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I'm reviving this thread to ask what should be a simple question: When installing the distributor, can I use one of the marks on the balancer to crank the engine to the right spot? Is this TDC?

Theoretically, it should be, but to be 100% accurate, you should measure at the piston and mark the balancer to match true TDC. There is always the possibility of a slipped balancer.
On a freshly built engine, with a new balancer, is that likely?

No it's not likely, if you're real concerned have someone turn the engine by hand and see if "0" lines up when the comes to the top. I would think it should be good to go.:yes:
So, stick something in the spark plug hole that's piston friendly, make sure that when the line on the balancer lines up with zero, that #1 is at the top of its stroke?

Paul Wright said:
To find true TDC and/or verify your balancer is indexed correctly, you insert a piston stop into #1 plug hole. You can buy these or make one. Put your degree wheel on the crank along with a pointer. You can make this from a coat hanger wire with a sharpened end. Bend one end into a 3/8" ID circle and bolt to an accessory hole.

Rotate the engine by hand until contacting the stop. Zero the wheel to the pointer. Now rotate the engine to the opposite direction until it stops. Note the degrees. TDC is half way between these two marks. Example: 10 / 2 = 5
Remove the piston stop.
Rotate the engine to the half way position. Adjust the degree wheel to zero. Repeat process to verify zero is half way between the stops.

I would recommend everyone who builds an engine, ALWAYs verify TDC when they assemble it. You may find your balancer or your shiny new chrome pointer aren't exactly right. This can cause problems when you think you are setting timing to 38 degrees and it's really 40 degrees.
 
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