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360 Timing with Smog #748750
May 22nd 2019 12:26 pm
May 22nd 2019 12:26 pm
Joined: Feb 2016
Posts: 495
Portland, OR
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Deathorvictory Offline OP
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My fellow mopar friends, I am trying to dial in the timing on my 79. I searched the forums and found a lot on the 318 but nothing for a 360 of this age. It's a California van with all the functioning smog equipment on it and I'm just trying to determine the timing requirements for base timing. The hood on my van is not the stock hood, and it has stickers for a slant 6 so I cant reference those numbers any more.

I put a new distributor on it, after the existing one broke. It went in the same way it came out, rotor in the same position, etc. But when I clocked it to the same position it was in for timing, it did not start. I rotated it clockwise until I got it to start (lets say the vacuum can was at 1 o clock and now its at 2-2:30), so it runs and drives ok, but I want to understand what the timing numbers should be and I want to understand why in the same position, it would not start or run at all. The distributor with the key slot at the bottom allows it to go in only two ways, and I made sure the #1 is pointing at number one and the rotor was in the same exact position. Being that it runs, I know its not 180 out, but just was surprised to find the timing position is different.

I am not going to mess with the smog stuff at the moment but I would assume that base timing is different for a motor with smog and a motor without smog. Is that a correct assumption? I feel like a lot that I see online is non smog stuff. for like 10-12 degrees base timing, some sources say 5 degrees.

Thank you for any help.


1979 Dodge B200 Shorty, 1987 B250 Longy
Re: 360 Timing with Smog [Re: Deathorvictory] #748760
May 22nd 2019 3:57 pm
May 22nd 2019 3:57 pm
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 12,048
Fircrest, WA
Reed Offline
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Reed  Offline
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Fircrest, WA
Light duty 1979 360 timing is 10 btdc. No difference due to emissions package.

Where id you get the new distributor? Is it a remanufactured unit or an original Dodge unit? I advise you to swap the governor, weights, springs, and vacuum advance can from the old distributor into the new one to keep the original timing curve. Further, I also advise you to verify the reluctor gap.

Last edited by Reed; May 22nd 2019 4:07 pm.

Windows- they're what make a van worth owning!
Re: 360 Timing with Smog [Re: Reed] #748762
May 22nd 2019 5:14 pm
May 22nd 2019 5:14 pm
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Portland, OR
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Deathorvictory Offline OP
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Reed, the one that was in there was a reman and it broke in under a year of service. The new one I got is from O Reilly’s and was meant for this van, should I really be having to swap all that stuff out just to replace a distributor?

This is the a photo I took for reference use before I took it out and marked it up for this purpose. The two red arrows indicate the items that were loose and could move freely. The base plate with the screw was attached to those items, I could rattle it all around and heard it making noise when it was running and found it when I did some investigation. This is in the position I found it, so I used this photo to match the angle again but the green line is approximately where it’s turned now in order to run. I replaced the entire distributor, cap but kept the same rotor as it did not come with one. I’m going to go back and get a new one
[Linked Image]

So you think that the difference between these distributors would change the position enough? I did not put the previous one in, a shop in CA did however when I first got it, but they looked identical, but sounds like there are a lot of variables inside it. I just want to get this thing timed properly and keep driving it.


1979 Dodge B200 Shorty, 1987 B250 Longy
Re: 360 Timing with Smog [Re: Deathorvictory] #748763
May 22nd 2019 5:17 pm
May 22nd 2019 5:17 pm
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Deathorvictory Offline OP
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I also got a new coil that’s going to replace the one in this photo as well as brand new plugs.


1979 Dodge B200 Shorty, 1987 B250 Longy
Re: 360 Timing with Smog [Re: Deathorvictory] #748764
May 22nd 2019 5:25 pm
May 22nd 2019 5:25 pm
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 12,048
Fircrest, WA
Reed Offline
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Reed  Offline
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OK. On the old pre-computer controlled ignition systems the distributor controlled the vacuum advacne. As you probably know, the timing changes based on the operating conditions of the engine. In older distributors like yours, there is the vacuum can hanging on the side of the distributor and there is a system of weights and springs under the plate you are looking at. The vacuum can controls the vacuum advance, the weights and springs control the mechanical advance. Mechanical advance is controlled entirely by engine RPM. Vacuum advance is controlled by the vacuum in the intake manifold.

The reason I recommended swapping parts was because I assumed you had the original factory distributor. The vacuum advance can, springs, weights, and governor are all calibrated to the engine applicaiton and emissions package when the vehicle as manufactured new. But since you don't have the original distributor, don't worry about swapping anything.

Unfortunately, since you don't have the original distributor, you don't know what the current timing advance curve calibration is in your distributor. I can't even tell you for sure what your base timing should be without you disassembling the distributor and telling me some information.

However, this is what I recommend. Disconnect and plug the vacuum line that goes from the carburetor to the vacuum advance can on the distributor. With the engine warmed up and idling at around 700 RPM, set the base timing to ten degres BTDC. Reconnect the vacuum hose. That should get you in the ballpark for correct timing.

Also, your old distributor might be just fine, or possibly might have a screw that came loose. If I understand your post and that picture correctly, it sounds like the plate to which the pickup is attached came loose and is flopping around. That is fine. That plate is meant to be adjustable. There is supposed to be a screw that you can loosen and tighten to adjust the reluctor gap. It sounds like that screw came loose in your old distributor letting the reluctor plate move around. This could be why the timing had to be set differently when you installed the new distributor.

So, the short answer is set your timing to ten degrees and then listen for spark knock under heavy load like accelerating uphill.


Windows- they're what make a van worth owning!
Re: 360 Timing with Smog [Re: Deathorvictory] #748765
May 22nd 2019 5:26 pm
May 22nd 2019 5:26 pm
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 12,048
Fircrest, WA
Reed Offline
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Also, you should have a second set of timing marks on the bottom of the vibration damper to gve you a set of timing marks that are more visible. Chrysler put these on vans once they did away with the timing hole in the transmission bellhousing.


Windows- they're what make a van worth owning!
Re: 360 Timing with Smog [Re: Deathorvictory] #748766
May 22nd 2019 5:43 pm
May 22nd 2019 5:43 pm
Joined: Feb 2016
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Portland, OR
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Deathorvictory Offline OP
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Thanks for the overview on the distributor. That all makes sense. That adjustment screw was still tight, my initial thought was that just came loose but when I checked it with a screw driver, it was not loose at all and then some thing small fell into the weights below. The whole unit was super loose and I was supposed to drive to Seattle so I ended up not taking a chance and replaced it for good measure because it definitely seemed broken as I could not see anything that was meant to tighten it back down and was not doing that the day before.

I’ve done this before on a Chevy, replacing a stock dizzy/coil to an HEI unit and it went in the same exact place, turned the same exact way and ran like a top so I assumed this was a pretty easy swap.


1979 Dodge B200 Shorty, 1987 B250 Longy
Re: 360 Timing with Smog [Re: Deathorvictory] #748767
May 22nd 2019 5:49 pm
May 22nd 2019 5:49 pm
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 12,048
Fircrest, WA
Reed Offline
Maniac
Reed  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 12,048
Fircrest, WA
It should be an easy swap. Hey, if you still have it, and if you don't have plans for it, I would be interested in your old distributor. I have a spare 360 that needs a distributor. I live in Tacoma which is on the way to Seattle and could meet you somewhere near I-5.


Windows- they're what make a van worth owning!
Re: 360 Timing with Smog [Re: Deathorvictory] #748768
May 22nd 2019 5:51 pm
May 22nd 2019 5:51 pm
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Posts: 495
Portland, OR
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Deathorvictory Offline OP
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FWIW, I used to never drive this van on hills down in Long Beach, CA. But since I’ve moved up here, I did notice some knock or pinging up hills under heavy load. I couldn’t tell you what the previous mechanic set the timing too but I would get that is too advanced, right? Is there a range I could go between, so that 10 degrees is the most and there’d be a lowest point? What am I aiming to have total mechanical advance timing at? When I disconnect the vacuum, I will check total
Mechanical as well, usually 32-34 degrees is what I’ve set motorcycles, to and such and is similar to what I’ve read and then vacuum advance is added to that as well when it’s needed


1979 Dodge B200 Shorty, 1987 B250 Longy
Re: 360 Timing with Smog [Re: Reed] #748769
May 22nd 2019 5:53 pm
May 22nd 2019 5:53 pm
Joined: Feb 2016
Posts: 495
Portland, OR
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Deathorvictory Offline OP
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It went in the trash on Saturday and Monday was trash pick up. Sorry! Did you go to the Rat Patrol season opener car show? That’s where I was headed with a
Few of my van friends but I couldn’t make it.


1979 Dodge B200 Shorty, 1987 B250 Longy
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