CHECK DISTRIBUTOR DEPTH This is a good time to check theinstalled height of the distributor. Install the distributor without agasket. You may need to use a long flat-blade screwdriver to positionthe distributor drive rod so the distributor will go all the way in.With the cap and rotor off of the distributor, you will see a smallsemi-oval-shaped part. This is attached to the distributor shaft. Theother pieces are free to move around the shaft, changing the ignitionadvance.
With the distributor clamped down with no gasket, the semi-ovalpart must have some vertical slack or movement. Any amount issufficient. When the gasket is installed, vertical movement willincrease. That's OK. If there is no vertical movement, the distributoris binding up in the oil pump. This may result in destroyed distributorgears or damaged distributors.
In the case of no slack, Steve Davis ofPerformance Distributors recommends the use of the Moroso distributorshim kit, PN 26150. He advises against using multiple gaskets becausethey will compress over time. For more on this, see www.performancedistributors.com/technical.htm.
CONCLUSIONS By this point, we have covered the basics of puttingtogether your first engine. You will need a book with all the torquespecs and clearances. A good one is How to Rebuild Your Small-BlockChevy from Steve Smith Autosports. You should have a torque wrench; theinexpensive beam type will do fine.
Observe as much of the machine shopwork as possible. You will learn a lot. Take your time during assembly.There is no magic here. Diligent attention to detail and cleanliness arethe secrets to engine assembly. On your next engine, you will likely gofurther in the direction of modifications to your engine. Know thebasics and then build on them, learning as you go.
This is a low-compression...
This is a low-compression "taxicab" head (i.e., low performance). ManyChevy heads have a combustion chamber that looks something like this.You want heads with a smaller combustion chamber for goodperformance.