Date registered: Mar 2007
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1. Get the cam timing right. There will be timing marks on the crank pulley and on the cam. As I recall (and it is more than 15 years since I did this), there is a notch on the cam thrust face that aligns with a line on the number one cam bearing. You really should get a manual. It is easy to set the timing if you have the information.
2. Adjust the valves! Did your machine shop adjust the valves after putting the head together? Some do, some don't. If the valves are too tight, you won't have compression.
3. Set the engine to TDC on the number one cylinder compression stroke. You can do this by looking at the cam -- when the number one intake and exhaust lobes are AWAY from the lifters and the crank pulley is lined up at TDC you are in the right spot. Now take the distributor cap off and look at the distributor. There is a tiny little scribe line across the thin surface of the distributor that the cap sits on. The rotor should be pointing right at it. If it isn't, turn the distributor until it is. (I don't recall how the distributor is driven on these engines, and if setting up the distributor in the right place can or should be done when you are setting up the timing chain... a manual will help! Nonetheless, you can still get the car running fine by doing what I am saying.) Put the cap back on. Make sure that the number one plug wire is in the position in the cap that matches the scribe line position. Make sure the rest of the plug wires follow the right firing order -- 153624 as I recall, and in the right direction.
4. Still have points? Make sure they are properly installed and gapped.
5. If your fuel system is good, and you have decent plugs in the car, you should start.
As to your question about the cam being "off..." I think it would start if you were off by one tooth either way, maybe even more. I never ran that experiment, and neither should you!
Good luck, let me know if I can be any more help.