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Thread: Four timing

  1. #1
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    Default Four timing

    Is this right I have this Points at .020, Dis turned away from motor. retarded position (CW) Points open when piston is coming up on compression (mine is 1/2 BTDC). Then the manual then says set timing when piston is at TDC and dis is retarded. This is kind of confusing to me. Any help appreciated. Stan

  2. #2
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    Stan, I am not the most knowledgeable on here at all and if I am off-base maybe someone can correct me. Since no one has replied I figure maybe this will help. Make sure timing gears in front are correctly set. Set point correctly at .20 first. Bring #1 cyl. (front) to TDC. Fully retard dist. now. Rotor should point to #1. This should have points just begin to open at about 5/8 BTDC. when advanced. Recheck. After getting it running I was told by more than one person more knowledgeable than me, to advance it so when at idle, it just has a very slight miss once in a while. If I am off base please someone correct me. I did this to mine and it seems to have good power going up hills. Not the Rockies, just mile long reasonably steep grades. My Panheads will climb in 4th gear with a bit of strain. When I lose power while advanced going up hills I readjust timing at distributor again when home. If I feel it is too advance when riding I can slightly retard with the grip. Hope this helps. Unfortunately, with Fours there is no exact science or a lot of help, as not too many people ride them a lot or keep secrets, LOL.
    Last edited by D.A.Bagin; 06-17-2014 at 08:30 AM.
    D. A. Bagin #3166 AKA Panheadzz 440 48chief W/sidecar 57fl 57flh 58fl 66m-50 68flh 70xlh

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by D.A.Bagin View Post
    Stan, I am not the most knowledgeable on here at all and if I am off-base maybe someone can correct me. Since no one has replied I figure maybe this will help. Make sure timing gears in front are correctly set. Set point correctly at .20 first. Bring #1 cyl. (front) to TDC. Fully retard dist. now. Rotor should point to #1. This should have points just begin to open at about 5/8 BTDC. when advanced. Recheck. After getting it running I was told by more than one person more knowledgeable than me, to advance it so when at idle, it just has a very slight miss once in a while. If I am off base please someone correct me. I did this to mine and it seems to have good power going up hills. Not the Rockies, just mile long reasonably steep grades. My Panheads will climb in 4th gear with a bit of strain. When I lose power while advanced going up hills I readjust timing at distributor again when home. If I feel it is too advance when riding I can slightly retard with the grip. Hope this helps. Unfortunately, with Fours there is no exact science or a lot of help, as not too many people ride them a lot or keep secrets, LOL.
    Thanks for the answer. I did time mine like you mentioned with # 1 TDC retarded dis. The motor seams to run ok, and does have that miss now and then at idle so I must be close. What confuses me is why they give a measurement at advance position when there is no way to change it after the timing at DTC. Like you said there is no exact science. Stan

  4. #4
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    You are probably as close as I am or you will get. I have seen you posting on here and there on your build. If you can post a video of it running I am sure myself and others would probably like to see that. I think now you should ride it and see how it pulls and sounds on hills and adjust if you need to.....blindly. There is a manual out there somewhere that does tell you the incorrect way to do it. It says advance it as all the other Indians are but the Four is opposite. Maybe that is where you saw that.
    Last edited by D.A.Bagin; 06-19-2014 at 12:44 PM.
    D. A. Bagin #3166 AKA Panheadzz 440 48chief W/sidecar 57fl 57flh 58fl 66m-50 68flh 70xlh

  5. #5
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    Apr 2003
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    Seaford, NY
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    Some of the early manuals are a little screwy in that the timing spec is given at the retarded position of the timer. Depending on the type of mag or if its battery ignition, your suppose time in either the advance or retarted position. Either I can't follow manual or they got things mixed up. The 38-42 overhaul manual makes the most sense. It states, time with full advance at 5/8" before TDC or 45* before TDC.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by harleytoprock View Post
    Some of the early manuals are a little screwy in that the timing spec is given at the retarded position of the timer. Depending on the type of mag or if its battery ignition, your suppose time in either the advance or retarted position. Either I can't follow manual or they got things mixed up. The 38-42 overhaul manual makes the most sense. It states, time with full advance at 5/8" before TDC or 45* before TDC.
    Ok then that is the manual that is incorrect as the Four is the only model Indian that is opposite and needs to be set-up with the dist. in the fully retarded position.
    D. A. Bagin #3166 AKA Panheadzz 440 48chief W/sidecar 57fl 57flh 58fl 66m-50 68flh 70xlh

  7. #7

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    Howdy chaps,

    Not being particularly powerful relative to displacement, ie relative low cylinder pressures under load, Fours are not that prone to detonation but the 38 and later machines are hindered by heat rejection at the exhaust valve which can be exacerbated by running them retarded. This leads to pre-ignition and run on as the exhaust valve glows and lights the fuel charge. Pre-38's do not seem to be so hindered.

    As removing the front head to check timing later can be a hassle, on later machines, if you haven't fitted an oil cooler it's easier to remove the timing cover to return to the original timing settings if you've experimented along the way. I'd set it up on recommended advance and then dot the the timing gears for reference to return to this setting.

  8. #8

    Default 4 cylinder Timing Manual, Picking up where the factory left off and out!

    Those interested in timing 4 cylinders might take a look at the newest timing manual for distributor and magneto timing by "Wire By Wire" Goddard, Ks. Bill Gordan along with Jerry Ottaway have put together an expanded 25 page 8 1/2 x 11 manual, actual pictures and drawings for 1928-41 Indian4 and 1920-31 Henderson. Book covers all phases of setup camshaft-to-crankshaft timing, Gen/distributor installation and timing, magneto installation and timing.

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  9. #9
    Join Date
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    153

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    When I had the heads off on my bike I brought the front piston up to 5/8. I then put a small punch mark on the generator drive bushing and another one beside it on the generator drive shaft. I can then check the timing with a timing light with the motor running and fine tune it to allow for the generator-distributer gear backlash. Tom Wilcock

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
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    Merritt Island, Florida
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    I would encourage ALL to get the booklet from Larry. It is a great help, especially to those of us who are not much as motor heads. Explanations and pictures better than anything the factory ever produced. Marty

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