How to Install a Ford 460 Distributer

by Floyd Drake III
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The Ford 460-cubic-inch, V-8 engine, produced from 1968 until 1996, was essentially a 429 engine with a longer stroke. A member of the Ford 385 engine family, the 460 survived emission standard improvements and became one of the longest-running production big-block engines. Ford 460 distributor installation is a straight-forward process and requires certain steps to be accomplished in order. The removal of the previous distributor determines the difficulty of installation, especially if the engine was turned over after removal. Having the old distributor cap in place with the spark plug wires attached also aids the Ford 460 distributor installation.

Step 1

Install the new distributor shaft into the Ford 460 if it was not turned over after the previous distributor was removed. This may require some jiggling to get the gears to mesh, which allows the distributor shaft to be completely installed. If the engine was turned over after removal of the old distributor, the No. 1 piston must be brought to top-dead center (TDC), while the piston is on its compression stroke.

Step 2

Remove the No. 1 spark plug, using a socket wrench and a spark plug socket. The No. 1 spark plug is the forward-most plug on the engine's left side when looking at it from the front. Insert the spark plug back into the spark plug wire. Place a socket wrench with the appropriate-size socket on the lower crankshaft belt pulley bolt. The pulley is located at the front of the engine below the fan; it is the lowest pulley.

Step 3

Bring the No. 1 cylinder piston to TDC by manually turning the engine with the socket wrench on the pulley. Place a finger over the No. 1 spark plug hole. You will feel the pressure as the No. 1 piston reaches TDC. Check the timing mark on the harmonic balancer located immediately in front of the lower pulley. Clean with a rag, if necessary, to view the timing mark and the timing pointer directly above it. The pointer and the timing mark should be in general alignment.

Step 4

Reinstall No. 1 spark plug and place the rotor in the center of the new distributor. Insert the distributor shaft into the vehicle according to Step 1. Do not tighten the distributor hold-down bolt located at the bottom of the distributor shaft. Place the old distributor cap on the distributor with the spark plug wires intact.

Step 5

Mark the location of the No. 1 spark plug wire on the new distributor housing, using chalk. Remove the cap to check if the rotor is pointing to the No. 1 spark plug. If it is not, the distributor needs to be removed and the engine cranked until the number one cylinder is at TDC. Reinstall the distributor. The rotor should now be pointing toward the No. 1 spark plug wires.

Step 6

Replace the old cap with a new one, connecting the spark plug wires to their appropriate locations. The Ford 460 rotor turns counterclockwise. Be sure to install the center coil wire and any vacuum lines to the new distributor.

Step 7

Adjust the timing, using a timing light. Do not tighten the distributor hold-down bolt until the timing is adjusted.

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