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Backwards distributor?

9015 Views 22 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  Icerat
I was redoing the ignition for my car by replacing the points w/ pertronix ignitor, new wires, and plugs. Went to time the motor (68' 302 block) and we couldn't even see the timing marks. When I replaced the #1 plug we noticed that the wire ran to the 5 o'clock position instead of the normal 1 o'clock position. Turned the engine and TDC seems to match the 5 o'clock position. The guy helping me is baffled that the thing even runs, but it runs ok except for getting hot which is the next part. The vacuum advance is on the front of the distributor and it was removed when timing. Could the distributor be 180 degrees out and still running decent. It was running better, but we tried to adjust the timing and carb to improve it before discoving this and now it is stumbling a little, probable timing off plus a little rich.

As far as the running hot part, I've replaced water pump, thermostat, radiator, hoses w/spring in lower one, water wetter, new 18" steel fan w/clutch, and fan cowl. The car runs fine until I want to drive on the 4 lane at extended speeds over 60 mph and then the temp start to climb to 205-210 and would probably continue to climb if I continued driving faster or speed up more. I slow down to 60 mph and 2200 rpm and it cools back down to 190-195 degrees. My problems may be combined.

Any help would be appreciated.
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yes your car can run fine with the distributor backwards but I would pull it out and put it in the proper position!
Current fan is not a flex fan. I had a six bladed 17" flex fan, but I was told to get rid of it, so I have an 18" six bladed steel fan w/stock clutch in now. The fan did not seem to make any difference.
#1-remove distributor
#2- remove spark plugs
#3-set static timing. With a wrench on the crank bolt, turn the engine by hand. Bring number one cylinder to top dead center (piston all the way up in cylinder which is the END of the compression stroke, you can verify the piston is all the way up with a straw in the spark plug hole). timing pointer should be on zero on the damper, move it a tad bit more to 10 deg BTDC.
#4- install distributor so the vac canaster is pointing at the radiator. Where rotor is pointing will be where the #1 spark plug boot will go on cap. Install the rest acording to the 302 firing order 1-5-4-2-6-3-7-8 . REMEMBER- the rotor turns COUNTER CLOCKWISE so install the plugwires accordingly.
#5- START CAR, this will now probably fix your heat issue
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if the timing is low it can cause your overheating issue, and the stumbling. :bigthumbsup
if the timing is low it can cause your overheating issue, and the stumbling. :bigthumbsup
I realize the timing issue could affect both of those, but I can't even see the timing marks on the balancer because they are on the opposite side of the balancer when the timing light hits it. Is everything reversed because the distributor is in backwards? Will turning the distributor around cause the balancer to be lined up correctly? Will the #1 piston be TDC and still be able to insert the distributor correctly even though it is TDC now and in backwards possibly? What the h***?
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If you follow the step outlined by 429ragtop, the timing marks should line up. Not sure what you get if you just turn the distributor....the first step was to remove it.
not being mean, but do you have the lead for the timing light on #1 plug wire? thats strange.
not being mean, but do you have the lead for the timing light on #1 plug wire? thats strange.
Not a dumb question for a rookie like myself, but yes, the lead was on the #1 wire. I have an experienced Chevy guy (i know) helping me and he is baffled by the car running ok with the distributor seemingly in backwards.

We're going to remove the distributor, valve covers and start from the beginning.
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Sounds like you are checking timing using the wrong spark plug wire to me. Remember on Ford SB #1 is on the passenger side. Unless I'm wrong a distributor can not be installed backwards. It just depends where you have the rotor postioned for #1 when #1 cylinder is @ TDC and both vales are closed. (Remove the coil wire)Take #1 spark plug out and have your buddy slowly bump the motor over (not cranking) with you holding your thumb over the #1 plug hole, When it pushes your thumb off with compression you are close and your timming marks should be within a couple of degrees. Where your rotor is pointing will be #1 and then place your wires according to the correct firing order on your distributor cap (remembering the rotor turns CCW). The only incorrect placement of a distrbutor is when you can't adjust your timming due to spce limitations interfering with the vac advance if you are using a distributor with vac advance.
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Hi,

1. No i wouldn't run ok if it was 180 deg' out, it would fart and backfire and not much else.

2. You may find you have a balancer for a later model motor, meaning the timing marks want to line up with a pointer on the passenger side.

I understand you can get a marked up tape from one of the shops over there to stick on the balancer for the drivers side pointer once you have exactly established #1 TDC. I had this problem on mine. I believe if you have a dial indicator handy you can get the TDC perfect.

Someone here will know where you can get the timing tape.

Steve
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Sounds like you are checking timing using the wrong spark plug wire to me. Remember on Ford SB #1 is on the passenger side. Unless I'm wrong a distributor can not be installed backwards. It just depends where you have the rotor postioned for #1 when #1 cylinder is @ TDC and both vales are closed. (Remove the coil wire)Take #1 spark plug out and have your buddy slowly bump the motor over (not cranking) with you holding your thumb over the #1 plug hole, When it pushes your thumb off with compression you are close and your timming marks should be within a couple of degrees. Where your rotor is pointing will be #1 and then place your wires according to the correct firing order on your distributor cap (remembering the rotor turns CCW). The only incorrect placement of a distrbutor is when you can't adjust your timming due to spce limitations interfering with the vac advance if you are using a distributor with vac advance.
I did everything you just said. Used passenger side first plug towards radiator, #1 cylinder. The #1 plug on the distributor cap is in the 5 o'clock position. Explain that....
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Hi,

1. No i wouldn't run ok if it was 180 deg' out, it would fart and backfire and not much else.

2. You may find you have a balancer for a later model motor, meaning the timing marks want to line up with a pointer on the passenger side.

I understand you can get a marked up tape from one of the shops over there to stick on the balancer for the drivers side pointer once you have exactly established #1 TDC. I had this problem on mine. I believe if you have a dial indicator handy you can get the TDC perfect.

Someone here will know where you can get the timing tape.

Steve
Thanks Steve. That helps explain the balancer alignment possibly, but what about the #1 plug on the distributor cap being in the 5 o'clock position. All our manuals say it should be in the 1 o'clock postion. Still could use some more input. Does it not matter that that #1 is in the 5 o'clock position?
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Hi,

It doesn't matter where # 1 is as long as you have a range of motion to allow for timing adjustments. To get #1 where you want it you can lift the shaft out and rotate it round a few cogs until it is in the desired position.

Steve
Hi,

It doesn't matter where # 1 is as long as you have a range of motion to allow for timing adjustments. To get #1 where you want it you can lift the shaft out and rotate it round a few cogs until it is in the desired position.

Steve
Ok, I can adjust timing where it is now, so if I rotate it to where the manual says the #1 should be the vacuum unit would be facing the carb and I wouldn't be able to adjust it. I guess if I removed the shaft from the distributor itself and rotated that, maybe that would work, but as long as it doesn't matter where the #1 is than maybe I'm fine.
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when I got my mustang my distributor was put in just like yours and it did not change a dang thing. of course while doing engine work on it I corrected it for sense of mind. it really is not going to make or break an engine. what I'm confused about is your balancer. when your engine is at top dead center on on the compression stroke on cylinder 1 if your timing marks are wrong you need to get some white out and mark it and then mark where it should be so you can time your engine
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It's not critical, but to get it set correctly. Assuming you have the engine at TDC on #1, on the compression stroke when you install the distributor. Line the rotor up to point at the 1 o'clock position, & the vacuum unit pointing front. You will then have to move all the leads in the cap to suit the new position.
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Ryan, read my PM. From what you wrote, I'm under the impression that the distributor hasn't been removed. Am I right? If so, the reason that you think that the distributor is out 180* is because you aren't on the compression stroke. If you rotate the crankshaft one more revolution you will find the rotor pointing to #1 ign. wire. Your distributor isn't 180* out, the crankshaft is in relation to the distributor. You're on the wrong stroke when you're checking rotor position. Remember that the distributor turns at half of the speed of the crank and the piston comes to the top of the cylinder twice on a 4 stroke engine. If you turn the crank once (360*), the rotor will only turn half a turn (180*) Recheck the crankshaft position and make sure that you're on the compression stroke. (Both valves closed.) I bet you aren't.

The timing marks on the harmonic balancer can be anywhere in relation to the pointer. The pointer's position changed several times through the years and the balancer's timing marks, obviously changed also. I had to reposition the marks on my 5.0 engine because I'm using a 68 timing cover. I attached a timing tape to the balancer as Steve mentioned.

Out of curiousity, did your Chevy friend know that Ford numbers their cylinders differently on a V8 than Chevy or GM?
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