can i set timing without a timing light?

Discussion in '40- & 55-Series Tech' started by bad_religion_au, May 19, 2006.

  1. like the heading says, are there any ways to set my ignition timing without a timing light?
  2. okie

    okie

    Messages:
    1,456
    Location:
    The West
    ya ... but i forgot how. Im takign a stab in the dark but there are timing numbers on the block or something on the passenger side and you move the arrow to a certain point. I saw a guy up at custom cruisers do it to my fj in like 4 seconds and she cranked right up.

    sorry i dunno the specifics.
  3. azlar

    azlar

    Messages:
    72
    Location:
    Tucson AZ
    You can set the static timing, if you have points. VW guys do it all the time. But you can't dial in any distro advance and I don't think it would work with electronic ignitions.

    I'll go find my books and post the procedure.

    L
  4. treerootCO

    treerootCO Where are my keys?! SILVER Star

    Messages:
    3,149
    Location:
    Wheat Ridge CO
    Does your 40 have a skinny radio antenna?....crap what do they call those in AU?......mast?

    If the truck runs....set the idle to approx 750 and rotate the distributor back and forth until the radio antenna, aka radio aerial, makes really small circles in the air. Close enough to 7degrees at that point. ;)

    edit....had to google my US to AU :D Radio Aerial

    Non running, you need to static time the engine. Rotate the engine to TDC or 7degrees on the compression stroke. FSM will show what cylinder the rotor should be pointing at. With the ignition in the on position, ground the #1 spark plug and rotate the distributor until the plug sparks. Rotate the dist back to just before you heard the spark and tighten everything down. Should fire right up.
    Last edited: May 19, 2006
  5. hi50phd

    hi50phd

    Messages:
    77
    Location:
    Salty City
    If you have points and the truck starts: with the engine running, advance the distributor until the idle does not increase, rotate it back and forth a couple of times to make sure you have the no-increase point. Then, retard it a "bit". Turn the engine off, restart it, and if you're on, it won't do the too-advanced-hesitation. If it does, retard it a "bit" more. And so forth.

    We used to call this "timing by ear" and was useful when you had neither a timing light nor a tachometer.
  6. cruiser88

    cruiser88

    Messages:
    11,888
    Location:
    WV
    got a good ear:D give her a go
  7. honk

    honk

    Messages:
    2,656
    Location:
    NW
    Turn the engine to the timing mark you want: be sure the rotor is pointing at the #1 plug wire connector (inside distributor) if it's not, turn the engine until the mark comes back; connect a test light between ground and the coil negative terminal; rotate the distributor clockwise until the light goes out; then turn the distributor counterclockwise until the light just lights. Tighten the distributor.


    (it's been quite a while. I THINK this will do it, but I'm not entirely positive about it without doing it again)
  8. Cruiserdrew

    Cruiserdrew SILVER Star

    Messages:
    11,952
    Location:
    Sacramento, CA
    Back in the day, we set VWs by ear all the time. Once it's running (get the static timing right and it will) advance the timing to the point just below where it pings under full throttle load. It works, but a timing light costs $20 at Harbor Freight and is easier to do in the driveway.
  9. Rice

    Rice SILVER Star

    Messages:
    1,078
    Location:
    GSO NC
    Can also be set using engine vacuum. With a vacuum gauge on the intake advance until you reach maximum vacuum, then back off just a touch.
  10. CruisinGA

    CruisinGA

    Messages:
    6,152
    Location:
    Georgia Tech
    I set mine by vacuum like Rice said.
  11. ok

    1. which way do i turn to advance?

    2. what is the too-advanced- hesitation

    3. i played with it... i actually have low down torque back. but the thing refuses to rev over 3000rpm in second or 3rd (will do it in first tho)

  12. hi50phd

    hi50phd

    Messages:
    77
    Location:
    Salty City
    Advance: the direction which increases RPM.

    The hesitation: you turn the key, the engine turns over slowly 1-2 times. You will hear an initial sound (almost-going-to-start sound), as if you have a weak/dying battery. The starter may or may not spin the engine fast enough to start the engine, depending on how much advance you have.

    If you can rev in 1st, but not higher gears, it may not be an improperly timed distributor.

    Jump in, anyone.

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