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To Turn Engine & Set Valve Clearance?


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Is there a best method to turn the engine to set valve clearance when working without a helper? I have the spark plugs out and the small plug removed from the cylinder head over #6. I don't see a workable method of manually turning the engine while watching for the compression stroke on each cylinder. Make a remote pushbutton switch to engage the starter solenoid in short bursts?

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Grab the fan blade and spin the engine.  Watch the skinny wood dowel placed in cylinder 6. When it is at tdc, so is number 1 cylinder. Check your distr cap rotor position to be sure its pointed to #1 position. If not turn engine until #6 is at tdc again. Then rotor will be at #1 this time. Every 120 degrees of crank movement the next cylinder is at TDC. 1,5,3,6,2,4 is the order. You’ll know when each cylinder is at tdc by looking at the valves. The tappets will (should) have clearance at this point. Both valves fully seated and closed. Tappets down.  Clearance should be .008 at intake valve, .010 exhaust

Edited by keithb7
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If I remember correctly you can set all the clearances at.014. This will get the engine running. Then you can set the correct gaps with the engine running. That’s what I did years ago on the D24 I had.

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I'm assuming .008 and .010 are set with the engine cold? Would the settings be narrower on a hot engine or while it's running? Currently I have the manifolds off. I had a dual exhaust manifold on it and couldn't get to the front valve cover because of the location that was used for the front exhaust outlet. I'm going back to single exhaust and found another exhaust manifold. I'd like to get the clearances set before I reassemble everything. Set cylinder #1 with #6 TDC combustion stroke, #2 TDC set #5, #4 TDC set #3, etc.

I tried the fan to get the engine to rotate, but the belt must be too loose and it just slips. I'll tighten the belt and try it again. Manual transmission is in neutral position.

Thanks for the help.

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one can easily pull the spark plugs to remove compression and make the engine a bit easier to turn by hand....clearances are stated in the book for hot and cold setting....and depending on if the car makes extended runs you can increase the clearance couple thousandths....   Final setting can be based on this and the old adage I would rather hear them than burn them....in the standard I/E format....10/10 when hot.....10/13 cold  12/12 for extended run vehicles. 

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I got it to turn with the fan belt. The #6 hole over the piston has some casting blocking half of the hole. Too much to get a dowel to pass it. I'm using a bamboo skewer. I'll use the feeler guage to check the current valve clearances and jot down that setting for a curiosity reference as I reset each one. I'll use 10/13. I read somewhere, add 3 to the cold exhaust setting since it creates more heat than the intake. Add 2 to the intake. That would compute with Plymouth Adams suggestion.

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Just finished setting the valves. I did a cold engine setting 10/13. Someone had it set cold at 8/10. I hope the valves aren't burnt. It's always had a rough idle, but ran smooth on the road. I'm going to check out the distributor when I get it back together and running. It has a 1942 distributor currently in the engine. Car is a 39. However, there is 39 distributor setting in a box of spare parts. The 39 distributor has new parts in it. Shaft is rusty like it's been on a shelf for a long time. Could be, the guy that was rebuilding the car never got around to installing the 39 distributor. He died before it was completed.

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