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Timing problem(?)


fordmerc
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Engine seems to ”stutter” or miss under acceleration – some times but not always. ('41 120) Runs best at 55 mph on freeway.

Ran flawlessly after rebuild for 1000 mi. New points installed to try to correct the problem, to no avail.

At idle, timing barely OK at 7 deg BTDC. However, distributor adjustment is at its limit of counter-clockwise rotation. I tried moving the wires one hole in the cap and rotating the distributor back, however that didn’t solve the problem since the range of distributor rotation is less than 45 degrees.

Comments on the problem? Comments on timing adjustment? Is the "play" in the rotor shaft (10-20 degrees) the problem?

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  • 1 month later...

A qualified yes. I replaced vacuum advance because I couldn't convince myself that it was OK. I replaced all wires from distributor. Now the hesitation problem is probably gone, however the engine still just isn't a smooth as it was. I remain concerned that because the distributor is at its counterclockwise limit of rotation, and No 1 plug fires at approx. 7.2 deg BTDC (should be 7.0) that might be part of the problem. I have avoided trying to rotate the oil pump to re-position the distributor. I'm not satisfied that all is well, but I'm out of easy ideas.

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You should not have to touch the oil pump. Isn't there two methods of clamping on your distributor? The flat bracket to block held by two bolts in slots and has the small scale for octane adjust. That has limited adjustment but under the distributor itself isn't there a bolt or screw pointed toward I think the rear which tightens a clamp in the circle at the middle of the bracket and holds the entire dist to the bracket. On most Packards you should be able to put the small scale at zero then loosen the screw under dist to rotate the entire dist to get your timing. The small scale was just for fine tuning if there was a quick touchup needed because of different quality gas.

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So far as I can tell, the distributor is held in rotational position only by the single screw/clamp on the scale for adjustment. When I had the distributor out I saw no other attachment or clamp. None of the images I recorded show another clamp. (The distributor interface with the oil pump is a blade.) When I loosen the screw I can rotate the body of the distributor in an arc of about 40 degrees- just not enough to solve the problem by advancing the wires in the distributor head. I believe the distributor is correct for the '41 120. Disclaimer: I am a mechanical novice, so I may be overlooking the obvious.

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Some types of distributors used on Packard had the flange firmly attached as yours apparently does (at least on post-war models) but can't you simply shift over the plug wires to the next respective hole in the cap (being careful not to mix them up) to get back the adjustment range? All of my pre-war distributors have the adjustable flange so perhaps yours has had a newer distributor installed at some point in its life.

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I did try moving the wires one hole ahead, to no avail . I think the reason is that since the range of rotation of the distributor is less than 45 deg and the timing is minimally off at the end of rotation, I'm just at that small place where it doesn't work on either end. I will try it again just to make sure. The distributor number is the model described in the Packard Data Book for my car. Of course I may still be missing something but I certainly can't see how to make any other adjustments.

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We have a '42 120 here in the shop. There is a clamp plate that bolts to the block that holds the distributor in place. Loosen this clamp plate and you should be able to rotate the distributor. Set #1 piston on TDC on the compression stroke and rotate the dist until the points are just opening with the rotor pointing to #1. Do this with the vernier octane adjustment in the center of its travel. The engine should then start so you can set the final timing with a timing light. Again, do this by rotating the distributor, not with the vernier adjustment. With the timing light working, rev the engine to verify that the advance is as it should be.

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We have a '42 120 here in the shop. There is a clamp plate that bolts to the block that holds the distributor in place. Loosen this clamp plate and you should be able to rotate the distributor. Set #1 piston on TDC on the compression stroke and rotate the dist until the points are just opening with the rotor pointing to #1. Do this with the vernier octane adjustment in the center of its travel. The engine should then start so you can set the final timing with a timing light. Again, do this by rotating the distributor, not with the vernier adjustment. With the timing light working, rev the engine to verify that the advance is as it should be.

Now I think I understand. It may take a day or so to try

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