MSD distributor timing issue - Team Camaro Tech
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post #1 of 47 (permalink) Old Sep 23rd, 19, 07:57 AM Thread Starter
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MSD distributor timing issue

started a new thread based on post from carb tuning thread, hoping i can get some help or advice with timing issues


i intended to start getting deep into the carb tuning this weekend. well, like the responsible sane person i pretend to be sometimes, i decided to do the right thing and re-check / confirm timing before i got into the carb tuning.



for reference, I'm running an MSD 8361 distributor , it's the pro billet dealy with vacuum advnace, an adjustable vacuum advance can hooked to manifold vacuum with a limiter plate for 10* additional advance, an MSD 6AL box and blaster 2 coil.



the beginning set up in the distributor was the 2 lightest silver springs to bring all advance in by 2,000 with the green limiter bushing to limit mechanical advance to 23*. initial set at 12*


disconnected the vacuum can, plugged the port on carb base and hooked my light up. once at full operating temp (175*) i read my stated 12* initial advance.



this is where things get weird.


with the light on the balancer, i bring the RPM's up to watch the mechanical advance. as the rpm's reached 2,500 or so the advance quickly ran up to right at 30* then just as quickly settled back down to 20* and remained there regardless of how much rpm input i added. maybe I'm missing something but shouldn't the advance get to around 34-36* with this set up and stay there with added rpm's?


so i confirmed what i just listed above a couple times and check with three different timing lights. (2 dial back style, 1 fixed style) got the same reading each time.



at this point i was figuring i had the wrong mechanical stop bushing in the dizzy and wasn't allowing it to get the full advance timing. I pulled the distributor, found the green bushing in there that i had in my notes. i replaced it with the silver bushing that should have added 25* or so and replaced one of the springs with the light blue spring that would make it come in a little higher, around 2,500.


replaced distributor, reset initial to 12*, ran it up and got the exact same readings as before. pegged to 30* then quickly came down and settled at 20* no matter of added rpm even with the smaller stop bushing. goes right back to 12* at idle.


i tried adding initial timing up to about 18-20* then brought the rpm's up again. same thing, initial would be right where i set it, mechanical advance spikes to 30* then drops back to 20* and stays there.



what am i missing here? called MSD tech line but they are closed on saturdays. may try another call today if someone here can not add some clarity.
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post #2 of 47 (permalink) Old Sep 23rd, 19, 01:35 PM
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Re: MSD distributor timing issue

what timing light are you using? I know some dial back lights don't play well with MSD boxes.

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post #3 of 47 (permalink) Old Sep 23rd, 19, 02:39 PM
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Re: MSD distributor timing issue

When you shut it off and restart does it go back to 12*?

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post #4 of 47 (permalink) Old Sep 23rd, 19, 06:09 PM
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Re: MSD distributor timing issue

My crafstman haed the msd and eventually burned up couldnt read it anyways


OP what cam?
Typically put a slow curve in it not too soon.... need more info.



Getting an HEI honestly I think that stuff is junk .Wow I got 60 trouble free miles...HAHA.
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post #5 of 47 (permalink) Old Sep 23rd, 19, 07:59 PM
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Re: MSD distributor timing issue

I noticed you have a roller camshaft. Do you know if a cam button was installed to prevent the camshaft from walking? Without a cam button when the engine revs a roller cam can move toward the timing cover. This changes the distributor gear mesh and causes timing issues.

Also because you have a roller cam I wonder if a brass distributor gear was used. If so it may have worn out which effects gear mesh and timing. If you pull out the distributor check the gear for wear.

If you happen to have an HEI distributor lying around you could install that and see if the same issue occurs. I mention the HEI because you can fire it up without your current coil or 6al box so that test would eliminate them. If the HEI acts the same way then cam walk is looking more likely.

Some timing covers have an adjustable cam button. Any chance you have one and its out of adjustment?
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post #6 of 47 (permalink) Old Sep 23rd, 19, 08:23 PM
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Re: MSD distributor timing issue

I suspect itís the timing light. Dial backs donít play well with MSD boxes
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post #7 of 47 (permalink) Old Sep 23rd, 19, 08:49 PM
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Re: MSD distributor timing issue

Read Dave Ray's post #8 in the link below:
https://www.camaros.net/forums/18-en...stributor.html

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post #8 of 47 (permalink) Old Sep 24th, 19, 05:41 AM Thread Starter
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Re: MSD distributor timing issue

"so i confirmed what i just listed above a couple times and check with three different timing lights. (2 dial back style, 1 fixed style) got the same reading each time."

i have multiple timing lights. i checked with a dial back Matco, a dial back Sun and a standard fixed craftsmen, then again last night with another standard fixed no name light.

ALL LIGHTS gave same exact reading. when using the dial back lights i could turn dial to zero and see 20* on balancer or turn dial to 20* and see zero on balancer. i understand the issues with dial backs and MSD boxes as well as older points distributors. thats why i checked with multiple lights.

it is a roller cam and i honestly don't know about the button. it was built by a reputable shop, but i've learned that hard way so i wouldn't be surprised. also, not a billet cam, no brass gears, all iron. if it were a cam walking issue do you think the timing would stay as consistent as it is? i would think maybe it would be moving around if there were a problem with gear mesh. it doesn't jump around, just settles at 20 and stays there.


i finally got through to the MSD tech line yesterday and guy was pretty short with me and sounded very disinterested. he told me take reading from #6 cylinder and if still have problem send distributor in...it's not 180* out, i am quite sure of this. guess the dizzy is going home.

i do have an HEI distributor laying around but it has been modified to accept MSD box connection and separate coil. no module anymore. i could try it just to see if the advance system will work. it's been on a shelf for about 20 years...lol
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post #9 of 47 (permalink) Old Sep 24th, 19, 08:02 AM Thread Starter
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Re: MSD distributor timing issue

Quote:
Originally Posted by rp930 View Post
When you shut it off and restart does it go back to 12*?



it goes right back to 12* when i let off the throttle and bring it back to idle. same goes for shutting down and re-starting.
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post #10 of 47 (permalink) Old Sep 24th, 19, 10:58 AM
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Re: MSD distributor timing issue

I have NO idea what an 8-whatever distributor is, is this one of the ones with electrical circuits, or simply a magnetic pickup to some sort of external ignition processor box???

IF this distributor has electronic circuits, I would seriously think the circuits in the electronics are having some sort of tantrum.
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post #11 of 47 (permalink) Old Sep 24th, 19, 11:26 AM Thread Starter
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Re: MSD distributor timing issue

i was hoping you'd chime in.
its a magnetic pick up distributor (MSD part #8361) designed to work in conjunction with an MSD CD box. no internal distributor electronic circuits

the advance weights seem free and not binding while distributor is off the engine. can't for the life of me figure out why this thing will not advance beyond 20*
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post #12 of 47 (permalink) Old Sep 25th, 19, 08:59 AM Thread Starter
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Re: MSD distributor timing issue

ok, now i have some possibly dumb questions but after messing around with it more yesterday i think I'm starting to doubt my timing marks and/or pointer. I'm thinking i am actually getting more timing out of this than the marks are showing.

engine is 400 SB so externally balanced with an 8" balancer. i have an aftermarket high performance balancer with the timing marks laser etched on it. the pointer has a zero mark "0" 2/3 of the way through which i am using to time it. there's also another 8* ATDC to the right & 10* BTDC to the left of the "0" mark. it was all set up by a machine shop that i thought i could trust but if you go back through my posts you'll see how they installed the rear main seal...so....here we go;

1; the builder told me he installed the cam 4* advanced. would this effect the pointer position in relation to the timing marks on the balancer? i dont have any experience with installing cams any way but straight up.

2; should the zero "0" mark on my pointer be accurate with the aftermarket balancer? can't think of any reason why not but I know many of you have much more knowledge than me on this.
obviously i know my next step is to use a piston stop and find TDC to check. i'm competent with this just ran out of time yesterday. just throwing this question out there.
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post #13 of 47 (permalink) Old Sep 25th, 19, 09:11 AM
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Re: MSD distributor timing issue

Quote:
Originally Posted by bhodgdon400 View Post
1; the builder told me he installed the cam 4* advanced. would this effect the pointer position in relation to the timing marks on the balancer?

obviously i know my next step is to use a piston stop and find TDC to check. .
^^^this will shed light on your timing mark alignment
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post #14 of 47 (permalink) Old Sep 25th, 19, 09:13 AM Thread Starter
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Re: MSD distributor timing issue

Quote:
Originally Posted by SoCal805 View Post
^^^this will shed light on your timing mark alignment



yea, i know i kind of skipped step 1 before asking questions. was more looking for info in regards to advanced cam install and how, if at all, that relates to ignition timing marks?
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post #15 of 47 (permalink) Old Sep 25th, 19, 09:38 AM
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Re: MSD distributor timing issue

If the balancer is degree'd, NO reason to use any indicator line on the timing scale, but the ZERO line. I would do the confirm TDC mark, and literally tape off the other numbers ON THE SCALE, and leave any dial back feature OFF, check from there.
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