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Based on your engine parameters the air/fuel  mixture needs to be ignited with enough lead time

Ignition Timing


Lately it seems that several folks are having a problem with the timing requirements of their engines. To better understand what timing is all about, lets look at the needs. Based on your engine parameters the air/fuel mixture needs to be ignited with enough lead time  to get the proper amount of burn time in ordered to create the most power WITHOUT causing severe problems.  With out getting into the science of this, let me just say that MORE IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER. There are many things that effect the needs of more or less ignition lead, chamber design, fuel octane, piston shape etc. Because of this not all engines require the same amount of timing. When I (engine builder) tell you the timing requirements, I talk in terms of total amount of timing, that is the full amount of timing after all, if any curve is in. I generally mark the damper at the point of timing, I.E. 32 degrees. This is the timing point. Use a timing light with out any +/- flash retard. If using a light that is adjustable, SET IT AT "0". With the engine warmed up, look at the timing and increase the RPM until the mark does not move any more and adjust it until the line on the damper and the pointer are aligned. If you set the light at "32" and then align marks, you have a timing of 32+32=64, very BAD news. As with all adjustments, if you have questions, ask for help. Swallowing a little pride is a lot cheaper than costly engine repair.

Here are some helpful tip for when your installing spark plugs

Spark Plugs



Next time you are installing spark plugs, try following these simple ideas.


1. First, adjust the gap on the plug. Try to keep the ground strap square to the electrode.


2. Next, apply a small amount of anti seize compound to the threads. This will help when removing the plug next time. I have seen many times when people are either changing plugs or removing them for engine tech and the plug galls, and destroys the thread. The track is not the place you want to be repairing the plug hole when practice is just around the corner.


3. Once installed, put a small amount of dielectric grease on the plug terminal and ceramic insulator. This will help with the connection between the plug end and the plug terminal. It will also help with the release of the boot, so that you do not pull apart the wire.


4. Now that the plugs are installed, start the engine and check to see that each cylinder is firing and the wires are installed in proper order.


Hope that this will be helpful!!


Engine Maintenance is huge. I can offer guidance to help set up a good sysytem to keep your race engine at peak performance!

Engine Maintenance



A good maintenance program is both a physical and visual check of the operating components of the race car. Following is a simple format that is easy to follow and very complete. As with any program dealing with your race car, this can be modified and used only as a start up guide to help you set up your own program. A good inspection program can and will help to prevent possible engine and system failures. I put this together as a result of many years in the racing business and hope that it will offer some guidance for those who would like to use it. For me, it helps to break down the engine into a couple of different systems.


1. Ignition System


2. Fuel System


3. Valve Train


4. Oil System


5. Support Systems


With a little practice and hard work, you should be able to check and inspect these systems and perform minor servicing in about 1 to 1.5 hours. Another thing that can be very helpful and can be done at the same time is a simple log book. Keep track of the mileage and dates of parts. Set up a plan to mileage out parts. Remember, that by routinely replacing parts, you can prevent many possible failures! Remember also, that this is a plan to help, so take your time, be through, ask questions if needed and have a little fun. 


Start with cleaning off the engine, blow off the tire rubber, dirt and rocks, and wipe up any oil. Remove air cleaner / air box and cover carb. There are work / tool trays that cover the carb and can be very helpful. (See my website to get these) Remove the spark plugs and keep in order. This is where the visual work starts. Inspect the spark plug for signs of engine wear or trouble. Next, remove the valve covers and inspect the rockers and valve spring for possible damage. At this time I usually check the valve lash and spring pressure. The next step is to perform a cylinder leak down check. This will let to keep track of the ring seal and the condition of the intake and exhaust seats. (Remember to keep notes. It will be helpful to track the leak down) If all checks out good, the next step is to install the spark plugs (replace with new ones if the maintenance plan requires it at this time) While replacing the plug wires, visually inspect them along with the cap, rotor, wire and connections to ignition boxes etc. Remember to inspect behind heat covering, as many times they hide damage to wires. Now is the time to start up the engine. I like to check the water level before I warm up the engine. Now warm up the engine and check the ignition timing. (Remember that many race cars have more that one ignition box. Check timing on all boxes.) While engine is running, check for oil leaks at the valve covers, fuel leaks at the carb and fuel pump, check voltage out put at the alternator, remembering that you might need to increase the engine rpm. Now is the time to check the throttle return springs and  replace the air cleaner / air box. I ALWAYS CHECK THE CLEARANCE OF THE THROTTLE LINKAGE AT THIS TIME!! I can not stress enough to always remember the safety factor of some of these systems. Good common sense is your best guide. If something is questionable, fix or replace it and never be afraid to ask someone for help. On the following pages, I will list items to check regarding each of the five systems listed earlier. Please remember that this is my list and your check list might be different. Please use it as a guide and develop your own lists.


Ignition System: Distributor, Cap, Rotor, Mechanical advance mechanism if used, Coil, Ignition Box or Boxes, and Wires


Fuel System: Fuel Pump, Filter, Fuel Cell, Carburetor, Fuel Lines, Air Cleaner or Air Box, Pressure Gauge


Valve Train: Rocker Arms, Pushrods, Valve Springs, Spring Oilers and Lines


Oil System: Oil Filters, Oil Levels, Oil Lines, Dry ump Belts and Tank, Oil Heaters


Support Systems:  Starter, Alternator, Power Steering Pump, Vacuum Pump, Radiator


The key to proper grounding is woven sturdy connection terminals, proper tooling as well as ground straps.




Along time ago, I was taught that a very large part of electrical problems were caused in one way or another by poor grounding. Being grounded is good for both us as a person and for your engine. I can not help with the first, but can offer some ideas for your engine. First thing you must remember is that you can have the best ground straps but with a poor connection it could be useless. With that said, invest in good ground strap material, woven not just a piece of wire, good sturdy connection terminals, and the proper tooling to attach them. Next determine how many grounds are needed. I like to ground the engine at the back from one head to the other, then to a ground lug on the chassis. Ground your alternator, don’t rely on mounts to provide the ground. I work with HEI ignitions on about 75% of the engine I do as a result of the rules. I can tell you that more than 50% of those engines have the ground wire for the MSD HEI that is provided either cut off or tied up. Use the grounds provided and add others as needed. Remember that if you have questions about the use of ground with a certain part, call the manufacture and ask them questions. Lastly, just because you added the ground do not think that’s all you need. As always, when doing your pre race inspections, check the grounds.

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