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Classic/Antique Car Repair/QUESTION UPDATE PLEASE


Brad hi did you have a chance to review my last email. The car Im trying to time is a 1938 AMERICAN BANTAM.  IM trying to figure a way to line up the timing marks without pulling off the front radiator and nose.  Do you have a simpler methord. The car may moved when I pulled out the distributer. No matter what I try This car dont want to run. I get spark and gas so All I can figure its the timing. Thanks again Ken

Okay, sorry to be so long getting back to you but the older I get the slower I go and the longer projects take. Now to the Bantam. You can accomplish the timing check by just removing the side plates that covers the valve springs on the side of the engine. Then remove all the spark plugs. There are two valves per cylinder and as the Bantam is a four cylinder there will be eight valve springs visible. The firing order on the Bantam 1-3-4-2, with number one being the pair of valves closest to the radiator. There should be a big nut or bolt head on the front of the crank shaft. Now you might need a mirror to see the bottom end of the valve springs and a drop light. With a wrench on the bolt or nut on the front of the crankshaft slowly turn the engine over until one of the valves on number 4 cylinder is just closing and the other valve is just opening. In a 4 stroke cycle engine both valves are slightly open between the end of the exhaust stroke and the beginning of the intake stroke. This is what you are looking for that what is called valve overlap. Now with the number 4 cylinder valves in over lap number one will be very close to top dead center firing position. Now cut a length of wire coat hanger, about 8 to 10 inches long, and stick it down into number one spark plug hole till it touches the top of number one piston. Slowly turn the crankshaft a little one way and then the other until the piston is at the top of its stroke. You are then ready to drop in the distributor. There are no external timing marks on the Bantam engine and the factory recommendation to set timing is to use a dial indicator in the number one spark plug hole and find the point where the number one piston is .020" before top dead center. Then set the distributor so that the ignition points are just opening. The Bantam engine uses a gear drive between the crank and the cam so there is no worry about a jumped timing chain. The only time cam crank timing is suspect is if the engine had been apart and who ever put it back together misaligned the marks. If that is the case then the front end of the engine will need to come apart for a visual inspection.  

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Brad Sears


All automotive including antique and collectible. However if the car has been modified I can only answer in general terms and maybe get you pointed in the right direction.


Automotive tech instructor. Syndicated auto columnist 1970's though the early 1990's. Syndicated auto radio talk show, Ask Brad About cars, CBS Radio 70's through 90's TV Show "Last Chance Garage" 1980's PBS-TV syndicated. Auto instructor for the following companies: Fram Autolyte Holly Carter AMF Ford Motor University Of Conn Blue Hills Technical School Sugar River Technical Center Grew up in a family garage in Needham Mass and turned wrenches from the age of 14.

Manchester Union Leader, Nashua Telegraph, Motor Service Magazine, Yankee Magazine, Popular Mechanics (Saturday Mechanic early 80's), Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and lots more.

More than I care to remember. Basically Franklin Technical Institute in Boston, Northeastern University, Fitchburg State Teachers College, Tufts University, and a lot of factory schools along the way.

Awards and Honors
Moto Award winner. And much more.

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