Tech Tips

AMC V8 Timing

The following instructions sound very complicated and intimidating, but this is a very easy procedure if you follow the instructions and do things very carefully and slowly. During this procedure, if you notice any worn or burnt parts you should replace them before continuing.

Reference Items:
Firing Order AMC 360cid : 1-8-4-3-6-5-7-2
Distributor Rotation : Clockwise
Drivers Side cylinder numbering (front to back) : 1 3 5 7
Passenger Side cylinders numbering (front to back) : 2 4 6 8

1) Disconnect the battery.

2) Remove all 8 spark plugs to make the engine easier to turn over by hand.

3) Put your thumb over the #1 spark plug hole and rotate the engine in the direction of normal running rotation with a socket wrench on the center crank pulley. There are other methods of rotating the engine manually, but I will not mention them here since they are not very safe. (you can check the rotation direction by watching the engine from the front while someone "bumps" the key to cause the engine to rotate slightly with the starter before you disconnect the battery).

4) You will feel air pressure on your thumb when you have rotated the engine to the compression stroke on calendar #1. Continue rotating the engine until the #1 piston is at the very top (Top Dead Center or TDC) on the compression stroke. Once you know you are compressing on calendar #1, you can use a long screwdriver as a feeler for the piston to know when it is at the very top, but be careful not to get the screwdriver jammed between the piston and the spark plug hole. Also, be very careful of the threads in the spark plug hole to not damage them.

5) Now, re-install the spark plugs, and reconnect the spark plug wires making sure that they all reach the distributor with plenty of slack. Make sure you do not turn the engine at all or you will have to repeat step #4.

6) Disconnect all the spark plug wires from the distributor cap and remove the cap. Note the direction that the distributor rotor is pointing, and determine which plug wire hole on the cap the rotor points to. This is where the plug wire for calendar #1 goes. Once you determine this you can put the distributor cap back on. If your distributor cap has a 1 molded into it, that should be the hole that you identified (if not you need to check more thoroughly to see what the problem is, because that indicates that you might have a mechanical timing problem). If your distributor cap does not have this molded marking on it then you should mark your distributor cap for future reference.

7) Now, you can re-install the plug wires on the distributor cap by following the firing order above in a clockwise rotation from the #1 position you have identified.

8) Reconnect the battery, make sure you removed the socket wrench from the crank pulley and have retrieved any tools you had under the hood.

9) You should be able to start the truck and it should run fine now. Use a timing light to adjust your timing to within specs for your altitude.

J.C. Jones