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HEI Ignition Conversion for Modified 1955 Chevrolet


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I have recently installed a High Energy Ignition (HEI) distributor in my 1955 Chevrolet. The distributor that I replaced was an after market Electronic Ignition. My engine is a 350 with tri-power. The new distributor is a Pro-Comp with a 50,000 volt coil. I have an Accel gear reduction starter also installed in the car. Before I changed over to the HEI distributor, I never had a problem with starting the car. I also changed the spark plugs and wires when I changed the distributor. The new HEI distributor has a three wire hook up. The red goes to the positive side of the coil, Orange to negative side of coil, and black to ground. These hook-ups are as per directions. I have the black wire connected to the same grounding point as the negative side of my battery that goes into the firewall.

The problem that I am having is that the car will not fire during the starting cycle. The engine turns over well but does not fire. When I release the key from "Start" to "On", the engine fires and sometimes will start. The only way it will start is when I release the key to "On".

With the key in the "On" position, I am getting 11.78 volts to the positive side of the coil. When I go to "Start", the volts drop to approximately 10.5 on the positive side of coil.

I have tried running a jumper wire directly from the positive side of my battery to the positive side of the coil but it still does not fire until I release the key to "On".

As far as I know everything is grounded well. I connected a jumper cable to the negative side of the battery and grounded it to the exhaust manifold to check my ground. The engine still would not fire.

The directions for the new distributor have me removing the ballast resistor. The brown wire that comes off my ignition switch that was connected to the resistor is now connected to the positive side of the coil as per directions.

There is a green wire also from the ignition switch that I tied into the brown wire. I have completely removed the ballast resistor.

I have a tech help article from Classic Chevy that discusses installing a HEI distributor with a Gear Reduction Starter. This article instructs you to run a jumper wire between the violet wire that goes from the ignition switch to the starter and the brown wire that was attached to the ballast resistor. Classic Chevy technicians told me that I should not have to do this jumper wire if my car was starting good with the old Electronic Ignition that I previously had installed. As another way to see if I could get my car to start, I installed this jumper wire. With this jumper wire installed, the car would start to crank as soon as I went to "On" with the key. It still would not fire. I removed the jumper wire.

I have two terminals on my starter. The large one has the positive side of battery, a red wire from ignition, and a gray wire that I am really not for sure what it does. The small terminal on the starter (SOL) has the violet wire from the ignition hooked to it. I assume the gray wire is for maybe instruments on something. The starter is wired just like it was when I had the Electronic Ignition distributor installed.

I am under the impression that if I hook a jumper wire directly from the Positive side of the battery to the Positive side of the coil that I am bypassing the ignition switch. Basically a hot wire. If this is the case, I don't believe my ignition switch is the problem. However, as stated earlier, the car still does not start correctly with this jumper wire.

I have replaced the HEI Distributor and coil three different times, so I know the problem cannot be in these components.

I have talked to tec reps at Pro-Comp and at length with Classic Chevy (Ecklers Corvettes). Everything they have suggested, I have tried. I am at my wits end. Does anybody have any suggestions that I might try.

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