I can not time my 327. The timing mark is beyond the timing indicator when I turn the distributor and retard the timing to about 10
degrees btdc. The engine runs rough and wants to stop.
The engine runs best when the timing mark is about 2 inches above the indicator. I had the
the vacuum line from the distributor disconnected and plugged. How can I bring the timing mark down so I can time the engine?
It could be that the balancers outer ring has spun on its hub. The one on my nova is the same way...it wont run unless the timing mark shows WAY advanced. I verified TDC with a piece of wire poked into the number 1 cylinders spark plug hole, and slowly rotated the engine with a breakover bar and a socket on the crank bolt. Not terribly accurate, but good enough to get a close ballpark figure as to what your timing is if you mark the balancer accordingly.
If this is the case, then you will need a new balancer.
375hp 78 Chevy truck
77 Chevy Nova
95 Chevy Lumina 3.4L
and building a 78 Nova
Travis touched on it... You want to find #1 TDC (Top Dead Center). Pull your plugs to make it easier to turn the engine over by hand. It may be easier with a friend helping. Put your thumb or finger into/over the #1 plug hole. As the piston comes to TDC you will feel the pressure as the compression pushes past your finger. When it stops you will be very close. To check you can trace the #1 plug wire back to the cap and the rotor should be pointing to it if you pop the cap. You can also pull the valve cover and both valves on #1 should be closed.
Unless you use a piston stop or a dial guage expect the mark to be a bit off but not an inch or two... If it's way off you then have the task of figuring out if it's the dampner (spun or wrong to begin with) or the timing cover/marker...
I have/had the same problem. The balancer on my motor shows TDC as straight up. The factory timing cover had a timing tab to line up with it welded to the cover. When I went with a chrome cover, the timing tab is actually at the 1 or 2:00 position looking at it from straight in front of the motor. This was causing all kinds of grief trying to time my motor. You can get timing tape that will stick to your balancer. Then just find TDC as described above, and put the tape on to where TDC is really TDC.
There is nothing like doing it yourself.