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Thread: How to time using a timing light

  1. #1

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    How to time using a timing light

    I have an 86 auto with the 2.6L and a timing chain. A long time ago I replaced the head gasket and I dont think we ever got the timing just right. It has good power at speed but has always idled like crap.
    So how do you time the motor without pulling off the valve cover to find the timing mark on the chain? On my VW you just pull a plug on the transmission and time it from marks on the fly wheel and a timing gun.

  2. #2



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    there is a notch on the harmonic balancer for TDC that lines up with the marks on the timing chain cover. Time it for 7 to 10 degrees btdc
    Pennyman1
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  3. #3

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    You will really help yourself a lot by using some white-out or a white paint pen to mark the notch on the harmonic balancer, and then also the marks on the timing cover. If you don't do this, you will really have a hard time seeing the marks.

  4. #4



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    You must pull the valve cover to check cam timing to crank. There is no other way.
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  5. #5



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    he's just timing the truck, not degreeing the cam. unless the distro was pulled, he doesn't need to pull the valve cover to adjust the timing.
    Pennyman1
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  6. #6

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    Take the valve cover off and turn the crank to TDC - then see where the cam dowel and alignment marks are pointing. I doubt you have a valve timing issue as it starts easily (by the sounds of it). Getting ignition timing just right can be a tricky business. You can try something a little less conventional - loosen the distributor retaining nut, start the engine and get someone to hold the throttle at mid rpms (2-2,500) and adjust the distributor until the engine has a jump in rpm. Don't go nuts on adjusting it, gently twist it back and forth until it feels like you have hit a sweet spot in response. Lock it up and take it for a drive - take note of how it runs under throttle and load. Good luck

  7. #7

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    Geezer thanks for the help!
    It is a finiky beast. Some days it starts first crank other days you would think there was no gas in the truck. It also likes to diesel a lot. There is a slight chance that the valve timing is off, but I will try the easiest fix first!
    Thanks for the help everyone!

  8. #8



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    Are you getting full 12v during starts> a 2 wire starter installed onto a 3 wire starter system will do that same stuff

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by BradMph View Post
    Are you getting full 12v during starts> a 2 wire starter installed onto a 3 wire starter system will do that same stuff
    I am not sure. It is probably the original starter, usually starts fine for me unless it is really hot. Mostly fights other people. I guess I just have the right touch!

  10. #10

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    oh also I was re-timing that and it seems pretty good, I will test it out tomorrow and see if the idle has gotten any better.
    Truck diesels pretty bad when it is hot (runs after you turn off the motor / happens when timing is off and there is carbon built up in the motor).
    A puff of smoke came up from the carb when it shuttered as it turned off. Thinking this may be the valves miss timed. I just might have to pull off that cover and get gritty.

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