How to set the timing on your 6.9 or 7.3 IDI and how to buy timing equipment.

Big Bart

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This thread is how to set timing on your NA or Turbo 6.9 or 7.3 F250 or F350 pick up.

When should you check your timing?
  • Every 30,000 miles. As your pump and injectors wear, they begin to open sooner generally. (Lower pop pressure.) This changes your engines timing. As an IP wears it may take slightly longer to build up the pop pressure again changing the engine timing.
  • After replacing your IP.
  • After replacing your injectors.
  • After rebuilding your engine.

Many underestimate how sensitive these engines are about timing. Not timing these engines correctly can be problematic and potentially cause damage such as -
  • Hard starting
  • Smoking
  • Over heating
  • Glow plug damage
  • Poor fuel economy
  • Poor power

  • Many suggest they can tune these engines by “EAR” but most will not be able to even get within even 2* of the 8.5* TBC setting. Tuning by ear is more tuning by acceleration. Move the pump and drive, move the pump and drive. Perhaps you get within 5* of the setting, likely you can if you have had a good running truck for months before you do the timing. Thus you will know if the truck performs about the same. But those who do it by ear will have no idea at 2,000rpm what their timing is. (Ironically you won’t hear the timing at 2,000rpm, just a very loud diesel engine.) So I highly recommend you buy your own timing device. Simply put, have the right tool for the job. You also can look here in the tech articles for folks willing to help you set your timing with their meter. (Timing Registery.) 95% of diesel shops do not have one (Or one that still works.), so even if you do not plan to set your own timing, buy and bring the meter so the shop who does it can do it right.
There are many injector pulse timing devices one can use to set the timing on these trucks. Many are no longer manufactured such as the –


Snap On MT 257

Snap On MT 480

Snap On MT 1480

Ferret 765

Kent Moore J-33300


Many who have bought used units found they were incomplete or broken so buyer beware.


However there are still some being made today for $180-400 such as –

The Design Technology Inc. (DTI) 3300s

https://tinytach.com/timing-equipment


Bluepoint (Snap On)

https://shop.snapon.com/product/Diesel-Pulse-Adaptor/Diesel-Pulse-Adaptor-(Blue-Point)/MT257B

Gunson

https://www.gunsonshop.com/contents/en-us/p247_Gunson_Diesel_Adaptor_For_Timing_Lights_77089.html


Some like the Gunson and Bluepoint devices are very basic and require the use of a timing light with a timing advance feature. ~+$70 Some like the DTI and Kent Moore are they are far more feature rich. The DTI and Kent Moore units allow you to also use a timing light with advance instead of the damper pickup.

As of 2022 many have had luck buying new military surplus DTI 3300S’s off eBay for $150-250. (These are $400 new from DTI.)


Timing Specs –

Whether you have a 6.9L or 7.3L IDI, whether it is naturally aspirated or turbo, the timing is set at 2,000rpm and set to 8.5* BTDC. Some have suggested they prefer 9.5* BTDC, either works. Engine warm so cold idle and IP advance are off. (No +12v at the connector.)

You use the #1 cylinder injection line to hook the piezo clamp to. #1 cylinder is passenger side and closest to the radiator. You will want to sand off the paint where you plan to use the piezo clamp. You also do not want to put the clamp on a bend. Also put the clamp as close to the injector as possible.


Adjusting the IP

  • You will want to buy an extra box end wrench for the IP bolts and grind it thinner so it can fit past the stud and down over the nut. I believe VAN owners will want a second one to bend it for the nut in the back of the IP. (I have not worked on a Van/E series so no expert.)
  • You adjust the IP with the engine off, it has been reported trying to time with the engine on can cause the pump to twist and ruin it. So turn off the engine, loosen the nuts, adjust, tighten the nuts, start the engine, check, turn off the engine, rinse and repeat till you get the timing where you want it.
  • Turning the IP towards the passenger fender advances the timing. Turning it towards the drivers fender retards it.
  • If you need to adjust the IP more than say about 4* you will want to loosen the injector lines to prevent stressing or breaking them. Remember when you tighten the line nuts do it snug tight not hulk tight. Hulk tight will potentially ruin them. If you go snug tight you can always tighten more if it has a slow leak.

Setting your timing using a pulse adaptor with a standard timing light with advance.
  • A pulse adapter will have a steel bar or wire ring to hook your timing light for a gas engine pick up on. Many report not all lights work well with these pulse bars/wire rings. Many find simply flipping the timing light pickup around the other way solved their issue. Many had to try another brand or model of timing light.
  • Our trucks do not have timing marks like a gas engine generally does. There are two holes on the timing tab above the damper. The one towards the top right is 20* ATDC. The one to the left and lower is TDC. (The middle of the hole is TDC.) So you have no way to know where is 8.5* BTDC. Thus why you need a light with timing advance so you can set the advance to 8.5* (Or 9.5* if you prefer.) so you can line up the mark on the damper with the center of the lower left hand hole. (TDC) The light is compensating 8.5* so you can set the mark at TDC, but you are actually setting to 8.5* BTDC. You also can adjust your timing light to see how many degrees you are from being correctly timed so you have an idea how much to move the pump. The way to think of this is the pump face is a round circle. Thus that circle has 360* like your damper. If you timing is off 5* you are trying to move that circle on the IP 5*. Also be sure to clean out and mark the grooved line on the damper to make it easier to see.
  • Generally, if the timing device has a small flashing light on the face of it or if the RPM meter is working your pulse piezo clamp is working.
  • When setting timing with a timing light you do not use a 20* offset. The 20* offset is only used when you use a damper pickup. This is because the damper pickup hole is at 20* ATDC. The 20* offset is to make up for this.


Setting your timing when using the damper (Harmonic balancer) pick up probe on a Snap On, Kent Moore, or DTI unit.

  • The damper mark should be cleaned out to insure a better reading.
  • Many with DTI units said they had to use a 5/16“ drill bit by hand to clean out the damper timing hole. (Use the top left hole.) Some suggested they filed down the pickup probe to fit the hole.
  • You will likely have to play around with the probe height from the damper. Some say 1 business card away from the damper, some say 2-4 business cards away. So plan on adjusting till the timing is registering on your meter.
  • You will need to set the device for a 20* offset. This is because the hole is not at TDC, it is 20* after TDC. So this zero’s out the meter’s reading in a sense so you see 8.5* on the meter not 28.5*.
  • If your RPM gauge is reading, then your piezo clamp is working.
  • DTI makes a special timing gun just for their unit (Plugs into it the meter.), I recommend you pay the $100 and buy it. It is more flexible and easier to use than the damper probe.
  • Read your manual, but most units recommend powering up the meter before plugging in the damper probe. They suggest you may kill it if the unit is not powered up. I am guessing somehow it can demagnetize it.


If you want additional help just start a new thread asking for help on how to time your truck with your timing device.

“Need help using my DTI 3300s timing meter on my 6.9 IDI.”

State your need or questions and members will chime in.
 
Last edited:

Clb

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Second that, although Mel and Towcat did a rather good job detailing the process here...
 

Meatloaf326

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My only question is timing on cyl #1 vs #4 on the van if anyone knows the difference.

As far as needing an extra wrench for a van you don’t. I use one ground down 9/16 and can reach all 3 bolts pretty easy. I go through the dog house for the passenger lower nut but it’s pretty easy to get to.
 

ThirstyF250

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This thread is how to set timing on your NA or Turbo 6.9 or 7.3 F250 or F350 pick up.

When should you check your timing?
  • Every 30,000 miles. As your pump and injectors wear, they begin to open sooner generally. (Lower pop pressure.) This changes your engines timing. As an IP wears it may take slightly longer to build up the pop pressure again changing the engine timing.
  • After replacing your IP.
  • After replacing your injectors.
  • After rebuilding your engine.

Many underestimate how sensitive these engines are about timing. Not timing these engines correctly can be problematic and potentially cause damage such as -
  • Hard starting
  • Smoking
  • Over heating
  • Glow plug damage
  • Poor fuel economy
  • Poor power

  • Many suggest they can tune these engines by “EAR” but most will not be able to even get within even 2* of the 8.5* TBC setting. Tuning by ear is more tuning by acceleration. Move the pump and drive, move the pump and drive. Perhaps you get within 5* of the setting, likely you can if you have had a good running truck for months before you do the timing. Thus you will know if the truck performs about the same. But those who do it by ear will have no idea at 2,000rpm what their timing is. (Ironically you won’t hear the timing at 2,000rpm, just a very loud diesel engine.) So I highly recommend you buy your own timing device. Simply put, have the right tool for the job. You also can look here in the tech articles for folks willing to help you set your timing with their meter. (Timing Registery.) 95% of diesel shops do not have one (Or one that still works.), so even if you do not plan to set your own timing, buy and bring the meter so the shop who does it can do it right.
There are many injector pulse timing devices one can use to set the timing on these trucks. Many are no longer manufactured such as the –


Snap On MT 257

Snap On MT 480

Snap On MT 1480

Ferret 765

Kent Moore J-33300


Many who have bought used units found they were incomplete or broken so buyer beware.


However there are still some being made today for $180-400 such as –

The Design Technology Inc. (DTI) 3300s

https://tinytach.com/timing-equipment


Bluepoint (Snap On)

https://shop.snapon.com/product/Diesel-Pulse-Adaptor/Diesel-Pulse-Adaptor-(Blue-Point)/MT257B

Gunson

https://www.gunsonshop.com/contents/en-us/p247_Gunson_Diesel_Adaptor_For_Timing_Lights_77089.html


Some like the Gunson and Bluepoint devices are very basic and require the use of a timing light with a timing advance feature. ~+$70 Some like the DTI and Kent Moore are they are far more feature rich. The DTI and Kent Moore units allow you to also use a timing light with advance instead of the damper pickup.

As of 2022 many have had luck buying new military surplus DTI 3300S’s off eBay for $150-250. (These are $400 new from DTI.)


Timing Specs –

Whether you have a 6.9L or 7.3L IDI, whether it is naturally aspirated or turbo, the timing is set at 2,000rpm and set to 8.5* BTDC. Some have suggested they prefer 9.5* BTDC, either works. Engine warm so cold idle and IP advance are off. (No +12v at the connector.)

You use the #1 cylinder injection line to hook the piezo clamp to. #1 cylinder is passenger side and closest to the radiator. You will want to sand off the paint where you plan to use the piezo clamp. You also do not want to put the clamp on a bend. Also put the clamp as close to the injector as possible.


Adjusting the IP

  • You will want to buy an extra box end wrench for the IP bolts and grind it thinner so it can fit past the stud and down over the nut. I believe VAN owners will want a second one to bend it for the nut in the back of the IP. (I have not worked on a Van/E series so no expert.)
  • You adjust the IP with the engine off, it has been reported trying to time with the engine on can cause the pump to twist and ruin it. So turn off the engine, loosen the nuts, adjust, tighten the nuts, start the engine, check, turn off the engine, rinse and repeat till you get the timing where you want it.
  • Turning the IP towards the passenger fender advances the timing. Turning it towards the drivers fender retards it.
  • If you need to adjust the IP more than say about 4* you will want to loosen the injector lines to prevent stressing or breaking them. Remember when you tighten the line nuts do it snug tight not hulk tight. Hulk tight will potentially ruin them. If you go snug tight you can always tighten more if it has a slow leak.

Setting your timing using a pulse adaptor with a standard timing light with advance.
  • A pulse adapter will have a steel bar or wire ring to hook your timing light for a gas engine pick up on. Many report not all lights work well with these pulse bars/wire rings. Many find simply flipping the timing light pickup around the other way solved their issue. Many had to try another brand or model of timing light.
  • Our trucks do not have timing marks like a gas engine generally does. There are two holes on the timing tab above the damper. The one towards the top right is 20* ATDC. The one to the left and lower is TDC. (The middle of the hole is TDC.) So you have no way to know where is 8.5* BTDC. Thus why you need a light with timing advance so you can set the advance to 8.5* (Or 9.5* if you prefer.) so you can line up the mark on the damper with the center of the lower left hand hole. (TDC) The light is compensating 8.5* so you can set the mark at TDC, but you are actually setting to 8.5* BTDC. You also can adjust your timing light to see how many degrees you are from being correctly timed so you have an idea how much to move the pump. The way to think of this is the pump face is a round circle. Thus that circle has 360* like your damper. If you timing is off 5* you are trying to move that circle on the IP 5*. Also be sure to clean out and mark the grooved line on the damper to make it easier to see.
  • Generally, if the timing device has a small flashing light on the face of it or if the RPM meter is working your pulse piezo clamp is working.
  • When setting timing with a timing light you do not use a 20* offset. The 20* offset is only used when you use a damper pickup. This is because the damper pickup hole is at 20* ATDC. The 20* offset is to make up for this.


Setting your timing when using the damper (Harmonic balancer) pick up probe on a Snap On, Kent Moore, or DTI unit.

  • The damper mark should be cleaned out to insure a better reading.
  • Many with DTI units said they had to use a 5/16“ drill bit by hand to clean out the damper timing hole. (Use the top left hole.) Some suggested they filed down the pickup probe to fit the hole.
  • You will likely have to play around with the probe height from the damper. Some say 1 business card away from the damper, some say 2-4 business cards away. So plan on adjusting till the timing is registering on your meter.
  • You will need to set the device for a 20* offset. This is because the hole is not at TDC, it is 20* after TDC. So this zero’s out the meter’s reading in a sense so you see 8.5* on the meter not 28.5*.
  • If your RPM gauge is reading, then your piezo clamp is working.
  • DTI makes a special timing gun just for their unit (Plugs into it the meter.), I recommend you pay the $100 and buy it. It is more flexible and easier to use than the damper probe.
  • Read your manual, but most units recommend powering up the meter before plugging in the damper probe. They suggest you may kill it if the unit is not powered up. I am guessing somehow it can demagnetize it.


If you want additional help just start a new thread asking for help on how to time your truck with your timing device.

“Need help using my DTI 3300s timing meter on my 6.9 IDI.”

State your need or questions and members will chime in.
hi there

I have the Tech-Time 3300, but need to know if I'm supposed to set the Trigger Point Switch to High or Low on the switch? I'll be using the probe timing method at the 20 degree port

in the manual-- i noticed low switch means to set the pezo clamp close the the IP and High is close to injector for the pezo clamp.

Can you please help me out with this clarification?
 

Big Bart

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I would suggest low. As I recall it suggest high if using the lumi method.

Luminating (lumi) method is not generally used any more. That method used a glow plug adapter with a crystal center (Think glass center.) and a different timing sensor that sensed the light flash (Illumination.) of the combustion vs the TDC mark on the damper and damper sensor. There was a different timing degree used and fuel centane level was a consideration. Today probably 90% of folks use the damper sensor or timing light method. Another issue with lumi was the glow plug adapter would get sooted up and prevent the illumination of the combustion thus the meter would stop working till you pulled and cleaned the adapter.
 

ThirstyF250

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I would suggest low. As I recall it suggest high if using the lumi method.

Luminating (lumi) method is not generally used any more. That method used a glow plug adapter with a crystal center (Think glass center.) and a different timing sensor that sensed the light flash (Illumination.) of the combustion vs the TDC mark on the damper and damper sensor. There was a different timing degree used and fuel centane level was a consideration. Today probably 90% of folks use the damper sensor or timing light method. Another issue with lumi was the glow plug adapter would get sooted up and prevent the illumination of the combustion thus the meter would stop working till you pulled and cleaned the adapter.
Ok excellent. Thank you

And with Low setting, I see the manual stated to set the pezio clamp as close as possible on injector line one to the IP
 

Jesus Freak

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Okay, I'm getting infatuated with the timing thing. I looked up the DTI 3300s and I think I'm just going to get one. This might be a dumb question, but I've been assuming my engine is just tired. It's a junkyard motor and who knows how it was treated. So the question is this: Could bad timing cause oil consumption?
 

Big Bart

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No sorry to say timing is not a usual cause or a fix for oil consumption.

Timing does effect
1) Engine temp under load.
2) Ease of starting.
3) Improved gas mileage. (1-3mpg depending in diff ratio.)
4) Improved power.
5) Better idle.
6) Cleaner exhaust.

Oil loss in a IDI is caused by -
1) Gasket and seal leaks. (Leaks out.)
2) Bad valve seals or guides. (Burns in cylinder or exhaust.)
3) Bad head gasket. (Leaks out.)
4) Piston, ring, and/or cylinder wear. (Oil is trapped above the piston and burned.)
5) Turbo seals.

So timing is not a fix for your oil usage issue.
 

Jesus Freak

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I know, but maybe....just maybe you knew something I didn't. I appreciate the info. I'm going to get the timing device and Lord Willing get that set in the next few weeks. We need a technical geek to make a diesel timing app for our phones.
 

Big Bart

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I know, but maybe....just maybe you knew something I didn't. I appreciate the info. I'm going to get the timing device and Lord Willing get that set in the next few weeks. We need a technical geek to make a diesel timing app for our phones.
You will not regret having a timing device most of us wonder why we waited to get one.
 

Big Bart

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Adding a link for a thread on IP tools that you need to loosen or remove your IP. It is informative and will help you make your own if you like.

 

Oldred

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If anyone is curious, I finally got around to checking my timing today. I'll attach the photos of the tooling I used. As far as special wrenches go, I just used my snapon angle wrench.
 

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