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Old 03-02-2014, 02:15 PM   #1
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Really bizarre timing issue

I am attempting to install an HEI distributor in my 89 4.2l.

I took pictures of everything before I started. I left the plug wire going to #1 on the old distributor and removed all the other wires and plugs. I cleaned the timing marks and then rotated the crank so that the timing mark was at zero then went around and removed the cap to find that the rotor was pointed the opposite direction that it should be.

I went back to my pictures and verified that #1 wire was where I thought it was. When I look through the oil filler both valves appear to be closed and I can see the top of the piston through the plug hole. If it is 180 out then the exaust valve should be open.

If I turn the crank 180 degrees there appears to be some sort of scratch in the harmonic balancer around zero. I am not sure what to do at this point other than put it back the way it was until I can make sense of it. I have not moved the original distributor so it shouldn't be a problem to just put the plugs and wires back the way they were.

When I get it back together I am going to use the timing light to see if it times on the timing mark or the scratch.

Anyone have any ideas?

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Old 03-02-2014, 02:58 PM   #2
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Update:

I just put it all back together and it fired right up and showed about 10 degrees BTDC with the regular timing mark.

I am really confused and it is probably something stupid I did so I am going to button it up and try again another day.

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Old 03-02-2014, 03:03 PM   #3
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This is a simple issue. The engine crank shaft makes two revolutions to one revolution of the distributor. If you just rotate the crank shaft one more time to the TDC mark you will then observe that the rotor will line up to the original #1 spark plug wire. Timing should be set at 8 Degrees before TDC at idle, vacuum advance hose capped, and engine warmed up.
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Old 03-02-2014, 03:14 PM   #4
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Thanks, I knew that it was something really stupid on my part.

I will try it again later in the week.
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Old 03-02-2014, 04:19 PM   #5
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It lives!!!!

That was it. It started right up, now all I need to do is set the timing. hook up the tach, and clean up the wiring mess.
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Old 03-02-2014, 05:09 PM   #6
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Damn what a difference! I am in love with my Jeep all over again!

I could tell a difference as soon as I pulled out of the driveway. I had it up to 3500 RPM for the first time. It is way smoother then it was even idling. Part of this may be the new plugs I put in the other day but it didn't feel like this on my trip to Mom's yesterday.

I can't wait to do the MC2150. I guess I will have to get Ivie to be on tech support standby for me in case I have another Vulcan Mind Fart while I am doing the carb.
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Old 03-02-2014, 06:27 PM   #7
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Do you still have the Carter carb, and it made that much difference? I've been wondering if switching to HEI and high performance plugs and wires would make much of a difference. I'm stuck with the Carter because I'm in CA, but I'd like to squeeze a little more oomph out of it.
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Old 03-02-2014, 07:03 PM   #8
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Glad I could help. Happy you have it going
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Old 03-03-2014, 04:44 PM   #9
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My Car [jeep] runs much better with timing set at 10degs to 12degs BTDC.
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Old 03-03-2014, 05:52 PM   #10
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I don't see where 10 or 12 would make much difference as long as it is working. Where you may experience an issue is when starting the engine up after it is hot and you may hear the starter loading down.
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Old 03-03-2014, 09:28 PM   #11
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I am not going to touch it, I love the way it is running. 29 degrees and I did not have the 5 minutes of popping and shaking that I usually do on cold mornings.

Cyndi, it might be worth it if you can get away with the HEI distributor. I have no idea how not having the original would effect your emissions. If you can pass with a Nutter bypass then this should be OK. I have another new in the box HEI distributor sitting on the bench that I can make you a deal on if you want to try. All you would need to add would be a pigtail for the battery and tach connections and a set of 8mm wires. I still have the carter in it but I have a Motorcraft 2150 or I should say a brand new facsimile of one as it doesn't actually say Motorcraft on it ready to go on probably next weekend.

As far as high performance plugs go I am running $2 Autolite 985 copper core plugs gaped at .050. Just replacing the Champion platinum core with the new Autolite's made a noticeable difference.
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Old 03-03-2014, 09:58 PM   #12
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Wow... Now I agree with the title of post " really bizarre timing issue". I don't even have enough timing marks to determine it be 29 degrees before TDC on my 4.2.

I can't see how it can run at 29 unless you are testing with the engine rpm at a much higher RPM than idle (800 rpm) and the vacuum advance hose still connected to distributor. In which case the combination of the two will push the timing Mark a couple inches farther up from TDC. But none of this matters if it is running good. No matter how you got there. GL
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Old 03-03-2014, 11:13 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by CyndiB View Post
Do you still have the Carter carb, and it made that much difference? I've been wondering if switching to HEI and high performance plugs and wires would make much of a difference. I'm stuck with the Carter because I'm in CA, but I'd like to squeeze a little more oomph out of it.
CyndiB-

Technically, the HEI is not approved for use in the 4.2 here in CA, due to CARB regulations. Whether someone will notice the different style distributor (or even care) depends on where you get your Jeep smogged. At least one guy on Jeepforum down in San Diego has said he's had no problem smogging his 90 YJ with an HEI distributor and never thought twice about it. It's a risk though, just be aware.

You can get similar improvement by doing what is called the Team Rush mod, for less cost than a good HEI distributor. The distributor cap looks like OEM, only it's bigger, and you can use an OEM style coil if you use the MSD Blaster 2F (which is actually CARB approved for the 4.2L YJ). This leaves the cap/rotor combo as not being technically stock, but because it is still similar to the stock cap (doesn't have the coil built into it) it will be less likely noticed as not being stock.

Of course, when you go with non-OEM smog related components in CA you either need that CARB approval for use on your vehicle, or you cross your fingers that the tech won't notice the non-OEM part.
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Old 03-03-2014, 11:44 PM   #14
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Sorry for the confusion, 29 was the temp. There was a noticeable difference cold starting after the dist swap.

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How do they know if something has been changed? Do they have pics of what every vehicle is supposed to look like?
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Old 03-03-2014, 11:49 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by NonRubicon View Post
CyndiB- Technically, the HEI is not approved for use in the 4.2 here in CA, due to CARB regulations. Whether someone will notice the different style distributor (or even care) depends on where you get your Jeep smogged. At least one guy on Jeepforum down in San Diego has said he's had no problem smogging his 90 YJ with an HEI distributor and never thought twice about it. It's a risk though, just be aware. You can get similar improvement by doing what is called the Team Rush mod, for less cost than a good HEI distributor. The distributor cap looks like OEM, only it's bigger, and you can use an OEM style coil if you use the MSD Blaster 2F (which is actually CARB approved for the 4.2L YJ). This leaves the cap/rotor combo as not being technically stock, but because it is still similar to the stock cap (doesn't have the coil built into it) it will be less likely noticed as not being stock. Of course, when you go with non-OEM smog related components in CA you either need that CARB approval for use on your vehicle, or you cross your fingers that the tech won't notice the non-OEM part.
Gee, I never thought about the distributor being smog illegal. Thanks for the info NonRubicon. I don't think I want to take the chance of having non-approved parts.
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Old 03-04-2014, 12:48 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by curtisreinke View Post
NonRubicon
How do they know if something has been changed? Do they have pics of what every vehicle is supposed to look like?
There's the rub. It really depends on the station you go to as to what they know, though I doubt that they have pics of every smog regulated engine ever made. And it depends on the tech. The concern with using non-approved aftermarket smog parts is that if you get a tech that knows exactly what your engine should look like for the OEM setup, and that tech is an uber strict smog nazi looking to enforce all rules to the exact letter of the law, you could very well fail visual.

But you are right in that if they don't know, they don't know. All depends on where you go. Not all stations are equal when it comes to the knowledge the tech have.
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Old 03-04-2014, 12:49 PM   #17
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Gee, I never thought about the distributor being smog illegal. Thanks for the info NonRubicon. I don't think I want to take the chance of having non-approved parts.
Yeah, unfortunately California laws says it has to be OEM/OEM-equivalent or CARB approved for your vehicle to be technically smog legal. The dumb thing is that even if a part gives you better performance and even reduces emissions, unless it gets the CA seal of approval (which requires paying fees to have it tested and approved) the part is still illegal.

That said, if you are a stickler for staying 100% CARB legal all the time and don't want to risk anything all, you can get better spark performance with the MSD 6A Ignition. The MSD 6A Ignition is CARB approved for use in the 4.2L YJ and replaces the OEM ignition control module.

If you are looking for an inexpensive means to boost performance a bit but don't want to spend $200 on a MSD 6A Ignition, try the Team Rush mod. I seriously doubt that any smog tech will notice that the distributor cap isn't OEM size.

To each their own as far as what they are willing to chance. However, even if one station won't pass your vehicle with a non-approved mod, the next one might do so without a problem. It's just the smog nazis that you have to be wary of.
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Old 03-04-2014, 10:13 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NonRubicon View Post
Yeah, unfortunately California laws says it has to be OEM/OEM-equivalent or CARB approved for your vehicle to be technically smog legal. The dumb thing is that even if a part gives you better performance and even reduces emissions, unless it gets the CA seal of approval (which requires paying fees to have it tested and approved) the part is still illegal. That said, if you are a stickler for staying 100% CARB legal all the time and don't want to risk anything all, you can get better spark performance with the MSD 6A Ignition. The MSD 6A Ignition is CARB approved for use in the 4.2L YJ and replaces the OEM ignition control module. If you are looking for an inexpensive means to boost performance a bit but don't want to spend $200 on a MSD 6A Ignition, try the Team Rush mod. I seriously doubt that any smog tech will notice that the distributor cap isn't OEM size. To each their own as far as what they are willing to chance. However, even if one station won't pass your vehicle with a non-approved mod, the next one might do so without a problem. It's just the smog nazis that you have to be wary of.
I don't mean to hijack the thread, but just one more question: which gives better performance, the MSD 6A ignition or the Team Rush mod?
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Old 03-05-2014, 06:04 PM   #19
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Dollar for dollar, if all you are looking to do is improve the idle smoothness, and increase useable rpm range, Team Rush would give you the better bang for your buck. It won't turn the 4.2L into a monster engine, but it'll help it behave better and let you make better use of what potential the computer controlled Carter BBD setup will provide.
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Old 03-08-2014, 04:57 PM   #20
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The extra HEI Distributor I had has found a home.

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