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Technical Is there a reliable non-HEI SBC distributor?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by rockable, May 25, 2019.

  1. C. Sheffrey
    Joined: Aug 9, 2018
    Posts: 3

    C. Sheffrey

    MSD pro billet (with vacuum advance)with MSD coil and plug wires. Had mine 40k miles and 18 years now, zero issues. Replaced the cap last year just because I also take out of town trips. Make sure the positive supply wire is at least 14 gauge.
  2. Blues4U
    Joined: Oct 1, 2015
    Posts: 6,089

    from So Cal

    Oh gee, another points vs electronic ignition thread! Maybe we should have another thread about zinc in motor oil!
  3. B.A.KING
    Joined: Apr 6, 2005
    Posts: 3,857


    Ok, I'm a little out of touch here, I've Heard the term "small cap HEI" .First can i get a pic of this,2nd what did this come in.
  4. This is what mine looks like.
  5. Dan Timberlake
    Joined: Apr 28, 2010
    Posts: 1,350

    Dan Timberlake


    I generally figure a lock up torque converter or vac advance are good for 2-3 mpg on a 15-25 mpg car.

    What is your experience?

    Seems like the effect of several degrees additional ignition advance from the full throttle setting MUST be improving just-driving-around part-throttle response too, but that is pretty hard to qualify or quantify.
  6. To start with a points distributer for an SBC is the easiest thing in the world to come up with.

    That said I run Mallory Unilite ands have since no one knew what hey are. They are not as easy to find these days but they work well.

    Points distributors can be had easy enough. They can still be had new from about any catalog speed shop.

    here are 10 to choose from on a quick search points distributors&N=4294944559
  7. i've been running dual points in my model a for twenty years (first an accel, then i found a vintage mallory dual coil at a swap) they always worked great for me.
  8. Even though I’m a big believer in Pertronix AND the matching coil, I have nothing against points. The problem is as I see it, is where do you source good, quality parts. The points in my 1950 3100 have been in there since I was in high school and I graduated in 1992. About 5 years ago, I did a tune up on Dad’s 1959 International Cub LoBoy mowing tractor with Car Quest points and condenser. I figured CQ would be good stuff, it was expensive, but that’s not the point(no pun intended). It ran for about 3 weeks and started running shitty. New 6volt Pertronix and matching coil, still runs great and always starts.

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    Blues4U and firstinsteele like this.
  9. Blues4U
    Joined: Oct 1, 2015
    Posts: 6,089

    from So Cal

    A couple of guys have posted that the most reliable ignition system is an old GM single points distributor. And the OP stated about Pertronix distributors "
    I'm sorry, but this is bullshit. I don't have data available, but if a study was performed I have no doubt in my mind that on a miles driven basis a Pertronix ignition trigger system is far more reliable than a points triggered system. Some of you guys have a romanticized perception of points ignitions and conveniently forget about all the troubles you've had to deal with over the years and the miles. I wonder if @hotroddon has any numbers he could share on this.
    Truckdoctor Andy likes this.
  10. rockable
    Joined: Dec 21, 2009
    Posts: 3,604


    If anyone wants to buy a low hour Mallory Unilite, I have one. Make me a reasonable offer.
    6-bangertim likes this.
  11. I completely agree. Sometimes time has a way of erasing bad memories. The only engines on our farm that still have points are the 3100 mentioned above and 4 tractors with magnetos. Between farm equipment, trucks, cars, and motorcycles, we have 17 engines that were originally equipped with points. Everything but the above 5 have Pertronix. Let’s just say that I’m a big believer.

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    Blues4U, jim snow and firstinsteele like this.
  12. B.A.KING
    Joined: Apr 6, 2005
    Posts: 3,857


    Thanks for the pic
  13. F&J
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 13,222


    pgan just broke down on Memorial day in highway traffic, had to be flatbedded home. Module failed. Just stirring the pot for the street rodders here :)

    Disclaimer: Run what you want but don't try making us that successfully use old ways, to look like ignorant assholes, OK?.... Look in the mirror instead.
  14. Rich S.
    Joined: Jul 22, 2016
    Posts: 296

    Rich S.

    Install a resister wire instead. My 72 Chev truck has one.

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
  15. Blues4U
    Joined: Oct 1, 2015
    Posts: 6,089

    from So Cal

    Sorry, not implying anyone is an ignorant asshole, just trying to clarify a point on "reliability". I ran point ignition systems for decades, I grew up with cars that used them, & had them up to just a couple of years ago when I traded off my last car that had them. One of my current cars as a Pertronix module in an old distributor, the other has HEI, they both came to me that way. If I had acquired them with points ignitions they'd probably still have them. I don't have a boner for electronic ignitions, I'm just not romanticizing ignition points; having lived with them for many years, on cars and on bikes, I've had my share of dealing with them, I'm well aware of car life with points. Just like electronic ignition, they work fine, until they don't. Both types of systems will fail, but on a miles driven basis electronic ignitions are more reliable. I believe that to be fact.

    You can say you just like points, or you prefer points because it's your preference; and that's fine, I wouldn't bat an eye at that. You could even say this is a forum dedicated to the use and preservation of vintage hot rod technology, and that includes ignition points, and that's fine too. No comments from me on that. Just don't try to tell me they're more reliable, cause they aren't. That's all.
    Roothawg and Truckdoctor Andy like this.
  16. 6-bangertim
    Joined: Oct 3, 2011
    Posts: 403

    from California

    My history... and a few lessons -

    Since I was a lil' fart, I watched my dad do his own work to save a buck. He was religous about lube-oil-filter every 1,000-1,500 miles, tune-ups every 10,000. ALWAYS used Delco-Remy parts, NEVER had a failure. As a broke-ass ute, my first tune-up was with a el cheapo bubble-pack kit that they always had hanging on the gondola at Pep Boys. My truck ran good for a couple weeks, then turned to crap. Sooo went to NAPA for another 6v coil. No change, so I figured the coil was defective. Tried a second NAPA coil, still no change. After asking around, an old guy suggested replacing the CONDENSER. I did, put the old one back in, truck ran bitchin! THAT taught me to follow in Dad's footsteaps, use DELCO parts, AND a bad consenser can act the same as a bad coil!

    I bought a new S-10 back in 1982, replaced the ignition module FIVE times over 19 years, 215k. Oringinal lasted 60k, but NOT one aftermarket replasment lasted as long as the factory Delco unit. Last one I used was a Niehoff, clamed a '5-year warrenty'. No idea if it went the distance, as I sold the truck a year later...

    1984 - I was eyeballs-deep into late-model stock car racing. Long before there was MSD, we ran a Mallory Unilite, with a Hyfire box sucessfully for 7+ seasons, with only one issue at the track. The trigger wheel came loose, wiped-out the light. Lucky it happeded during hot laps, early enough to bonzi to Stupid Shops for another light to save our night of racing. A couple drops of Loctite on the screws, never happened again. I've seen more MSD systems on stock cars than any other brand - the bucks-up guys usually mount a back-up system in the car the driver can activate (if the rules allow). BUT, I've herd too many stories of guys coming home on the hook with MSD street systems. Without carring a spare box or modual, one could spend a unplanned night or two in Podunk while Summit or Jeg's sends out what you need overnight! Ya, MSD is good - but very overrated! In another race car, I would go with the Unilite / Hyfire combo in a heartbeat!

    POINTS work good - IF you have a stock of NOS points and condensers - or know where to get GOOD replacements. Blue Streak maybe? I dunno... Jeeze, I haven't used a dwellmeter in decades, but God Bless the GENUS who gave us the window in the cap for the Allen wrench!

    I LOVE the HEI - so easy to troubleshoot, wider plug gaps helps with mileage and performance. Just use a Delco modual from the Chevy store, carry a spare on road trips. AND, any Podunk big enough for a parts store will have a replacement if you forget!

    PERTRONIX - I'm running one the PO installed on my 283 Fulie car, just went through the dance with new ignitor, Blaster coil. I would love to send the distubutor to GMC Bubba for his HEI converson, but not about to gamble with a $1,500 unit getting lost in the mail! Sooo, I will buy and install a NEW ignitor, carry the old one as a spare, along with a good coil - before the next road trip. THAT is what I would advise the OP - install NEW parts before a trip, carry the old ones with you - cheap, easy to replace anywhere!

    Just my thoughts after 44 years of wrenchin'... -Tim
    Last edited: May 31, 2019
  17. xhotrodder
    Joined: Jul 2, 2009
    Posts: 1,623


    Bubba's in Indy may have one. I think he is on here.
  18. Mike Colemire
    Joined: May 18, 2013
    Posts: 1,394

    Mike Colemire

    Never had a bad MSD box. I used 6's on the street, all my drag cars had the 7 in them. One was in 4 drag cars. I bought a brand new 7AL off a friend real cheap, put it in my last dragster and used the old one for a spare. A friend of mine bought the brand new 10 that came out at the time. It was constantly going bad and he'd borrow my spare so he bought a new one so he'd have a spare. Over the winter he sent one bad one in to be rebuilt, first of the season his dragster wouldn't start, switched boxes, still wouldn't start, stuck mine in there, fired right up. I heard that somewhere along the line that all the boxes are made in Mexico. I know I've heard of a lot of 6 boxes going bad in the last few years. Can't leave a good thing alone.
  19. cabriolethiboy
    Joined: Jun 16, 2002
    Posts: 878


    I worked for Delco Remy for 34 years. I run a small body HEI (like out of an 80's tuned port) with a marine module. Been running them for 25 years. Never replaced a module, but I always carry an extra.
    #399 8J15 Delco Voyager.
    Elcohaulic, Roothawg and 6-bangertim like this.
  20. sdluck
    Joined: Sep 19, 2006
    Posts: 2,809


    I thought GM Small body hei have no timing advance mech or vacuum
    Roothawg and deathrowdave like this.
  21. deathrowdave
    Joined: May 27, 2014
    Posts: 2,749

    from NKy

    Points and condenser for 32 and Harley . Easy repair on the side of the road . They have worked for unknown billions of miles , tune up every 15k miles all will be well . Why would they not work at now ? You can get a non-resistor coil or hide the resistor in the wire as Squirrel suggested .
    F&J and 427 sleeper like this.
  22. rockable
    Joined: Dec 21, 2009
    Posts: 3,604


    Well, I replaced the Ignitor II module and drove about 100 miles yesterday. We will see. I'm pretty sure the intermittent electrical supply problem I had contributed to the early death of my module.

    Just the same, I will keep a replacement on hand. Changing them is not really easy. I'm not sure I could do it with the distributor in the engine but if it died on the road I wouldn't want to be looking for one.
    6-bangertim and arkiehotrods like this.
  23. For field replacement, take a Sharpie and make a line down the distributor base and on to the intake manifold. If you remove the distributor to replace unit, just line up the marks to get the timing very close to what you originally set it at.

  24. cjsavage
    Joined: Oct 28, 2011
    Posts: 58

    from eastern nc

    Back in the late 70's, our local parts store hosted a seminar by their ignition parts supplier. The parts rep went through a very detailed presentation about the electronic ignition systems of Ford, GM, and Mopar. My main takeaway was that GM HEI systems most often failed when the rotor burned through due to a bad or loose spark plug wire ( I once fixed one with epoxy resin). Ford systems most often failed at the module ( pouring a little water on it would sometimes get you home). Mopar most often failed at the ballast resistor. My experience has made me a believer.

    Sent from my moto z3 using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    6-bangertim and Beanscoot like this.
  25. krylon32
    Joined: Jan 29, 2006
    Posts: 7,582

    Alliance Vendor
    from Nebraska

    I've had Bubba rebuild me several early points distributors for my Chevy powered rides. No failures to date. If so easy to fix along the road.
    6-bangertim likes this.
  26. dan griffin
    Joined: Dec 25, 2009
    Posts: 495

    dan griffin

    Coil output is dependent on coil input,points are only good for 3 amps max. Transistor power modules will carry 2-3 times the amperage of a set of points. The same goes for voltage regulators,that's why we have 110+ amp alternators.
  27. boogiel
    Joined: Oct 10, 2009
    Posts: 9


    the points distributors you get at the orange and green stores nowadays are crap! points plate loosens up after a few runs and the car will start misfiring badly! i found out the hard way. went through three in a short period of time. Went to summitt and bought a pertronix flame thrower more problems.
  28. 7D7A0458-0A8D-4978-B913-B2E1BEF64110.png

    Hey shouldn’t the question be is there a non reliable HEI distributor
  29. Fordors
    Joined: Sep 22, 2016
    Posts: 3,951


    3203DB38-6121-422F-ABCC-439088A901D6.jpeg My question would be this-
    Is There An Ignition That Ruins The Aesthetics Of A Hot Rod Engine More Than The Delco HEI?
    Sorry, but I just don’t care for the way they look. I prefer the cast iron Chevy Delco with an MSD 6 box and if the MSD fails on the road it is a quick fix to get running again.
    427 sleeper and 31hotrodguy like this.

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