Electronic HEI Distributor

jimz49

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#1
I saw the following posted on willystech.com:

I used a GM HEI in my '60 226. If you don't have a problem with so-called originality, the multiple spark of HEI makes a flathead run and start like nothing you've ever seen. The easiest conversion for a 226 is to get the HEI from a Chevy 292 straight six. Use the old distributor adapter and drive key. Saw off the GM shaft to the correct length and pin the drive key on. (shaft is same size as old one) Drill and tap the old adapter housing for a set screw. Replace the adapter on the block, slide the distributor into the adapter (I forgot to mention that it is a perfect fit) and plug the coil wire into the distributor. Set the timing and you are in business. You now have a 226 with a new personality. I have done similar conversions on 134's but you need to do some machining. These use HEI from a Chevette or other 4 cyl.

Has anyone done this and do you have pictures? I would like to see what this looks like. As they say a picture is worth a thousand words. I'm having a difficult time determining what is being sawed off and what the correct length is.
 

lemsteraak

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#2
I'm thinking of doing the same thing. Picked up a nasty looking one from a junkyard and that is as far as I got. The cap is much larger for less chance for arcing. This is good. The bad part is it looked like the rotation is reversed so you need to reverse the vacuum advance. I'm thinking of putting in one of the Crane boxes but then I would have to hide the box. So now I'm thinking the Pertronix my suit my needs but don't know much about them either


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jimz49

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#3
Did you get your idea for an HEI distributor from the same thread I pasted here, or did you see it somewhere else? Been looking for additonal information but can't seem to come up with anything.
 

jimz49

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#5
Thanks for the pictures, helped me understand how much has to be cut off the chevy distributor. Did you have any trouble doing the mod? Is there anything I should know beside what was in my original post?
 
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beewhisper1

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#6
I'll try to find the other source that gave me those pictures (not my photos) but that's pretty much the jist of the mod. Surprises me more have not done this mod considering the amount of after market electronic distributor failures I've seen posted. Could be it doesn't have the "original" look. You might want to try to get another distributor from DiggerG on this forum. Then if you wanted to, at some latter date, you could swap it back to original.
Just a thought. Good luck and let us know how you make out.
Chet
Thanks for the pictures, helped me understand how much has to be cut off the chevy distributor. Did you have any trouble doing the mod? Is there anything I should know beside what was in my original post?
 

jimz49

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#7
Haven't started on my willys yet, waiting for spring and warmer weather. I'm using the winter months to gather the parts I'll need for when I do start.
 
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#8
I have been having issues that I believe are related to my distributor and also want to go electronic. I was going to go with the Omix-ada unit since it looks original and would be all new. It appears that there are still quality issues with them though. I will probably be ordering a Pertronix Igniter this week which replaces points only. I may also order their coil since it isn't much more expensive than a decent quality one at Napa. I just need to figure out if I need a 1.5 or 3.0 ohms coil. My only concern is that I won't be replacing the entire distributor. Fortunately I am told the Pertronix will work fine with some slop in the distributor, unlike points. I have heard good things about Pertronix and they seem to have good customer service. I am sure the HEI works great but I am trying to keep my all original truck looking that way. It's nice to know there are a few options though. I will post my experience with the Pertronix.
 

jimz49

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#9
Do you have the L226 engine? How much is the pertronix igniter and coil? Trying to get a comparsion of costs. Thanks.
 
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#10
I have the 226. Pertronix 2561 Ignitor is $151 including shipping on e-bay and the 40511 coil is around $37 including shipping. Those are the best prices I could find.
 

Pete

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#11
Not sure if anyone has converted a GM mini HEI distributor for a 226 or not... I had one on my Plymouth 230 flathead. It was made by Langdon's Stovebolt Six.



At a glance, it looked stock. The cap was a bit longer, but otherwise looked pretty much the same as the old unit.
The engine ran great, started before I could let go of the key.

[video=youtube;OMukzqkY0Z8]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMukzqkY0Z8[/video]
[video=youtube;NkW17CYcTA8]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkW17CYcTA8[/video]

Pete
 

Pete

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#13
Not familiar with the GM mini HEI. Which GM engine did it go with?
Jim-

The unit I had was a GM "S" truck 2.8L six, '82-'84. All the guts were stock off the shelf parts.

Here's an interesting link I found via google on making your own-

http://www.stovebolt.com/techtips/HEI_mini.html

Looks like you can buy a re-man unit for about $80, and doesn't look to hard to make it work on a 226, assuming the vacuum advance and timing stuff would work.

Pete
 
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lemsteraak

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#14
Hi Pete,

I really like your idea, sign me up for one. Flatheads with their tortuous combustion path should really benefit from an EFI or even better multi-spark system. I looked into it years ago and this is what I found. This is from like ten years ago so things no doubt have changed.

Pertronics - they didn't have anything off the shelf but were really nice and said that if I sent my distributor to them they would modify it and send it back to me. I was afraid if something went wrong I wouldn't have the parts to change it back. It just replaced the points, no ignition boxes.

GM EFI - The cap looks like a lunar lander. I really liked the engineering, separate the leads to minimize arching but it takes a bit of modification and have to take parts from my old distributor. Simply, I couldn't get past the looks.

MSD - I really liked the idea of hot rod stuff but the reality is you are keeping the points and putting in a huge ignition box to build a multi-spark system. My thought was joined with Pertronix would be a nice system .... until there was a problem.

Crane Optical - This is the one I liked the best. Seems tried and true and I even talked to the Crane guys about it. Simple modification and you can change it back. They have a separate ignition box for Multi-Spark if you want to add that. I was all set to order until the parts guy I was going through said moisture could be a problem. Where I live, moisture is always a problem.

So, I never have done any of them but I really like the idea, let me know if I can help
 

BradW

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#15
HEI info

The pics that Beewhisper1 posted are of my conversion in my daily driver (59 wagon). I've sent a few pictures out to guys asking about it. One thing you need to know is that it's not as simple as the first post says, Yes, It'll go in just fine and it starts quick but instead of advancing the timing it retards it when you rev it up, the advance needs to be flopped over to the other side then fill in the old hole and flop the weights over. I've been running mine for years without touching it, a couple years ago I put a timing light on it just to check it and everything was right where I'd set it, Very trouble free. One other note is this distributor has the coil in the cap and is heavier than the stock one so I built a new mounting housing out of steel (pictured) I made a second one out of aluminium when I built my second one. If you're wondering why I built 2, the first was a trial and it worked so good I made the second with a few improvements such as shorter for clearing the wiper motor, holes filled with aluminium instaed of JB weld (although JB weld worked good) and internal parts put together a little stonger. I can carry a spare module in the glove box if it ever dies, parts are cheap and plentiful so it's really not a bad set-up it's just the fooling around flopping things over to begin with that makes this more involved than just a simple swap. Hope this helps if anyone is thinking about giving it a try.
Brad
 

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#16
I've been trading email with Tom Langdon about the GM mini HEI. He said the GM mini HEI is designed to turn clockwise, and the 6-226 distributor turns counter clockwise, so it probably wont work. Apparently the 5" distributor, for the Pontiac engines is designed to turn CC, so that might be an option. It would look like BradW's conversion, larger diameter with the coil in the cap, but wouldn't need to be modified internally.

Pete
 
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#17
Update since I replied earlier in this thread. I installed the Pertronix Ignitor and Flamethrower coil over the weekend and am very happy with the results so far. It was an easy install and solved the majority of the issues I was having with my 226 truck.
 

lemsteraak

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#18
With all this talk about electronic ignition, I'm going to give the Pertronix a try. Just got an ignitor in the mail today and it took about 20 minutes to install in a spare IAT 4404 distributor I have for my L226 Super Hurricane engine. This is the late distributor and the same as listed for the Tornado engine. I have the older model distributor in the engine right now and will keep that as the fallback unit as I know it works well.

I was prepared to spend $150 plus shipping, got one for like $70 + $15 shipping.

and a link to my installation notes, super easy
https://sites.google.com/site/lemmeraak/Home/willys-wagon-adventure/electronic-ignition

My only concern is that the little module sits pretty far from the distributor lobes. I believe they use a Hall effect for the trigger. I have set up crank triggers and they are in close.

=> edit I got to thinking about the trigger mechanism and how a hall effect requires a magnet. Looked at the box top and it read "module replacement for the 2581 Ignitor kit". Looks like I need another part to make it work. Case of if the price is too good to believe, then don't believe it. My bad.
 
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wunderwillys

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#19
Can we bring this back to life, I just bought a rebuilt 226 that appears to have HEI, but then no sensors or pickup for a crank signal....I'm ready to fire it up but have some concerns



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gasoil

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#20
The signal comes off the lobes of the dist. The EFI just took the points out. Make sure the timing is close and #1 is set. firing order is good. fire it up. No guts no glory. Of course it is not my engine either.
 
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