Yes...Make 100% sure you got spark....pull a plug and observe...then I would start with the timing...Explain your procedure for dropping in the distributor please opcorn:91- 4.0, turns over fine, there is fuel in the rail. Pretty sure its getting spark . Any ideas?
Bingo..Your probably not even in the ballpark of it timed right..You need to remove the #number 1 spark [furthest forward]plug and put you thumb over the hole while your dad cranks the key..when your thumb blows off from compression stroke that is when the # 1 cylinder should be firing on the distributor,you will also notice the notch on the harmonic balancer is in the timing scale for "0" or TDC at that moment.Then align the oil pump so when the distributor drops down on the gears the rotor is in the vicinity of number one on the cap....you might have to adjust one gear tooth or so + or - if you run out of room to rotate the dis. to set time with your light.Your distributor could be 180 degrees out of time, firing on the exhaust stroke instead of the compression stroke. Real easy to do and will cause it to act like it wants to run but not. You can bring number one back up to TDC, pull the dizzy and reinstall at 180 degrees.
That's not the best way to check for spark, check them one at time with a decent ground or with an inline tester.I'm pretty sure its timed right, but I'm verify.the issue doesn't seem to be that its firing on exhaust stroke, more that its just not firing on all cylinders. With all the plugs layed up on the head and someone turning the key not all of the plugs spark.
negative, when it does crank it sounds good for the second its live, but the ignition is almost certainly my problem. i'm not seeing constant or strong sparkHow tight are the rocker arms?...Is it possible some are adjusted too tight and holding the valve open leaking compression?..does the engine show any signs of life popping or belching when you crank?