Do it the right way
This is something that really helps when you are setting your timing. I didn't really think it was necessary to do this accurately. I figured I could just do the old 'put your thumb over the #1 spark plug hole' and I would be fine. Sure you can get your car running that way, but lets be honest, it isn't right.
So I asked someone who knew much more than I did and asked how I could do this easily so I wouldn't mess up and turn my 5.0 motor into a paper weight. The first thing I was told was to get a TDC tool.. You can get one of these from SummitRacing for about $7. You can get these at any tool store as well (Sears, Autozone, PepBoys, etc.)
Follow the 3 easy steps
Since I have a '95 roller motor and '69 parts on the front of it, I don't have a timing marker. This posed no problem. Before you are ready to find TDC you must remove the #1 plug and insert the TDC tool. Once in place you are ready to go. Also, disconnect the battery. If you turn the motor over with the TDC tool in place you will cause horrible damage.
Follow the 3 easy steps:
1. use a breaker bar to turn the motor clock wise. Do this gently until the #1 piston hits the TDC tool. When the motor stops mark the timing cover where the 0 (zero) mark on your balancer is. I used a pointed sticker to mark mine.
2. Now turn the motor the other way until it again stops. Be gentle. When you stop, again mark the timing cover where the zero is.
3. Now you have two marks on your timing cover. Insert a mark right in the middle of the two marks you already have. That mark is TDC "TOP DEAD CENTER".