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Pertronix or HEI...?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by GREASER815, Feb 9, 2012.

  1. gmanrides
    Joined: Apr 5, 2009
    Posts: 42

    gmanrides
    Member
    from TN

    I bought the Ebay HEI $129 and so far no issues. Fires right up, does not look as good but works well.
     

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  2. JVK54
    Joined: Jul 19, 2010
    Posts: 479

    JVK54
    Member

    Funny, some friends and i were just talking about this at work yesterday. I'm converting my 50 235 to 12v and was gonna go with Pertronix. But I got talked out of it mainly because the word I got was that id the voltage drops below 12 for any reason apparently it won't start , I also have about 12 sets of points lying around, and figured I could use the $150 somewhere else in the build. So for now I'm going with a Delco 1 wire alternator and stock 12v coil. That IS subject to change though.
     
  3. Hadley
    Joined: Jun 23, 2011
    Posts: 22

    Hadley
    Member
    from Indy

  4. waldo53
    Joined: Jan 26, 2010
    Posts: 863

    waldo53
    Member
    from ID

    I've been running one of Tom Langdon's (stoveboltengineco.com) mini HEI's with external coil. Going on 6 years now with zero issues. No one has ever spotted that it's not stock.
     

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  5. First the Disclaimer - I work for PerTronix.

    We have sold over 3.5 million of the units with a failure/warranty rate of less than 1%. And many of those were traced back to voltage or ground problems. They will still fire as low as about 5.5 volts without an issue on a 12 volt system. They do make their best energy with a full 12 volts as does Every Ignition.
    if you are truly worried about a failure, carry the points and condenser in the glove box and if you are one of the rare failures, in 10 minutes you are back up and running - can't do that with an HEI or that Chinese thing from Skip White
     
  6. cooger
    Joined: Nov 5, 2008
    Posts: 233

    cooger
    Member

    Everybody has an opinion-like a/holes-everybody has one.
    On my 327 & 350 I've tried the HEI, Pertronix conversion and MSD.
    All performed o.k. w/out a failure--but the MSD distributor sure seems the better of the three. Easy spring changeout if you want to change the advance plus their tech. help.
    cooger
     
  7. Most of the recurring failures I've seen with HEI come from installation problems. You need a LOT of current available to keep them happy, also a GOOD ground path from coil body to block.

    I use a relay to provide power to the HEI. 12ga. wire direct from battery (starter post, etc) to the relay and then direct to BAT terminal on HEI. Use the stock ignition lead to turn on the relay (be sure to remove ballast resistor or resistor wire). The HEI coil has a ground strap that runs to the 3 wire plug on the cap. Make SURE this wire has a good ground path. Stock path is through the housing and dist. hold down clamp. If everything is painted real pretty, you may blow coils or modules out.
     
  8. bigalturk1
    Joined: Sep 23, 2010
    Posts: 367

    bigalturk1
    Member

    I installed a Pertronix in my "No hood" coupe about 4 months ago, seems to run better than the Point Dist, I had. My friend did the same but didn't measure or shim anything and he had problems. I gues it's the "Prep" that makes the difference. I would have run the HEI but I didn't want that big dist cap in plain view, takes away from "The Look".
    Can't deceide? take the scientific approach.....Flip a coin!
     
  9. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 30,054

    Mr48chev
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    A guy could carry a spare module and other spares for pieces such as a pickup coil for any electronic ignition setup. That would save the worry of parts failure on the road.

    My main criteria for anything that I put on my vehicles that I intend to drive on long (500+ miles) trips is that the part needs to be replaceable on the road with easily obtainable parts. With the inlaws living in Central Texas and Jean and I living in Washington state a vacation trip to see her family and hit a few Texas events could be ruined if I have to wait for the brown truck to take a red label box to somewhere in between.
    I think a lot of the guys are like me in that if something like an ignition part fails on the road they want to be able to buy a replacement piece at the nearest auto parts store and get on the road again rather than wait until someone can ship them the part to get them on the road again. It isn't necessarily that one setup is that much "better" than the other but the concept of being able to easily fix it and be on the road again with minimum down time.
     
  10. SantaAnaSpeed
    Joined: Jan 20, 2012
    Posts: 29

    SantaAnaSpeed
    Member
    from Santa Ana

    Hey Greaser, looks like you're getting a Pertronix unit! Give me a call, I'll get you a sweet deal!

    Sel
    Santa Ana Speed Center
    714-835-6424
     
  11. smittythejunkman
    Joined: Nov 14, 2008
    Posts: 86

    smittythejunkman
    Member

    we have several pertronix units over 20 years in service we still use daily. I know of a couple of tractors that are 25 years plus and still work good .our shop sold and installed many units over the years. most will run for thousands of hours with no problems
    but if you get a bad voltage spike or leave the key on they will fail
    they are good stuff but i still carry a spare if im traveling
    Hei ignition is also good even if you buy a cheap Chinese unit you can install good american parts and have a bullet proof ignition.
    I would go with an hei if you can live with the look or a pertronix if you want to hide it
    both are very good
     
  12. junkyardjeff
    Joined: Jul 23, 2005
    Posts: 8,070

    junkyardjeff
    Member

    I am going to have GMC Bubba build a distributor for my 235.
     
  13. Road Runner
    Joined: Feb 7, 2007
    Posts: 1,257

    Road Runner
    Member

    Pertronix Ignitor I (without module) is all you need and as reliable as it gets.
    I have an Ignitor I and Pertronix flamethrower coil on both my daily drivers for 13 years with zero problems.

    The 235 doesn't need a module like HEI or Ignitor II have, because of the lower rpm than the later 230/250/270 2nd generation chevy 6, which higher rpm the modules are designed for.

    The Ignitor uses the same Hall Effect (magnetic) sensor like HEI does, but without a module.
    No module - no failure.


    Modules have an electronic circuit that optimizes spark energy and duration at higher rpm, the 235 never gets to.
    These electronic parts are sensitive to heat and RFI/EMI and are the weak point in those type of ignitions.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2012
  14. GMC BUBBA
    Joined: Jun 15, 2006
    Posts: 3,385

    GMC BUBBA
    Member

    I have been watching this thread with some interest as to what the groups answer would be and have recieved a call or two on the subject as well.
    After 41 replies i decided to wade on in the discussion.
    Heres some verbage on the subject with "Bubba Vision" thrown in:

    I think that everything you do to your car should be based on actual need. This dont mean that over the years i havent strayed from the thought myself , its just the way it should be .:D

    Ex: Did ya know that a painted valve cover will seal and run just as fast as a chrome one ??

    Ignition requirements for a given engine is typically handled very well from the factory. The factory knows what the requirements are (lets say 5-8,000 volts) and they add some reserve to allow wear and mileage to occur before maintance is needed (20,000 volts typical) giving us a 12,000 volt reserve etc. Very few manufactures fail to get this right.
    So lets look at this post. A 235 early chevrolet engine (typically 6 volts) would allow the engine when new to rev to the maximum rpm and drive from coast to coast without any trouble at all. So that part is fine UNTIL wear and extreme mileage comes in to the story. The distributor becomes choked down with grease and oil, the contacts become burnt and the system no longer works as designed. Even poor quality aftermarket parts comes into play here.
    ALL parts today are considered aftermarket as each is a rebox from somewhere else. Delco is a good example here as they no longer make any parts and purchase from other vendors.
    So now we have a "NEED" the system no longer works well, and the fix can come from lots of areas.

    1= Service the unit you have . There is no better distributor than the old cast iron Delco unit, the weights and all parts are made from the best metals ever made. A dip in the hot tank, some polish time on the brass wheel and the installation of new quality contacts (better than the old factory ones), a spin on the test machine for final adjustments and you have the best of all worlds! ( At a fraction of the cost of a new unit)

    2=Upgrade to a electronic system. The fear of adjusting contacts have created a market here and there are many offerings available , all of which will work very well. The word "need" is a little weak here but lets decided you need to do this. A conversion to 12 volts, a different carb or two and maybe a slpit exhaust decides the need so lets do it ! The electronics brings some lower levels of maintance and the contacts are gone. However it also may bring into play some problems ( as noted by many in the posts above) . Some thought needs to be used and a matched system needs to be installed. Pointed out above was the problems with the incorrect ignition coil, bad grounds , voltage spikes etc. Properly done the addition of electronics to the ignition systems raises the reserve voltage allowing the owner to travel more miles before any maintance as well.

    3=New electronic high energy distributor. Once again giant marketing programs pull us into this area of ignitions each bragging of high rpms, better spark control and super ignition spark out put. Some interesting discussion here for sure . Many of these new high energy systems are very poorly set up and do very little more than stock systems, however lets assume they do what the adds say. Did you really need this type of ignition ???
    If a stock 235 chevrolet idled at 5,000 volts and a HEI ignition is installed the ignition will still "need" 5,000 volts! Ignition needs are determined by compression ratios, air fuel mixtures and engine load (vacuum) , if non of these change the need is the same.
    A note here on wide plug gaps, plug gap should remain with the engine design if the factory gap was .025, and nothing changed in the design etc than the gap should be .025.

    Now lets create the need by changing the camshaft, valves , compression ratios, gear ratio ( loads) etc then we may find the actual need for one of these high energy systems.

    So what are your needs????:eek::)
     
  15. Bakchoy
    Joined: Apr 4, 2009
    Posts: 64

    Bakchoy
    Member
    from georgia

    I just bought a Pertronix Igniter III and coil for my Y block. best price I found was on Amazon with free shipping.
     
  16. CutawayAl
    Joined: Aug 3, 2009
    Posts: 2,144

    CutawayAl
    Member
    from MI

    The problem with using a stock HEI is that they only came on engines with EGR. Because of that, their advance curve is wrong, and they have WAY too much total mechanical advance, for the non-EGR engines people sometimes use them on. At least some aftermarket HEIs have a "normal" advance curve. If you want to a stock HEI on a non-EGR engine, kits are available for stock HEIs to recurve and limit advance.

    Stock HEIs fall off pretty bad at higher RPMs. No problem on a stock engine, but possibly an issue on a modified one. The HEI can be upgraded using free standing modules and/or coils, and there are also aftermarket replacement modules and coils that work better at higher RPMs.
     
  17. CutawayAl
    Joined: Aug 3, 2009
    Posts: 2,144

    CutawayAl
    Member
    from MI

    There are cases where, so long as the ignition system can support it, improved performance can result from increasing plug gap. When the switch was made to higher output ignitions and wider plug gaps, those changes were made to engines that previously had smaller plug gaps. There is no designed-in ideal plug gap. Ideal gap can vary quite a bit depending on variables like combustion chamber design, fuel atomization, or type of spark plug used.
     
  18. Uptown83
    Joined: Apr 23, 2007
    Posts: 722

    Uptown83
    Member

    Petronixs here.
     
  19. The HEI is not a Hall effect distributor.

    HEI:
    [​IMG]

    Hall effect distributor (Ford)
    [​IMG]
     
  20. 327Eric
    Joined: May 9, 2008
    Posts: 1,565

    327Eric
    Member
    from Diablo Ca.

    I put an e bay distributor in my stude. Within 6 months both the advance pins broke off. when i took it apart, the drift pin hole in the bottom was double drilled. Absolute Junk.
     
  21. Road Runner
    Joined: Feb 7, 2007
    Posts: 1,257

    Road Runner
    Member

     
  22. Road Runner
    Joined: Feb 7, 2007
    Posts: 1,257

    Road Runner
    Member

    To me that would be magnets and a reliable sensor without electronics or mechanical parts that can fail or wear out. Doesn't get any simpler than that for low rpm engines.



    I believe, if engineers of the early days had reliable and cheap magnetic sensor technology as we do have today, they would have used it for ignitions, no doubt.

    Imagine presenting the GM engineers of the Chevy 235 with the Pertronix Ignitor I that can be installed inside the existing Delco distributors easier and faster than the points system.
    They probably would have bought out the Pertronix company on the spot and maybe added the short circuit protection like the later Ignitor II has. :D;)
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2012
  23. CutawayAl
    Joined: Aug 3, 2009
    Posts: 2,144

    CutawayAl
    Member
    from MI

    For the pick-up to fire the ignition there has to be electronics. Just like a Mallory Unilite, the Pertronix component you install to the the breaker plate is a module. It's just a small one. HEIs have small "modules" too.



    Both the HEI and Pertronix unit use a magnetic pick-up. Although they are configured differently, they are just variations of the same operating principal.
     
  24. Road Runner
    Joined: Feb 7, 2007
    Posts: 1,257

    Road Runner
    Member

    Sure, its just a lot simpler and much more reliable than the sensitive add on modules, controlling the spark energy and duration and other neat features required for higher rpm engines, other than the 235 of the OP.
     
  25. GassersGarage
    Joined: Jul 1, 2007
    Posts: 4,727

    GassersGarage
    Member

    All my cars have run Pertronix for years, no problem. Those HEI's are hideous.
     
  26. junkyardjeff
    Joined: Jul 23, 2005
    Posts: 8,070

    junkyardjeff
    Member

    The main reason I am changing over to electronic ignitions is the quality of todays gas,I read somewhere that its blended more for vehicles with EFI instead of carbed and I am having doubts that a point system will fire hot enough to burn all the gas. With gas costing as much as it does I want all I put in a motor burnt and not wasted,I also read the reason the OEMs went to electronic was the points would not burn a lean mixture the EPA was forcing them to produce so here came the electronic ignition. I know our motors are not smogged like what came out of the factories but with a electronic igniton we can tune for a little better gas mileage and still run decent.
     
  27.  
  28. Road Runner
    Joined: Feb 7, 2007
    Posts: 1,257

    Road Runner
    Member

    Why don't you just explain the HEI to the lot of us as well, so we all can learn and understand how it actually works?
    The lot of us, including me, enjoy learning over anything else on this site.

    If magnets and a hall-effect sensor is not part of the HEI, how does it really work ?
    And what would you suggest to the OP he should use and why?
     
  29. 52HardTop
    Joined: Jun 21, 2007
    Posts: 958

    52HardTop
    Member

    Just read the post from Bubba and it was a good read. I do have to admit I'm no tech savvy type of guy. Just an everyday electrician who has a couple of 50s Chevys. One with the 350 200 4R combo and my 52 with the 235 and S-10 HEI. My 54 motor is a rebuild with a 60 over bore, mild cam two one barrels and assorted upgrades. It doesn't see the high RPMs that it did when all original. I have a T-5 tranny and 373s in the rear now. I fought with the original ignition and hard starting when I first got her. After going to a Mallory dual point, and having even more trouble, I decided to go with the electronic ignition. My decision to go with the HEI in no way came from my expertise in the field. It was actually easy for me to just ask Tom Langdon some questions and trust his opinion. So far for me it was just about the best move I've made for my 52. It runs great. Starts easily. The plugs burn perfectly. Heck, it could have even been a Pertronics for me if things had gone another way. Anyway, for me, a guy who couldn't explain how it does what it does, I'm just happy that it does!! No doubt be it Pertronics or HEI I have to think it will be a good upgrade with satisfactory results.
    Dom
     
  30. GMC BUBBA
    Joined: Jun 15, 2006
    Posts: 3,385

    GMC BUBBA
    Member

    Well you did ask ?

    The GM HEI is not a hall effect system ! The HEI control module uses a magnetic pickup to trigger a module circuit base on signal voltage. When the a/c signal reaches a preset voltage and polarity( most HEI's trigger voltage is .250 mv ) the module turns on and allows build up of the ignition coil.
    The advantage to the magnetic pickup systems is that the faster the engine turns the stronger voltage the pickup puts out.
    The disadvantage is that at slow speed the signal is weak.

    A hall effect uses a smitt trigger and uses a magnetic field to switch the circuit. On the Ford ( for one) the distributor has a window shielding the magnetic field with slots or windows to allow the magnetic field to switch the circuit timed with the slots. Others use a plastic wheel with metal bars timed in the wheel to trigger the hall trigger as well ( pertronixs etc)
    The advantage to the hall systems is that low rpm doesnt have any effect on the trigger. On the other hand the hall units are rated by rpm and may not trigger above a set rpm range..

    Always glad to help and like the others have stated its very important that our facts be correct on these web sites. Questions ???
     

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