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Unread 11-03-2008, 01:49 PM   #1
DirtEater
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How to set timing...without a timing light?

Had to smog the CJ for our first time, and it did very well, but they failed us for the timing being set at 7 instead of 15. I don't have a timing light so we had our favorite shop set it exactly how the smog shop wanted. Took it back to the smog shop, and they passed it. The bad thing is it runs like crap with it set like that and before it was adjusted, it ran great.

I need to half-azz set it in order to drive it to the shop so they can get it like it was before. Is there a way to set it close, by simply turning the dis.cap? I'm sure the older mechanics are pretty good at it. The only thing I know to do is to turn it slighly clockwise(I believe) and take it for a test spin.

Any quick advice would be appreciated greatly.

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Unread 11-03-2008, 01:57 PM   #2
SuB8HaVeN
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I do it all the time because I don't have a timing light. Make sure the motor is entirely warmed up; take it around the block a few times if needed. Then pull it back in, cut it off, remove the vacuum line going into the bottom of the distributor, and then loosen the nut holding the distributor in place. It's a 1/2" bolt beneath the distributor. Go ahead and crank it back up and let it idle for a minute or so, then grab the bottom of the distributor and rotate it either way and set it so that it's in the position where your motor is running the smoothest. As you turn it, you'll hear the motor idling differently, so just set it where it is running the smoothest. Then go ahead and tighten the adjusting bolt, cut if off, put the vacuum line back on it going to vacuum advance, and take it around the block a few times. If you get on it real hard and it bogs down, you're probably set too retarted, so you will need to advance it a bit more (move it counter-clockwise). Remember, turning it clockwise retards the timing. I like to make sure and get on it and rev it up real high when test driving it after timing it just to make sure I don't get any timing ping, which would mean it's probably too far advanced so you need to back off some.
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Unread 11-03-2008, 02:01 PM   #3
64Jeeper
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I can set timing by ear within a degree or two, but I've been working on engines most of my life. Only thing you can really do is go out and buy yourself a timing light if you want it set exactly the way you want, or you can just turn the distributor untill it sounds good, then get the timing light.
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Unread 11-03-2008, 02:01 PM   #4
CJ Chet
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Buy a timing light!
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Unread 11-03-2008, 02:14 PM   #5
Lifesgoodhere
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SuB8HaVeN View Post
I do it all the time because I don't have a timing light. Make sure the motor is entirely warmed up; take it around the block a few times if needed. Then pull it back in, cut it off, remove the vacuum line going into the bottom of the distributor, and then loosen the nut holding the distributor in place. It's a 1/2" bolt beneath the distributor. Go ahead and crank it back up and let it idle for a minute or so, then grab the bottom of the distributor and rotate it either way and set it so that it's in the position where your motor is running the smoothest. As you turn it, you'll hear the motor idling differently, so just set it where it is running the smoothest. Then go ahead and tighten the adjusting bolt, cut if off, put the vacuum line back on it going to vacuum advance, and take it around the block a few times. If you get on it real hard and it bogs down, you're probably set too retarted, so you will need to advance it a bit more (move it counter-clockwise). Remember, turning it clockwise retards the timing. I like to make sure and get on it and rev it up real high when test driving it after timing it just to make sure I don't get any timing ping, which would mean it's probably too far advanced so you need to back off some.
haha that's what I read from Jeep Mechanics manuals from back in the day! do it by ear only really, and only use a timing light if you really have too...we are talking about flat heads and f heads right?.
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Unread 11-03-2008, 02:31 PM   #6
DirtEater
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It was all I could do to get it to even run the way they had it set, but I got it to idle long enough to run around and get hold of the dis. cap. I had to turn it counter-clockwise to smooth it up. If the shop set it to the CA spec of 15 degrees, and I had to turn it counter-clockwise, does that mean it's now greater than 15 or less than 15? I would guess less, but what do I know.
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Unread 11-03-2008, 02:33 PM   #7
DirtEater
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Chet View Post
Buy a timing light!
Great "quick advice" like I asked for. Thanks for the advice. I appreciate your support!
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Unread 11-03-2008, 03:14 PM   #8
NH2112
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You can set timing using a vacuum gauge, but if you don't have a vacuum gauge either I'd recommend buying a timing light instead of a vacuum gauge.

The procedure is simple, just connect the vacuum gauge to a source of manifold vacuum (from a line below the throttle plate, the line going to the distributor will work) and slowly turn the distributor till you get the highest reading on the gauge. Back off 1" Hg, remove the gauge, and hook the disconnected line back up.
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Unread 11-03-2008, 03:29 PM   #9
Bubba Ray
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Get the timing light. If your Jeep has the computer disconnected, then set the timing at idle, about 650rpm.This is easy and you will know what your timing is.
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Unread 11-03-2008, 05:57 PM   #10
DirtEater
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Who makes good timing lights nowadays? The last one I had, I bought around 1981 and had it a few years. It was a Sun timing light. Back then, I believe they were pretty good lights, but I don't know what's out there now. Anything reliable at a fair price, like under $80 or so?

Guess I got lucky. I got it set by ear and feel, and it's way more responsive than it has been since I've had it. A huge improvement. So now I'm curious where I have it set.
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1982 CJ7 4.2L ~ T-999 ~ Dana 300 ~ SOA Conversion
Dana 30/AMC 20 with Truetrac - one piece axle - 4.10's
33" Toyo M/T's on Pro Comp Xtreme Series 1069
Borla header and Catback Exhaust System
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Unread 11-04-2008, 03:41 AM   #11
John Strenk
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NH2112 View Post
You can set timing using a vacuum gauge, but if you don't have a vacuum gauge either I'd recommend buying a timing light instead of a vacuum gauge.

The procedure is simple, just connect the vacuum gauge to a source of manifold vacuum (from a line below the throttle plate, the line going to the distributor will work) and slowly turn the distributor till you get the highest reading on the gauge. Back off 1" Hg, remove the gauge, and hook the disconnected line back up.

I've trid this and did get it to withing 1* of the right setting for my jeep wich is 8* for my 258.

Actually, I use my vacuum gauge more than a timing light. A timing light is good for setting the timing and that's it. a Vacuum gauge has a lot of diagnostic uses.

i would borrow a timing light and buy a vacuum gauge.

Look for an Actron if you can find one. THey are usually rebranded for sale at Sears and other stores. Sun is still nice.
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Unread 11-04-2008, 08:36 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DirtEater View Post
Who makes good timing lights nowadays? The last one I had, I bought around 1981 and had it a few years. It was a Sun timing light. Back then, I believe they were pretty good lights, but I don't know what's out there now. Anything reliable at a fair price, like under $80 or so?

Guess I got lucky. I got it set by ear and feel, and it's way more responsive than it has been since I've had it. A huge improvement. So now I'm curious where I have it set.
I bought mine from harbor freight. Not the most durable looking thing in the world, but did the job just fine for about $13 bucks or so. Is there a difference is functionability between this $13 timing light compared to a $100 timing light?
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Unread 11-04-2008, 10:31 AM   #13
John Strenk
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Brightness of the light, option to delay the light so you can see total advance, durability if you drop it, and stuff like that.
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Unread 11-04-2008, 10:52 AM   #14
DirtEater
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I bought an Actron CP 7529 Digital light at Sears night for $100. Haven't used it yet, but reading the directions, it sure looks much more difficult to use than the Sun I had back in the 80's.

I just want to check to see how close I have it set by ear, and then set it by light if need be. I should have just got the most basic el cheapo light made.
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Dana 30/AMC 20 with Truetrac - one piece axle - 4.10's
33" Toyo M/T's on Pro Comp Xtreme Series 1069
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Unread 11-04-2008, 10:54 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jatepper View Post
I bought mine from harbor freight. Not the most durable looking thing in the world, but did the job just fine for about $13 bucks or so. Is there a difference is functionability between this $13 timing light compared to a $100 timing light?
My old Sunpro's clamp for the plug wire was plastic and been charred a few times, as well as the the wires after about 10 years of use. I just bought a new one as I was getting funny readings and wanted to make sure it wasnt the light. I bought this one from Summit for $45.

http://store.summitracing.com/partde...2D3551&FROM=MG

Two things I really like about it: the plug clamp is metal and not plastic, so it wont burn! And instead of a trigger, it has an off/on button so I can turn it on and not have to sit there and hold it.
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