Opinions, dumb idea: Using vacuum canister + vac advance to avoid hardstart 38'
Quickly: I have a 383 stroker weekend driver with 38' total distributor locked full advance and using an MSD timing computer for 20' retard on start and adjustable idle timing (I can idle anywhere under 38'). Been like this for at least 10 years, maybe 15?? The engine calls for 38' total timing.
No weights, no vac advance used for years.
Even with the MSD computer retarding my start timing 20' (goes down to 18' when the starter is cranking) I still get some hot days where the engine wants to spin in reverse and the starter is crying a little. I have a switch to kill the ignition which works. Usually its after driving, getting gas, and then going to restart the car (all warmed up and hot and gas flowing too well)
Today I tried this setup which appears to work well so I ask opinions:
I have a vacuum canister (for brakes) that holds somewhere around 18hg after I rev the engine. Need that for my brakes with the cam I have. My hg never goes below 10 when I press on the brakes and stays there when I hold the pedal down. At idle the engine wont get below 10hg but cant get higher because of the cam, thats just the average hg at idle give or take. But the brakes hold well and stops fine
I just hooked my vac advance on the dizzy, adjusted to kick in instantly, to the vacuum canister for the brakes. THEN, retarded my timing something like 20' (just a guess). The point is that when I first start the car I am NOT locked at 38', my distributor is probably locked at 18' now because I turned it back. After about 2 seconds as the vacuum canister fills (empties, you get the point), the vac advance kicks in at 5hg, raises my total timing back to 38' (which I checked to confirm). The timing holds because my vac advance never releases.
I ran the car around and never stumbled because the vacuum canister always had well over 10hg...enough to hold the vac advance canister in total advance. And, at WOT where I have no vacuum, it doesnt matter because the vac is coming from the canister which is still holding enough to pull the vacuum advance in.
Long winded but I wanted to cover the story. My idea is when I start the car I have maybe 18' on the distributor because its locked, the MSD timing computer throws in additional retarding for a better start, and then the vacuum advance pulls in once the car is started to get me back to 38' total locked timing. The MSD computer is still dropping my idle timing down and doing what it should.
YES, I know ideally I should have weights and vac advance canister hooked up. But aside from fuel economy, does anyone see this as a really dumb idea? Its nothing different than any other radical cam riding at total timing locked out except that my total locked out timing isnt in effect until the car runs.
Why is it different using your vacuum method instead of the MSD start retard function? Unless your vac solenoid is putting more than 20 degrees into the dist.
Without using this new method the MSD computer would try to start the car at 18' timing (thats 38 locked minus the 20' retard it creates). The 18' is too much sometimes and sometimes causes a hard start. The engine is 9.7:1 compression, 93 octane gas, and the somewhat radical cam. So 18' is not really an ideal timing to crank the engine when its all hot and warmed up.
With using the vac advance now, my timing on start is close to ZERO before TDC. Since the vac advance is "off", my dizzy is locked somewhere at like 18' TOTAL now (no longer up at 38') and the MSD computer will retard from that new setting of 18'. The computer says "upto 20' retard" so Im sure its close to 0' on cranking.
See my point? My dizzy is now locked at maybe 18' instead of 38' total advance.
Its like turning my dizzy before I crank the car, then advancing the dissy once its started. The vac advance is doing that for me
It sounds like a rather elegant solution if you ask me. In any event, I like how you think! lol
"does anyone see this as a really dumb idea? "
not I...more like hot rodding creativity. It would be better IMHO if you could get the MSD to take out more on start up just because there would be fewer components involved, is this do-able? probably not since you went this route but it may be worth checking into since just about any micro-chip can be manipulated. And a question to appease my own curiosity...How does the MSD box know how long to hold the timing retarded? what tells it that the engine is running, tack input or something?
Put a switch on the MSD....with power off to the MSD start cranking.....flip switch to give power to MSD.....engine fires. Not a new problem
The MSD box has a wire that goes to the ignition 'start' wire. It retards only when the starter is cranking then puts timing back up again. It can not be adjusted for more retard, its fixed :( The newer msd boxes can do 25' total retard though and they too are maxed out.
I do have a switch to kill the msd spark but even that is not ideal. The engine will turn freely and as soon as that switch is turned back on you can hear the starter struggle. However, thats been my past solution on hot starts without fail.
In your case the set up would probably be better with putting in 6-8 degrees mechanical to come up say starting from 2000 or 2500RPM and all in by 3000 RPM. Set the base at 10-12 degrees. With 30-32 locked in, the electronic retard dropping 20 will leave 10-12 degrees for starting. The final 6-8 degrees would come in on the top end of the mid RPM rev range where it can be used. Then run no vacuum advance.
Keep in mind that locked in timing is a feature of race engines, it's old school technology to overcome timing problems with big cams before the age of computer driven timing. It was also done to remove another failure prone part on race engines, especially those that see a lot of G loading in frequent and sharp corners, beyond that it serves no useful purpose.
In your case, running a total of 30-32 degrees up to 2000-2500 RPM is plenty. Frankly with 9.5 compression and 38 degrees of timing from the git-go, I'm surprised this will stay below the detonation threshold at moderate RPMs on 93. I'd guess that it does because the vehicle is light and perhaps "low geared" against it's weight and rolling/aero drag factors. Low geared in this case is a relative term variable with the work the engine has to perform against the load of the vehicle to be moved.
This motors ideal timing 38' total, anything less is a loss of power on this motor. I idle at 30'
I know about vac advance and mechanical but had to remove the centrifugal weights to use the MSD timing box. Its their suggestion to lock the dizzy only because the msd computer does the timing.
All that aside I dont yet see why using the vac advance to give me my full timing is a bad idea. I know its not being used properly. Im using it more as a 'full advance' after startup with no regards for fluctuating engine vacuum
If you are having trouble starting the motor when hot with locked timng + a interupt switch + start retard, you have a weak starter motor,solenoid or bad wireing or corroded +/- battery cable connections.
You would not believe the difference freshly cleaned battery/starter motor/engine-chassis ground connections make for starting,battery charging/alternator function etc. This is a once a year required maintenance that everyone overlooks. Especially of your car is stored for the winter.
By not employing the vacuum advance for what it was intended for.
(light throttle/load part throttle high speed cruising timing adjustment)
You make the motor work harder, waste gas and run hotter.
When doing a hot restart, crank it over for a good 1-2-3 count before reengaging the spark. ( when the motor is hot) the hot intake manifold is full of non combustible air fuel mix that won't light because it is just way too rich. By cranking the motor over with no spark and just a bit of throttle you will purge out this super rich hot mix and draw in a fresh high combustible air/fuel mix that will fire instantly when you give it the spark. Do not pump the throttle, just open the throttle a little bit to let in fresh air, crank it 1-2-3 then throw the switch on.
Try that when using the interupt switch to hot start it.
The starter will only be under a high load for a split second as it will fire instantly without a long crank time under load.
When running around with full vacuum advance when at WOT I can see the potential for a distributor cap/rotor phasing alignment issue that can result in missfire. The vacuum advance effects the cap/rooter phase alignment.
May want to check that. (the rotor and cap terminal are too far away from each other then the spark fires.) you can check this with an old distributor cap modified with a viewing hole and a timing light.
Way back you said this engine was cammed but not with all that much-do you know how much? Your description of this engine speaks to a lot of cam, or a miss timed cam if it isn't a big whomper stomper stick, or the compression is lower than you think it is. An engine that needs 38 degrees to run good also speaks to a slow burning chamber. So some or all of these could be players if this isn't a huge cam, what ever that really means. Please comment to these details if you know them. such as
-Cam duration and lift, timing events if you have a card or the cam maker and part number so they can be looked up if the cam is fairly recent and not an obscure maker.
- Cylinder head, whose and what chamber size.
- Pistons need crown configuration (flat, dome, dish & whether that dish is round or D, compression height.
- Rod length
- Cam coordination to the crank, straight up, advanced or retarded and by how much.
- Status of the distributor gear and if a roller cam status of the distributor drive gear on the cam,,i.e. wear.
- Carb mixture ratio, lean will give also you some of the headaches you have.
- Vehicle weight, gearing and rear tire size.
checked your earlier posts. With a 236-242 cam you are not quite up there to requireing locked out timing for best idleing etc.
But you do need a good bit of base initial idle timing.
I suggest you rework the distributor advance curve as follows.
26deg initial at idle,,,, 36deg at full mechanical advance. (2800-3000rpm)
That means you want a limited 10deg mechanical advance curve.
The mechanical advance can be limited to 10deg by various methods.
(search my old posts)
Then.... 10-- 12deg of vacuum advance max limited by a vac advance stop plate. The vac adv rate will need to be found by trial and error drive testing.
(use ported or full man vac as a source your choice , try both use what works best overall)
Then... when starting, employ 15deg-20deg of start retard for easy hot starting.
With this setup you probabily won't need the interupt switch to aid starting 99% of the time. But is real handy for the 1% when things get hot.
F-bird, you think just dropping back 2' on my total will make much difference? The msd timing box can give me 26' idle and have an adjustable curve to eliminate weights. Thatd match your suggestion.
Id still be firing the engine at 16' with the 20' retard
But youre suggesting also using the vac advance as it was intended? Meaning, let the vac advance raise the timing to 48' (using 10' vac advance) at idle? Or are you suggesting i use the vac advance to get me to 26' for idle running only?
Also, you said about waiting to flip the ignition on to get better gas/air: isnt that what causes the starter to strain? I thought the starter strain was from the combustion pushing against the piston...cause im so far advanced.
You're a very confused guy..... You make things a lot more difficult than they need to be.
reread my post and do exactly what I outlined. No more no less.
No ..the vacuum advance when adjusted properly will only add advance when you are cruising at high speed on the hiway. about 10deg.
It will modulate between 0 deg and 10deg of vacuum advance based on varfing engine vacuum, engine load and throttle position, just like it was intended.
When set up correctly with correct diaphram spring tension and limit it will add little or no additional advance at idle.
Reguardless of if you use ported or manifold vacuum.
Do not set the vac can to add all the vac advance at idle.
It would then just stay pegged at all times and not do what its supposed to do. You don't want that.
You don;t need 48deg at idle.
Your cam is not big enough to actually require locked advance.
26deg base static initial is just right. No box retard/advance required beyond the auto retard cranking function, little or no vacuum advance at idle needed 36 total mechanical is just right.
reinstall the advance weights and springs and create a 10deg advance curve in the distributor. 10deg only. no more no less. It should start just off idle speed and finish 2800-3000 rpm. No faster no slower.
adding 10 deg of additional vacuum advance at high speed cruise is just right.
The additional 10deg of vacuum advance must modulate based on the engine load/throttle input.
If the vacuum advance is too agressive, it will knock as you roll into the throttle from cruise speed.
Try my method of hot starting. When its real hot kick it over with no spark count 1-2-3-4, then throw the spark on. It will fire instantly as soon as you throw the switch.. The first few cranks will not fire cause the air fuel mix is just too friggin hot and way over rich. Crank it over to get the crap that wont burn anyways out of the cylinders and new fresh combustable stuff in that will burn. Then make up some theory....
Of the 5 years now on this car I've been running locked timing and a switch to aid real hot starting I have never had to attempt more than twice to start it. It starts instantly first time 90% of the time.
If the starter does buck back instead of fireing up instantly ,, on the first attempt using my method do not try to crank thru it. Stop and do it again.
38deg is more than nessessary 99.9999% of the time.
Usually indicates the jetting is not right and or the timing pointer is not accurate.
Use the auto matic spark retard function only to aid starting.
If this won't work your starter motor got pooched by the header heat.
Get a new one and a starter wrap and a starter shield.
When the engine pushes back on the starter its because that cylinder misfired, half hearted fired, (incomplete combustion) Cause the air fuel ratio is not right. (too hot too rich) When the air fuel mix is just right ( fresh air and fuel drawn thru the carb and into the engine) and not overheated, the engine fires instantly without push back.
FBIRD - Im totally agreed with everything youre saying and Ive read tons of your posts over the past year and learned a ton.
Aluminum heads, I was told 38' was acceptable, you still say 36? I'll take your word.
With the timing, in my case, Im not confused just in a bind with the MSD. I think this was mentioned in an older post of mine and is related this this new post this week: I use an MSD 8981 timing box for my advance curve because its so dead-on-balls precise. Its biggest downfall, as you're already pointing out, is that it requires the distributor to be LOCKED at full advance. It does the retard for hard starts but 20' from 38' on my engine is still sometimes a hard start.
So, thats what Im trying to use my vac advance for more initial start retard BUT keep the vac advance "advanced" even for WOT.
100% I see that I SHOULD go back to the weights and the vac can etc etc. But for now, isnt my only loss the use of the vac advance for cruising light load since my vac can is just stuck at advanced fully? (not going over 36 or 38 total advance ever)
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