With any dist type ignition system you should have put back the dist pointing in the direction it was when you pulled it out. But lets say you forgot or someone cranked the engine over. Just find where Number one cylinder is. Its usually the one on the head that is farthest forward.If not sure check the shop manual or goto a parts house and maybe there is a ford/mercury/Lincoln repair manual you can peek at. Okay remove the sparkplug for hole number one. Disconnect the coil wires...any will do so that it will not shock you. Crank the engine and you should hear a HOOSHING noise. That's cylinder number one on the compression stroke. AS you doing that check the fromt harmonic dampner and you should see the timing mark go by just as its "HOOSHING". When the engine is about to go hoosh the timing mnark should line up to the timing tab at zero degrees.Now just plop the distributor in and line up the rotor and have it point to number one ignition wire. If the distributor does not fall in its because your oil pump shaft hex shaft did not line up. Just adjust it by turning it ever so little. Slam dunk the distributor in and your set.
Second way is to remove the valve cover where number one is and crank the motor to view number ones rocker arms. Just crank till you see a pattern.....you want to see intake rocker open the valve...then close...the piston is at TDC...then the exhaust will open then close....piston comes up again...then down...intake is going to open..when it closes..its at TDC - check your harmonic dampner to confirm. (tdc = top dead center)
The bottom line is it really doesnt matter where the rotor points as long as its pointed in sync with the ignition wire its suppose to fire at the right given time. In the interest of keeping the factory wires "tidy" we strive to keep it as oem (original equipment manufacturer) as possible.
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