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Thread: Synchronizing Ignition Timing - Holley EFI

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    Default Synchronizing Ignition Timing - Holley EFI

    1) If installing or replacing the distributor, follow the vehicle/engine factory service manual instructions (Ford TFI: LINK/GM HEI: LINK). Temporarily disable the "Idle Spark" control (in Idle Settings), so the idle timing doesn't fluctuate rapidly when viewed with a timing light. Without disconnecting anything, start the engine, and turn the distributor to synchronize the engine's initial (idle) timing using a timing light. Ensure there aren't any active 'timing modifiers' at this point (e.g. Timing vs Coolant Temperature, Timing vs Manifold Air Temperature, Knock Retard, etc.). Also, ensure you don't have any erroneously programmed "Warning Enabled Timing Offset" parameters in the "Sensor Scaling/Warnings" (System ICF) or in the custom Inputs (Inputs/Outputs ICF). If you're not sure, use the EFI software "Enable Static Timing Set" (in the "Sync With ECU" icon, drop down menu - top Toolbar). When the initial (idle) timing is synchronized, lock down the distributor's adjustment bolt and never touch it again for this purpose.

    TIP: If you're unsure about the initial distributor installation/positioning, or you'd like to verify the base timing before
    starting the engine
    , it's suggested to temporarily disconnect the fuel injector harness, and crank the engine while viewing
    the Cranking Timing with a timing light. This prevents the engine from starting, but still allows you to adjust & confirm the
    base timing (engine safety). When the Cranking Timing is correct (synchronized), the timing at idle will be too.
    When you're cranking the engine (with the injector harness disconnected), sync at 15° or whatever your Cranking Timing is.
    When you're idling the engine (without disconnecting anything), sync at 25° or whatever your idle timing on your Timing Table is.

    FYI: Just like a carbureted application, if your distributor ends up facing the "wrong" direction (aesthetics), you can
    remove the distributor assembly from the engine and reinstall it in the position you like without turning the inner shaft.
    On some engine applications, you may have to turn the oil pump driveshaft to properly engage the distributor shaft.
    You can remove the distributor cap and loosely tape the rotor to the distributor body for maintaining the alignment.

    2) After synchronizing the initial timing (distributor hold-down bolt tight), ALL timing adjustments & tuning is done on the laptop computer. Next, use the EFI software "Enable Static Timing Set" (in the "Sync With ECU" drop down menu - top Toolbar). I use a static timing value of 25° or 30°. Adjust the "Inductive Delay" setting to synchronize the timing advance when the engine is revved to higher RPM (momentary 4000 RPM is fine). To change the "Inductive Delay", the EFI software can't be in "Online" mode. Turn the engine off, adjust the value, "Save" the change, turn the key on and "Send To ECU". Cycle the key again and restart the engine each time. When correctly adjusted, the ECU should maintain the static timing value when revving the engine; simulating locked-out timing advance. Afterwards, deactivate the EFI software "Enable Static Timing Set" & enable the "Idle Spark" control. Verify the ignition timing is synchronized throughout the RPM range, and your done.

    • Think of the "Ignition Reference Angle" as just a software setting; no adjustment or tuning is necessarily required.
    (Don't be lazy...turn the distributor to synchronize the timing at idle speed, as opposed to changing the Reference Angle or Timing Offset.)
    With a GM HEI & Ford TFI, simply set it to 10° and forget about it (it's not your idle timing).
    Magnetic & Hall-Effect distributors without modules (ignition box required), set to 60°.
    Crank trigger users (Magnetic & Hall-Effect): Read Addendum below - also set to 60°.
    For further information on setting up Magnetic & Hall-Effect crank triggers/distributors (no modules):
    http://forums.holley.com/showthread....p-Instructions (Magnetic & Hall-Effect Crank/Cam Sensor Setup Instructions)
    Conversely, the "Inductive Delay" needs to be adjusted to synchronize the timing at higher RPM.

    (10° Ignition Reference Angle is correct for GM HEI & Ford TFI. The GM HEI & Ford TFI distributors are installed at 10° Ignition Reference Angle, but they're
    operating one crank revolution ahead, so they're retarding a lot. On a high RPM race engine, it's best to keep the amount of ignition retard (occurring from
    such an advanced reference angle
    ) to a minimum, so it's not used on expensive race engines. Of course, timing accuracy is better with a crank trigger.)

    • Just to recap - Synchronizing the EFI timing (laptop) with the engine timing (timing light):
    NOTE: Temporarily disable the "Idle Spark" control (in Idle Settings).
    1)
    Turn the distributor or adjust the crank trigger to synchronize the initial (idle) timing, then lock it down.
    Next, ensure timing is synchronized at higher RPM using the EFI software.
    NOTE: Now use the EFI software "Enable Static Timing Set". I use a static timing value of 25° or 30°.
    2)
    Momentarily rev the engine, and watch the timing advance with your timing light. It shouldn't move.
    If timing advances or retards, adjust the "Inductive Delay" until the timing maintains itself.
    If the ignition timing retards, increase this value. If the timing advances, decrease this value.

    SUMMARY: The initial (idle) timing is synchronized by turning the distributor or adjusting the crank trigger, and locking it down. The timing
    at higher RPM is synchronized by adjusting the Inductive Delay in the EFI software. The first synchronization is physical, and the second
    synchronization is electronic (Inductive Delay). Believe the timing light above all else, it's always the real timing (if there's a discrepancy).
    When finished, the timing as viewed on the laptop, should match what you see with the timing light, at all RPM.
    Once the ignition timing is fully synchronized, the Timing Table can be tuned for each application.

    FYI: "Your Crank Sensor "Inductive Delay" value is greater than 50. This typically will result in over
    advanced ignition timing at high RPM with a Hall-Effect sensor. Make sure this value is correct."

    That's actually not what this warning message means.
    It means if left unsynchronized, the timing can advance beyond what the Timing Table specifies.
    That's just a warning message to ensure you synchronize the timing at higher RPM (Inductive Delay).
    After synchronizing the timing, ignore that warning message and never adjust the Inductive Delay again.
    With the Holley V3 EFI software, you have the option to disable this warning message in Toolbox, Preferences.

    Originally Posted by Danny Cabral
    The following information is only if you decide to put timing marks on the damper (#1 cylinder TDC identification & 30° example):
    If necessary, use a spark plug hole type piston stop & degree wheel to first establish TDC, then make a damper mark at 30°.
    FYI: This procedure can also be used to correctly install/position a crank trigger kit/cam sync unit at 60°, 180°, 195°, etc. (LINK).

    If using spark plug type piston stop, some people remove rocker arms from #1 cylinder to avoid the risk of valves contacting tool.
    Also, remove all spark plugs for easy turning force (no compression) to prevent damage from harsh piston-to-tool contact.

    There's nothing wrong with installing a timing tape. Just ensure it's the correct one for your diameter damper.
    You don't necessarily need a timing tape, because both timing synchronizations can be performed with one timing mark.
    Multiply the damper diameter by 3.14159 (Pi), then divide by 360°. The answer is the distance in inches for one degree.
    For a 30° timing mark, multiply this value by 30. Cut out this distance on a strip of paper to avoid a straight line measurement.
    ADDENDUM: With a crank trigger, turning the distributor only adjusts rotor phasing.
    (Read how to check & adjust rotor phasing further below on this page.)
    The crank sensor sliding bracket, now does the task that turning the distributor once did
    http://www.dragstuff.com/techarticle...ger-setup.html (Crank Trigger Setup & Information)



    Quote Originally Posted by MSD Tech Bulletin
    If you’re not sure about the polarity of the pickup you are using, there is a simple test you can perform by checking the engine’s timing.
    Check the timing with the pickup wires connected one way, then swap the wires and check the timing again. You will notice that the timing changes significantly
    and may appear very erratic. The correct connection depends on the ignition control that is being used.

    Analog: If using an analog controlled MSD 6A, 6T or 6AL series, SCI series, 7AL series, MSD 8 or 10 or Blaster Ignition, the correct connection is when the timing is retarded.

    Digital: If using an MSD Digital-6 or Digital-7 Plus, or the Programmable Digital-7 Ignition Controls, the correct connection is when the timing is more advanced.
    Quote Originally Posted by Danny Cabral
    Testing the MSD CD ignition box.
    Points Output - white wire & Magnetic Pickup - violet/green triggering:
    https://www.msdperformance.com/suppo...ng_techniques/ (Troubleshooting Info)

    Ensure the distributor's rotor-phasing is correct:
    http://documents.msdperformance.com/8644_tb.pdf (MSD Rotor-Phasing Document)
    MSD has a good video on why it's important:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWMlNwGW0tM (MSD Tech Rotor-Phasing Video)

    For naturally aspirated engines, the rotor is usually phased halfway between minimum & maximum amount of timing advance used.
    For forced induction engines, the rotor is usually phased at maximum boost retard, because that's when cylinder pressure is the greatest.
    Quote Originally Posted by 8.6 Magnetic Crank Pickup - Holley EFI Wiring Manual
    If running a magnetic pickup, either a crank trigger or a distributor: To run just a magnetic pickup crank input and no camshaft input, PN 558-303 should be purchased. If a cam sync input will be used as well, it is recommended to use PN 558-306 which will contain wiring for both the crank and cam sensor inputs. It is critical that properly installed shielded and grounded cable is used when using a magnetic pickup, or it is likely that EMI will disturb the crankshaft signal. Both PN 558-303 and 558-306 come with the proper cabling. It must be installed properly as well. Make sure that the shield is properly grounded which requires it being grounded at the ECU with that ground maintained through the ignition adapter connection.
    FYI: The MSD 2-pin connector (LINK) is a TE Connectivity, Commercial Mate-N-Lok, Free-Hanging #1-480318-9 Plug Housing & #1-480319-9 Cap Housing.
    Note: The end user must supply the proper connectors/terminals for the crankshaft & camshaft sensors they choose to use with their Holley EFI system.
    Note: If using an MSD Flying Magnet 4x crank trigger kit, it's highly recommended to use Holley's 554-118 Hall-Effect replacement (direct-fit) crank sensor.
    Quote Originally Posted by Danny Cabral
    I don't recommend using the Enable Static Timing Set to check the Cranking Timing (fuel injector harness temporarily disconnected). Sometimes (although a rare occurrence) enabling the Static Timing Set indicates the timing isn't synchronized at idle; even though the idle timing has just been physically synchronized (by turning the distributor or adjusting the crank sensor). This is usually due to the trigger wheel being off a little bit, and/or an inaccurate software setting in Ignition Parameters. Either way, it's an installation error or a user software setting error. Example: I once helped a Holley DIS user who had the 60-2 trigger wheel off a tooth or two. This caused the "TDC Tooth Number" (in the EFI software) to be inaccurate, which resulted in a "Enable Static Timing Set" discrepancy (at idle) when used. Once corrected, the "Enable Static Timing Set" matched the idle timing when enabled & disabled.

    This procedure is foolproof and actually confirms itself:
    1st, temporarily disable the Idle Spark control (Idle ICF), and synchronize the timing at idle. (Ensure all timing modifiers are inactive.)
    2nd, activate the Enable Static Timing Set, and confirm the idle timing is still synchronized. (I use a static value of 25° or 30°.)
    3rd, momentarily rev the engine to check timing synchronization at higher RPM, using the Inductive Delay. (Adjust as necessary.)
    4th, disable the Enable Static Timing Set and enable the Idle Spark control.
    Again, this is the same procedure outlined in this timing synchronization tech page (LINK).
    Quote Originally Posted by Danny Cabral
    Ignition Timing Cylinder Sequence Verification
    Ensure the Firing Order is entered correctly in Ignition Parameters (System ICF).
    Before the initial start, disconnect the fuel injector harness and verify
    at least, the first four cylinders in the firing order using a timing light.
    If your cylinders are firing in 90° intervals BUT in the wrong sequence,
    the coil harness is connected wrong (at the ECU or at the coil packs).
    Hopefully you have a fully degreed balancer or at least markings every 90°:
    1st cylinder, in firing order, should fire at 0° (or 15° - add whatever your cranking timing is)
    2nd cylinder, in firing order, should fire at 270° (or 285° - cranking timing added)
    3rd cylinder, in firing order, should fire at 180° (or 195° - cranking timing added)
    4th cylinder, in firing order, should fire at 90° (or 105° - cranking timing added)
    5th cylinder, in firing order, should fire at 0° (or 15° - cranking timing added)
    6th cylinder, in firing order, should fire at 270° (or 285° - cranking timing added)
    7th cylinder, in firing order, should fire at 180° (or 195° - cranking timing added)
    8th cylinder, in firing order, should fire at 90° (or 105° - cranking timing added)
    Quote Originally Posted by Danny Cabral
    Troubleshooting Holley's DIS/CNP/COP smart coils, with a multimeter (ECU triggering):
    They have a main +12V & chassis ground, and an ECU triggered power & ground.
    The ECU ground trigger (B14) is common to all the coils, and tied together in the harness.
    The ECU triggered +5V power (B21, B22, B23, B24, B15, B16, B17, B18) is obviously individually wired to each coil.
    Holley's 8-cylinder DIS only uses four of the eight ECU triggers (waste-spark); B21 is always for #1.
    Holley's 8-cylinder CNP/COP uses all eight ECU triggers (coil per cylinder); B21 is always for #1.
    Using your multimeter, check for a pulsed 5 volt trigger when cranking the engine.

    You may need to use the Peak Hold function on some multimeters. Switch off the Auto setting on the multimeter.
    Also, ensure the two cylinder head ignition ground wires are attached. Check CNP ignition coil wiring: LINK & LINK.

    The ECU triggered power (B21, B22, B23, B24, B15, B16, B17, B18) is individually wired to each coil. Holley's 8-cylinder CNP/COP uses all eight ECU triggers.
    B21 is always cylinder #1, B15-cylinder #2, B22-cylinder #3, B16-cylinder #4, B23-cylinder #5, B17-cylinder #6, B24-cylinder #7, B18-cylinder #8.

    FORD engine cylinder numbers:


    GM & CHRYSLER engine cylinder numbers:
    May God's grace bless you in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    '78 BRONCO: 508" stroker, TFS heads, 11:1 comp ratio, Dominator MPFI & DIS, cold air induction, Spal dual 12" fans/aluminum radiator, dual 3" exhaust/Magnaflow mufflers, Moroso vacuum pump, Accusump, engine oil & trans fluid coolers, 100HP progressive dry direct-port NOS, A/C, LenTech Strip Terminator wide-ratio AOD/2500 RPM converter, 3:1 Atlas II, modified Dana 44/60-lockers-4.10s, hydroboost/4-disc brakes, ram-assist/heim joint steering, Cage long radius arms, traction bars, 4" Skyjacker lift, 35" mud tires

  2. #2
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    Danny, I'm an aftermarket EFI novice and although I've read this article a couple of times I have a question. Feel free to delete this response if you don't think it'll be helpful for anyone else.

    I'll start by saying that most of my experience is with factory Ford EFI with TFI distributors. In the past during a rebuild or cam swap I've always dropped my distributor in place on cylinder #1 compression stroke, balancer at zero and rotor pointing to the #1 cap terminal. From there the motor will generally fire with very little play at the distributor and I would set my base timing to 10 degrees, lock down the distributor and plug in the SPOUT and the computer did the rest.

    The instructions state "Without disconnecting anything, start the engine, and turn the distributor to synchronize the engine's initial (idle) timing using a timing light." Am I supposed to be synchronizing it to 30° BTDC with the light?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick90lx View Post
    The instructions state "Without disconnecting anything, start the engine, and turn the distributor to synchronize the engine's initial (idle) timing using a timing light." Am I supposed to be synchronizing it to 30° BTDC with the light?
    Not necessarily; unless 30° is the amount of idle timing advance you've programmed or you're using the EFI software "Enable Static Timing Set" at 30°.
    May God's grace bless you in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    '78 BRONCO: 508" stroker, TFS heads, 11:1 comp ratio, Dominator MPFI & DIS, cold air induction, Spal dual 12" fans/aluminum radiator, dual 3" exhaust/Magnaflow mufflers, Moroso vacuum pump, Accusump, engine oil & trans fluid coolers, 100HP progressive dry direct-port NOS, A/C, LenTech Strip Terminator wide-ratio AOD/2500 RPM converter, 3:1 Atlas II, modified Dana 44/60-lockers-4.10s, hydroboost/4-disc brakes, ram-assist/heim joint steering, Cage long radius arms, traction bars, 4" Skyjacker lift, 35" mud tires

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    Thanks for the clarification. I thought I was missing something more in there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick90lx View Post
    Thanks for the clarification. I thought I was missing something more in there.
    You're welcome.
    The bad news is, EFI timing synchronization can be confusing.
    The good news is, it takes less than ten minutes to fully synchronize.

    Summary: The initial (idle) timing is synchronized by turning the distributor or adjusting the crank trigger, and locking it down. The timing at higher RPM is synchronized by adjusting the Inductive Delay in the EFI software. The first synchronization is physical, and the second synchronization is electronic (Inductive Delay). Believe the timing light above all else...it's always the real timing (if there's a discrepancy). When finished, the timing as viewed on the laptop, should match what you see with the timing light, at all RPM.
    May God's grace bless you in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    '78 BRONCO: 508" stroker, TFS heads, 11:1 comp ratio, Dominator MPFI & DIS, cold air induction, Spal dual 12" fans/aluminum radiator, dual 3" exhaust/Magnaflow mufflers, Moroso vacuum pump, Accusump, engine oil & trans fluid coolers, 100HP progressive dry direct-port NOS, A/C, LenTech Strip Terminator wide-ratio AOD/2500 RPM converter, 3:1 Atlas II, modified Dana 44/60-lockers-4.10s, hydroboost/4-disc brakes, ram-assist/heim joint steering, Cage long radius arms, traction bars, 4" Skyjacker lift, 35" mud tires

  6. #6

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    So I just want to verify I did this correctly. New build running a Ford TFI distributor. Since the motor is new and my base timing hadn't previously been set with a timing light, I did not know where my timing was at. I went in and disabled Idle Spark control, then disconnected the fuel injector harness. With a timing light, I cranked the motor and set the distributor until it read 10° on the balancer and locked it down. I then went into the Enable Static Timing Set, and entered in a value of 25°. I've had the engine running (Idle) with those settings now for a short period of time, but not long enough to mess with the Inductive Delay. Other then that, is there anything else that I need to do, other then verifying that my timing is reading the same on the balancer, as it is in the EFI software?

    Also, you say you use the 25° or 30° in the Enable Static Timing Set box. I guess I don't fully understand at this point, what that does or what value I'm supposed to be using. Is this value only used when you click the Enable Static Timing Set box, and used to verify on your your balancer with the timing light and see if it reads 25° or 30° (whichever value you entered into the Enable Static Timing Set box)?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ss90 View Post
    I've had the engine running (Idle) with those settings now for a short period of time, but not long enough to mess with the Inductive Delay.
    If the timing is synchronized at idle, lock down the distributor and move on to the 2nd step (Inductive Delay).

    Other then that, is there anything else that I need to do, other then verifying that my timing is reading the same on the balancer, as it is in the EFI software?
    No, the first post addresses everything you need to do.

    Is this value only used when you click the Enable Static Timing Set box, and used to verify on your your balancer with the timing light and see if it reads 25° or 30° (whichever value you entered into the Enable Static Timing Set box)?
    Correct, that value is only used when the Enable Static Timing Set function is active.
    May God's grace bless you in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    '78 BRONCO: 508" stroker, TFS heads, 11:1 comp ratio, Dominator MPFI & DIS, cold air induction, Spal dual 12" fans/aluminum radiator, dual 3" exhaust/Magnaflow mufflers, Moroso vacuum pump, Accusump, engine oil & trans fluid coolers, 100HP progressive dry direct-port NOS, A/C, LenTech Strip Terminator wide-ratio AOD/2500 RPM converter, 3:1 Atlas II, modified Dana 44/60-lockers-4.10s, hydroboost/4-disc brakes, ram-assist/heim joint steering, Cage long radius arms, traction bars, 4" Skyjacker lift, 35" mud tires

  8. #8

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    Hello Danny. I seem to be missing a part of the equation. I set my base timing with the injector harness disconnected, and the motor started and runs fine. I Enabled Static Timing Set and checked it at 25 and they matched. Now I need the idle timing to be 36 not 25. I don't see where in the software I tell it this. So I disabled Idle Spark control and turned the distributor, and got it set to 36, but software still reads 25. I Enabled Static Timing, this time using 30 as a reference, and timing still reads 36 and software tables still reads 25. I have shut down and saved and cycled the key and still not able to get both software and timing light to read 36. Where do I tell the software that the idle timing is going to be 36? Can you please walk me thru setting this up, using an idle timing of 36 from beginning to end. Under the hood and in the software? I would greatly appreciate it. I may be over thinking this and just need it step by step without my head getting in the way.
    By the way, I'm using the Holley small cap HEI distributor that Holley used to sell. Thanks, Cory

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    Quote Originally Posted by MadRatt View Post
    Now I need the idle timing to be 36 not 25. I don't see where in the software I tell it this.
    After synchronizing the timing, the Base Timing Table is where all ignition timing tuning/changes are made.
    You need to read the "Step-By-Step Beginners Tuning" in the "Help" Contents of the EFI software.

    So I disabled Idle Spark control and turned the distributor, and got it set to 36, but software still reads 25.
    No! You need to read the first post of this thread again. In the first paragraph, I stated,
    "When the initial (idle) timing is synchronized, lock down the distributor's adjustment bolt and never touch it again for this purpose."

    Where do I tell the software that the idle timing is going to be 36?
    The Base Timing Table. Why do you need the idle timing so highly advanced?
    May God's grace bless you in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    '78 BRONCO: 508" stroker, TFS heads, 11:1 comp ratio, Dominator MPFI & DIS, cold air induction, Spal dual 12" fans/aluminum radiator, dual 3" exhaust/Magnaflow mufflers, Moroso vacuum pump, Accusump, engine oil & trans fluid coolers, 100HP progressive dry direct-port NOS, A/C, LenTech Strip Terminator wide-ratio AOD/2500 RPM converter, 3:1 Atlas II, modified Dana 44/60-lockers-4.10s, hydroboost/4-disc brakes, ram-assist/heim joint steering, Cage long radius arms, traction bars, 4" Skyjacker lift, 35" mud tires

  10. #10

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    Hello. Attempting to perform this procedure on a 347 Ford with a TFI distributor, controlled by the Terminator. I set the base timing to 10° with the Idle Spark disabled. Once I got it set, locked it down, and then went to enable static timing in the HP EFI software. I set it to 28°, since that is what timing the handheld requested when I initially set timing per the Holley instructions (before I found this), and I already had a mark on the balancer for 28°. When I checked timing, I was still at 10°, revved the engine, at 10°, could not get it to move to 28° (or 25° or 30°). The software confirmed static timing was set for 28°, and I was "Online" with the ECU. I have to be missing something simple, if anyone has an idea, that would be great.

    The software confirms the setting in the dialog box at whatever it's set to, and I have to close the box if I want to view any parameters, so I'm fairly certain it accepts the setting. In my attempts to get this to work, noticed the "Enable Static Timing Set" is a live setting and it won't work until you're online with the ECU (makes sense). Anyway, I was online and tried it several times to get the timing to move off 10°, but with no joy. I use Cummins, CAT, Allison, Bendix, etc. software, and I like the Holley software, it's just as intuitive as the other OEMs software, and I fully appreciate that Holley doesn't charge for it.

    I've been surfing this board for a few weeks now to pick up what I can once the base map is tuned/learned and came across this article after I had set original timing to 28° per instructions in Holley's manual. When I stabbed the distributor, the first time she fired up, I adjusted a little to get it to idle and I figured it was close, but procedure in the Holley TM was to set it for good. Guess not, since finding this and related posts, then today went to work this procedure, and my timing was off (since I had to move it to get it to 10° for the initial setting). It does have a hiccup when stomping on it, breaks up for a second then goes, but I'm thinking once the timing is set, it will clean up some. With the old setting, it ran fair, but would stumble and cut in/out when at light throttle. Checking out the other pain peeps are going thru here, uncovered that the TFI ideally should be a Motorcraft (I am not faulting the TFI yet, the distributor is brand new).

    On another note, I may have stumbled upon the source of my stumble...the coil was cracked. I noticed while doing timing checks that every so often, my timing light would 'skip' so I checked it out. Scratch one brand new MSD TFI coil. Replaced it with a Mallory. The Bronco starts a lot better.

    Thanks much.

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