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Discussion Starter #1
I recently setup my timing on my car and believe its running great as is. But after doing some reading online I've seen a lot of threads about the use of dialback lights and how they may or may not work properly for checking total timing.

I've seen a few threads where guys were pretty adamant about only using an inductive style timing light and using either a degreed balancer or timing tape to check total timing. Their reasoning was the dialback lights were only to be used on more modern distributorless systems where a computer was involved.

But then I see other threads about how the dialback lights came up with the same readings as the inductive style lights. This seems to be the case with a non-digital system (not using MSD 6AL box, etc).

Now I'm wondering if my timing settings could be wrong. The car feels great, runs awesome, but would like a better understanding of why this is or isn't such a big deal.

When I checked my timing I verified the initial setting with both my old Craftsman inductive light and my newer dialback light. They were both showing the same reading. This was at idle though of course.

So my question is, can you use a dialback light on a regular HEI distributor (no digital box) or should I go back and check my settings with my inductive light by putting another mark on my balancer for 32 degrees and recheck it?

I just figured the use of a dialback light would be easier for total timing so I used it. Didn't find out about this issue until afterwards.

Anyway, any input from you guys that have come across this or have had experiences/issues with this would be appreciated. Maybe this is really an issue and I should recheck it, or maybe I'm doing the usual over-thinking and worrying about nothing.

Thanks!
 

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I recently setup my timing on my car and believe its running great as is. But after doing some reading online I've seen a lot of threads about the use of dialback lights and how they may or may not work properly for checking total timing.

I've seen a few threads where guys were pretty adamant about only using an inductive style timing light and using either a degreed balancer or timing tape to check total timing. Their reasoning was the dialback lights were only to be used on more modern distributorless systems where a computer was involved.

But then I see other threads about how the dialback lights came up with the same readings as the inductive style lights. This seems to be the case with a non-digital system (not using MSD 6AL box, etc).

Now I'm wondering if my timing settings could be wrong. The car feels great, runs awesome, but would like a better understanding of why this is or isn't such a big deal.

When I checked my timing I verified the initial setting with both my old Craftsman inductive light and my newer dialback light. They were both showing the same reading. This was at idle though of course.

So my question is, can you use a dialback light on a regular HEI distributor (no digital box) or should I go back and check my settings with my inductive light by putting another mark on my balancer for 32 degrees and recheck it?

I just figured the use of a dialback light would be easier for total timing so I used it. Didn't find out about this issue until afterwards.

Anyway, any input from you guys that have come across this or have had experiences/issues with this would be appreciated. Maybe this is really an issue and I should recheck it, or maybe I'm doing the usual over-thinking and worrying about nothing.

Thanks!
I have seen issues with Dial back lights mostly at high RPM most will fade out or jump around. Have seen engines burned dwon because of inaccurate lights. The best Dial back lights I have seen are the MSD and the French Gimes as that light is very common in NEXTEL Cup.

All the balancers I have installed have been degreed to set the total timing.

Once again some good threads to look over.

http://www.dragracingonline.com/technical/vii_10-lights-1.html

http://www.chevytalk.org/fusionbb/showtopic.php?tid/173877/
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Sounds like I should re-check it with my old inductive light then. I have an aftermarket degreed damper, so I can just put a mark on the 32 degree line and rev it up and check it that way.

I wonder why some guys seem to have no problems with this and other have issues?

Regardless, I think I'll double check my settings this weekend to be sure.
 

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Sounds like I should re-check it with my old inductive light then. I have an aftermarket degreed damper, so I can just put a mark on the 32 degree line and rev it up and check it that way.

I wonder why some guys seem to have no problems with this and other have issues?

Regardless, I think I'll double check my settings this weekend to be sure.
I have seen where MAC and Snap on D/B lights show about 4 to 6 degrees more timing then my Flaming river light or MSD and any RPM over 3000 they are not very stable either.

4 to 6 degrees on a street build may not bother as much as circle track or strip car.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Update w/ results

Ok so I tested out both of my timing lights.

Inductive Light: 16 degrees initial
Dialback Light: 16 degrees initial

Inductive Light: 32 degrees total (made add'l mark on degreed damper)
Dialback Light: 32 degrees total

So at least on my car, the dialback light works just as well as the inductive light. There is no bouncing around of the timing mark with either light.

I am running a Pertronix HEI distributor without a digital box (no MSD box or similar), just the coil on top like a stock OEM HEI.

Based on what I've read it sounds like you should use an inductive light if you are running a distributor, but with my car it appears they both read the same.
 
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