I thought about that more after the idea originally came to me. I figured the important part was the relationship of the rotor to the cap/distributor body, rather than the rotor to any particular position to the engine block.
I hooked up the new VDV & set the timing back to around 7 BTDC. Still dies. I figure SOMETHING has to be wrong with the advance on this distributor.
I reached out to Cardone, the (re)manufacturer. If you saw the first e-mail I received in reply, you'd understand why I have no faith in them at all. So, I went to the local Federated and that guy would have sold me the same part. Meaning, I believe I have the correct part and that there isn't some strange set-up needed. The Federated guy recommended two things: put #1
at TDC and make the distributor look like the picture in the service manual; and check for continuity in the wires coming out of the stator if you wiggle the wires. Well, for laughs, I've got the engine set at #1
TDC and may take the distributor out and put it back in - just to say I tried it. As for continuity, I couldn't get a signal out of the plug at all (while there are two wires going from the stator to the plug, the plug has three prongs - I tried various combinations of the three).
I changed a bunch of stuff then ran the heck out of it last year (ME, NH, PA). Only after traveling all year and putting it away did I take out the distributor - This was the one change I made since it ran okay.
Let's say I re-set the distributor in the block (like the service manual shows) and, like I expect, there will be no change: Does anyone have something else to try before I just throw another distributor at it?