After pulling the timing covers, The timing belt tensioner was indeed compressed, and the slack in the belt was between the camshaft sprockets. I determined to rotate the engine to #1 TDC, and as soon as I rotate the engine 1/8 turn (clockwise, of course!), the timing tensioner re-extended, taking slack from the cam sprockets and putting it where it should be. :? Confused
Me too! Or uninformed since I haven't had the greater pleasure of tearing my engine down yet. Only my other experiences and ya'lls descriptions. But, my confusion is.....
Since you have the belt rather than a chain, was the tensioner spring loaded? or hydraulically tensioned? My other experiences have left me with the impression that since the belt doesn't require lubrication like a chain, it is normal to use a spring tensioner to eliminate the opportunity for an oil leak to open air.
If it is a spring tensioner then it should have constant tension on it even with the engine stopped. Having it compressed (meaning little or no tension on the belt) makes me think the spring is bent or broken and should be replaced. That would make your noises a symptom of the spring.
I have no experience with a hydraulic tensioner so I don't know if it should be compressed (retracted or untensioned) with the engine off.
If you have the opportunity, I'd suggest a trip to the parts store that has the tensioner in stock so you compare it to your existing.