• When you click on links to various merchants on this site and make a purchase, this can result in this site earning a commission. Affiliate programs and affiliations include, but are not limited to, the eBay Partner Network.

Lining up timing marks


Well-Known Member
Local time
5:12 PM
Jan 27, 2011
Reaction score
Northeast Rust Belt
Been having a problem with my 440 since it was built. I pulled it this weekend and just removed the timing cover.
According to a video I watched on youtube, Pete's Garage-Cam install it shows the timing dot on the cam gear at 6 O'clock, pointing straight down towards the gear on the crank shaft.
The gear on the crank has two zero's on it. The one on the inside over the keyway and the outer zero near the teeth. According to the video the inside zero should be pointed towards #1 cylinder and the zero close to the teeth lining up with do on the cam gear..
This is what I have.



The keyway should end up closer to the 2 o'clock position with the dots lined up.
Hard to believe it ran like that, the 0 not by the key way is the one you want to line up with the cam 0
Here's mine, you don't line the keyway up w the dot. Runs perfect.
I believe the key is cut in line with the rod journal so the key should be aiming middle of bore for TDC!
Hard to believe it ran like that, the 0 not by the key way is the one you want to line up with the cam 0
Yeah. He kept telling me it must be carburation or fuel delivery. Last time we spoke he said the cam I supplied probably wasn't working well with the factory heads and recommended buying new heads. Glad I didn't listen to him on that. I knew it was more than that. After I replaced the aluminum intake that he warped when he bead blasted it the engine was running lean on the driver side and fat on the passenger side.
You have a 3 position timing gear. Straight up (0), 4 degree advance (A). 4 degree retarded (R). What ever keyway location is used, the corresponding mark on the outer tooth would be the one to use. Makes no difference where the keyway points. In your case it looks like your crank is off by 4 teeth. The outer 0 should be at 12 o clock when the cam is at 6 o clock. to place the cam in the straight up position. Take this with a grain of salt. As the 0 mark may not actually be exactly zero. Degreeing th ecam would tell all.
I have used a 3 position gear set for many years and many motors. I've never seen something like that. dvw is correct, that adjustable gear sets are clearly marked and actually degreeing the cam tells the story.
if you go to the trouble of dial indicating tdc and a degree wheel for gear installation good time to check your timing marks for accuracy before you get it back in the car!
Are we still on this??? The inboard "0" lines w the keyway, the outboard "0" lines w the cam. Other variables are if degreeing n its off.
That certainly sucks.
You paid someone to do that?
And how do you warp an intake by bead blasting it? That's another new one.
Just took a picture of a spare timing set. Note the dots are lined up and the key way is pointing near 2 o’clock. Like stated above.
If you look at that lower gear This one is something like what you have.

Note the dot to the left of the keyway. That is the correct orientation for 0 degrees.

A is advanced
R is Retarded.
0 is Keyway


Last edited:
On a BBM, Having the key straight up and the cam gear dot straight down puts the cam 2 1/2 teeth advanced......about 35*.
I’m amazed at how often I’ve seen this done.

The good news is, it’s an easy fix.
The bad news is, depending on how much V/P clearance would normally be available......... advancing the cam that car will often have the intake valves tagging the pistons.

After correcting the cam timing, do a leak down test to check for leaks past the intake valves.

Here’s a little tidbit........
Some Fords have the bottom gear dot in line with the key, so on those the key being lined up with the upper gear dot is correct.
I sent a couple pics to the engine builder. He called me immediately and admitted he fu*ked me on this one. said to bring it back and he would make it right, that it would not be that hard of a fix. On another board the members are saying it will need a complete tear down to check rod and crank bearings, and most likely there could be valve and pushrod damage. This motor came out of a 78 motor home, so it is a low compression head. I never heard any valve train noise so I'm wondering it there was enough clearance that the valve didn't touch the pistons (most likely wishful thinking)
If the valves are straight and the pushrods aren't bent then I don't see how the bearings would be affected.
Sounds like the builder is going to fix it.
Ask him to degree the cam in (as long as you know the cam specs)
If the motor still has the original low CR pistons and a cam that doesn’t have a lot of duration, there’s likely enough room to get away with it.
Easy mistake to make. When the original Rollmaster 8 position t/chain sets came out, the instructions were very confusing. Has now been corrected.
Auto Transport Service