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How do you put an initial timing on a newly rebuilt flathead six?


MarcDeSoto
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I'm getting close to doing the first engine start on my 48 Desoto since 1980!  I think I remember how to time an engine with a timing light, but how do I give it an initial timing just to get it started.  I put the spark plugs and cables in today.  I put the cables in firing order on the distributor cap, 1-5-3-6-2-4.  And I made sure that when the rotor is pointing at no. 1 cylinder at "7 o'clock", both valves are shut on no. 1 cylinder.  Anythng else?  

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Maybe top up the carb with fuel and pour some down the inlet manifold from the top of the carb. Confirm the timing on the crank pulley, make sures its about TDC then fire it away.

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Also, check that you have voltage at the coil and the points gap is about 0.020"

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Posted (edited)

Spark plugs gapped to .030" and points gapped at .20 to .24".  Tappets set at .014" gap at cold setting.  Also check the oil pressure relief valve is not seized and has the spring installed on the piston.  Also, fresh fire extinguisher at the ready.  

Edited by MarcDeSoto
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And since I don't have the wiring harness installed yet, I connect a wire from the neg. post of battery to neg. side of coil with alligator clips so I can pull one clip off to stop the engine.  And a wire from pos. side of coil to distributor.  And for the starter, a push button wire from Neg. side of bat. to bat. post on solenoid.  

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Hook up oil pressure gauge. Remove coil wire at distributor so engine cannot start. Crank over engine and watch oil pressure gauge.  You should build pressure while cranking. Do not start engine unless you have oil pressure.  No pressure? Remove and prime oil pump and repeat process.

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I agree with Keithb7, before you even try to start the engine, make sure you have oil pressure. I pull all of the spark plugs and just crank the engine until it shows pressure. On my last rebuild I could not get pressure and found that the spring that came with my new relief valve was too weak. I put in the original one and I got good pressure.  Once you have confirmed you have oil pressure, use the technique mentioned by OUTFXD to get the rough timing. When the engine starts you can fine tune the timing.  Good luck.

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Yes, I've been cranking the engine for weeks and it does have good oil pressure.  I primed the oil pump and everything.  I put the heater hose from the water pump inlet to the heater valve in a loop since the body is still not on the chassis.  

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