Msd Distributor install help needed


New Member
Jul 13, 2006
I just installed a new msd distributor and my timing is all off, the car will not start. Does anyone know how to tell which spot is spot#1 on the msd cap and how to make sure the motor is at tdc?
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have car, will race....wait, it doesn't run
Nov 29, 1999
The cap should have a number one on it. To make sure you're at TDC, the easiest way would be to rotate the engine by hand until the 0 on the balancer lines up with the pointer. You're either at TDC on the compression stroke, or exhaust stroke that way. If it runs like absolute crap when you put the distributor in and time it, pull it back out, spin the rotor around 180° and stab it back in. Then time it again and see how it runs.


StangNet's favorite TOOL
SN Certified Technician
Mar 10, 2000
Dublin GA
Putting the distributor back in is fairly simple. Pull #1 sparkplug, put your finger in the sparkplug hole,
crank the engine until you feel compression. Then line up the TDC mark on the balancer with the pointer
on the engine block.

The distributor starts out with the #1 plug wire lined up at about 12:00 with you facing it. Align the rotor
to about 11:00, since it will turn clockwise as it slides into place.

Align the distributor rotor up with the #1 position marked on the cap, slide the distributor down into the block,
(you may have to wiggle the rotor slightly to get the gear to engage) and then note where the rotor is pointing.
If it still lines up with #1 position on the cap, install the clamp and bolt. If not, pull it out and turn 1 tooth forwards
or backwards and try again. Put the #1 spark plug back in and tighten it down, put the clamp on the distributor,
but don't tighten it too much, as you will have to move the distributor to set the timing. Note that if it doesn't
align perfectly with #1 position, you can turn the distributor until it does. The only problem is that if you are too
far one way or the other, you can't turn the distributor enough to get the 10-14 degree optimum timing range.

At this point hook up all the wires, get out the timing light and start the engine. Set the timing where your car
runs best. Don't forget to disconnect the SPOUT jumper connector when you set the timing, and plug it back
in when you finish.

The HO firing order is 1-3-7-2-6-5-4-8.
Non HO firing order is 1-5-4-2-6-3-7-8

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