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Chevy 350 Distributor Question...

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by TheFrenZ, Sep 3, 2008.

  1. TheFrenZ
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    TheFrenZ Member

    At what position,viewed from the front of motor,is cylinder #1 on the distributor cap on a 350 Chevy ? Some sources say it's at 5 o'clock...some say it's at 7 o'clock.I guess it's pretty easy to answer for most Chevy guys on here...your help is much appreciated.Thanks !
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2008
  2. wetatt4u
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    wetatt4u Member

    If the driver side is the right side the number one plug is the first one on the right,at the front of the car

    The rotor button should be pointed to that plug which is at about 5 oclock
  3. Parts48
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    Parts48 Member

  4. primed55
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    primed55 Member

    number 1 on the cap is where ever you put it... Find TDC then drop your dist in, where it points is number one. By using a long screw driver to adjust the oil pump rod you can make it where ever you want but i'd say most do it like the pic above.
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  5. Drive Em
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    Drive Em Member

    Thanks for posting this because it amazes me that people still think the rotor has to point to the number one cylinder.
  6. 36-3window
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    36-3window Member

    in reality , you can make any one of the positions number 1

    on a points distributor i always make the one right before (based on the clockwise rotation of the rotor) the points window number 1 because that is the way it was on the very first SBC i ever worked on. later on i saw other SBC's with number 1 the position after the points window. maybe chevy made a change , or maybe i have been wrong all these years
  7. Parts48
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    Parts48 Member

    Old habit...I like to do mine all the same..just never found a reason to do it different.
  8. hotroddon
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    hotroddon Member

    Pretty much accepted that the Drivers Side of a Car is ALWAYS the Left side as viewed from the drivers seat. It's been that way since the dawn of time when people started getting confused about which was which. When someone says right side they mean the same as passenger.
    Unless of course you are in England and they say Far Side and Near Side, which pertains to the curb! Not sure what the Kiwi's and Skippy's do. Japanese have a different way to but we don't speak Japanese.

    Not trying to rip you, just hoping to make it less confusing for others.

    Oh, and to answer the original question, Primed55 is right but there is something to be said for making it uniform, especially if you buy pre made plug wires as moving the position could make the wire lengths wrong
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2008
  9. TheFrenZ
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    TheFrenZ Member

    Thanks everybody !

    Yes,I know it "basically" can be put "anywhere" you want...we just needed a starting point as the timing on a friend's car can't be adjusted properly.Timing is way off...somewhere around 25 degrees before TDC at idle,vacuum device pulled and plugged...motor currently has a Delco Remy distributor with mechanical and vacuum advance and that device already gets in contact with the firewall...can't be turned anymore further to get the timing closer to the desired settings.

    Another friend's car has the dizzy installed like on the pic shown below...#1 in the 7 o'clock position (viewed from the front of motor)...

    [​IMG]

    We already checked everything on the motor...compression is fine on all cylinders,adjusted the valves,points and condenser look good and are adjusted to 30 degrees dwell...but no way to get the timing to 6-8 degrees BFTDC.The vacuum device on the dizzy get in contact with the firewall...channeled Model T Coupe...that's why I asked for the position of cylinder #1 on the dizzy cap (timing adjusted correctly) to find out if there maybe is a major misconstruction etc. made by the pre-owner...
  10. zbuickman
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    zbuickman Member

    That pic is wrong in more than one way...... Pontiacs dists spin CCW
  11. squirrel
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    squirrel Member

    It's pretty easy to get the distributor gear off one tooth when you drop it in, that's probably what happened.

    Also Chevy did move around the #1 position on the cap over the years. I like to try to put it where Chevy intended, if only to make life easier for the next guy who works on the car.

    Attached Files:

  12. Thumper
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    Thumper Member


    Yeah....that pic ain't right. The cylinder numbers are off on a few of those listed too.
  13. TheFrenZ
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    TheFrenZ Member

    That's what I think too,thanks squirrel.We will check that tomorrow and post an update.Motor will get a new dizzy in near future anyway.

    Btw,what's the "correct" timing for a 350 SBC ? Some people say this...other people that.I know it also depends on engine mods,but I mean generally.

    What does the HAMB say ?
  14. squirrel
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    squirrel Member

    Generally around 6 to 12 degrees BTDC. But since every distributor is different, a reasonable way to set it is to set the total timing, then see what initial timing is, and make a note of it.

    To set total timing you need dial or readout timing light, disconnect vacuum advance, rev the engine up high enough that timing doesn't advance any more (usually 2000-3000 rpm) and set the timing to around 34 degrees.
  15. dave lewis
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    dave lewis
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Sounds like you cannot retard the timing enough....So move all the wires 1 position CLOCKWISE on the cap, then yank the vac can away from the firewall.
    Rotating toward the firewall on sm.blk.chevy= timing retard.. Rotating toward the intake = timing advance..


    BTW, Not only does pontiac dizzy rotate CCW BUT also the # 1 cyl is the RIGHT (psgr) front..And yes, it is not the furthest forward cyl like most other motors #1 !!
    Dave
  16. TheFrenZ
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    TheFrenZ Member

    Time for an update...we had the distributor out and installed it so cylinder #1 on cap is at 3 o'clock which gives us plenty of clearance to retard the timing.Problem is the motor runs like shit when timing is set at 6 to 8 degress BTDC.Tried everything form 0 to 12 degrees.

    It runs much better if we advance the timing again.It runs best with the timing mark at around 12 almost 11 o'clock on the balancer.Yes,it's that far off !! Balancer is correctly installed...both valves fully closed,compression stroke and timing mark is on TDC.

    However,the engine runs "good" with the timing advanced WAY too much...anyone has an idea what´'s going on here ?
  17. squirrel
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    squirrel Member

    did you check to see that the TDC mark on the damper is actually top dead center of the #1 piston? there were at least 3 variations on timing mark locations on small blocks over the years...could have a mismatched timing tab and damper.
  18. 1oldtimer
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    1oldtimer Member

    if you have hei it's like the pic if not then it's at the 7 o clock position. but you really can put it anywhere as long as the firing order is right.
  19. Larry T
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    Larry T Member

    If you're using the old points style distributor, you can drop the distributor in with the rotor contact parallel to the vacuum advance unit. Use the cap terminal that is right next to the "window" for number one. That is the stock position for the number 1 terminal. The timing will be close enough for the engine to start. Then you can set the timing with a light. 10 degrees BTDC will put you in the ballpark.
    I like to wire distributors like they came from the factory. Makes things easier to troubleshoot and work on.
    Larry T

    Attached Files:

  20. old dirt tracker
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    old dirt tracker Member

    seconds on doing it the factory way. like doccs picture. any thing else is asking for trouble if you forget or some one else has to figure it out.
  21. Larry T
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    Larry T Member

    Doccs diagram is factory for HEI distributors, but not earlier points style. The one Squirrel posted covers them all. I don't really remember the small blocks being different than the W engines though.
    Larry T

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