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Discussion Starter #1
I'm installing an MSD ready to run distributor and have done a lot of reading on it, but wanted to make sure I understand it fully. As long as the #1 cylinder is at TDC (or 10 deg before), you can place the rotor wherever you want as long as the rotor cap is aligned to have the #1 plug wire on the rotor, right? And then you follow the normal firing order counter-clockwise. So theoretically, you could put the #1 wire at the 6 o'clock position if that's where the rotor lined up. Thanks for the help.

Also, the grey wire from the distributor should be able to connect directly to my tach, right? I have SpeedHut gauges and it all sounds like they're compatible.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Sure, but for initially installing it before I fire up the motor, that would be correct, right?
 

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The housing can be clocked in any position. If the timing marks aren't able to line up it might be off a tooth, or two...
 

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Yes, you can put the #1 spark plug wire in whichever cap tower the rotor is pointing towards when the #1 piston is at TDC on the compression stroke and then install the rest of the wires in the correct order. The engine doesn't care where the #1 wire is connected to the cap.
But since you're installing the distributor why not put the rotor in the correct location?

I am using an Autometer tach with my MSD Ready-To-Run distributor.
 

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"But since you're installing the distributor why not put the rotor in the correct location? "
What awhtx said.....don't do a rube install...do it the right way, it takes the same amount of time.
 

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Yep, you can install it that way...but don't. Do it right so the next guy isn't scratching his head.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Of course, I did a one for one and put the rotor back where the previous one was. I’m just trying to understand it the details. I have a timing light coming in and will set it up when I get it.
 

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Traditionally on a SBF the #1 post is the closest to the passenger firewall. I had a 94 cobra I got and the guy installed it way off where the TFI wiring harness wouldn't let you adjust it to get proper base timing. Why he didn't just re-stab it I don't know.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
So I got it installed, checked all the wires, etc and this is what I’m getting at idle. Shortly after the video it died and fuel would shoot out the carb. I played with timing but no luck. Where did I go wrong? And how bad?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I've been trying but the motor won't run for long enough to even use the light. Just keep moving the cap until I can get there?
 

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Get a helper, timing light will work without engine running.

You double check firing order? There are two firing orders for a 302 depending on year or camshaft grind. Most likely that's out if you stabbed the distributor and made sure it was TDC in the correct stroke. There are two TDCs, one is wrong. (Cam rotates half the speed of the crank). Definitely sounds like timing or firing order way off in the video

Also the carb issue is separate. Fuel coming out means floats or fuel pressure too high.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks for the help. I put the distributor in one-for-one and and aligned the rotor to where the previous one was, but I think I'm going to pull all the wires, crank to TDC compression on #1, re index and set the plug wires from there. Hopefully, that'll resolve my issues. The firing order is a 302HO and I triple checked that was accurate, but something is definitely off.
 

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That looks like the timing is off by some 30 degrees or more, or the firing order is wrong. Why not set it up correctly ?... with the rotor pointing basically at your master cylinder with the number one (passenger side very front) wire connected to it, vacuum advance pointing toward the radiator and the number one piston on top dead center of the compression stroke...
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Ok, so I pulled the #1 plug, cranked the motor until I got to 10 deg BTDC on the compression stroke and aligned the #1 plug directly on the rotor. I verified the 302HO firing order (1-3-7-2-6-5-4-8) and cranked it up and this is what I have now:

It "runs" but obviously not well. The timing light fires sporadically, as well so I'm thinking the issue may be from when I was crimping the wires. I had to convert from female terminals to the new male HEI style and since I didn't have enough wire length, I had to uncrimp some of the connections. and then recrimp which was probably not a good idea. I can order a new set of universal wires and cut them to length if that's the case with all new terminals. Thoughts?
 

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You can use a jumper wire on the starter solenoid and crank the engine while using the timing light. The engine doesn't have to "run". The timing light will still flash and it will be obvious when it's wrong, or right. Just get #1 to fire on the timing mark, then deal with wires. Chances are the distributor is not lined up.
 

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Ok, so I pulled the #1 plug, cranked the motor until I got to 10 deg BTDC on the compression stroke and aligned the #1 plug directly on the rotor. I verified the 302HO firing order (1-3-7-2-6-5-4-8) and cranked it up and this is what I have now:

It "runs" but obviously not well. The timing light fires sporadically, as well so I'm thinking the issue may be from when I was crimping the wires. I had to convert from female terminals to the new male HEI style and since I didn't have enough wire length, I had to uncrimp some of the connections. and then recrimp which was probably not a good idea. I can order a new set of universal wires and cut them to length if that's the case with all new terminals. Thoughts?
If you are getting sporadic flashes on the timing light then definitely double check your crimps. Just tug on the wire near the joint, if it pops out it was a bad crimp.
 
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