The E-Type (XK-E) Forum

Timing a 4.2 engine

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M. Personne John T
Champagne, Dordogne, France   FRA
With the help of a "knowledgeable" friend I attempted to set up the timing on my 1970 E Type 4.2. I rather stupidly let my friend consult the Haynes manual and, because what would normally be cylinder number 6 is actually number 1 on these engines we set up the timing at 10 degrees before TDC when cylinder 1 was on the compression stroke. We then found that the position of the HT leads was all wrong and changed them on the distributor to follow the correct firing order. I thought this was odd as the engine was running OK before being rebuilt.

However yesterday I read the manual (properly!) and found that one should actually use cylinder 6 (i.e. the front one) to set up the timing. I can't work out what is happening because my friend guided me whilst I was turning the engine and with his thumb over the plug hole stopped me when he had compression on number 1 (the cylinder nearest the bulkhead or firewall), and in that position the timing mark was in line with the timing arrow and the timing mark on the main crankshaft pulley, and we set it at 10 degrees before TDC. So all seemed OK at that point; the distributor was in the correct orientation hence we swapped around the HT leads to suit.

Am I going mad? The distributor drive has an offset key so it can't be rotated 180 degrees and turning it 360 degrees takes it back to where it started. Do I remove the distributor and turn the engine so that the offset drive turns 360 degrees?

One further question; the distributor is a 22D and is nothing like the distributor on my 1969 Coupé. It has marks to advance and retard, but there is no adjustment knurled nut and its location is blanked off! It also has a vacuum take off but where does that go?



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Rik-entrique Avatar
Rik-entrique Rik-entrique Abbeloos
Brussels, Belgium   BEL
Hi, i hope i understand yr question wel.
1) distributor turns ccw
2)180° to reverse 1-6 to 6-1
3) firing order 153624
4) vacuum hose to inlet manifold underside
5) make sure the leads clamp firmly to sparkplug
Hope this helps

M. Personne John T
Champagne, Dordogne, France   FRA
Thanks very much for that. Are you saying that I should rotate the distributor body 180 degrees? This will place the vacuum diaphragm facing forwards, yet I'm sure that originally it was facing the back of the car?



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Andrys Posthuma Avatar
Delft, Z-H, Netherlands   NLD
1935 MG N-Type Magnette
1969 Jaguar E-Type 2+2 "The E"
1976 MG MGB GT "The B"
Hi John,

No.1 Cylinder is the rear most, close to the firewall. You use no. 1 cylinder (I used no. 1 anyway) to set the timing of the car - the thing is, as long as you do things methodical, you could use either cylinder to set the ignition timing.

- get the firing order right.
- make sure that the cylinder, the rotor position and the HT lead are all of the same cylinder: be it no. 1 or no.6.

M. Personne John T
Champagne, Dordogne, France   FRA
Thanks, Andrys. As we used number 1 (rearmost) and followed the correct firing order I'll leave it as it until the water pump is refitted and then I'll try to fire it up.

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