of irregularity on a judging sheet.     
« Last Edit: May 17, 2020, 06:36:22 PM by Bob Gaines »
Bob Gaines,Shelby Enthusiast, Shelby Collector , Shelby Concours judge SAAC,MCA,Mid America Shelby

The Going Thing

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 614
    • View Profile
Re: setting initial timing advance
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2020, 06:38:53 PM »
Have a 351 Windsor that I am putting a MSD distributor in.

Have heard two different ways to set initial advance. One is ensure number one piston is on compression stroke by examining both rockers to ensure the valves are closed. Also check to see if TDC mark on balancer matches timing marker. Rotate engine until pointer is set to zero which is Top Dead Center (TDC) then stab distributor so that rotor pointer is close to where number one plug wire is attached to cap. However, you should be able to install distributor wherever you chose and simply rewire cap accordingly. cap can be rotated to get close to rotor button.

The other method is to set timing 10-15 degrees before TDC and stab distributor with rotor button pointing to where you want number one plug wire to go.. Number one plug wire can be anywhere on cap as long as correct firing order is maintained.

So, if I set it to 0 (TDC) and rotate cap to get 12 BTDC at idle or I set it to 12 BTDC then fire it up, results are same, I get 12 BTDC. Still need to adjust cap to ensure whatever initial idle I want is achieved.

So how do the timing experts install a mechanical advance distributor to get proper initial advance????

351 Windsor stroked to 408 with Crane roller, MSD distributor and Crane box.

Martin
5S228
I am far from a timing expert but have done this so many times I have lost count. Is watching the rocker arms a good way of doing it ? Sure ,but  I put a finger or thumb over number 1 spark plug empty hole to determine compression stroke that way you don't have to pull a valve cover to look at rocker arms just the # 1 spark plug. Next rotate/bump engine to ether 0 or the initial advance setting . It isn't far when you are bumping the engine.  That is when you drop the dist in the proper clocked position or whatever modified one if so inclined.That position of course corresponds with the rotor in firing position under the #1 wire. It is good to have a oilpump priming tool handy because you sometimes have to move the hex drive of the oilpump a bit so that the bottom of the dist lines up with the drive so that the two mesh when dropped in.  Others apply pressure to the dist by pushing down on the top as the engine cranks so as to force it to mesh. I don't like that method but to each his own. I have never gotten the dist in perfect position to the point that it didn't need some further tweaking to be set at the proper initial advance. I do that after the engine starts with a trimming light. On track engines the dampener is typically fully degreed (R model/TA)or have timing tape added to the dampener so as to confirm proper advance. On show cars I just do the initial timing set with a timing light because the dist and its advance curve have been checked on a machine when the dist was restored. Don't forget to erase the white timing mark on a show engine as that would warrant at least a mention of irregularity on a judging sheet.   

To add to Bob's if you're dropping the distributor and it doesn't seat, pull it back out, use a long 1/4 extension and  socket to turn the oil pump drive just a tiny bit and drop it again. That is what keeps it from seating, don't bump it to drop it in. There's no need. P.S. Tape the socket on the extension so it doesn't come off.

Bob Gaines

  • SAAC Member
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 3754
  • Original Posts:14706
    • View Profile
Re: setting initial timing advance
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2020, 06:47:52 PM »
Have a 351 Windsor that I am putting a MSD distributor in.

Have heard two different ways to set initial advance. One is ensure number one piston is on compression stroke by examining both rockers to ensure the valves are closed. Also check to see if TDC mark on balancer matches timing marker. Rotate engine until pointer is set to zero which is Top Dead Center (TDC) then stab distributor so that rotor pointer is close to where number one plug wire is attached to cap. However, you should be able to install distributor wherever you chose and simply rewire cap accordingly. cap can be rotated to get close to rotor button.

The other method is to set timing 10-15 degrees before TDC and stab distributor with rotor button pointing to where you want number one plug wire to go.. Number one plug wire can be anywhere on cap as long as correct firing order is maintained.

So, if I set it to 0 (TDC) and rotate cap to get 12 BTDC at idle or I set it to 12 BTDC then fire it up, results are same, I get 12 BTDC. Still need to adjust cap to ensure whatever initial idle I want is achieved.

So how do the timing experts install a mechanical advance distributor to get proper initial advance????

351 Windsor stroked to 408 with Crane roller, MSD distributor and Crane box.

Martin
5S228
I am far from a timing expert but have done this so many times I have lost count. Is watching the rocker arms a good way of doing it ? Sure ,but  I put a finger or thumb over number 1 spark plug empty hole to determine compression stroke that way you don't have to pull a valve cover to look at rocker arms just the # 1 spark plug. Next rotate/bump engine to ether 0 or the initial advance setting . It isn't far when you are bumping the engine.  That is when you drop the dist in the proper clocked position or whatever modified one if so inclined.That position of course corresponds with the rotor in firing position under the #1 wire. It is good to have a oilpump priming tool handy because you sometimes have to move the hex drive of the oilpump a bit so that the bottom of the dist lines up with the drive so that the two mesh when dropped in. Others apply pressure to the dist by pushing down on the top as the engine cranks so as to force it to mesh. I don't like that method but to each his own. I have never gotten the dist in perfect position to the point that it didn't need some further tweaking to be set at the proper initial advance. I do that after the engine starts with a trimming light. On track engines the dampener is typically fully degreed (R model/TA)or have timing tape added to the dampener so as to confirm proper advance. On show cars I just do the initial timing set with a timing light because the dist and its advance curve have been checked on a machine when the dist was restored. Don't forget to erase the white timing mark on a show engine as that would warrant at least a mention of irregularity on a judging sheet.   

To add to Bob's if you're dropping the distributor and it doesn't seat, pull it back out, use a long 1/4 extension and  socket to turn the oil pump drive just a tiny bit and drop it again. That is what keeps it from seating, don't bump it to drop it in. There's no need. P.S. Tape the socket on the extension so it doesn't come off.
I suppose there is no harm in repeating but what you described is what is commonly referred to as a oil pump priming tool.I would only use a socket on a extension as a last resort even taped on ,but that is just me.
Bob Gaines,Shelby Enthusiast, Shelby Collector , Shelby Concours judge SAAC,MCA,Mid America Shelby

mygt350

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 202
  • Continuous caretaker of 5S228 since May 1967
    • View Profile
Re: setting initial timing advance
« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2020, 07:26:51 PM »
TDC on balancer is pointing directly at timing marker plate and its on compression stroke. Have distributor clocked and fully seated with rotor button pointing directly at number one terminal on cap and it will not begin to start. Have to rotate cap almost 2 inches clockwise before it begins to run and kinds idle. Something else is really wrong. When it runs, it actually sounds pretty good. No misfire, burps or anything. And I moved distributor enough to cause significant misfire...

Calling frickin wrecker and drag the bitch to a local shop...or car lot...
Continuous caretaker of 5S228 since May 1967

shelbydoug

  • SAAC Member
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2905
    • View Profile
Re: setting initial timing advance
« Reply #7 on: May 17, 2020, 09:26:20 PM »
Two things.

1) you need a power timing light. One that fires without the engine running. Not all do.
Hook it up, put a remote starter switch on the starter solinoid. S terminal on one lead, other lead goes to terminal with the red wire from the + terminal of the battery.

Chalk the 12 degree advance notch on the balancer.

Turn the ignition on. Turn the engine over remotely and turn the distributor until the flash and chalk mark line up.

2) to set the distributor to the oil pump drive shaft, snug up the lock down bolt on the distributor. Turn the engine over with the remote switch. The drive and distributor will align themselves and the distributor will drop down into position.


In addition, the right way to set initial timing is with a vacuum gauge.

How you do that is connect a vacuum gauge to a vacuum source on the intake manifold. Run the engine.

Advance the distributor until the vacuum stops rising. At that point lock down the distributor. Note the measured advance.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2020, 06:33:49 AM by shelbydoug »

Greg

  • SAAC Member
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 658
    • View Profile
Re: setting initial timing advance
« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2020, 07:26:05 AM »
One last thing, after you break in the cam, pull the spark plugs and look at them for a lean or rich condition. 
Shelby's and Fords from Day 1

The Going Thing

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 614
    • View Profile
Re: setting initial timing advance
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2020, 09:06:26 PM »
The 12" 1/4" extension with the socket works perfectly. The nice thing about using the extension is you can chuck up a 1/4" adapter in the drill chuck and run it. My Dewalt put ad it up to 80LB with no issue.

mygt350

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 202
  • Continuous caretaker of 5S228 since May 1967
    • View Profile
Re: setting initial timing advance
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2020, 10:44:31 PM »
This was a running engine when put in garage with clutch fluid issues. I have pulled pass side cover to watch both valves and when they are closed, bumped starter just a small bit to get it at 0 and at 12BTDC.  put pointer at number 1 with wires going correctly. It will not run, it will not even burp. I have to rotate cap clockwise 45 degrees before it runs at all. With that much cap rotation, it should have spit and pop with that much turning. This is same distributor that was in engine last 7 years. Have set it up at least 10 times and each time, I have to move cap 45 degrees before it half ass runs. Have installed lot of distributors in my time, but I do not understand what's going on here.
Continuous caretaker of 5S228 since May 1967

The Going Thing

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 614
    • View Profile
Re: setting initial timing advance
« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2020, 12:55:25 AM »
Don't do the old two or three notches and bump it over. The only reason you can't push it down it because the hex on the oil pump drive isn't lined up.
Rotate the drive shaft as I suggested just a tiny bit at a time The distributor rotates counter-clockwise when it's running as well. 15426378. If someone used a 351 W cam you'll have to change the firing order to the 351.  Manually rotate the engine with your thumb over the plug hole until it pushes air out. Keep rotating in that direction until it's on O/TDC.  Set the distributor in and push it down until it seats and is dead center on the mark I told you to make for #1 on the top edge of the distributor. It'll be dead nuts on TDC and #1 cap contact. You'll be able to get it to start and set the timing. The old drop it in and bump it is a pain in the ass and you'll wind up doing it many times before you get it, or start throwing tools.

Greg

  • SAAC Member
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 658
    • View Profile
Re: setting initial timing advance
« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2020, 07:29:18 AM »
This was a running engine when put in garage with clutch fluid issues. I have pulled pass side cover to watch both valves and when they are closed, bumped starter just a small bit to get it at 0 and at 12BTDC.  put pointer at number 1 with wires going correctly. It will not run, it will not even burp. I have to rotate cap clockwise 45 degrees before it runs at all. With that much cap rotation, it should have spit and pop with that much turning. This is same distributor that was in engine last 7 years. Have set it up at least 10 times and each time, I have to move cap 45 degrees before it half ass runs. Have installed lot of distributors in my time, but I do not understand what's going on here.

Take a minute and a breath, walk away from it for a day then start over.  Take all the wires off, take the distributor back out.  Make sure you aren't 180 out as that is very easy to do.  Use a 1/2 drive and long breaker bar ratchet and rotate the engine by hand with your finger in the #1 spark plug hole to make sure you are on compression.  Make sure the wires are counter clockwise from 1, you will see something silly holding you up but frustration only adds to the problem. 
Shelby's and Fords from Day 1