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Why I don't like aftermarket electronic ignitions...

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  • Why I don't like aftermarket electronic ignitions...

    We get many inquiries in The Co-Operator from people who want to install aftermarket electronic ignition conversions so they "don't have to worry about points." I'm generally not a fan of those because I think the failure rate is too high (from what we see) and when they fail, you're dead in the water. Have your cell phone and hope you have time to wait for the tow truck to arrive.

    Point was proven last evening as to why I still prefer points ignition.

    To wit: Wife and I went for an warm summer evening's drive in my 1964 Daytona convertible; the one I purchase from Leonard Shepherd Jr. in 2007. I've driven it more or less regularly every year and have probably put maybe 2,000 miles on it, max. Before last evening, I had never removed the distributor cap.

    'Went around a corner in a subdivision near our home and the car suddenly died, not sputtering like it was running out of gas; it just died like turning off the switch.

    A quick check under the hood revealed no spark. 'Popped the distributor cap and indeed, the points had all but closed up. I had no tool box with me, just a little pocket screwdriver on my key chain. In ten minutes, I had identified the problem, loosened the points hold-down screw, moved them a little further apart, retightened the hold-down screw, and we were on our way.

    'Pulled the distributor this afternoon, installed new points and condenser (from the glove box), generally cleaned everything up, and reset the timing. It runs fine. None of this would have been so easy or cheap if an electronic conversion had failed, and I'd still be wondering what went wrong.

    Thanks again for allowing me to buy the car, Leonard...RIP. BP
    We've got to quit saying, "How stupid can you be?" Too many people are taking it as a challenge.

    Ayn Rand:
    "You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."

    G. K. Chesterton: This triangle of truisms, of father, mother, and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it.

  • #2
    Bob, assuming you still have the Prestolite distributor, I hope you lubricated the advance weight pivots while you were in there. Seems like I saw that in the TW Co-Operator column once or twice.

    I miss Leonard.............always looked forward to seeing him at the NCSDC Tri-State Meets.
    Paul
    Winston-Salem, NC
    Visit The Studebaker Skytop Registry website at: www.studebakerskytop.com

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    • #3
      Originally posted by r1lark View Post
      Bob, assuming you still have the Prestolite distributor, I hope you lubricated the advance weight pivots while you were in there. Seems like I saw that in the TW Co-Operator column once or twice.

      I miss Leonard.............always looked forward to seeing him at the NCSDC Tri-State Meets.
      Yep and Yep. BP
      We've got to quit saying, "How stupid can you be?" Too many people are taking it as a challenge.

      Ayn Rand:
      "You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."

      G. K. Chesterton: This triangle of truisms, of father, mother, and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by r1lark View Post
        Bob, assuming you still have the Prestolite distributor, I hope you lubricated the advance weight pivots while you were in there. Seems like I saw that in the TW Co-Operator column once or twice.

        I miss Leonard.............always looked forward to seeing him at the NCSDC Tri-State Meets.
        Weird how your citation about Leonard doesn't appear in your OP, but did appear when I quoted it! BP
        We've got to quit saying, "How stupid can you be?" Too many people are taking it as a challenge.

        Ayn Rand:
        "You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."

        G. K. Chesterton: This triangle of truisms, of father, mother, and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it.

        Comment


        • #5
          I've been restoring Bosch distributors for the VW and Porsche world for almost twenty years now, it's the same story with those of us that restore them advising to stick with points unless you are racing. People think they are electronic ignitions when really they are just a points replacement module. They are still very popular. I rebuilt my Delco Remy distributor and didn't find any mysteries with them. On the Delco at least you have to dig a little deeper by removing the points plate to get at the weight pivots. I did install a Dyna Flite roller bearing points plate in my distributor- very slick dealy there.

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          • #6
            An experience from another angle: Years ago, when I was still working for DOD, I went on a TDY (temp duty) to Huntsville, AL with three others. I drove my 1983 Bonneville SW to Dulles Airport (about 100 miles), carrying the others (one a young woman). On the return trip late in the evening we got about 20 miles and the car suddenly died. Now it's bad enough to strand a lady after dark, but she was 8 months pregnant! One of us found a cooperative fellow in a nearby house who took him back to Dulles where he rented a car. It turned out that the module in the HEI had crapped out. True story.
            --Dwight
            Last edited by Dwight FitzSimons; 08-16-2020, 09:15 PM.

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            • #7
              I agree! I've talked to too many people who have relied on an electronic ignition upgrade, and been left stranded. I like suggest carrying a fully loaded distributor, if someone is planning a tip, and has made the upgrade. A windowed Delco distributor and a dwell meter, is another option for a V8.

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              • #8
                As I've had many Chrysler products who's had "pointless" ( ) distributors since the early 70's I've never had an original ingition module quiting but the chinese brand "standard" do. Maby it has to do with quality brands vs cheap brands..?
                sigpic

                Josephine
                -55
                Champion V8
                4d sedan

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                • #9
                  I had a similar experience and went back to points and condensers.
                  peter lee

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                  • #10
                    The above point has been made in the VW forums and likely others. I like to point out that the Chinese are more than capable of producing high quality components the issue is that our vendors and fellow enthusiasts have grown used to paying low price for lower quality. Supply follows demand.
                    Last edited by 53 pilgrim; 08-17-2020, 08:55 AM.

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                    • #11
                      I’ve had pertronix in my ‘60 Champ truck for 20 years now , the truck has been in 21 States and we’ve logged on 34,000 miles without any trouble ......do that with a set of points !
                      We’ve always carried backup parts when we go on a long trip ....you’d be asking for trouble if you didn’t carry extra parts that are not readily available at your local parts stores .
                      sigpic

                      Home of the Fried Green Tomato

                      "IF YOU WANT THE SMILES YOU NEED TO DO THE MILES "

                      1960 Champ , 1966 Daytona , 1965 Daytona Wagonaire

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by 53 pilgrim View Post
                        ...I like to point out that the Chinese are more than capable of producing high-quality components...
                        For years, I have been warning about this. The longer we ( as a national policy) continue to accept, and even encourage, the moving offshore of certain products, besides losing the convenience of local accessibility, we lose the capability of skills required, processes, machinery (infrastructure), and fall into dependency. As long as there is a market for these items (any items), the quality will actually improve for any business that survives and has competition.

                        While the average citizen in the U.S.A. and similar countries with traditional economies are blissfully ignorant in their assumptions of poor workmanship in so-called underdeveloped nations...those underdeveloped economies are replacing their old worn-out used equipment (bought by the shipload from the U.S.) with the newest and latest computerized and automated machining centers. Much of, by the way, even the most highly valued automated manufacturing machinery has also fled from our shores.

                        While we in the old car hobby may be rather obscure in the larger picture...we are only one of many "canaries in the coal mine" sounding the alarm of a dangerous economic and social cancer eating away at our independence. We shouldn't lightly overlook such warnings with rolled eyes and a yawn.

                        John Clary
                        Greer, SC

                        SDC member since 1975

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                        • #13
                          When I had my '63 R-1 Avanti I installed an electronic ignition in it. I don't remember the brand but it was an opto-electrical type. It worked great for about a year then suddenly the engine would randomly stop for a second then go again. After a couple instances of this I reinstalled the points and no more trouble.

                          I agree completely about Chinese sourced parts. When I had a '78 Corvette with factory HEI, I decided for no particular reason to swap out the ignition module within the distributor for a Pertronix module. It lasted maybe a year before it failed when the original was over thirty years old and was giving no issues. It taught me a lesson...just because something has a high-performance name and hype doesn't mean it's a better part...just a highly hyped part.
                          Poet...Mystic...Soldier of Fortune. As always...self-absorbed, adversarial, cocky and in general a malcontent.

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                          • #14
                            As 2r5 said just keep a spare in the trunk. You will never ever need the part you have a spare for.

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                            • #15
                              Bob Palma, I'm with you on this... have points in all the oldies we've owned and never been let down. One of the guys in our car club has a Camaro that is as pro and beautiful of a car as it can be, and it has left our Saturday morning breakfasts twice on roll-back trucks with it's electronic ignition out of service. OK, that might happen to anyone, but he constantly tells me how stupid I am for continuing to use points in my cars !!!! I just tell him I'll be there with the tow rope for him next time his goes out, ha ! Confession here: I have never had an electronic ignition in any of our oldies, and they may be fine for some...but... when you have a 100% reliability thing going, why change ?

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