Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Installing a TFI Distributor in 5.0 Mustang

For those who don't know how to install and line up a distributor, here is one way to do it.
First make a highly visible mark on your damper at 10 degrees.  It will help you line up the marks and makes it easier to see when setting the timing.  Mine has a mark at 0 and 10 since the mark may be out of view when I'm using the timing light.

Next, using a breaker bar or big ratchet on the center bolt on the damper, turn the crank clockwise until the #1 piston is moving upward for the compression stroke. This is much easier to do with the spark plugs removed.  
You have to determine when the #1 cylinder compression stroke is about to happen. This can be done a few ways.  One way is with the passenger side valve cover removed, turn the crank until the front most intake valve opens then closes -- that will be the start of the compression stroke. On my engine, the headers are not installed yet so I used the #1 exhaust valve closing event as the start of the intake stroke and turned the crank until the timing marks came back around.
Start turning the crank clockwise slowly, when the piston nearly reaches the top, you should see the timing marks approaching the pointer. Carefully, bump the crank clockwise until the 10 degree BTC mark is lined up with the pointer.  If you go past to 0 remember to reverse past 10 degrees because of minor slop in the timing chain, then come back to 10.

Now, figure out how you want the distributor clocked.  On mine, I wanted the TFI plug turned so it points toward the power steering pump or AC compressor. This will leave enough room to adjust timing + or -. Then, with the rotor installed, line up the rotor tip close to the #1 wire.  This is marked in the top of the distributor cap. I usually mark the distributor where #1 is lined up with the cap.  Next, turn the rotor to a point just past the #1 mark counter-clockwise.  Drop the distributor in the bore and wiggle it to line up with the oil pump drive shaft.  The rotor will move clockwise toward your #1 mark as the helical drive gears mesh on the way down.  Once all the way home look at the rotor tip alignment.  If it doesnt point at your mark, try moving the body a little. If there is not enough room left for adjusting the timing then pull it back out and drop it in again with the rotor slightly repositioned until it lines up.  Install the distrib hold down loosely.
If you get this lined up right, it should start and idle on the first try.   Remove the pip jumper plug and hook up a timing light and set to exactly 10 degrees.  Dont forget to replace the pip jumper after and tighten the hold down bolt.

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