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Old 04-11-2011, 01:25 PM   #1
kmacht
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Default How to set initial Timing on Ford 302

As i mentioned in a few previous posts, I am working on a 55 ford F100. I bought a used 302 motor out of an old F150. The motor is carburated (had edelbrock intake and 600cfm carb installed). It also uses a duraspark II ignition module and distributor. I wired it up based on the duraspark wiring diagram and am getting ready to try starting it tonight. I was able to get it to turn over the other day and confirmed that I am getting spark to each plug with a tester. All that is left to do is to set the timing and give it a little gas. The timing part is what is throwing me. The only thing I have timed in the past is an old VW aircooled motor. To set initial timing you connected a multimeter to the + side of the battery, the - side to the - side of the coil, used a socket to turn the motor over until the #1 cylinder was just before TDC, and then rotated the distributor until you got voltage through the multimeter. I am not sure if this is the correct way to do it on the Ford. The vw had a points distributor, the ford distributor uses a hall effect sensor and the duraspark control box. Can I use the same method (multimeter) to set the initial timing or will that not work with the type of distributor I have? I have a timing light to fine tune it once I get it running. Any idea what the initial timing should be? I have seen anywhere TDC to 16 degrees BTDC.

Keith
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Old 04-11-2011, 01:32 PM   #2
Bigpigdave
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Default Re: How to set initial Timing on Ford 302

Without specs, I would put the number one cylinder at TDC and than rotate the distributor so the the rotor is pointing just before the number 1 post on the cap. This should be somewhere between 2 and 6 degrees before TDC. This should be ok to get you started. Use a timing light after the engine is running to set timing to around 8 degrees BTDC. Good luck.
JMHO, Dave
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Old 04-11-2011, 01:33 PM   #3
z28snksknr
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Default Re: How to set initial Timing on Ford 302

I've always used just a timing light on the #1 plug wire and set the timing to 12-14 degrees BTDC for a 302. May want to back it down to 10-12 if it seems like it's hard to start.

Shouldn't be any more complicated than that.
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Old 04-11-2011, 01:36 PM   #4
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Default Re: How to set initial Timing on Ford 302

I agree with BigPigDave. You never know if it was set correctly before and if the distributor has been removed. Take the distributor out, rotate the engine to TDC and slide the distributor in with the rotor pointing to the #1 plug wire on the cap. If it runs like crap you got it 180degrees off and were on the wrong stroke when you put it on TDC.

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Old 04-11-2011, 01:48 PM   #5
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Default Re: How to set initial Timing on Ford 302

If you pull the valve covers you are guaranteed not to be on the wrong stroke. (both rockers/valves fully up/closed)

No, the multimeter trick doesn't work for solid state ignitions.

With points, that works since the cam/points ground out and close the circuit infinite amount of time (as long as engine isn't rotating) With solid state (electronic) there is a built in dwell limiter that only grounds for a few milliseconds. Your multimeter isn't fast enough.

Get it base lined like they say by removing distributor and restabbing.

Make sure your balancer hasn't slipped and is lining up.

Set base timing somewhere around 10-14 with engine running and vacuum disconnected. Likely have a mild or stock cam/engine combo so plug distributor into vacuum port that is "timed". It will have no vacuum at idle but will have vacuum once throttle is cracked open.

You can also measure it again at about 2500-3000 rpm with vacuum disconnected to ensure your advance is working properly. Might need "timing tape" since your balancer likely doesn't read that high. (maybe into the 30s)
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Old 04-11-2011, 01:57 PM   #6
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Default Re: How to set initial Timing on Ford 302

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I agree with BigPigDave. You never know if it was set correctly before and if the distributor has been removed. Take the distributor out, rotate the engine to TDC and slide the distributor in with the rotor pointing to the #1 plug wire on the cap. If it runs like crap you got it 180degrees off and were on the wrong stroke when you put it on TDC.

Patrick
I have already done that. There was no distributor in the engine when I bought it. Found the compression stroke (finger over the hole, feel for pressure) and then used a wooden dowel down the #1 spark plug hole to find TDC. Dropped the distributor in so that when it was seated all the way it was pointing pretty close to the #1 spot on the cap (dropped the oil pump shaft down into the pan in the process, what a pain to put back). I just figured that I had to get it closer than eyeballing it in order to get it to start.

With a points distributor I can just turn it and check with a multimeter to find when the points are closing. There are marks on the harmonic balancer for TDC and a up to 20 degrees either way. I would typically set the crank so it was a few degrees before TDC and then turn the distributor until the multimeter showed the points closing. With an electronic distributor I wasn't sure if I could do this same test with the multimeter. Is it possible or are you telling me that it isn't all that critical to get the engine to start? I don't care about tuning it at this point. I don't even have the radiator hooked up yet. I just want to start the engine and make sure it runs before I get too far in and find out it needs to be torn down and rebuit.

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Old 04-11-2011, 02:01 PM   #7
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Default Re: How to set initial Timing on Ford 302

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No, the multimeter trick doesn't work for solid state ignitions.

Get it base lined like they say by removing distributor and restabbing.
So I am confused. How do I get it initially set if the mutimeter trick doesn't work? I dropped the distributor in with the rotor pointing towards #1 but once in I have enough turn in my distributor that I can turn it a full 90 degrees before hitting something. I am sure I could easily go from 20 ATDC to 20 BTDC with the adjustment. How do I have any idea of where I am at?

Keith
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Old 04-11-2011, 02:05 PM   #8
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Default Re: How to set initial Timing on Ford 302

first off , where are you located?.......might make a diff, j/k........as diesel research said [ herein called dr. as he seems to have the chops to give pertinent advice] check to make sure the timing chain isn't skipped by using the valve over lap method to ensure tdc fire........have you rocked the crank back and forth to see how much slop there is in the chain?..........if your going to dump some gas down the carb to try and prime it , careful and stand back in case of backfire........take the time ti do as the dr said and you will save a lot of wasted time..........
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Old 04-11-2011, 02:11 PM   #9
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Default Re: How to set initial Timing on Ford 302

Did you make sure the oil pump drive shaft was in the engine, if it was missing the dist.? Sometimes the shafts have the retainer break and the shaft comes out with the dist. Just want to know you looked in there and saw the shaft.

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Old 04-11-2011, 02:12 PM   #10
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Default Re: How to set initial Timing on Ford 302

Do you have the firing order correct? The firing order should be on the intake manifold but you'll have to research if that should be clockwise, or counterclockwise.

Patrick
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Old 04-11-2011, 02:13 PM   #11
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Default Re: How to set initial Timing on Ford 302

Quote:
Originally Posted by kmacht View Post
So I am confused. How do I get it initially set if the mutimeter trick doesn't work? I dropped the distributor in with the rotor pointing towards #1 but once in I have enough turn in my distributor that I can turn it a full 90 degrees before hitting something. I am sure I could easily go from 20 ATDC to 20 BTDC with the adjustment. How do I have any idea of where I am at?

Keith
That is indicative of timing chain slop like tatra states. Some old manuals even had a spec on how many degrees the crank could move in EITHER direction before the rotor budges. You would take it all the way one direction, mark the distributor base to rotor tip and see how far you could rotate it in opposite direction before the rotor moved. Exact specs aren't important, but an indicator of chain slop/wear.

I'm sure you will throw me for a loop by saying
Quote:
No, that's impossible, I just slapped a double roller in there last week
Then I will be at a loss unless I found out your cam/dizzy gear was worn or the drift pin hole was worn.
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Old 04-11-2011, 02:17 PM   #12
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Default Re: How to set initial Timing on Ford 302

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Originally Posted by kmacht View Post
So I am confused. How do I get it initially set if the mutimeter trick doesn't work? I dropped the distributor in with the rotor pointing towards #1 but once in I have enough turn in my distributor that I can turn it a full 90 degrees before hitting something. I am sure I could easily go from 20 ATDC to 20 BTDC with the adjustment. How do I have any idea of where I am at?

Keith
If you dropped the distributor in at TDC #1 with the rotor pointing at #1 you will have enough rotation in the distributor to set the timing. You must use a timing light clamped around #1 cyl....once you get the motor running and using the timing light..if you don't have enough room to rotate the distributor to get the timing degree you want .... you might have to pull the distributor and move it a tooth or two in the direction you need it to go.
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Old 04-11-2011, 02:21 PM   #13
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Default Re: How to set initial Timing on Ford 302

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Originally Posted by kmacht View Post
So I am confused. How do I get it initially set if the mutimeter trick doesn't work? I dropped the distributor in with the rotor pointing towards #1 but once in I have enough turn in my distributor that I can turn it a full 90 degrees before hitting something. I am sure I could easily go from 20 ATDC to 20 BTDC with the adjustment. How do I have any idea of where I am at?

Keith
I get the sense of your question now that I reread it. Have someone crank the car over...manually rotate the distributor a little bit until you get it to start and put the distributor where the car seems to run the best.

One trick is once you drop the distributor in and lined up correctly...tighten the distributor down enough where it takes some effort to move it by hand...that way it's not moving around on you without your control.
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Old 04-11-2011, 02:28 PM   #14
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Default Re: How to set initial Timing on Ford 302

Whenever we used to do this, we would just have someone in the car cranking the engine and another guy out rotating the distributor. Keep the distributor clamped down just tight enough that it rotates, but doesn't come up out of the engine. It only takes a few cranks to get it going . After that, put a timing light on it.
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Old 04-11-2011, 02:29 PM   #15
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Default Re: How to set initial Timing on Ford 302

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If you dropped the distributor in at TDC #1 with the rotor pointing at #1 you will have enough rotation in the distributor to set the timing. You must use a timing light clamped around #1 cyl....once you get the motor running and using the timing light..if you don't have enough room to rotate the distributor to get the timing degree you want .... you might have to pull the distributor and move it a tooth or two in the direction you need it to go.
Let me clarify a few things. When I said that I could rotate the distributor I meant the housing. There is nothing wrong with the timing chain or any slop in the camshaft / distributor gear as far as I can tell. The rotation I am talking about is normal, you have to be able to turn the distributor housing in order to set the timing. What is throwing me is figuring out where to place the housing initially to get the engine to run. Everything I read and everything that has been posted here says "once the engine is running, use the timing light to adjust as necessary). I can rotate the distributor almost a 1/4 of the way around before I hit either the intake manifold or the water pump. How do I figure out where to initially set it? Do I just crank the motor over and turn the distributor by hand until it fires? Seems pretty crude.

As for the oil pump shaft, yes the retainer clip came off and the shaft dropped down into the oil pan. I had to drop the pan to retrieve it and re-install it. I am sure that it is all back together correctly. When I re-installed it I left the pan off, dropped it down from the top and set it into the oil pump. I then put the distributor on (relative to #1 tdc) and turned the engine over with a socket and breaker bar. The shaft, oil pump, and distributor all turned together.

Keith
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Old 04-11-2011, 02:31 PM   #16
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Default Re: How to set initial Timing on Ford 302

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I get the sense of your question now that I reread it. Have someone crank the car over...manually rotate the distributor a little bit until you get it to start and put the distributor where the car seems to run the best.

One trick is once you drop the distributor in and lined up correctly...tighten the distributor down enough where it takes some effort to move it by hand...that way it's not moving around on you without your control.
Sounds a bit crude, but if it works, why not.

Keith
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Old 04-11-2011, 02:39 PM   #17
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Default Re: How to set initial Timing on Ford 302

Ya pretty much the way it works. Also doesn't really matter which way the housing is as long as it isn't hitting something and what ever way the rotor is pointing is where the #1 plug wire is.

Lotta chevy guys have had to have housing placed in all kinds of positions to clear various objects. Doesn't matter, it's all relative as long as advance hose reaches and doesn't smack anything.

It's only crude until you use the timing light to get things lined up. Then it is a more precise science. Don't listen to any fools claiming "by the ear" method, as you can almost always come in with a light after they did their work and pick up extra mpg, throttle response, ping resistance, or hp.
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Old 04-11-2011, 02:53 PM   #18
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Default Re: How to set initial Timing on Ford 302

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Let me clarify a few things. When I said that I could rotate the distributor I meant the housing. There is nothing wrong with the timing chain or any slop in the camshaft / distributor gear as far as I can tell. The rotation I am talking about is normal, you have to be able to turn the distributor housing in order to set the timing. What is throwing me is figuring out where to place the housing initially to get the engine to run. Everything I read and everything that has been posted here says "once the engine is running, use the timing light to adjust as necessary). I can rotate the distributor almost a 1/4 of the way around before I hit either the intake manifold or the water pump. How do I figure out where to initially set it? Do I just crank the motor over and turn the distributor by hand until it fires? Seems pretty crude.

Keith
I don't think you're getting it.....put the distributor cap on the housing...mark on the housing where number one is from the cap...take the cap off the housing...put the distributor in the hole with the rotor pointing at your mark on the housing (note...note how far you can turn the distributor housing either way before you hit something..line the rotor up in the middle of that arc..that will give you the optimum chance of being able to set timing with a light without having to reposition the distributor)...that is as close as you need to be. Fire it up..rotate the housing as needed to get it to fire and run...attach timing light...adjust timing to spec.
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Old 04-11-2011, 03:01 PM   #19
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Default Re: How to set initial Timing on Ford 302

And by the way...this is all done with the motor sitting on TDC compression stroke cylinder #1.
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Old 04-11-2011, 03:21 PM   #20
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Default Re: How to set initial Timing on Ford 302

remove #1 spark plug
stick you finger in the hole
turn the engine over by hand and feel for the engine to try to blow your finger out of the hole
watch the timing marks and turn the engine to 6-8 before
stab the distributor and make sure the rotor is aimed at plug wire #1

never had one fail to start

bob
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