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Old 11-03-2017, 11:11 AM   #1
2Sheds_Jackson
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can't set ignition timing

Hi folks-
'93 LX auto ...I recently replaced my head with an ebay special...got everything reassembled, at this point I have most of the kinks worked out. It starts up, idles fine, drives reasonably well, no codes...but it seems a bit down on power, and I get some knocking/pinging when the engine is under a heavy load. So I decided to double-check the ignition timing.

I attached my light to plug wire #1, jumped the ECU jumper, ran the motor until the fans came on - it's idling at right about 700/800 rpm...but when I look in the hole with the timing light...I can't see the timing marks at all. I'm looking down into a vacant hole, at the head of a bolt on the flyweel, not at timing marks.

If I get really low to the ground, and look through the hole at a crazy angle...I can just barely see the bottom of that metal tab that the marks are stamped onto. It appears based on that, that my timing is waaaaay off.

I've rotated the dist. to it's fullest extent both forward and back, and the best I can do is when I rotate the dist. fully clockwise, the metal tab slowly comes down to where I can barely see the bottom edge (but can't see the timing marks). I don't even know for sure if it's the tab with the marks on it...hell it may be something else.

My first question is that I can't figure how my timing could be so far off and yet the car runs so well - second is that I have no idea how to get it any better. Could it be the timing light? I don't think it's possible to install the distributor wrong (keyed connector)...any ideas?
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Old 11-05-2017, 09:56 PM   #2
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Just to be sure, cylinder #1 is at the driver end of the engine; are you using cylinder #4 right next to the distributor?
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Old 11-06-2017, 08:22 AM   #3
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yep I have the order right. Just for the hell of it, I've tried clipping the light to each of the wires, but it didn't reveal much (since I can't see the timing marks anyway).

So I think I've concluded that my cam gear must be off by a couple of teeth. I'll have to pull the cover off and recheck everything.
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Old 11-06-2017, 01:52 PM   #4
zedjr10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2Sheds_Jackson View Post
Hi folks-
'93 LX auto ...I recently replaced my head with an ebay special...got everything reassembled, at this point I have most of the kinks worked out. It starts up, idles fine, drives reasonably well, no codes...but it seems a bit down on power, and I get some knocking/pinging when the engine is under a heavy load. So I decided to double-check the ignition timing.

I attached my light to plug wire #1, jumped the ECU jumper, ran the motor until the fans came on - it's idling at right about 700/800 rpm...but when I look in the hole with the timing light...I can't see the timing marks at all. I'm looking down into a vacant hole, at the head of a bolt on the flyweel, not at timing marks.

If I get really low to the ground, and look through the hole at a crazy angle...I can just barely see the bottom of that metal tab that the marks are stamped onto. It appears based on that, that my timing is waaaaay off.

I've rotated the dist. to it's fullest extent both forward and back, and the best I can do is when I rotate the dist. fully clockwise, the metal tab slowly comes down to where I can barely see the bottom edge (but can't see the timing marks). I don't even know for sure if it's the tab with the marks on it...hell it may be something else.

My first question is that I can't figure how my timing could be so far off and yet the car runs so well - second is that I have no idea how to get it any better. Could it be the timing light? I don't think it's possible to install the distributor wrong (keyed connector)...any ideas?
The dizzy only goes in one way. You can't misalign it. And doubtful your timing belt is off by that amount.I just had the same problem possibly with my 92. My timing was advanced by like 85 (85btdc) degrees and it still ran fine it seemed. Get a timing light with an adjustment on check for extreme advanced timing. Maybe its even past 85 degrees. Here is the solution. Before starting car jump the scss connector. The two pin connector under passengers glove box. Now start car. This retards the timing by 15 degrees each time u do it. I had to do it 4 or 5 times then i could just use the dizzy to adjust it normally. My dizzy was maxed out in full retard mode(all the way to rad). No need to reset ecu in between these if u need to do more than 1. Also a note on this. You don't need to set timing by jumping the 2 pin connector. The two pin connector connected while car starts just retards timing by 15 degrees.That is all it does. And this is probably how someones car even gets soo wacked out with timing. Later years auto set themselves.I doubt your car would run if too retarded but too advanced is more possible i think. Too retarded you could easily tell also i think. Smoke and other things would happen along with rough idle. Hope this helps.
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Old 11-08-2017, 07:29 PM   #5
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Wow, your info about the connector retarding the timing every time it's jumped...and it having a cumulative effect...has officially blown my mind. I've had to jump it several times lately to check codes. It sounds like that's what's going on, but I'm pretty well confused now.

I guess I don't quite understand how the timing works.

First off I don't understand why the procedure would have us jump the connector so the timing is retarded before we set the timing with the light. Why not just have us set the timing as-is?

If the effect is cumulative...how do I reset things so that I'm back to the proper setting with only 15 degrees of retardation? Just reset the ECU via the radio fuse as usual? I'm trying to avoid buying an adjustable light, but maybe that would be a wise investment.
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Old 11-10-2017, 05:55 PM   #6
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So if plugging in that jumper retards the ignition 15 degrees every time cumulatively via the ecu, how do you get it to correct itself? If your out a bunch, moving the distributor will only go so much, so what then?
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Old 11-12-2017, 06:38 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wtfisafleek View Post
So if plugging in that jumper retards the ignition 15 degrees every time cumulatively via the ecu, how do you get it to correct itself? If your out a bunch, moving the distributor will only go so much, so what then?
At this point, that's exactly the same question I have.

I rotated the dizzy fully CW, and at idle, I can see the red mark rotating down towards the timing mark. But I can't get it all the way there. There are a couple of engraved marks on the plate, below the red mark, but I can't quite reach those either.

I've reached the end of the ability of the dizzy to rotate, and it's not enough.

So...I'm really thinking that I need to:
  • TDC the motor again
  • slip the timing belt off the cam sprocket
  • re-align the sprocket index marks with the head (I suspect they'll be off by a bit)
  • slip the belt back on
  • re-try the timing

Sound like a minor PITA but...well I can't think of any other way to get the timing closer
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Old 11-14-2017, 07:29 PM   #8
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Yesterday I tried to look at the timing again, but it wouldn't start (weather got cold...I guess the car didn't like it with the timing off so much). So...

Today I pulled the valve cover and checked TDC and the timing marks. I found it was a little bit off - maybe one tooth. I pulled the belt off, moved the cam pulley a bit, put the belt on and did the belt tension. When done, it was dead-on - the white mark on the flywheel and the marks on the pulley were exactly lined up.

I reset the ECU by pulling the fuse.

And now of course it won't start. It tries, - it kind of catches when I first try, but then it just cranks like crazy. I've tried swinging the distributor each way, and it doesn't seem to change. CEL not on, no codes shown in diagnostic mode...it just won't catch and run.

I verified that I have spark. I know I'm getting gas because the plugs seem to have a ton of gas on them...they're soaked. I did a compression test - removed all the plugs and cranked the motor - it showed 1=160, 2=160 3=180 4=180 and they all held pressure for as long as I was willing to stand there.

Just for the hell of it I pulled the distributor cap off and plug #1 out and put a stick down the hole, and rotated the engine to TDC...just to make sure everything was still lined up...and it all still looks proper. Very frustrating that it still won't fire up.
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Old 11-15-2017, 09:02 AM   #9
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I think it's time to put the toe tag on this one and send it to the morgue.

It was trying to start...so I cranked the hell out of it - and it finally fired up after like 30-40 seconds. After coughing and sputtering a bit it ran pretty well - and my moving of the timing belt on the sprocket did fix the timing issue. It was nearly perfect to start with and I was able to set it precisely with the light.

But.

There was a lot of water vapor in my exhaust and I started to suspect that my original problem that led me to replace the head last month had not been fixed. I ran it for 20 minutes, during which time it ran perfectly and the temp was normal.

After I let it cool down, I checked the coolant level...sure enough, it was down about an inch. And the car would not start again. And I noticed some sort of vapor coming out of the radiator.

This is exactly what it did before - when it's full of coolant, it seems to be able to develop compression and run - but as it runs, the coolant slowly evaporates (leak into one or more cylinders) then when I try to restart, no compression. If I ran it long enough I'm sure it would start to overheat and I would again hear some air shooting through the radiator and out the expansion tank. So apparently when my daughter cooked this thing last month, she really did a number on the motor and I'll have to replace the whole thing, since replacing the head was not enough.

I'm not sure if I should junk this thing or try a motor swap. It seems a shame because the interior is very nice and the body, apart from needing paint, is very good as well.
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Old 11-15-2017, 10:25 AM   #10
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Sounds like you have an adjustable cam gear, i would get a oem one on there since adjustable gears tend to cause more problems than offer solutions. when you replaced the head, did you check it for warpage? A tiny crack or warpage can lead to coolant consumption, maybe an internal leak on the IACV is causing the coolant to be sucked thru there?????
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Old 11-15-2017, 11:26 AM   #11
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I hadn't really thought of any other places that coolant could could leak from...I'll have to check that IACV.

I don't have an adjustable cam gear - I suspected I had mis-aligned the gear after I replaced the head and discovered I couldn't set the timing. So I went back to verify, saw it was off by a bit...pulled the belt off, moved the gear one tooth and replaced the belt. A manual adjustment, if you will. That did fix my timing snafu but now I've discovered bigger problems.

As far as the head - I bought a refurb unit from a shop on eBay. It was supposedly resurfaced. I have no reason to suspect it wasn't done properly. It must have been cleaned in acid or something because it was spotlessly clean, and the mating surface was refinished.
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Old 11-15-2017, 03:36 PM   #12
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I always double check used or refurbished parts, I have seen brand new parts defective su therefore I make a habit at checking everything. Having done timing 2 times before on the Accord I am a firm believer that it might be easier pulling the engine to do it properly as there is no room in there for working. Good luck to you my man
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Old 11-15-2017, 03:38 PM   #13
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FYI an old engine builders trick to check timing after install is to manually turn the crank 3 times to check for any alignment issues or slack.
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Old 11-17-2017, 05:20 PM   #14
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Not sure on the timing light you have but if it is adjustable make sure it is set to "0". I was having a similar issue but then realize my light was advanced.
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