This was a big can of worms. I have a 62 Spitfire with a Herald engine. I noticed that tha vacuum advance unit was hitting against the generator. When I pulled the distributor, there was a hole in the vacuum unit. I JB Welded it and now it's fine. Upon further investigation, I found the base plate was not moving. Apparently the PO stripped the hold down screw for the points and installed a sheet metal screw that was too long, an not allowing the baseplate to move. I found another base plate and the problem has been solved. Looking down at the distributor drive gear, I noticed it was 90' off according to th Haynes manual, but the manual has 2 different pictures of the drive gear on pages 47 and 73. When I instal the distributor the rotor points to #2 cylinder. Any help would be appreciated.
The easiest way to fix your problem is to set the crank to 0 degrees on the front pulley and confirm that both valves are closed on #1 cylinder. Now, turn the distributor to where ever it is clear of anything that will foul on the vacuum advance unit even if you have to move the distributor a few degrees to set timing. Now, remove the distributor cap and move the distributor so that the points are just starting to open on the closest cam lobe. (keep in mind that the cam and rotor rotate counter clockwise)
At that point the rotor is pointing at one of the pegs in the cap. You now need to plug #1 wire into that cap position. Then follow the rotation of the rotor (counter clockwise as viewed from above) and plug all the other plug wires into the cap in the firing order. (1342) If the plug wires are too short in some positions you may have to switch plug wires around. But be sure to follow the firing order of 1-3-4-2 in a counter clockwise order.
Now you need to set the ignition timing as per your specs. Your done!
It is not necessary to set the offset gear like the books say as long as you do what I outlined above. The only time I found it important was on some of the MG's that had a distributor cap that had the wires exit the side rather then straight out the top. In this case it was necessary to put longer wires on because the cap was not pointed where the factory designed to to go. But on a cap that the wires point straight up out of the cap it doesn't matter.
let me know,