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How to Static Time an Engine

Author's Note

I can't in good conscience actually advise anyone to embark upon the engine timing procedure, even if I'm comfortable researching and reporting on how it's done. Especially -- especially! -- if you think that, just because the engine isn't running, it's safe from damage. Not the case. Timing an engine might actually be relatively simple, in practice -- that's what all my exes said, even as they refused to let me attempt it myself.

"It's simple," they all assured me, "but you don't want to screw up your engine, do you?" (Again, of course, was the unspoken implication that hung in the air with the tang of a chemical haze, until I'd turn on my heel and stomp off, to go wax my wheels or do some other task that didn't have potentially disastrous consequences.) After paying a machine shop to port and polish my valves, though, the last thing I wanted to do was crash them with a sloppy twist of the wrist.

Perhaps after an upbeat and positive overview -- an angel on the shoulder, rather than a devil -- static engine timing might seem approachable and achievable. At the very least, learning how an engine is timed, and why, is more helpful than a curt and superior, "Nope, you can't do it."

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