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Old 10-26-2021, 03:30 PM   #1
Gezer
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Thumbs down timing a 51 EAB flathead

What is the process and settings for timing a 51 flat head using a timing light?
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Old 10-26-2021, 05:05 PM   #2
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Default Re: timing a 51 EAB flathead

If the engine is totally stock, disconnect and plug the vacuum line to the distributor. Then start the engine and let it settle into a steady idle. Connect the timing light, and make sure the "bump" on the front pulley and the pointer on the timing cover line up. It may help to put some white or silver paint on the pointer and "bump" to make them easier to see.

The fact that you say you have "51 EAB" flathead concerns me, as '51 Fords were "8BA" models. This suggests that you engine may not be stock, which may make things different. Also, this will set initial timing only, and will not give any indication if the advance is working properly. I situations such as this, an "Advance" timing light is invaluable to check out the proper advance characteristics for the engine.
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Old 10-26-2021, 07:16 PM   #3
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Thumbs down Re: timing a 51 EAB flathead

I am not sure that this Engine is a 51.

Heads are marked EAB/A203 on drivers side and EAB 33F on passenger side. Distributor is marked 8BA 12127. Carb marked FORD one side and ECG5 other.
The oil pan shape makes me think it could be a MERC.

What are your thoughts?
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Old 10-26-2021, 07:33 PM   #4
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Default Re: timing a 51 EAB flathead

"EAB" heads are '52-'53 Ford (the best stock heads). From what I can find out, the ECG carburetor is a Holley 2110 from a '55-'56 era "Y"-block engine. Given this, and the head markings, your engine has at least had a bunch of parts changed out, if it is a '51 at all. All in all, it would seem to have enough close to original parts that the traditional timing method should work.

As to the possibility of being a Mercury (with the 4" stroke crankshaft), it would seem that your engine has had enough parts changed that the only sure way to determine what it is would be to remove a head and measure the actual stroke.
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Old 10-26-2021, 07:40 PM   #5
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Default Re: timing a 51 EAB flathead

Gezer, Just a point of information, the 1949-50 and early 51 Merc stamped steel bellhousing and starter plate are what's commonly used to
adapt your engine to the 40 Ford transmission. The 49-51 Merc oil pan is also used to clear the stock 40 drag link and tie rods as it's a rear sump oil pan.
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Old 10-26-2021, 08:15 PM   #6
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Default Re: timing a 51 EAB flathead

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You might want to post a picture of the engine....it is worth a 1000 words.
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Old 10-27-2021, 06:59 AM   #7
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Default Re: timing a 51 EAB flathead

This may also have a problem with the vacuum advance. Not familiar with this carb (94 1 1/16)??
Gramps
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Old 10-27-2021, 08:03 AM   #8
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Default Re: timing a 51 EAB flathead

The "ECG" Holley carburetor was used on '55-'56 Fords and as such, has the proper "Loadamatic" advance port.

It may not be calibrated exactly right for a flathead, but it will be a lot better than nothing.

Last edited by tubman; 10-27-2021 at 08:10 AM.
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Old 10-27-2021, 12:53 PM   #9
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Default Re: timing a 51 EAB flathead

They used the load-o-matic up through 1956 on V8 engines with some applications even longer but not all have the same spring settings inside. The 0BA distributor was common in 1951 and was still mated with the 8BA type carburetor and had the aluminum front timing cover with the bearing surface for the end of the distributor shaft. All of the 8BA engines were basically timed the same way.

The ECG-5 carb (1955 272 cid 94 variant) may have had a different amount of vacuum draw for the Y-block engines but I'd have to go into distributor specs in my old Motors Manual to see what differences there may be, It's not uncommon to find 8BA family engines with bits from all sorts of different applications within the era. Salvage yard specials abound for older cars that stayed in service longer than average.

By 1973, I was having problems finding certain parts for my old hand me down 51 Mercury. There are more parts available now than there were back then thank God.
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Old 10-28-2021, 07:38 PM   #10
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Thumbs down Re: timing a 51 EAB flathead

Pics of engine. below. Sorry, quality not the best
Thanks
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Old 10-28-2021, 07:49 PM   #11
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Default Re: timing a 51 EAB flathead

what would you suggest I set the timing at for starters. 8 degrees before top dead center???

Thanks
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Old 10-28-2021, 07:59 PM   #12
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Default Re: timing a 51 EAB flathead

That engine looks close to stock, so I would set it with the pointer on the "bump" on the front pulley. I believe that is 4 Degrees BTDC. Those "helpers" are there for a purpose. Unless your engine is highly modified, 8 degrees is too much.

If either of those is missing, I would still try to set it at the factory recommended setting. This is with the vacuum advance disconnected and plugged.
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Old 10-28-2021, 09:04 PM   #13
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Default Re: timing a 51 EAB flathead

I always thought the bump was 2deg BTDC
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Old 10-28-2021, 09:12 PM   #14
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Default Re: timing a 51 EAB flathead

It's either 2 or 4; now that I think about it, you're probably right. No matter which it is, it's sure better than 8 degrees BTDC.
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Old 10-28-2021, 11:25 PM   #15
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Default Re: timing a 51 EAB flathead

my shop manual 1949-1951 under the "Ignition" heading lists 2 degrees BTDC with a 8BA-12127 Distributor.
I guess that would be a good starting point.....??
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Old 10-28-2021, 11:44 PM   #16
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Default Re: timing a 51 EAB flathead

My experience the bump is 4 btdc, but that could be the later motors. You need to set the initial timing first, you set the timing without the vacuum advance. Then plug it in. You can fine tune from there with the vacuum. Nice they included timing light marks on the later motors.


A chevy mechanical conversion can be a bit easier to deal with depending on carb, but the vacuum unit works great.

Last edited by Tinker; 10-28-2021 at 11:57 PM.
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Old 10-29-2021, 09:20 AM   #17
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Default Re: timing a 51 EAB flathead

2 or 4 degrees is a minor detail since the factory provides the "bump" and the pointer; just align them.

For what it's worth, I always use a vacuum gauge to set initial timing, especially on modified engines. I disconnect and plug that vacuum line at the distributor and turn the distributor to obtain the highest vacuum reading. I then retard it a tad. This method has always worked well for me.

Last edited by tubman; 10-29-2021 at 09:41 AM.
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Old 10-29-2021, 11:06 AM   #18
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Default Re: timing a 51 EAB flathead

The pan is 1949 through early 1951 Mercury but doesn't have the reinforcement to the starter plate that fits those three studs sticking down from the rear. The front of the engine looks like pickup or truck wide belt stuff but I can't see the water pumps. The EAB heads are descent for compression ratio and don't take much more milling to get the best out of them.

If a person has an adjustable timing light, it would be a way to see how far the timing moves during rpm changes but the pulley would have to be marked for degrees to see how far it moves. A well timed flathead will run cool but one that isn't can run hot.
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Old 10-29-2021, 11:24 AM   #19
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Default Re: timing a 51 EAB flathead

Does anyone make an adhesive timing strip for these cars?
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Old 10-29-2021, 11:27 AM   #20
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Default Re: timing a 51 EAB flathead

I agree with checking the total advance. I bought a sheet of timing tapes for various size pulleys from Jeg's or Summit. The strips are self-adhesive, so if you clean the circumference of the crankshaft pulley, they stick pretty well. They were black numbers on a white background, so they are easy to see. Just make sure that you align 2 Degrees BTDC with the "bump", and it's easy to read total advance with a dial-back timing light.

My experience has been that the strip may no longer be there when you want to check your advance a year or two later.

https://www.summitracing.com/parts/m...AaAgAVEALw_wcB

Last edited by tubman; 10-29-2021 at 11:33 AM.
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