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straight 8 HEI


McDar
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I put an Olds V8 HEI in my 37 and it took very little modification to get it done. Re-gapped the plugs to 0.045, adjusted carb and timing and mileage went from 15.3 to 16.8 holding at a steady 2000 rpm. Am planning a long trip this spring and chose the HEI over a Pertronix simply because every parts store has parts for the HEI. Picture is with junkyard cap and wires which have been replaced. Also carrying along the old points distributor so coil was left mounted.

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Grant, the lower the compression the bigger the gap that will still fire. I've set the float in the carb at it's lowest minimum, put an insulation block between the carb and manifold, fuel pressure at 2.3 #'s, and routed all lines away from heat and the darn thing still percolates when turned off after a longer drive. With points I had to grind the starter for a while before starting but with the HEI and the big gap to give a fat hot spark it fires right up. It still blows the initial cloud of black smoke but it DOES start quickly. Ben and Barney, I wish I could put script with pictures or make a drawing with dimensions but this 75 year old dog ain't learned those new tricks. Here's a word description to the photos below. Both distributors have almost 2" of the case that fits down into the block---no machining required. The Buick is 1.375" diameter on the part that fits into the block and the Olds is 1.517" on the top and bottom shoulders that locate it in the block but, guess what; the case itself is 1.375", the same as the Buick. The two shoulders have to be turned off on a lathe down to the 1.375 dimension. The only sticky parts is the Olds shaft is too short since it fits into a distributor gear with a hex hole at the bottom. A longer Chevy shaft is used so it can be cut to length and the blade (tang) for driving the oil pump is milled at the bottom. It is centered in the shaft and 0.160 thick by 5/8 long. I don't have a drill that will even scratch the Buick distributor gear so I slid it up onto the shaft till it was against the washer on the bottom of the case and drilled through the shaft at that point. The hole in the Buick gear is a tad smaller than 9/64 but bigger than a 1/8, actually measures to 3.5 millimeters. I ground a 9/64 drill to that size and then turned a matching pin on the lathe to fasten the gear to the shaft. I put two studs in the block where the two hold down bolts went to clamp down the Buick distributor because the HEI is big enough around to make it a blind job starting bolts. Made the horse shoe shaped hold down clamp to drop down over the studs which have a smooth starter end on them.

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Ben, how big of a hurry are you to try one? Since I know it works I am going to buy a brand new HEI and use it. The present one was computer controlled and has no vacuum advance but was good enough for a test. When I visit my sister I go from Big Cabin in Oklahoma across the turnpike to Hwy. 71 at Joplin and then north to KC. Does this come anywhere near you? If so, the next trip I could let you use the prototype to make one of your own. I also have a place at Branson but if at all possible I'll NEVER drive in that area again. Evan

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I am a rookie when it comes to the straight 8 Buicks but am somewhat of a purest.

However there are enough Buick owners out there that drive their cars, I believe this is a very interesting project and think you should submit the instructions and pictures to Pete for a tech article in the Bugle.

I would be glad to assist if you need some help.

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Guest Grant Magrath

The vacuum can on an HEI is usually worth 20 degrees of advance. Did you have to re-curve the distributor, or is it still early days yet?

Cheers

Grant

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Grant, it's definitely in the early stage. I gathered up just parts that I had on hand for a prototype. I have a Sun distributor machine so before the final version I'll run the Buick on it and graph out all the data, both mechanical and vacuum. There are a jillion spring and weight combos offer for the GM distributor so I should be able to match the HEI to the Buick specs. Right now I advanced it till it sounds good and doesn't kick back at the starter when starting warm.

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