Lost in the sauce upgrading to HEI...

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Lost in the sauce upgrading to HEI...

Post by 77dreammachine on Fri May 13, 2016 2:26 am

So, the ignition system in my Malibu is starting to go out. The car is stumbling and sometimes misfires so I figured I'd do a good ol' upgrade. Anyways, I've bought new plugs and wires along with a Flame-Thrower Igniter I Distributor from Pertronix and now I'm lost as hell. My car doesn't have an ignition coil or ballast resistor as far as I can tell from scouring my car's ignition. Thus, I'm lost as to where to hook up the wires from my new distributor, and obviously I need to get an ignition coil, but when I do idk where the hell to hook everything up and what wires go where. The insructions are vauge as hell. I've done tons of searches and looked up youtube videos but all the guides I've read seem to think the viewer or reader has some pre-conceived knowledge of doing an HEI upgrade. So, I ask all that have done this to their A-Body, what did you do and how did you do it? Every little bit helps. Thanks for all the help in advance, this community is awesome

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Re: Lost in the sauce upgrading to HEI...

Post by bracketchev1221 on Fri May 13, 2016 6:21 am

Do you have a part number? Because I am confused. What year is the car? Did the car have an GM HEI and you are changing it to a non GM HEI distributor? That is the only reason that would make sense when you say the car has no coil. The coil was in the cap on the original HEI.
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Re: Lost in the sauce upgrading to HEI...

Post by thatfnthing on Fri May 13, 2016 8:54 am

X2.

The coil is in the cap in factory and aftermarket GM HEI's, and there's no need for a condenser any more since points are not used. What make/model distributor is it? It almost sounds like you're trying to go backwards from HEI to points...
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Re: Lost in the sauce upgrading to HEI...

Post by 77dreammachine on Fri May 13, 2016 12:05 pm

The car is a 77 Malibu classic. The car does not have GM HEI. I'll have to look at the distributor on my car later and give you guys a part number

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Re: Lost in the sauce upgrading to HEI...

Post by thatfnthing on Fri May 13, 2016 1:17 pm

That's odd, since all GM's from 75 on came with HEI...
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Re: Lost in the sauce upgrading to HEI...

Post by 77dreammachine on Fri May 13, 2016 3:35 pm

Yes, I suppose I should've mentioned that the engine is not the original engine that came with the car in 77'. The engine that I do have in there now, based on the engine code, is out of a 74' Laguna that had a 4-speed attached to it

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Re: Lost in the sauce upgrading to HEI...

Post by thatfnthing on Fri May 13, 2016 4:40 pm

Okay, assuming you have an actual HEI distributor to install (i.e. not points), the installation is super simple: it only requires a 16ga supply wire from a source that is hot in Start and Run.  The coil is built into the cap and needs no fussing, and there's no condenser.  The other terminal on the HEI cap is for an optional tach feed.

The cap should look similar to this:



The two connections I mentioned plug into the part that sticks out on the left. The coil is under the top center of the cap. If you have a factory unit, it may also have a retaining "hat" ring over all this to hold the wires onto their terminals.
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Re: Lost in the sauce upgrading to HEI...

Post by 77dreammachine on Fri May 13, 2016 5:21 pm

Here's what my distributor looks like

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Re: Lost in the sauce upgrading to HEI...

Post by chevellelaguna on Fri May 13, 2016 5:46 pm

That isn't an HEI distributor..so at least the swap should be easier. Need to know what you had in there originally.
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Re: Lost in the sauce upgrading to HEI...

Post by thatfnthing on Fri May 13, 2016 6:07 pm

That's looks like old style points (the metal clip on the front of the cap is an adjustment hatch for dwell), unless it's had a Pertronix conversion done to it.  If it's actually points, it's not worth your time and effort (and your car won't have the necessary resistance wire, since that had been eliminated by the factory with the advent of HEI) -- sell that thing and get a real HEI.  If it's a Pertronix conversion, it should have a diagram how to hook it to an external coil, and no condenser should be needed.
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Re: Lost in the sauce upgrading to HEI...

Post by 77dreammachine on Fri May 13, 2016 6:13 pm

Well, f*ck me then..It seems I already have an HEI distributor (correct me if I'm wrong). And the new distributor is a Pertronix conversion with a diagram of how to hook up to an external coil. I guess live and learn right. Sorry for wasting everyone's time on a noob mistake. I suppose I should just buy a new coil, whether that be for my existing distributor or for the new one..

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Re: Lost in the sauce upgrading to HEI...

Post by pila on Fri May 13, 2016 8:42 pm

Chances are, that the coil in that HEI is not the problem. If you replace the cap & rotor & try it, maybe that's all it needs. That cap looks pretty crappy on the outside, & maybe just as bad on the inside....

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Re: Lost in the sauce upgrading to HEI...

Post by 73ss on Fri May 13, 2016 9:12 pm

Anyways, I've bought new plugs and wires along with a Flame-Thrower Igniter I Distributor from Pertronix and now I'm lost as hell.

Chances are, that the coil in that HEI is not the problem. If you replace the cap & rotor & try it, maybe that's all it needs. That cap looks pretty crappy on the outside, & maybe just as bad on the inside.... X2


If your stuck with that one it will work. It doesn't need a resistor, runs off full 12V, You should get the matching coil though. Those are actually a nice piece, basically a copy of a MSD but with no box. They make it easy to dial in a advance curve suited to your motor. It should have come with extra springs & stop bushings? Those units are for replacing the old point unit. Stock look but with modern electronics. The window is there for looks. the instructions suggest getting rid of the resistor wire.
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Re: Lost in the sauce upgrading to HEI...

Post by 77dreammachine on Sat May 14, 2016 6:52 pm

Thanks everyone for the help, I really appreciate it

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Re: Lost in the sauce upgrading to HEI...

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