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Old 03-18-2011, 12:22 AM   #1
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Stabbing the Distributor 101

I can't tell everyone how many times I see this asked, or how many times this is done wrong. What I want to do is make this a very simple, step by step guide to getting your car running after removal of the distributor.

Step #1 - Remove the Serpentine Belt
Step #2 - Remove the #1 Spark Plug
Step #3 - Ensure the car is in Neutral
Step #4 - Get a 15/16" Socket and Ratchet
Step #5 - Put Ratchet on Crank and being to turn over the engine while holding thumb over the #1 spark plug hole, eventually when you come around to the compression stroke, the air in the cylinder will start to push your thumb off the spark plug hole
Step #6 - STOP, look down at your balance, note where the timing pointer is on the harmonic balancer, it should be coming around towards -0- TDC.
Step #7 - Continue to slowly crank the engine over passing -0- TDC, and stopping on 10* BTDC.
Step #8 - STOP - we will now look at the distributor cap
Step #9 - Identify where the #1 Spark Plug Wire is or will be, and using a marker run a line down the side of the cap so with the cap off you will know where the #1 contact would be.

Step #10 - Remove the cap, and see where the rotor is pointed. It needs to be dead center on this line you drew, this would mean that the timing is at 10* BTDC (approx. only way to do it 100% is with a light, but this will get you well within reason).
Step #11 - Turn it until you get it dead center as shown in the pic.

Now just to take this a bit further, that will help if you already re-installed the distributor. If you have not yet put it back in, then do so. You need to keep in mind a few things:
#1 - The TFI module needs to be positioned so that you can turn the dizzy a bit to the left and a bit to the right.
#2 - If you can not get the rotor and the line you drew lined up, you are a tooth or more off, and need to pull out the distributor, move the rotor a tad, and try again. Eventually it will line up.
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Old 03-18-2011, 03:01 AM   #2
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joel 5.0 method is to stab the dist with the pointer on the TDC not 10*BTDC.
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Old 03-18-2011, 07:49 AM   #3
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Stab dissy at 10*btdc.
Leave the serpentine belt on.
Park for autos and neutral with parking brake for sticks.
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Old 03-18-2011, 07:52 AM   #4
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joel5.0 is not wrong...however NotchAbove is attempting to set base timing as he stabs the dizzy.At the end of the day both methods will require a timing light to get it right.
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Old 03-18-2011, 08:28 AM   #5
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No wonder people can't do it with this advice. TDC 0 on balancer, NOT 10 BTDC.

When you stab dizzy in it needs to be one notch to the left so when it mesh's with the cam gear it will rotate to the right in it's proper position.

Most all he said was correct, belt can stay on. Good effort.

You do need room for TFI to move, once in, bump dizzy to left till it starts, then time it, close hood.

You can still stab dizzy and it can be a tooth off, car will run like ####, just so you know. You can do damage if timing is wrong, if this is over your head, seek professional help.

Yes I am a professional mechanic, you should see the #### I have to fix from all the backyard know it all's.
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Old 03-18-2011, 10:04 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dragman1990 View Post
No wonder people can't do it with this advice. TDC 0 on balancer, NOT 10 BTDC.

When you stab dizzy in it needs to be one notch to the left so when it mesh's with the cam gear it will rotate to the right in it's proper position.

Most all he said was correct, belt can stay on. Good effort.

You do need room for TFI to move, once in, bump dizzy to left till it starts, then time it, close hood.

You can still stab dizzy and it can be a tooth off, car will run like ####, just so you know. You can do damage if timing is wrong, if this is over your head, seek professional help.

Yes I am a professional mechanic, you should see the #### I have to fix from all the backyard know it all's.
There is more than 1 way to skin a cat. And Joel is top notch in my book.

However I am attempting to help those who have no clue. If you stab the dizzy a -0-, and leave it there, you will be attempting to start the car with zero -0- base timing.

My method will get you to a 10* base timing.

Also guys you are not going to be able to hand crank the engine with the belt on.
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Old 03-18-2011, 12:36 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dragman1990 View Post
No wonder people can't do it with this advice. TDC 0 on balancer, NOT 10 BTDC.

You do need room for TFI to move, once in, bump dizzy to left till it starts, then time it, close hood.

You can still stab dizzy and it can be a tooth off, car will run like ####, just so you know. You can do damage if timing is wrong, if this is over your head, seek professional help.
I always install it at 10 BTDC, it makes perfect sense.

And just so you know, it makes no difference if it's a tooth out. There is no specific tooth, that's a wive's tail.

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Old 03-18-2011, 09:19 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NotchAbove View Post
There is more than 1 way to skin a cat. And Joel is top notch in my book.

However I am attempting to help those who have no clue. If you stab the dizzy a -0-, and leave it there, you will be attempting to start the car with zero -0- base timing.

My method will get you to a 10* base timing.

Also guys you are not going to be able to hand crank the engine with the belt on.
Wanna bet? Just because the belt is on does not mean it sets some kind of brake. It is just more resistance and harder to turn. So you CAN do it with the belt on if you want to, just be prepared to use more force.
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Old 03-18-2011, 11:07 PM   #9
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I've never had to remove a serp belt when stabbing a dizzy. Just had to use some more muscle.
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Old 04-16-2011, 07:32 AM   #10
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Bringing this back up, because I have had some difficulty in grasping this "one tooth off" concept, and I have had my distributor in and out over the last several months several times.

This is what I currently have. The confusion comes when the actual stabbing has occurred. There is play in the distributor (as when you are setting timing) allowing you to rotate it around a bit and you can get marker line that you make on the distributor to match up with pointer pretty easily. My understanding is that if it is stabbed correctly, you should be able to move the mark on the distributor equal distance on either side of the pointer, and if you have significantly more play in on one side of the pointer versus the other, you are one tooth off. Is that incorrect?

There is a pretty good write-up with pictures here as well:
http://mustangforums.com/forum/5-0l-...stributor.html

Which mentions markings at the base of the distributor and marks on the block that need to all line up when the pointer and marker lines match up so there would be 3 points that need to coincide. My problem with this, is I use a MSD dizzy which does not have the any marks where the distributor goes into the block, so this does not really help me out.
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Old 04-16-2011, 08:43 AM   #11
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What alot of people dont understand is that orientation really does not matter, the only reason you need to put the distributor in a certain spot is so you have room to rotate it with the TFI not hitting anything.
If there was 360 degrees of clearance around the distributor in theory you could drop it in where ever you wanted to.. what really matters is that when The number 1 cylinder at 10degrees BTDC on the compression stroke the rotor points at the number #1 spark plug wire....
The whole "1 tooth off" thing is just a common misconception.
I like the OP's method of setting it to 10btdc instead of zero because its closer to where you will eventually end up, but the Joel5.0 way works very well also.
My only gripe with the OP's write up is removing the belt, its just a waste of time imo.

The whole mark the block and distributor crap is just silly and only works for people who dont have a timing light and just want to be able to pull the dist. and put it back in without setting the timing.

10 degrees of timing is 10 degrees of timing no matter where the distributor is!
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Old 04-16-2011, 08:50 AM   #12
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.....and if where you want to set your initial timing is 12-14-16-18 degrees btdc - THAT'S where you put the timing mark before you stab. As mentioned - it just gets you that much closer to where you want it before you start it. Can't imagine why anyone would stab at TDC.....at LEAST 10 degrees retarded from where you want it. My initial timing is 16-18 degrees btdc - so that's where I stab the dizzy at.
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Old 04-16-2011, 08:50 AM   #13
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Don't make it complicated.
What ever timing you normally set it at 14,o 18 etc, set your crank timing pointer on it.
Put distributor pointer on #1.
If it doesn't start then the distributor is 180* out.
Once started you will find you will not always have to readjustment the timing.
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Old 04-16-2011, 08:53 AM   #14
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LOL at the same time lol
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Old 04-16-2011, 09:14 AM   #15
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I've done prob 1000's & either way w/work. HOWEVER, it's much easier to get a engine to start setting it at apppropriate timing(Say 10* or whatever) VS 0 degrees BTDC. Many R lethargic & don't want to run at 0 degrees.. That way U aren't try to move the dizzy, keep it running etc... Choose your poison, appropriate timing has proven best for me...
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Old 04-16-2011, 10:06 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YamahaGuy View Post
...I have had some difficulty in grasping this "one tooth off" concept, ........
There is no such thing as one tooth off. The relationship of the ignition is soley at the distributor housing (this aligns the cap) and the rotor. These items are completely related in and of themselves, regardless of how the distributor housing in positioned in the block (this is where the meshing to the camshaft and oil drive comes in).

The rub comes into play when the distributor is in a position where the alignment cannot occur, this could be due to intake clearance, pretty sparkplug wiring arrangements or what ever.

Now, for the one tooth off issue (lets say you have a distinct location you want the distributor housing, which is going to force the rotor/cap alignment into a very narrow toleranced location.

The problem becomes aligning the oil drive perfectly to allow the distributor gear to engage. With brand new oil drives and new distributors, or tight fitting components, this is a PITA. The typical way it has to be done is to do the 1-2 dance (as I will call it). The way this works is you install the distributor, as close as possible, and the let the rotor engage as close as possible. then pull it right back up, and tweak the rotor a tad, then reinsert. Do this 1-2 times, and then try to reinsert into your correct position. Eventually everything will align just where you want it. I was working on a vehicle once with new oil drive and new oil pump (the drive is captured in the distributor on this particular motor). IT took me seriously about 30 minutes to get it where I wanted it. I could not do the 1-2 dance, I was having to actually drive the oil pump with a tool, then reinsert the distributor. This does not violate my first statement, but with this particular arrangement there was only a very narrow range the distributor had to install within. I was about 30 seconds from declaring a new #1 tower on the distributor cap wich would have worked perfectly. it eventually slid right in. Which was real good until I was installing a wire into the distributor (one I could not do on the bench) and dropped it below the top plate. And had to remove the distributor and lather-rinse-repeat. It took about 15 minutes of jacking with it the second, but you hope you eventually get it.

Which brings me to a last idea, if you just cannot get it where you want it, there is typically no absolute reason you have to make #1 on the cap, the true #1. The components have no clue, they just know the rotor has to be aligned correctly. I also think caps that are labeled has brought much of this problem into the distributor installation questions.
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Old 04-16-2011, 11:05 AM   #17
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It has to do with injector timing. Due to the PIP signal that uses trailing edge orientation.

If its distributor is not in the correct position then your injector timing is off.
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Old 04-16-2011, 11:10 AM   #18
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here is a good read on it half way down the page on this link.

EFI DO's and DONT's (A Work in Progress)
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Old 04-16-2011, 11:11 AM   #19
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Quote:
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It has to do with injector timing. Due to the PIP signal that uses trailing edge orientation.

If its distributor is not in the correct position then your injector timing is off.
Then the 1-2 dance to get everything is about all you can do. It may take several-several tries, but it will eventually sit right down perfectly.
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Old 04-16-2011, 05:33 PM   #20
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Oh boy.This isnt brain surgery.
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Old 04-17-2011, 11:43 AM   #21
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I have a great way to move the crank for TDC in position on a 5 speed... Jack up under the pumpkin tires off the ground and put in fith gear and symply move the tires (its the easiest in fith because the higher ratio) to get it into position works great with 2 people with one spotting and the other turning. But when I am alone doing it I use the starter sylniod to get it close then its a breeze by urself... I came up with this because with my blower crank pulley with electric fan setup theres mabe a 1/2in gap of room in between the two and "who want s too pull stuff off when there is allways another way"

Hope this helps other's with 5speed's
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Old 04-27-2011, 06:25 PM   #22
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This is pretty amazing....but we are here to provide info for others. Set it at 10* and go from there. Peace!
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Old 05-12-2011, 07:44 PM   #23
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Does this position look look correct here. I have the balancer set at 10* BTDC and rotor points at #1 plug mark.

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Old 05-12-2011, 08:07 PM   #24
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Looks like if you rotate it one more tooth over you will have more adjustment, however that will work just fine.
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Old 05-14-2011, 07:30 PM   #25
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Here is another with the intake on.

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Old 05-14-2011, 09:36 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mat50ho View Post
here is a good read on it half way down the page on this link.

EFI DO's and DONT's (A Work in Progress)
Yeah a lot of people don't understand that the Mustang's dizzy controls spark And Injector timing. Spark timing doesn't care about dizzy orientation, injector timing does.

I'm just gonna quote the section of your link here.

Quote:
Install the distributor with a rotated firing order, or #1 plug out of the OEM required position on the cap. This causes a timing error of the injectors firing order. Keep in mind that the EEC-IV system in Mustangs, is a SEquential Fuel Injection (SEFI) system, which means the injectors are activated one at a time based on the PIP signal, generated by the stator sensor. The PIP signal includes a #1 cylinder id pulse (shorter pulse, shown below) to keep the fuel ?on time? during the intake stroke and based on the firing order, thus affecting performance, although the engine will start and run with no apparent problems.
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Old 05-14-2011, 10:12 PM   #27
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The housing controls injector timing.... The ecu controls the timing.
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Old 05-14-2011, 10:37 PM   #28
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Did a tune-up on a Chevy 350 once. New cap, wires, rotor, plugs. Went to fire it up and it was backfiring out the exhaust and up through the carb. Looked at the old parts and the locating tangs on the rotor were cut off.
The previous mechanic installed the distributor 180* out and cut the tangs off the rotor and turned the rotor 180* to compensate for his mistake. I ended up doing the same thing as the distributor was a pain to remove and not easy to access. L.O.L.
#1 Can be anywhere on the cap as long as the wires are in the correct location on the cap and are in the correct firing sequence. And as long as you have enough clearance to turn the distributor body to get the timing where it needs to be.
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Old 05-14-2011, 10:52 PM   #29
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Crap it seems every time I think I got it right someone makes the point of inj. firing order and gets me doubting. Does the pic above look correct for #1 spark plug position with the dist housing and balancer at 10*
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Old 05-14-2011, 11:12 PM   #30
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Crap it seems every time I think I got it right someone makes the point of inj. firing order and gets me doubting. Does the pic above look correct for #1 spark plug position with the dist housing and balancer at 10*
The housing looks to be in the right orientation. Look at the screws that hold the lower cap on. Strait in line with the center line of the intake.. As long as the rotor is pointing at number one..... What I meant to say was "fords original placing of number one"... Your good to go.

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Old 05-15-2011, 06:50 AM   #31
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Crap it seems every time I think I got it right someone makes the point of inj. firing order and gets me doubting. Does the pic above look correct for #1 spark plug position with the dist housing and balancer at 10*
Yes!!!!
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Old 05-15-2011, 09:45 AM   #32
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#1 Can be anywhere on the cap as long as the wires are in the correct location on the cap and are in the correct firing sequence. And as long as you have enough clearance to turn the distributor body to get the timing where it needs to be.
If the car is carbureted or batch-fire injected you can do stuff like this and it doesn't matter.

The mustang's injectors fire sequentially just like the spark plugs do, on the mustang, the distributor's orientation does matter because you can't just rotate the PIP sensor to compensate the way you can move the rotor.
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Old 05-15-2011, 09:54 AM   #33
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Crap it seems every time I think I got it right someone makes the point of inj. firing order and gets me doubting. Does the pic above look correct for #1 spark plug position with the dist housing and balancer at 10*
Yours looks correct.
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Old 05-15-2011, 09:54 AM   #34
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I am not buying the whole injector timing argument, everything is keyed together.
The Dist Base is keyed to the lower cap, the lower cap is keyed to the upper cap and the rotor is keyed to the shaft with the little tab, so regardless of orientation of the housing they will all still line up.
If you pick up the whole assembly and rotate the complete assembly 180 degrees, the pip sensor would still have the same orientation with the dist shaft as it did before. Its not like the block is keyed to the dist shaft or anything.

However if someone defeats any of the keys (ie grinding the tab off the rotor) than yea I can see how that would mess up the injector timing.
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Old 05-15-2011, 10:04 AM   #35
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I am not buying the whole injector timing argument, everything is keyed together.
The Dist Base is keyed to the lower cap, the lower cap is keyed to the upper cap and the rotor is keyed to the shaft with the little tab, so regardless of orientation of the housing they will all still line up.
If you pick up the whole assembly and rotate the complete assembly 180 degrees, the pip sensor would still have the same orientation with the dist shaft as it did before. Its not like the block is keyed to the dist shaft or anything.

However if someone defeats any of the keys (ie grinding the tab off the rotor) than yea I can see how that would mess up the injector timing.

I don't think you understand what they're talking about doing.

They're talking about keeping the distributor base in the exact same location, which means the PIP sensor stays in the exact same location.

You then rotate the spark plug wires (not the distributor. Literally unplug the spark plug wires and plug them back on to a different post) 180 degrees around the base so that the #1 wire is now at 6 o'clock. Then you lift the base just enough to spin the rotor, spin the rotor around so the rotor is aligned with the #1 spark plug wire again taking the toothed wheel right along with it, and setting the distributor back down.

You've left the PIP sensor in the exact same place it was in, but you've rotated the toothed wheel 180 degrees. Because one tooth on that wheel is not like the other, and that's how the ECU keeps track of where the engine is, the ECU will think #1 is at the bottom of the stroke when really it's at the top.

The injector firing order will be completely off.
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