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5.0L (1979-1995) Mustang Technical discussions on 5.0 Liter Mustangs within. This does not include the 5.0 from the 2011 Mustang GT. That information is in the 2005-1011 section.

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Old 05-21-2007, 10:12 PM   #1
PRO50SC
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Default How To: Properly stab your distributor.

With the coming of the new car season, many of us 5.0 stang lovers are finishing up our projects. Sadly the most common error when completing a head/cam/intake upgrade, is the incorrect installation of the distributor. I have seen many people say "My car is running like crap after H/C/I, I think my timing is off...."

Here is how you will PROPERLY install your distributor so that you get the correct stab every time... no more "I think I'm one tooth off!"

Start by removing the #1 spark plug. (thats the one closest to the front of the motor on the passenger side.)
Find 0° on your balancer and mark it. In the following picture you will see three blue lines and a black area on my balancer. The black area is ATDC, otherwise reffered to as retarded timing. Each blue mark, starting at 0° are in 10° increments.

Place your finger over the #1 spark plug hole, then turn the motor over (clockwise) until you feel air push out of the spark plug hole. You have now found the compression stroke. Now, look at the balancer. Observe where the 0° mark is. If the mark has passed the end of the timing indicator, DO NOT TURN THE MOTOR COUNTERCLOCKWISE. This will infact create slack in the timing chain and will cause you to set your timing incorrectly. Turn the motor clockwise, not once, but TWICE around and bring the 0° mark up to the end of the timing indicator. You have now set the motor at 0° TDC on cylinder #1.
Click the image to open in full size.
(disclaimer: I am holding the timing indicator because I clearly do not have the timing cover installed.... deal with it)

Now find the #1 plug wire on your distributor.
Click the image to open in full size.

Mark the distributor so that when the cap is removed, you will be able to see where the #1 wire should be. I used a black sharpie to do this.

(To avoid confusing some of you, I would like to note that I did not remove the distributor to mark the #1 location on the body of the distributor, I merely spun it around... because im lazy like that...)
Click the image to open in full size.
Click the image to open in full size.

Remove the cap and extend the marker line into the inside of the distributor.
Check the alignment of your distributor in relation to the block. Little known to most, Ford actually provides you with a 0° referance and a 10°BTDC referance point. If you look closely at the base of the distributor you will see a clear cut line in the block. there is a matching mark on the distributor base. This indicates roughly 10°BTDC. The edge of the casting to the left of this mark is 0°.

Set the mark on the distributor to the 0° location.

Click the image to open in full size.

Now look at the orientation of your rotor in the distributor itself. If the distributor is lined up with the zero mark on the block, your rotor should line up with the marker line you made, like this...

Click the image to open in full size.

Anything else is incorrect. You can fix your alignment by lifting the distributor to the point where the rotor stops turning. (the gear on the distributor shaft that mates with the camshaft is curved and will cause the rotor to turn to the left as you pull it out. Do not remove the distributor all the way, but just enough to turn the rotor in the distributor.. If your set too far towards the left, simply turn the rotor slightly to the right and press the distributor back down into the block. If it will not slide back down, do not panic... Just continue to press down on the distributor while slowly moving the rotor to correct its position. When the gears mesh, it will slide down and turn towards the right on its own.

Once you have properly aligned the rotor inside the distributor like shown above, turn the distributor so the mark at the base and the mark on the block line up. This will get you close to 10°BTDC, only a timing light will get it perfect.

If you discover your rotor is oriented as the two following pictures, please review the last two steps we covered and correct it.


This is incorrect...
Click the image to open in full size.

This is also incorrect. Please review the previous two steps and align the rotor properly.
Click the image to open in full size.


I hope this has helped give you a more visual representation of how to properly stab your distributor. If you have any questions regarding this How To, please PM me.

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Old 11-10-2008, 10:44 AM   #2
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what if the rotor is completely 180 to the #1 mark on the disty?

im stuck here...
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Old 11-10-2008, 11:24 AM   #3
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then you're 180 out on the stroke.
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Old 11-10-2008, 11:33 AM   #4
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how so? i put a piece of paper in the hole and cranked till it came out then set balancer at 0* and tried to align the rotor and it was 180 off where it should have been?

mjr said i need to rotate the oil pump shaft and not sure how to do that either
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Old 11-10-2008, 12:43 PM   #5
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putting a piece of paper in the hole wont really work. the point of putting a finger over the hole is to create a bit of compression, that way when the compression stroke comes, it actually forces your finger out. this way you know you're on the right stroke.
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Old 11-10-2008, 12:49 PM   #6
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edit: im an idiot.. fixed it, thanks.
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Last edited by 93 LX FiveO; 11-10-2008 at 01:08 PM.
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Old 10-07-2009, 04:46 PM   #7
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Okay guess im a noob or to lazy too.. I have a big A** supercharger and mouting brackets in my way so I can't really see to time it.. can I just turn the crank till number one cylinder is top dead center and then set the dissy on nymber one? Or is it trickier than that...? and i have to pull that little plug out to do this with fuel injection right??
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Old 10-07-2009, 06:08 PM   #8
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no^^^^because there is a few degrees at tdc where piston will dwell/appear to be not moving, find a way to see!!!
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Old 10-07-2009, 06:49 PM   #9
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alrighty. with the blower should I leave it at 10? or retard it. its on 6 psi..
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Old 10-07-2009, 07:21 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chickenbutt View Post
alrighty. with the blower should I leave it at 10? or retard it. its on 6 psi..
this conversation needs its own thread... stop jacking with my How-To
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Old 10-07-2009, 07:21 PM
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