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#94894 - 03/14/03 06:51 PM Tech Article- Classic Timing Mod- FREE! extra HP
Cowman Offline
The allmighty Cow
Grand Poobah

Registered: 07/13/02
Posts: 11962
Loc: Cheese Land
You may have seen some of those e-bay ads with the "timing mod" that supposedly gives you 20hp on your fuel injected vehicle. You may also be aware that it's just a cheap resistor that sends false mass air flow readings to the computer. It's a good bet these things don't work. In fact, it's possible they can even cause you problems. The distributorless 4.6 modder who wants to adjust his timing is pretty much limited to spending lots of $ on a chip or some other sort of computer modification.

But what about us folks with distributor ignition engines? Heh, we've got it easy. Got a wrench? Good, that's all you need. You can adjust your timing in minutes for free. Interested?

The folks who will get the most out of this are people with carburated engines with no computer controls. Still, it should work on an EFI 5.0 too.

Run the engine until it is up to normal operating tempterature.
Pop your hood, find your distributor. Look down the shaft to where it goes inside the engine, you should notice a bolt holding down a piece of metal that is pushing on the distributor. This is a clamp, it keeps your distributor from turning. Here's a pic of my 460's distributor with an arrow pointing to the clamp.



You need to loosen the bolt, just enough so that the distributor can turn freely, this usually isnt much more than breaking it loose. On some cars, the bolt might be hard to get at. On mine a standard 1/2" wrench will do it but it barely fits. There are specialy curved wrenches available for just this purpose though. Make sure all vaccum lines are connected or plugged.
NOTE: If you were using a timing light and you had a vehicle that had a vaccum line connected to the distributor, you would remove that line and plug it. However, the method I am explaing here does not require a timing light and you need to leave all vaccum lines hooked up for it to work properly.

WARNING: the next part of this procedure must be done with the engine running. Be very careful around the fan and belts. Don't wear any jewlery or loose clothing. Also, just keep in mind that the engine is warm and the metal parts are going to be hot so you want to avoid touching them. But, if you do, don't feel too stupid. It happens.

Additional Note: It might be helpful to put a mark on the distributor so that if your new timing doesn't work out you will be able to find the old position.

Start the engine and let it run at idle. Grab the distributor and slowly rotate it. I know on most Ford V8s, rotating it clockwise will advance the timing, which is what you want for performance. Other engines may be different. If you start rotating the thing clockwise and the engine slows down or runs rough then just turn it the other way .
Your goal here is to rotate the distributor until the engine is running fastest. You can do this by listening to it, or if you have a tach and somone to watch it for you do it that way. Once you find your motor's "sweet spot" shut it off and tighten the bolt back down, being careful not to move the distributor while doing so.

Take your car for a test drive. Listen to your engine run carefuly. If you are getting any pinging or backfiring then you've advanced the timing too far. Go home, retard it a little, then try again.

isn't that easy?
On my 460, I was able to advance my timing quite a bit with no consequences and a decent gain in power and acceleration.

Disclaimer:
Your results may vary. Neither I nor CVN will be held responsible for any injuries or for any damage to your vehicle.
_________________________
The pessimist looks at government and says "This is awful, we can't possibly do any worse", the optimist replies "Yes, we can".

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#94895 - 03/22/03 07:31 PM Re: Tech Article- Classic Timing Mod- FREE! extra HP
rea98d Offline
Over the Hill

Registered: 03/20/01
Posts: 1741
What's this do for fuel economy?
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1978 Mercury Grand Marquis (Running Again!)
1993 Mercury Grand Marquis

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#94896 - 04/23/03 03:10 PM Re: Tech Article- Classic Timing Mod- FREE! extra
mephistopheles Offline
Climber

Registered: 01/08/03
Posts: 706
Fuel economy? What fuel economy??
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2) The population is growing.
3) Intelligence is not being spread evenly over the growing population.

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#94897 - 04/23/03 07:23 PM Re: Tech Article- Classic Timing Mod- FREE! extra HP
SteveS Offline
Administrator
Posting Addict

Registered: 05/16/01
Posts: 16459
Loc: Groveland, MA
It is very risky to grab the distributor, especially if your nuts are anywhere near anything metal... You can get one Hell of a shock just where you don't want one. I used to leave my distributor hold down just a little loose, and adjust it by tapping on the advance unit with a mallet. Whatever you do, use the advance to adjust it, not the distributor cap.

Engines of your vintage were always retarded... It was an easy way to reduce emissions. One can usually advance the spark quite a bit beyond the specified value.
_________________________
Steve
**Boston SmartTraveler road unit 473**


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#94898 - 04/23/03 09:55 PM Re: Tech Article- Classic Timing Mod- FREE! extra
Cowman Offline
The allmighty Cow
Grand Poobah

Registered: 07/13/02
Posts: 11962
Loc: Cheese Land
hmm.... that's a good point. if you have really old wires that you're not sure about (like my old ones that had 1977 stamped on them) it might be a good idea to replace those wires with something with reliable insulation. Actually if you have stock wires and plugs in something as old as a barge it's not a bad idea to replace them anyway.
_________________________
The pessimist looks at government and says "This is awful, we can't possibly do any worse", the optimist replies "Yes, we can".

They don't make 'em like they used to..

Interested in a REAL Full-Size car? Try The Classics Forum

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#94899 - 04/25/03 12:44 PM Re: Tech Article- Classic Timing Mod- FREE! extra HP
p71towny Offline
Over the Hill

Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 1751
Loc: Ft. Wayne IN
I dont recommend advancing it until it idles the fastest. I usually have a buddy hold the brake and throw it in reverse, then bump the rpm to around 2,500-3,000 and advance to where it speeds up all the way and then back it down a hair. Before I did this I would usually get ping at WOT but this usually eliminates this.
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1995 Town Car, flowmaster 50's, gutted cats, gutted evap system, cold air tube, MMairbox & 80mm maf, K&N air filter, DR chip, 180 thermostat, 22pp plugs, Steeda underdrive pulleys w/gatorback belt, transgo shift kit, cross-drilled rotors w/performance friction pads, addco swaybars front and rear, poly bushings, edelbrock IAS shocks all around, deleted mechanical fan, Kenwood MP4028 w/kenwood 6x9's and 6x8's and more to come

1982 Crown Vic LTD 2dr No air pump or cats, cragar ss's, dual exhaust, tach, volt, oil, temp gauges.

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#94900 - 04/28/03 06:50 AM Re: Tech Article- Classic Timing Mod- FREE! extra
Mr_pogo Offline
Over the Hill

Registered: 07/14/01
Posts: 1601
Just a couple of things that may or may not help.

I dont know if they are still made but we used to use distributor advance kits, came with replacement weights and springs for the centrifugal advance. You would mix/match the parts to get the best performance without pinging.
One other sign of base ignition timing advanced too far is hard cranking, sounds as if the starter is fighting engine compression. Not really a prob on stock smog motors back then but I remember some performance cam grinds could aggravate this.

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#94901 - 05/09/03 09:52 AM Re: Tech Article- Classic Timing Mod- FREE! extra HP
oldmopars Offline
Member

Registered: 12/06/02
Posts: 117
Loc: Yelm Wa
???????
Has anyone here heard of an inductive timing light?
They are easy to use, fairly cheap for a basic unit and saves time and damage to your engine. Each engine is different, you need to know what the factory setting is, then advance from there. Its best to bump it up in 2 deg increments untill you get a ping and then back off to the last setting.
I do not like the "touchy-feely" mode of timing an engine.
BTW, advanced timing will help increase the mileage.
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1990 Ford Counrty Squire Wagon (gone)
1991 Mercury Grand Marquis
1991 Ford Crown Victoria
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#94902 - 05/09/03 05:55 PM Re: Tech Article- Classic Timing Mod- FREE! extra HP
Kinger87 Offline

Poobah

Registered: 12/15/02
Posts: 7624
Loc: Gladstone MI
LOL yea I tried the touch feely method on my brothers caprice...major pingage or major lack of acceleration. Got a timin light, set the timing, and voila, no pinging, good acceleration.
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#94903 - 07/14/03 09:36 PM Re: Tech Article- Classic Timing Mod- FREE! extra HP
Big_Bad_Joe Offline

Poobah

Registered: 12/12/01
Posts: 8467
Loc: Rochester NY
Adjusting the timing without a timing light is ridiculous.. nobody does that.... there is no such thing as feel...

maybe 50 years ago.. but not your car Cowman.. get a timing light.. then ask a local ford guy or someone on here where to start with that 460 Ford of yours and adjust it from there....

Didn't you put a cam and pistons in that bad boy and a new intake on it? You need to set the timing properly...

_________________________
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#94904 - 07/14/03 10:37 PM Re: Tech Article- Classic Timing Mod- FREE! extra
Cowman Offline
The allmighty Cow
Grand Poobah

Registered: 07/13/02
Posts: 11962
Loc: Cheese Land
I have a timing light already, and back when the car was stock I set the timing to stock with the timing light(actually it didn't really need adjustment IIRC. At that time the car could barely chirp the tires from a stoplight on an average day. I advanced the timing by light with a slight improvement but nothing big. Then I had a friend show me the adjusting by ear thing... we tried that and there was a very noticable improvement off the line, top end was just as good as before if not better, and MPG remained the same. No knocking, no pinging. I would call that good results. You need to realize a couple of things about mid-late 70s and some early 80s ford ignitions:

1. Most of them were running in older engines that were designed for points type ignitions and no polution controls. When the EPA started putting the pressure on, Ford simply adapted their old designs to meet regulations. One of the big things they did to the 460(and other motors) was to retard the ignition timing and the valve timing quite a bit. This gives you less emissions from the tailpipe but it lowers performance.

2. While it's not inacurate to say that my car has a computer in it, it's not much of one. There is a module on the fender , and a sensor in the distributor. It is little more than a replacement for points that were used in the early 460. The sensor consists of a wheel on the distributor shaft with 8 blades on it, and a pickup that it spins next to. When a blade passes by the pickup it sends an analog signal to the ignition module, which simply triggers the coil to fire a spark. A modern panther's ignition computer will adjust the timing based on temperature, O2 sensor readings, engine speed, engine load, and I'm sure a few other things. My computer does none of that. The timing is adjusted for engine load and engine speed but it's done mechanicaly with engine vaccum and a set of counterweights on the distributor shaft that operate using centrifugal force. If I wanted the headache I could go to a junkyard, pull the non-electronic points type distributor(similar to the ones used on 50 year old cars) out of a late 60's 460, drop it in, and it would work. The big advantage to the Duraspark II system over points is that you don't have to adjust/replace points all the time and since you have no contacts to burn out, you can run a hotter spark.

3. because of the way my advance adjust works, for a timing light to be accurate you have to be at idle, and you have to remove the vaccum line from the distributor and plug it so that the reading on the flywheel will be right. While you have the vaccum line unplugged the car runs like crap so there is no way to tell by ear what's going on. All you can do is set it by the numbers. The way I do it, you leave the vaccum line hooked up and the idle sounds right so you can actually hear the changes.

NOTE: I know on my truck with a 5.8l that there is no vaccum hookup for the advace, I imagine they eliminated the centrifugal counterweights too. I think that any of the engines using the thin film ignition module(the one that's mounted on the distributor) have a fully electronic advance system so in that case you would be correct, it's most likely best to set those with a light.
_________________________
The pessimist looks at government and says "This is awful, we can't possibly do any worse", the optimist replies "Yes, we can".

They don't make 'em like they used to..

Interested in a REAL Full-Size car? Try The Classics Forum

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#94905 - 07/14/03 10:42 PM Re: Tech Article- Classic Timing Mod- FREE! extra
Ronman® Offline
Metroplectic

Registered: 01/23/01
Posts: 30472
Loc: MCO
Not to brag, but I've set dozens of SBCs, 5.0s, 4.9s, 318s and 360s to +/- <2* by ear.
It is doable, you just gotta play with it a while. It's a neat party trick, too.
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Log off life.

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#94906 - 07/15/03 05:07 AM Re: Tech Article- Classic Timing Mod- FREE! extra HP
SmokinDave Offline
Over the Hill

Registered: 05/27/03
Posts: 1024
This article makes me miss my old '73 Torino. So easy to work on. The method you described brought back a lot of memories!

But what amazes me is how many members here talk about this like it's something they've never heard of. I remember the days when, if no timing light was available, it was common to tweak the timing by ear and even bump it up a bit, then use higher-octane gas to kill the pinging.
_________________________
"It's the end, the end of the 70's
It's the end, the end of the century"
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#94907 - 07/15/03 08:02 PM Re: Tech Article- Classic Timing Mod- FREE! extra HP
Ronman® Offline
Metroplectic

Registered: 01/23/01
Posts: 30472
Loc: MCO
Yep, my old man taught me well, Dave...
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#94908 - 07/15/03 09:26 PM Re: Tech Article- Classic Timing Mod- FREE! extra HP
SteveS Offline
Administrator
Posting Addict

Registered: 05/16/01
Posts: 16459
Loc: Groveland, MA
One can adjust the idle mixture by ear, or with a tachometer and a vacuum gauge. With a little experience, one can set the initial timing by ear and feel!
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Steve
**Boston SmartTraveler road unit 473**


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#94909 - 07/15/03 09:29 PM Re: Tech Article- Classic Timing Mod- FREE! extra HP
SteveS Offline
Administrator
Posting Addict

Registered: 05/16/01
Posts: 16459
Loc: Groveland, MA
Also, on several of my cars, I'd leave the distributor "hammer-tight." If I needed to make a slight adjustment, I'd give the distributor advance unit a little whack either way to fine tune it!
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Steve
**Boston SmartTraveler road unit 473**


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#94910 - 07/16/03 03:42 AM Re: Tech Article- Classic Timing Mod- FREE! extra HP
SmokinDave Offline
Over the Hill

Registered: 05/27/03
Posts: 1024
Quote:

Yep, my old man taught me well, Dave...




Sounds like it!
_________________________
"It's the end, the end of the 70's
It's the end, the end of the century"
-- The Ramones
"(Do You Remember) Rock 'n Roll Radio?"





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#94911 - 07/16/03 03:43 AM Re: Tech Article- Classic Timing Mod- FREE! extra HP
SmokinDave Offline
Over the Hill

Registered: 05/27/03
Posts: 1024
Quote:

Also, on several of my cars, I'd leave the distributor "hammer-tight." If I needed to make a slight adjustment, I'd give the distributor advance unit a little whack either way to fine tune it!





The "tap-tap" method. I remember it well.
_________________________
"It's the end, the end of the 70's
It's the end, the end of the century"
-- The Ramones
"(Do You Remember) Rock 'n Roll Radio?"





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#94912 - 07/21/03 06:16 AM Re: Tech Article- Classic Timing Mod- FREE! extra HP
FORDINATOR Offline
Over the Hill

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3876
most of my cars are done that way (not 4.6 of corse ). im never happy with anything so i just mess with things for sh1ts and gigles. i grew up in a junk yard this is how i learned to do everything ((by ear))

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#94913 - 08/18/03 01:31 PM Re: Tech Article- Classic Timing Mod- FREE! extra HP
Big_Bad_Joe Offline

Poobah

Registered: 12/12/01
Posts: 8467
Loc: Rochester NY
whatever

all i can say is if you take your car to a dynotune they will use the computer or timing lights to tell where its at... and work from there...

even the pros check it with a computer....

if you want to know for sure and get the most out of the car just use the damn light LOL.... they dont cost that much to buy for gods sake...

ps unless you adjust at the track where you can measure times or on a chassis dyno you wont know if its maxed anyway... SOTP is pretty good but the track/dyno is the better method... at least a good stopwatch or one of those Gtech thingies works

_________________________
2006 LX with HPPBlue, Light Camel Interior,Magnaflow Exhaust,PI Zip Tube
Underdrives from ADTR.net
Pioneer AVIC X930BT Nav system, JL xD400/4amp, JL Speakers, Audiovox backup camera
Given to DG in Ohio

2013 Ford Expedition Limited EL, Pearl White

2000 HPP RESURECTION RIP 8/17/2012 died in Dayton OH

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#94914 - 08/23/03 08:24 PM Re: Tech Article- Classic Timing Mod- FREE! extra HP
GoodSamaritan Offline
Over the Hill

Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 4847
Loc: Lawrenceburg, Ky
I have two timing lights. I never use them unless i am working on an efi car. On all the carbed stuff, I use the "by ear method". Of course it is ulually more complicated then turning it for the best idle and cinching it down. (unless you do have a late 70's 460 and then that is exactly what you do unless it is in a motor home)

The reason I have moved to this method is because I have had several cars that just werent running there best at the factory specs. I kept advancing them a few degrees at a time until I got pinging and then backed them off. I soon realized that I could get the same effect by making scribe marks on the dist and the retainer. So later I just ended up skipping the timing light altogether.

As for leaving the dist "hammer tight", my old 74 plymouth with a bult 360 was driven that way for 3 years. I overdid it for a daily driver and had drivability problems. (would have been a great motor for a Dart or another light car) So you would have to vary the timing as much as 10 degrees depending on the weather, and fuel available. It was a very touchy engine to keep in tune. LOL
It would still eat its share of ricers and 6cyl and early 80's 305 camaros, once it got rolling that is.

Speaking of wich nobody happens to hae a spare 460 laying around do they?


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#94915 - 03/22/04 06:04 AM Re: Tech Article- Classic Timing Mod- FREE! extra HP
TaskForceP71 Offline
n00b

Registered: 03/08/04
Posts: 45
The General flies by at full throttle, Cooter puts his hand to his ear, "She's missing on number three and a half quart low on oil!"

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#1294266 - 10/07/07 08:27 AM Re: Tech Article- Classic Timing Mod- FREE! extra HP [Re: SteveS]
battyice Offline
Climber

Registered: 08/31/04
Posts: 649
Loc: Northern, NY
 Originally Posted By: SteveS
Also, on several of my cars, I'd leave the distributor "hammer-tight." If I needed to make a slight adjustment, I'd give the distributor advance unit a little whack either way to fine tune it!


Nice, that's what I with my camaro. One tap at a time until the trap speed slows down then one tap back...
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2001 Grand Marquis

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#1410750 - 02/29/08 08:40 AM Re: Tech Article- Classic Timing Mod- FREE! extra HP [Re: SteveS]
ericp Offline
n00b

Registered: 02/19/08
Posts: 46
Loc: pa, usa
Have 3 first gen Mustangs and a Mark III in barn- can adj. timming as above. Low comp. 70's engines have a big margine, even w/ todays crap- fuel. I would like to add (if ya got a 20+ yr. old car) to check the vac. adv. dia. from time to time. With a big enough engine, you may not notice when they leak. You can hold about 2000 RPM steady w/ your righjt hand, pull the vac. adv. line and notice a big shift in timming if all well. Early ones are also adjustable. Change out very easy on fords.

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#1689877 - 02/14/09 05:11 PM Re: Tech Article- Classic Timing Mod- FREE! extra HP [Re: ericp]
Core Offline
Climber

Registered: 05/10/07
Posts: 576
Loc: Earth
LOL 03/04/07/08! I wanted to drop a post for 2009 in! I don't see why you can't adjust without a light in the older engines. I remember everytime the dist. got loose on my old plow truck, it was an easy fix. I used to go through 1 or 2 caps a year though, due to the debris from plowing.
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#1958031 - 01/16/10 02:27 PM Re: Tech Article- Classic Timing Mod- FREE! extra HP [Re: Core]
JohnnyVan Offline
Member

Registered: 10/31/09
Posts: 103
Yeah I will NEVER second guess any of the older cats with the "old" knowledge. Too many storys of me saying, "no. You gotta have a whats-a-whos-it to do that." Old guy says "o yeah? Watch this!"
Next thing you know my whats-a-whos-it is a 80 dollar paper weight! LOL

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#2169690 - 10/27/10 10:01 AM Re: Tech Article- Classic Timing Mod- FREE! extra HP [Re: JohnnyVan]
occupant Offline

Climber

Registered: 12/07/02
Posts: 766
Loc: Westerville, OH
That is how that works, but it's a LITTLE more detailed than this to get it PERFECT.

Many of you may have tried to adjust the timing and found that you got a lot of pinging on a hot engine or going up a hill or whatever. This is because in addition to "timing it by ear" you also have to adjust the SENSITIVITY of the VACUUM ADVANCE.

I think it's a 3/64" allen screw you adjust, and I don't know where it is yet, but you turn it counterclockwise to reduce the sensitivity, and clockwise to increase it.

The guys over at the Gran Torino Sport forum have reposted Bubba's M-Block Workshop which has great information on how to tune and time Ford engines and 2150 carburetors. It's not complete, of course, but we're working on it.

http://grantorinosport.org/BubbaF250/index.html

Timing specs are in there for 351C, 351M, and 400 engines. The vacuum adjustment page is missing. I'll see if I can get it added in if I can find it. But it's a pretty simple idea. Let's say that from all the way out to all the way in, your vacuum advance screw has 8 turns. You start all the way in, and see how much it pings. Then you go all the way out and see what it does. Then cut your adjustment in half after each test drive (in 4, if it pings, out 2, if it doesn't, in 2, then mve by one turn, half turn, quarter turn, whatever). You do this AFTER you've adjusted the base timing and cranked the dizzy around and done ten test drives making it perfect with the vacuum advance plugged up.

This is more precise than just leaving it hooked up. If your vacuum advance is WAY off, no amount of dizzy turning will make it right.
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#2429856 - 12/29/11 10:41 AM Re: Tech Article- Classic Timing Mod- FREE! extra HP [Re: Cowman]
crownvracer Offline
n00b

Registered: 02/06/11
Posts: 49
Loc: Oregon
You guys are talking about some dangerous stuff here. A good way to take a piston out. I don't want to highjack this thread so I will start a thread with some distributor info on it. There is a lot more to this than you realize but it still pretty easy if you know what your doing.

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