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'82 280ZX NA 5-speed
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I believe timing is a little off on my engine, and I think the cause is the distributor spindle. Before I drop the oil pump to turn it counterclockwise by one tooth, can anyone else affirm this is my issue. This photo was taken with the harmonic balancer at 0 degrees TDC. Thanks
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I believe timing is a little off on my engine, and I think the cause is the distributor spindle. Before I drop the oil pump to turn it counterclockwise by one tooth, can anyone else affirm this is my issue. This photo was taken with the harmonic balancer at 0 degrees TDC. Thanks View attachment 111631
I believe timing is a little off on my engine, and I think the cause is the distributor spindle. Before I drop the oil pump to turn it counterclockwise by one tooth, can anyone else affirm this is my issue. This photo was taken with the harmonic balancer at 0 degrees TDC. Thanks View attachment 111631
Looks like it should go one tooth counterclockwise. It looks like you have it at TDC number 6 cylinder.
Try to verify that your TDC marks are accurate. It is not a balancer it is a damper.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
That pic indicates that you are at TDC on number one cylinder, but you are on the exhaust stroke.

Does the engine run?
How do you figure I’m on the exhaust stroke? The engine runs, but it’s a little choppy and the distributor is twisted all the way clockwise, so I think it needs to go further clockwise.

edit: I just now realized that the rod has a short side and that it’s 180 degrees off. That’s probably why I’m having issues because I’m fairly certain TDC is accurate.
 

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I just now realized that the rod has a short side and that it’s 180 degrees off.
Right. That's how I figure.

So If your plug wires are close to "normal location", then you just happened to take your pic at TDC exhaust. Not necessarily a problem.

But if you're timing is TRULY 180 off and it runs at all, then you would have to have your plug wires 180 away from "normal" as well. Number one wire should be close to the radiator side of the distributor. Is that where yours is?
 

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Mr.Chartin:

Some background would be helpful.

Is this a recent acquisition?

How did you come to discover this problem?

Was there a time that the engine ran fine?

Have you had the oil pump/spindle out recently?

Inquiring minds want to know... Hint: your answers will influence your next step.
 

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If you are exactly 180 degrees off, you can move the plug wires on the cap.
 

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How do you figure I’m on the exhaust stroke? The engine runs, but it’s a little choppy and the distributor is twisted all the way clockwise, so I think it needs to go further clockwise.

edit: I just now realized that the rod has a short side and that it’s 180 degrees off. That’s probably why I’m having issues because I’m fairly certain TDC is accurate.
The slot was off because you were on number 6 compression and not number one compression. It appears that the spindle is one tooth off anyway
 

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'82 280ZX NA 5-speed
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Mr.Chartin:

Some background would be helpful.

Is this a recent acquisition?

How did you come to discover this problem?

Was there a time that the engine ran fine?

Have you had the oil pump/spindle out recently?

Inquiring minds want to know... Hint: your answers will influence your next step.
This car was purchased in February 2022 and has had a good bit of work done to it. This motor was put into the car in 2003 and the owner reinstalled all the accessories and electronics. After the engine was installed, the owner never could get it to run. This led me to think it had some timing issues. It ran for the first time after I realized the distributor was off and I rotated the distributor head counterclockwise as far as I could. It was choppy but ran well enough. I assumed the spindle was still off by about a tooth, so yesterday I went in to adjust the spindle by dropping the oil pump. I didn't realize until after reinstalling the oil pump that the spindle is unidirectional. Why I'm confused is because the distributor still fits correctly facing cylinder #1 even when the spindle is 180 degrees off. Is this normal or is something incorrect with the distributor?

To clarify: the engine did run with the spindle looking exactly like it is in the photo with the spark plug wires running in the correct order and the distributor facing cylinder #1 when the harmonic damper was at TDC.
 

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Mr.Chartin:

Based on your description, it would seem (to me) that your timing situation could rightfully termed quite a kettle of fish. The best I can offer is that you need to start over from square one.

Pull the oil pump and the spindle shaft. Follow the instructions in the FSM for correct alignment of the shaft on the pump. Again following the FSM's instructions for re-insertion, secure the pump with one of the long bolts. Then check the position/alignment of the shaft tang from above. Adjust, one tooth at a time, as required to provide the tang alignment as shown in the FSM in the engine assembly (oil pump) section.

If you cannot get the required tang orientation and angle, you are facing problem no.1; the drive gear has likely spun on the spindle shaft. In this case, you have little choice but to replace the shaft because: a) there is no known re-alignment guide for the gear; b) if it spins once, the gear will likely spin again, making trying to correct by skipping teeth, or moving wires, or anything else a waste of time.

A final note of despair on this point: I have just replaced my spun-gear spindle shaft (after only 200k mi.) with a Nissan-branded shaft that spun the gear after just a few hours of stationary testing/tuning. You pay your money and take your chance.

Next, while the FSM does not provide clear guidance, the flat of the upper distributor shaft should align with the bottom tang slot and point to the smaller half-moon, so that the rotor will point to #1 cap tower when installed on a properly aligned shaft tang. Apparently, yours is out of phase, a condition that should likely require dis-assembly of the distributor to correct.

This will present the opportunity to check the condition of the plastic cage for the advance plate bearings, and will restore proper operation of the advance weights. Note: the circlip that holds the advance sandwich together is a bear to re-install.

Good Luck.

Just $.02 from the cheap seats.
 

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I believe timing is a little off on my engine, and I think the cause is the distributor spindle. Before I drop the oil pump to turn it counterclockwise by one tooth, can anyone else affirm this is my issue. This photo was taken with the harmonic balancer at 0 degrees TDC. Thanks View attachment 111631
Hi there I don't know if you have fix the issue yet but timing set correctly should be , piston #1 at dtc crank pulley mark at 0 and the rotor on your ignition distributor should be facing spark plug wire #1 on the distributor cap. my question how did your z got off timing or the z is not running good and you think is the timing issue?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Hi there I don't know if you have fix the issue yet but timing set correctly should be , piston #1 at dtc crank pulley mark at 0 and the rotor on your ignition distributor should be facing spark plug wire #1 on the distributor cap. my question how did your z got off timing or the z is not running good and you think is the timing issue?
Car wasn’t running great after I got it running for the first time. The distributor looked like the photo when I opened it up. I believe the previous owner incorrectly positioned it which is why I opened it up to check.
 

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Your engine will run with the shaft installed this way if you wire your distributor 180° off. Your damper may have slipped also. They can be rebuilt. Check that the #1 cylinder is at TDC by removing the spark plug, place thumb over the plug hole and rotate the engine until you feel compression coming out. You can then look in the hole to see when the piston is at the top of the compression stroke. You can now verify your damper timing mark. If the oil pump drive shaft is still off, it is installed incorrect. Here is what it should look like.
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Ensys talks about the distributor being assembled incorrectly. This can happen when the distributor is disassembled. There are 2 shafts in the distributor. The upper and the lower. To remove the upper you have to remove the screw that is inside the shaft under the rotor. This upper shaft can be installed 180° off. It will fit back on the mechanical advance weights correct or incorrect. AtlanticZ has a good write up about distributor overhaul.
https://atlanticz.ca/zclub/techtips/distributorrebuild/index.html
Before you tear into the distributor, check everything else. If you do get into your distributor, I am the person that sells the redesigned bearing retainer (plastic cage) mentioned in his post that will be broken and the bearing will be inthe bottom of your distributor. He also mentions that the PITA circlip that holds everything together. There is an EZ work around on putting it back together. When re-installing the lower (metal) bearing retainer, don't put the bearing in. After the breaker plate is re-assembled, lift up the corner of the bearing retainer (its spring steel) just enough to put a bearing in, and repeat for the other 2 corners.
 

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When you are re-assembling the top shaft, note that the rotor flat should align with bottom tang slot, small moon toward what will be no.1 mark on dist. body, just like in the picture.

Also, I would suggest a more positive method of setting TDC. Rely on the crank pulley mark first, until you can prove it wrong. If necessary, try a rigid object like a screwdriver in the plug hole to accurately find the piston turning point. And then, confirm by viewing the no.1 cam lobes thru the oil fill hole.

Note: if the latter is necessary, home in on the TDC going back and forth with a wrench on the pulley bolt. Make a clean mark on the pulley at the zero. Then spin the crank in its normal direction for 2 revolutions to get the cam right for verification.

$.02 from the cheap seats
 

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When you are re-assembling the top shaft, note that the rotor flat should align with bottom tang slot, small moon toward what will be no.1 mark on dist. body, just like in the picture.

Also, I would suggest a more positive method of setting TDC. Rely on the crank pulley mark first, until you can prove it wrong. If necessary, try a rigid object like a screwdriver in the plug hole to accurately find the piston turning point. And then, confirm by viewing the no.1 cam lobes thru the oil fill hole.

Note: if the latter is necessary, home in on the TDC going back and forth with a wrench on the pulley bolt. Make a clean mark on the pulley at the zero. Then spin the crank in its normal direction for 2 revolutions to get the cam right for verification.

$.02 from the cheap seats

Agreed. Use a long wrench and a socket and you can turn the crank back and forth...probably from underneath.
 
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