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Old 05-26-2006, 10:41 PM
ColonyPark ColonyPark is offline
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Need help with timing on 2.0 with distributor

Ok, I just got an 88 Ranger w/ 2.0L

When I got it, the timing belt was broken. I had some guys help me get the belt replaced, and I drove the truck home about 20 miles. It ran fair, but had NO power. I'm not expecting a lot of power, but it really feels like the timing's just a hair off. No backfiring or anything like that.

I've never actually messed with a distributor before, but I do have an old timing light. Now:

1. I can't seem to see the distributor hold down bolt. Does anyone know where it is?

2. The truck starts easy, but is slow to wind up and make power. Does that sound like I need to advance or retard?

3. If I'm really careful, could I just turn the distributor slightly w/o going to the trouble of dragging out the light, plugging the vacuum advance, etc.?

Thanks!
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Old 05-27-2006, 09:59 AM
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First of all, are you positive the cam timing is spot-on? It's possible to get it a tooth off and have a severe lack of power.

But if it's ok, then the ignition is a good place to go next. More than likely you got the countershaft sprocket a tooth off when replacing the belt, easy to do since there are no real timing marks for it. Most likely you have it retarded, if it were too far advanced it would be very hard to start (as if the battery were dead) and retarded ignition timing does indeed cause the symptoms you describe.

The dist. hold-down bolt is a bit tough to see, it's up close to the block. A simple way to go is to loosen it just enough to allow dist. movement and turn it with the engine idling. If the idle speed slows, go the other way, you're retarding it even more. Turn it till it speeds up and is running well, but since it's EFI you really do still need to set the base timing to specs with a light as the timing is actually computer controlled. You need to pull the SPOUT connector and set it to 12║ BTDC. You can advance it up a bit, say to 14║ and see how it runs there. Don't forget to replace the SPOUT connector when done.
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Old 05-27-2006, 10:39 AM
tomw tomw is offline
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The hold down is a metric, behind the dist bowl, on the block side, just rearward of being straight behind the dist. You can sometimes get it from the front between the alt/ps mounts if it lines up, just to break it loose, or from behind, hands 'under' the intake manifold, wrench facing sort of forward. You just need to loosen it up enough to move the dist.
Probably did get the timing off as noted above, so you should check all your belt pointers. The crank woodruff key will be at 12 at engine TDC. The cam pointer and triangle on the cam gear will line up for TDC, and the dist rotor should point, sort of, at the #1 plug wire. That is basic. Then go thru the SPOUT process with a timing light. THe engine must be at operating temp to set the timing unless you defeat the ECM by putting it into test mode. For 2 mins after going into 'test' mode, the ECM will leave the timing un-molested, and you can use a timing light w/o finding and disconnecting the SPOUT plug. I found out the hard way. Had little to no power. Felt like the engine had rubber bands for throttle response. Ugh.
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Last edited by tomw; 05-27-2006 at 10:40 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 05-27-2006, 02:33 PM
ColonyPark ColonyPark is offline
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Thanks so much to you both. The cam and crank both have marks, as you know, and I feel sure they're fine. The distributor pulley doesn't have a mark, but we set the rotor as close to #1 as we could.

Now, in looking at the distributor, are you sure there's a spout connector? This one has vacuum advance. The emissions sticker on the core support says simply to pull the advance hose and set it for 6 degrees. The point is a little moot since I'll just try to set it by ear first.

I drove it around doing yard work today and it was a complete dog. I don't think I could start from a dead stop on anything more than a modest grade. Once I get it wound up, it's not as bad. It's just from a dead stop... Wow.

Thanks so much; I'll report back shortly.
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Old 05-27-2006, 03:35 PM
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What a difference!

I just tweaked the timing, and it really needed advanced badly. I disconnected the vacuum advance, and I cranked it around until it the thing idled up nicely. I drove it down the block and back, and it was like a totally different truck. Then I drove it back and shut it off. It was a little harder to restart. So I retarded the timing just a little bit. Now it starts easy and has a ton more power.

This 2.0 has manual brakes, manual steering, no A/C and vinyl interior, regular cab and 4x2. Now it's at least as potent as my 2.3 SC 4x2 with power everything and A/C. I know the extra weight and accessories make the difference, but I never thought this truck would run nearly as well as the 2.3

Thanks guys so much. If you have any other suggestions, I'm all ears.
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Old 05-27-2006, 07:44 PM
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Hmm, is this EFI or carbed? If it's carbed, then there's no SPOUT connector, but an '88 should be EFI...

Anyway, glad you got it. Now if you really wanna wake that puppy up, swap in some forged pistons and a turbo from a T-bird turbo coupe or an SVO 'Stang...!
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Old 05-27-2006, 09:35 PM
ColonyPark ColonyPark is offline
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It's carbed. When I first looked at it, I assumed it was a 2.3, but when I looked up some parts at www.partsamerica.com , they showed that anything carbed in that year is 2.0.

I drove the truck about 50 miles this evening, and it's great. The only thing now is that it seems like it idles a little low. Also, if I push the clutch in rolling up to a light, the engine will wind down and cut off. It'll always start right back up, and it never dies otherwise.

I'm wondering if there's an anti-backfire solenoid or something that's a little sluggish. Maybe it's shutting fuel off and not opening back up in time to keep the engine running. Of course, maybe if I just turn the idle set screw and bump the idle up it'll take care of it.

The emissions sticker says it's supposed to idle at 800, which seems lower than most four bangers. Without a tach, I'm not sure where it is really.

Now, on to your suggestion to build it! This truck is ideal for it. The only rust anywhere is a little surface rust on the hood from the paint fading off, and a tiny bit on the tailgate. This truck would be ideal for a makeover. In all honesty, it'll probably be a few years before I'm in a position to do it, but by that time, my oldest son will be 12. I'm thinking this truck will make a great project one day.
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Old 07-24-2006, 03:05 PM
nhswrld nhswrld is offline
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did you tweak the carb at all after setting the timing? the air/fuel ratio could be slightly off causing your idle problem, or you could just simple need to turn the idle up on the carb

if your idle is set too low it could also cause your motor to stall out when you come up to a stop...
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Old 07-24-2006, 05:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nhswrld
did you tweak the carb at all after setting the timing? the air/fuel ratio could be slightly off causing your idle problem, or you could just simple need to turn the idle up on the carb

if your idle is set too low it could also cause your motor to stall out when you come up to a stop...
It's really nice of you to reply, and I need the advice more than ever.

The idle speed on this carb is controlled electronically. How it reads the rpm, I don't know. There's a motor that spools out to increase the throttle position.

Now, here's the problem. I recently got the truck wet. I was going through about a foot of water, and went fast enough to push the water in front of the truck high enough to suck some in the intake hose. After I did that, I couldn't get the truck to run, so I sprayed quite a bit of carb cleaner down the carb throat. It would run on that.

After letting it sit about a week, I changed the oil and trans lube, but found no evidence of water in either. That let me breathe a little sigh of relief.

I also found that the truck will start okay when cold and heavily choked. After you get it running, it will drive out fine on the road: smooth, with plenty of power and no misses, which pretty much rules out hydrolock damage. The only problem is that the truck WILL NOT idle at all. If you let the RPM's get below 1200 to 1500, the truck dies. At that high an RPM, the idle speed motor is parked. It only comes out when the RPM drops below 800 or so, and the truck dies before it gets down that low. To restart it, you have to pump it a lot to get enough fuel in via the accelerator pump to restart.

I actually bought a factory repair manual, and it shows that there is an idle speed screw, which is convenienly placed behind a metal cover that has to be drilled out for access. All fuel goes through the main metering jet (there's only one), but there is a separtate idle circuit for the fuel. I believe strongly that the idle circuit is stopped up.

Last week, I took the carb off and actually sprayed the idle screw from inside the venturi. Carb cleaner passed through the passage and out another place, but the truck still doesn't idle.

My current theory is that the idle circuit passageway was already partialy clogged, and that either the small amount of water, or the large amount of carb cleaner, finished stopping it up. Does that sound right?

I did replace what vacuum lines looked faulty, and I haven't heard any vacuum leaks at all. The base gasket looked fine too.

This carburetor, for the record, is an oddball. It appears that it was only used in 1988, and only on the 2.0. It's a progressive two barrel, and made by some foreign company. The cheapest I've seen a reman is about $300. I really don't want to replace it and still have the problem, but I really can't think of anything else it could be.

HELP!
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Old 07-24-2006, 05:20 PM
nhswrld nhswrld is offline
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it sounds like your idle has to be adjusted...there is a possibility that you got some kind of moisture in your fuel system, or some sort of dirt in your carb, a cheap way to check that is simply stop at a gas station before you fill your tank again and add in some dry gas...see how that runs....they also make injector cleaner for the tank, idealy if you believe the gas is being cut off more so then the truck just stalling out from bad adjustment, you could try a fuel pressure gauge to rule out a faulty fuel pump

a good way to kind of see what is going on, pull your spark plugs and take a look at what kind of wear you have on them...maybe clean them up a little bit, i know if you were playing with the timing you could have fouled them up a little bit too

try sitting under the hood and working the throttle, listen to the engine as you rev it up and slowly let off, see if you can hear it start to miss at all as you bring it down to idle....

did you try to adjust the air/fuel ratio at all...there should be a little screw adjusters on the carb, but you probably have to drill that plate out to have access to your idle adjuster...as big of a pain in the a@@ as that may be...
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Old 07-24-2006, 05:28 PM
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I'm thinking you've got water in the float bowl. Water is heavier than gas so a little of it will just sit there as you burn the gas off the top of it. I'd open up the carb and take a look, it may be as simple as cleaning out the bowl, spraying some carb cleaner into all orifices followed by compressed air and buttoning it back up.
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Old 07-24-2006, 05:34 PM
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You both mention water. I really should probably take the tank off and drain it for starters. I did put in drygas, but it didn't seem to make a difference.

I also could take the top off the carb. I'm leaning in that direction.

One thing I forgot to mention is that when I was spraying out the carb, there was some weird, gellatinous gunk that came out. Very odd stuff. The more I think about it, the more I wonder if that's not a byproduct of water and drygas...
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Old 07-24-2006, 05:43 PM
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Weird, gellatinous gunk...! Get that carb opened up, I think you'll find the source of your problems in there.
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Old 07-24-2006, 07:51 PM
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I guess there's nothing to hurt by opening it up. It's already dead, right?

I had one other idea tho. This engine has a mechanical fuel pump. What if I disconnected the fuel inlet to the pump and fed in a gallon or so of gas that was rich in SeaFoam. I wonder if that would clean it out without taking the chance of damaging the gaskets. My only hesitancy to opening the carb is that the rebuild kit alone is $100...

Do you think that would even help?

And, about the jelly stuff. It was very odd... I couldn't determine where it came from, but it was definitely coming out of the venturi's (sp?) It was the color of fuel varnish, but had very little "body" to it. You couldn't roll it between your fingers even. It was just very weird. I've worked on some very nasty, gunky carbs on lawn mowers and motorcycles, but I've never noticed anything quite like this.
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Last edited by ColonyPark; 07-24-2006 at 08:06 PM.
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Old 07-24-2006, 08:14 PM
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The gunk/water has to go somewhere and about the only way to get it out is to physically remove it. Usually you won't damage the carb top gasket by careful removal of the top, so it's worth the chance. You can suck it out with a Mighty-vac or if you have access to a compressor you can get a cheap syphon blow gun at most auto parts stores and suck it out with that.
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Old 07-24-2006, 08:14 PM
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