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Thread: electronic ignition

  1. #1
    Speedster Member K-Hawk's Avatar
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    Question electronic ignition

    what is the best way to convert my point style ignition to an electronic ignition. I have seen pick ups conversions that fit into the distributor or entire replacements. It is running ok now but I think this will be a good investment in long term improvement. Thanking you in advance K-hawk

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    I'm sure there is a Petronix module that should fit your Dissy. Maybe talk to Phil Harris at Fairborn Studebaker.
    pb

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    Pertronix does not at this time make a conversion unit for the single point Prestolite V8 distributors. They are available for the dual point Prestolite's and the Delco distributors. You can check the Pertronix website for their catalogue. Bud

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    President Member 53k's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by K-Hawk View Post
    what is the best way to convert my point style ignition to an electronic ignition. I have seen pick ups conversions that fit into the distributor or entire replacements. It is running ok now but I think this will be a good investment in long term improvement. Thanking you in advance K-hawk
    The BEST way, but also the most expensive, is to buy Dave T-Bow's Mallory distributor. The cheapest way, if you have a Delco "window" distributor, is to buy a Pertronix or one of the other Chevrolet after-market systems. At one time Dave sold Studebaker distributors modified with a Chrysler top electronic unit. It required an external module (box) which can be concealed if an authentic look if desired. I have that system on my '64 Wagonaire and have been well satisfied- strong spark, easier starting. I also had a Pertronix on a '64 Avanti I had. It worked well too, but I have heard some stories of problems with Pertronix installations.

    Paul Johnson, Wild and Wonderful West Virginia.
    '64 Daytona Wagonaire, '64 Avanti R-1, '53 Commander Starliner, Museum R-4 engine, '72 Gravely Model 430 with Onan engine

  5. #5
    President Member Gunslinger's Avatar
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    Pertronix makes some good stuff, but like many aftermarket suppliers, it often doesn't match the original equipment in terms of reliability and longevity. I know of many who have installed the Pertronix modules in their Corvettes...most have had no problem. Some have and have been left stranded. Many who have not had problems will keep a set of points and condensers in their car "just in case". If that's the thought, then why do it to begin with?

    My own experience with Pertronix didn't leave me stranded, but it did with the person who bought the car from me. I owned a '78 Corvette with factory HEI. For some reason I decided to replace the original Delco distributor module with a Pertronix...there was nothing wrong with the Delco. The Pertronix ran fine...a couple of years later I sold the car. About a year later the Pertronix went bad and the new owner had to replace it. The Delco lasted nearly thirty years with no problems...the Pertronix lasted maybe two.

    I'm not saying you should or shouldn't replace your points with an aftermarket system, but think through what you're trying to accomplish. If your distributor is worn, that's one thing. If you only want to keep from replacing points that's fine...but a points elimination kit doesn't work wonders...it does maintain tune and timing with no rubbing block to wear like points, and may make starting a bit easier, but really won't work wonders as far as performance.

    As Paul said, the best way would be to get a T-Bow distributor and do it right. Otherwise, stick with points...very simple and historically proven reliable.
    Poet...Mystic...Soldier of Fortune. As always...self-absorbed, adversarial, cocky and in general a malcontent.

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    Has anyone ever come up with an adequate explanation for why the Pertronix for the dual-point Prestolite won't fit the single-point Prestolite? Could you make it fit by drilling one or two holes?

    John Lassiter in the Portland (OR) area sells Prestolites modified to use a Mopar pickup and reluctor, with a GM HEI module attached to a small aluminum heat sink on the underside of the distributor case. He does nice work. The one I bought was a little north of $100, if I remember right. He sometimes runs ads under the handle "Studebaker John."
    Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

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    Pertronix makes some good stuff, but like many aftermarket suppliers, it often doesn't match the original equipment in terms of reliability and longevity. I know of many who have installed the Pertronix modules in their Corvettes...most have had no problem. Some have and have been left stranded. Many who have not had problems will keep a set of points and condensers in their car "just in case". If that's the thought, then why do it to begin with?
    Both points AND condensors can and do fail...!

    Mike

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    Quote Originally Posted by gordr View Post
    Has anyone ever come up with an adequate explanation for why the Pertronix for the dual-point Prestolite won't fit the single-point Prestolite? Could you make it fit by drilling one or two holes?

    John Lassiter in the Portland (OR) area sells Prestolites modified to use a Mopar pickup and reluctor, with a GM HEI module attached to a small aluminum heat sink on the underside of the distributor case. He does nice work. The one I bought was a little north of $100, if I remember right. He sometimes runs ads under the handle "Studebaker John."
    Good to know Gord. John has been very helpful hooking me up with parts, and he's local. I'll have to talk to him about this setup for my car. John's a great guy.
    Dave Nevin
    Corvallis, OR
    1953 Champion Deluxe Coupe
    Stud-e-venture blog

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    President Member Gunslinger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Van Veghten View Post
    Both points AND condensors can and do fail...!

    Mike
    I don't doubt that at all. All I'm saying is that aftermarket ignitions don't necessarily have long-term reliability going for them. It all depends on what someone wants out of the car...daily driving, racing, etc?

    While it's been many years, when I was in auto repair, we rarely saw mechanical points and condensers fail...wear out, but out and out fail was a rare thing. If they were defective, it usually showed immediately.
    Poet...Mystic...Soldier of Fortune. As always...self-absorbed, adversarial, cocky and in general a malcontent.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Van Veghten View Post
    Both points AND condensors can and do fail...!

    Mike
    That they do, but the usual failure mode is performance degrading over a substantial period of time. Rarely do points or condensors fail abruptly, like a light bulb may do.

    The reason for going electronic is lower maintenance, number one, and hotter spark, number two. If an electronic ignition system goes bad, you have a "black box" problem. If points ignition goes bad, you can examine and test each individual component, or shotgun-replace them, cheaply.
    Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

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    The reason the dual point conversion kit from Pertronix is the OD of the distributor cam. the diameter of the single point cam is smaller than the dual point cam so the reluctor for the Pertronix unit fits loosely on the cam making the reluctor unuseable. Please don't ask how I know this. Bud

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    Pertronix

    My unit failed after four days. The tech service offered to help, after getting two sets (the last set very extensive) measurements. Many of th easked for measurements are not posible if the ignition is set back to a points system. No resolution as yet.
    Paul TK, 1963 Hawk

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bud View Post
    The reason the dual point conversion kit from Pertronix is the OD of the distributor cam. the diameter of the single point cam is smaller than the dual point cam so the reluctor for the Pertronix unit fits loosely on the cam making the reluctor unuseable. Please don't ask how I know this. Bud
    I can guess how you found out. If that is the only issue, I wonder if it would be possible to shim the distributor cam to accept the Pertronix reluctor and hold it tightly.
    Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

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    If the distributor cam from an R1 distributor which has a P stamped into it is installed in a Prestolite single point distributor, I would suspect the the dual point Pertronix unit could be made to work. The R2 cam doesn't have enough centrifugal advance to work properly in a non R engine. As an added note, if the R1 cam is used, the spark should be advanced another 4 deg. Bud

  15. #15
    President Member RadioRoy's Avatar
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    I've got several Pertronix systems in my V-8 Studes and one Buick. They all work fine, and with unleaded gas, the spark plugs last a lot longer.

    You do not have to have a Delco "window -type" distributor. Pertronix makes a kit for the old style Delco distributor. It fits and works fine. If you read the Studebaker shop manuals, all of the Studebaker V-8 distributors (with the exception of super-engined cars) have the same advance curves. Also, the distributors all interchange mechanically. There are thousands of older Delco Studebaker V-8 distributors out there. So, take out the Autolite/prestolite distributor, refurbish and install a Pertronix in an old Delco, and enjoy.
    Last edited by RadioRoy; 11-18-2011 at 10:03 PM.

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    On both my 50 Studebaker and 58 Corvette, I have left the distributor alone and installed an MSD Capacative Discharge ignition system and coil. The points just trigger the MSD unit and will last forever. Read the MSD online literature for all the advantages of better spark intensity and duration. With this setup, if the MSD unit were to fail (they are however very reliable), you can easily wire it out and go back to the points. I could tell a difference in how the engines ran with no other changes. It is amazing how much easer starting is.

  17. #17
    Speedster Member BobWaitz's Avatar
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    I've got T-Bow's distributor in both my truck and our race car. We've run the race car up to 7800 RPM and sustained 7200 RPM for over a mile. It works so well I probably won't ever use anything else.

    I suggest also installing the Mallory Circuit Guard. I don't know if Dave carries that or not.

    http://www.amazon.com/Mallory-29371-.../dp/B001GBUI3G


  18. #18
    Speedster Member K-Hawk's Avatar
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    sounds great I am at their web site do you have an msn part number. Thanks K-hawk

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    President Member woodysrods's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bud View Post
    If the distributor cam from an R1 distributor which has a P stamped into it is installed in a Prestolite single point distributor, I would suspect the the dual point Pertronix unit could be made to work. The R2 cam doesn't have enough centrifugal advance to work properly in a non R engine. As an added note, if the R1 cam is used, the spark should be advanced another 4 deg. Bud
    Bud
    Are you saying that if you run a R1-R2 grind cam in a non R1-R2 Engine you have to change the Distributor???
    Brian
    Last edited by woodysrods; 11-21-2011 at 01:01 PM.
    Brian Woods
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    1946 M Series (Shop Truck)

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    Sorry if I'm sort of digging this up, but I did the same as over50. I bought the Accel 300+ digital ignition controller when it was on sale from Summit Racing a while back. I have a 1961 Willys Jeep wagon with a 226 Continental flathead 6, and wanted to switch to a modified HEI distributor. When I saw this controller on sale I decided to try it instead. The wiring was very simple, it just uses the points to trigger it as mentioned above. As also mentioned above, it has the advantage of being easily removed from the system if the box ever fails. It has some other bells and whistles like a rev limiter if you wanted to use it, jumpers for changing the number of cylinders (for the engine application), and also has a wire to hook up a tachometer, which I use with a cheapo tach for reference. I mounted mine on the inside of the firewall where you can't see it. It looks original as can be. I also run an Accel Super Stock ignition coil for hotter spark. It's recommended to use a hotter coil if you run one of these ignition controllers.

    The difference in performance is incredible. With multiple spark ignition, it will crank faster, rev faster, and run much smoother. There are numerous other advantages as well. Because there are multiple sparks, it will actually make the points last longer because there's less power going through them. That means less load on your spark plug wires as well. Multiple sparks cause a more efficient burn, and especially with my old flathead it made one heck of a difference.

    I do recommend going with the Accel unit as I'm not a big fan of MSD. Many MSD controllers are still analog, whereas Accel has been digital right off the bat. The reason I shy away from MSD is due to word of mouth from a buddy of mine that builds drag cars and has reported failures on his cars and others. Of course any controller can fail, and others' experience will vary.

    As far as reliability goes, I always carry an extra set of points in all my vehicles that use points. It doesn't take long to swap them out in the parking lot or on the side of the road if needed, and I have had to more than once...
    Last edited by SiLiconD17; 11-22-2011 at 06:26 PM.

  21. #21
    President Member Gunslinger's Avatar
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    If you want to go with a capacitive discharge system, Summit Racing sells a digital unit under their own name a good bit less expensive than MSD, Mallory, Accel or others.
    Poet...Mystic...Soldier of Fortune. As always...self-absorbed, adversarial, cocky and in general a malcontent.

  22. #22
    President Member woodysrods's Avatar
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    Is there a part # and a price range available for this Accel 300+ and the Accel Super stock coil???
    Brian
    Brian Woods
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    1946 M Series (Shop Truck)

  23. #23
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    The Accel 300+ digital ignition controller is part number 49300, $189.95 at Summit but I got it on sale for $99.95 a couple years ago. Their canister style Superstock coils are part number 8140 or 8145 (slightly hotter), or for the chrome variants 8140C or 8145C. They range from $33-45 at Summit. You can also order these parts from Advance Auto, Auto Zone, etc, and may actually find them cheaper ordering through those local stores.

  24. #24
    Speedster Member G T Joe's Avatar
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    I have used the petronix set up no problems, I have used the MSD 6a with points you can FEEL THE DIFFRENCE the first time was 1983 , on my 68Olds 442 W 30 and I do have a igntion scope and you see 3 distinct sparks at each plug, no problems, I used the factory Mopar ignition and chargeing systems on my 64 Hawk PINA to install but for over 20 plus years no problems, but when I installed points over the years on a daily basis on a 4000 car and truck fleet PROBLEMS,I would always get a set of points that would fail to work, I hope this information will help , but does anyone use a distribtorless system on there Stude?
    Joseph Kastellec

  25. #25
    President Member Gunslinger's Avatar
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    Aftermarket ignitions have improved so far over the years it's difficult to say which might be best. I remember back in the 1970's I installed an optical type ignition in the '63 Avanti I owned at the time. I don't remember the brand name of the system but it ran fine...for a year. Then the car suddenly began "skipping a beat" for lack of a better term. The engine would simply stop for a second then run fine...this was very random but regular enough.

    I re-installed points and condenser and removed the optical system. No more problem.

    Ignitions today have greatly improved...I don't believe the brand matters too much...all systems do the same thing but maybe by different methods. That doesn't mean some duds don't come along...such as GM's infamous OptiSpark. It had its problems before finally getting sorted out. Mallory's Unilite is prone to voltage spike blowouts if not equipped with the optional voltage spike filter.

    While I certainly appreciate the overall superiority of electronic ignitions, sometimes simpler is better and old technology can certainly get the job done. Too often I've violated the adage "If it ain't broke, fix it 'til it is!"
    Poet...Mystic...Soldier of Fortune. As always...self-absorbed, adversarial, cocky and in general a malcontent.

  26. #26
    President Member woodysrods's Avatar
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    Thanks Guys
    This has been a good dicussion.
    I am getting ready to clean up and rebiuld my stock distributor and will definitely be looking into installing the Accel 300+ unit.
    I have a new plug wire set, points, condeneser, (and a coil that I guess I can't use) but will carry as a spare if I have to remove the Accel unit and their "Superstock coil along the road.
    Anything else I need to know before I install this unit??
    Good Roads
    Brian
    Brian Woods
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  27. #27
    President Member woodysrods's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobWaitz View Post
    I've got T-Bow's distributor in both my truck and our race car. We've run the race car up to 7800 RPM and sustained 7200 RPM for over a mile. It works so well I probably won't ever use anything else.

    I suggest also installing the Mallory Circuit Guard. I don't know if Dave carries that or not.

    http://www.amazon.com/Mallory-29371-.../dp/B001GBUI3G

    Is this part really needed with the Accel 300 + and the Super Stock coil # 8140?
    When you open this link, it also shows a balast resister and other stuff that are normally sold with this item??
    What all do you need??
    Brian
    Brian Woods
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    1946 M Series (Shop Truck)

  28. #28
    President Member Gunslinger's Avatar
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    I believe the Mallory Circuit guard is intended to be used with their Unilite line of distributors, which can be blown out by voltage spikes. Unless Dave T-Bow is using Unilites the circuit guard shouldn't be necessary.
    Poet...Mystic...Soldier of Fortune. As always...self-absorbed, adversarial, cocky and in general a malcontent.

  29. #29
    President Member bezhawk's Avatar
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    Gosh, mine (studebaker)already has electronic ignition.......from the FACTORY.....why switch?
    Bez Auto Alchemy
    573-318-8948
    http://bezautoalchemy.com

  30. #30
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    UniLite is what T-Bow sent me. They should be recurved for use with R2's
    Jim
    Often in error, never in doubt
    http://rabidsnailracing.blogspot.com/

    ____1966 Avanti II RQA 0088_______________1963 Avanti R2 63R3152____________http://rabidsnailracing.blogspot.com/

  31. #31
    Speedster Member BobWaitz's Avatar
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    The Mallory circuit guard is only for use with the Mallory UniLite distributor that T-Bow sells. It is not for use with the Pertronix or Accell 300+.

  32. #32
    President Member woodysrods's Avatar
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    Thanks Bob
    That is what I needed to know.
    Good roads
    Brian
    Brian Woods
    woodysrods@shaw.ca
    1946 M Series (Shop Truck)

  33. #33
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    Sorry for the lateness, but I just wanted to hop in and say it may not be 100% necessary to run Accel's specific coil with their 300+ ignition controller. Obviously they recommend it, so that you will go out and spend more $ on their products. I would just recommend going with a hotter coil for the added performance and efficiency. I went with the Accel Superstock canister style coil simply because it was one of the cheaper ones, and I've used them in my other vehicles without issue. If you already bought an aftermarket one it will probably work. All the ignition controller does is trigger the coil (multiple times) just as the points ground the coil to make spark. As long as it's a standard coil with +/- terminals it should work.

  34. #34
    President Member woodysrods's Avatar
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    Thanks! I just got that same information this morning from my local parts guy.
    We also talked about wiring the 300 + ignition controller in such a way that if something did go wrong with it, it could be bypassed with a simple "unplug & plug" to get back to original on the side of the road.
    Good Roads
    Brian
    Brian Woods
    woodysrods@shaw.ca
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  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by SiLiconD17 View Post
    The Accel 300+ digital ignition controller is part number 49300, $189.95 at Summit but I got it on sale for $99.95 a couple years ago. Their canister style Superstock coils are part number 8140 or 8145 (slightly hotter), or for the chrome variants 8140C or 8145C. They range from $33-45 at Summit. You can also order these parts from Advance Auto, Auto Zone, etc, and may actually find them cheaper ordering through those local stores.
    Is this the one?
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-ACCEL-30...382#vi-content

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