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Distributor Advance and Pinging & Overheating

Posted: Sun 27. Apr 2014, 16:17
by Rick Crunelle
Ok, I posted this in the Lincoln forum too, so sorry to anyone who reads both...

to make a long story short, I've been fighting pinging (and running hot) on my 63 LCC for like the last 7 years. This pinging only happens on the freeway, and especially if the freeway has any incline at all. I have rebuilt or replaced EVERY single part on the car, so I've been stumped. I finally figured it out, and it is timing related. Here is the issue:

I've had the distributer "re-curved" so that it only has 8 degrees of mechanical advance. If I disconnect the vacuum advance and set the initial timing at 5 degrees, I can rev up the engine and watch the timing advance to a total of 13 degrees. After some test and tuning, that is my optimal setting (don't forget the best pump gas in California is basically toilet-swill). At that setting I not longer have pinging or overheating. Now... if I hook up the vacuum advance, the pining and overheating immediately returns. I'm running an Edelbrock 1406 that I've recalibrated not to run so lean, and I'm sure I'm connected to the "ported" vacuum source. There is no vacuum advance at idle, and none at WOT, but at cruising speed the vacuum advance it through the roof. My total timing w/o vacuum advance is 13, but with the vacuum hooked up it shoots past 30 degrees while cruising. The problem is that with the torq of the 430, the ending is in cruising mode pulling a load up a hill, so my timing advance is off the charts causing pinging.

The vacuum advance can that I'm using is an aftermarket one that is adjustable by inserting an allen head wrench in the hole. I've tried adjusting it all the way down to where there is no further adjustment, and the vacuum advance is still off the charts...

So here are my questions:

1) I'm just planning to run without the vacuum advance. It runs great, and the vacuum advance was originally designed for fuel economy, so is it really needed? If I'm getting 13 mpg instead of 14 mpg on a car that will see 3000-4000 miles per year, do I care? Is there any real problem with running without the vacuum advance?

2) Even if I can run without the vacuum advance, I'd still like to know if I can get it working right. So on those adjustable vacuum advance cans, if I turn the screw in, shouldn't that limit the amount of vacuum advance? Maybe I've got a bad (or incorrect) vacuum advance... are there different vacuum advance cans, or are they just a generic one-size-fits-all?


Re: Distributor Advance and Pinging & Overheating

Posted: Wed 30. Apr 2014, 11:31
by 58-Pagoda
Had the same problem on my '64 Rambler I used to have as a daily driver with major freeway driving. I used to retard the timing before long highway trips. When I got tired of doing that I found an engine knock eliminator that did the same thing electronically when it sensed a ping from the engine. It worked pretty well and allowed maximum advance under all driving conditions for good performance around town and good fuel mileage on the freeway. It looks like a black box for an electronic ignition system and can probably be concealed if you want to keep your engine bay looking original. I ordered it through Clark's Corvair Parts. Not sure if they still carry them. There is a link below that discusses them:

Re: Distributor Advance and Pinging & Overheating

Posted: Thu 1. May 2014, 22:21
by Rick Crunelle
Thanks for the idea. I also found a knock eliminator for J&S Electronics.
It looks like a really good solution to my problem. Since I didn't have a pinging issue around town, I could set the timing to the optimal setting for most of my driving... then, when I got under a load (like going up a hill on the freeway) the knock sensor/eliminator would retard the timing until the pinging stopped. Best of both worlds.

The only issue I have is that the unit is $600. I don't want to sound cheap, but for as little as this car will be driven, I'll just set the timing so that I don't get any pinging. It isn't optimal, but it still runs good. If this was a daily driver, or something that I was planning a cross-country drive in, I'd consider it.

Thanks again!

Re: Distributor Advance and Pinging & Overheating

Posted: Fri 2. May 2014, 00:09
by 58-Pagoda
$600 no. I paid around $100. I guess the basic units are no longer made, but here's a NOS one for $35- a steal.

Re: Distributor Advance and Pinging & Overheating

Posted: Thu 8. May 2014, 12:56
by Rick Crunelle
Thanks for the link. I shot them an email.

So here is an update... I've got this hot rod shop that I've used previously, and they are really good. After talking through the issues, he is absolutely convinced that my problem is all in the ignition/timing. That has been my suspicion, but I didn't tell him that. I'm going to take it to him and see if he can work some magic, but let me ask you something...

As it stands now, my initial timing is at 5 BTDC, and the max mechanical is 8 degrees, and vacuum advance is disconnected. At that setting I don't have pinging, but it overheats pretty quickly under a load. Not having enough timing is likely causing this issue. If I give it any more initial timing, I get pinging. If I give it any vacuum advance, I get pinging, but the overheating isn't as bad... So how is it possible to fix that? Not enough timing is causing overheating, but more timing causes pinging...

Re: Distributor Advance and Pinging & Overheating

Posted: Thu 8. May 2014, 13:32
by 58-Pagoda
Maybe try higher octane gas or an octane booster and see what sort of results you get. If you only drive it occasionally that may be an economical solution to the problem.

Re: Distributor Advance and Pinging & Overheating

Posted: Thu 8. May 2014, 15:21
by Rick Crunelle
Unfortunately... I can't get better gas unless I go buy the racing gas... Here in CA the best I can do is 91 Octane, and it has less kick than my morning coffee...

Also, I tried octane booster before, and it didn't help much. I did some research to make sure I was getting a decent octane booster, and it didn't help much. However, that was a long time ago before I started messing with the advance... maybe a combination of the right advance curve and octane booster is what I need.

I'll see what my guy at the hot rod shop can do. Maybe he'll work some magic, and I'll post back on how it goes...

Re: Distributor Advance and Pinging & Overheating

Posted: Thu 8. May 2014, 18:51
by Shelby#18
Rick, I know it's a pain with the gas situation in CA.. What I do is buy a 5 gal. can and use one gallon of it per tank. It does seem to help.

Re: Distributor Advance and Pinging & Overheating

Posted: Fri 16. May 2014, 12:43
by Theo
Rick, check out these guys. I've purchased a wide cap Ford Distributor for my FE powered T Bird about 20 years + ago. Perfect. Very good experience. I think the were offering custom calibrated vac. advance curves just for your app.