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I have had to have a helper "just tap" the starter while I'm holding downward hand pressure on the distributor so it will drop down. I did forget another important part. Before you get started with any of this, find the timing mark on the harmonic balancer and line it up at zero degrees on the timing pointer. I like to use 'White Out' liquid for my reference marks. Making certain that the distributor body and rotor are matching your marks and the timing mark is still lined up, it should be 'close enough' timing wise to start the engine. Have a helper start the engine and let it run for 5-10 seconds while watching for fuel leaks. Refill the cooling system, and keep filling as the engine runs. The coolant level will drop as it pushes air out of the engine, hoses, heater, ect. Once it is at operating temp, and you can see the water flowing in the radiator, you can now put the radiator cap on and watch for any possible leaks.
Then.......Connect your timing light and set the timing at the proper value. You will need to adjust the air/fuel mixture after all of the above is done. No leaks, everything tight, No leaks, No leaks, ect!
First, turn both A/F mix screws counter-clockwise about a full turn.
With the engine idling, you'll see A/F adjusting screws at the bottom of the carb. Very carefully, turn the first screw in about an 1/8 of a turn, incrementally, until the idle speed just begins to drop, then back out the screw about 1/8 of a turn. Do the exact same procedure on the second A/F screw. That will be your best lean idle. I cannot stress the importance of rechecking everything. Safety is always first! If you need any help, or if I left something out, feel free to reply.
Good luck to you and will be a great learning experience.