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  • Ignition: Distributor Retarding

    This past summer I had an issue with the distributor retarding after having set the timing. The bolt seemed good and snug even if it is a little hard to get a good grip on it. I had changed carbs and thought I was having issues with the new carb. Turns out it was the timing slowly retarding on it's own! Is there any source for the lock down plate #532491? This is on a 62 Hawk with it's original Prestolite distributor. Any suggestions to secure the distributor if a new lock down plate is unavailable?

  • #2
    First order of troubleshooting a Prestolite is to pull it and have it evaluated on a distributor machine. The advance weight pivot holes wear and can stick. Set the timing when the weights are stuck at half advance and when the distributor revs up enough to loosen them and they'll go back to the resting point.

    jack vines
    PackardV8

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    • #3
      I have recently purchased 532491 Lock Plates from Studebaker International so I know they are available. You should buy a distributor wrench while you are at it.

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      • #4
        New and improved bronze bushed sintered iron advance weights are readily available for Prestolite distributors. Usually the new weights will fit correctly even if some of the related parts are worn. Don’t let anyone tell you that Prestolite distributors are no good - yes they likely need the improved advance weights installed but then they perform very well.

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        • #5
          I agree with Studebakercenteroforegon. I personally like the Prestolite distributors and use them in my engines. Once they are rebuilt using new weights and shaft bushings, they perform as well as or even better than the Delco window distributors especially when a dual point breaker plate with ball bearings is used. The Prestolite distributor shaft end play is easily adjusted with shims supplied with a new bushing kit and all of the Delcos are a PITA to remove the pins retaining both the oil pump drive and drive gear to get at the bushings and to adjust the end play. I've seen Delco window distributors that are so worn that the shaft play was well over 100 thousandths with the maximum being .010 thousandths which will effect ignition timing. I have a working distributor machine so I've seen this first hand. I also agree, buy a good distributor wrench, they are well worth the money. Bud

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          • #6
            OK. Before you spend a ton of money, get a good distributor wrench. Snug the bolt down. With a white paint marker, draw an index line on the dist base and block. Now you can tell if timing changes whether it is some weird internal dist. thing or, more likely, the dist. moving. I'd bet a quarter on the latter. (No, I do not like Prestolite anything. I've always felt there products were cheaply made compared to Delco.) You cannot properly treat without first making a proper diagnosis!!!

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            • #7
              I agree the Prestolite should be checked out first.
              Be aware that there are at least two variations of hold downs for a Studebaker V-8 distributor, I discovered this changing the distributor on my 60 engine in the Commander. Most people I mentioned it to were unaware of this. If the engine has previously been operating correctly this is probably not the problem, but after this many years things get switched.
              "In the heart of Arkansas."
              Searcy, Arkansas
              1952 Commander 2 door. Really fine 259.
              1952 2R pickup

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              • #8
                Thank you for all of the good advice here. I'll take the "Keep it Simple Stupid" advice and start by marking it after buying a good distributor wrench and see if there is movement. If that's not it I'll follow the rest of your advice. I should have mentioned that it has the Chrysler electronic ignition installed. The timing had been set correctly early in the process using the max vacuum technique and it definitely retarded after that and ran well once set again. The electronic ignition was installed before my ownership so I am unaware if the upgrades were done at that time or not.

                Thanks again for all of your help.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Studebakercenteroforegon View Post
                  I have recently purchased 532491 Lock Plates from Studebaker International so I know they are available. You should buy a distributor wrench while you are at it.
                  I just tried to order a 532491 lock plate from SI online and it doesn't show up. I don't see it in the catalogue either. Did you call them to order? Do they have the wrenches as well?
                  Thanks

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                  • #10
                    Kevin
                    You can get the distributor wrench at Crappy Tire for $10. There's a similar one on Amazon.ca for $20.

                    Sandro

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                    • #11
                      Pardon my ignorance on this issue but I have the Mopar adaption on my 289 and if memory serves me it is used with a Chrysler distributor not a prestolite unless that was what mopar used. Harbor freight has a distributor wrench for less than $10.00.

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                      • #12
                        I like the three piece dist. wrench. You can add extensions if needed and fits 1/2" and 9/16"bolt heads.

                        AL SORAN RACING

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by 4NStudy View Post
                          Kevin
                          You can get the distributor wrench at Crappy Tire for $10. There's a similar one on Amazon.ca for $20.

                          Sandro
                          After I asked on the forum I looked it up and found the one at Hungarian Rubber! What would we do without CTC eh? Already y bought it!

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Dwain G. View Post
                            I like the three piece dist. wrench. You can add extensions if needed and fits 1/2" and 9/16"bolt heads.

                            That's the very one I just bought, until this thread I didn't know they existed, thanks!

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by E. Davis View Post
                              Pardon my ignorance on this issue but I have the Mopar adaption on my 289 and if memory serves me it is used with a Chrysler distributor not a prestolite unless that was what mopar used. Harbor freight has a distributor wrench for less than $10.00.
                              Well now you have me wondering! I was of the belief this was still the Prestolite distributor but this was all done before I owned the car. I don't have the car here to go identify it. I'll see if I have a picture of the distributor to see if it can be identified.

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