What's wrong with my distributor??


New Member
Aug 19, 2003
Dover, DE
For some reason, my TFI Module, (I think that's what it's called, the little plug coming out of the distributor), is so far clockwise that it is touching my radiator hose. Now I know that this is not normal but when I tried to advance it a little (turn it counterclockwise) it started running like crap and almost stalled. Could I take the distributor out and put it in a little straiter or does it only go sit one way? Thanks

Also I tried to use a timing light but I couldn't see marks on my balancer, but I now know to mark the balancer with white-out, so I will check the timing later
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its just timeing, keeping playing with it and you will get it right. they way the dis. sits just depends on how the gears line up.....when u get them lines up right the dis. well sit straight and the timeing will be good.....stock is 10 btc, mines at 13 btc.....if this helps any.
get back to us with what your timing is. it sounds like someone restabbed the dizzy in a bit off. you can set it to TDC and pull it and stab it where you want (so the TFI is in the middle of the available travel, so it is not near the rad hose). then retime it.

good luck.
OK, so the distributor can sit in there any way, I thought there was an oil pump shaft or something that went up into the distributor, guess not.

How do I set TDC? I heard that you can take the no. 1 plug out and stick your finger in there and on the stronger puff of air, that's TDC, is this correct? Thanks
Mark your balancer at 0 degrees tdc and where ever you want to set the timing ultimately - 10, 12, 14, etc. (clean it with a rag and brake cleaner, and then white out works great). Rotate the engine by turning the balancer bolt with a ratchet wrench until the pointer is pointing at 0 degrees tdc and the engine's on the compression stroke. Pulling the #1 plug and and feeling for the piston pushing air out is probably the easiest - you can also pull the valve cover and watch for both valves closed when at tdc. There are 2 tdc's for each distributor rotation - you must get the right one. Once you're at tdc on the compression stroke, back the timing up to wherever you ultimately want it set - say 12 btdc. Now, unbolt the distributor and pull it up enough that you can rotate it. You want to restab the distributor with the module about half way between the t'stat housing and the a/c bracket on the other side while simultaneously having the rotor pointing as closely as you can to the #1 plug wire. When the rotor is pointing directly at #1, it will fire the number one plug - and you want that to happen when the timing pointer is pointing at 12 btdc. That should position the distributor pretty close to the timing you want, and put the module in the middle of it's travel. Once you've done that, crank up the car, let it warm up a a bit, pull the spout out and with a timing light, set the timing where you want it. You should have plenty of travel on both sides of the module to set the timing. If the distributor won't engage with the oil pump shaft, just take the proper socket/extension, insert it into the dizzy hole, and slightly rotate the oil pump shaft so it lines up with the dizzy the way you want it to. Be sure to duct tape the socket to the extension. Don't want to take a chance losing the socket down inside the engine.
Theres a bunch of ways to find TDC on cyl 1....any common manual, like a Haynes or CHilton's can describe it for you... I prefer to find TDC with the dist. in, cap removed, and with the upper intake and pass. side valvecover off. You can see your intake and exhaust rocker arms that way....so you wanna keep turning the engine until two things. First, your rotor should be pointing at the Cyl #1 terminal on the cap. Just find your #1 terminal on your cap, and mark its location with some permanent marker on the distributor cap adapter piece itself..so you know where cyl 1 is without the cap.

And also, for it to be TDC on the COMPRESSION STROKE, which is what you need, you need to ensure that both of the valves are closed.....the rockers will be positioned equally, and tilted away from the valves....this means both valves are closed, so it has to be the compression stroke.

If you're on the exhaust stroke....your rotor will point to cylinder 1, but your EXHAUST VALVE will be open instead of closed...

This is MUCH easier to do with a friend......a 2nd person is invaluable to help turn the car over by using a breaker bar and socket on the crank bolt. People say not to do this for some reason, something about breaking the bolt off or something...but I've never had any problems doing it.