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Old 03-15-2013, 06:53 AM
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Setting time on Ford 302 V8

I have an '84 LTD with an 8 cylinder 302 that I did an engine rebuild on when I discovered the head gaskets needed changing. I have everything put back together except for the distributor. The wires haven't been taken off of it so they are in the same position but the engine has been rotated since being broken down.

My question is now that I know I have the engine on top dead center on the compression stroke where is the rotor suppose to point on the distributor? I have been told it points at num 1 spark plug, I have been told it points at the num 1 mark on the distributor base. Not sure where that mark is on the base..

Also does it matter what position the distributor is put in the engine? These are the pictures I see:

and this from the Chilton's/Autozone guide looks the same:


So I am guessing whenever a distributor is dropped back in its always in that position, the 3 up front in the middle, 5 in the back, 1 to the left when facing from the driver's seat, etc etc. I gotta match those positions via the wires to the right spark plugs and cylinders. So the question is I guess is where does the rotor point point to? No. 1? And if its not completely TDC but close can I move the dist. clockwise or counterclockwise to compensate for that?

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Old 03-15-2013, 07:45 AM
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Generally speaking the rotor needs to point to the #1 cylinder spark plug tower on the dist cap when the motor's #1 piston is at TDC. The distributor can be turned ccw or cw to adjust the timing once the thing is fired up as long as nothing interfears with the rotation of the dist like a vacuum advance canister.

Depending on the engine setup 12-14 deg BTDC would be a good place to start once you have the light on it. You can see that the timing mark on the picture is about 12 deg BTDC this may be to illistrate that the rotor should be at #1 plug wire tower at this amount of advance.

It is very important to verify TDC correctly, using a piston stop is one method. The idea is to ensure the balancer 0 timing mark lines up with timing tab pointer 0 or pointer tip when the #1 piston is at true TDC. This is more inportant than actually getting the dist to drop in with the rotor pointing exactly at #1 plug wire, as long as you are close with the dist drop in and have the rotor in the general #1 plug tower vacinity you should be good to go. Dont expect to get it exactly right the first time you drop it down. It takes a few trys usually. Fords distributor location makes it easy

Verify true TDC and make sure the balancer/dampner marks are correct, drop it in, set it and go.
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Old 03-15-2013, 08:31 AM
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302 distributor

When you have your timing marks lined up at TDC you will either be on the number 1 cylinder or 180 degrees off and on the number 6 cylinder. Cam gear turns twice for every one turn of the crank gear. You can either pull your #1 plug and confirm TDC or drop your distributor in and set it in so your rotor is pointed to the #1 position on the cap. Try firing it...if it refuses to fire...pull your distributor up and rotate the rotor 180 degrees until it points to the #6 position on the cap, then set it back in and fire it up again.
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Old 03-16-2013, 12:12 AM
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the thing doesnt even want to go in all the way, it almost goes in but then i cant push it all the way down.
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Old 03-16-2013, 01:17 AM
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Ford timing

It sometimes takes a bit of work to line it up because your distributor slips into a driveshaft for your oil pump. As you slide the distributor down into place you can rotate the groove for the oil pump driveshaft by slowly turning the rotor on top of the distributor. It sometimes takes a few minutes of working the distributor and rotor around to find the "sweet spot" where it drops all the way into place. But believe me, it will go. When I first started out doing these builds I would lose patience quickly and think the worst...just be patient and keep working it around. Set the distributor close and then gently push down while slowly turning the rotor back and forth.
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Old 03-16-2013, 07:28 AM
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Originally Posted by snakebit68 View Post
It sometimes takes a bit of work to line it up because your distributor slips into a driveshaft for your oil pump. As you slide the distributor down into place you can rotate the groove for the oil pump driveshaft by slowly turning the rotor on top of the distributor. It sometimes takes a few minutes of working the distributor and rotor around to find the "sweet spot" where it drops all the way into place. But believe me, it will go. When I first started out doing these builds I would lose patience quickly and think the worst...just be patient and keep working it around. Set the distributor close and then gently push down while slowly turning the rotor back and forth.
yeah that was what I was hoping could be done. I heard about people using a rod to grab an oil line inside and dropping the oil pan then hitting the starterwhich would put me out of time I'd think. If I deal with it this way I won't be messing with the pistons that I put in place by hand turning the crank?
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Old 03-16-2013, 08:07 AM
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302 timing

Bingo! Theres another way as well, although many would frown on it. That is to take the distributor and work it around until it drops in place and wherever the rotor ends up pointing...that will be your #1 cylinder. Then you put the cap on and run the #1 wire to tower that the rotor was pointed at and then follow the firing order around the cap and you are in business. Your #1 plug wire just may not be located in the same position as the diagram. Its a bit crude...but it does work.
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Old 03-16-2013, 09:36 AM
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Bingo! Theres another way as well, although many would frown on it. That is to take the distributor and work it around until it drops in place and wherever the rotor ends up pointing...that will be your #1 cylinder. Then you put the cap on and run the #1 wire to tower that the rotor was pointed at and then follow the firing order around the cap and you are in business. Your #1 plug wire just may not be located in the same position as the diagram. Its a bit crude...but it does work.
I cant really do that because the wire connections on the dist. have a big connector to them. There is also a support bar from the alternator that would interfere with that. As long as i can get some general movements from the inside of the engine I should be able to place the carb in.
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Old 03-16-2013, 07:05 PM
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UPDATE: I got it in there, When I get this battery juiced up ill try it in the morning. It seems like its 130 degrees off but when I was turning the engine it was on the compression stroke or atleast it felt like it so I will see in the morning if it starts. Only one of the 3 engine turns gets air coming out of the spark plug hole anyways so its gotta be right.
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