Upgrade your ignition to HEI

Posted by Alan MacDonald on

Simple Distributor Upgrade Gains More Power

High Energy Ignition (HEI) Distributors became standard equipment in 1975. Today, most muscle car enthusiasts have abandoned points and upgraded to some form of electronic ignition, and still, many more would like to. And after all, why not convert? The Chevrolet HEI Distributor is a favourite for muscle cars, street rods and even circle track racers. The integrated coil keeps underhood wiring clean, and for race cars, the idea of running one wire to the distributor keeps things simple. Plus, there’s a vacuum advance for those concerned with fuel economy. The distributor is supplied with a new cap, rotor and heavy duty gear so it is ready to install in your engine! 


Upgrading from Points to HEI

There are a lot of options when upgrading from a points-style distributor to an HEI Distributor. The first is to obtain a good salvage-yard replacement. Remember, the 1974-1980 HEI distributors used the same advance weights, springs, and stops as most of the points-type units, making this a great, economical upgrade. (Be sure to select a replacement distributor with a four-pin control module. The fifth pin was only used on vehicles equipped with knock sensors.)

Installing HEI Conversion Kits

If you’d prefer to keep your engine looking stock, there are a few HEI conversion kits—such as the Pertronix Ignitor kit —that will fit inside your existing points distributor, where the points and condenser are mounted. This kit is essentially a Hall Effect trigger, with no external control module. In fact, the only evidence that you’re running an electronic ignition is a small wire running to the positive side of the coil, and even this can be routed unobtrusively.

When using the Ignitor kit, Pertronix also recommends installing one of its Flame-Thrower coils. These coils are black, so if you peel off the label, they look similar to the factory piece.

If you plan on running your engine much past 5,000 rpm, the company recommends one of its full HEI ignition upgrades. These kits are good up to 7,500 rpm and come with everything you need to perform an HEI conversion, including the following:

  • Adjustable vacuum advance with a range of 0 to 22 degrees
  • A new ignition module with wiring harness and capacitor
  • A selection of advance springs and weights
  • An ignition coil
  • A distributor cap with solid-brass terminals and ignition-rotor button

If you don’t like the conversion idea, and a factory HEI distributor won’t clear the firewall on your application, you could always install one of the custom billet distributors available in the aftermarket. The process of installing a billet distributor is similar to the stock-HEI conversion method.

Read more: http://www.superchevy.com/how-to/1306-upgrading-a-points-distributor-to-an-hei-system

Share this post

← Older Post Newer Post →