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  • Inferior engineering?

    Is it true that as a rule Delco distributors are far superior to Prestolite?

    If so why?

    Bad engineering, or just internals that were never any good from 'birth'?

  • #2
    "Far Superior" is a little strong, but Delco distributors are generally better overall.

    Their original construction is better (better, more-durable materials), especially better bushings in which the distributor shaft revolves. Many Delcos have a lubrication port in which a few drops of oil may may be placed periodically as described during tune-ups, helping them last longer and retain their original mechanical integrity.

    But you can be sure the Prestolites were less expensive for Studebaker to buy. After all, they were producing cars with comparatively expensive king pin front suspensions long after the balance of the industry went to cheaper ball joints, so they had to make up the difference somewhere! BP
    We've got to quit saying, "How stupid can you be?" Too many people are taking it as a challenge.

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    "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.

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    • #3
      IMHO, the Prestolite design was OK if Studebaker wanted a distributor that was going to last for 30-50K miles. It was a "cheap" design that lacked proper bushings at wear points. As a result, parts wore out, and the dwell and advance curves were affected. A properly rebuilt Prestolite will run well.

      Also, I consider it a big plus that the points on the Delco "window" distributor can be set precisely with a dwell meter while the engine is running. Setting the points on the Prestolite is a chore.
      Jim Bradley
      Lake Monticello, VA
      '78 Avanti II
      sigpic

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      • #4
        I know that at least Dave Thibeault considers the Prestolite *superior* to the Delco - IF it is properly rebuilt with its weaknesses taken into account. Most glaring is that the advance weights on the Studebaker versions don't have bushings while those used on MoPars do.

        nate
        --
        55 Commander Starlight
        http://members.cox.net/njnagel

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        • #5
          Think 1960's.
          Think 'low volume', 'low bid' purchasing department.
          Think warranty period, warranty expense.
          Then think about the cost to modify an off the shelf design to meet all these low volume requirements.
          If Prestolite, or Delco, could make small modifications to an existing design, then the cost factor in the bid is reduced.
          Remember, Studebaker built thousands of cars each year.
          The big three built tens of millions of cars each year.
          To the component suppliers, the Studebaker people were tolerated as extra volume. as long as the product was easy to supply.
          Cutting edge technology it wasn't.
          HTIH (Hope The Info Helps)

          Jeff


          Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. Mark Twain



          Note: SDC# 070190 (and earlier...)

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          • #6
            I like a properly rebuilt Prestolite dual point distributor much better than a Delco window distributor. If the advance weights in the Prestolites are replaced with the upgraded weights with bronze bushings, the distributor will out perform a Delco any day. The Prestolite breaker plate is mounted on ball bearings which operate more smoothly than the Delco breaker plate and the big problem with the Delco window distributors is the shaft end play which is almost impossible to adjust and can be as high as 100 thousandths of an inch causing the timing to wander all over especially at high rpm. The end play on a Prestolite is easily adjusted with shims and can be brought down to a few thousandths of an inch which eliminates the timing wander. Put a Pertronix unit in a Prestolite and the maintenance issues are gone. Bud

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            • #7
              As an added note, Chrysler used the same upper section of the Studebaker Prestolite distributor in their distributors with the better weights in their big block high performance engines, the 383, 440 and 426 hemi. I wouldn't call the Prestolite distributors inferior to Delco as Chrysler used them in their high performance engines for years. Bud

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              • #8
                I knew Bud would pipe in on this one!

                Jim
                "We can't all be Heroes, Some us just need to stand on the curb and clap as they go by" Will Rogers

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                • #9
                  Pertonix no longer makes a unit for the Prestolite single, or do you hav a secret stash. if so sell me one. I have a NIB Pertronix 1584 for a dual that I'll sell for $65 if anyone wants it at that price
                  Mark Riesch
                  New Bern, NC

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                  • #10
                    As far as I know, Pertronix does not make a unit for the single point Prestolite distributor. I'm adding another comment to the Delco issue, the earlier Delco non window distributors are superior in my opinion to the window distributors as they have better quality construction than the window distributor and Pertronix makes a unit for them. Jim, you're right, I couldn't keep quiet about this. Bud

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                    • #11
                      Mark, what was the Pertronix p/n for the Prestolite single point unit?

                      Does anyone know why Pertronix stopped making this unit? Was there an inherent problem with it?
                      Paul
                      Winston-Salem, NC
                      Visit The Studebaker Skytop Registry website at: www.studebakerskytop.com

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                      • #12
                        I have one more comment on the Delco vs Prestolite issue. Studebaker only installed the window distributor in the Larks with a 259 and not in the Hawks with a 289. My theory is the window distributor was cheaper to produce than the earlier Delco distributors which is why they were installed only in the Larks which were more of an ecomomy car and in not the more expensive Hawks which are described as higher performance automobiles. Bud

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by TXmark View Post
                          Pertonix no longer makes a unit for the Prestolite single, or do you hav a secret stash. if so sell me one. I have a NIB Pertronix 1584 for a dual that I'll sell for $65 if anyone wants it at that price
                          I'm glad I bought mine when I did!
                          Got a Cathcart rebuilt single point Prestolite with a Pertronics module in my '64 Cruiser. I'm very pleased with it.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Bud View Post
                            I have one more comment on the Delco vs Prestolite issue. Studebaker only installed the window distributor in the Larks with a 259 and not in the Hawks with a 289. My theory is the window distributor was cheaper to produce than the earlier Delco distributors which is why they were installed only in the Larks which were more of an ecomomy car and in not the more expensive Hawks which are described as higher performance automobiles. Bud
                            Or, Stewart-Warner did not make the tach drive unit to fit the Delco window distributor, so Studebaker stuck with the older Delco so they could use the same Stewart Warner pulse drive tach.
                            Paul
                            Winston-Salem, NC
                            Visit The Studebaker Skytop Registry website at: www.studebakerskytop.com

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                            • #15
                              The older non window Delcos, and the Autolites had the points fixed on a pivot on the advance plate. The reason for the pivot was there was a lobed screw and an ordinary screw to lock the points in place. What I liked about the setup was it made the procedure simpler on the Delcos, than on the Prestolite to set the points, because all it took was loosening the screw, and then twisting the lobed screw to reduce or enlarge the gap on the points. It made setting the points on the older Delcos just as easy as the window
                              Delcos, compared to the Prestolite, because you can very precisely set the points and then lock them in place, as opposed to the Prestolites, where you need to loosen the screw, bump the points in with your finger, and then lock the points down. The only bad thing is that brass lobed screw has a tendency to twist off from age, which requires finding a whole new advance plate.
                              That's also where the development of the window distributor came from, it was a continuation of the method that was used on the older Delcos, and the Autolites.
                              1964 Studebaker Commander R2 clone
                              1963 Studebaker Daytona Hardtop with no engine or transmission
                              1950 Studebaker 2R5 w/170 six cylinder and 3spd OD
                              1955 Studebaker Commander Hardtop w/289 and 3spd OD and Megasquirt port fuel injection(among other things)

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