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Old 01-19-2020, 10:38 AM   #1
Merc Cruzer
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Default Incorrect timing on pulley of 53' Mercury

Normally I adjust the timing on the engine by vacuum: adjust the distributor to get highest vacuum then back off slightly.

Recently, I have been chasing gremlins in the carburetor (over rich), and hesitation when acceleration from a stop.

I set the dwell with a meter, rather than feeler gauges.

Decided to set the timing with a timing light. The dot on the top of the pulley is 2 degrees BTDC. So to set the initial timing, I was informed that I should start 1/4" to the right of the dot. I reset the timing accordingly and the car ran but not well. When idling it seemed to be starving for air, until I accelerated, then it stumbled and cleared somewhat, but still didn't run well. The carburetor had been marked by the prior owner with a notch matching the hold down bracket. I rest the distributor to batch the marking and the car ran beautifully, with no hesitation on acceleration or issues of starving for air when idling.

Now here is the issue. The timing when the car is running well and using the marking on the distributor, is 1 1/2" to the right (advanced) of the dot on the pulley. What would account for this?

The # 1 plug wire is at the bottom (6 o'clock) on the distributor. This is is a stock/original distributor. The timing light is a Sears/Penske, from the 70's.
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Last edited by Merc Cruzer; 01-19-2020 at 10:48 AM.
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Old 01-19-2020, 10:59 AM   #2
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Default Re: Incorrect timing on pulley of 53' Mercury

Try a different timing light.
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Old 01-19-2020, 11:06 AM   #3
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Default Re: Incorrect timing on pulley of 53' Mercury

Is that an advance timing light? I have had two of them, and they both went bad shortly after using them. I would follow "JWL"'s advice.
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Old 01-19-2020, 11:34 AM   #4
Merc Cruzer
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Default Re: Incorrect timing on pulley of 53' Mercury

Thank you both for the response and recommendations. Would one of the newer timing lights work, or would the ignition system (solid core wires) interfere? Any suggestions as to brands and models?
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Old 01-19-2020, 12:13 PM   #5
51 MERC-CT
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Default Re: Incorrect timing on pulley of 53' Mercury

And of course you have had the vacuum to the vacuum canister disconnected and plugged while setting the timing?
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Old 01-19-2020, 12:20 PM   #6
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Default Re: Incorrect timing on pulley of 53' Mercury

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Originally Posted by 51 MERC-CT View Post
And of course you have had the vacuum to the vacuum canister disconnected and plugged while setting the timing?
Yes, as to having the vacuum advance being disconnected and the carb blocked off.

Can these timing lights be re-collaborated, or is this just a throw a way?
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Old 01-19-2020, 12:52 PM   #7
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Default Re: Incorrect timing on pulley of 53' Mercury

Would it be possible to lift and rotate the distributor gear one tooth so that the hold down nut is more centered on the distributor hold down flange and the rotor is still at 6 o'clock?
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Old 01-19-2020, 12:57 PM   #8
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Default Re: Incorrect timing on pulley of 53' Mercury

If all else fails use the test light method, turn crank to top dead center or the factory timing mark aligned with the crankshaft timing mark which ever you choose ,remove the dist. cap and rotor, connect a test light to the wire on the points turn on the ignition loosen distributor and turn distributor where the test light just comes on ,this is the most accurate way to set the timing with the timing marks on the crankshaft to timing cover , re assemble with the distributor clamp tightened and vacuum advance disconnected, check the reading with your timing light, as we know the Load a Matic Distributor does not use centrifugal advance, the timing marks should read very close if not on the mark due to any small variations caused slack in the timing gears due to gear wear or cam walk (end play) in the camshaft.
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Old 01-19-2020, 03:14 PM   #9
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Default Re: Incorrect timing on pulley of 53' Mercury

Be sure that the keyway in the crank pulley isn't damaged, or the key, itself, isn't swedged. If the crank bolt has become loosened at some time, it doesn't take long to do it.
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Old 01-19-2020, 05:07 PM   #10
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Default Re: Incorrect timing on pulley of 53' Mercury

If the timing light doesn't have an adjustment knob on it I DOUBT ITS BAD .only the adjustable advance lights can go bad . I'm still using the same light you have . I bought it new and used it for many years every day .
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Old 01-19-2020, 05:21 PM   #11
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Default Re: Incorrect timing on pulley of 53' Mercury

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Originally Posted by supereal View Post
Be sure that the keyway in the crank pulley isn't damaged, or the key, itself, isn't swedged. If the crank bolt has become loosened at some time, it doesn't take long to do it.
Pulled the bolt and washer, to take a look, the pulley hasn't slipped or rotated.

Thanks.

Last edited by Merc Cruzer; 01-19-2020 at 06:10 PM.
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Old 01-19-2020, 05:39 PM   #12
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Default Re: Incorrect timing on pulley of 53' Mercury

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If the timing light doesn't have an adjustment knob on it I DOUBT ITS BAD .only the adjustable advance lights can go bad . I'm still using the same light you have . I bought it new and used it for many years every day .
I too, bought mine new back in the day form Sears. It has never been dropped. It has spent most of it's time a the drawer. It seems to work as it should, except for the reading of 1 1/2" off on the pulley, yet the car runs great.

I did a simple compression check, with my finger over the compression gauge hose, and the top of the stroke aligns with the roter on plug #1.

I can give it a try on the 1970 Cougar that belongs to my wife.
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Old 01-19-2020, 06:48 PM   #13
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Default Re: Incorrect timing on pulley of 53' Mercury

Pulley and/or front cover changed sometime in the motors past .....
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Old 01-19-2020, 06:57 PM   #14
Merc Cruzer
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Default Re: Incorrect timing on pulley of 53' Mercury

Let me just throw this out for discussion. The pulley was changed, from a two belt to a three belt, when I added an original power steering unit to the car. The unit came off a 53' Ford. I know this because the bracket that mounts on the drivers side frame is different for a Ford to a Mercury, and the unit came with a Ford bracket. Would the pulley be different from a Ford to a Mercury, since the cranks and stroke are different, would that have changed the timing mark on the pulley?

The power steering pulley for a 53' Mercury is part number EAC 6312-A. I don't have Ford book to check. I am not sure what number is on the pulley on the car.

Last edited by Merc Cruzer; 01-19-2020 at 07:04 PM.
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Old 01-19-2020, 07:03 PM   #15
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Default Re: Incorrect timing on pulley of 53' Mercury

You could use the cable tie method to see if the TDC marks align with actual TDC on the motor.

I did a video on it.

https://youtu.be/dn446jjCVRg

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Old 01-19-2020, 07:06 PM   #16
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Default Re: Incorrect timing on pulley of 53' Mercury

Just remember, the "dimple" on the pulley is at 2 degrees BTDC.
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Old 01-19-2020, 07:07 PM   #17
19Fordy
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Default Re: Incorrect timing on pulley of 53' Mercury

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Originally Posted by Merc Cruzer View Post
Let me just throw this out for discussion. The pulley was changed, from a two belt to a three belt, when I added an original power steering unit to the car. The unit came off a 53' Ford. I know this because the bracket that mounts on the drivers side frame is different for a Ford to a Mercury, and the unit came with a Ford bracket. Would the pulley be different from a Ford to a Mercury, since the cranks and stroke are different, would that have changed the timing mark on the pulley?

The power steering pulley for a 53' Mercury is part number EAC 6312-A. I don't have Ford book to check. I am not sure what number is on the pulley on the car.
Are the Ford and Merc pulleys the same diameter? That would make a difference.
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Old 01-19-2020, 07:26 PM   #18
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Default Re: Incorrect timing on pulley of 53' Mercury

In my opinion, the speculation will not cease until you establish TDC. It can be done easily using the often mentioned zip tie method. You can troubleshoot from there.

I degreed the pulley on my 8BA. I just looked at it, and 1 1/2" is about 25 degrees. I experimented with various static timing settings with my engine, but not as high as 25 degrees. If the engine starts well, it should run well at that position if no advance is working. I don't see where you have checked the advance to work or the carb to create vacuum. The vacuum can looks new, but we all know how that goes.
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Old 01-19-2020, 07:30 PM   #19
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Default Re: Incorrect timing on pulley of 53' Mercury

You need TDC as a starting point. Guessing at it or getting it close is not really much help.
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Old 01-19-2020, 08:47 PM   #20
Merc Cruzer
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Default Re: Incorrect timing on pulley of 53' Mercury

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Originally Posted by 40cpe View Post
In my opinion, the speculation will not cease until you establish TDC. It can be done easily using the often mentioned zip tie method. You can troubleshoot from there.

I degreed the pulley on my 8BA. I just looked at it, and 1 1/2" is about 25 degrees. I experimented with various static timing settings with my engine, but not as high as 25 degrees. If the engine starts well, it should run well at that position if no advance is working. I don't see where you have checked the advance to work or the carb to create vacuum. The vacuum can looks new, but we all know how that goes.
The advance was tested and works as it should. I have been able to observe the advance with the timing light. My current vacuum is a steady 14, and I am at 8300 ft. The can is new as the old one had a slow leak. The distributor was set, with the the line off the can and blocked back to the carb.

The car runs great with full power, while claiming 3,100 ft in 13 miles, coming from Denver back home to Conifer. Performance is not an issue here, but rather the location of the TDC bump on the pulley.

Last edited by Merc Cruzer; 01-19-2020 at 09:25 PM.
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