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Changing Timing - Can't Turn Distributor

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Old 03-11-2008, 05:20 PM   #1
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Default Changing Timing - Can't Turn Distributor

I recently purchased a 67 Mustang with a 289. Today I replaced the spark plugs and thought I would check the timing. The timing is currently set to 3 degrees advance at idle (don't know RPM because I don't have a tach). What should the advance be set to? I believe the engine is stock with a 2bbl but it does have headers installed.

I thought I would increase the advance to see what would happen. Unfortunately, after I unbolted the distributor retainer, I was unable to turn the distributor. I sprayed some WD-40 on the based and put it back together for now. I then noticed I could really only turn the distributor about 1/8 inch before the vacuum advance part hits the intake manifold. What should I do about that so I can increase the advance (if I should at all)?

1967 Mustang Coupe w/ 289 3spd
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Old 03-11-2008, 05:58 PM   #2
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Default RE: Changing Timing - Can't Turn Distributor

As far as the dist. itself, if the WD40 doesn't loosen it up you might try a better penetrating oil and then keep trying to wiggle it back and forth. They'll freeze up sometimes when they haven't been loosened in a long time. You also might try using a soft hammer like a lead or brass hammer and tap the dist. housing flange where it seats in theengine.
If you can't advance the timing once it's loosened, the dist. may be installed one tooth off and if so you'll have to pull it partially out and re-install it one tooth back. Then you'd have to move allthe plug wiresback one position on the cap also.

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Old 03-11-2008, 09:59 PM   #3
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Default RE: Changing Timing - Can't Turn Distributor

Well,,, In my slightly over a year on this forum, I have seen at least two instanceswhere "stuck" distributors were absolutely destroyed by their car owners in an attempt to time the vehicle or to extract the distributor from the engine..

Both of these cases resulted in long threads, and finally endedwith extreme measures taken to eventually and painfully remove the offending part!

I recommend patience.. I recommend a long term treatment of the distributor with all kinds of penetrating oil, perhaps weeks or even months prior to getting aggressive..

Take your time!!!

A problem like this has a way of "bugging" people to the point of obsessing on the removal of the distributor even though there is no real good reason to be in a hurry to get it out, or to even move it... resist the temptation to rush!
Building cars is EASY, building cars right is a mite bit harder.

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Old 03-11-2008, 11:39 PM   #4
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Default RE: Changing Timing - Can't Turn Distributor

This may seem silly, but loosen the dizzy retainer all the way and take off the holddown. then see if you can turn the dizzy. Also if it is one tooth off, you should be able to tun the dizzy in the oppoiste direction, if you cannot turn it either way, it is stuck! I like 3-in-1 penetrating oil and gunk liquid wrench in that order. The 3-in-1 works the best for me. Be gentle and patient. As far as what the correct timing is, 289s seem to like 12 degrees at idle. The best way to achieve this is to use the advance and retard method. I advance the distributor (clockwise) untill the fastest idle is achieved then a little bit further untill the idle slows down a bit and struggles slightly. then I retard it (counterclockwise) untill it is idleing the fastest agian. You can check with timing light when you are don if you want, but I have heard that the harmonic dampeners on mustangs are crap and give inaccurate readings. Test drive and IF the car pings on full accelleration retart the timing the smallest touch. This works for me and I get the best gass miliage and power this way. if you want to be completely thourough, you can then udjust the idle mixture to set your curb idle speed after. Btw if you have a vacuum guage the timing is even easier, just set it to the point where you have the most vacuum. Good luck.
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