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  1. #1

    Question Cherry Red Headers at Idle

    As the title says my Mac Shorty headers on my 84 302 are cherry red hot at idle and i know that something is not right but just don't know where to start and would like to get your guys input on this. Iv read here and there about the topic on other forums for other vehicles and thought id ask here.
    For starters i don't think im too lean because i have a AEM wide-band installed and its never above 15 A/F even at idle its in the 13-14 range. i also have no clue what my timing is set at because the harmonic balancer does not have the timing marks on it so i am at a loss! what would you guys recommend be my next step advance or retard the timing? And also would this same issue cause my carburetor to flood because my car was driving great cruising but then i gave it some gas on a straight away 1-3 gear and when i let off the throttle my car shut off and when i poped the hood the gas was sputtering out of the carb.
    Thanks In Advance guys

  2. #2
    FEP Supporter BrianM's Avatar
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    I would start by getting an accurate read on the timing.
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    FEP Power Member gmatt's Avatar
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    Need to find out where timing is. Find tdc, mark it on your balancer and get a timing tape so you can see where it is. Could be a lot of things.
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    FEP Super Member Ken P's Avatar
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    ...and invest in a fire extinguisher. I'm not being a wise guy.
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    I would also check the timing. If you don't have the numbers/pointer, you'll have to get them. You'll never have the car running right without 'em. Years ago, the bolt loosened up on the distributor hold down clamp on my V-6 Ford Ranger and the distributor was moving wherever it wanted, producing Red hot exhaust manifolds and a big loss in power. Once we figured out the problem, the truck gained all of that power back and the "Cherry Red" manifolds went away.
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  6. #6
    FEP Super Member FM2NOTCH's Avatar
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    find tdc thru a spark plug hole, it doesn't have to perfect, mark the balancer at tdc, get a timing light with a dial, turn the dial up to whatever timing you want, turn the distributor so the timing pointer lines up with the tdc mark on the balancer, lets say you turned the dial to 15 degrees, when the mark on the balancer is lined up you'll have 15 degrees initial. if you don't like 15 degrees move the dial a couple degrees and repeat. also the vaccum advance needs to be unplugged and and the line blocked when setting initial timing

    glowing headers could be caused by low timing, the fuel is continuing to burn in the headers

    overflowing carb can be caused fuel boiling, wrong float settings, too much pressure or trash in the carb
    Last edited by FM2NOTCH; 10-22-2013 at 06:33 PM.
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    FEP Senior Member floodstang's Avatar
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    I think you would have to make sure tdc is perfect. If you are off a little bit either way the timing will be off. FM2NOTCH your idea will get him in the ballpark but he really need to get an accurate reading.
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  8. #8

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    Shadetree solution/experiment: Keep advancing it until it pings, then back it off a little.

    Better: You need TDC on the #1 cylinder, (front passenger side) and this is definitely the time to use a piston stop or TDC checker or whatever.

    Then you need to mark the balancer or stick some timing-tape (do they still make that?) on it, so that it corresponds to the pointer. You might need to get a pointer. I'd put the pointer where Ford originally did.

    Did you try cleaning the balancer real good? The marks should be there.
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  9. #9
    FEP Super Member FM2NOTCH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by floodstang View Post
    I think you would have to make sure tdc is perfect. If you are off a little bit either way the timing will be off. FM2NOTCH your idea will get him in the ballpark but he really need to get an accurate reading.
    true, but with the dial you can play around with it a couple degrees at a time, the only way to get tdc perfect is with a dial indicator and probably the head removed or a piston stop and a degree wheel, I'd almost bet a factory timing mark is not perfectly at TDC either
    Last edited by FM2NOTCH; 10-22-2013 at 09:42 PM.
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  10. #10
    FEP Super Member FM2NOTCH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grabbergreen84 View Post
    Shadetree solution/experiment: Keep advancing it until it pings, then back it off a little.

    Better: You need TDC on the #1 cylinder, (front passenger side) and this is definitely the time to use a piston stop or TDC checker or whatever.

    Then you need to mark the balancer or stick some timing-tape (do they still make that?) on it, so that it corresponds to the pointer. You might need to get a pointer. I'd put the pointer where Ford originally did.

    Did you try cleaning the balancer real good? The marks should be there.
    yes you will need a pointer, factory or some reference point near the balancer, use a dial type timing light, I believe they are at least as accurate as timing tape
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  11. #11

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    Is your exhaust flowing freely? What carb do you have? The marks can be hard to see on the balancer. Make sure its cleaned up some and look real good.
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  12. #12

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    When i get a chance today i will take a closer look at the balancer and clean it up to make sure im not just blind but i got rid of the cherry red headers by advancing the timing just a little. My exhaust is free flowing but i do have a small exhaust leak on the passenger side header/hpipe flange. The carburetor is an edelbrock 650 thunder avs (1806) about 4 months old. After letting the car sit i looked at the Fuel filter (el cheapo glass one) and there was small bits of filth in there most likely from the factory gas tank. Which filter would you guys recommend post pump and also id like to add on pre pump by the tank? i was looking at the russell performance competition (65140) right before the carburetor and for pre pump the 86-93 mustangs motocraft (fg-800a).

  13. #13
    FEP Supporter Zap's 85 GT's Avatar
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    The only time I've ever seen that is when the timing chain was really worn or installed incorrectly. I noticed it on a guys car that one of the header tubes was so bright, it was reflecting off the ground at night.
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  14. #14

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    Glowing headers = late timing. air/fuel is still burning on it's way out.

  15. #15

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    If your exhaust leak is upstream of your O2 sensor then your O2 readings are not accurate. Glowing headers at idle is retarded timing or really lean. I've had that happen when I've blown one of the little rubber caps off an unused vacuum fitting. Even if you find the marks on your balancer, you need to find TDC on number 1 cylinder to ensure the outer ring of the balancer hasn't slipped and spun.
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  16. #16

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    Thanks for your help guys. With some cleaning i found the timing marks and before setting the timing i put cylinder 1 in TDC and chalked it for reference. Removed the Vacuum advance and plugged it with a small screw and set the timing with a timing gun at 14 degrees before TDC (i think factory is 10 degrees if im not mistaken) after tightening the distributor bolt i re connected the vacuum advance. The red hot headers have since gone away completely only issue left is the exhaust leak (passenger) which is on the opposite side of the O2 sensor i have installed (driver) for the Wide band.

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