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Posted By: old49joe HEI swap problems - Wed Jun 17 2020 12:39 PM
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.
Posted By: Hotrod Lincoln Re: HEI swap problems - Wed Jun 17 2020 02:31 PM
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
Posted By: BC59 Re: HEI swap problems - Wed Jun 17 2020 07:58 PM
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.
Posted By: Justhorsenround Re: HEI swap problems - Wed Jun 17 2020 08:09 PM
Third wire may be for a Tachometer.🛠
Posted By: EdPruss Re: HEI swap problems - Wed Jun 17 2020 09:49 PM
Yes, spare terminal on HEI distr. is for tach, use large wire for feed.

Ed
Posted By: old49joe Re: HEI swap problems - Thu Jun 18 2020 03:30 PM
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
Posted By: Justhorsenround Re: HEI swap problems - Thu Jun 18 2020 04:17 PM
Just to satisfy my curiosity did it come with wiring instructions?🛠
Posted By: Hotrod Lincoln Re: HEI swap problems - Thu Jun 18 2020 04:29 PM
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
Posted By: Tommy Re: HEI swap problems - Thu Jun 18 2020 04:40 PM
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.
Posted By: old49joe Re: HEI swap problems - Thu Jun 18 2020 05:43 PM
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
Posted By: old49joe Re: HEI swap problems - Thu Jun 18 2020 05:44 PM
It sounds like I have the wrong distributor. Clearly I do not know what I am doing in this arena. I'll take a look at PCE376.1079.01 from speedmaster. Are there any other recommendations as to a small footprint reliable setup I should go with?
Posted By: 59 fleet Re: HEI swap problems - Thu Jun 18 2020 05:51 PM
I recommend the original distributor. I have used points distributor for 60 years, have yet to have one "go out".

Mark
Posted By: Tommy Re: HEI swap problems - Thu Jun 18 2020 09:11 PM
I have a petronics unit in my factory 6cyl dist in my 59 apache, been there for 12 yrs. without any problems. A friend has one on a 327 factory dist. same time frame never a problem.

Now the haters will be along any second telling you to run away as fast as you can from it. Also throw it as far as you can, it will never work. will leave you stranded.

From my experience with it, The distributor was converted by a ignition shop, and obviously assembled properly. There has been no problems at all with it.

Would I do it again yes I would. But I would also explore the other options available that I was not aware of when I purchased it 12 yrs. ago.
Posted By: bartamos Re: HEI swap problems - Fri Jun 19 2020 12:58 AM
To be sure you have it wired correctly, you will have to describe to me how you have it wired. Don't look at instructions to tell me, look at how YOU have it wired. Exactly, specifically. Follow each wire and give it's color. The PCE376.1218, if that is what you have, is for your motor. You have the correct distributor.

1. After reading your first post, I would say you have it wired wrong. You are blowing it up. If I am reading your words correctly.
2. You say you don't know anything about what you are doing, but you know it's the magnetic pickup that is failing. Are you guessing or what?
3. Can you please re-confirm and link to whatever instructions you are using to wire it.
4. Are you using the "distributor harness" that comes with the distributor and plugs into the distributor?
5. I am ready when you are, to fix this problem ASAP.
Posted By: old49joe Re: HEI swap problems - Fri Jun 19 2020 02:41 PM
Thank you all very much for your replies and for the time you took to help me. Bartamos, to answer your questions:

1. You did read my words correctly.
2. I wasn't totally guessing, I wouldn't have know where to start. I found some troubleshooting steps online that told me how to use a multimeter to test the ignition coil and was able to conclude that the coil wasn't bad but that it was downstream in the distributor so I assumed it was the magnetic pickup.
3.I went back and compared how I had it installed to the instructions and found that I made a really stupid mistake. I tried to follow these instructions [lategreatchevy.com]. There are three wires that come out of the distributor, red, black and brown. According to the instructions I found in the PDF it said to hook the red wire up to the positive terminal on the coil, the black wire up to a good body ground and the orange (yes it said orange not brown but I assumed that the brown one was the same as the orange) to the negative terminal on the coil. The way that I have it connected is black goes to ground on the firewall but both the red and the brown go to the negative terminal on the coil (therein lies my stupid mistake). Also, I took the 12 gauge wire that was coming from the starter, going through the resistor and to the positive side of the old coil and removed the resistor and ran it to the positive side of the new coil. Finally, there is a smaller wire that runs from the ignition switch to the positive side of the coil.
4. I did use what came with the distributor
5. Thank you very much for helping me go back through this in detail. I believe that I found the issue but if you see something else I did wrong, please let me know.

Given the way that I hooked it up I can't believe that it actually ran for a little while. I'll get the replacement and wire it in correctly this time and update you all when it is done.
Posted By: bartamos Re: HEI swap problems - Fri Jun 19 2020 04:58 PM
1. Red to coil positive.
2. If orange is really brown, then brown to coil negative.
3. Black to firewall metal. (ground). Must be touching good clean metal spot on firewall. No paint.
4. Wire from ignition switch "ON" terminal to coil positive. Be sure wire is not coming from ignition switch battery terminal.

It sounds like you also have a wire from the battery to the coil positive.
Take it off. Not used.

Where did you get the replacement pick up?
Posted By: old49joe Re: HEI swap problems - Fri Jun 19 2020 05:42 PM
I don’t have a replacement pickup, I was just going to replace the entire distributor. There is a wire that comes from the battery to the positive side of the coil. I will take that off.
Posted By: bartamos Re: HEI swap problems - Fri Jun 19 2020 05:56 PM
"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"

So the above statement means you got a replacement distributor? What exactly have you replaced? If anything?

Where did you buy the distributor originally and any replacements?

Is your Distributor a PCE376.1218 ?

Your Distributor is similar to a Pertronix. If you leave the ignition on, motor not running, the Pertronix can burn out. You had 12V to the Speedmaster coil 24/7, even with key off. So that would damage something probably. Also you had other miswiring as you stated. (positive red distributor wire to the coil negative, OUCH!)
I would think your coil is fried and your distributor is baked smile.

If she starts now, she's OK.
Posted By: old49joe Re: HEI swap problems - Fri Jun 19 2020 08:17 PM
The distributor is the PCE376.1218. The first one I bought online from eckler’s lategreatchevy. After it failed I bought another PCE376.1218 online from speedmaster. But did not replace the coil. Now the second distributor has failed so I will order a new PCE376.1218 and fix the wiring as per your instructions. Should I also replace the coil?
Posted By: bartamos Re: HEI swap problems - Fri Jun 19 2020 08:27 PM
Yes, but I thought the PCE376.1218 comes with a coil?
BTW: All the websites I checked, including Speedmaster, said "Out Of Stock" for PCE376.1218.

I have sent an email to SpeedMaster asking about the Orange wire vs the Brown wire and how to wire the PCE376.1218 with Red, Brown, Black wires. I advise you to ask the same question and not to buy/wire it until one of us gets an email reply. This is a very flaky Australian Company with the worst website I have ever seen. Bad instructions/wrong wire colors and a discontinued distributor. Jegs and Summit sell them as "ProComp" and seem to be out of stock except for the other model mentioned earlier. That one has only two wires and you have to buy the coil and other parts separate.

.
Posted By: old49joe Re: HEI swap problems - Fri Jun 19 2020 09:59 PM
The PCE 376.1218 I bought from Eckler's lategreatechevy came as a kit with an external coil. The external coil that I have is the PCE382.1033.

I just called speedmaster and they sent a wiring diagram which I have attached. This diagram shows an ignition box, which my setup doesn't have, and still has the wire colors wrong. At this point I am open to going with another small form factor HEI. I don't have to stick with the PCE (ProComp). Would you recommend a pentronix or MSD or something else?

Attached picture 8020 connection.PNG
Posted By: bartamos Re: HEI swap problems - Fri Jun 19 2020 10:13 PM
1. Do you still have the original points distributor?
2. Have you ever tested a stock GM HEI to see how much clearance or interference there actually is? Maybe a friend has one just to try for fit.
Posted By: old49joe Re: HEI swap problems - Fri Jun 19 2020 10:27 PM
1. I do still have the original points distributor but it stopped working last fall. It was giving me intermittent spark. It was working fine until one cold rainy morning when I tried to drive it. I tried adjusting the points in it but was unable to get it to work.
2. I did try a stock GM HEI but because of the firewall shape wasn't able to get it installed and would need to adjust the firewall back by about two inches to get it in. With the original points distributor in there is only about an inch of clearance between the firewall.
Posted By: bartamos Re: HEI swap problems - Fri Jun 19 2020 10:30 PM
I sent you a PM so we can communicate. Each of your possibilities have a long stories and are opinionated. I will run you thru them by email. It's faster. We can report progress here later.
My first recommendation, given the fact you want HEI, is use a Genuine GM HEI donor from a 76-80 SBC. This needs a little more discussion to be sure it won't work. So PM sent.

All of your Butlerfam links are broken. No pics of truck.
Posted By: old49joe Re: HEI swap problems - Sat Jun 20 2020 12:20 AM
I'll get with you over email. Thank you.

I updated the link to the blog and the photos of my truck.
Posted By: Hotrod Lincoln Re: HEI swap problems - Sat Jun 20 2020 08:37 PM
With just a little creative machining, the pickup coil and module from a large-diameter HEI distributor can be adapted to work with your original point-type distributor housing. That would solve the body clearance problem and keep an original-appearing distributor in place with the vacuum advance as well. A high-output coil like a Mallory or Accel could be used with that setup if you think you need more secondary voltage for some reason.
Jerry
Posted By: bartamos Re: HEI swap problems - Sat Jun 20 2020 10:13 PM
Originally Posted by Hotrod Lincoln
With just a little creative machining, the pickup coil and module from a large-diameter HEI distributor can be adapted to work with your original point-type distributor housing. That would solve the body clearance problem and keep an original-appearing distributor in place with the vacuum advance as well. A high-output coil like a Mallory or Accel could be used with that setup if you think you need more secondary voltage for some reason.
Jerry
That's called Pertronix.

Joe is going to try new parts from Speedmaster, get a reading on the brown wire vs orange and try the unit again. He will post the results I hope.
Posted By: Hotrod Lincoln Re: HEI swap problems - Sun Jun 21 2020 12:57 AM
Hmmmm- - - -so the local corner parts store sells Pertronix parts? I guess I missed that on their website!
Jerry
Posted By: bartamos Re: HEI swap problems - Sun Jun 21 2020 01:51 AM
The whole idea of HEI style is you shouldn't need parts, but if you do..........Click. [oreillyauto.com]
Posted By: Hotrod Lincoln Re: HEI swap problems - Sun Jun 21 2020 02:04 AM
"There's a sucker born every minute"- - - - -Pertronix is probably owned by P.T. Barnum

https://sdparts.com/i-24132518-proform-66944c-hei-ignition-module-high-performance-fits-gm-applications-73-to-89.html?msclkid=4f349dd9790a1012eeb8c337c62a293d&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=PLAs%20-%20%2425%20or%20Less&utm_term=4582695747862291&utm_content=Brands

Jerry
Posted By: bartamos Re: HEI swap problems - Sun Jun 21 2020 02:36 AM
Jerry, I'm not promoting Pertronix. You mentioned a DIY version. Then you said no parts for Pertronix at FLAPS. That's all I commented about. I have studied Pertronix complaints and seen some complaints on Stovebolt. Most are user error or early bugs.

There are plenty of trustworthy members on here you have used Pertronix for a long time. I am in favor of HEI. The only thing I am not in line with is going with Pertronix just to keep a certain look under the hood. I would probably go with a Langdon distributor for a 235 because it's a GM.

Your link is hard to find. If it does not turn blue, we have to try and paste it. Not sure what it is. Ignition module I think.
Posted By: MNSmith Re: HEI swap problems - Sun Jun 21 2020 03:17 AM
We've had a Pertronix kit in our 1946 International M5-H6 Red Diamond for over 25 years now. Fires up every time we ask it to.

Not to mention, the company is one city over from where we sit.
Posted By: Rusty Rod Re: HEI swap problems - Sun Jun 21 2020 03:40 PM
Please stay on topic. Thanks.
Posted By: 52Carl Re: HEI swap problems - Mon Jun 22 2020 12:49 AM
Why not just buy a small cap HEI distributor with vacuum advance and external coil?
Posted By: bartamos Re: HEI swap problems - Mon Jun 22 2020 01:48 AM
That's kind of what he did and is doing.
Posted By: 52Carl Re: HEI swap problems - Mon Jun 22 2020 11:24 PM
Originally Posted by bartamos
That's kind of what he did and is doing.
The discussion in this thread is all over the place. There are at least 4 people going in different directions.
I was just trying to reel it in to the simplest solution.
Posted By: bartamos Re: HEI swap problems - Mon Jun 22 2020 11:47 PM
"Joe is going to try new parts from Speedmaster, get a reading on the brown wire vs orange and try the unit again. He will post the results I hope."

Carl, I agree. You probably didn't see this post. I was in outside contact with him due to what you said. That's how I knew he was re-trying.
I was not trying to be a smart AZZ. This time. smile
Posted By: old49joe Re: HEI swap problems - Sun Jun 28 2020 03:39 PM
I am still waiting on the replacement pickup to get here but it did find the answer to the wiring question. Speedmaster sent a wiring diagram but it was too generic to the 8020 series of distributors so it still didn’t match. Doing some more searching I found on Summit Racing’s site in the customer question and answer section that someone had finally found the correct wiring. For the three wire black red and brown that I have, black goes to coil negative, red goes to coil positive and brown goes to the tachometer. As soon as the replacement magnetic pickup arrives, I’ll swap that out and fix the wiring. I’ll post the results as soon as I have them.
Posted By: bartamos Re: HEI swap problems - Sun Jun 28 2020 07:33 PM
NO NO NO.......I saw that a long time ago. That was NOT answered by Summit or by Speedmaster. It was answered by some guy who may not know what he is talking about or possibly about a different Speedmaster Model. I AM WARNING YOU FOR THE LAST TIME, DO NOT WIRE THIS DISTRIBUTOR UNTIL YOU GET A SPECIFIC ANSWER FROM SPEEDMASTER. YOU HAVE BURNT OUT TWO UNITS ALREADY. Tell them your model. Tell them your wire colors. Ask how to wire. Ask why instructions, AND the picture of it, have a orange wire and your unit has a brown. Ask where each of your wires go. Try to do it by email. Keep the email they send you for your records.

It is true that GM stock distributors, which have two wires, that one is for Tach....and one is for Ignition "ON". We don't know if the guy was mixed up or correct.

Post the diagram they sent you.

What is the part number for the Ecklers distributor you bought? Not the Speed master parts number......the Ecklers part number.
Posted By: Justhorsenround Re: HEI swap problems - Sun Jun 28 2020 08:12 PM
Just to provide a little more mud for the muddy water. A certain popular brand of Electronic Ignition only uses 2 wires. One goes to switched power and the other goes to coil positive unless it’s positive ground in which case the second goes to coil negative. As bartamos so aptly put it get specific answers from your supplier or the unit manufacturer for your setup. PERIOD. 🛠
Posted By: bartamos Re: HEI swap problems - Sun Jun 28 2020 08:28 PM
Joe, just to be sure you didn't get mixed up way back on this post. PLEASE look at your distributor one more time and tell me what are the three colors that actually come out of the distributor as you received it.

The reason I ask is because in those instructions you posted they talk about a BROWN wire. That Brown wire is a wire that is already on the vehicle they are speaking of. On a 55-57 Chevy, there is a a brown wire that went to the ballast resistor. They are saying that this wire is attached to the new coil positive terminal. It is NOT a wire from the distributor. I am now wondering if you got mixed up. I hope you actually have a orange wire and have not mentioned it.
You have said that your distributor has three wires coming out of it: Black, Red and Brown. Please conform this.

The MSD "ready to run" distributor, which this seems to copy, is wired: Red to coil positive, orange to coil Negative and Black to chassis ground. None of the "ready to run" clones have a brown wire.

This is what you said: "There are three wires that come out of the distributor, red, black and brown." I would need to see a picture of that to believe it. You are not color blind are you? Some men are color blind. It's not a joke.
Posted By: old49joe Re: HEI swap problems - Tue Jun 30 2020 06:12 PM
The part number for the distributor kit that I ordered from ecklers (lategreatchevy.com) is 169699. I verified the wire color that I have and attached a picture of it. The wires coming out of the distributor are red, black and brown.

Attached picture IMG_0087.jpg
Posted By: old49joe Re: HEI swap problems - Tue Jun 30 2020 06:15 PM
Speedmaster has been hard to get a hold of to verify the wiring for the red black and brown. I'll update as soon as I have something from them.
Posted By: bartamos Re: HEI swap problems - Tue Jun 30 2020 06:24 PM
OK good. I am probably loosing track of this but now it seems you are using a distributor from Ecklers. You did mention Speedmaster. So why did you mention Speedmaster and where did you buy the distributor you are actually trying to use?

If the distributor is from Ecklers, that is where you get the answer about how to wire it. NOT from Speedmaster.

I have received a email from Speedmaster. They know nothing about a brown wire, their unit has red, orange and black.

JOE, if you want help...........monitor this post several times a day.
Posted By: old49joe Re: HEI swap problems - Tue Jun 30 2020 07:01 PM
The first unit I bought was from Ecklers. After I burned that one out I went directly to Speedmaster since that is what Ecklers was selling and the second unit is from Speedmaster. So, the one I am trying to use is from Speedmaster. That is who I am working with to get the replacement part from.
Posted By: bartamos Re: HEI swap problems - Tue Jun 30 2020 07:22 PM
So which one is in the picture? Does one distributor have Red brown black and the other has something else? Are you using the same 3 wire harness for the Speedway and the Ecklers or did both distributors come with the brown wire?
Posted By: old49joe Re: HEI swap problems - Tue Jun 30 2020 08:31 PM
Both are exactly the same. Both came with the brown wire. The wires on both are directly connected to the magnetic pickup without a plug in between.
Posted By: bartamos Re: HEI swap problems - Tue Jun 30 2020 08:32 PM
Wow that is really odd. I don't get why they did that.
Posted By: bartamos Re: HEI swap problems - Wed Jul 01 2020 08:47 PM
I did get an email from Speedmaster. He ignored the part about the brown wire and just told me how to wire RED ORN BLK. So I wrote back a terse email to get him to respond about Brown wire from Ecklers and from Speedway according to your posts. I am relating to him as a person who bought both distributors. As a customer who needs help. I will let you know, it seems to take a long time. But I understand everyone is working from home.
Let me know what you find out in writing.
Posted By: bartamos Re: HEI swap problems - Thu Jul 02 2020 04:49 PM
GOOD NEWS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Joe,
Speedmaster wrote to me and said BROWN is negative coil. So it is same as Orange.
So that would seem to be Red to coil positive. Brown to coil negative. Black to chassis ground.
Posted By: old49joe Re: HEI swap problems - Fri Jul 03 2020 03:32 PM
He has been answering your emails better than mine. Thank you for following up with him. I’m still waiting on the replacement pickup that they are supposed to be sending. As soon as that gets here I’ll wire it in according to the directions you were able to get.
Posted By: bartamos Re: HEI swap problems - Fri Jul 03 2020 03:59 PM
thumbs_up
Posted By: old49joe Re: HEI swap problems - Fri Jul 17 2020 05:06 AM
Great news. I finally got the replacement distributor in. I have installed it and this time wired it correctly with red to coil positive, brown to coil negative and black to chassis ground. It fired right up and after fine tuning the timing the truck is running like a charm. Thank you to all who commented and helped me figure out my mistake and find the solution.
Posted By: bartamos Re: HEI swap problems - Fri Jul 17 2020 05:22 AM
Fantastic news. Very happy you got it running good. Good job Joe.
Posted By: Justhorsenround Re: HEI swap problems - Fri Jul 17 2020 12:30 PM
Great news to find out a hard fought battle had a positive outcome.🛠
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