Home-made Mini HEI
by Fred "woodwindow" Lorio
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      Trons. They go with gas and air to make your engine work. And you need to move 'em where they need to go without letting all the smoke out of the wires! You can never have enough 'trons, but if you're handy with a lathe, have some engineering smarts and a few hours to kill, you can forget letting other folks have all the fun. Be your own Tron master! Here's Woodwindow to show you how he fabricated his own ...

Home-made mini HEI

         I've always liked the mini HEI distributor that Tom Langdon (Stovebolt Engine Company) sells on his web site but I'm much too cheap to actually buy one. Since I have access to a lathe at work, I decided to try to make one of my own.

         I started with a mini distributor from a 1980 S-10 2.8 liter engine. This is one of the few years that has the vacuum advance unit included but I later decided I could have used any year. If I had used a later one with electronic advance, I could just let the whole distributor rotate on a stock vacuum advance plate (the electronic advance is easily defeated with a jumper ).

         When I looked at my stock distributor next to the V6 HEI, there are a few obvious problems. The housing is too fat to go into the block and the shaft does not stick out far enough to reach the oil pump.

         By studying a picture of Langdon's version, I can see that he solves this by lengthening the shaft to reach the pump. Since the housing is already taller than a stock distributor, I decided I would shorten the housing until the shaft stuck out the appropriate amount. This resulted in a distributor that is almost the same height as a stocker with a small cap. These are the steps I used to make this work:

1) Disassemble the HEI distributor and cut the shaft at the pin hole for the stock gear.

2) Grind a blade on the end to drive the oil pump. I used a bench grinder and copied the size and shape of my original distributor.

3) Put the housing in a lathe and cut the entire pedestal to the diameter of your stock distributor. I clamped it on the bottom (which will be cut off) and shaved about 1/8" inch of material off all the way to the top. The image to the right shows how much was cut from the S-10 distributor and the drive gear that was removed (click to see enlarged image).

4) Put the modified shaft into the shaved-down housing and hold it next to your stock distributor. When the oil pump drives are lined up, you will know where to cut your housing to match the stocker. I used a hack saw to take off about 1 3/4 inches.

5) Drive the bronze bushing out of the piece you cut off and drive it into the bottom of your newly shortened housing . Massage as necessary for a good fit.

6) Remove your stock gear and install it on the new distributor with the thrust washer. To do this, you will have to make a bushing for your gear because the new distributor shaft is slightly smaller. I used a scrap of 1/2" copper tubing driven into the gear and a drill and file to make it fit the shaft.

7) I used my original clamp-on type hold down with the vacuum advance removed. I drilled a new hole where it used to attach to the advance bracket to bolt my distributor to the block. I put an O-ring under the clamp before installing to keep oil from leaking around the housing.

         The finished product is even closer in size and shape to a stocker than Tom Langdon's version and I have the satisfaction of knowing that I built it myself.

Fred Lorio
1953 Chevy 3100 1/2-Ton
Bolter # 6753
New Orleans, Louisiana

       Be sure to check out our extensive Forums discussions -- from General Truck talk, Electrical Bay, Big Bolts, Panels and Burbs, Engine and Driveline, Paint and Body, Interiors, Tool Chest -- The Stovebolt Collective can help in your quest and walk you through the mire and magic of working with old iron. ~~ Editor.  

v. February 2007

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