First BBC, urgent help with timing!
Hey guys, bear with me, I picked up my first car with a built BBC(454) in it, and I want to get it running properly. It was an ex-race car I think someone took off the original carb/dist and bolted on a crappy carb and distributor and didn't know what they were doing, so I'd like to sort everything out properly but I'm learning as I'm going.
Here's what the car's doing: When I picked up the car, it was barely turning over when you'd bump the starter, and would only fire if the engine temp was under 120(meaning you couldn't drive it somewhere, turn it off, buy a coke, and get back in it and fire it up). I put new plugs in it and drove it home that way. It ran fine from 2-3k RPM and poorly everywhere else in the rpm band. The new plugs(gapped at .035) did make it run a lot smoother as several of the others were wet/fouled when I pulled them. Apparently, this is because the timing is too far advanced, so I loosened the distributor and turned it counterclockwise a little. Then when I fire it up it wouldn't hold idle then stalled and blew a flame out of the carburetor. I decide to reset the timing myself.
Currently, the plugs and wires and cap are off the car. Half the plugs were fouled black from my 2 hour trip home. #5 even had gunk covering the electrode. I assume this to be from the valve seals(more on this later). I plugged #1 cylinder and turned the motor until it pressurized. But now I'm confused, do I turn the crank until the timing mark is at 12' noon, or until it's at 0* timing on the marker? Which one is TDC, and what's a surefire way to make sure it's not 180* off without pulling the timing cover?
My next question is a stupid one; How do I turn the rotor to point to #1 cylinder? Do I have to remove the distributor, or just turn the rotor by hand? It's currently pointing at about 4 O'clock when it should be at 5:30?
Also, I was told the valve seals need replaced(burns a little oil). Only the drivers side smokes. Do the heads need to come off for this?
Another observation about the car, if I hold my hand over the exhaust pipe, the exhaust pulses are reasonably stronger on the drivers side of the car compared to the passenger side. I'm not sure what this means?
I really need help with this because it's my only source of transportation right now!
Thanks in advance!