Strobe Timing Your Engine
Once you have determined that your distributor is within specs and functioning properly, then it's time to set the timing. For using the strobe light method, you will need the following tools:
1. A 10mm socket w/ extension and ratchet.
2. A timing strobe light (inductive type shown).
3. A tach/dwell meter.
How I prefer to do it is to set timing while the engine is running with a strobe by the TOTAL ADVANCE METHOD. By this I mean, you will normally get the greatest HP with more advance. Here's how I do it:
1. Connect the tach/dwell meter and timing light.
2. Disconnect and plug the distributor's vacuum lines (if required. The Old Volks Home website will tell you if you need to do this or not).
3. Start the vehicle.
4. Loosen the distributor clamp.
5. Run the engine up to the point where the distributor's advance mechanisms are at full advance as evidenced by the strobe light.
6. Twist the distributor body to set the timing. I usually set it somewhere between 30 - 32 degrees BTDC (but no more than 32 degrees).
7. Snug down the distributor clamp, reconnect vacuum lines (if disconnected for timing as specified for your distributor).
8. Check/set the idle at between 850 - 950 RPMs and take the car for a spin to see how it runs under load.
If you experience any pre-detonation (pinging), retard your timing a degree or two and test drive it again. Repeat this until you have good power without pre-detonation. You can now say your car is timed.
To save time on future tune-ups, note where the timing is now set at idle and write it down in the margin of your repair manual. Next time, checking and resetting the timing will be a 2 minute job!!
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Revised: August 29, 2003 .