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 Page 1 of 2 12
Username Post: dail back timing light recommendation        (Topic#173877)
boogie 
Senior Member
Posts: 2145
boogie
Loc: Louisiana
Reg: 07-11-02
11-04-07 07:10 AM - Post#1288112    

I need to purchase a dail back back timing light. I really like my friends Snap on but whoa,that thing is expensive.

What about the Craftsman unit? Any other recommendations on a budget?
'85 GMC C1500 SWB 355 sbc


 
MikeB 
Senior Member
Posts: 9487
MikeB
Loc: Plano, TX
Reg: 08-28-03
11-04-07 08:15 AM - Post#1288151    
    In response to boogie

I have used a Craftsman for years. Comparing it with the 0-50 marks on a new damper, it's off only 1 degree or so at +10 and +40. I have heard there's a problem using a dial back light with some ignition systems, but mine works fine on GM HEI with MSD internals.

Recently bought this one for unmarked dampers and to display RPM. http://www.amazon.com/Equus-5568-Pro-Timing -Light-...


1982 C-10 SWB pickup -- Unmolested, original paint, 250 six, 3-speed (soon to be 350 Vortec & TH350)

Sold my 55 sedan in June 2014, having owned it 11 years.


 
grumpyvette 
Senior Chevytalk Moderator -- Performance Subject Matter Expert --
Posts: 16202
grumpyvette
Age: 66
Loc: FLORIDA USA
Reg: 03-16-01
11-04-07 09:29 AM - Post#1288199    
    In response to MikeB

Id suggest hitting LOTS of yard/garage sales,in your area,after you get a good one, IVE acquired several good functional dial back timing lights for the shop over the last few years,and NEVER yet paid over $25 for one at a yard/garage sale.
it seems theres a segment of the population that buys tools and is clueless as to their uses and sells them once they become bored/confused with doing their own work
I see one on sale about every three to six months and buy any that look to be in excellent condition

read thru this thread
http://forum.grumpysperformance.com/viewtopic.php?...
" " IF YOU CAN'T SMOKE THE TIRES FROM A 60 MPH ROLLING START YOUR ENGINE NEEDS MORE WORK !"


Edited by grumpyvette on 12-29-09 10:35 AM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

 
CNC BLOCKS N/E 
Senior Member
Posts: 831
CNC BLOCKS N/E
Loc: NORTH EAST
Reg: 12-12-03
11-04-07 10:47 AM - Post#1288253    
    In response to grumpyvette

On racing engines we have not had very good results with the Snap on, Mac lites as they seem to move all over the place and at high RPM's they seem inconsistant.

We use and our customers use the timing lights from Flame River its a one wire lite with its own battery and if the engine when it was built the balancer should be degreed so the timing can be set at max advance.

The other lites work good at idle and the old Craftsman lites work good as well but they need a power sorce and sometimes thats hard to find.

Edited by CNC BLOCKS N/E on 11-04-07 10:49 AM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

 
Rick_L 
Honored Member
Posts: 25785

Loc: Katy, Tx, USA
Reg: 07-06-00
11-04-07 11:07 AM - Post#1288265    
    In response to CNC BLOCKS N/E

I have not had good luck with any dial back lights except for Snap On, and do not own one of any type at this time.

I recently read a claim that many dial back lights won't work right with MSD 6 and 7 boxes, but I don't know that's a fact. The severe problems I had with them were with MSD equipped engines. Even with the dial on zero.

I would rather spend my money on a degreed balancer or a timing tape, rather than the extra to get the dial back feature.

And if I bought a dial back type light - before I used it - I'd check it on an engine with a marked balancer, and also compare it to a regular light on that same engine.

 
IgnitionMan 
Valued Contributor
Posts: 2713

Reg: 04-15-05
11-04-07 11:27 AM - Post#1288283    
    In response to Rick_L

I'd suggest you do it right, and don't use the dial back feature unless you have a system that doesn't use a distributor.

 
LostSoul 
Senior Member
Posts: 231
LostSoul
Loc: Virginia
Reg: 06-29-04
11-06-07 08:10 AM - Post#1289652    
    In response to IgnitionMan

A timing tape on the balancer and a normal timing light is cheaper and works better.


 
racecar100 
Contributor
Posts: 123

Reg: 09-04-07
11-06-07 11:40 AM - Post#1289811    
    In response to LostSoul

Any Dial Back Timming light is nothing but junk. I've seen too many engine loss with Dial Back timming light.

Edited by racecar100 on 11-06-07 11:41 AM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

 
motorman 
Dedicated Enthusiast
Posts: 5176

Loc: south western pa.
Reg: 01-25-00
11-06-07 08:25 PM - Post#1290242    
    In response to racecar100

several companies sell a timing light that is powered by 2 flashlight batteries so the only wire is the inductive pickup to the plug. i have used one for years and even power timing to 6000 RPMs the light was correct. this light is great for race cars where the 12 volt power source is not in the engine compartment
retired race engine builder,former NASCAR tech inspector. new corvettes owned 1959,1962,1963,1964,1965, 1966,1997,1999,2002,2005, 2008 plus 30+ other chevy cars and trucks along the way. 2008 corvette sold and waiting on a C-7.


 
CNC BLOCKS N/E 
Senior Member
Posts: 831
CNC BLOCKS N/E
Loc: NORTH EAST
Reg: 12-12-03
11-06-07 09:35 PM - Post#1290304    
    In response to motorman

Here is a link to the timing light we reccomed to our customers and we only pay 40 dollars for these light.

http://www.flamingriver.com/index.cfm/page/ptype=p...

 
motorman 
Dedicated Enthusiast
Posts: 5176

Loc: south western pa.
Reg: 01-25-00
11-06-07 11:32 PM - Post#1290344    
    In response to CNC BLOCKS N/E

that is similar to the light i posted about. i have had my for 15+ years.
retired race engine builder,former NASCAR tech inspector. new corvettes owned 1959,1962,1963,1964,1965, 1966,1997,1999,2002,2005, 2008 plus 30+ other chevy cars and trucks along the way. 2008 corvette sold and waiting on a C-7.


 
shawnlee 
Senior Member
Posts: 459

Age: 43
Loc: so.cal
Reg: 06-19-06
11-07-07 09:23 AM - Post#1290569    
    In response to motorman

Its simple to use the dial back light .
Hook it up ,set to 0,which is normal timing light operational setting.Hit the balancer strip at initial ,which was 10 on mine,dial light to 10 and see 0 on the balancer,that tells me 10 intitial.Reattach the vac line to distributor and turn knob untill 0 again on the balancer,this is base plus intial timing,mine was at about 25 degrees at idle with vac and initial timing set.
With the light set at 25 increase the rpm untill you see the vac advance drop and the mechanical starts ,this tells me the transition rpm and how much spring tention the mechanical needs to start working when the engine needs it,keep increasing the rpm a few hundred at a time untill max advance occures,this is the total and what rpm it occures at,...I.E. all in by about 2700 on my app.

So I have 12 intial,15 degrees vac advance at idle ,giving me 27 at idle,punch it and the vac advance drops ,then the mechanical comes all in at about 2700 rpm at 20 degrees which gives me 32 total under wot,very conservative setting.

My concern now is the dial back light ,are they just that inaccurate or is the fact that they can be very confusing to use ....?
I want to understand this issue and use the best/most accurate tactic I can when doing this.
I do not want to damage the engine from bogus timing products.
Its gunna cost more and take longer,trUst me!!


 
IgnitionMan 
Valued Contributor
Posts: 2713

Reg: 04-15-05
11-07-07 11:07 AM - Post#1290655    
    In response to shawnlee

Just what is so hard to understand about dial back timing lights?

THEY AREN'T FOR USE WITH A SYSTEM THAT USES A DISTRIBUTOR, THEY ARE FOR LATER MODEL COMPUTERIZED DISTRIBUTORLESS SYSTEMS ONLY.

They have a computer lag time built into the dial back feature, so they will read correctly for, of all things, COMPUTERIZED ignition systems.

Now, you want to use a dial back timing light on a distributor type system, leave the dial back feature off, deactivated, set to ZERO, and read a timing tape.

It's just that simple.

 
74LagunaS3 
Valued Contributor
Posts: 3783
74LagunaS3
Loc: Winchester, MA , USA. H...
Reg: 02-23-00
11-07-07 02:50 PM - Post#1290829    
    In response to IgnitionMan

Dali you say


74 Laguna S3 Project

2004 Merc Marauder driver


 
IgnitionMan 
Valued Contributor
Posts: 2713

Reg: 04-15-05
11-07-07 06:45 PM - Post#1291003    
    In response to 74LagunaS3

Ah, yes, Uncle Salvadore! He NEVER used a dial back timing light.

 
74LagunaS3 
Valued Contributor
Posts: 3783
74LagunaS3
Loc: Winchester, MA , USA. H...
Reg: 02-23-00
11-08-07 08:40 AM - Post#1291359    
    In response to IgnitionMan

  • IgnitionMan Said:
Just what is so hard to understand about dial back timing lights?

THEY AREN'T FOR USE WITH A SYSTEM THAT USES A DISTRIBUTOR, THEY ARE FOR LATER MODEL COMPUTERIZED DISTRIBUTORLESS SYSTEMS ONLY.

They have a computer lag time built into the dial back feature, so they will read correctly for, of all things, COMPUTERIZED ignition systems.

Now, you want to use a dial back timing light on a distributor type system, leave the dial back feature off, deactivated, set to ZERO, and read a timing tape.

It's just that simple.



I used my dial back on my Chebby HEI and it agreed with my Timing tape readings. It was easier to use the dial.

With my EEC IV stang like the LG-4 had no advance mechanisims so the dial back was good for checking the advance with the spout connected. Usually I was just checking the static timing and FORD even had nice marks on teh balancer just like a tape.

I did get weird results on my 4.6 ford, though that has a waste spark system so maybe you need a different setup.

74 Laguna S3 Project

2004 Merc Marauder driver


 
shawnlee 
Senior Member
Posts: 459

Age: 43
Loc: so.cal
Reg: 06-19-06
11-08-07 08:56 AM - Post#1291371    
    In response to IgnitionMan

I dunno....?My dial back is pretty old ,like way before there were computers old.
Like I said in my post,set at 0 it read my 12 degrees of timing on the balancer,set at 12 on the light it read 0 on the balancer ,....seems to work just fine and is quicker to read one mark on the balancer than 3 different marks ,when checking initial ,vac and mechanical advance.

Soo with the delay in the light ,just means you have to hold that rpm for a few seconds longer?
Its gunna cost more and take longer,trUst me!!


 
IgnitionMan 
Valued Contributor
Posts: 2713

Reg: 04-15-05
11-08-07 10:39 AM - Post#1291442    
    In response to shawnlee

I think all you guys should go out and buy all the dial back lights you can possibly find, and connect them all up at once, and light 'em off...you'll be very happy watching all the pretty lights flash. Some of you can also get some colored cellophane, and rubber band it around the ends of the lights, and watch the colors. You'll have more mind numbing fun if you test the timing with all those colored lights on your MSD systems.

Give me a break. I do ignition stuff EVERY day, for a living, and it isn't really that hard to do it right, as opposed to using the wrong system to mis-read timing.

Edited by IgnitionMan on 11-08-07 10:42 AM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

 
shawnlee 
Senior Member
Posts: 459

Age: 43
Loc: so.cal
Reg: 06-19-06
11-08-07 11:25 PM - Post#1292061    
    In response to IgnitionMan

I believe you ,thats why I was asking for a exsplanation.I do not have alot of exsperiance with the different lights .
I am correct in thinking that I would need 3 marks on the balancer to see the initial ,vac and total ?
I have a balancer that is marked 30 btdc and 50 atdc in 2 degree increments.
I have never used a regular light,how do I check all the different events?
Its gunna cost more and take longer,trUst me!!


 
Old Ken 55 
Junior Contributor
Posts: 392
Old Ken 55
Loc: Elk Rapids, Michigan
Reg: 02-16-05
11-09-07 06:59 AM - Post#1292178    
    In response to boogie

Read this:
http://www.dragracingonline.com/technical/vii_10-l...
http://www.picturetrail.com/gallery/view?uid=4453 9...


 
74LagunaS3 
Valued Contributor
Posts: 3783
74LagunaS3
Loc: Winchester, MA , USA. H...
Reg: 02-23-00
11-09-07 07:30 AM - Post#1292202    
    In response to Old Ken 55

  • Quote:

Autotronic Controls Corporation (makers of the MSD ignition systems) recognized this problem and began to test a rather large number of available timing lights. Through this testing, they decided to develop their own timing light (P/N 8990). Additionally, this testing also revealed that an older model Sears Craftsman Timing Light (P/N A-2134) was considered very reliable and accurate. Both lights are stable and accurate from zero to 8,000 RPM and because of this, they are well suited to a modified (as in “high performance super rod”) application.

We’ve had the opportunity to test these lamps against several well know "professional" models and we found that a few of the other lights were showing much different timing at engine speeds slightly over 1,200 RPM. At the same time, the MSD light and the Sears light were virtually identical in performance. And yes, these two lamps compared favorably with a digital engine analyzer below 2,500 RPM.




LOL I have a craftsman light gotta check the part# it's about 8-10 years old now



74 Laguna S3 Project

2004 Merc Marauder driver


 
Rick_L 
Honored Member
Posts: 25785

Loc: Katy, Tx, USA
Reg: 07-06-00
11-09-07 03:37 PM - Post#1292510    
    In response to 74LagunaS3

I just checked my Sears light. It's a 2134, I've had a pair of them now for 20 years or more.

The article certainly backs up my experiences with the dial back lights and MSD boxes. The article mentions rpm over 1200 - I didn't find this to be the case - it didn't matter what rpm. And the dial was set to zero too.

 
The_Hunter 
Contributor
Posts: 984
The_Hunter
Loc: Manitoba, Canada
Reg: 02-14-05
11-12-07 12:26 PM - Post#1294341    
    In response to Rick_L

I was looking at an Equus timing light EQU 3551. Just a basic light without dial back. Any comments on quality of this brand?
86 C10 Short Box

Computers are like air conditioners - They can't do their job properly if you open windows.


 
ranman 
"2nd Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 10705
ranman
Loc: The cold wet and windy O...
Reg: 03-10-01
11-14-07 11:38 PM - Post#1296109    
    In response to IgnitionMan

  • IgnitionMan Said:
Just what is so hard to understand about dial back timing lights?

THEY AREN'T FOR USE WITH A SYSTEM THAT USES A DISTRIBUTOR, THEY ARE FOR LATER MODEL COMPUTERIZED DISTRIBUTORLESS SYSTEMS ONLY.

They have a computer lag time built into the dial back feature, so they will read correctly for, of all things, COMPUTERIZED ignition systems.

Now, you want to use a dial back timing light on a distributor type system, leave the dial back feature off, deactivated, set to ZERO, and read a timing tape.

It's just that simple.




Weren't dial backs available prior to distributorless ignitions?

Personally, if it's off by a degree or two, repeatability would seem more important to me or the average Joe than being + or - .005 of a degree.
Tho I have not used it in a year or so, a dialback is the only light I have owned in the past 20 years.......... Personally, I can't see any drawbacks at all. It does what I want it to do.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If plants ruled the world, would they regulate oxygen?


 
IgnitionMan 
Valued Contributor
Posts: 2713

Reg: 04-15-05
11-15-07 12:09 PM - Post#1296446    
    In response to ranman

Dial back lights came about the same time distributor-less systems came into being.

 
CNC BLOCKS N/E 
Senior Member
Posts: 831
CNC BLOCKS N/E
Loc: NORTH EAST
Reg: 12-12-03
11-15-07 12:30 PM - Post#1296464    
    In response to IgnitionMan

Never seen dial back light work good on engines where you have to find max RPM to find max advancement as they seem to be very unstable at the high RPM's.

There use to be a note in the instructions which said not to be used with engines with light weight componets such as pistons, rods ETC. as we have nevr seen them work onthe engines we build.

 
flynbrian 
Contributor
Posts: 149

Age: 40
Loc: Middletown Ohio
Reg: 11-13-07
11-16-07 02:35 PM - Post#1297365    
    In response to CNC BLOCKS N/E

You might be a ignition guy but I dont believe this statement.
My Dad has been using Dial-back lights on his racing engines long before Distributorless ignitions were around.
I have a turbo setup on my car and the distributor is locked out. no advance whatsoever....Just set and maximum safe timing....The car runs super.....NO drivability issues at all, suprised even me. I use a old sears dial back timing light to set my ignition to 22 degrees...The unit is a original 1974 HEI that I modded myself.
I know 99% of the racers around me using the dial to set the timing even with timing tapes which usually agree.

 
craigblock 
Valued Contributor
Posts: 4008
craigblock
Loc: Ottawa
Reg: 05-22-05
11-16-07 06:07 PM - Post#1297529    
    In response to flynbrian

Even if dial back timing lights work on ignitions that use distributors, which I would tend to believe they don't, why would you go out and buy one when you can spend $5 on timing tape?
Casting Numbers


 
IgnitionMan 
Valued Contributor
Posts: 2713

Reg: 04-15-05
11-16-07 08:27 PM - Post#1297657    
    In response to flynbrian

Well...to each his own, and nobody said you had to do it right, you and your dad can do timing any way you want. No-one here will try to get you to do it the right way.

 
ranman 
"2nd Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 10705
ranman
Loc: The cold wet and windy O...
Reg: 03-10-01
11-16-07 10:50 PM - Post#1297744    
    In response to craigblock

I cleaned my "already clean" balancer with laquer thinner, then applied Mr.Gasket timing tape.............. on two different occasions.
Neither time did it stay put for two weeks.
When any particular brand of dial back timing light is used..... is it consistant? Or is the innacuracy some kind of inhereant flaw in all dialback timing lights?

With the accuracy obtainable with todays electronics, I am amazed that a dial back timing light's electronics could be off by + or - .2%

What gives. I am always confused with this subject.
Why are they inaccurate......... and more importantly....... just how far off are they?

Do their inaccuracies change each time they are used, or is the innacuracy consistant?
If they are off a full degree or two, I bet 95% of they guys that use them wouldn't know it.


I am not so much doubting the advice given here about them, just confused about how innacurate they are.
A quarter of a degree?
...One degree?
...Five degrees?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If plants ruled the world, would they regulate oxygen?


Edited by ranman on 11-16-07 11:03 PM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

 
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