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MG TD TF 1500 - Distributor Installation

I removed the distributor to read the name plate. Now I want to reinstall it. How do I orient it to give me a close enough angle to get it running. (Once running I will set the advance.)
With the pointer at TDC I should have the points just closing.(The gap is about .014-.015)

The trick is setting it at TDC.
I can not use the hand crank.
I don't want to remove the valve cover because I don't have a replacement gasket yet (should I need it).
Any suggestions for getting it to TDC?
And how will I know if it is TDC for #1?
I tried putting pressure on the belt and turning the fan blades but could not get the engine pulley to turn.
I thought if I jack up the rear, put it into gear I could rotate the engine by rotating a tire. I tried it but it did not turn the engine.
Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Mort TD 1851

If you remove the spark plugs, you should be able to turn the engine using the fan blades.

The rocker cover gasket is generally (!) reusable if it is relocated with care and watched as the nuts are screwed down.

Having struggled with distributor location, you can start with it anywhere and then relocate the leads to the spark plugs to give the spark to cylinder 1 with the points opening at TDC (I found that a Colortune was the best way to spot just when the spark was delivered). However there are some positions which work well, and some which don't. You need to ensure that the distributor is positioned to avoid the low tension lead from the distributor to the coil getting near to the reduction box at the end of the generator and shoreting accidentally, and in some orientations one of the clips is not easy to open/shut because it interferes with the fume pipe from the tappet chest cover.

Hopefully this helps

Ian Bowers


Jack the one rear tire off the ground and put the transmission in 4th gear. You can turn the engine almost as easily this way as you can with the handcrank.

It's important to remember that when you pull the #1 plug to check where the piston is, the piston can be at the top on both the compression and exhaust strokes. You'll want it on the compression stroke so you'll have to have someone holding their finger over the spark plug hole while someone else rotates the tire. When the person with the finger covering the spark plug hole feels the compression starting to push their finger away you'll be on the compression stroke. Try to stop the pulley notch as close as you can to the pointer and you should be close enough to put the distributor in to get it started.

Buy gaskets!!
Gene Gillam

Hi Mort,

I'm intrigued - why can't you use the starting handle?

Gene's method for turning the engine is sound, and as he says, just remove #1 plug to get compression. Alternatively if like me you're lazy, do as I do with a modern (1990 Sierra!) car and push it in gear. Down a slight slope helps, as does a willing pusher!

See Archives and very recent posts re timing! To avoid the primary reason for overheating do not time at TDC but around 1/4" forward on C/S pulley. The WSM advice on timing is 60 years old, and with modern fuel etc is just wrong. Even Morris Minors of the period were timed at around 5 degrees BTDC, and they were basically saloons for pottering!

Good luck,

J C Mitchell

Due to a PO's mismanagement of the integrity of the frame(accident)the holes no longer line up and I cannot put the crank in.

I tried that and could not budge the wheel(emergency brake off). I must be doing something wrong. I will try again tomorrow. I'm off the clock for today.
Mort TD 1851

It shouldn't be that hard to turn it...make sure you're in 4th and not a lower gear.
Gene Gillam


Just been through the same process and in 4th gear a few nudges of the car forwards or back will move the rotor arm quite a way. Once it's where you want it just put the handbrake on. I never needed to think about jacking it up, etc.

Are your wheels running free? I had one partly seize over the winter (brake cylinder) and it would run but I couldn't push it at all. Might be worth checking to see if the brakes need adjusting off a touch.

- Tom
Tom Bennett - 53TD 24232

This thread was discussed between 29/08/2011 and 30/08/2011

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