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'63 Hawk Distributor swap to convert to electronic

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  • Ignition: '63 Hawk Distributor swap to convert to electronic

    Hello all I'm a new member just joined today. I've always loved stude's and finally got my first a '63 GT Hawk. It needs lots of love but I was able to get it to run in about 1 hours time even after sitting for more than 20 years. I want to convert it over to electronic ignition. The info I have found so far seems to say I can fit some Chrysler HEI parts into my existing Prestolite Distributor or I could pick up a Delco 1110839 and install a Pertronix Ignitor II into it or buy a Mallory unit from a member. I'm leaning towards the mallory unit but wanted to make sure I'm not missing something better. The Hawk currently has the stock 2 barrel carb but I'm going to be installing a new intake manifold and 4 barrel carb.

  • #2
    I used a Pertronix in a Delco distributor for over 4 years, not knowing that the distributor internals (weights, vac advance) were working poorly. It drove me nuts. I recently installed a Unilite (Mallory) from Dave Thibeault, along with a new Mallory coil, surge suppressor, Edelbrock 1403, plugs and wires. The engine now runs like a new one.
    64 GT Hawk (K7)
    1970 Avanti (R3)

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    • #3
      Originally posted by 64V-K7 View Post
      I used a Pertronix in a Delco distributor for over 4 years, not knowing that the distributor internals (weights, vac advance) were working poorly. It drove me nuts. I recently installed a Unilite (Mallory) from Dave Thibeault, along with a new Mallory coil, surge suppressor, Edelbrock 1403, plugs and wires. The engine now runs like a new one.
      While installing the Pertronix in the Delco, if you had taken an extra hour to disassemble, clean & lube, and op-check the vacuum advance & fly weights, you'd have had a lot more pleasant experience with it. Lots of folks do that; simply install the upgraded parts without giving any thought to the 50 year old grease & grime.

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      • #4
        Shawn -

        ""but wanted to make sure I'm not missing something better.""

        You ask about something "better"...?
        The best, overall way to go is to use a "crank trigger" assembly. This removes a lot of variables. It's very similar to what modern/current cars use.
        But...it does take a bit of work to put together. I'm using MSD products on two of my Studes, but there are a hand full of assemblies on the market beside the MSD. Unfortunatly...none have a direct bolt on for the Stude...so you'll have to make one of them fit the Stude engine yourself. There have been a few people already do this to their Studes.

        It IS the ultimate in ignition control.

        There are others beside the Pertronix and Mallory, Crane has one also, as do another version or two. Also, the Mallory Unilite...you can JUST swap their Unilite module into the Delco distributor...you don't have to buy a whole new distributor.

        Mike

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        • #5
          Oops. I forgot to say WELCOME to the NG Shawn. This is a good place to find tech info on Studes, and just hang out with good folks

          Again, WELCOME !

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          • #6
            Let me add my welcome to Shawn also! If he has a 2bbl 63 Hawk most likely it has the Prestolite distributor. Pertronix I believe does not carry a unit for that one, only the dual point version found on the R series engines (Avanti powered). I would advise checking to see what distributor the car is equipped with first & then call Dave Thibeault (or as we refer to him as "T-bow") @ 978-897-3158.
            59 Lark wagon, now V-8, H.D. auto!
            60 Lark convertible V-8 auto
            61 Champ 1/2 ton 4 speed
            62 Champ 3/4 ton 5 speed o/drive
            62 Champ 3/4 ton auto
            62 Daytona convertible V-8 4 speed & 62 Cruiser, auto.
            63 G.T. Hawk R-2,4 speed
            63 Avanti (2) R-1 auto
            64 Zip Van
            66 Daytona Sport Sedan(327)V-8 4 speed
            66 Cruiser V-8 auto

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            • #7
              I don't want to be a wet blanket on this, but I don't think my first priority on a newly acquired Stude that "needs a lot of love" would be to convert to an electronic ignition. Maybe it's just that I'm a dyed in the wool CASO, but I'd hold off on "upgrades" until the car was well sorted out, including safety items like brakes, tires, suspension. A points type ignition is actually pretty good...especially at the relatively low RPMs that Stude motors are capable of.

              Go through your new Hawk in detail. Make a list of what needs to be done. Prioritize it. Then start buying parts and doing work.

              And welcome to the Forum. You'll get all kinds of help here...even some that you never asked for.
              Dick Steinkamp
              Bellingham, WA

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              • #8
                There you go, Dick! Injecting common sense again.
                "All attempts to 'rise above the issue' are simply an excuse to avoid it profitably." --Dick Gregory

                Brad Johnson, SDC since 1975, ASC since 1990
                Pine Grove Mills, Pa.
                sigpic'33 Rockne 10, '51 Commander Starlight, '53 Commander Starlight "Désirée"

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                • #9
                  I'm with Dick on that. Just pulled the rear axels on my 63 Cruiser and discovered: both brake drums were junk, one about an eight inch over limit, and the other with heat cracks. Also someone had installed the axels incorrectly, with way too much end play. You could see that the axel bearings were riding on just the outer edge of the bearing cup. You never know what someone's done to your can in the last half-century. As someone else here on the forum said, "It's better to be able to stop before you go. Nothing wrong with planning upgrades and doing some research, just make sure you do a thorough inspection of the systems so that you can safely drive your Stude.

                  Welcome to the forum!

                  Brian
                  Last edited by brian6373; 09-15-2013, 10:18 PM.

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                  • #10
                    Advanced ignitions

                    Mike,

                    Interesting, going that modern. Does the MSD or other CPS triggered ignition allow selection or programming of the advance curve? Does it allow other variables input to affect the advance curve? I view that as a weakness of the Pertronix module, still using the distributors mechanical and vacuum advances. those mechanical advances often being well worn out and replacement vacuum advances becoming very scarce. I also wonder about the efficiency of the Pertronix module using the original distributor cam to produce a Hall Effect signal off of a cam that was meant to open and close points. Going to a CPS system you would still need the bottom part of the distributor in place to provide the drive to the oil pump.

                    I've put aftermarket electronic ignitions on several vintage motorcycles. I put a Sparx system on my '79 Triumph Bonneville, it uses spinnng magnets to produce the trigger signal, kind of a mickey mouse system. For older Harleys there's a great selection of ignitions, some with selection/programmability of advance curves, also by adding a VOES (Vacuum Operated Electrical Switch) they toggle between 2 advance curves, one optimized for accleration and one optimized for cruising.

                    Gary



                    Originally posted by Mike Van Veghten View Post
                    Shawn -

                    ""but wanted to make sure I'm not missing something better.""

                    You ask about something "better"...?
                    The best, overall way to go is to use a "crank trigger" assembly. This removes a lot of variables. It's very similar to what modern/current cars use.
                    But...it does take a bit of work to put together. I'm using MSD products on two of my Studes, but there are a hand full of assemblies on the market beside the MSD. Unfortunatly...none have a direct bolt on for the Stude...so you'll have to make one of them fit the Stude engine yourself. There have been a few people already do this to their Studes.

                    It IS the ultimate in ignition control.

                    There are others beside the Pertronix and Mallory, Crane has one also, as do another version or two. Also, the Mallory Unilite...you can JUST swap their Unilite module into the Delco distributor...you don't have to buy a whole new distributor.

                    Mike

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Mike,

                      Interesting, going that modern. Does the MSD or other CPS triggered ignition allow selection or programming of the advance curve? Does it allow other variables input to affect the advance curve? I view that as a weakness of the Pertronix module, still using the distributors mechanical and vacuum advances. those mechanical advances often being well worn out and replacement vacuum advances becoming very scarce. I also wonder about the efficiency of the Pertronix module using the original distributor cam to produce a Hall Effect signal off of a cam that was meant to open and close points. Going to a CPS system you would still need the bottom part of the distributor in place to provide the drive to the oil pump.


                      As far as crank triggered ignition, I'd say it depends on manufacturer. I am using a Ford EDIS system on my '55. The '55's ignition system is a supplementary add on to the Megasquirt ECU, which is already built into their programming, so it was just a matter of finding the parts and putting it together. Their tuning software lets me customize an ignition map from my laptop, so I can put any distributor profile in there, from a single point Delco, up to an dual point Prestolite. That system is also driven off of the crank, where the trigger wheel was installed behind the damper on the standard 289 in the vehicle.

                      With that said, I also have Pertronix systems in the 2R5 and my Lark, both of which have been in the cars for years. Save for the advance mechanisms, the physical points are not there anymore, instead they were replaced by a magnet and reluctor. These two items don't care how much slop is in the distributor(that is of course unless the shaft is so badly worn that it's really flopping around in there and damages the reluctor), because the distributor is generating a signal, rather than relying on the opening and closing of a pair of points. The Ford EDIS system is the same way. It doesn't matter how much lateral movement there is going on, the system is being used to generate a signal to drive the coils. In both cases, with the Pertronix and crank driven systems, if you're having ignition problems based on the lateral movement of the trigger wheel or the magnet, you have bigger problems than just with the ignition, like vital engine parts and potential damage to the distributor parts, that need to be badly replaced type of problems!
                      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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                      • #12
                        During the 1970s and 80s, my brother was a mechanic at a county school bus garage. He recalls when a Pertronix sales rep first came around convinced them to try Pertronix in a bus or two, Due to the positive results, soon all buses were converted, not only in that county but in most others in Kentucky. It became a "no brainer" for the school transportation folks. He said he probably installed a hundred of those kits himself over the years in buses, and the problems with failure were next to zero.

                        A couple of years ago, when he decided to install Pertronix in a windowed Delco in the 289 of his Stude pickup, said he coulda done it blindfolded.
                        Last edited by JoeHall; 09-16-2013, 04:52 PM.

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                        • #13

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                          • #14
                            A DIS won't be as efficient as a true complete fuel injection system, with a computer, that controls everything. A programmed map lookup table from a lap top won't take into consideration things like up hill loads, and heavy acceleration. You must also have throttle position sensors, manifold absolute pressure (map) sensors, knock sensors, and the like to tell the computer what is going on in relation to how it's being driven. If you get rid of the distributor and it's advance controls, (vacuum, and mechanical), you will have to replace those systems for proper functionality. It involves more than just switching a few parts.
                            Bez Auto Alchemy
                            573-318-8948
                            http://bezautoalchemy.com


                            "Don't believe every internet quote" Abe Lincoln

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by swoodrow View Post
                              Dick - Your advice is well understood and appreciated. I'm already planning to convert the brakes over to four wheel disk mostly for ease of service and availability of parts.
                              Actually, Stude drum brakes are quite simple and easy to service and all parts are readily available from Studebaker Parts Vendors. Once you do one wheel, you'll be an expert! . One of your first purchases should be the Shop Manual and the two parts catalogs. They are all available from the same Studebaker Parts Vendors.

                              Originally posted by swoodrow View Post
                              Currently I'm trying to decide if I want to buy a kit (most likely option) or assemble from scratch myself. I have a second master cylinder and two rebuild kits on the way. I have the materials to redo the brake lines already. I still need to figure out the booster and decide if I'm going to rebuild it or update it.
                              Again, I'd hold off on the upgrade to discs until you have the car fully evaluated and sorted out. Also, I'm not sure what you are going to do with the second master cylinder. Plus, if you do convert to discs, you will need a different master cylinder than the stock one.

                              The booster is the remote type and tough to find an "update" for. It is also relatively expensive to have rebuilt if it is bad. It will only work on a single circuit brake system, so if you plan to upgrade the brake system at some point in time, you'll have to deal with that problem.

                              The engine (with trans attached) comes out relatively easily without pulling the front end off. Again, I'd hold off on doing all that work. Get it running and evaluate the engine condition then. If it runs good and has good compression, freeze plugs can be replaced with the engine in the car (not a fun job), and ALL Studes leak oil...it's just a matter of how much.

                              Originally posted by swoodrow View Post
                              On top of that, the floor pans are rotted out and the front pillars are rusted through.
                              Unfortunately, you are probably just seeing the tip of the iceberg when it comes to rust. Those are common rust areas, but so are the trunk floor and seal rail around the outside of the trunk, "torque boxes" (sheet metal boxes under the floor used to stiffen the body), rear of front fenders, inner panels under the rear fenders (the rear fenders bolt on), etc. If you are super skilled with making and installing patch panels, you will be OK. If not, it will cost a fortune to have a pro do it OR you can just patch it and live with it. If the later, the car will never be worth much so I'd try real hard to keep the money out of it.

                              My basic advice is not to dive into it with time and money until you know what you have and have developed a total plan and budget to do what you think you want to do. There are far more failed and abandoned projects out there than completed ones. Everyone is different, but if it was mine, I'd get it running, get the brakes so they work, drive it a little on the back roads to see how the other systems work (suspension, steering, transmission, electrical, etc), then put my plan and budget together. If the car is as rusty as you say, you may decide at that point to just sell it and find one that isn't, but at least you will know what you are dealing with.
                              Dick Steinkamp
                              Bellingham, WA

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