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MG TD TF 1500 - Advice re installing distributor

1954 mgtf
Advanced rebuilt my distributor & I am trying to reinstall it.
The timing mark on crankshaft pulley matches the pointer on the chain case.
The rotor is supposed to be turned to face the spark plug wire going to cylinder 1. Is cylinder 1 the one closest to the front of the vehicle?
I am reluctant to trouble all you with such triflings but I know so little that only the kindness of strangers will enable me to finish the restoration of the car. I am amazed that I got this far.
Ed Eastman

Hi Ed'

I'm sure someone will talk you through the details of setting up the distributor including inserting it so as to face the correct way! Cylinder no 1 is the one to the front and if you take all the plugs out it makes tuning the engine over easier with the starting handle and by putting your thumb over the spark plug hole you can tell when its approaching Top Dead Centre (TDC) on compression stroke.

I'll let others continue on the distributor, but think about advancing static timing to before TDC - around 4mm clockwise on the crankshaft pulley is about right. I have a TF as well and because of limited accessibility make up a 4mm wide pointer by flattening the end of a 2ft piece of thickish wire and putting the end on the pulley so as to get your new 'mark' You can paint it on when the radiator next comes out!

Good luck, John.
J.C Mitchell

I have the crankshaft pulley mark 4mm before TDC as you suggest. Is the setting at TDC always at the compression stroke of cylinder one? Your telling me to put my thumb over the spark plug hole as I approach TDC suggests that cylinder 1 is not always at the compression stroke when at TDC.
Ed Eastman

Ed - on any four cylinder engine cylinders 1 & 4 are at TDC at the same time. One of them will be TDC for the compression stroke and the other will be TDC for the exhaust stroke. By pressing you thumb on the spark plug hole for cylinder 1 as you approach the timing mark on the pulley, when cylinder is approaching TDC on its compression stroke, it will push you thumb off the hole. The alternative to this procedure is to remove the rocker cover and see that when the timing mark is lined up with the arrow, the rockers for the valves for cylinder 1 (valves 1 & 2) are both rocking over the valve stems (indicating that the valves are both closed). Cheers - Dave
David DuBois

You don't have to remove the rocker cover, you can see the mark on the pulley on the crankshaft. Maybe David is thinking of some car I don't know.
Denis L. Baggi

Tomorrow, after dinner, I will ask She Who Must Be Obeyed to come to the garage to turn the crank so I can do the thumb test. When cylinder 1 is TDC and in its compression stroke are the points supposed to be open or closed?
Ed Eastman

The points should just crack open at TDC compression stoke (the lightbulb you should use for static timing will light when they just open). Denis, David is talking about determining whether it is at TDC compression or exhaust stroke by examining the rocker movement. Ed, also make sure the distributor body is oriented so the external LT terminal is not directly under the tach cable. If it is, one day the tach drive/cable will slip, and you can spend a couple hours figuring out why it won't start! George
George Butz

George's comment about the LT terminal is excellent advice, I had to help a member of our group this weekend on a tour when his car died at an intersection and he couldn't get it started, While some idiot sat in his SUV and honked at us, I checked under the bonnet and the tach drive gear box was against the LT terminal. I moved it off the terminal and secured it and we got the car started and went on our way. don't know where the idiot in his SUV went - don't care. Cheers - Dave
David DuBois

I had the same or similar problem with my engine and distributer. I've linked the fix for this problem from the archives, which I got on this BBS site. It was to use a wooden rubber tipped penciling through the #1 plug hole in the head. This is something you can do your self with no helper. Remove the spark plugs and rotate the engine using the fan belt and fan blades. You can get it close by reaching across the engine and pulling the starter switch by hand. Then follow the instructions in the archives post. It worked for me. Hope this helps, John
John Hambleton

About moving tach drive gear boxes: The threaded boss on most generators is too short compared to the corresponding threaded coupler on the tach drive gear box because the coupler on the tach drive gear box is supposed to have a spacer in it. Without the spacer, the boss on the generator will not allow the coupler to lock the flange of the tach drive against the boss. I simply took a flexible grommet and slipped it into the coupler. It is now remarkably solid. Assure yourself first that the little square drive cable end will mate with the female boss drive with the spacer in place.

I also rotated my distributor as GBIII and Dave D advise just to be safe.

Dave Braun

Another fix from john twist

gblawson (gordon)- TD#27667

This thread was discussed between 18/05/2008 and 22/05/2008

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