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Timing Massey Ferguson 35, 23C Without Removing Engine From Transmission


We’ve had an email from a 4 cylinder 23C, Engine Rebuild DVD customer who is having a few problems with the timing procedure for the engine.  The DVD shows how to time the engine when it has been split from the clutch housing, but Henrik wanted to know if it were possible to determine Top Dead Centre of piston number 1 (to time the engine) without removing the engine from the clutch housing (to reveal the marks on the flywheel).  Here is what Henrik asks…

I have now seen the dvd over and over again.  My problem is determining how to set the timing between crank and cam.  Regarding cam the man in the DVD says something about turning the cam until both valves on cyl 4 does something, but I simply cannot hear/understand the English very well.  This cam position should then refer to crank TDC cyl 1, but how can this be determined if the engine is still mounted to gearbox.
As I understand the hole in the flywheel refers to 17 deg injection timing = “G” in the pump inspection plate.

I really hope you can kill my confusion.

NB!  My 23C tractor is rebuilt and running, but smokes light blue (unburned diesel) so I really suspect the timing. I have not touched the chain or pump gear during the rebuild.

Henrik Thomsen, Denmark

Fitting timing chain to MF35 engine

Hi Henrik,

When the pin is in the hole in the flywheel it is 16 degrees before TDC on
number 1 cylinder.

To set the timing chain, follow this procedure…

To set the camshaft, first of all, set the tappet clearance on number 8 valve (the valve at the back of the engine closest to the steering wheel) to 0.023in (when the cam and rocker is in its lowest position).  Then set number 7 valve to 0.025in.

Turn the engine away from TDC.  (The keyway in the front of the crankshaft [that holds on the front pulley] is at the bottom when cylinders 1 and 4 are at TDC.)  Therefore position the keyway on the right looking at the front of the engine (ie. 3 O’clock position – always turn it clockwise).  You do this so that the pistons do not hit the valves.

Now remove the timing chain, camshaft sprocket and the chain tensioner.

Next turn the camshaft clockwise until vavles 7 and 8 are “on the rock” (ie. exhaust just closing, inlet just opening).  Now the camshaft is in the correct position for the timing procedure.

It is now safe to move the crankshaft clockwise for number 1 cylinder to be on TDC.  You can determine TDC without using the flywheel marks (ie. with engine connected to transmission) by using the flywheel pin hole as a reference point.  Slide in the pin to the locating hole in the flywheel and then fix a protractor to the crankshaft, and place a pointer on the engine which will give accurate readings on the protractor.  Then remove the flywheel pin and turn the engine clockwise 16 degrees (as measured on the protractor), and therefore you are now on TDC for number 1 cylinder and are in the correct position to fit the timing chain, sprocket and tensioner.

Now don’t forget to re-set valves 7 and 8 to their normal running valve clearances as in the DVD (0.012in on inlet, 0.018in on outlet).

Now set the injection pump timing as per the DVD instructions.

It’s quite an involved prodecure, but this will mean you can time the engine without removing it from the transmsission.

Hope that helps, let us know how you get on.

Steve Ridsdale (VTE)

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4 Responses to “Timing Massey Ferguson 35, 23C Without Removing Engine From Transmission”

  1. i have a ford 3000 3 cyl. diesel that sat for 20 years just got it running noticed antifreeze in oil filter. tractor is equiped with an oil cooler going to transmission. other than a head gasket is there any other explaination on why this would happen?

    • dan
  2. To accurately set up TDC Cylinder on the Camshaft you will require two DTI Gauges and a magnetic mount for each.

    Position the cam with numbers 7 and 8 valves on the rock. Set up the DTI’s on each rocker, push rod side, with 3 mm pre load, rotate the cam a few degrees in either direction and find the point where the pushrods are at the lowest position and zero the DTI’s individually for each pushrod.

    Next rotate the cam to find the position where the pushrods are both at the same height, for my engine these were 0.13mm, this is cylinder 1 TDC for the cam.

    Next make accurate markings on the end of the cam, I used a steel rule across 3 reference points for accuracy and scored the end of the cam where it is visible with the pulley fitted.

    Now rotate the crank and insert the crank pin (16 deg before TDC)tension the chain and align the G mark in the pump as seen on the DVD, if there is any doubt about this mark a spill test will identify the point of injection.

    Spill test – Ensure the pump is primed and has a good supply of fuel, connect the pipe from number 1 injector outlet and ensure that the end of the pipe is vertical and primed with fuel, turn the pump in the correct direction and when the fuel rises out of the end of the pipe this is the point of injection. Mark the shaft and remove the inspection plate, the G mark should be somewhere near the C clip datum line.

    Next assemble the machine, start the engine and tweak the pump timing on the injection pump mounting slots until the best starting and running symptoms are met.

    As for hitting the valves with the piston , just dont force the crank or cam if it goes tight, also no need to set the valve clearance any differently than the service setting when using this method. Most importantly dont be in a rush, take your time and think logically.

    • Steve Gallimore
  3. hi there i was just wondering if you could explain the valve timing part as im having a bit of bother gettin it right on my own 35 project. thanks

    • patrick
  4. just wondering how to advance injector pump on the gears

    • peter germon
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