How to Install a Chevy 454 Distributor

by Robert Bayly
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The Chevrolet 454-cubic-inch V-8 engine is in the same engine family as the 396 and 427 engines. The unique "canted" valve arrangement gave the engine the nickname "Porcupine." The 454 could be found in 1970s Camaros, Corvettes and Chevelles. The 454 continued to be used in trucks through the early 1990s. Complete replacement engines are still available today

Step 1

Remove the No.1 spark plug with a ratchet and socket. The No.1 spark plug is the first one from the front of the engine on the driver's side.

Step 2

Find the timing marker on the timing cover below the water pump. Turn the engine by placing a ratchet and socket on the large bolt in the center of the crankshaft. Turn the engine in a clockwise direction until the timing groove in the harmonic balancer lines up with the "0" on the timing marker. Stick a plastic straw into the number one spark plug hole. You should immediately feel the top of the piston. If not, turn the engine another full turn to the "0" again. You should now be able to feel the top of the piston. This orients the engine at "top dead center."

Step 3

Find the spark plug wire on the distributor with a number "1" molded into the top of the cap. Hold the distributor over the distributor hole in the engine block and note the general position of the distributor with the number one terminal on the cap pointed towards the number one spark plug.

Step 4

Remove the distributor cap from the distributor. Hold the distributor over the distributor hole in the rear of the block and lower it into the hole with the rotor pointing towards the number one spark plug, and the distributor body positioned as determined in the previous step. As you lower the distributor into the engine block the distributor drive gear will engage the drive gears on the camshaft and the distributor. If the distributor engages the gear but will not fully seat into the block, gears are not meshing. Lift the distributor up a little and turn the rotor slightly to the right and try again. It may take two or three tries to get the distributor to seat.

Step 5

Install the distributor hold down clamp and bolt. Do not tighten down the bolt all the way yet. Look at the position of the rotor as you lower the distributor cap onto the distributor and turn the distributor body as necessary to cause the number one terminal on the cap to line up with the rotor.

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