Distributor Setup

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Posts: 32
Joined: Sat Aug 21, 2004 9:52 pm
Location: Massachusetts

Distributor Setup


Post by bonham3 » Tue Jan 10, 2006 1:42 pm

Description: Maybe a stupid question but where do i point it ???

Post by bonham3 on Oct 15, 2004, 3:25pm

Hello again

Thank's for all your help on my past head problems. Bike is back together but i may of slipped a tooth or two reinstalling the distributor. I want to check it first and see if it is O.K. and if not, then line it up correctly.
I have a mallory electronic going into a 69 STD case on a 48/50 pan. I am assuming i begin with the front cylinder piston at TDC on the compression stroke (both valves closed) is This correct? Now, there are no align marks i can see, only an arrow on the rotor. Maybe a stupid question but where do i point it ???
Appreciate any help.

Ron L. (bonham3) Massachusetts

Post by Billy on Oct 16, 2004, 8:03am

Ron, your HD service manual [you must have] covers this in detail. At least about the Timing marks. Not the Mallory of course.
Anyway, you gotta have flywheel timing marks on there. One is a vertical slot [mark] this is the advance timing mark.
The other is a DOT. that is TDC= Top Dead Center.
Anyway if you are rotating your motor in a forward rotation as it IS when running, right after your FRONT INTAKE closes start looking for your advance timing mark coming up, stop it at the center of the window & take your Timer & drop it in with that rotor arrow pointing to your electronic pick/up. That should get you close enough to start it & put a timing light on it.
And dial it in...

Post by bonham3 Ron on Oct 16, 2004, 4:33pm

Thank's Billy

I was not sure about the timing mark. Always used on (autos etc.) TDC for a start. Just to make things clear, Center the advance (not the TDC timing mark) then drop in distributor with rotor arrow pointing at (on a Mallory i guess) the two electronic eyes. (They are up under the dist. cap) Is this correct???

Post by Plain on Oct 16, 2004, 6:57pm


Things get a little more complicated with the Mallory than your old points distributor. Mallory is now owned by Mr. Gasket. Information can be obtuse to get to. Google Mr. Gasket. At Mr. Gasket, click on the Mallory icon. At that page type 556 in the SEARCH space for part number. Tech tips will get you close to where you need to get to find additional information.
This assumes that you have the Mallory Unilite Distributor for '36-'69 Harley's. There is also a spring kit for this distributor that depending on the combination of springs that you use can give you 14 different advance settings. Procedure below assumes that you have the stock advance spring as the 556 distributor is usually shipped.

1. Remove timing hole plug. Rotate engine until you are sure that the front cylinder is on the compression stroke. Slowly rotate until you see the long timing mark (stripe) in the exact center of the timing hole. For your engine this is 35 degrees before top dead center.

2. IF you are on the FRONT cylinder compression stroke, and IF you have the timing mark aligned in the center of the timing hole, then we are getting close.

3. Top off of the Mallory. Tighten the distributor clamp enough that you can move the shutter wheel to check advance without the shaft moving, but loose enough so that you can move the shaft to correct timing. You should be able to rotate the shutter wheel approximately ten degrees clockwise and it will snap back when you release it. Shows you that the advance is working.

4. Rotate the shutterwheel clockwise to the fully advanced position and hold it there. If your timing is correct, or approximately correct, the ARROW on the SHUTTER WHEEL should be aligned with the ARROW on the HOUSING. If not, rotate the housing to align the two arrows. In this position, at fully advanced, you are approximately timed for spark on the front cylinder at 35 degrees BTDC. If you cannot align the arrows, then as you realize you will have to pull the bottom section of the distributor out enough to rotate to the next tooth to get you back to within the arrow alignment range.

5. You have got to check this with a timing light. Your engine should start because it is close to correctly timed for full advance at 35 degrees BTDC and about 0 degrees in the fully retarded position. Start engine. To time correctly for the Mallory, you have to run rpm up to 2000. At 2000 rpm rotate distributor until you have the timing mark in the center of the timing hole.

If you have not done this before it is somewhat of a messy bitch. Clean the timing mark and paint white. With the engine running you are going to get an oil mist huffing out of the timing hole into your eyes and timing light. Search on old threads on this forum and you will read about a clear plastic plug and other ways that people have learned to reduce the misery, or find you a not too bright friend and convince him to look into the timing hole while you adjust the distributor. This usually only works once, so you may wish to line up a bunch of soon to be former friends.
What you really need is Mallory Form 1411 - Installation Instructions for Unilite Distributors For 1936-69 Harley Davidson Big Twin Motorcycles. I cannot find that on the web, but the tech section I mentioned above at the Mr. Gasket/Mallory site will provide other information that you may find usefull.


Post by kell on Oct 16, 2004, 7:45pm

Plain covered it very well
only one thing I would like to add.
This might get some comments to the effect that static timing is not as accurate as using a timing light, but if you want to avoid the mess you can static time it just like you would a manual advance breaker.
You just have to lock the Mallory at full advance by stuffing carboard in the little hole that opens up when you rotate it to advance position, then put the top back on. Then you can follow the static timing procedure. You can connect a taillight bulb either at the coil or at the condenser to turn on and off with the points. With the timing mark in the hole rotate the Mallory to where the bulb is just at the point on/off transition as indicated by the bulb. This method of timing is good enough, in my opinion. Later on if you get a clear timing plug you can check it more hygienically.
Another suggestion for use of a timing light that I saw on this board is to push a section of rubber hose into the timing hole until it touches the crank, which is supposed to cut out most of the misty huffing we love to hate.

Post by bonham3 Ron on Oct 16, 2004, 9:40pm

O.K. Boy this is fun:) Glad it is a nice fall day here in No. Mass. Been on it most of the day. Here is the info and what i have done so far.
Setup: Mallory unilite dist. #on module 97083, Looks like a 9 anyway:) pink advance springs. advance works fine as per test from info on here.
tested module, O.K. per test found at mallory site.
12v @ neg. side of coil with key on, 1.6 v with eye blocked. All wiring O.K. pos. neg. grnd etc. use a single green dynacoil circa 1999, 30k, 3.0 ohm. Tests @ 3.3 ohms. using brand new harley plugs with preset gap and
accel 8.8 mm silicone plus, graphite, rfi supression wires. lined up vertical mark on flywheel smack in the middle of hole, i have a 69 STD case on this 48/50 61" it has 3 punch marks on it one at top of line-bottom-
and in the center, has the letter R on one side of line and a T on the other side. is this the correct timing mark? checked front piston it was at top of travel, checked lifters, both bottomed out, valves closed.
dropped in dist. with rotor arrow pointing directly at arrow mark on dist. housing. Now is that correct as per mallory site instructions or should i hold advance mechanism and then install ??? Confused now...
This is just the beginning i guess. Just got the heads back on and everything else done. used james firering.
hope all is well. will find out once i can start this thing. lifters were triple checked for adjustment. might as well right after all that kicking:)

Post by Plain on Oct 16, 2004, 10:11pm


You are getting me confused now. Houston. I think we have a problem.
I don't know what flywheels you have in your motor, but some have more than one mark. Typically, if you see a mark and there is an "R" beside it then that is the timing mark for the REAR cylinder. You can time off the rear cylinder, but not unless the rear cylinder is on the compression stroke. Do you see a mark on the flywheel with F beside it? That would be the timing mark for the FRONT cylinder. If you have a rear cylinder timing mark in the inspection hole and are trying to time off the front cylinder then this is rapidly going to go to hell.
Either get the rear cylinder on the compression stroke and the timing mark with the R in the inspection hole, or get the front cylinder on the compression stroke and the timing mark with the F in the inspection hole.

Just so things don't get really confused, rotate the wheel and find ALL timing marks.

When you have the timing mark and cylinder coordinated, and are sure you are correct - install the Mallory without holding the advance. Try to install it so that when the housing bottoms the shutterwheel arrow is near the case arrow. Then advance the shutter wheel to full advance and line up the arrow on the shutterwheel with the arrow in the case. Case will only rotate so far to allow the case arrow to line up with the shutterwheel arrow. If you cannot, lift the distributor and rotate one tooth in the direction needed. Repeat above procedure until you can get both of the arrows to line up with the shutterwheel rotated to full advance. Then ease the shutterwheel back to the retarded position without moving the shaft/casing. Tighten down the casing clamp to secure the distributor from moving.


mike white
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2012 3:44 pm
Bikes: 1962 flh

Re: Distributor Setup


Post by mike white » Tue Oct 15, 2013 3:50 pm

mornin guys. hey i`ve got 62 pan. with mallory distributor installed correctly which direction should mallory logo on dist. cap be pointing, to the left or to front of bike? thanks, mike

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