Ignition timing problem

CloudStrife
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Ignition timing problem

Postby CloudStrife » Fri Dec 15, 2017 6:30 pm

Hey guys,

I read the write-ups on setting ignition timing and got it down.

However, when I went to adjust timing after reading with a timing light, I run out of adjustment on the distributor (I'm sitting at a number before 10 degrees). I need to twist the dizzy left, as I'm too far to the right on the timing belt cover scale.. I'm doing this in "diagnostic" ("E1 to "T") mode first.

So how do I achieve that extra leverage? Also, can someone please post a picture of the timing marks on the timing belt cover scale, in incremental order (right to left)? Or maybe even just type it out? I can't tell which number is which clearly, and the FSM has it in size 3 font...
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totta crolla
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Re: Ignition timing problem

Postby totta crolla » Fri Dec 15, 2017 11:28 pm

First you need to ensure that your distributor is installed correctly and not a tooth out.
The way that I do this is to set the engine with cylinder number one piston at 10°btdc on the compression stroke (or where you want the spark to happen) remove the distributor cap and check that the rotor arm is pointing at cylinder one plug lead. Now remove the rotor arm and look at the four pointed rotor, one of the points will align with the rotor arm and this is the trigger for cylinder one (paint it white for future reference) now turn the distributor until this point is exactly in line with the thin metal strip on the sensor in the distributor (the distributor should be about halfway through its available adjustment)
What camshafts are you using ?

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jondee86
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Re: Ignition timing problem

Postby jondee86 » Sat Dec 16, 2017 12:53 am

I searched the interwebz and couldn't find a single decent pic showing which way
you should turn the dissy to change the ignition timing, so I made one... :D

Image
If you need to advance the timing but you are already maxed out on adjustment,
you will need to re-stab the dissy after turning the rotor one tooth CLOCKWISE.
I found the easiest way to do this was to move the dissy until the "ears" are about
in the middle of their adjustment range. Then take the cap off and then slide the
dissy out just far enough to disengage the gears. Keep the ears level. Note where
the end of the rotor is sitting.

Turn the rotor a little clockwise and see if you can ease the dissy back into place.
If it is blocked or the rotor jumps back to where it was before, ease the dissy out
and turn the rotor a bit further. When you have it turned far enough the dissy will
slip back in. Check that the "Ears" are about in the middle of their adjustment
range, and nip the bolts up and put the cap back on.

Cheers... jondee86.
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Re: Ignition timing problem

Postby CloudStrife » Sun Dec 17, 2017 7:11 pm

Hey guys, thanks for both the quick and detailed responses.

Johndee that image is great! I hope it can help others with this same issue later on, as long as it's not photobucket :).

I should have been more clear about a couple of things before I gave my symptoms. I installed a new (AW11) disty. I followed the write-up (that Jondee gave). I made sure that the notches/dimples on the end lined-up, and also made absolutely sure that the disty rotor was pointing towards #1 position with the cap off. Even after stabbing, I made sure it was correct.

I think where I may have gone wrong, was I set the piston at TDC going off of "sounds", and the notch was at, I believe, zero degrees when I installed the disty.

Is this where I went wrong?

Also, could you guys type out the order of the degrees on the lower cover? :)
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jondee86
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Re: Ignition timing problem

Postby jondee86 » Sun Dec 17, 2017 8:20 pm

Here ya go....

Image

Yes, set the crank pulley to zero degrees on the scale (should be TDC) before
stabbing the dissy. With the diagnostic plug shorted set the idle timing to 10 deg
and when you remove the shorting wire, the advance should jump to somewhere
between 15 and 17 deg. If it does not, you weren't in diagnostic mode.

Cheers... jondee86

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Re: Ignition timing problem

Postby totta crolla » Sun Dec 17, 2017 9:31 pm

Also make sure that the camshaft dimple notch thing is lined up when looking through the oil filler hole. See factory service manual.
I can't remember, maybe someone will, is the camshaft dimple lined up when the engine is on TDC compression ?

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Re: Ignition timing problem

Postby CloudStrife » Mon Dec 18, 2017 5:11 am

Thanks guys!

Yeah, I made sure the notches are lined up on the disty (AW11 is a bit different marks, but same principle). In Jondee's write-up he also states to make sure you see the notch on the cam shaft with oil cap off. It also says it in FSM I believe, but I've never understood it, as the dimple can be seen for many rotations..

So I went back and looked at the timing mark with the motor off. It's at zero degrees. So I guess all I have to do is verify that the rotor is positioned right, and re-stab the disty. I think when I stabbed it, the "ears" weren't "perpendicular" or horizontal to the engine mounting side. Probably doesn't make sense how I describe, but I think I got it.

Yes, I hope Photobucket dies :). They're greedy traits almost ruined forums.
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Re: Ignition timing problem

Postby davew7 » Mon Dec 18, 2017 5:54 am

There is the possiblity that the outer ring on the crank pulley has moved. My first 4AGE had moved almost 20 degree from TDC. Since then, I've had another one off by about 6*. Remove number one spark plug and insert a long screw drive or rod, if you do not a dial indicator. Slowly crank the engine by hand and verify that when the piston is at the top of the stroke, your crank pulley notch aligns with the zero mark. If you find that the outer ring has moved, file a new notch at TDC then paint a line between the inner and outer rings, so you can tell if the outer ring continues to move. DaveW

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Re: Ignition timing problem

Postby CloudStrife » Mon Dec 18, 2017 6:36 am

I'll kill myself if that notch is incorrect.

Now she won't start?

Could I have fouled the plugs? Rotor position is good, notch is still in the same spot as before. Disty is centered on the mounts... I don't know what could have happened?
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Re: Ignition timing problem

Postby Jeonsah » Mon Dec 18, 2017 7:57 am

The plugs could be fowled out. My friend had a 20v that would not start with correct timing. I took out the plugs and wire brushed them down. Then the motor started.

In general, if the distributor is clocked almost completely to one side in order to get the engine to run. Then you are off a tooth. It takes some trial and error to see if you got it right. Generally, I stab the dizzy in where it is in the middle of its clocking travel and so that the rotor is at #1. This is after I have verified that the crank is at zero and the camsahft gear marks are lined up with the backing plate marks (16v).

When the engine is put into diagnostic mode, it should be very obvious. The CEL should be doing something and the idle should slightly drop. If that does not happen, then its possible your engine is not actually in diagnostic mode. If you set the timing without the engine in diagnostic mode, it should be around 17-19 degrees.

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Re: Ignition timing problem

Postby CloudStrife » Mon Dec 18, 2017 9:24 am

Nah, it was in Diag mode. The CEL flashes when it's triggered.

I honestly don't know what the heck happened. Apparently one of the bolts was loose on the right side (now I know why previous owner didn't have a bolt, it's stripped!). When it was last idling, I noticed the rotor inside the disty making a rattling noise and quickly tightened it up/ went to shut it off.

That's the last time she would catch.

So I took out the new disty and stabbed the old one in. Making sure to set the piston at TDC and verify the notch on "0". This time I really paid attention to making sure I was at TDC. The only thing that was missing verification was the little dimple on the camshafts.. it was not visible through the oil fill cap.

I made sure I was getting spark when the rotor turned (which It did), and put her back together. She tries to fire all day, and just doesn't catch. I noticed this time that the notch did not reset back to "0" like it does after I crank.. I couldn't see the mark at all.

So I re-did the process AGAIN with the new disty. However, I inspected the disty and found that the two match marks on the end of the disty would not match up.. In other words, if I matched the two nics together, it would not set the disty at "rotor position 1". If that makes sense. So I don't know what happened there. Skipped a gear? the mechanism is loose?

I'm burned out and took a break from timing issues. But I'm frazzled. If the new disty was messed up, I can understand that, but stabbing the old disty should have worked, since the match marks matched up and I know for a fact it was on contact #1 (the old one you can hear it scrape #1).
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Re: Ignition timing problem

Postby totta crolla » Mon Dec 18, 2017 11:25 am

"The only thing that was missing verification was the little dimple on the camshafts.. it was not visible through the oil fill cap. "
Don't overlook this important step, your timing could be 180° out.(After market cams generally don't have the notch)
Turn over the engine by hand until the cam and bottom pulley marks line up and then fit the distributor, too much 'stabbing' going on in this thread for me :o :)

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Re: Ignition timing problem

Postby Jeonsah » Mon Dec 18, 2017 2:18 pm

Jeonsah wrote:This is after I have verified that the crank is at zero and the camsahft gear marks are lined up with the backing plate marks (16v).


^^^^^

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Re: Ignition timing problem

Postby davew7 » Tue Dec 19, 2017 5:04 am

Yupper another vote for totta crolla's analysis, "NO DIMPLE" you are probably 180* out.
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Re: Ignition timing problem

Postby CloudStrife » Thu Dec 21, 2017 3:36 pm

Ok, time I made absolutely sure the dimple on the ex. cam was showing, and the crank wheel was on the "0" tab. Then I made ABSOLUTELY sure that damn dizzy was on 1. And checked, and rechecked, and stabbed to infinity.

Anyway, when everything looked good I cranked it and she caught.

She idles like death though, and will die at around 10 seconds.

I tried retarding the timing (since it bogged/died faster if I touched the accelerator), but she just starts a little stronger, and still dies out.

I figure maybe the spark plugs are fouled from this whole endeavor (they are pretty dark) so I'm gonna put some new ones in and make sure they're gapped propper. Otherwise, I'm not really sure why she would act up like that.
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Re: Ignition timing problem

Postby jondee86 » Thu Dec 21, 2017 7:32 pm

So, lets recap on what a 4AGE 16V engine needs to idle..
1. FUEL. Needs the main fuel injectors to be squirting, not just the cold start injector.
The engine will start and run (usually) on just the cold start injector, but as the CSI
stops squirting as asoon as you let go of the key, the engine only runs for a few seconds
and dies once the fuel in the manifold is used up. Dies faster if you touch the pedal.
2. AIR. There are several ways for air to get into the engine...
(a) Via the idle air bypass screw. This should not be screwed fully closed (down).
(b) Via the electric idle up valve that is usually mounted somewhere on the inner guard.
This is actuated by the ECU to add a small amount of extra air when starting.
(c) By leakage past the closed throttle butterfly (usually piss all)
(d) Via the thermostatic AAV idle up valve under the throttle body and heated by two
small rubber hoses connected to the engine cooling system. This is the main source
of air for starting... enough to push the idle up to around 2200rpm if working right.
See the writeup in the FAQ for details of how it works and how to check/clean it.
3. SPARK. Kind of obvious, but after hours of cranking the plugs can get wet down and
you need to have afresh set to swap in every so often.
4. TIMING. Spark is no good if it is happening at the wrong time. In general, advancing
the timing will raise the idle speed, and retarding the timing will reduce the idle speed.

Now starting an engine from cold relies very much on having sufficient air and fuel. The
CSI takes care of the extra fuel, and the AAV takes care of the extra air. But it is quite
a delicate balance... the engine has to reach high enough rpm's to be able to generate
enough power to keep itself alive. That is mainly the job of the extra air. The idle has to
go high initially, and can then taper down as the engine warms up. Real old school tech
but that's the way it is with the 16V :)

If your engine starts and dies straight away, it either has too little fuel or too little air.
If you can keep the engine running by goosing the throttle, then chances are you are
short of idle air. Try opening the idle air bypass screw. If that doesn't help to hold an idle,
try advancing the timing a few degrees. If you can't keep the engine running by goosing
the throttle, check to see if the injectors are pulsing. Common problem here is failing
to bolt down the ECU grounds (on top of intake manifold at rear of engine).

Priority is to see if you can get the engine to keep running even if you have to wedge the
throttle open. That will get rid of any excess fuel in the cylinders and allow you to check
timing, look for vacuum leaks etc. This is not rocket surgery... just a case of making
sure all the basics are in order :)

Cheers... jondee86
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Re: Ignition timing problem

Postby totta crolla » Thu Dec 21, 2017 11:56 pm

I suggest that you try advancing the ignition timing. What you currently have is a spark that is happening somewhere around 0° but you need a spark that is happening at 16° before 0° (16°BTDC)

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Re: Ignition timing problem

Postby CloudStrife » Fri Dec 22, 2017 6:07 am

Well, let me update this.

She finally idled after some messing around. Like I said, the mixture was too rich. So what I did is retard the timing (turned it clockwise).

She is idling pretty good now, but I believe the timing is too advanced. I need to retard the timing even more, however I'm back at square one and have run out of adjustment. It makes no sense! The mark on the crank was perfect, the dimple was exactly shown, I stabbed the dizzy almost perfectly horizontal, and the rotor was set to #1 (verified this like eight times).

I'm going to check with a timing light, to verify the timing is off, but the engine was producing the exact same symptoms as before. Plus the fact that she will not run unless I severely retard the timing, would logically mean that the timing is incorrect?
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Re: Ignition timing problem

Postby CloudStrife » Fri Dec 22, 2017 7:55 am

Ok guys, so I think I was a bit confused.

After she started and idled nicely, I went to hook up the timing light and put her in diag mode. She wouldn't start this time.. or she would start and die. Strange I thought, but a problem is replicating itself. I decided to turn the dizzy clockwise, retarding the timing, and arriving at my maximum amount of travel. I.E., I can't retard the timing any more.

Then she fired up and idles. I set the idle almost damn perfect to 900 (it moves a little, so I went 15rpm +/-).

So as it idled, in diag mode, with idle at 900, the timing was in between 0 and 5, at around 3 degrees. Again, I am maxed out in adjustment clockwise and can not retard the timing.

Now here is where I think I was confused. Going off of the marks on the cog increments, I need to go left, so that I can move from my current timing mark at 3 degrees in diag mode, to 10 degrees in diag mode.

Now, If I am moving left, am I advancing the timing? or is going LEFT of "0", or TDC, retarding the timing, and consequently "X" degrees BeforeTopDeadCenter?
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Re: Ignition timing problem

Postby totta crolla » Fri Dec 22, 2017 8:18 am

Just look at Jondees photo above ^^ and all will be revealed. The white 10°mark is where you need to be when in diagnostic mode, out of diagnostic mode it should go to the 15°mark or thereabouts.
As it suggests BTDC 'before top dead centre' is degrees advance before TDC the 5 mark after the 0 is ATDC 'after top dead centre' and this would be 5°after TDC and would in this case be retarded Cloudstrife. (maybe I should have inserted a comma (,) after 'Cloudstrife' ? :lol: )

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Re: Ignition timing problem

Postby Jeonsah » Fri Dec 22, 2017 8:28 am

In basic terms, you need to advance the timing...

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Re: Ignition timing problem

Postby CloudStrife » Fri Dec 22, 2017 8:29 am

You slut :P

So, basically, it's retarted going right of TDC, and Advanced going left of TDC?

Right? Say yes so I no longer be retarded :)
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Re: Ignition timing problem

Postby CloudStrife » Fri Dec 22, 2017 8:33 am

Ok thanks Jeonsah. I know it's stupid, I just needed to understand that critical piece of information.

So, I need to advance. Now, when I advance the timing, the car runs like ass/will not start/ will not idle.

SO. That would tell my small and poor troubleshooting part of the brain, that I CAN advance the timing, the car will just not run properly.

SO I need to look at other factors which cause the 4AG to run piss poor.

As Jon said, from the symptoms it sounds like I am running on CSI, and then afterwords, my injectors are not squirting properly. Since:

1. throttle blips would cause car to die.
2. It runs rich as hell, even though my timing is retarded to maximum.
3. My plugs are getting fouled QUICK.
4.) It starts and immediately dies.

So.. I would surmise that I need to start checking fuel and air at this point. I know I'm getting too much fuel. So maybe the air is too lean? or I just have too much fuel being shot in?
Last edited by CloudStrife on Fri Dec 22, 2017 8:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ignition timing problem

Postby Jeonsah » Fri Dec 22, 2017 8:35 am

Try not to get focused on the direction. Your not going to hurt anything if it doesnt run. Just turn it until it runs. You can use your ear to determine where the engine wants to be.

Dont rely on the dimple under the oil cap. You need to take the cam cover off and verify the marks on the cam gears are lined up with the backing plate.

http://www.yotarepair.com/ToyImages/4A- ... lt%202.gif


With the ignition advanced, it will fire the spark plug before the piston reaches the top. The degrees on the crank shaft means how many degrees the crank shaft is at before the spark plug fires.

Retarding the timing means waiting to fire the spark plug until the piston is closer to the top.

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Re: Ignition timing problem

Postby CloudStrife » Fri Dec 22, 2017 8:38 am

I understand, but do you see what I am saying?

I am maxed out. The engine is retarted. I CAN advance the timing, but it will not run. SO, I need to make sure the car can start, idle, and properly receive fuel/air mixture BEFORE I start advancing the timing.

Like, I need a baseline of operation before I can set the timing. I am running rich as hell at full retard. That makes no sense, right? It should be lean as hell.
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Re: Ignition timing problem

Postby CloudStrife » Fri Dec 22, 2017 9:31 am

I went and tested the CSI and 3 normal injectors.
The CSI was within spec (between 2-3 ohms per FSM), @2.4 Ohms.

The other 3 injectors were not within spec.

Per FSM, All 3 injectors should each measure ~2.3 Ohms (without AFM), and ~13.8 Ohms (With AFM).

Each injector measured ~2.3-2.5 Ohms. Since I have an AFM, wouldn't this mean the injectors are bad?

I also tested the EFI main relay per FSM and it was completely dead. Read an open across every single pair of terminals. Either way, fails FSM. I tested it because It was white-hot after I was checking all fuses.

I got lucky and found (5) at Napa. Must be the same relay for trucks...

I measured the new relay, and, surprise, there was resistance across a pair of terminals. That old one was completely blown.

I replaced it, and she is still symptomatic. Starts/hard to start/immediately dies.

Also, the bay and cabin smell really strongly of fuel.
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Re: Ignition timing problem

Postby CloudStrife » Sat Dec 23, 2017 4:36 pm

Nobody likes my thread
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Re: Ignition timing problem

Postby jondee86 » Sat Dec 23, 2017 7:09 pm

Image

There are apparently two main types of injectors used on the AE86 in the USDM. They are
either High Resistance (13.8 Ohms) or Low Resiatance (2.3 Ohms). The Low resistance
injectors are used with a resistor pack to prevent the power transistors in the ECU from
over heating. High resistance injectors are used without the resistor pack.

You need to clarify if the injectors you tested are the same as the injectors on your engine.
You also need to check to see if you have the resistor pack (small metal encased and finned
box with three-wire connector plug).

For the purposes of progressing this reply I shall assume that you have low restance injectors
and a resistor pack, as your engine did start and run OK at one point. Your engine is probably
flooded after repeated cranking and stalling. You need to have a fresh, clean and dry set of plugs
available to swap in. Ordinary cheap copper core plugs of the correct type and heat range are
fine. No need to be ruining expensive unobtainium plugs. Pull the plugs and leave them out
overnight to try and let the excess fuel evaporate before your next cranking session. Use the
fresh set of plugs. BTW, you can dry off wet plugs with a propane torch.

If your engine is unhappy and struggling to start, it is not fair and resonable to expect it to
burst into life and immediately settle to a nice staedy idle. It will cough, belch flame and
clutch its throat with both hands, gasping for breath. What you need to do is make sure it has
extra air (usually the job of the AAV) so that when it does catch, it will idle at 2000rpm or
more. Either wedge the throttle slightly open (acouple of mm will do) or adjust the throttle
stop screw (means you will have to reset the TPS when you are finished).

Set #1 cylinder to TDC on the compression stroke (check the dimple bla... bla...) and then
pull the cap off the distributor. Make sure that the dissy is set so that the end of the rotor
is alongside the #1 sparkplug pin. Unless you have Xray vision, you need to visualize or mark
the outside of the dissy so that you can be sure of the rotor being in the right place.

Have a dozen cold beers close by... crank that sucka and be prepared for a satisfying roar
as your engine leaps into life. Drink beers to celebrate your success :)

Merry Xmas.... cheers... jondee86
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Re: Ignition timing problem

Postby CloudStrife » Sun Dec 24, 2017 10:14 am

Lol, Hey Jon.

Thanks a bunch for the reply. I hate holidays because I'm always bored lol.

The only issue I have with the fouled plugs causing the starting issue, is that I did replace the plugs after the 178th time I made sure my timing was right. I didn't let the head breathe to air, but I replaced the plugs, the timing was right, and she caught and idled fine.

I hate not finding out the reason something is not working. And fouled plugs don't make any sense to me. Also, My timing was verified correct at multiple points, AND she started, and idled no problem. Why would it just flood after idling no problem multiple times?

It seems as though this is the chain of events:

I set everything up perfectly, she starts and idles (and yes she will idle high at 2k if I pull the TPS plug). Then, the MORE I start this car, the MORE I have to retard the timing. It is a directly proportional relationship. I.E. when I start the endeavor of setting timing, making sure the disty is correct (blah blah..), my car will start and idle fine. The distributor will be in neutral position at this point. THEN everytime I start her up there-after, she gets harder and harder to start. THEN I have to retard the timing by twisting the distributor everytime, in order to get it to start. And of course, by following this chain of events, I eventually run out of adjustment and am back to square one. Something else is not right.

Now the EFI fuse was blown, and maybe now that I replaced it, the plugs could be fouled and engine flooded. I can understand that as a possibility. The injectors are in fact low-impedance, and I in fact do have the resistor box connected (although it is not secure to the chassis as I am missing the bracket). In the spirit of christmas I will take out old plugs, let the head breathe overnight, install new plugs, and reset everything for the umpteenth time.

The only other possibility is that I am somehow not feeding enough air into the engine.
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Re: Ignition timing problem

Postby totta crolla » Sun Dec 24, 2017 12:21 pm

When you say harder and harder to start can you describe what is happening ?
Does it turn over really slowly as if the battery is flat.. but it isn't ?
Or does it turn over at the same speed but refuse to fire ?

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