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Old 01-04-2006, 08:28 PM
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Distributor Installation & Firing Order

Help

I am almost done rebuilding my chevy big block. My MSD distributor just showed up and I am ready to install it and eventually hook up the spark plug wires. I an not 100% sure how to correctly position the crankshaft, cam, and rotor so that I get it right. I know the stock firing order is 1-8-4-3-6-5-7-2. Tell me if I got the following right: First rotate the crank so the #1 cylinder is at or near TDC (on the compression stroke) then I install the distributor, while rotating it until the rotor is pointing to the #1 cylinder spark plug wire. Then I tighten down the distributor clamp until the timing is adjusted later. Is that right?

Here is the million dollar question. Does it matter which spark plug connection on the distributor is the #1 cylinder as long as I keep the firing order correct. In other words can I "pick" any of the 8 distributor cap spark plug connection locations as the #1 cylinder and keep the firing order as shown above? Do you know what I mean? or does the #1 cylinder spark plug connection always have to be the same location on the distributor cap? Thanks.

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Old 01-04-2006, 08:33 PM
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No it does not matter but I make sure I use the same one as #1 each time. It even bugs me if the distributor is not square when timed.

Does it have a vacuum advance canister?

You have to make sure the oil pump drive rod engages the distributor fully before tightening it down.

If I am going to time the engine to 34 I stab the distributor at 34 before TDC. That way I do not have to twist it very far to get the engine timed.

Last edited by Infomaniac; 01-04-2006 at 08:38 PM.
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Old 01-04-2006, 08:38 PM
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yes it does. I bought the one with the vacuum advance because it was the same price and the vacuum advance is removable. I'm not sure if it will even do anything though because there won't be much vacuum I think. It's got a huge cam in there.
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Old 01-04-2006, 08:42 PM
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Then I put the vacuum advance canister at about 7:00 or 8:00 viewing from the front of the engine. That leaves 2 terminals square at the front of the distributor. I will put #1 as the terminal on the right orf those 2.
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Old 01-04-2006, 08:42 PM
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You could start #1 anywhere but I always use the same one also. You are correct to bring the #1 piston to tdc compression stroke then install your distributer. You may have to take a long screw driver and a flashlight to align the oil pump gear with the distributer gear to get it to go all the way down. Then just snug it down but do not tighten all the way to allow for minor adjustment after you get it fired. Be sure the rotor button is pointing to the terminal on the cap that you want to be #1 then continue the firing order from there.

8 7
6 5
4 3 < This is the location of which cylinder is which. Then when you start #1 on your distributer cap be sure to continue clockwise with the wires.

Jeremy
2 1
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Old 01-04-2006, 08:44 PM
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Doc here,

Number 1 cylinder TDC compression, Timing marks aligned, Both intake valves closed , no pressure on the lifters (not too much slack either..) If you can't co~ordinate these, you have timing chain/gear issues..

Drop the dizzy in, and watch the rotor, It will advance clockwise a bit, this is because the gear teeth are diagonal cut, It will go about a tower in a half in some cases..Note the amount of change and then withdraw the dizzy.

Line the oil pump shaft up to that location with a large screw driver, and reset the dizzy, for number one plug tower, allowing for advancing as the gears seat..

The easy way to do this is make magic marker lines on the base of the dizzy, for exact #1 plug tower, and the difference of rotor movement as it seats..due to the cut of the gears..(I.E...#1 and the amount of distance BACK required to make it sit on #1 plug tower when bottomed out..)

#1 plug tower in the stock location for SBC's is 5 to 7 O'clock, (depends on year, and obstructions) 7 is usually good. You CAN put number 1 ANYWHERE you like on the cap provided you follow the timing order, But I don't advise it for a few reasons..1) a new owner may not know what you did and go nutz trying to figure it out...and 2) In case it ends up in the shop or smog test for any reason, number 1 won't be number 1..and an unknowing mechanic will spend time=$$ chasing it down..Unless there is a space problem, I'd go with stock location..else, write on the Cap what the F.O. is for the next guy!

Direction of rotation is clockwise.

The F.O. is 1 8 4 3 6 5 7 2..

Put on your hold down just tight enough to hold it but enough to forcibly move it by hand, and start it up..set your static and total timing..

Static 10 to 12 is a good starting point advance defeated and vacuum line plugged.

Total around 34 to 36 is usual on a stocker with advance hooked back up..

Tighten down the hold down, set your idle for 650 Manual trans, 950 Automatic, and drive it .. hammer it on the freeway, If it pings or runs hotter than usual, retard it a few degrees..If it dogs, advance it..Try also lugging it up a steep hill highest gear as slow as it will pull, If it pings check the timing again.

That's it.

Doc
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Old 01-04-2006, 08:53 PM
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thanks 66 Nova. I will do as you say and I feel better now. The motor I'm talking about is for my 72 Nova. It's my first project car (I'm sure you're happy for me). How long have you had the 66? Got any pictures of it? Email them to me at lwallace@pcsoc.com. What have you done to it?
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Old 01-04-2006, 08:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Infomaniac
Then I put the vacuum advance canister at about 7:00 or 8:00 viewing from the front of the engine. That leaves 2 terminals square at the front of the distributor. I will put #1 as the terminal on the right orf those 2.
oky dokey - thanks. I will do as you say. Is that the standard default location for the #1 cylinder or is that your own personal favorite?
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Old 01-04-2006, 09:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by docvette
Doc here,

Number 1 cylinder TDC compression, Timing marks aligned, Both intake valves closed , no pressure on the lifters (not too much slack either..) If you can't co~ordinate these, you have timing chain/gear issues..

Drop the dizzy in, and watch the rotor, It will advance clockwise a bit, this is because the gear teeth are diagonal cut, It will go about a tower in a half in some cases..Note the amount of change and then withdraw the dizzy.

Line the oil pump shaft up to that location with a large screw driver, and reset the dizzy, for number one plug tower, allowing for advancing as the gears seat..

The easy way to do this is make magic marker lines on the base of the dizzy, for exact #1 plug tower, and the difference of rotor movement as it seats..due to the cut of the gears..(I.E...#1 and the amount of distance BACK required to make it sit on #1 plug tower when bottomed out..)

#1 plug tower in the stock location for SBC's is 5 to 7 O'clock, (depends on year, and obstructions) 7 is usually good. You CAN put number 1 ANYWHERE you like on the cap provided you follow the timing order, But I don't advise it for a few reasons..1) a new owner may not know what you did and go nutz trying to figure it out...and 2) In case it ends up in the shop or smog test for any reason, number 1 won't be number 1..and an unknowing mechanic will spend time=$$ chasing it down..Unless there is a space problem, I'd go with stock location..else, write on the Cap what the F.O. is for the next guy!

Direction of rotation is clockwise.

The F.O. is 1 8 4 3 6 5 7 2..

Put on your hold down just tight enough to hold it but enough to forcibly move it by hand, and start it up..set your static and total timing..

Static 10 to 12 is a good starting point advance defeated and vacuum line plugged.

Total around 34 to 36 is usual on a stocker with advance hooked back up..

Tighten down the hold down, set your idle for 650 Manual trans, 950 Automatic, and drive it .. hammer it on the freeway, If it pings or runs hotter than usual, retard it a few degrees..If it dogs, advance it..Try also lugging it up a steep hill highest gear as slow as it will pull, If it pings check the timing again.

That's it.

Doc
Doc

Now you got the juices flowing. Let's continue this discussion then. Ok, I understand everything you said and will follow your instructions. Please help me set the initial distributor setup. Here' the deal. I have a 454 BB chevy with a .060 overbore. 10.5:1 compression, big hydraulic cam, dual plane intake, oval port heads (ported), roller rockers, 650 CFM carb, headers and stock torque converter and 3.08 gear ratio. I am installing the MSD 8361 distributor and MSD 6 series ignition module. The distributor comes from MSD with multiple sets of springs for centrifugal advance. MSD ships the unit with the heaviest springs (slowest and retarded advance) to avoid detonation. What springs should I put in initially. I know I can always change them but should I change them now or after I run the car? I use 93 octane gas and had no problems with detonation before the rebuild. I'm thinking I should put in lighter advance springs for earlier advance. Do you agree? Also,, there are 3 or 4 different advance bushings to limit the amount of centrifugal advance to like 15, 20, 25 and 30 degrees. Which should I use?
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Old 01-05-2006, 03:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leejoy
The distributor comes from MSD with multiple sets of springs for centrifugal advance. MSD ships the unit with the heaviest springs (slowest and retarded advance) to avoid detonation. What springs should I put in initially. I know I can always change them but should I change them now or after I run the car? I use 93 octane gas and had no problems with detonation before the rebuild. I'm thinking I should put in lighter advance springs for earlier advance. Do you agree? Also,, there are 3 or 4 different advance bushings to limit the amount of centrifugal advance to like 15, 20, 25 and 30 degrees. Which should I use?
Doc here,

Just me, but I'd start with what was shipped and work down as you tune..or go with as close to the first set as you can and step up/down as you tune it..I like one end to the other..that way you have a direction in which to go to next..

On the limiters, I'd do the same with those..you'll spend a little time dialing it in, but when your done, I think you'll be happy..

Also refer to the instructions on a starting point.

Doc
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