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Old 05-28-2010, 12:51 PM   #1
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setting timing without timing light

I broke my timing light and I need to set my timing. Can you set the timing without a timing light? And if so how. I have a 1993 Chevy s10 with a 2.8 engine. Thanks Guys.
Old 05-28-2010, 01:41 PM   #2
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Re: setting timing without timing light

i could tell you how to do it on a air cooled vw bug but i don't think it could be done on a hei ignition
Old 05-28-2010, 02:03 PM   #3
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Re: setting timing without timing light

you can do it...but i dont think its accurate.

My neighbor timed his GTO without a light...just by sound. Surprisingly it runs good.

I would DEF find someone with a light you can borrow
Old 05-28-2010, 02:06 PM   #4
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Re: setting timing without timing light

If you know what you're doing, you can get it damn close by ear. I, however, am NOT one of those people. Borrow or buy one. Still cheaper than paying someone to set it for you.
Old 05-28-2010, 03:33 PM   #5
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Re: setting timing without timing light

Use a vacuum gage instead, or did you break that too?
Old 05-28-2010, 04:46 PM   #6
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Re: setting timing without timing light

Thanks guys I'm going to the local autozone and buy myself a timing light. And no SH-60B I don't have a vacuum gauge. Can you tell me how to set timing with one?
Old 06-02-2010, 01:04 AM   #7
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Re: setting timing without timing light

Adjust timing for max vacuum, then drive to check for any pinging, which you probably won't hear because of the knock sensor, and back off timing if needed. It's close but not as good as a light.

Last edited by SH-60B; 06-02-2010 at 01:05 AM.
Old 06-05-2010, 11:04 AM   #8
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Re: setting timing without timing light

how fast can you blink ? seriously a light is the only way to go. back when carbs & points were the norm you could get close by vac gauge or ear but not dead on the money
Old 06-05-2010, 12:09 PM   #9
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Re: setting timing without timing light

i can get right on with a test light on a set of points(i had a vw when i was younger)
Old 07-03-2010, 10:21 AM   #10
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Re: setting timing without timing light

I have multiple S-10's

On the 2.8 [83] I run the timing as high as the starter will turn the motor.
On hot days you will know when you're too high as the starter won't turn the motor.

This engine runs so rich that I never have spark knock.

Setting without a light.

Loosen the dist
Remove and plug vac hose
Crank
Rotate dist clockwise for timing advance, turn till highest speed, rotate back till it slows to min speed then back till it barely speeds up. Lock dist down.

Check for hard cranking, check for spark knock.
Mild pinging on hill climbing under part throttle is ok [per GM Service Manual]
Added throttle at this point lowers vacuum and retards timing, if pinging still occurs at heavy {1/2 or more] throttle, retard timing. [Counterclockwise Dist. rotate]

[Older cars have "Venturi vacuum"]
Newer cars(75 up or so) all use Manifold Vacuum which retards vacuum under throttle.

Extended use of high timing that shows hard or slow starter speed will shorten starter life.

Note that most cars come with copper coated aluminum cables, make sure the lug on the starter is punched tight or "hot-start" problems may occur.

Doc

Last edited by Doctorvettte; 07-03-2010 at 10:27 AM.
Old 07-03-2010, 10:47 AM   #11
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Re: setting timing without timing light

I've timed several cars by ear, and they've been pretty close (within 1-2*) when we put a light on it.
In your case,
-go to the local parts place, (autozone, napa, o'reillys, etc)
-buy timing light
-come home, set timing
-return light to parts place
-get hotdog at vendor outside the parts place.
-win
Old 11-19-2010, 12:06 AM   #12
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Re: setting timing without timing light

Chock front wheels, loosen distributor until it will rotate with very little resistance, disconnect and PLUG vacuum line, start truck and put into gear, hit the gas until the tires start to just barely start to break loose, have a buddy crank down dist, reattach vac line and you are done. Takes all of 2 minutes and the motor will time itself. I have been doing this for 20 years with points or electronic ignition and never had a problem. Or do as DR. Vette stated, that worked on the old points style dist just fine.

Are there more accurate methods, sure, but you asked how to time w/o a light and that little 2.8 needs all the advance it can get.

Last edited by Trip..; 11-19-2010 at 12:08 AM.
Old 11-19-2010, 02:03 AM   #13
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Re: setting timing without timing light

Quote: Originally Posted by Trip..
Chock front wheels, loosen distributor until it will rotate with very little resistance, disconnect and PLUG vacuum line, start truck and put into gear, hit the gas until the tires start to just barely start to break loose, have a buddy crank down dist, reattach vac line and you are done. Takes all of 2 minutes and the motor will time itself. I have been doing this for 20 years with points or electronic ignition and never had a problem. Or do as DR. Vette stated, that worked on the old points style dist just fine.

Are there more accurate methods, sure, but you asked how to time w/o a light and that little 2.8 needs all the advance it can get.
This is laughable. Just what exactly is happening with this method? If you don't alter the position of the distributor you have changed nothing. If it rotates to some arbitrary position while it's loose you have no idea where the static timing is. Doing this for 20 years? This has GOT to be a troll post.

Last edited by SH-60B; 11-19-2010 at 02:05 AM.
Old 11-19-2010, 11:39 AM   #14
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Re: setting timing without timing light

The dist will advance itself. Try it.

Troll post?

Last edited by Trip..; 11-19-2010 at 11:40 AM.
Old 11-20-2010, 01:29 AM   #15
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Re: setting timing without timing light

Quote: Originally Posted by Trip..
The dist will advance itself. Try it.

Troll post?
The timing advances any time the engine rpm increases, to a point. That's the mechanical advance you are seeing. The car doesn't have to be in gear for the mechanical advance to come in, nuetral and park are the customary ways to check it .
You need to realize that when you loosen the distributor hold down clamp and rev the motor, then tighten the clamp, you have changed nothing. Once the motor returns to idle, all that advance you saw on the balancer goes away because the weights on the mechanical advance have closed back up without centrifugal force of higher RPMs to keep them open against the spring pressure. The advance returns to whatever you have the static timing set at idle. Say you set static at 10* and you have 24* of mechanical in the distributor. When the weights are thrown fully open you will have 34* of total spark advance not counting the vacuum advance. The vacuum advance can add about 12* (or whatever that specific can delivers). The less vacuum it gets, the less advance you get. So at idle, the most vacuum the motor makes, you have the most vacuum advance - this assumes you're on manifold vacuum, there is no reason to use ported vacuum. When you stab the throttle to wide open, the manifold vacuum drops, so most of the vacuum advance drops off too. At cruise speed some of the manifold vacuum comes back so some of the vacuum advance does too.

I can't believe you've been "setting" the timing by your method for 20 years, that's why I thought you had made a troll post. I took the time to explain the basics on the chance that you might actually be sincere and can benefit from a little tutorial.

Last edited by SH-60B; 11-20-2010 at 01:31 AM.
Old 11-20-2010, 10:09 PM   #16
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Re: setting timing without timing light

You can't set timing with the vehicle in park or neutral, using the method I described. The dist advances and retards just as you say it does. The motor must be under load. If the vehicle is in gear with the vacuum advance disconnected, you can see the dist turn. Like I said it advances itself. This works even if the advance weights are stuck.

The only vehicle I have tried to time via this method that was unsuccessful, was a 53 Packard Clipper with a straight 8. And that was only because the dist was completely rusted to the block and wouldn't turn. (Sat behind a barn w/o a hood for 30+ years.)

Back your timing off and try it.

Last edited by Trip..; 11-20-2010 at 10:10 PM.
Old 11-21-2010, 09:57 AM   #17
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Re: setting timing without timing light

Quote: Originally Posted by Trip..
You can't set timing with the vehicle in park or neutral, using the method I described. The dist advances and retards just as you say it does. The motor must be under load. If the vehicle is in gear with the vacuum advance disconnected, you can see the dist turn. Like I said it advances itself. This works even if the advance weights are stuck.

The only vehicle I have tried to time via this method that was unsuccessful, was a 53 Packard Clipper with a straight 8. And that was only because the dist was completely rusted to the block and wouldn't turn. (Sat behind a barn w/o a hood for 30+ years.)

Back your timing off and try it.

Old 10-21-2013, 02:31 AM   #18
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Re: setting timing without timing light

I remember my dad showing me years ago to pull #1 plug put your thumb in the hole and have someone bump ignition until your thumb is blown out of the hole (not really blown out) but at highest pressure. Once you reach that point stop check fly wheel to see where the mark is and that is where your timing currently is at, from there you can rotate distributor in small increments, repeat steps above check mark again see if is closer or farther then you know which direction to turn distributor. From there replace plug, start car if it will start turn distributor slowly in direction you found to be right til sounds right. Shut off car pull plug find compression stroke again as above and check mark.

Am I way off on this?? Not a mechanic like my dad was and was only 9 when he taught me this, maybe remembering wrong...let me know you mechanics out there.
Old 10-21-2013, 09:26 AM   #19
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Re: setting timing without timing light

No. What you are describing is finding #1 TDC (top dead center) compression stroke.

Looking at the balancer at this point only tells you where the base timing is at. Most people are more concerned with their total timing, which is what you are using going down the road.
Old 10-21-2013, 10:08 AM   #20
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Re: setting timing without timing light

Quote: Originally Posted by Trip..
You can't set timing with the vehicle in park or neutral, using the method I described. The dist advances and retards just as you say it does. The motor must be under load. If the vehicle is in gear with the vacuum advance disconnected, you can see the dist turn. Like I said it advances itself. This works even if the advance weights are stuck.

The only vehicle I have tried to time via this method that was unsuccessful, was a 53 Packard Clipper with a straight 8. And that was only because the dist was completely rusted to the block and wouldn't turn. (Sat behind a barn w/o a hood for 30+ years.)

Back your timitng off and try it.
You sir have fell and bumped your head. There is no way that you can change the base timing without rotating the distributor. Not to mention your method is reckless at best.
Old 10-21-2013, 10:12 AM   #21
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Re: setting timing without timing light

nope that wont work u should still use a light or if ur really good then just just start it up and start turnin ur distributor, I timed a 99 denali this way cuz I didn't have a timing light. it sounded like crap at first, so I slowly turned it til it purred and it ran great up til the day it died from bad fuel pump
Old 10-21-2013, 10:34 AM   #22
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Re: setting timing without timing light

Quote: Originally Posted by NitrousPowrdSS
You sir have fell and bumped your head. There is no way that you can change the base timing without rotating the distributor. Not to mention your method is reckless at best.
This. x10000
Old 10-21-2013, 11:05 AM   #23
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Re: setting timing without timing light

Wow, another moldy thread rears up

I don't understand why people are so concerned about timing unless they have removed or turned the dizzy.
Once you set timing, the only thing that will change it is the timing chain stretching. PERIOD.
So... when you do a tune up, you DO NOT need to check the timing.

After 50K miles, when the timing chain stretches... and I guarantee you it WILL...
you may want to advance the timing SLIGHTLY to compensate for the chain slack.

So, all of you master mechanics out there....


Confucius say: LEAVE timing alone!!
Old 10-22-2013, 06:06 AM   #24
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Re: setting timing without timing light

Quote: Originally Posted by Mad Max
Wow, another moldy thread rears up



After 50K miles, when the timing chain stretches... and I guarantee you it WILL...
Did you buy a cheap timing chain set-up? (LOL) Seriously, chain stretch is a problem. I still use a timing light to check if the chain has stretched enough to affect the running of the engine.

If the timing mark on the dampener moves around whilst the engine is idling, without my loosening the distributor, or doing anything else, I go buy a new timing chain set. I have another Chevy that just got a new timing chain and gears, after 300K + miles.
Old 10-22-2013, 12:49 PM   #25
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Re: setting timing without timing light

Quote: Originally Posted by dadmoonbunny
Did you buy a cheap timing chain set-up? (LOL) Seriously, chain stretch is a problem. I still use a timing light to check if the chain has stretched enough to affect the running of the engine.

If the timing mark on the dampener moves around whilst the engine is idling, without my loosening the distributor, or doing anything else, I go buy a new timing chain set. I have another Chevy that just got a new timing chain and gears, after 300K + miles.
I've changed so many timing chains, I dream about them...
My 2.8/3.4s have the Cloyes true roller sets installed. They last quite a bit longer than the stockers.

The worst I did was on my 65 Buick 300 V8 - I lifted the chain off of the top gear without doing anything else... AND the engine still ran ok with all of the slack.
After a Cloyes set install, the change in performance was noticeable.

Generally, you don't have to reset timing when you do a tune up. It's static once you set it (or at the factory setting).
If you move the dizzy, or remove it form the vehicle, obviously - you will have to rest the timing.
Old 10-24-2013, 03:45 AM   #26
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Re: setting timing without timing light

Quote: Originally Posted by hyenad
I broke my timing light and I need to set my timing. Can you set the timing without a timing light? And if so how. I have a 1993 Chevy s10 with a 2.8 engine. Thanks Guys.
His engine has vacuum controlled timing?

Old 10-25-2013, 05:04 PM   #27
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Re: setting timing without timing light

i went my sound/idle, took it for a drive etc. i ended up checking it a few mo0nths later with a light n was off my like 2 degrees. i was advanced which wasnt a bad thing
Old 03-27-2014, 08:23 PM   #28
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Re: setting timing without timing light

You do need a timing light .
I have a 92 S-10 W/a 2.8 V-6
To set the timing ( using timing light ) You have to disconnect a wire that is under the passenger side floor mat. It is the only one there.
Check engine light will come on
Hook up timing light and adj as required
once set turn off eng (re connect the wire) await a few minutes and restart
light should be off be off
My S-10 is running better than it has in 10 years that I have owned it.
it has 215,000 miles and still going strong.

I have had no internal work on the engine


Before I did the correct adj my veh would back fire through the TBI at random intervals. Even the dealer could not solve the problem.


I also tried hooking a hot wire to the plug near the dist on the pass side under the hood it did not work even though I read it in Chiltons
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