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Electronic Ignition Upgrade - Points No More

An Easy-As-Pie Upgrade From Breaker Points To Electronic Ignition

John Nelson May 1, 2001
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This is the era of modern wonders, where everything is transistorized, digitized, and miniaturized. Yet even now, many enthusiasts still use breaker point ignitions on their classic Chevys. For others, the frustrations of trying to keep a breaker point-fired vehicle in top running condition has been reason enough to join the electronic brigade. Breaker point systems do have some positives, though. Points are cheap and fairly easy to install. Many enthusiasts are comfortable with setting them up. And for restoration projects, they are one sure way to maintain some originality. But for the utmost in firing precision and maintenance-free convenience, an electronic ignition is the way to go.

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The first step is to remove the old points and condenser. Our distributor had been recently rebuilt, so we weren't worried about excessive end or side play in the shaft; if you remove the shaft in your donor distributor, make sure to check it for excessive wear.

We recently came across this new Breakerless SE system for single- and dual-point distributors with windowed-style distributor caps and decided to upgrade a distributor that was awaiting installation in a shop car. Using an uninstalled distributor made it much easier to take photos of the process, but it's just as easily done with the unit in the vehicle. When in comes right down to it, installing the new electronic system was every bit as easy-if not easier-than installing a new set of points and a condenser. Everything also looks box-stock when it's all back together. All the new components fit under the cap, and the only wire exiting the distributor is the one that was there when you started.

We dropped our new electronic ignition equipped distributor into an early small-block, and it fired up and ran like a champ. With no moving parts to worry about, we can drive to our heart's content and only have to replace the occasional cap and rotor. The real payoff, though, is knowing that we won't be pulling that cap off in a few thousand miles to reset the points.

Sucp_0105_06_z Electronic_ignition_upgrade Exposed_distributor 4/12

We used a single-point distributor for this conversion. If you have a dual-point setup, you'll need to use the supplied low-profile screw in the breaker point mounting hole closest to the where the wire exits (arrow). You'll also need to snip off the crossover wire as closely to the spade terminal as possible.

The next step is to "mate" the two vane sections together so that they form a circle. Place a button-head screw through the mounting ears on one side to hold the vanes together.then slip the vane assembly around the distributor shaft. Use needle-nose pliers to insert the screw into the underside of the rotor mounting ears and the provided small screwdriver to turn the screw counterclockwise into its mounting hole, then repeat on the other side. The screws should only be in about halfway at this point.

After installing the small brass screw into the ignition module, slip the module through an opening in the vanes and position it where your points were mounted. The point pivot tab on the plate must align with the hole on the bottom of the new module. You can then install the mounting screws and lock washers. The flexible wire clamp goes on the screw closest to where the distributor wire exits.

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You can then use the supplied Allen wrench to firmly tighten the vane mounting screws. The manufacturer suggests that you then check for clearance between the vanes and the two halves of the sensor by twisting the advance mechanism. If you didn't take your distributor out and need to rotate it to accomplish this, be sure to make locating marks before doing so.

It's then time to attach the point wire to the module. The spade terminal must be bent up at a 45-degree angle to ensure that it clears the distributor cap. The small tab you installed then wraps around the wire; make sure it clears the vanes.

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When installing a new distributor cap with this new system, you may have to enlarge the mounting holes to 7/32 inch. Another thing to remember is that the square and round indexing pegs must be shorter than 1/8 inch for the rotor to seat properly. The hex wrench that came with the kit makes a handy guide. Our rotor was ready to go.

Voila! We're ready to stab this baby in and hit the road, with no more worries about gapping points!


M&H Electric Fabricators



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