Setting Timing for Initial Startup

Article by Wayne

This article is for setting your distributor after it has been removed, or before Initial startup after building a motor.

1. Line up the distributor rotor with it?s #1 cylinder position. Look at the pickup coil and reluctor so that they point at each other.

Make a mark so that it?s obvious where #1 is to simplify things.

2. Rotate the crankshaft in a clockwise direction and stop with the timing mark where you want the initial timing set (12 degrees, 6 degrees, TPI 0 Degrees). Make sure you are going forward to the mark, if you pass it; back up past it then rotate forward to it again. You want all the play out of the timing chain on the power side. Make sure you are on the #1 cylinder compression stroke. You can do this by looking at the rocker arms if the valve cover is off (make sure they are not in overlap). Or by taking the Schrader valve out your compression tester hose and installing the hose in place of #1 plug. Hold your finger over the hose as you rotate forward. About 90 degrees before TDC you will feel the compression.

3. Hold the distributor over it?s hole in the intake and rotate the shaft backwards (counter clockwise) about 40-45 degrees. This part is a little tricky but using a long screwdriver, rotate the oil pump drive rod so that it will engage the distributor drive rod after it has rotated about 20 degrees from it?s current location. You may have to experiment a bit here as I used to do it by eye and I?m guessing at the angles here.

4. Insert the distributor into its hole (Don?t forget the gasket) holding the body in the position you want it to ultimately end up. That is with the #1 and #8 cable towers square to the valve covers as in the diagram I made.

It should drop all the way in, if it does not, adjust the oil pump drive rod accordingly and try again.

5. Holding gentle counter clockwise pressure on the distributor rotor to remove any slack, rotate the distributor housing so that the teeth on the reluctor are just past the points on the pickup coil.

6. Snug the distributor hold down so that you can just turn the housing. You may need to make a small adjustment once you get the engine running.

7. Rotate the engine two full turns holding your finger over the spark plug hole or the end of your compression tester hose. Make sure you feel compression in the last 180 degrees of rotation. Stop when your timing marks line up and verify the distributor reluctor has just passed the pickup coil.

You’re done, if you got the crank on the compression stroke and lined up the reluctor, the engine should fire right off and be good to go thru camshaft breakin. If you notice your exhaust manifolds starting to glow while your breaking in your cam, you have the timing too late.

ATGO is not responsible for any damage done to your vehicle by following the above instructions.