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Probably the easiet way aside from using a timing light, is to use a vacume guage. Loosen the set bolt located at the base of the distributor & slowly rotate the distributo until you get the highest vacume reading. drive the vehicle with the ac on & check for pinging (detonation), deduce the timing about 1/16 of an inch until the pinging is not heard.
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Certified backyard mechanic I & II
My method is way more complicated than that.....Start The motor, Hold the Brake, Put it in gear, Floor the gas, Adjust the distributer till it (knocks)(pings) Retard the dist till it stops, tighten the bolt!!!!! Then get a timing light and adjust till right!!! I have been doing it this way for 30 years and it still works.........
the highest vacuum reading will be WAY too far advanced. just get a timing light, the cheapest one you can find will work.
as far as procedure, remove the air cleaner and plug any vacuum hoses that may be disconnected(golf tees work real good for this). disconnect and plug the vacuum hose(s) from the advance can, if there are 2 don't get them mixed up! loosen the distributor hold-down bolt and leave it snug enough to hold, but able to turn the dizzy. connect the timing light to the + and - of the battery and the #1 spark plug wire. clean off the balancer so you can see the marks and the pointer well, you can use a dab of white paint or such to highlight the desired setting on the balancer. start the engine and shine the light at the pointer. turn the dizzy to align your mark at the desired setting to the pointer. shut of the engine and tighten the hold down bolt. start the engine and verify that the setting did not move while tightening. shut off the engine and reconnect the vacuum hoses and disconnect the timing light. replace air cleaner and reconect vacuum hoses.
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