If your doing static timing ( #1 piston tdc compression stroke) then the rotor should be pointing at the #1 piston which is driver's side front. also to know that its close it should also be pointing at the coil. if it doesn't line up correctly then remove distributor and with a long handled flat tipped screw driver look into the distributor hole and turn the oil pump rod to line it close to the same direction as the rotors position.
Wow! That was probably the guy who wanted $38 to tell me a plug gap! There is a little more to it than that. If you have a small block that was built by, then you have one of those rare ones that the crankshaft turns twice, to once, of the camshaft. And, if your starting from scratch, a new motor, say, then you wont have anything to go by. Ok. Here it is, Ready? when number 1 piston is just before TDC, (top dead center), (number 1 cylinder is driver side, front,) the timing could be 180 degrees off. Since 1, and 6 oppose each other, look at the intake, and exhaust valves on number 6. The exh. should be just closing, and the intake will be just opening. This, my friend is called "overlap". 6 will have completed its exhaust stroke, and starting it's intake stroke, when 1 is firing. As far as where the rotor is pointing, is not important, as long as you make that number 1 cylinder. Then follow it with 8436572. Mystery solved. Drivers side from front is odd, ie.1 3 5 7, from front, and pass side from front, is 2 4 6 8. You can make number 1 anywhere you want, as long as the rotor is pointing to it @ TDC, while 6 is on overlap. Another trick, turn the dist. a touch counter clockwise from 1. With points, you want to reverse the dist until they are open. This will put a touch of advance into the timing making it easier to start. Remember, fire out of the carb, is too much advanced, turn the dist clockwise. Backfire out the exhaust, is too much retard, so turn it counter clockwise a touch. I like to move the dist. while someone is spinning the motor over. And do not make an idiot out of yourself, by using a screwdriver to turn the oil pump drive. Simply pit the dist in as far as you can, just counter clockwise of the number 1 post on cap. Have someone lightly tap starter over, while you hold dist down. As the cam comes around, it will turn the gear, (don't hold the rotor, hold the aluminum body), and the dist. will fall right into place. Remember when you decide where no. 1 will be, make sure you have room to adjust timing. The vacuum advance may hit intake runners. Also, you are better to set timing @ total, rather than initial. Initial makes it run, however, total is where the motor runs most of the . Happy motoring.
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