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need help with 1977 B210 timing issues


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Hello Everyone,

Thanks for such a helpful website.  I have an ignition timing problem and I am stumped:

I have a 1977 B210 sedan, bought in August and was not running.  After working on it a while I was able to get it running and running fair but not great.  I had everything else pretty much tuned up, and when I went to check the timing, it was 20-25 degrees advanced.  This is my problem, I thought.  So I loosened the distributor bolt and tried to retard it where it is supposed to be (8 degrees advanced), but it wouldn't retard at all without dying.  I could only keep it running at 20-25 degrees advanced.  Someone told me that the distributor could be a tooth off, so i took it out and tried it - a tooth in either direction - it wouldn't run either way.  So I replaced the points, but couldn't get it to start.  Tried another new distributor, still couldn't get it to start.  Well, it will barely start and run like sh*t then die.  I had a mechanic look at it with me and neither of us could figure it out.  We verified that it is indeed at TDC and engine timing is correct.  We can put the distributor in at TDC, have the rotor pointing at the #1 plug wire, but we can't move the distributor where the points are open at TDC pointing at the #1 wire.  It seems that the points are opening too late.  Any suggestions or experience with a similar problem?

Most gratefully,


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move the distributor where the points are open at TDC pointing at the #1 wire

That will be severely retarded. Instead, turn the crank clockwise to 8° mark (do not turn it backwards), then adjust distributor so coil just sparks. Tighten it right there.


8° is for CAL engines, as they have less mechanical advance than other A14s.


When checking via timing light:

* ensure vacuum line is disconnected at distributor and plugged

* ensure idle is near 700 rpm. High idle will read more advanced

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Thanks so much for your advice...please forgive my ignorance, but Ihave a couple more questions after reding your posts:

how do I adjust the distributor so that the coil will spark? Out of curiosity, what happens when you turn the engine counterclockwise?

Thanks again,


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how do I adjust the distributor so that the coil will spark?

Same as with any points distributor, Ford, Chevy, whatever. You rotate the distributor until it sparks.


Or you can set the timing with a timing light.


If you don't have a timing light, set it as follows. With engine turned to the correct timing mark:

1. pull coil wire from cap. Lay atop the engine or strut tower, with the metal lead 1/4 inch from bare metal

2. turn Key to IGN (do not start engine)

3. Loosen the distributor hold down bolt slightly. Be careful not to rotate the distributor.

4. Rotate housing clockwise slightly until points appear closed

5. Rotate housing anti-clockwise -- slowly -- until a spark appears at the coil wire

6. Tighten distributor hold-down bolt

7. Replace cap (ensure rotor still points to #1 or #4)

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OK, I was able to get it barely running following ggzilla's advice, but it is running horribly (acts like it wants to die and barely loping along).  The dwell angle is right on according to my manual.  Looking at the position of the rotor, it seems that it is almost past the plug wire when the coil wire fires. Moving the distributor while it is running has little affect - it does not get any better either way I turn it.  

Any further suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you

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Thanks again for your response ggzilla.  I have done what you suggest many times with no success.  This is the crux of problem that I am having, and why it is so frustrating.  I cannot install the distributor where the rotor is in the right place and get a spark.  I can get the rotor to the right place by removing the distributor and rotating it back one tooth, but then I get no spark (it is at a point where the points don't open).  Is there something I am missing?  Could the cam be off?  I don't think so because I took off the valve cover and verified that indeed both valves are shut at TDC.  The car ran better than it does now, although far too advanced in timing, before I removed the distributor.

Like I said, I have spent 6-8 hours trying everything to get the rotor and spark aligned in the right place, with no success.  I am hoping that someone out there has had a similar problem and might help.

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It is highly unlikely to have skipped a tooth on the timing chain they have very short, very strong chain. And a bad tensioner won't cause it to smoke smoke.


It will run, just barely, and the timing is correct. Sound like the carburetor may be incorrectly adjusted. If you open the throttle and get it up to 3000 rpm does it smooth out? Is the fuel level at the dot in the sight glass?

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doesn't the plate that holds the points turn if the correct screws are loosened. If he needs the points to open sooner without turning the distributor can't that be accomplished by doing that?


For every 1 degree in dwell adjustment I think there is double the degree in timing. Hence setting the dwell 1st.  Or something like that.




Thank God for Dizzy distributors.  I bet it's been 15 years sense I messed with points.

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Thanks Guys for your responses.  ggzilla, it is possible that the carb is not adjusted properly, as it is a new carb.  However, the car was running better before I started messing with the timing, and I haven't touched the carb since.  I'll try your suggestions this weekend and let you know.

kgrantkey, I don't know about the plate moving, but it is possible that if it does in fact move I might have messed it up when I changed the points.  I have a spare distributor so I'll take a look.

Thanks again guys...this is the only place where I've been able to find help.

I'll let you know after I tinker with it some this weekend.



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A new carb will not idle correctly until the engine is running and the carburetor adjusted. And it will not run well at slow speeds until properly adjusting. However it should run well at higher speeds even before adjusting the idle speed and idle mixture.


Fiddling with the timing can have an effect on a misadjusted engine.


Moving the distributor plate without rotating the distributor has no effect on spark timing.


Do it right.

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Hey guys,

Got the timing adjusted properly this weekend...it is right at 8 degrees BTC.  We also adjusted the valve lash (we had done this before the timing issue).  Also adjusted the dwell again and it is right on.  Running better, but still a little hesitation/missing at idle and with the throttle up to 2500-3000rpm.  The hesitation/missing does not go away at higher rpm.  It warms up fine.  I drove it, and it hesitates a lot when I step on the gas.  If I accelerate very slowly, it seems to be better.  Feels like it should have more power as well.  Still smokes, smoke is a whitish blue, but it doesn't smoke all the time.  I'm thinking that ggzilla is right about adjusting the carb.  The manual calls for adjusting it in drive using a CO2 meter (which I do not have).  Is there another way to accurately adjust the idle mixture?  Also, could it be valve problems?  

Also, when I bought the car, it has a stuck intake valve on the #2 cylinder, and a bent pushrod on the intake valve of the #3 cylinder.  It would not start until I fixed these issues, obviously.  However, now I am wondering if the valves leak a little, possibly causing the blue smoke and hesitation. Could this be a possibility?

Thanks again guys so much for the help.  This is the only place where I can find people to help me out on my little Datsun. 

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The manual calls for adjusting it in drive using a CO2 meter (which I do not have). Is there another way to accurately adjust the idle mixture? Also, could it be valve problems?

Sure is. Every manual I have explains the "best lean idle" method. No meter is required.


I've been keeping A-series engines running great since 1982. Never used a CO meter. Got three carbed engines through CA emissions without a CO meter. See http://datsun1200.com/modules/mediawiki/index.php?title=Lean_Best_Idle

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Bluish-white smoke is not (cannot be) caused by leaking valves. It is caused by too high oil level or worn rings. If it only occurs after starting for 60 seconds or so it is probably leaking valve seals. If it happens when you step on the gas it is worn out compression rings and the power will be down a bit. If it happens when coasting with foot off the pedal it is worn oil control ring.


For peace of mind you can give it a compression check. The tool is only $25 at Sears.

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