Re: The BB Big Day!
To accurately pre-set the timing, yes, pull the valve cover, turn the motor while watching the # 1 intake rocker. After it closes the intake valve, you'll turn the motor another half turn until you see the timing line on your harmonic come into position under the timing tab. Set it at 8-10 degrees.
Then adjust the distributor as instructed. She'll fire right up!..and you'll look smart!
Some other thoughts:
1) Prime the carb...better yet, do you have a good working carb on another car?
2) Prime the oil pump using the oil-priming tool,..you can rent one from about anywhere...(you'll need a good strong drill for a BB,..maybe a 1/2 incher)
3) If you hit the key and nothing happens, make sure your neutral safety switch is connected and working (is this a 4-speed car or auto?)
4) Again, I disagree with setting or fixing the speed at a constant rpm. I'm of the opinion that it's better to flutuate the speed from 1500 to 2500.
5) As noted above,..this is a two-man job,..somebody on the gas pedal watching guages and somebody under the hood watching, smelling, and listening.
6) Minor ticking is acceptable,..probably a rocker that needs another half turn (after break-in), or it could be a small exhaust leak. If it grows louder or you have a pronounced knock, shut her down and investigate.
7) The obvious,..make sure your fuid levels are up,..fuel, coolant, oil,..duh.