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Seeking timing light

Question : I LIVE in Labuan and have been trying to purchase a timing light suitable for tuning the engine of my old Toyota Corolla. I have approached several spares suppliers and none seem to stock what I require.

Can you recommend me a suitable type timing light and perhaps point me to a likely stockist?

Answer : ALTHOUGH most modern engines no longer require any tuning, the older engines, mainly those manufactured up to the late 1990s, do require some form of tuning.

The stroboscopic timing light (or timing light) is a device that illuminates the crankshaft pulley at the moment the number one spark plug fires, hence 'freezing" any crankshaft movement temporarily. This enables the engine tuner to read the ignition timing off the pre-marked crankshaft pulley. This reading is known as the dynamic ignition timing.

Several types of stroboscopic lights have been used through the ages and the most popular and common are the ones that are fitted with a miniature arc discharge tube that emit a short burst of intense white to blue colour light. The prices for such devices range from just under RM100 for the "cheap and cheerful" variety to several thousand Ringgit for the professional quality ones.

Although there is no difference in accuracy, the cheaper variety do not illuminate well under bright sunlight, and they certainly do not stand up to any form of abuse.

Another important factor to consider is the way in which the strobe is triggered. Cheap lights are triggered in series. This means that the triggering device must be connected in series between the high-tension (HT) lead and the spark plug. This is potentially dangerous, and can result in a nasty electrical shock, especially in mod- ern electronic ignition systems that carry as much as 120,000 volts!

The professional grade lights are induction triggered. An inductive driven device is clipped onto the HT wire, eliminating the need to remove any wires.

Timing lights can be purchased from most stockists of mechanical tools. A comprehensive listing can be found in the Yellow Pages.


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