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  1. #1
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    Default Power Timing your Buick V8

    I thought I would try and compose this post to answer timing questions I see all the time on this BB.

    I see alot of questions about what initial timing to run on a modified BBB, without regard to what the timing is as the RPM's increase. Everyone should know exactly what their total advance is, and at what RPM it's all in at. The right timing, at all RPM's can make a huge difference in the way your engine runs, and makes power.

    There are 3 components to total timing. Initial advance, mechanical or centrifugal advance, and vacuum advance. Since vacuum will be at or near 0 at wide open throttle (WOT), initial advance + mechanical advance are most important to how your engine runs under race conditions.

    Initial timing is simply how you have your distributor installed, and adjusted, in the engine. You attach a timing light, and with the engine running,(vacuum advance plugged), you turn the distributor until the timing mark lines up with the desired number on the timing tab. As you increase the engine RPM's, you'll notice the timing mark move upwards, and out of sight. This is the mechanical advance in operation. There are weights inside the distributor, that pivot against spring tension, and move the base plate so that the spark occurs earlier(advance).

    The springs determine how quickly the mechanical advance increases with rising RPM. There is a pin that moves in a slot under the weight plate. This is what determines how much mechanical advance is built into the distributor. Aftermarket advance curve kits generally provide a bronze bushing that goes on that pin, and limits the movement of the pin in the slot, thus limiting total mechanical advance.

    The only other way to modify the amount of mechanical advance in the distributor, is to disassemble the distributor, weld the slot, and file it until you have the desired amount of advance you need. This is why you can't simply buy a junkyard HEI or other distributor, and put it in the engine, and run whatever initial timing you like. If there is too much mechanical advance in that distributor(this is typical for all factory spec'ed distributors), you'll overadvance at higher RPM. If you need higher initial timing, you need to reduce the mechanical advance in the distributor to avoid over-advance.

    Most Buick V8's run best at WOT, with a total timing of 30-36*, all in at 2500 RPM, or less. The easiest way to determine your total advance is to use a dialback timing light. You simply connect the light, plug your vacuum advance, and have a second person slowly rev the engine. With the dial back feature, you adjust the light to keep the timing mark in sight as it rises. When the timing mark stops moving, you hold the RPM's steady, adjust the dial until the balancer mark lines up with the 0 on the timing tab, and read your total advance off the dial.

    To do this with a conventional timing light, you need to make a 30* mark on your balancer. The Buick 350, and 455 balancers are 6 3/4" in diameter. Circumference (360*) of a circle is pi(3.14) X diameter. 6.75 X 3.14 = 21.195"/12 = 1.76" (30*). Looking at the engine from the front, measure exactly 1 3/4" clockwise around the balancer, and make a second mark. This is your 30* mark. Connect up your timing light, and watch your 30* mark as you increase the RPM's. At some point, your 30* mark will stop rising, and move no higher. This is the RPM, where all of your mechanical advance is in.

    At this same RPM, with the distributor loose, adjust it so that your 30* mark lines up with the 0 on the timing tab. You now have 30* of total timing. Line it up with the 2, 32* total, ect.

    Keep in mind that a stock distributor usually has stiff springs in it, that don't allow full advance in until 4000 RPM or more. For best performance, you want your advance in at 2500 RPM, or before. The easiest way to do this is to purchase a Crane adjustable vacuum advance kit. It comes with 3 sets of springs to allow your advance in as early as 1600 RPM, or as late as 3200 RPM, or anything in between. For points distributors (Jegs part # 270-99601-1,) (GM HEI, 270-99600-1). What I did was purchase the kit, and install the lightest springs(2 yellow). I used these springs to adjust my total timing, that way, I didn't have to rev the motor very high to see my total. Afterward, I installed the springs that brought my advance in at 2200 (2 silver)

    One important note is to make sure the timing is returning to the initial setting, when the engine is idling. So when setting your timing, pay attention to when the advance starts, as well as when it is fully in. Having the distributor in the advance curve, at idle speeds, can cause excessive rpm drop with an automatic trans, with some camshaft/converter combinations. Generally, the more agressive a camshaft you use, the more important this will be. Advance curves should generally start at around 1000-1200 rpm, when your idle speed is around 800 in Park.



    Now for vacuum advance. Some people prefer not to run vacuum advance at all. Under race conditions it is totally irrelevant, because it won't function at WOT. BUT, on a street car, it can be used to enhance throttle response, increase gas mileage, and let the engine run cooler at idle and low speed.

    The problem occurs when there is too much vacuum advance coupled with a modified mechanical advance. As mentioned before, stock distributors didn't allow total mechanical advance in until upwards of 4000 RPM. At your typical cruising speed of 3000 RPM, only part of your mechanical advance was in. The vacuum advance would supply an additional 14-18* for a total of around 40* or more. At light loads (cruising), an engine can easily tolerate this much advance. The result is better gas mileage.

    With a modified mechanical advance, all your mechanical advance is in at cruising speeds. Add the 14-18* of vacuum advance, and the engine pings when you punch the throttle, and the advance from the vaccum cannister doesn't/can't go away quick enough. The answer is to modify the vaccum cannister to allow only 8-10*of additional vacuum advance. With 30-34* timing + your vacuum advance, you'll be at 38-44* which should be optimal.

    As far as running your vaccum advance off manifold or ported vacuum, everyone has a different opinion. In most cases, OEM used ported. I use manifold vacuum. With a wild cam, you can use manifold vacuum advance to give extra advance for a smoother idle, and better low end response. Everyone's engine will be different, so you need to experiment with your combination. With the Crane adjustable advance cannister, there is a better way to limit the degrees, than what Crane suggests. I'll post some pictures to detail this. With the stock cannister, you'll need to fashion a block off plate. You basically restrict the pull pin travel to .086" for 8*, or .104" for 10*. Again, I'll post some pictures. Photos, courtesy of Dave Ray(The Ignitionman) Hope this post helps to answer alot of questions.

    One other point for those using points. Before checking or adjusting timing, it is important to check point dwell and set it to specs (30* + or - 1*). Dwell affects ignition timing, but timing does not affect dwell. Make sure the point dwell does not vary much as you rev the engine. Bad distributor bushings will cause the the distributor shaft to wobble, and the dwell will vary a lot in this case. Have the distributor rebuilt or replaced it if this is the case.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Last edited by LARRY70GS; 06-15-2015 at 12:14 PM.
    Larry
    1998 "Fully Optioned" SC3800 Riviera
    70 GS 455 Stage1, TSP 470, 602 HP@ 5900, 589 TQ @ 4900
    TA Hyd Roller Cam, 230*/238*, 112, .544"/.577" lift, 4-7 swap
    MSD Digital 6+, Ignitionman Distributor w/MSD trigger
    THM400 with Ultimate 258mm converter, Gear Vendors OD
    AED 1000 HO Carb, 800 CFM 7042240 Quadrajet
    8.5 10 bolt, 3.73's Race weight 4025lbs.
    Best E.T. 11.54 Best MPH, 116.06
    Larrymta@verizon.net, GSCA #291
    BPG # 1063
    N.E. GS/GN Club Assistant Director

  2. #2

    Default

    Larry, is there a supplier for a new bushing that limits total advance? I also believe I remember you posting a picture of where this bushing is located.
    Adam Martin
    BPG# 1358
    BCA# 39765
    1970 Buick Skylark Custom 455 Coupe
    www.antiqueautomotiveservice.com

    http://www.antiqueautomotiveservice.com/images/logo_top.gif

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Smartin
    Larry, is there a supplier for a new bushing that limits total advance? I also believe I remember you posting a picture of where this bushing is located.
    Adam,
    They come in some advance spring kits. Mr. Gasket is one. Crane still has the best springs though. Here's the picture.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by LARRY70GS; 03-23-2015 at 03:42 PM.
    Larry
    1998 "Fully Optioned" SC3800 Riviera
    70 GS 455 Stage1, TSP 470, 602 HP@ 5900, 589 TQ @ 4900
    TA Hyd Roller Cam, 230*/238*, 112, .544"/.577" lift, 4-7 swap
    MSD Digital 6+, Ignitionman Distributor w/MSD trigger
    THM400 with Ultimate 258mm converter, Gear Vendors OD
    AED 1000 HO Carb, 800 CFM 7042240 Quadrajet
    8.5 10 bolt, 3.73's Race weight 4025lbs.
    Best E.T. 11.54 Best MPH, 116.06
    Larrymta@verizon.net, GSCA #291
    BPG # 1063
    N.E. GS/GN Club Assistant Director

  4. #4

    Default

    hmm...I don't remember getting one in my crane kit. I'll look at the Mr Gasket kit..
    Adam Martin
    BPG# 1358
    BCA# 39765
    1970 Buick Skylark Custom 455 Coupe
    www.antiqueautomotiveservice.com

    http://www.antiqueautomotiveservice.com/images/logo_top.gif

  5. #5
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    Default

    There is no bushing in the Crane kit, just the Mr. Gasket one. I wish Crane would have included one though. It would have made the kit perfect.
    Larry
    1998 "Fully Optioned" SC3800 Riviera
    70 GS 455 Stage1, TSP 470, 602 HP@ 5900, 589 TQ @ 4900
    TA Hyd Roller Cam, 230*/238*, 112, .544"/.577" lift, 4-7 swap
    MSD Digital 6+, Ignitionman Distributor w/MSD trigger
    THM400 with Ultimate 258mm converter, Gear Vendors OD
    AED 1000 HO Carb, 800 CFM 7042240 Quadrajet
    8.5 10 bolt, 3.73's Race weight 4025lbs.
    Best E.T. 11.54 Best MPH, 116.06
    Larrymta@verizon.net, GSCA #291
    BPG # 1063
    N.E. GS/GN Club Assistant Director

  6. #6

    Default

    Here is the kit at Jegs:

    http://www.jegs.com/cgi-bin/ncommerc...32&prmenbr=361

    720-928G

    Delco Point Type Distributors
    Includes 1-bushing
    3-sets of springs (heavy, medium and light).


    Look correct to you Larry?
    Adam Martin
    BPG# 1358
    BCA# 39765
    1970 Buick Skylark Custom 455 Coupe
    www.antiqueautomotiveservice.com

    http://www.antiqueautomotiveservice.com/images/logo_top.gif

  7. #7
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    Near Buffalo (a Chebby town)
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    Thumbs up

    Thanks Larry for that well written information

    .......I could never understand the relationship between the total degrees of vac advance and having all the timing in at a lower RPM.....Carmen set mine up on his distributor machine so it should be OK but I'll check it anyway.

    On non- emission controlled vehicles, why did the factory make the timing all come in so late in the first place?

    Joe N.

    Never argue with a idiot...they will bring you down to their level and beat you with experience!

    '67 Riv GS w/Dual Quad 425 ('66 clone?)

    Past Buicks:
    '66 Riv GS
    (driven 200k miles and rusted badly)
    '69, '70 & '71 Skylark 350's
    (former daily drivers)

  8. #8
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by nailheadina67
    Thanks Larry for that well written information

    .......I could never understand the relationship between the total degrees of vac advance and having all the timing in at a lower RPM.....Carmen set mine up on his distributor machine so it should be OK but I'll check it anyway.

    On non- emission controlled vehicles, why did the factory make the timing all come in so late in the first place?
    Thanks Joe,
    Now I can just post a link to this thread when I see another timing question This is a quote from the book "How to build horsepower" by David Vizard: "Many factory advance curves for low performance or smog engines continue to provide increasing ignition advance in a long slow slope; reaching maximum advance only at high engine speeds. These curves may be quite functional on low compression engines using low octane fuels with limited capacity induction and exhaust systems, but they can rob considerable power from a performance engine. Replacing the stiff springs in the advance mechanism with much lighter ones will speed the advance curve and often boost mid range torque"
    Larry
    1998 "Fully Optioned" SC3800 Riviera
    70 GS 455 Stage1, TSP 470, 602 HP@ 5900, 589 TQ @ 4900
    TA Hyd Roller Cam, 230*/238*, 112, .544"/.577" lift, 4-7 swap
    MSD Digital 6+, Ignitionman Distributor w/MSD trigger
    THM400 with Ultimate 258mm converter, Gear Vendors OD
    AED 1000 HO Carb, 800 CFM 7042240 Quadrajet
    8.5 10 bolt, 3.73's Race weight 4025lbs.
    Best E.T. 11.54 Best MPH, 116.06
    Larrymta@verizon.net, GSCA #291
    BPG # 1063
    N.E. GS/GN Club Assistant Director

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    Location
    NYC
    Posts
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    Default

    Thanks Larry,excellent write up.
    George



    "If ur going to beat a Hemi you better have a Buick"

  10. #10
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    Default

    Nice Larry. maybe you can submit to George N's site too?
    Adam

    No trees were killed in the sending of this message, but billions of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.

  11. #11
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by D-Con
    Nice Larry. maybe you can submit to George N's site too?
    I sent it to Rick Martinez. Maybe he'll put it into the Build sheet
    Larry
    1998 "Fully Optioned" SC3800 Riviera
    70 GS 455 Stage1, TSP 470, 602 HP@ 5900, 589 TQ @ 4900
    TA Hyd Roller Cam, 230*/238*, 112, .544"/.577" lift, 4-7 swap
    MSD Digital 6+, Ignitionman Distributor w/MSD trigger
    THM400 with Ultimate 258mm converter, Gear Vendors OD
    AED 1000 HO Carb, 800 CFM 7042240 Quadrajet
    8.5 10 bolt, 3.73's Race weight 4025lbs.
    Best E.T. 11.54 Best MPH, 116.06
    Larrymta@verizon.net, GSCA #291
    BPG # 1063
    N.E. GS/GN Club Assistant Director

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Beamsville Ontario
    Posts
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    Default

    Thanks Larry, I have also seen adjustable vacuum diaphrams that use some kind of vacuum limiter.... I was just wondering if by running such a steep advance curve you notice a difference in fuel quality. As far as octane is concerned do you recommend any additives or boosters? Ian
    Ian
    "A good car is like a good woman, she can only be truly assessed when performing at the limit."
    '65 Riviera
    '91 Cadillac Brougham
    '92 VW Jetta diesel
    '88 Formula

  13. #13
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by awake13
    Thanks Larry, I have also seen adjustable vacuum diaphrams that use some kind of vacuum limiter.... I was just wondering if by running such a steep advance curve you notice a difference in fuel quality. As far as octane is concerned do you recommend any additives or boosters? Ian
    It definitely increases the octane requirement,if you bring the advance in to quickly on some cars. That's why you need to experiment with your combo. 2500 RPM is a good target to shoot for though. When I was talking with John Osborne at the GS Nats last year, I told him my timing was all in at 2200 RPM. He looked at me and said "Wow that's late, I set up my distributors to bring it in at 1300 RPM, and set the total at 30*, because that's all they want"


    As far as octane boosters go, they are a waste of money. Nothing works as well as good old leaded gas. Find out where they sell it in your area. Get a 5 gallon container and add a couple of gallons per tankfull of pump premo. Works much better, and it's cheaper for the increase in octane you get. Most of those additives will give you a few tenths of an octane number increase. If you mix 2 gallons of 110 leaded with 18 gallons of 93 unleaded, you get 20 gallons of 94.7 octane.
    Larry
    1998 "Fully Optioned" SC3800 Riviera
    70 GS 455 Stage1, TSP 470, 602 HP@ 5900, 589 TQ @ 4900
    TA Hyd Roller Cam, 230*/238*, 112, .544"/.577" lift, 4-7 swap
    MSD Digital 6+, Ignitionman Distributor w/MSD trigger
    THM400 with Ultimate 258mm converter, Gear Vendors OD
    AED 1000 HO Carb, 800 CFM 7042240 Quadrajet
    8.5 10 bolt, 3.73's Race weight 4025lbs.
    Best E.T. 11.54 Best MPH, 116.06
    Larrymta@verizon.net, GSCA #291
    BPG # 1063
    N.E. GS/GN Club Assistant Director

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Beamsville Ontario
    Posts
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    Default Distributor Drive

    Sorry, I was just wondering I've heard of sheer pins breaking on the drive gear
    while I'm installing the advance kit should I replace the pin or drive with an after market one?
    Ian
    "A good car is like a good woman, she can only be truly assessed when performing at the limit."
    '65 Riviera
    '91 Cadillac Brougham
    '92 VW Jetta diesel
    '88 Formula

  15. #15
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by awake13
    Sorry, I was just wondering I've heard of sheer pins breaking on the drive gear
    while I'm installing the advance kit should I replace the pin or drive with an after market one?
    No, your talking about the roll pin holding the distributor gear to the shaft. When using a Hi Volume/ Hi Pressure oil pump kit(NOT RECOMMENDED), the extra resistance of the bigger gears has been known to snap the roll pin holding the gear on. This has nothing to do with the advance in the distributor. Replacing the advance springs is easy. Take the cap off, unscrew the rotor, and remove it. The springs are right there. Use small needle nose pliers to remove/ replace them.
    Larry
    1998 "Fully Optioned" SC3800 Riviera
    70 GS 455 Stage1, TSP 470, 602 HP@ 5900, 589 TQ @ 4900
    TA Hyd Roller Cam, 230*/238*, 112, .544"/.577" lift, 4-7 swap
    MSD Digital 6+, Ignitionman Distributor w/MSD trigger
    THM400 with Ultimate 258mm converter, Gear Vendors OD
    AED 1000 HO Carb, 800 CFM 7042240 Quadrajet
    8.5 10 bolt, 3.73's Race weight 4025lbs.
    Best E.T. 11.54 Best MPH, 116.06
    Larrymta@verizon.net, GSCA #291
    BPG # 1063
    N.E. GS/GN Club Assistant Director

  16. #16
    Join Date
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    Location
    Chester Co. PA
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    5,992

    Default

    Very cool Larry

    Maybe one day, I'll get you to do the springs in my distributor
    http://www.buickperformancegroup.com - BPG #1039 - Webmaster | Member Northeast GS/GN Club

    http://www.stage1registry.com - Please visit the factory Stage1 registry website


  17. #17
    Stage1 Jeff Guest

    Default

    does this apply to mecchanical advance distributors?
    i am running a MSD pro billet,non vacuum advance

  18. #18
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    Default

    Jeff,
    Yes, it applies. All distributors have a mechanical(centrifugal) advance. Your HEI in your 75 has mechanical and vacuum advance. The MSD Pro-Billet distributor just has mechanical advance. The amount of mechanical advance is adjustable. The distributor should have come with several advance stop bushings and advance weight springs. The red bushing allows 28*, the silver bushing allows 25*, the blue bushing allows 21*, and the black bushing allows 18* The heavier springs slow the advance rate, the lighter ones quicken the rate.
    Larry
    1998 "Fully Optioned" SC3800 Riviera
    70 GS 455 Stage1, TSP 470, 602 HP@ 5900, 589 TQ @ 4900
    TA Hyd Roller Cam, 230*/238*, 112, .544"/.577" lift, 4-7 swap
    MSD Digital 6+, Ignitionman Distributor w/MSD trigger
    THM400 with Ultimate 258mm converter, Gear Vendors OD
    AED 1000 HO Carb, 800 CFM 7042240 Quadrajet
    8.5 10 bolt, 3.73's Race weight 4025lbs.
    Best E.T. 11.54 Best MPH, 116.06
    Larrymta@verizon.net, GSCA #291
    BPG # 1063
    N.E. GS/GN Club Assistant Director

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Oakland Gardens, N.Y.
    Posts
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    Default

    Last edited by LARRY70GS; 05-11-2014 at 06:47 PM.
    Larry
    1998 "Fully Optioned" SC3800 Riviera
    70 GS 455 Stage1, TSP 470, 602 HP@ 5900, 589 TQ @ 4900
    TA Hyd Roller Cam, 230*/238*, 112, .544"/.577" lift, 4-7 swap
    MSD Digital 6+, Ignitionman Distributor w/MSD trigger
    THM400 with Ultimate 258mm converter, Gear Vendors OD
    AED 1000 HO Carb, 800 CFM 7042240 Quadrajet
    8.5 10 bolt, 3.73's Race weight 4025lbs.
    Best E.T. 11.54 Best MPH, 116.06
    Larrymta@verizon.net, GSCA #291
    BPG # 1063
    N.E. GS/GN Club Assistant Director

  20. #20
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    Default

    And the springs that determine the advance rate. http://www.summitracing.com/parts/MSD-8464/
    Last edited by LARRY70GS; 05-11-2014 at 06:47 PM.
    Larry
    1998 "Fully Optioned" SC3800 Riviera
    70 GS 455 Stage1, TSP 470, 602 HP@ 5900, 589 TQ @ 4900
    TA Hyd Roller Cam, 230*/238*, 112, .544"/.577" lift, 4-7 swap
    MSD Digital 6+, Ignitionman Distributor w/MSD trigger
    THM400 with Ultimate 258mm converter, Gear Vendors OD
    AED 1000 HO Carb, 800 CFM 7042240 Quadrajet
    8.5 10 bolt, 3.73's Race weight 4025lbs.
    Best E.T. 11.54 Best MPH, 116.06
    Larrymta@verizon.net, GSCA #291
    BPG # 1063
    N.E. GS/GN Club Assistant Director

  21. #21
    Stage1 Jeff Guest

    Default

    thanks larry! got my 430 running 14*initial,20*adv, 34*total.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Long Island NY
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    1,243

    Default

    HEY Larry do you have a chart that shows you octane mixture i use 110 with 93 wonder how much to use thanks
    Steve
    1971 Stage 1
    1998 Riviera 3800sc
    2002 Park Ave

  23. #23
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by 71stagegs
    HEY Larry do you have a chart that shows you octane mixture i use 110 with 93 wonder how much to use thanks
    Steve,
    Simple average. 20 gallon tank, say you use 5 gallons of 110 with 15 gallons of 93. 5 X 110 = 550, 15 X 93= 1395. 1395+550 =1945. 1945 divided by 20 = 97.25 octane
    Larry
    1998 "Fully Optioned" SC3800 Riviera
    70 GS 455 Stage1, TSP 470, 602 HP@ 5900, 589 TQ @ 4900
    TA Hyd Roller Cam, 230*/238*, 112, .544"/.577" lift, 4-7 swap
    MSD Digital 6+, Ignitionman Distributor w/MSD trigger
    THM400 with Ultimate 258mm converter, Gear Vendors OD
    AED 1000 HO Carb, 800 CFM 7042240 Quadrajet
    8.5 10 bolt, 3.73's Race weight 4025lbs.
    Best E.T. 11.54 Best MPH, 116.06
    Larrymta@verizon.net, GSCA #291
    BPG # 1063
    N.E. GS/GN Club Assistant Director

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    3,237

    Default a related article

    Attached is an article I wrote for The Build Sheet on making your own advance bushing. One issue I have since discovered is that it is possible to make a bushing that allows 20 degrees of movement, but it could turn out to be 16 degrees of advance and 4 degrees of retard!!!! Found this out after I installed the springs and the bushing was not at the end of its travel. So, if you use this method, throw the springs on as you are measuring your progress while making the bushing!

    This is really the way to go on distributors designed for very low initial advance (like the 0 degree initial spec on a stock 68 400) since they have a huge slot for a ton of mechanical advance.
    Attached Files Attached Files

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
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    Long Island NY
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    Default

    Hey Larry thanks , who's better than you????
    Steve
    1971 Stage 1
    1998 Riviera 3800sc
    2002 Park Ave

 

 
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