? how to set the air gap on the pickup coil for a 1987 xj6

hi: i managed to remove the entire pickup coil assembly and install the new one. upon starting the engine i could get it to run but it has a very weak idle and will not rev up at all. since i disturbed the relationship between the reluctor teeth and the pickup module:

? do i need to reset the air gap to within the range of 0.20mm and 0.35mm as per the service manual. if so how is this adjustment made as the service manual does not provide this information.

? do i turn the 2 set screws mounted on the plate of the pickup coil (see below photo)

? is my idle issue and lack of rpm response due to the engine timing?

? do i need to rotate the entire distributor assembly clockwise or cw to advance/retard the engine timing?

any advice would be appreciated. ren


Most probably. Nnever done it on a XK, others might know better.

Quite possible. How was it before?


Take note of the direction the rotor moves, turning the distributor towards the direction of rotation will advance the timing,

I’ll vote “opposite the direction of rotation” just to keep things lively. :slight_smile:

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6 of one half a dozen of the other :smiling_imp:

You release both securing screws, then to move the pick-up to the relevant positions, measured against a reluctor tooth - then retighten the screws. It’s advised to use a brass feeler as the magnet will interfere with a steel feeler…

Quite possibly, but it may also relate to weak sparking from improper air gap - or failure of vacuum response.

You need to slacken the dist clamp, and indeed turn the dist body. Clockwise to advance counterclockwise to retard. You do have the wherewithal to measure and set the timing…?

xj6 85 Sov Europe (UK/NZ)

thank you to everyone that has offered advice. i got to this stage when the engine would cut out while i was driving. i’ve only put about 700 miles on this car since i bought it a few months ago and it had been running really, really good. since the no start, i changed the fuel pump, fuel filter, plugs, wires, distributor cap, rotor, ignition coil, ignition amplifier and pickup coil. i am now able to start the engine and have a feeble idle. it will not respond to any attempt to accelerate. i now suspect the timing as i removed the 6 toothed reluctor to replace the pickup coil assembly. i removed the pinch bolt and was unable to rotate the distributor in any direction. i am now soaking it with pb blaster and letting it sit. i’ll apply a little heat to see if i can coax it to rotate.

? on the chance i want to remove the entire distributor assembly, are the any securing bolts beyond the pinch bolt that need to be removed? i don’t feel any and the wonderfully descriptive service manual does not show any. thanks in advance, ren

I assume you put the reluctor back on, Ren…:slight_smile:

…but in doing so it’s unlikely to be in its original position. And as it is the teeth of the reluctor that trigger ignition - so your timing is likely way out…

The dist is clamped to the engine by the clamp plate and pinch bolt, and loosening the latter should allow rotation of the dist body for ign timing - and indeed lift the dist off the engine and remove the pinchplate as well With the bolt loosened; you should also be able to rotate the pinch plate, freely or by force, as well as the dist. Have you tried prising the pinch plate more open - it may be too tight…?

xj6 85 Sov Europe (UK/NZ)

For retiming, verify top dead center matches the balancer. Turn engine to 8° (may be different) before. Ignition on, coil wire close to ground, turn distributor, watch for spark. Tighten in the place it sparks. Install cap and test drive.

If you can’t get it to move (but it really is just stuck in there and clamped too tightly, nothing can go wrong if you pull it out), you could try adjusting the part you changed so the hall sensor spikes a bit earlier or later.

thanks to all that offered their good advice. i was able to install the pickup coil assembly and most importantly it seems to have cured my engine cut out proble so far. it’s only been 60 miles but no cut outs while driving. thanks again, ren

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