I have a simple question, and then a rather lengthy explanation as to why I'm
asking. My question is: Is it possible to adjust timing by rotating the
distributor to compensate for the valves being out of adjustment?
Here's why I ask...
I decided to adjust my valves this past weekend. I followed the instructions
contained in my Haynes and Bentley workshop manuals. Both indicated that the
valves should be adjusted cold with the valve in the closed position (cam lobe
Okay... my first confused moment came when I read in the Bentley manual...
"Check and if necessary adjust the rocker clearances when the tappet is
resting on the back of the cam. To obtain this position, turn the camshaft
until the number one push rod has reached its highest point, then turn a
further full revolution to insure the push rod is fully down and the tappet is
resting on the back of the cam."
Okay, if you turn the cam shaft a full turn, isn't it just going to be right
back where you started? Is the manual just telling me to do this so that I
can watch the rocker go down and up again, and make sure I had it right
initially? (this is essentially what I did).
Well, I noticed that several of the valve clearances were out of spec, so I
adjusted them. I then put everything back together, and checked my engine
compression. All cylinders were within a couple psi of 150. I then decided
to check my points. The gap was good, but the surfaces looked a little rough,
so I took them out and sanded them a little with fine grade sandpaper. I put
them back in and adjusted the gap, then decided to start the car up.
Well, the car wouldn't start. It acts like it wants to fire, but can't seem
to catch and keep going. My first thought was that I had crossed a couple of
spark plug wires. I had removed all the plugs while I adjusted the valves and
checked compression, but I had marked them with tape and placed them back in
the correct order. I checked the firing order (1-3-4-2) to confirm this.
I then started reading some more of the Bentley manual - specifically the
section under ENGINE RECONDITIONING regarding setting the distributor timing.
I assume this describes how to set the timing close enough to get a car
running (after putting it back together) so that you can then fine tune it.
According to the manual, the rotor arm should be roughly aligned toward the
no. 1 push rod when the no. 1 piston is at TDC. Using the hole on the fan
pulley, I set mine at TDC, and the rotor position and distributor alignment
looked close. The manual further states that from this position, the
distributor should be rotated in a clockwise direction until the points are
commencing to open, then adjusted another 4 degrees further with the
thumbscrew adjustment. I noticed my points were fully closed at no. 1 TDC,
and up to this point, I hadn't adjusted the distributor at all.
I adjusted the distributor as indicated, and it took quite a bit of clockwise
rotation to achieve the above specifications. Does this sound reasonable? I
haven't had a chance to try to start the engine since making the distributor
adjustments (I keep my car in a basement garage, and my kids are asleep
upstairs, plus I'm a little nervous about trying to crank it up at this point
without an opinion from you guys).
Thanks for any and all help/information!
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