Yes it will still idle smooth if you were off by one tooth on the camshaft sprocket, any more than one tooth would potentially cause valve contact with a piston and the engine would not run at all! The symptom that you described is conducive to having one or both of the cam sprockets off by one tooth! Did you set up the chains as described in steps 11 and 12 in the following instructions under the installation section?
I opened up the front cover. The black links on both cams were one tooth behind the notches on the cam gears. I moved both of them forward to align all three marks. I then rotated the chains a few turns and when the rotation came back to the point where all three marks should align, the links on the cam gears were again one tooth behind. Shouldn't they line back up at some point?
I think I really messed up. The chain set I picked up (Cloyes 9-0387SH) came with cam gears that had large center holes. Apparently my engine came with press-fit cam gears, and this replacement came with bolt-on gears. Since the gears were the same diameter, and I wasn't comfortable pulling and pressing on new gears, I decided to reuse the old cam gears being that they didn't show any excessive wear. On top of that I already threw out the old parts so I can't compare the cam gear tooth count or the number of links on the chains.
Are you familiar with the Cloyes replacement chain set? I counted 58 links on the Cloyes chain. Any idea how many links on a stock chain? Do you think I need to change to an OEM chain from the dealer in order to guarantee to get everything to line up properly with the original cam gears?
If they are both one tooth off at the cam gear, they should also be 1/2 tooth off at the crankshaft! It sounds like there is some difference in this aftermarket chain over the O.E. chain! I am not familiar with Cloyes chain, I think you should contact them and tell them what you did by using the factory sprocket with their chain and see if they know of any known problems by doing this, if there sprockets have just a minor amount of diameter difference from the factory sprockets it may cause this concern, Here is the link you need http://www.cloyes.com/ContactUs/tabid/188/language/en-US/Default.aspx
Haven't heard from Cloyes yet. Not sure what kind of response time they have.
So is it wrong for me to assume that the marked chain links should realign with the crank and cam gear marks after the crank is rotated a few times? Or do the link count/tooth counts mean they won't line up regularly?
I've been trying to figure out why I keep coming out with different alignments. If my math is correct, these chain link and tooth counts don't match up. With 21 crank teeth, 42 cam teeth, and 116 links, the closest I get is: at 22 crank rotations (462 teeth) = 11 cam rotations (462 teeth) = 4 chain rotations (464 links). This would leave the chain two teeth behind the cam/crank gears (which seems to be where I am at right now). Just seems like the numbers on the gears and chains don't match. The chain would continue to "fall behind" by one tooth with each chain rotation and eventually realigning with the timing marks after 21 chain rotations (58 cam rotations/116 crank rotations).
Does this make sense? That as long as they maintain the same spacing from the timing marks (equal number of teeth behind on the cam and crank gears) they should be aligned properly?
Yes it does, my only real concern is that if the initial alignment that you did with the chain the first time you started the engine, if you had the chain off by two or more teeth, you may have had contact between some of the valves and a piston or two. I would advise running a compression test again with the front cover off and see if the compression is equal on all cylinders! Install the crank pulley to hold the timing chain sprocket and remove all of the spark plugs prior to doing this!
I finally got everything put back together. It seems like the chains are lined up okay now.
There seems to be a miss when climbing uphill. I know I cracked the terminal side of one of the coils, but I checked it with an ohmmeter and it seemed to be alright. I'll change the spark plugs (since some of them had some tan build up on them). Any other suggestions?
Also, there is a bad surging at idle with the A/C on. I understand that this is often a sign the system needs a charge so I'll look into that as well.
Thank you for all your help in dealing with this issue. Your quick responses really helped keep things moving.