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j_ramsey, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Ford
Satisfied Customers: 972
Experience:  ASE certified engine repair a/c steering suspension automatic trans
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1988 Ford e-150: van..distributor to replace the tfi module..timing

Customer Question

1988 Ford e-150 van, 351 v-8, want to remove distributor to replace the tfi module. Can the distributor just go back in any ol' way or do I have to worry about timing? Is this an easy thing to do for someone who isn't a mechanic? What is on the end of the distributor drive shaft? Is it a gear or does the shaft fit into a slot down there somewhere? Tell me anything I should know about doing this repair. Thanks
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Ford
Expert:  j_ramsey replied 9 years ago.
I wouldn't recommend removing the distributor if you're not familiar with setting ignition timing with a timing light.The distributor has to go back in with the rotor electrode pointing in the exact direction as it came out,the distributor will have a gear on the end and a hexagon shaped hole in the end.You have to align the rotor and get the hexagon shaped oil pump drive shaft to go into the bottom of the distributor at the same time.
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Reply to j_ramsey's Post: I don't think this tech is that familiar with this year of Ford. The distributor just about has to come out. The manual says timing is set by the ecm and position of distributor is irrelevant. I'm not sure, but I need to hear from someone who has actually done this procedure...old timers.
Expert:  j_ramsey replied 9 years ago.
okay ,I have done more than I can count .You just go ahead and put that distributor in any old way. Good luck.
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
But if you've replaced tfi modules on these you'd know that the distributor has to come out at least a little ways to get to the small bolts holding the tfi module on the distributor. There's just not enough room. I've taken conventional distributors ( points ) and put them in correctly and timed the vehicle. But I've never worked on a EEC-IV system. Chilton says remove the distributor--you say don't. Here's what Chilton says about timing:

No distributor calibration is required and initial timing adjustment is normally not required. The primary function of the EEC-IV Universal Distributor system is to direct high secondary voltage to the spark plugs.

So, I would pull the distributor stright out and not turn the engine over, of course, and put it back however the end fits back in there. BotXXXXX XXXXXne: If the engine isn't turned over, the didtributor is going right back in the same position, keeping the rotor pointed the same place. How many TFI modules have you replaced?