igintion timing for high comp engine based on roller

Team Hi,
4907 is on the road again incl. German TÜV ..no issued as they loved the car...woow as all brand new! incl. 305 on the rear!
so now I am doing all the "final" adjustments. Here now the ignition timing topic.
- I did follow the guidelines per sticky (TX George et al), well always some deviations.

1) engine full overhauled, bore 4.02 (custom Ross pistons) compression static app. 10.3, Trick flow heads, Edelbrok dual plain (modified!)
2) Holly 650 (so far)
3) ignition single point (one) system
4) Crane parts all over.. full roller , limit 6000 (can get you the cam details)

did run the car for 25 miles to go for TÜV / MOT was running rough after just static timing set up, based on this wimpy "PIONTER" precision!
Today I now used a ignition flash device to get better facts and adjusts.

Starting point:
1) vacuum tube OFF the distributor
2) engine run in the garage for 15 min, Oil pressure good, water temp did go up but have a fully modified cooling , no worries all top class (again learned from sticky)
3) engine idling very rough at MEASURED 5 dreg. adv.

1) move the distributor/hence pointer settings back and forth.
2) Settled at a nice 800 rpm idle at about 15 degr. advance? Can move it up and done with better & worth idle ..

SO...What is correct?
1) From my sense it is a question of the cam used.
2) I ASSUME : at idle move the advanced back as much as possible (near 10 degr.) for a DECENT idle at 800? OR NOT????

Need please some advice based on experience

Original Post

That should give you about 16* at idle.

You are looking for about 36* total (mechanical advance only).

You can decide if you want to connect the vacuum advance or not. Sometimes it can give you too much advance in Highway driving conditions.

I am not running vacuum advance per the recommendation of my engine builder.

ok I see
1) I did NOT plug the advanced tube!!! Big Grin
2) I have a device to measure intake vaccum will do.
3) final idle at carb understood.
4) I will then see what it does without vaccum advance, as I have a standard Motolight distributor so all mechanical.

TX for now
Matt, did you absolutely find TDC mechanically first? And what harmonic balancer are you using? If stock, it's almost a sure bet the outer ring where the timing mark is, has shifted towards retard as age and oil leaks break the bond it once had. Then you'll be trying to set timing to the wrong point on the crank rotation.

NOS balancers are 45+ years old and even new replacement ones sometimes have Windsor or SBF timing marks. Parts store employees that know what a 351-C is are getting rarer by the day, and some will insist that 351-Windsor parts are "equivalent" because their erroneous catalogue says so.
Tx for help & comments...

I will double check the TDC per finger in spark hole #1. (did check also the rockers for #1 to be loose - valve closed)
The damper is a brand new ATI for Cleveland. Bloody expensive.
I will def stick with timing light.

My issue is, I do not know how SMOOTH a Cleveland should idle with a modern cam . I guess should be decent with a lob sep. of 112??

Crane Hydro roller 52 9551
Range 2500 ...6000
Intake at 050 224
Exhaust at 050 232
Advert in 286
Advert. out 294
lob sep 112

As said I did play with the distributor setting at IDLE rpm between 5 deg and say 20 deg. advance according the ATI scale.
Idle was app 800 rpm (as a starting point, it can go lower). At <=5 deg it is not nice, kind of "lazy" picking up rpm. At 20 deg at idle it gets really rough, this is what I had first by setting the static timing.

If I give it 10...to 15 deg at idle it runs decent/acceptable, at a steady rpm. (I still have to close the vacuum tube for this measure!!) WHICH ONE TO CHOOSE 10 or 15 in respect to higher rpm/more advance driven by distributor characteristics?
I can check the advance at higher rpm per Chuck's statement app. 35 deg max to expect.

Hi Matthias - at 800 RPM, you should not have any mechanical advance yet. So you should block off vacuum to the distributor, but you should measure it at the carburetor.

I believe your mechanical advance should be “all in” at about 2800 RPM. The ignition advance should smoothly increase as you increase the throttle above idle.

Good luck - keep us updated!

the most important thing is not to have knock at full load, not the regularity of idling.
For this is what George recommends:
Set the ignition timing to the following spec: 16 ° to 18 ° initial advance; 20 ° centrifugal advance fully in between 2800 to 3200 rpm; this equates to between 36 ° and 38 ° total advance. Street engines (operated at partial throttle) should have 10 ° vacuum advance connected to ported vacuum. In spite of what you may have read elsewhere, a combustion chamber of fixed design (Cleveland factory), used with a piston dome of fixed design (flat top), with a similar dynamic compression ratio (8.0 or less), and with a fuel of fixed octane (91 US / Canada), shall require the same ignition calibration.


The idling advance will be ............... what it will be based on your distributor and you will adjust your idle with the carburetor

The value of the maximum advance can vary depending on the dynamic ratio, how much do you have?
While I agree with everything that has been said...

It is possible to limit the mechanical advance capability of the Motorcraft (Duraspark) distributor easily.

This can allow you to set the maximum advance of 35* (or whatever you choose), and then still have a 16* idle advance, by only allowing 20* of Mechanical advance.

This is done by shimming the dvance limit stops inside the distributor.
with 8.3 DCR you'll be lucky to run 30* maybe less w/o ping / detonation

here's a tutorial on the workings of the distributor


don't miss the 2nd page! notice in George's link you posted the 10L slot, it's discussed in my link here too. if you don't have the 10L slot or modified equivalent your total advance will limit your initial adjustment. you can also close the slot further past the 10L width and make your own 8L slot, or 6L slot etc Wink
we will see..did go back into my design work ..
I used a spread sheet and the crane cam is recommened for 9.5 to 10.75 Static. If I use Deg duration which is 284 or 360 - 284 = 74 it gives me 7.55 Dynamic. I got confused as I was playing with different cams 2 years ago when I kicked off my engine work. So hope all working fine.
Here is my metric: Comments?



Photos (1)
Tx 4V & Proud
yes that it is, so looks good.I was just worried, as my calcs had some flaws. Big Grin
Assume all is my fault in just using static timing only to start with but NOT correcting it by ignition light.

Weather got better, so TOMORROW.. Cool
Also as said befor I do not know how a "good" Cleveland should sound.. Smiler
I compared the engine "sound" with my C2 Corvette (327/350HP 1967) with DT Panter it did NOT sound as good. Well the static advance was app. 20! so bad.. will go now for a save and good sounding +/-15 deg. and run a while & measung the advance in total ..then further adjustments.

Keep you posted!

& TX Team US & Europe ..Danke..I do not do Cleveland every other day..

Pround on my Panter

there may still be some concern with yuor timing marks on the balancer and whether the scale is properly located to match the pointer?

you need to confirm #1 TDC even it's not precisely accurate but close enough to tell if the scale is in the right place at all

some aftermarket balancers have multiple scales or they're for a different pointer, it needs to be checked if you haven't
wooow what a Cat!

well today...no rain!
1) #1 is #1 so no mix up
2) TDC is correct and marks on ATI damper are very much correct
3) vacuum tube off distributor un-plugged and tube closed for timing light work
4) at idle app 15 deg. advance fixed, my be a bit less
5) with vacuum tube on, the distributor does add app 15 deg at 3000 rpm. that gives for now max of app 30 deg. Good to go for the next 500km until engine is run in a bit.

Engine sounds perfect now. Did drive app 60 km with max 3400 rpm as all band new. BRUTAL..this pull! Oil pressure good, Temp very good!

Tx again for help!

Matthias and his Panter
My 10.5:1 c.r. 351-C runs best with 28 degrees total advance & 15 degrees initial on a fully warmed up engine. After setting these, I reattach the vac advance and adjust that curve, too. I get over 20 mpg@ a steady 90-100mph w/no pinging.

Most modified Clevelands with closed-chamber heads and some sort of aftermarket cam give best results with 30 degrees or less total ignition advance, due to the extremely efficient combustion chamber. High advance is a SBC setting for their less efficient heads, or for drag racing, not continuous street/highway use with a Cleveland. You'll very likely find this on the dyno during final tune.
yes is amazing what the little tune does. Static was 20 advance unintentionally - I tried to hit 10 deg. and I did not check it ASAP - it was extremly hard to turn the crank in the right position by hand/tool. So Engine did sound terrible..no nocking though rev up to 2500 on first 20 miles! (I have done old Posches and VW engines at my student age, it was easier as much smaller cid and les compression).

René: much more brutal than my C2 67 Corvette Con. (and that C2 is good!), and I tried only up to 3400 rpm..mainly 3rd as need rpm variation to run in..

Bosswrench: top to know, after the team's work on final calculation and fixing my mistakes +/- 10.5 is where I got, yes modern heads (Trickflow), modern cam (Crane). I could sense the smooth running by turning the distributor in (5 deg) and out (20 deg), <15 deg. did sound very smooth - well roller as usual a bit noisier - , I could go higher to 18 was still ok, but turned it back to <15. That goes with your real life experience! And my dynamic advance will take it up to said 30 deg. max. Tx for the experience based info.

Honstly, I got a bit nervous after the very expensive rebuild on my cat's engine that it might not be good. The build was done by a Germany mashine shop, known for US engines with good reputation but the final design and parts and calculations I did mayself based on George's docu and the Book from Tom Monroe..


Add Reply

Likes (0)