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1952 V-8 distributor install

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  • 1952 V-8 distributor install

    I have a question for you more-knowledgeable types. I am rebuilding the 232 v-8, put the distributor in, with the number 1 piston at UDC, and the rotor was about 90 degrees off. So, I removed the distributor, and the piece below that that actually meshes with the camshaft gear (its name I do not recall at the moment and do not have the manual handy to give it its proper name) rotated it a few teeth, and re-installed it. Now I am only 1/8th of a turn off. The vacuum line from the carb keeps the distrubutor from being rotated far enough to absorb this. Am I doing the right thing here? Another tooth or so should bring the rotor around to the right position. Is there another way to set the distributor correctly after installation? Seems like this is the hard way, although it isn't that difficult. The distributor, oil filter hoses and radiator hoses are the only things that still need attention before I can try starting this engine.

  • #2
    When installed correctly, the rotor is supposed to be in line with the engine and pointing forward. That aside, it doesn't really matter that much where the rotor is pointing as long as you can rotate the distributor assembly enough so that the number 1 terminal is lined up with the rotor. Heck, you can have the rotor pointing any direction you want as long as you use the terminal on the distributor cap that's lined up with the rotor for #1 cylinder. The problem with doing a sloppy job like this is the next poor sucker (or you years from now after you've forgotten what you did) that tries to work on it is really going to be confused when none of the spark plug wires are connected to the cylinder they're supposed to be. In short, if the distrubutor has a limited range of movement, just rotate the rotor whereever needed to make it line up with #1 terminal on the distributor cap. Just make sure the crank is still on UDC and use a timing light after you get it running.

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    • #3
      Hey Tony;
      I take it you've had cam out in the rebuild process, so I'll try to answer. Some our fellow forumites may have more in depth details,but I have to keep things simple I ain't as smart as some folk here.
      It isn't so much which way the rotor is pointing, but being sure the slot in the oil pump allows the distributor to drop in so the bottom of the dist. housing fits flush. I've taken a junk dist. remove the shaft and put in a drill to oil prime the system. Then use the shaft manually to move the slot in the oil pump so the rotor is pointin toward #1. You'll more than likely start 2or3 teeth back to get the dist. in the oil pump slot
      to allow the dist. shaft to drop in. it's somtimes a bit time consuming as Stude dist. don't always want to drop in the right hole and ya have to hold your mouth just right. Be sure to prime, drill will run freely for 10 to 15 seconds then come under load. keep goin til oil comes out the rocker shaft and parts have a good amount of oil on them. When you're satis fied with oil priming. and dist. is in, run your fireing order clock wise with the plug wires. Leave the vacum tube off til ya get dist. set. The "vac" line is usually in a one loop coil and that should give enough flexibilty to allow to set timing after start-up.
      I don't mean to assume you don't know anything, cause you've built the engine to this point, so I'll respectfully remind ya of the run in to break in cam, lifters and so on and also retorque head when cold and tricky, fun part is adjusting the valves hot.
      I hope this helps and thanks for letting me share,
      Kim

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      • #4
        Let me throw in another couple of bits on information. On my engine, the dist. shaft ends just past the bottom of the dist. housing. The distrubutor sits in another piece with a shaft going through it that contains the gear that meshes with the camshaft gear and the oil pump shaft. I know some distributors have a long shaft that engages the oil pump shaft, but there is another piece to this one, a 'middle piece' if you will , that engages the pump shaft at the bottom, and the camshaft gear, and the distributor shaft at the top. It's the 'middle' piece that seems to need proper alignment to get the distributor rotor to face forward. I'm trying to get it set up to the same location that the vacumm line tells me it was in when I removed it.

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        • #5
          Tony, the style of distributor you have was used in '51 & '52 - after that, the shaft to drive the oil pump was pinned to the bottom of the distibutor drive gear. Of course, this makes it alot easier as far as getting said shaft aligned to properly engage the drive slot on the base of your distributor as opposed to fishing that attached shaft into the drive slot of the oil pump as is the case on '53 and later distributors.
          As John says, what matters is that you have the rotor pointing fairly close to whatever terminal you have #1 wire installed in - not so much that it's clocked properly to the engine block. The block doesn't care WHERE the rotor's pointing so long as it delivers the spark to the proper wire when it's supposed to. Really, the only thing you HAVE to worry about is whether or not you have enough adjustment swing available to set the timing with a timing light once you get it running again.


          Miscreant adrift in
          the BerStuda Triangle!!

          1957 Transtar 1/2ton
          1960 Larkvertible V8
          1958 Provincial wagon
          1953 Commander coupe

          No deceptive flags to prove I'm patriotic - no biblical BS to impress - just ME and Studebakers - as it should be.

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