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351 Cleveland Distributor O-Ring Replacement

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Torino Pete View Drop Down
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    Posted: 11-June-2023 at 4:26AM
I’m having a slight oil leak around the distributor shaft on my ‘76 Cleveland motor. I purchased an OEM replacement o-ring but have never pulled a distributor shaft before. I’ve heard two different versions of how to do this but am not sure which is correct. I’d like to know before I try and tackle this. Both versions include marking the shaft and manifold with a reference point so it’s oriented correctly during reinstallation. One version was to simply remove the shaft after marking, replace the o-ring and reinstall. The second version referenced having the number one cylinder at top dead center before removal. Any insight would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
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72 RS 351 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 72 RS 351 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-June-2023 at 4:47AM
You should always set the timing when the distributor is loosened and moved. That's the easy part with a timing light.

R&R the distributor isn't about the timing, that's a mandatory last step you must do no matter what. The tough part is installing it and engaging the proper teeth of both the cam gear, and the oil pump drive shaft.

Try to remove the distributor carefully, slowly without twisting the housing or the shaft(don't hold anything still, let it come out as it wants to). Lift it straight up gently. Note where the rotor is pointing just as it is fully up and out, it needs to go in exactly at the same location/orientation.

Putting it back is the tricky part, luck helps. If nothing moved from when it's put back in, the teeth and splines will slip back into both matching sets. Most often though the cam gear teeth or the oil pump drive shaft(six sided), don't quite line up, and the distributor doesn't slip right back in. Insert it slowly, carefully, and feel the contact with the teeth and pump shaft. Basically the trick is to gently turn the distributor shaft each way as it contacts the teeth and pump shaft below. If you do it just right, they will engage and it turns right down in. Try not to use much force while pushing the housing or shaft down into the gears or pump shaft end.

If you don't have good fortune, the shaft will have to be rotated a lot to get it to engage with the two parts below. If that happens, usually you have to start from scratch, set TDC of the crank, and the rotor to the #1 cap location, and jiggle the shaft while installing it(more roughly than the careful other method).

If it goes down in with the two other parts(cam and pump drive) off by one or more teeth, the timing will then be off by a lot(25* or more). So go very carefully the first time removing it and putting it back in. Marking it just helps to know where the housing began, but that is not to maintain the timing setting(that is not accurate enough, a timing light is needed).
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Eliteman76 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Eliteman76 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-June-2023 at 11:46AM
I've usually just pulled the distributor after I degrease things, and mark with a dykem paint marker. I mark the base of the distributor and the reference mark near the opening for the distributor. 

Secondly, I always mark the distributor where the rotor contact point is centered. 

I have a habit of just carefully clocking and iff off by a tooth, rotate the distributor by a tooth, drop in and see if everything aligns.

It's a good practice to do as Don says about using a timing light and checking the timing.  
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