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Technical Ford FE Duraspark with GM HEI Controller Help Needed

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by gwingard, Jun 11, 2024.

  1. gwingard
    Joined: Nov 18, 2009
    Posts: 4

    gwingard
    Member

    I've come across a number of articles describing the use of a GM HEI module with a Ford Duraspark distributor on line and thought it was going to be great solution to all my problems.

    I'm running a stroked 390 FE motor in my 1964 Mercury Marauder that was converted to a breaker-less set-up back in the 80's. The 360 FE motor the distributor was harvested from came from a 1975 Ford a pick-up truck so I always assumed it was a Duraspark unit. The problem is that the ignition control module bears no resemblance to the Duraspark box and I have no idea where it came from. There are no numbers on the module that I can cross reference. The distributor is a Motorcraft unit but internally it doesn't look like a Duraspark either. It has 2 wires connecting to the sending unit and I'm guessing that perhaps the previous owner bought an oddball breakerless setup from a vendor like J.C. Whitney back in the day. My ignition control module works fine but it's been running super hot and has been leaking lots of a tar like substance, hence my desire to replace it. I've wired up a brand new GM HEI module as per the instructions I've found to but have had no success with it triggering a spark. FYI, I'm attempting to use the stock canister style coil that I'm been running with the mystery ignition control module for years.

    I'm getting pretty frustrated at this point and guess that the spark trigger mechanism isn't providing the type of signal the GM HEI box needs to see. Throwing a lot of money at a new setup isn't really in the big picture at the moment so any help would be greatly appreciated.

    I'm attaching photos of the inside and outside of the distributor and a shot of the mystery box with the hopes that someone may be able to enlighten me as to why this setup isn't working.

    Any assistance be greatly appreciated.

    Geoffrey Wingard

    FE breakerless distributor.JPG Motocraft Distributor.JPG Mystery ICM Box.JPG
     
  2. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 56,443

    squirrel
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    prestolite, but the ones you can find to replace it have only 4 pins on the connector, plus a separate pin

    like SMP LX401

    look up 1975 Jeep applications
     
    Algoma56 likes this.
  3. Deuces and Paulz like this.
  4. That's not a Ford Duraspark distributor. The stamped number D2TE visible on the housing identifies that as a '72 truck unit which would have had points. Just what you have is a mystery; starting in the early '70s, everyone and his brother was selling 'electronic ignition' conversions, most of which soon disappeared off the market. That isn't one I've seen before. Hopefully it hasn't been cobbled together from assorted bits.

    If it is a converted '72 unit, your cheapest fix would be to reinstall points which will necessitate some rewiring and maybe adding a ballast resistor if one isn't there. My second low-cost choice would be a Pertronix under-cap module, eliminating the exterior box. Again, some rewiring would probably be needed.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2024
  5. gwingard
    Joined: Nov 18, 2009
    Posts: 4

    gwingard
    Member

    Thanks for decoding the date my distributor and I think you're spot on with the assessment of the components being from the aftermarket back in the day. I'm leaning heavily towards doing the Pertronix conversion at this stage of the game but I believe that the original mounting plate for the points and condenser was scrapped when the system was "updated". I'll contact Pertronix to see if they a conversion that includes the mounting plate.

    The thing that drives me crazy is wondering what type of signal the rotating trigger produces and why it won't trigger the GM module that other folks seem to do routinely. I also tried using a module that was very similar in form factor from a mid 70's International Scout. Couldn't get that one to fire either.
     
  6. I know its ugly and sacrilege but i threw one of the seventy dollar chinese ebay HEI Style distributors in an FE truck i built that had none of the duraspark wiring left on it. Been trouble free for 60k Miles and twelve years. Just ran a keyhot wire to trigger a relay feeding twelve volts to the unit.
     
  7. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 56,443

    squirrel
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    maybe it's a hall effect sensor?

    you can buy a rebuilt point distributor for a bit over a hundred bucks, and you can probably find a used one a lot cheaper if you look around...that would eliminate all the mysterious electronic crap and you could drive again
     
  8. One nice thing about those style Ford distributors is most of the guts is the same. The housing/main shaft/drive gear changed for the various motors, but the points plate and mechanical advance bits generally didn't other than how they were 'curved' so most any Ford V8 distributor can be a donor. You can even convert them to the Duraspark hall-effect sensor with a donor unit.
     
  9. gwingard
    Joined: Nov 18, 2009
    Posts: 4

    gwingard
    Member

    I've also been tempted to do the HEI style distributor conversion. Problem is they're all so darn tall and I have concerns about clearance with my stock cooling expansion tank and air cleaner.
     
  10. blue 49
    Joined: Dec 24, 2006
    Posts: 1,873

    blue 49
    Member
    from Iowa

    I'm very happy with my Ford TFI module triggered by my points distributer, if you want electronic. It should come up if you do a search for it on here.

    Gary
     
    winr likes this.
  11. @Mimilan , any advice for this rodder?
     
  12. Heavy Old Steel
    Joined: Feb 1, 2019
    Posts: 103

    Heavy Old Steel
    Member

    Probably that pickup in the distributor is made to work with that “mystery box” or as mentioned a type of Hall effect sensor which is basically a switch, you need a proper reluctor and pickup unit that triggers the GM module wired as below with no “mystery box”
    upload_2024-6-11_19-38-7.jpeg
     
    winr likes this.
  13. End of story for me....
     
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  14. deathrowdave
    Joined: May 27, 2014
    Posts: 3,652

    deathrowdave
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from NKy


    2nd inline , I can’t do it .
     
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  15. Heavy Old Steel
    Joined: Feb 1, 2019
    Posts: 103

    Heavy Old Steel
    Member

    Going to require some work but, If you are able to do the mods in your distributor to get these 2 parts installed in there and set up the timing and air gap at .007-.008 it will work

    upload_2024-6-11_20-16-51.jpeg
    upload_2024-6-11_20-17-16.jpeg
     
  16. gwingard
    Joined: Nov 18, 2009
    Posts: 4

    gwingard
    Member

    Your diagram is precisely how I had the GM unit wired so it would seem that the triggering mech in my distributor produces a different type of pulse.
     
  17. Heavy Old Steel
    Joined: Feb 1, 2019
    Posts: 103

    Heavy Old Steel
    Member

    Correct
    A reluctor will create a voltage that triggers the GM module
     
  18. chicken
    Joined: Aug 15, 2004
    Posts: 456

    chicken
    Member
    from Kansas

    The Duraspark reluctor and pickup coil produce an AC voltage signal that can be measured on a meter if you spin the distributor by hand. I usually see 1-3 volts AC. The HEI pickup does the same. Your distributor likely uses a switching mechanism as stated above...Hall Effect or Photo sensor and won't work well with the HEI module. Easiest way is to get a Duraspark distributor for a mid '70's FE engine and use it with your module. I'm running that setup on my small block Ford and using a stock can-type coil. Works perfectly.
     

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