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Want to put an electronic ignition in my 1928 dodge victory 6


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Have used a couple of PerTronix, work best with their special coil & at least 8mm plug wires.

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Yep, easy and simple to do, did the Pertronix to my former '28 Chrysler which was 12v +ve ground. There was no dedicated kit for this distributor, so I just purchased one for a 6 cylinder 12volt +ve ground Pertronix unit. If you are still 6volts then make sur your coil (primary) resistance is 1.5ohm or if 12volts then 3ohms to make sure you don't have much more than 4 amps going through the module.

 

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What's the matter with points? Clean and adjust once a year, replace every 20,000 miles. If you do the electronic conversion PLEASE save all the parts you take off in case a future owner wants to fix it right.

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If you plan on touring the car you might think about a spare  so you can get home. My understanding re the electronic conversions is they work fine til they don't. Repair consists of replacement.

A spare set of points and condenser are cheaper. They also lend themselves to roadside repair.

Your call of course.

One of the Studebakers (6v. and + ground) in a SDC group I tour with has run Pertronix for years with no problems except for a reverse polarity event which resulted in several days wait to get a replacement.

Good luck.

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So good idea to buy two. Doubt if you will find the right coil in an Arizona desert.

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I tried the Pertonix in my 56 Cadillac with poor results.  I think, in retrospect, could have been because I did not use the Pertronix coil in conjunction with as well.  When I bought my ‘72 Volvo, it had a Crane Cams Fireball XR700 installed, which I kept post-restoration.  It is still running strong 7 years on, and was probably as many years old when I bought the car.

Edited by Akstraw
Correct typos (see edit history)
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Agree with what's been said. It's a popular conversion for the MGs but we keep the points setup.  When we go on tours we carry a complete set-up spare distributor (dizzy) so a roadside fix is just pull the old one and pop in a new one.   With either set-up, carrying a few spares is good insurance.

Terry

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18 hours ago, Rusty_OToole said:

What's the matter with points? Clean and adjust once a year, replace every 20,000 miles. If you do the electronic conversion PLEASE save all the parts you take off in case a future owner wants to fix it right.

Yeah, make sure you save all the parts and keep them in the car because some day you'll need them..

Like a friend that was going to a Chevrolet show with his 409-409. Pertronix gave up on him on the way to the show. Luckily he kept the points and condenser in the glovebox.  I said maybe he could send the Pertronix back and get his money back. He said not likely because he was so pissed he threw them as far as he could from the side of the road into a field.

 

 I am a great believer in G.M. factory HEI and have it on two cars. ( always keep a module in the glove box) But G.M. HEI has just about the same maintenance schedule as points. On a G.M. HEI you still have to inspect the cap and rotor, check and lube the mechanical advance, check the vacuum advance. The only difference is one you replace the points-lube cam and the other you remove the module and clean off the mounting plate ( breaker plate) of old dielectric grease and clean the grease from the back of the module and re apply new grease. You do this once a year because the fresh grease transfers heat from the module. Don't change the module grease and you overheat the module=open circuit=no go.

So you see the time under the hood is about the same. AND what about a hotter spark???? A normal running engine takes 8-10 KV to fire off a spark plug plug which is more than enough with a point system that can provide over 30KV 

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Have also seen a pinhole arc through through an HEI cap.

 

In case anyone is interested one of the rarest GM options is a '63 Corvette FI with the Delcotronic Ignition (used to have a pair of amps on my dash with a switch), followed by a CD ignition in '67, and a smaller diameter version of the HEI as an option for 1972 Pontiacs. And then there was the stillborne HEI with a fuel pump in the base. Was an interesting time to be at Delco-Remy.

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6 minutes ago, padgett said:

Have also seen a pinhole arc through through an HEI cap.

 

In case anyone is interested one of the rarest GM options is a '63 Corvette FI with the Delcotronic Ignition (used to have a pair of amps on my dash with a switch), followed by a CD ignition in '67, and a smaller diameter version of the HEI as an option for 1972 Pontiacs. And then there was the stillborne HEI with a fuel pump in the base. Was an interesting time to be at Delco-Remy.

That Delcotronic transistorized ignition is standard on all 1963 421 Pontiac engines and optional on all premium fuel Pontiac V-8's. They have the standard point size distributor cap and a outside mounted ignition pulse amplifier. When you pull the cap off the only thing that is different is there is a magnetic pickup assy. and the timer core. They use the same mechanical centrifugal advance, vacuum advance and as said before cap and rotor. 

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  • Peter Gariepy changed the title to Want to put an electronic ignition in my 1928 dodge victory 6

Sorta, 63-65 'vette Delcotronic also had mechanical drives for the FI and tach. See 1111063. Pontiac (below) has neither.

 

dtronic.jpg

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59 minutes ago, padgett said:

Sorta, 63-65 'vette Delcotronic also had mechanical drives for the FI and tach. See 1111063. Pontiac (below) has neither.

 

dtronic.jpg

That would make sense wouldn't it? since Pontiac had neither MFI or a mechanical tach in 1963. However Pontiac did have mechanical fuel injection in 57&58

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I used a pertronix in my 41 Packard.  The unit will not work if you have less than 4.5 volts at the module. I had a large voltage drop at the ignition switch.  I ran a separate wire with a toggle switch to the coil to overcome the voltage drop and everything worked fine.  Never had a problem with the pertronix.

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"However Pontiac did have mechanical fuel injection in 57&58" yes but no tach drive and was a two piece distributer. Had a 57 which was stamped steel and had a turkey roaster. 58 was cast aluminum and didn't. Think all I have now are the manuals and a pair of 63-65 speaker stands.

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2 hours ago, padgett said:

"However Pontiac did have mechanical fuel injection in 57&58" yes but no tach drive and was a two piece distributer. Had a 57 which was stamped steel and had a turkey roaster. 58 was cast aluminum and didn't. Think all I have now are the manuals and a pair of 63-65 speaker stands.

I know I know. We're getting off topic so lets stop.

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Seemed to start easier, idle smoother, and not need adjustment on my 66 Monza.

I carry a spare ignition in my Reatta, started carrying spare HEI modules back in the '70s.

Ignition has always been the most likely to fail suddenly.

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14 minutes ago, Brass is Best said:

Stick with the coil and points. If you break on the side of the road you can walk into most parts stores and figure something out. If the electronic breaks you are calling a tow truck.

Yep. Most parts stores still stock at least some points, 10 dollars and a few minutes later you're back on the road. And if you break down on the side of the highway, some sandpaper will probably be enough to get you to the next town. Of course, it's all up to the OP and what their needs are.

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One advantage to electronic ignition is the fact that the settings (timing, dwell) and the carburetor adjustments that are affected by timing and dwell do not change over time. Points ignition starts to degrade the instant you start using it.

 

The other advantage is that coil energy can be increased by increasing the current. Points limit the available current because they will just fail if you put too much current through them. An electronic ignition CAN (not necessarily will) allow more current, and that could theoretically allow you to run a wider spark plug gap without running out of spark at high rpm. It might even give a tiny horsepower increase, the sort of increase you might need a dyno to see.

 

Anything else is advertising copy, often with a tiny grain of truth in it, just enough to make it believable.

 

There are reasons the second advantage listed above is dubious on old cars. First, nearly any points ignition, even the lousiest, seems to be able to work on an 8 cylinder engine up to 4000 rpm or so before seeing severe effects from a lack of coil charging time. This translates to 6000 rpm on a 6 cylinder and 8000 rpm or so on a four cylinder. How fast are you guys spinning these engines? Another factor is the insulation in the ignition system. If you raise the firing voltage, then the insulation on the spark plug wires, cap, rotor, spark plugs, etc. have to hold that higher voltage back. They might not be designed to do so. Usually the rotor is the weakest spot, with only a few mm of plastic or bakelite between the place where the high voltage comes in, and the steel distributor parts below.

 

The first advantage still stands. Whether most people drive their old cars enough to notice is another matter.

 

Whether a conversion makes any sense or not depends on the car and how the owner is using it. personally, I would most likely not convert a 6 volt car.

 

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and on the gripping hand I have seem mechanical points bridge and weld shut.

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Necessity is the mother of invention (or so I have been told).

 

Cell phones were not invented until after the proliferation of electronic ignition conversions! ;) Really nice to be able to call a tow-truck!

 

OK, less facetiously, we have had LOTS of "carburetor customers" with electronic conversions and generators, that solved their "carburetor" problem by (A) reinstalling points and condenser, or (B) upgrading to an alternator.

 

Jon.

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Pertronix is a solution looking for a non existent problem. 31 years and 29k miles ago, I set up my 1936 Pierce Arrow dual point dual coil distributor............it’s been fine. I removed it and checked it on a Sun tester four years ago, it was where I set it up when I was 24 years old......and I turned 55 last week. Billions of miles were driven on points.......and they are fine. In my opinion from actual experience, Pertronix is not worth the time, money or reliability issues. Three weeks ago we did just under 1000 miles in a Duesenberg J in six days. Car is stock, and ran fine........at RPM’s up to 4K and in hot and hard conditions. Keep your car stock. 99 percent of pre war engines can’t use 20 percent of their current and factory ignition system. T Heads, L heads, F heads, all are so inefficient and low rpm that it takes almost no KV’s to fire them.

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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1 hour ago, Bloo said:

One advantage to electronic ignition is the fact that the settings (timing, dwell) and the carburetor adjustments that are affected by timing and dwell do not change over time. Points ignition starts to degrade the instant you start using it.

 

The other advantage is that coil energy can be increased by increasing the current. Points limit the available current because they will just fail if you put too much current through them. An electronic ignition CAN (not necessarily will) allow more current, and that could theoretically allow you to run a wider spark plug gap without running out of spark at high rpm. It might even give a tiny horsepower increase, the sort of increase you might need a dyno to see.

 

Anything else is advertising copy, often with a tiny grain of truth in it, just enough to make it believable.

 

There are reasons the second advantage listed above is dubious on old cars. First, nearly any points ignition, even the lousiest, seems to be able to work on an 8 cylinder engine up to 4000 rpm or so before seeing severe effects from a lack of coil charging time. This translates to 6000 rpm on a 6 cylinder and 8000 rpm or so on a four cylinder. How fast are you guys spinning these engines? Another factor is the insulation in the ignition system. If you raise the firing voltage, then the insulation on the spark plug wires, cap, rotor, spark plugs, etc. have to hold that higher voltage back. They might not be designed to do so. Usually the rotor is the weakest spot, with only a few mm of plastic or bakelite between the place where the high voltage comes in, and the steel distributor parts below.

 

The first advantage still stands. Whether most people drive their old cars enough to notice is another matter.

 

Whether a conversion makes any sense or not depends on the car and how the owner is using it. personally, I would most likely not convert a 6 volt car.

 

Boo, Primary voltage and the secondary voltage are two different things. The low voltage primary side that go through the points is merely a on-off switch to saturate the coil and then to collapse it to induce high voltage. 

High energy Ignition systems did get their start in the early 60's for super high performance cars, but we really didn't see much of them until the early 70's. In 1975 HEI became a must with the introduction of the catalytic converter. Working in Emission certification at that time, no one could afford a misfire with a cat because that could lead to a fire under the car and to the ground below. Even with a car running perfectly owners manuals always said do not park over any combustible material like dried grass etc.

 A perfect example of how good a HEI could be was when we got a car in the emission lab/dyno rm. that had a perfect idle-nice and smooth, but once a oscilloscope was put on the ignition system it revealed that one cylinder had a huge spark line somewhere around 30KV. removal of that spark plug revealed that the electrode and the ground electrode were gone completely. The plug was being fired from the stem through the glass seal and grounding to the spark plug housing.

This is why HEI was adopted. On a normal point distributor it would have been a misfire and a misfire with a catalytic converter is a fire condition. In testing for what might happen I have seen converters glowing cherry red, burning off undercoating, paint and melting carpet and plastic console parts.

 But for old antique cars HEI is not necessary.

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I agree with the suggestion to stay with points if you have no definable problem with them. If you go with pertronix, definitely pay attention to the warning about using the correct ohm coil. I replaced the coil on my pertronix car (came to me that way), and I used a multi-tester to check the resistance of the new coil. Can't remember where I hooked it up, but a quick search will lead you to an easy to find tutorial.

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I put a Pertronix on my '35 Auburn some 20 years back, in anticipation of smoother running. There was absolutely no discernable difference from running on the old dual-point setup. Car ran fine for a couple years, then with absolutely no warning died in the middle of a parade, never to fire again. Of course I didn't have a spare Pertronix unit. So after trailering the car home I reinstalled the dual points and have never looked back -- and also never had any trouble since. 

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2 hours ago, Pfeil said:

Boo, Primary voltage and the secondary voltage are two different things. The low voltage primary side that go through the points is merely a on-off switch to saturate the coil and then to collapse it to induce high voltage. 

 

 

As an ex driveability and smog tech, you happen to have hit on my area. I don't know how we got on to primary vs secondary voltage, but the limitation to any of these ignitions is the charge time of the coil and the current drawn on the primary side. Saturating the coil at higher RPM is their weakess. If you don't saturate the coil, you don't get as much voltage on the secondary when you collapse it. More dwell time can help. So can more current. A transistor, properly selected, can provide more current than points. On an 8 cylinder engine once you get up around 5000-6000 rpm even with an electronic ignition the time to charge the coil gets vanishingly short, and in high-revving 8 cylinder engines there is a need to make the ignition extremely hot so that as the voltage available falls off, there is still enough when the engine reaches maximum RPM. The approximate 5000-6000 rpm limit translates to 7500-8000 rpm on a 6 cylinder or 10000-12000 rpm on a 4 cylinder. Getting enough spark energy at the sub-3500 rpm speeds that most 6 volt antiques run at is as easy as falling down.

 

When you get into 12 or 16 cylinders you would come up against the limits sooner. Edinmass could probably tell us more about that. There is typically more than one coil and more than one set of points in those cars. Firing every other cylinder is one possible way of getting around any potential charge time limitation.

 

I love GM HEI by the way. And Chrysler electronic, and Ford DuraSpark I/II. I have even built some custom ignitions using components from them. Those are proven systems, and after the teething problems were worked out, extremely reliable. Being electronic, and more stable over the long term than points, they eliminate a lot of periodic carburetor adjusting by default.  If I were to convert an antique, I would probably base it on one of those systems. You mentioned earlier an HEI system should be maintained like anything else, and I agree. However the 8 cylinder version, when used with a .045 plug gap will run fine for 50k miles with no maintenance at all. I remember seeing cars like that come into my service bay.

 

Those systems are all 12 volt. Designing a system with that sort of reliability to work on a 6 volt system is in my opinion a tougher nut to crack. Given only 6.3 volts of battery voltage, and maybe a lot less (4-4.5 volts?) while cranking on a frosty morning with a low battery, there isn't much left for the electronics.

 

 

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
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Just a note but CD-ignitions were common aftermarket items in the '60s. Also the Delcotronic would often keep firing after hitting a big puddle.

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7 hours ago, Restorer32 said:

What are the advertised advantages to electronic ignition? Have any of you guys with EI actually seen these advantages in touring?

 

The spark plugs neither know nor care if the switch that causes the magnetic field in the coil to collapse is a mechanical switch or an electronic one. There is zero benefit of these common point replacement kits over correctly maintained points. Yes, there are advanced electronic ignition systems that can artificially increase dwell and spark output. These simple point replacement systems don't do that, they're just an on/off switch. The reason people swear that the conversion is an improvement is because they are always replacing pitted, mis-adjusted points. Of COURSE it runs better.

You can use a higher output coil with points just as easily as you can with an electronic trigger. I'm amazed that people think that they're improving reliability when they have to carry spares with them everywhere they go.

Edited by joe_padavano (see edit history)
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8 hours ago, Brass is Best said:

Stick with the coil and points. If you break on the side of the road you can walk into most parts stores and figure something out. If the electronic breaks you are calling a tow truck.


I can always adjust points, or even clean up the contact with a bit of sandpaper, nail file, gal's emory board, etc - 

at least good enough to get moving again-

not the case with Pertronix, and I've helped too many others retrofit back to points after EI quit

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I have never seen any pre war engine in an automobile application that can spin so fast that a dual coil and dual point set up can’t easily keep up.........they probably are running at less than 50 percent duty cycle. Honestly, the reason for most dual coil and point applications was to differentiate it from the standard and mid line cars. Pierce was famous for this..........two or three different distributors in a single year.........like 1930.The “cheap” Pierce had timing gears and single coil and points, and a small distributor. Add in the different firing order in the same year depending on series.......makes things interesting. Especially when guys start swapping out cams and flywheels, making timing the car, the firing order, and also timing the oil pump......yup, on a Pierce, oil pump timing makes a difference. Lots of new people to Pierce Arrow cars start pulling their hair out. Now for the REAL fun.........tune up a 66E Seagrave truck with Two distributors, four coils, all with variable timing on the engine, dual distributor drive, adjustable lobe position, and fourteen marks on the flywheel........and guys end up crying in their beer. And just one more note. Pierce flywheel are not indexed so they can go on in any one of six positions.......want to try your luck? 
 

Here is a 66E with 24 plugs and the above described ignition......also notice the heat exchanger and hand throttle that runs the engine while pumping. These engines would run for days at wide open throttle pumping for fires and floods.......and would hold together unlike 99 percent of everything else in the world. It’s why Pierce was the first car to run at Bonnaville for 24 hours and average 117 mph for 24 hours in 1932!

0EF1B260-CD57-4CAB-997F-A9628F180482.png

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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In the 50s and 60s many Chevrolet V8s had dual point ignitions.

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Late 60's to 1973 Datsun/ Nissan L-series 4 cylinder had dual points. They were phased 7 degrees apart and were connected to the transmission and the throttle. A early emissions devise.

Edited by Pfeil (see edit history)
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My 1928 Graham-Paige starts right up every time.  Every few years I clean up the points, normally use a matchbook to set them.  Went on a 70 mile trip last fall, I don't even worry about the points any more.  I did put in full silicone brake fluid (Dot 5) good to 500F!  (I use it because it is an open system, won't absorb water).  I bought a new set of points and condenser, put them under the seat 15 years ago they are still there.  To be honest if I were to carry something spare, it would be a condenser.  I even threw out the electric fuel pump, original mechanical for me.  Good luck whatever your decision, points have worked well for me, I still have six cars and four motorcycles with points.

 

image.png.da4004e1c8d143bb07a2bceb0256a298.png

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Just a FYI you guys. I mentioned dielectric grease for HEI module should be changed about once a year, but there is another grease that will harden and not do it's job. Use new distributor cam grease and should also be changed ( my cars-once a year ). If you leave the old grease in there and it hardens it will not lube the rubbing block and will wear it down. You don't want that to happen while you're having fun somewhere on the road. 

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I've used the Pertronix modules for about thirty years and have had just one problem, one of the wires going to the module started to break internally at the module body and would occasionally cause the engine to miss.  I caught that one and replaced the module before it quit entirely.  I like not having to check and possibly having to adjust the dwell every 12k miles, sometimes more frequently after installing a new set of points.  This is more of an issue on the smaller four-cylinder engines, especially those sensitive to the ignition timing going off the recommended setting.  Plus the resultant change in idle speed, which can be an issue if the engine is sensitive to dieseling.  Electronic ignitions also are more tolerant of worn distributor cams.  I know there are those out there that would just repair the problem by machining new bushings and/or make a new distributor shaft, but for those of us that don't have the skills and/or tools to do so, the electronic ignition is a fix we can do.

 

Another related issue is the decline in replacement condenser quality over the last twenty years or so.  I've had that happen twice, one requiring a tow off of a freeway, the other causing backfiring until the engine quit as I coasted into my garage.

 

 

Edited by Writer Jon
typo (see edit history)
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5 hours ago, padgett said:

In the 50s and 60s many Chevrolet V8s had dual point ignitions.

 

Lots of performance cars and aftermarket distributors had dual points. It was a mechanical way to increase dwell and thus increase coil saturation to increase spark output.

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12 hours ago, Writer Jon said:

I've used the Pertronix modules for about thirty years and have had just one problem, one of the wires going to the module started to break internally at the module body and would occasionally cause the engine to miss.  I caught that one and replaced the module before it quit entirely.  I like not having to check and possibly having to adjust the dwell every 12k miles, sometimes more frequently after installing a new set of points.  This is more of an issue on the smaller four-cylinder engines, especially those sensitive to the ignition timing going off the recommended setting.  Plus the resultant change in idle speed, which can be an issue if the engine is sensitive to dieseling.  Electronic ignitions also are more tolerant of worn distributor cams.  I know there are those out there that would just repair the problem by machining new bushings and/or make a new distributor shaft, but for those of us that don't have the skills and/or tools to do so, the electronic ignition is a fix we can do.

 

Another related issue is the decline in replacement condenser quality over the last twenty years or so.  I've had that happen twice, one requiring a tow off of a freeway, the other causing backfiring until the engine quit as I coasted into my garage.

 

 

You still have to  ( at least once a year and more often if you are putting on a lot of miles) check the cap and rotor condition, the mechanical advance and lubricate the weights and check to see if the vacuum advance is working.

Don't be fooled you can just drop it in and forget it.

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