Been Using Issue 19

Once the Blue Meanie’s engine was installed and finally ready to fire, job one is ignition timing, and for that you’ll need a decent quality strobe light. This Sealey TL85 fits the bill.

It has an inductive pick-up that clips over the #1 spark plug lead, and decent crocodile clips that clip to the battery. This is where I immediately fell down – the battery is in the back of the passenger compartment – so I had to bodge a positive connection into one of the terminals on the alternator.

There’s a handy rotary advance dial on the back for engines that only have a TDC mark on the crank pulley; if you want 20° of advance, set the dial to 20° and it’ll flash on the TDC mark. The only problem with that was that the dial took absolutely zero effort to turn, and the slightest touch (or even a sharp intake of breath) would change the setting on the dial.

It works well enough at medium light levels, light years (ahaha) ahead of the dim timing strobes of old, but struggles with high background light levels. At low light, it’s perfect; if anything, it’s too good, as the flash was bouncing back off my lovely, shiny crank pulley. Also, working in near darkness, you tend to forget that you’re working very close to a rapidly moving fanbelt until the sudden ‘dzzzzzt!’ of a strobe light touching the belt reminds you that that could have been your sleeve…

It got the job done, and the job couldn’t have been done without it, so it’ll be carefully packed away for next time. Sealey list the TL85 at over £90 (inc VAT) on, but shop around and you can get it for about two thirds of that, delivered.