Originally Posted by Michaelgoesrawr
The process of what to do makes sense but not the mechanics behind it. Might be because its late but I feel like that's the same this as changing the timing if the rotor shaft is going into the same place. Clearly it's not but I can't grasp why it works.
Ahhh. Got it. It's because when the rotor shaft is engaged moving it advances the timing but with it out the unit moves freely together and it just gets rotated however many degrees away from the block. I'll do that tomorrow. Do you have any tricks to set the timing with a faulty flash? Even with it changed spot the light is still highly erratic.
Edit: Would I then rotate the engine to 0 degrees and figure out which post is number one or just go from the originally number one on the cap?
OK, you might have it, I am not sure. So think of it this way:
The rotor does not have anything to do with the timing EXCEPT for the initial static timing - you want to have the rotor pointing to a cap terminal (any one of them) when the motor has the #1 cylinder at TDC on the compression stroke. With the motor off!
That is it - the rotor has nothing else to do with timing - how could it, when it is moving in a circle?
You get your firing order correct by wiring the spark plug wires, in the direction of rotor rotation, according to the firing order: 1 5 3 6 2 4. This just gets the electricity to the correct spark plug according to the firing order.
We are still not at timing.
OK, here goes: When the rotor is rotating, something else is happening as well. The points (older motors) or switching module is switching 12 volts to the coil, mechanically synchronized with the rotor. Think of this low-voltage (low tension) circuit as a switch that opens and closes in time with the rotor pointing to a cap terminal. When the switch closes, it energizes the primary winding of the coil, making a magnetic field. When the switch opens, that magnetic field collapses. A collapsing magnetic field is a moving magmetic field, and a moving magnetic field generates electricity. The electricity generated in this case is the secondary winding in side the coil. Now, the number of turns of wire of each the primary and secondary coils is carefully selected such that a very high voltage is generated by the secondary coil. Your puny 12 volts (at a higher current) becomes 15,000 volts or more (at a very tiny current). This is where the high voltage comes from to fire your spark plugs.
This high voltage electricity comes out the center terminal of your coil, goes through the coil wire, into the center terminal of the cap, and then to the center post of the rotor. Next, it wants to go through the rotor and eventually end up at a spark plug.
How does it do this? Well, the electricity wants to take the path of least resistance, so it jumps from the tip of the rotor to the closest terminal inside the cap. Which terminal should be closest? Why, the one that corresponds to the correct spark plug at that point in time.
OK, bear with me, we are almost at the timing.
If the rotor tip is perfectly opposite a cap terminal when the coil fires, then the motor is at 0 degrees timing. If you rotate the DISTRIBUTOR BODY opposite
the direction of rotor rotation, the tip of the rotor is energized a few degrees BEFORE it gets perfectly opposite the tip. This is the advance! The electricity has a tiny bit farther of a gap to jump, but that little bit does not matter. Rotate the DISTRIBUTOR BODY with
the direction of rotor rotation, and you retard the timing.
It is all very simple when you think about everything that is going on. It really is, though, an elegant system.
Therefore, putting the distributor shaft right where it was before (in a way that can engage the oil pump drive) has no effect on the timing. It is a rotating shaft, remember? The timing comes from where the distributor body and, hence the cap terminals, are located with respect to the rotor tip each time the coil sends the high voltage down the pike.
That is why removing your dizzy and rotating the dizzy body to a better place, while keeping the rotor shaft in the same place, can help you solve your problem.
In terms of how to set the timing without a timing light, here is the way that it is done to maximize engine performance: Start with the timing set as close to zero (static timing, as above) as you can. Start the motor. Advance the timing until it runs better. Advance it more. Runs even better. Rotate it more. Uh oh, motor starts to break up. OK, go back until it runs OK again.
Now drive the vehicle. Get into a high load/low rpm situation, for example by driving up a hill at WOT in too high a gear. The motor should ping. If not, you are there. If it does, retard the timing a mite and try again.
You are done when extreme low rpm/high load situations produce a tiny bit of ping. This is the most timing the motor can handle. The reason you accept a little bit of ping at the end is that you normally do not lug the motor like that (at least, I hope not).
With an automatic, it is even easier. Put the motor in drive, stand on the brakes and give WOT. When the motor very slightly pings when doing this, the timing is as advanced as it can get.
Note that these techniques do not get the timing to what the label on the fender says. It sets the timing for maximum power and efficiency.
No, it is not as accurate as using a timing light, and there are a lot of things you can do with a timing light that you cannot do by ear, but you asked.