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Re: adjusting the timing on 1988 firefly
Slack in the timing chain. Some of these car came with a fibergear set instead of a metal gear set. You will have to pull the water, then the timimg chain cover. You wil have to replace the top & bottom gear on the motor, plus the new chain. This usually will come in a set. You will also need a time gear cover set, gasket kit.There are 2-marks to line up on these two gears to set your time with, (timing marks).
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The battery is dead, or the battery cables are loose. Try adjusting/tightening the battery cables first. If that doesn't work, the battery is dead or just discharged. Try to find someone that will give you a jump. Good luck.
Attach a vacuum gauge to the manifold and a tachometer to the coil turn the adjustment needle valve in till the engine stumbles, then slowly back it out ''till you obtain the highest vacuum reading and best (steady) idle. then adjust the linkage stop screw, watching the tach for proper idle speed.
take off your distributor cap and turn the engine over, does the rotor spin around? if not might be your timing belt! and if it does spin it still could have jumped a tooth on your timing belt? can you poor a little gas down the carb ? will it try to start? if it does but backfires then your timing belt may have jumped a gear or two...
If it's a 7.3 deisel, your timing could have jumped one tooth or your injector pump slipped one way or another. Pull your pump, lines and gear and engrave a line straight up from the timing mark so you can see it when you reset the timing gear.