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HEI swap problems
#1365244 Wed Jun 17 2020 12:39 PM
Joined: Jan 2014
Posts: 33
O
Wrench Fetcher
My grandpa swapped out the straight six in his 1949 3800 for a 283 out of a 1959 brookwood. I had a shortblock rebuild done on the 283 when I did the restoration a couple years ago. I ran it with the original type distributor for a year but then wanted to drop in an HEI after the old style went out on me. I found a smaller diameter HEI with external coil that I dropped in and it worked beautifully for about a week then the magnetic pickup on the distributor went out. So, I figured it was a faulty part and got a replacement. Dropped it in and again it ran beautifully for about a week and has now gone out as well. I believe that there has to be some sort of problem with how I wired in the HEI or the new coil to cause the magnetic pickup to keep going out. The problem I have is I don't know what I don't know. The distributor had three wires coming out of it, one each for the positive and negative side of the coil and then a ground wire. I wired the ground wire to a spot on the firewall right above the distributor. Then there are two other wires that go to the positive side of the coil, one coming straight from the battery and one from the ignition coil. That is all. You would think with a simple wiring setup like that I couldn't mess it up but I must have. Please help me.

Re: HEI swap problems
old49joe #1365260 Wed Jun 17 2020 02:31 PM
Joined: Feb 2004
Posts: 20,857
H
Boltergeist
What brand of distributor are you using? If it's one of the ones being sold on Ebay, it's made in Asia somewhere, and they're notorious for the electronics failing quickly. Why not use the original equipment GM electronic ignition with the coil in the distributor cap? It's a close fit to the firewall, but it will usually work with little, if any reshaping of the sheet metal near the cap. Does your small-cap distributor have a vacuum advance? I'm not aware of one that is made for a small block V8 that doesn't require an electronic timing control computer.
Jerry


The murder victim was drowned in a bathtub full of Rice Krispies and milk.
The coroner blamed the crime on a cereal killer!

Cringe and wail in fear, Eloi- - - - -we Morlocks are on the hunt!
Re: HEI swap problems
old49joe #1365318 Wed Jun 17 2020 07:58 PM
Joined: Sep 2011
Posts: 733
B
Shop Shark
You shouldn't have to run a ground wire, distributor grounds to engine. I assume this rig is running on 12 volts?
If it was converted to 12 volts earlier there should be a resistor or resistor wire running to the point distributor. If you don't have full 12 volts to HEI distributor it will kill the module.


BC
1960 Chevy C10 driver 235 T5 3.73 dana 44
1949 GMC 250 project in waiting
1960 C60 pasture art
G.M dealer tech since 1980 & counting
Re: HEI swap problems
old49joe #1365319 Wed Jun 17 2020 08:09 PM
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 8,924
Grease Monkey, Moderator General Truck Talk & Greasy Spoon
Third wire may be for a Tachometer.🛠


Martin
'62 Chevy C-10 Stepside Shortbed (Restomod in progress)
'47 Chevy 3100 5 Window (long term project)
‘65 Chevy Biscayne 4dr 230 I-6 one owner (I’m #2)
‘39 Dodge Businessmans Coupe
USAF 1965-69 Weather Observation Tech (got paid to look at the clouds)


"I fought the law and the law won" now I are a retired one!
Support those brave men/women who stand the "Thin Blue Line"! Hug a cop!

Re: HEI swap problems
old49joe #1365332 Wed Jun 17 2020 09:49 PM
Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 3,608
E
Shop Shark
Yes, spare terminal on HEI distr. is for tach, use large wire for feed.

Ed


'37 GMC T-18 w/ DD 4-53T, RTO-610, 6231 aux., '95 GMC running gear, full disc brakes, power steering, 22.5 wheels and tires.
'47 GMC 1 ton w/ 302, NP-540, 4wd, full width Blazer front axle.
'54 GMC 630 w/ 503 gasser, 5 speed, ex fire truck, shortened WB 4', install 8' bed.
'55 GMC 370 w/270, 420 4 speed, grain, dump bed truck from ND. Works OK.
Re: HEI swap problems
old49joe #1365428 Thu Jun 18 2020 03:30 PM
Joined: Jan 2014
Posts: 33
O
Wrench Fetcher
The distributor is a Speedmaster brand. I went with the small footprint distributor because the normal one with the coil in the cap didn’t fit. Apparently when my grandpa swapped the engine he set it back a little further and already had to hammer out the firewall and it would take some cutting to get any more room. The system has been converted to 12 volt and I took the resistor out of the line that goes to the coil when I put in the first HEI. Also, the distributor does not have a vacuum advance.

The link to the distributor I’m trying to use.
https://speedmaster79.com/Chevy-SBC-350-BBC-454-Race-Pro-Billet-Aluminum-Ready-To-Run-Clip-on-Cap

Re: HEI swap problems
old49joe #1365439 Thu Jun 18 2020 04:17 PM
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 8,924
Grease Monkey, Moderator General Truck Talk & Greasy Spoon
Just to satisfy my curiosity did it come with wiring instructions?🛠


Martin
'62 Chevy C-10 Stepside Shortbed (Restomod in progress)
'47 Chevy 3100 5 Window (long term project)
‘65 Chevy Biscayne 4dr 230 I-6 one owner (I’m #2)
‘39 Dodge Businessmans Coupe
USAF 1965-69 Weather Observation Tech (got paid to look at the clouds)


"I fought the law and the law won" now I are a retired one!
Support those brave men/women who stand the "Thin Blue Line"! Hug a cop!

Re: HEI swap problems
old49joe #1365441 Thu Jun 18 2020 04:29 PM
Joined: Feb 2004
Posts: 20,857
H
Boltergeist
You're using a racing distributor with proprietary electronics in a street application. Like the woman who had the ugly baby- - - -"You grew it- - - -now you'd better learn to love it!" The lack of a vacuum advance is costing you 2-3 MPG of fuel economy on the street. Either swap to a more appropriate distributor or resign yourself to breaking down at unexpected and possibly dangerous moments.
Jerry


The murder victim was drowned in a bathtub full of Rice Krispies and milk.
The coroner blamed the crime on a cereal killer!

Cringe and wail in fear, Eloi- - - - -we Morlocks are on the hunt!
Re: HEI swap problems
old49joe #1365443 Thu Jun 18 2020 04:40 PM
Joined: Feb 2001
Posts: 1,340
T
Shop Shark
From what little info is provided on the website you linked, looks like that distributor needs an MSD box to work properly. If you look at the rest of the products they have listed, looks to me maybe you need part # PCE376.1079.01 I would suggest you make a phone call and find out what you need.

Last edited by Tommy; Thu Jun 18 2020 04:42 PM.

Tommy
59 apache 1/2t
261 short stepside
Re: HEI swap problems
Justhorsenround #1365454 Thu Jun 18 2020 05:43 PM
Joined: Jan 2014
Posts: 33
O
Wrench Fetcher
The first one did not come with wiring instructions in the box but had a PDF on the site with tinstructions.

https://www.lategreatchevy.com/assets/pdf/lategreat/563932.pdf

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