GM HEI 2266 for Steve


Bigger Hammer
Oct 11, 2009
Wenatchee, Washington
Willys Model
Willys Year:
I was reading some Willystech pages a few years ago and thinking about getting rid of the points distributor and going with Petronix or something when the discussion came up about the GM HEI's being a "drop in fit" for the 226, Well they sort of are but not really. They do fit the distributor holder but they are pretty tall and more importantly they "advance" backwards, reving the engine retards the timing so that's not good. However if you don't mind taking the time to revearse these they are a great setup and I've been running mine for a few years with absolutly no trouble and I noticed an increase in power. You need to flop the vacuum advance around so it pulls the other way by cutting a new notch in the housing and fill the old notch in the distributor housing with JB weld or tig weld it up, then knock the weight assembly off the shaft and turn it over and weld up the slots part way so the advance doesn't go way out (tap the spring pins out and flop them over too), also you can replace or try out different springs to bring the advance in where you want. I cut the distributor neck and shaft down to where it just clears the spark plugs comfortably, you do have to pay attention to the wiper motor for clearance (someone had converted mine to electric) and fit the shaft with a pin to fit like the original. You will need new plug wires, open the plug gaps, hook up the one power wire and set timing. I've made two, the first was the trial and it worked great but was a little tall, the second I cut shorter and I made a steel holder that bolts to the head like the aluminium/pot metal factory one thinking the steel would be stronger since these are bigger and have the coil on the cap. I like running eveything stock but a few bolt on changes are fine with me if they are an improvement. When I first did this modification I was running the stock 12 volt generator but ended up changing to an alternator, it worked fine with both.
Thanks much for the info. I'm gonna have to save it and archive it for a bit. Wow that's a lot of work. Well worth it for the extra ooomph, but I don't think i'm brave enough at the moment. I did check in to the pertronix set up. They don't list one, but I found out there is a kit that fits the 226 distributor. I've got the model # here somewhere. A bit on the spendy side, but once again, probably well worth it. I'm a big fan of leaving these stock as well, so like you if i can add without changing the "stockness" i'm all for it. Besides, I seem to keep burning up points. Might have something to do with all of that coolant i found in the exhaust ports. Yup, she's toast. Time to rebuild. I'll probably have to have sleeves put in it, but that's a whole different story.

Thanks again for the info.

Hey, just as a thought...Would you be interested in fixing a distributor up for Willys Brother at a profit?? :)
Hi Steve,
I'll check the first one I made, it was going to be a spare but I doubt I'll ever need another maybe we can work a deal. I bought one used off Ebay and don't remember where I got the other but they are easly less than $100. the only drawback I've heard of is if the module goes out your dead in the water until you replace it, they are cheap and fairly easy to change though. I have access to a shop and using a lathe and milling machine helped to do a little neater job. Is your engine running now or are you rebuilding?

Re: GM HEI 226 for Steve

There is one more thing, I don't think the stock air cleaner fits with this distributor swap either, I went with a K&N that just clamped around the top of the carb. If you do a search in the WillysTech knowledge base there will be some info, also the yahoo user groups has a jeep group, a guy named Jim Leap did the same thing with good results as I remember. I don't hang around these very often anymore but there is some good info there.
I'm in the middle of removing the engine now. I won't get to do any real work to it til spring. Too much like money ya know, so I have plenty of time to figure things out. I just checked the knowledge base and found a couple of success stories, of which one of them was a Crane Fireball ignition that supposedly drops right in. I'll have to research that one a bit. Also saw a short set of instructions similar to yours. Can't wait to get things going on this end. Bio, I just took a look at the truck with HEI for sale. Ol' Jim Leap is gonna be famous if his name keeps getting thrown around. :) Brad, we'll still have to yak about the possibilities. :) Now this is what a forum is for. I'm diggin' it.
Thanks for all guys.
And then, of course, you could just dump the distributor altogether...
A Ford EDIS ignition plus MegaJolt controller allows you to design your own ignition map. I'm working on this upgrade for my Tornado 230 engine.
For what it's worth, I have a mini GM HEI on my Plymouth flathead six, and it made a huge improvement in the way it runs. It fires up before I can let go of the key, and idles perfectly without any sort of miss.

The mini HEI can use a round coil, and the whole setup looks stock. The cap is a tad longer than the stock Plymouth distributor cap, but otherwise, at a glance it looks the same.

These were used on mid 80's S10 stuff.

Here's a pic of the HEI.




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Re: GM HEI 226 for Steve

Hi Pete,
That looks like a pretty slick deal, The big one I'm running does like you said, Starts before I let up on the key. Size could be a bit of a problem though depending on what someone's doing.

I'll definitely have to check in to that one Pete. Pavel, You'll have to keep us updated on your distributorless experiment. I'm just the guy who wants to see all the right stuff when i prop the hood up. Excellent idea though. Maybe it's time for me to don the insulated coveralls and check the wrecking yard (only one here) for S-10's :)