HEI distributor - Impala Tech
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-16-2015, 02:58 PM Thread Starter
 
 
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HEI distributor

I just wanted to thank the guys here for suggesting awhile back in another thread that we upgrade the '66 to an HEI; we swapped one in, and it was a piece of cake, and the difference was immediately noticable;

Thanks for the advice, and for putting up with my dumb noob Impala questions....
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-16-2015, 07:24 PM
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You ran a new full 12V wire for it, right?

Two doors, four doors, wagons, and ragtops.
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-16-2015, 08:10 PM Thread Starter
 
 
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Quote:
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You ran a new full 12V wire for it, right?
Yup.
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-20-2015, 10:31 AM
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HEI and later alternator are great improvements.
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-05-2015, 03:28 PM Thread Starter
 
 
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HEI and later alternator are great improvements.
The alternator is coming....

Right now, though, the car (which he calls "the ghost" ) is at the body shop for the next 3 weeks or so, getting all the little bad spots fixed, and the painting done; when ti comes back, I will post pics.
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-05-2015, 06:02 PM
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You don't really expect to get your car back in three weeks do you?

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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-13-2015, 03:04 PM
 
 
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I just did this today but it was not a complete success. Looking for some advice.

Installed the HEI distributor and new wires. I connected the stock + coil wires to the new distributor. I know this is not ideal, but I just wanted to see if it would run. Nope.

I ran a wire directly from the battery to the coil and it runs fine (sort of- timing needs adjusted).

Now I've seen the bazillions of posts that say to replace the resistor wire. I don't know where to connect this new piece of 12 gauge wire for power? At the fuse box somewhere? I can leave the stock wires hanging and taped off, right?
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-13-2015, 05:48 PM
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Usually close to if not behind the power booster vacuum diaphragm can the wire comes through the fire wall and heads to the distributor. A few inches after it leaves the cabin it will have a large plastic ferrule that starts the resistor wire. On the cabin side of the wire it is a standard copper wire, after the ferrule it is a nickel chromium alloy similar to that glowing wire in your toaster.

You can either cut off the wire and splice in a copper wire or leave the wire as it exists capped off and rolled up and secured behind the vacuum can. You can then run a wire from the ignition powered side of the fuse box to the HEI module (+) terminal.



Big Dave
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-13-2015, 06:46 PM
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Glad to hear the good feedback!

HOW A NOVICE REBUILDS A 66 IMPALA CONVERTIBLE:
http://www.impalas.net/forums/blog.php?u=1432
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-14-2015, 01:56 PM
 
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Dave View Post
Usually close to if not behind the power booster vacuum diaphragm can the wire comes through the fire wall and heads to the distributor. A few inches after it leaves the cabin it will have a large plastic ferrule that starts the resistor wire. On the cabin side of the wire it is a standard copper wire, after the ferrule it is a nickel chromium alloy similar to that glowing wire in your toaster.

You can either cut off the wire and splice in a copper wire or leave the wire as it exists capped off and rolled up and secured behind the vacuum can. You can then run a wire from the ignition powered side of the fuse box to the HEI module (+) terminal.



Big Dave
Thanks. I left it taped off and ran a new wire to the "FUSED IGN" terminal in the fuse box. I hadn't noticed that yesterday.

Now the problem is that either my wires are off or I have the distributor off by a tooth. I marked the relation of the rotor cap to the firewall and dropped the new distributor in - it lined up perfectly. I approximated where the old distributor was and the timing is extremely retarded. In order to get it to run I had to turn the distributor counter-clockwise (I know - doesn't make sense) so now the coil is jammed up against the firewall. I removed the wires one at a time from the old cap, but had to approximate the position. I might be off a terminal. More investigation required....
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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-14-2015, 02:31 PM
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Find Top Dead Center then put the number one terminal on top of the rotor button (be sure that is TDC on Power Stroke and not Exhaust or you will move the wire to the number 6 terminal and the motor will be 180 degrees out of sync). Then it is just a matter of following the firing order for a SBC (and a Mopar) which is 18436572. Then use your timing light to correctly set the timing with the vacuum to the distributor disconnected (not by ear or you will be too far advanced which makes for hard starting and increases the risk of spark knock). The small block isn't as bad about this as the big block is but most Chevys respond well to added ignition lead timing.

You can then use your Tachometer and Vacuum gauge to set the idle speed while you are at it. (Looking for the lowest idle RPM , that also yields the highest manifold vacuum reading). At least with an HEI distributor you can now retire your Dwell meter.

Big Dave
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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-15-2015, 06:52 AM
 
 
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Thanks Dave. I had clocked the wires off one post when I put them on. They're okay now.

Now the problem is I can't get the timing retarded enough because the cap hits the firewall. I'm going to have to yank the whole thing out and start over. Maybe stock distributor with a points-less conversion rather than HEI. I'll just have to suck up the cost of the new cap and wires, though I can keep them around as spares for the 454 in my motorhome.

Good news is that it runs much better. The old distributor cap and rotor cap had seen better days, plus the vacuum advance on the old distributor had seized up. I need to see if I can free it up and put it back in along with a new cap and rotor.
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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-15-2015, 09:04 AM
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This is why the small cap HEI (coil is separate from the top of the distributor like on the old points style distributors) are so popular. They were used on the Camaro because of a lack of room under the hood; and on pick up trucks that have more under hood room than they know what to do with.

Big Dave
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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-15-2015, 10:24 AM
 
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Dave View Post
This is why the small cap HEI (coil is separate from the top of the distributor like on the old points style distributors) are so popular. They were used on the Camaro because of a lack of room under the hood; and on pick up trucks that have more under hood room than they know what to do with.

Big Dave
Yep. I had done some research and it seems fitment with the big HEI distributors is hit or miss even on the same year and model. Mine's a miss.

I may go with a small-distributor HEI one day but by the time you get the coil, ignition module, and distributor it starts to get spendy.

I freed up the vacuum advance on the stock distributor and the sound of the diaphragm in the vacuum can is quite crunchy. I ordered one of those, plus stock cap, rotor cap and coil (can't hurt). Should have left it stock. Oh well, live and learn.
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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-20-2015, 04:29 PM
 
 
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So this stupid project has really gone sideways on me. I'm no stranger to this stuff, but it has been a while since I've messed with it.

I put the stock distributor back in with a new vacuum advance, rotor cap and distributor cap. I installed a new coil, new plugs and new wires. I have no fire.

I had cut the resistance wire and the wire from the starter to install the HEI. I spliced them back together with butt connectors. I assume that's not a problem? I should have 12V+ on that side of the coil with the key on, right?

Even if I had the distributor installed incorrectly (of a tooth, 180-degrees out, etc.), I'd get some sort of fire, pop, backfire - anything, right?

What's odd is that if I turn the distributor it will change how it cranks. Like if it's too far advanced it will be hard to crank which implies I DO have some spark. I think.

I dunno but any advice would be appreciated.
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post #16 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-20-2015, 05:05 PM
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An HEI is a digital device. it is possible to blow them up if you provide the wrong voltage, or more likely the wrong polarity of voltage (reverse ground and hot). If that is the case you will need a replacement HEI module to fit your distributor. (GM used a four pin and a five pin and a seven pin HEI module before going completely digital without the need for a distributor (coil on plug).

If you have removed your resistance wire the distributor will work with the full 12 volts (it does when cranking as it gets a back feed from the starter motor). The points just won't last as long; as they will burn up faster than they would at only eight volts, which is where a points style distributor normally operates. You will have to determine TDC on the power stroke (there are two TDC events for the number one cylinder power stroke and exhaust) you tell which is which by watching the valve rocker arms move.

TDC after the intake closes is the top of the power stroke which is what you want. TDC after the exhaust valve closes is he top of the exhaust stroke and is 180 degrees out of phase so that Number six is ready to fire.

You will need an inductive trigger timing light (clamps around the number one spark plug wire) to time the motor so you might as well buy one now. You can buy one with dial back feature if you are running a non stock cam that needs more lead time than the stock set up to dial in your desired ignition lead and still use the factory TDC marker to time the motor.

Big Dave

Last edited by Big Dave; 12-21-2015 at 10:29 AM. Reason: spleling
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post #17 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-21-2015, 06:43 AM
 
 
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Thanks Dave.

I have an inductive timing light and it's adjustable. I need to get it running again first

The HEI distributor worked fine. I took it out because it was hitting the firewall.

Instead, I put the stock distributor back in with new guts. New coil too. Now it doesn't seem like I have any ignition.

I hooked the resistance wire back up, though the resistance would be slightly off due to a change in length and the use of a butt connector. I'm thinking I don't have 12V there anymore for some reason. The HEI distributor wouldn't work with those wires hooked up, either (though everything worked fine before I messed with it). In order for the HEI distributor to work I had to run a wire right from the battery to the hot terminal. I tried doing the same with the new, stock-type coil but still no fire. I'm wondering it it's bad?

The only other thing I can think of is that I may have disturbed something related to the points when I changed the vacuum advance pot. I'll have to pull the cap off again and see what it looks like.
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post #18 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-22-2015, 08:59 AM
 
 
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Okay - quick update.

I have voltage, key on, at the coil. Not sure how much because I can't find my DVOM (I'm in the middle of a move and can't find anything). It's less than 12V because the 12V light I used to test it was dim. This makes sense, though, because of the stepped down voltage.

I put the stock coil back in and it does the same thing. It is firing, though. The timing is so far off that the engine fights itself while cranking. I took pictures and marked the valve cover before I removed the HEI distributor. I *thought* I put the stock one back in exactly the same way. I guess not.

I'll have to bring #1 up to TDC and re-install the distributor.
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post #19 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-26-2015, 12:57 PM
 
 
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All fixed, sort of.

After removing the distributor and reinstalling correctly (it was out 2 teeth) I had no spark. I messed with it, tested it, etc. Got nothing.

Long story short, I re-installed the HEI distributor with the plug wires rotated one tower off so I could get enough adjustment out of it without it hitting the fire wall. It. Runs. Awesome. Better than it has since I got it. The 327 has a lot of pep - more than a wagon should IMO!
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post #20 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-26-2015, 07:36 PM
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Glad you got her going again!

Big Dave
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post #21 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-27-2015, 02:07 PM
 
 
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Quote:
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Glad you got her going again!

Big Dave
Thanks! Me too!

I also noticed that the master cylinder was new and there was evidence of the old one having leaked. Well, apparently the caustic brake fluid leaked into the vacuum booster and ruined the diaphragm resulting in a huge vacuum leak. I had wondered why the pedal would only partially return and move when I revved the engine up. Apparently the vacuum booster had been leaking for a while and the previous owner tuned around it. I plugged off the vacuum line and adjusted the idle. New booster on the way.

Heater core popped on the test drive. Got one of those on the way too.

I expected this thing to nickel and dime me to death and so far it hasn't disappointed
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