HEI Install Question

I have just installed a rebuilt 350 into my 79 Chevy and can not get it to run. I have had the distibutor in and out a dozen or more times following the #1 cylinder at TDC and the rotor pointing to #1. I can
get it to fire a little bit by turning the distributor all the way counter clockwise and pumping the throttle but the timing marks are way off the scale. If by chance I am still 180 degrees off how do I fix it? The cam is not stock, has open headers and a rebuilt quadrajet. The distributor is brand new aftermarket.
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The obvious question is are you certain the cam is timed properly?
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In article

How are you determining top dead center?
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aarcuda69062 wrote:

Once put a rebuilt HEI distributer into a Pontiac only to have same issues. Turns out the control modual went bad. In the end, the tack. wire was left off as it was causing a short. The car didn't have a tack so it didn't matter to me. I suspect the distributer may have been the wrong one, right part number on the box, but the wrong distributer. It happens all the time when dealing with big-box auto stores.
If there is a speed shop in your area, they may have the test bench for distributors, pay the few bucks to have it tested. Or, take it back to the store and have it exchanged.
The other item is checking the cam shift and gears are installed correctly. Shear the web or get a GM service manual (try e-bay) to check.
Post back when you get it running.
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Thanks for the advice aarcuda, I will install the stock distributor to see what happens and this time I will put something in the plug hole to make sure the piston is at the top rather than using the timing scale. By the way, I used to run a 68 Formula-S 340/4 speed back in the day. It was the quickest car I've ever owned. Thanks again,
George brxsep wrote:

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I have my thumb over the plug hole on #1 while someone bumbs it over until my thumb gets blown off the hole,than I turn the motor manually and line up the balancer with the tdc mark on the timing scale. I install the distributor with the rotor lined up with the #1 post on the cap which also points towards #1 cylinder.
aarcuda69062 wrote:

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Lift the distributor up until you can turn the rotor. Point it exactly opposite #1, set the dist back down and try again.
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Just thoughts, as there are a million different variables when everything is new/rebuilt/scrounged up:
1. Are we using a timing light while cranking to see where it is supposedly timed, versus just twisting the dizzy around and praying (this will also visually eliminate a no-spark problem)? Be certain the damper is correct for the timing tab location (there is more than one clock pattern). We timed off #1 while it was on the compression stroke (valves both closed)?
2. Any *major* vacuum leaks (the vacuum boost port is plugged or connected to a vacuum booster?) I once screwed the booster pipe into a dummy port on a flange adapter instead of the carb, then spent 40 minutes scratching the old head.
3. Is the fuel system doing its job: not pouring in and flooding, not starving?
4. Is there need to check compression to help assure the engine is built correctly (ie, improper cam timing, a huge cam in an 8:1 motor, etc)

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