I am installing rebuilt distributors on my 327Q engines and having a hard time figuring out the timing marks on the flywheel.  Your help would be greatly appreciated.


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If this is a Q motor (flywheel toward the bow) how is this possible? The flywheel cover and motor mounts were CC specific. Can you send us a picture of your engine? I’m scratching my head here.

It's impossible to time the starboard  closed cooled q engine without help. I had to mount a small vanity mirror to the bulkead in order to see the timing light and marks from above the engine. On the port side of each engine os a window on the front cover that allows you to see the flywheel. But as far as I'm aware it can't be timed this way. Unleas you measured and marked based off timing the traditional way....

On mine there are casting marks where the hole should be, but no hole.

Hi Lee:

Thanks for your interest.  As a matter of fact, your pictures helped me tremendously.  My flywheels are towards the bow, however, understanding, as most antique boat owners do, I had to accept the job of being a part time Mechanical Archeologist when I bought my Commander.  With this in mind, there's more to my story about trying to discern my engine's timing marks.  Please bear with me as I explain.

When I purchased my boat, its past history showed a PO in the eighties had replaced the 327Qs with 350 long blocks.  Beginning with the Mallory distributors unusually having regular, loosely fitting caps my journey into the minds of my predecessors has been long and convoluted. So much so that all my flywheels need to be complete is a Kilroy sign placed upon it.  I'm sure the reason for all the marks was because they were made at different times by POs or their mechanics trying to figure out how to make the engines run better.  Needless to say, converting back to the stock flat caps didn't help that much, and considering the inherent problems with these caps, it was more like throwing gasoline to put out a fire.  Falling in line with my POs, I also contributed to different mechanics comfortable lifestyle trying to get to the bottom of my engines running but not sufficiently to be dependable. 

The last time I had a mechanic time my engines, however, there was finally a breakthrough.  Trying to figure out the root of the problem I looked at my 1969 owners manual and noticed the number one cylinder was to the left of the flywheel looking forward to the bow.  NOT as my engines had been timed, which was on the other end of the engine to the right of the harmonic balancer looking towards the bow.  For years, ever since the long block replacement, my engines were timed in this manner! Thus the extra timing marks were made in efforts to get the engines running to full capacity.  So the last time my engines were timed the mechanic switched the wires accordingly, and finally, we were able to put to rest this saga of these engines running but not to optimum efficiency. 

Wearing my Mechanical Archeology hat I surmised that the long block replacement was not done by a marine mechanic, but by an automobile mechanic who was trained and learned that a 350 Chevys’ number one cylinder was always to the right of the harmonic balancer.  Amazingly, his initial timing set the stage for following mechanics to accept the wrong designation of the number one cylinder and accordingly be stumped on why they couldn’t get these engines running satisfactorily. Even mechanics hired by me!

Last December I decided to pull my distributors and get them rebuilt.  Before pulling them I made marks where the rotors were pointing when making contact to fire the number one sparkplug.   I figured this was the easiest way to put them back in but I inadvertently hit the starter on one of the engines before putting them back in.  This caused me no other choice but to determine the proper timing marks among the myriad of marks on my flywheel, thus my query to Commander owners. As mentioned earlier, your pictures were a great help.  I think it is interesting to note that having misplaced my Superdisk I Googled and searched the internet for help but couldn’t find even a clue.  After your answer I did another Google search and sure enough this thread and your answer was the first link to show up. As stated in my jubilant response to your answer, “I’m sure your picture will also be a great help to others in the future, and also a good calling card for the Chris Craft Commander Club. Thanks again Lee.”

Lee H. Dahlen said:

If this is a Q motor (flywheel toward the bow) how is this possible? The flywheel cover and motor mounts were CC specific. Can you send us a picture of your engine? I’m scratching my head here.

Wow, what a bubba story that is!  Good on you for your persistence. I'm sure many of us would have given up and just done a repower.

Any cylinder can be #1 as long as the firing order is followed from that point, and the timing mark placed accordingly. Of course it's simpler when the correct #1 is marked. 

My friend has a "72" 31 commander and it too was wired wrong. My friend was very dismayed when I got out the engine manual and took off every wire, matched up the longest and put them all back as per manual. Hes was very happy when he turned the key and it started right up and purred like a kitten.

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