1966 Mustang

Adding Electronic Ignition - Pertronix HEI Flame-Thrower Distributor

Fri Feb 17, 2012 4:21 pm
Comments: 5 Views: 4735

After years of replacing points and setting the dwell on the points we finally moved to a modern ignition system. If you need to replace you current stock distributor it will run you about $40 after the core is turned in, but we wanted something more reliable, and a little bit better performance. 

We went with the Pertronix HEI Flame-Thrower. The distributor is a little pricey, but we got it from for a much better price than the local auto parts store would order it for. We also bought a new set of 8mm wires from them because this distributor cap has male connectors.

This distributor has a built-in coil so you will save a little room in the engine bay, we were able to do by removing the bracket for the coil, which also holds the power steering pump (which we previously removed).

Steps to Remove Your Old Distributor

We always disconnect the battery first.

With our old distributor we had a seperate coil. We also had positive and negative ballast resistors.

Pertronix recommends that you remove all resistance so we just ran the hot wire right into the new distributor and removed the resistor. There is a connection right in the cap and it is easy to get to.

There are two ways to deal with the installation of a new distributor.

Take off the cap to the old distributor and make note of the location the rotor points and make a chalk mark. For instance, if the rotor points to the number 4 cylinder then make a mark on the valve cover. This exactly how you want to put the new distributor in, otherwise it will fire the wrong plug at the wrong time. Then just remove the hold-down bolt and remove the old distributor.

(Old Autolite Distributor)

autolite stock distributor

When you are preparing to put the new one in make sure you grease up the new gear with a little engine oil. Then gently guide the gear that interacts with the cam and oil pump into position. It may take a few times before it wants to sit all the way down or points properly to the chalk mark.

Because it is a gear it does not just go straight down. You must play with it to get it to point to the right location.

Then you can place the bolt back on and tighten it up.

Then there is the other method...

If you are like me, you either forget to make a chalk mark, rub it off by accident, want to reset everything because you want to do a complete job or are starting with a newly rebuilt engine and don't have an old distributor to begin with.

In this situation you are trying to set the basic timing of which spark fires when.

(rotor points to the number 1 cylinder)

 pertronix hei flame-thrower

Before you can just place the new distributor in position pointing to the number 1 cylinder you must make sure where the cylinder is. Is it ready for a spark? You must make it ready by cranking the engine to move the piston to the right position in the cylinder.

There are two ways to crank the engine. Turn it over from the key by starting it in spurts, or crank it with a 1 inch socket (behind the engine fan) until the timing mark lines up. This is where you need to be careful.

There are two times when this will be correct, when the piston is all the way down, and when it is all the way up. If you crank the engine with your wrench while plugging up the number 1 cylinder (use a friend) with your finger you will feel the cylinder either suck your finger in or push your finger out. You are looking for when your finger is being pushed out and the timing mark lines up. This is the point where the number 1 cylinder want to be fired.

1966 Ford Mustang 289 Firing Order

So at this point you want to have the rotor pointing to the number 1 cylinder. Now just insert the new distributor and bolt it down.

This is where the cap is important. When you place the cap on you will need to notice which connector is under the rotor - that is the number 1 cylinder wire location.

Once you lock down the cap install the wires correctly using the chart and reconnect the battery.

From there you may need to advance or retard the timing slightly.

Start to finish should be about 1 - 2 hours. Or more if you screw up.

Note: This model distributor is much larger that the Autolite we removed. The air cleaner needed to be replaced because it was too big. Also since there are a few wires to cut have a wire cutter and a few connectors ready so that you have a clean connection to the new distributor. While you are at it you might want to replace some of those old wires anyway. And be sure to have a timing light around.

(new distributor installed)

Mon Sep 21, 2009 9:23 am
Name: beginner | Comment: thank you very much

Wed Sep 23, 2009 10:56 am
Name: sparkpluggap | Comment: is there any change to standard ~0.35 spark plug gap when using this distributor?

Wed Sep 23, 2009 11:02 amfrom what we have heard the spark plug gap is less important when you are using this type of distributor. when you get a set of plugs from the store they come gapped at about 0.45, sometimes less or more.

if you want to gap the plugs properly, according to the standard settings just tap the top of the plug and bend the plug until the gap closes and use the proper tool to measure the distance.

Fri Feb 17, 2012 4:19 pm
Name: Don | Comment: This is great! It just answered my question of where is the lead to the coil? Thanks a million!

Fri Feb 17, 2012 4:21 pm
Name: Don | Comment: ....also, do you notice better performance with your Flame-thrower dist?

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