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6,870 Posts
CJ Dave is correct here...
1. Make sure you are at the TDC of the compression stroke. Don't think you are, verify it!
(The last thing you want to do is fire a new engine 180 degrees out!)

Do not use the starter to spin a dry engine.
Take a valve cover off above the #1 cylinder, and watch the rocker arms.
Turn the balancer clockwise as you stand in front of and facing it.
The exhaust valve will open and close, watch for the rocker arms to move.
As the exhaust valve closes, the intake valve will open...
As the intake valve starts to close, watch for the TDC mark on the balancer to come up to Zero in 1/2 turn.
Stop at Zero on the timing mark.
You now have a verifiable TDC on #1 cylinder.

If you turn it backwards with full spring pressure on a new cam, you stand a pretty good chance of destroying the cam and lifters before it's even fired up.
Never turn an assembled engine backwards!

As you face the front of your engine, it turns clockwise.

2. DO NOT start that engine with out PRE OILING IT !

Some sources say that as much as 30 of total engine wear can occur on an original dry start up.
I see at least one new camshaft damaged a week from dry starts.
If you don't have a pre oiler, and don't know how to make one, your machine shop will probably lend you one or rent you one for a little bit of nothing.
Do NOT skip this step... It's pretty cheap insurance for a very expensive engine...

(I'm sure some of the guys on the BBS can help with a pre oiler....)

3. Put the cap on the distributor base, and mark where the #1 tower is on the distributor housing. Use a magic marker, and just make a black stripe on the rim of the housing.
Make sure it is centered with the #1 plug wire tower...

Make a second smaller mark, not a stripe, just a dot is Okay, about 1/8 of a turn to the right of the #1 mark...
I'll explain later...

4. Put the rotor on the distributor so you know where the distributor timing is supposed to be. Point the rotor nose at the black dot you made in the step before.

5. Use assembly lube or vaseline on the distributor drive gear and the thrust washers above it before you drop it into place for the final time.
(practice this a often as you like dry, just remember to lube before you do final install, and don't forget the distributor gasket!)

6. Drop the distributor in the timing cover hole, keeping the vacuum advance pointed in the direction it says to in the book.
Make sure you keep the rotor nose pointed at the black dot.

7. (This is the critical part) Keep the rotor nose pointed at the black dot.
That moves the rotor backwards (counter clockwise) about 45 degrees.
Now, engage the distributor drive gear in the cam gear gently.
You may have to work the rotor forward and backwards about 10 to 15 degrees to get the distributor gear to engage, this is normal.

8. You will notice that the distributor shaft rotates as the gears engage each other, This Is Also Normal !
Keep the housing where the vacuum advance is pointing the correct direction and work the distributor housing in as far as you can by hand.

9. It is perfectly normal for the distributor to stay 1/4" to 1/2" above the timing cover seat.
That is just the oil pump drive not engaging yet.

10. Turn the engine over by hand TWO full turns with slight down pressure on the distributor housing, and it should fall into place.
(Two full turns should bring you right back to TDC on #1, with the oil pump engaged.)
The distributor should be shouldered all the way against the timing cover now.

Check to see if the rotor nose is pointed at the black mark or not. If it is pointed at the black mark, (Not the dot) you are ready to time it.
If it isn't pointing at the black mark, then you will have to do steps 6 through 10 again.
*See trouble shooting below*.

Assuming the rotor nose is pointed at #1, and the distributor seated against the timing cover, and assuming you still have the original Delco breaker point distributor, this engine is pretty easy to time sitting still.

Choose 'Ohms' or 'Continuity Tester' on a multi-meter.
Connect one lead to the distributor housing. The other to the points lead.

Turn the distributor housing backwards (counter clock wise) until the resistance drops to nothing, or the continuity tester starts to sound off, the circuit just closed,... Stop.

Turn the distributor housing forward, (clock wise) until the resistance goes to infinity, or the continuity tester goes silent, and says the circuit just opened... STOP!

It is not perfect timing, but it will allow you to get the engine started so you can set the timing properly with a timing light.
Tighten up the distributor so it can't move on it's own, but smart guys leave it loose enough to move it by hand and have a timing light handy on initial start-up.


Make sure you have a coil wire in the coil, and a grounded test plug in the coil wire when you do this test. It is a full power test with the coil energized, and the coil WILL fire!

Hook up the positive side of a 12 volt battery to the positive side of the coil, and the negative side of the 12 volt battery to the engine block for a ground.
(If you have a light up type continuity tester, the live coil circuit is not needed. Just connect one end of the tester to the distributor housing, and the other to the points wire.)

Hook one end of a test light to the negative side of the coil, the other end to the points lead.
The light should be out if the rotor is pointing at #1

Turn the engine over just shy of two times, and stop the balancer timing mark on what ever the desired timing is. For this example, say 8 degrees before TDC.

Turn the distributor housing backwards (counter clock wise) until the test light comes on, and says the circuit closed... Stop.

Turn the distributor housing forward, (clock wise) until the test light just goes out, and says the circuit just opened... STOP!

It is not perfect timing, but it will allow you to get the engine started so you can set the timing properly with a timing light.
Tighten up the distributor so it can't move on it's own, but smart guys leave it loose enough to move it by hand and have a timing light handy on initial start-up.

*Ignitions can be a real pain in the butt!*

1. Assuming the dwell is within tolerance, the timing should be close enough to start the engine. Dwell WILL cause the engine not to start, run stupid, not idle, and not allow any RPM to be gained.
The only way I know of the set dwell before the distributor is dropped into the engine is on a distributor machine.

Dwell must be checked! Dwell affects timing, so when the dwell is set, you must also recheck timing.
Timing does not affect dwell, so timing changes don't require rechecking the dwell after it has been set.

2. If you drop your distributor in, and the rotor doesn't come back to #1, ....
If it's within 1/4" either way, just turn the housing to meet the rotor nose and black stripe.

If it's more than 1/4" off, you are probably one tooth off on the distributor to cam gear set.
(I'm assuming you used a 1/4" wide magic marker like I said, so we have 3/8" total from centerline on #1)
If the rotor nose is to the left of the mark, you need to turn the distributor rotor farther backwards the next try (past the black dot).
If the rotor nose is to the right of the mark, you turned the distributor too far backwards before engaging the gears, try a little less backwards rotation this time (not quite to the black dot).

It some times takes a few trys to get the rotor in the correct position with the distributor housing facing correctly, but it's worth the effort, and will reduce the occurrence of miss fires and cross fires.

(Once I find, "The Spot" to aim the rotor nose when I drop it in, I usually use a file to make a small mark in the edge of the distributor housing. That makes things much easier next time...)

If Chris Columbus "Discovered" America (with 25 million already here), Can I Go "Discover" Florida?

6,870 Posts
Re: HELP...It is almost ready to start....TEAMRUSH


Check everything twice, and check it again!
Pre oil just before you drop the distributor in for the last time, and do that the last thing before you start it.

Mock up your distributor cap, plug wires, and hook up all of the wiring and water & fuel lines before you get ready to start the engine.
Fill the engine with water at first, (saves on antifreeze of something goes wrong) and have the exhaust hooked up.

The cam will require about 20 minutes at about 1,500 to 2,500 rpm (depending on manufacturers instructions) right after you start the engine to break it in correctly.
Make sure everything is ready for it to run that long before you fire it up!
Leave the radiator cap loose, it's not a good idea to pressure up the system right off the bat, especially if you have the type of head or intake gaskets you have to re-torque...

If you don't listen to anything else, pay attention to this, Pre Oil, and hook up the gauges!

Good Luck! Aaron.

If Chris Columbus "Discovered" America (with 25 million already here), Can I Go "Discover" Florida?

6,870 Posts
Re: HELP...It is almost ready to start....TEAMRUSH

The best pre oilers I have ever used are old distributors with the teeth ground off of the drive end.
A pre oiler is a shaft that has a coupler that will mate to your oil pump drive on one end, and a head that will fit a hand drill on the other.

It can be as simple as a long screwdriver shaft with a piece of rubber tubing slipped over it, to a billet reproduction of your distributor with an electric motor built into the head of it.

I use old distributors with the teeth machined off of the drive gear. I know those fit correctly, and I don't have to worry about anything breaking or falling off inside the engine.

Your local machine shop should have one they will lend or rent you for a little while for a nothing or a little bit of nothing...
It's also a good way to someone you don't want around out from under foot when you are ready to fire the engine... send them to take the pre oiler back...
You know, girlfriend, wife, annoying neighbor, friend of a friend that tagged along..ect...
Impart to them how 'Important' getting that part back to the machine shop is, and how big of a favor they are doing you,.... and while they are out, grab some beer, please....

If Chris Columbus "Discovered" America (with 25 million already here), Can I Go "Discover" Florida?

6,870 Posts
Re: HELP...It is almost ready to start....TEAMRUSH

A pre oiler is nothing more that a shaft with a connection for the oil pump drive on one end, and a connection for a drill on the other.
If you use a 1/2 drill, it won't pull down too much, and almost any stock distributor shaft will fit in it.

We used to use a gadget like he is talking about a few years back.
It was called an Accu-sump.
It was a sealed tube, with a 'pig' in the middle separating the tube into two halves.
One end had air pressure, one had oil.
Hook it up to a main oil gallery, and the oil pressure forced the oil in one end.
That moved the pig backwards, and built up air pressure in the other end.
When the oil pressure dropped, the air pressure moved the pig forward, and forced the oil in it into the engine.
That kept the oil pressure up for a few seconds.

The low budget circle track guys and some serous off road guys used them quite a bit in the 70's and 80's.
Almost all of the real race teams can afford a dry sump oiling system, so the pressure tube isn't needed.
Some of the low budget guys still use them.

Anything that has severe tilt angles is going to uncover the oil pump pickup in the oil pan sump, and the oil pump sucks air, and blows bubbles into the oil system.
Anything that has severe side loading, particularly road course cars turning left AND right, are going to uncover the pickup tube.

The pressure tube kept a steady supply of oil going to the engine, and as soon as the oil pressure came back up from the pump, it pushed the extra oil back into the tube for the next low oil pressure situation.

I still use them in two situations.
1. To pre oil really tight engines before we crank them on the dyno for break in.
We can leave the Accu-sump hooked up, and shut a hand valve off before we kill the engine, so the oil is ready when we go to restart.
2. I use a set of electronic solenoids at the outlet of the pressure tube on turbo charged engines.
One goes to the turbos. I use a back flow check valve so the oil doesn't get into the engine oil galleries. With a $5 timer from radio shack, the Accu-sump oils the turbo for five minutes after shutdown, then the electronic solenoid shuts down the valve.
Both valves open on when the key switch is turned 'on', and pre oil everything.

Turbos are funny things, they work great, add gobs of power, and don't ask anything but a steady oil supply.
So what do we do???

Put them right at the end of the oiling system!
They are the last thing to get oil when you start the engine, and the first thing to stop getting oil when the engine is shut off!

A common automotive turbo charger turns between 50,000 and 150,000 RPM!
It will spin for up to five minutes after you turn the key off!

Turbos rely on a constant oil supply flow to keep a very delicate and tight tolerance center shaft alive.
Most people REV the engine right after it starts, and that shaft still hasn't got oil...
Then they REV the engine up just before shutting it off, the turbo speeds go to the moon, and they kill the oil supply!

The nit-wit beats on the turbo by throttle jacking, sonic bangs on it with back pressure, starves it for oil, spins the heck out of it dry, and does nothing for service for it...
Then the moron cusses the turbo when it fails!
(Example: Mopar 2.2 turbo engines, Ford turbo T-birds, Ford Turbo Pace Car Mustangs, Ford SVO Mustangs, GM Regals and Trans-Ams...)

Turbos go one MILLION miles on heavy trucks pulling massive loads, but these car drivers can't get 50,000 out of one...
Kind of makes you wonder, doesn't it....

Looks like I slipped off topic again...
I wonder what has happened to my brain sometimes...
But that's off topic also....

See ya, Aaron.

If Chris Columbus "Discovered" America (with 25 million already here), Can I Go "Discover" Florida?
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