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I'm considering possibly changing my points style distributor/ignition system to an electronic ignition. Wondering if anyone has had any experience in this matter. Are the conversion kits such as the pertronix ignitor, reliable. Would it be better to go with a completely new/upgraded distributor, as opposed to a conversion kit for my existing distributor. Also wondering about the ignition boxes such as the msd 6a/6al if those are a good option to add to an upgrade. Thanks, any thoughts or advice is appreciated.
 

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I'm considering possibly changing my points style distributor/ignition system to an electronic ignition. Wondering if anyone has had any experience in this matter. Are the conversion kits such as the pertronix ignitor, reliable. Would it be better to go with a completely new/upgraded distributor, as opposed to a conversion kit for my existing distributor. Also wondering about the ignition boxes such as the msd 6a/6al if those are a good option to add to an upgrade. Thanks, any thoughts or advice is appreciated.
Ut-oh! You just opened up a can of worms. Some will strongly agree with keeping points, some will strongly agree that electronic is the way to go.

Personal experience - points will do the job, or electronic. I do not like the factory HEI.

I did the Pertronix conversion, I think it is now called the Pertronix I, as there was no other options at the time. I bought a remanufactured points distributor, I think from Advance Auto, that was remanufactured by Cardone. This gave me a good base to work with as 40-50 year old distributors can be worn/sloppy. Never had a problem with it, but you will read/hear that others did have issues - but this was also when it first came out years ago. It was a simple conversion and I followed the directions. The conversion, like most all electronic set-up, require a 12 volt power wire to the coil versus the use of the resistor wire used on a points distributor. Not using the 12V is where I believe many of the problems were related to.

On my current/future 455 build, I purchased a new Pertronix II distributor and their recommended/matching coil. There are other makes out there that probably work as well, just my choice on this one.

I feel that an electronic conversion/distributor is the route to go. You don't have to change out points/condensors, set dwell, or worry about point bounce or rubbing block wear. Aftermarket points/condensors can be junk, so many opt for NOS Delco points/condensors from Ebay. With the low mileage most run each year, points will last a couple seasons before needing to be replaced. if you can't do this yourself and have to go to a shop, you may have to hunt around to find someone who knows how to do points anymore.

I like the MSD box as it provides a multi-spark at low RPM's which can help idle quality and a better fuel burn. I got the 6AL which has the rev limiter. It provides a "hotter" spark. Have used the earlier MSD6 in 1982 with good results, so going with another on my build.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Ut-oh! You just opened up a can of worms. Some will strongly agree with keeping points, some will strongly agree that electronic is the way to go.

Personal experience - points will do the job, or electronic. I do not like the factory HEI.

I did the Pertronix conversion, I think it is now called the Pertronix I, as there was no other options at the time. I bought a remanufactured points distributor, I think from Advance Auto, that was remanufactured by Cardone. This gave me a good base to work with as 40-50 year old distributors can be worn/sloppy. Never had a problem with it, but you will read/hear that others did have issues - but this was also when it first came out years ago. It was a simple conversion and I followed the directions. The conversion, like most all electronic set-up, require a 12 volt power wire to the coil versus the use of the resistor wire used on a points distributor. Not using the 12V is where I believe many of the problems were related to.

On my current/future 455 build, I purchased a new Pertronix II distributor and their recommended/matching coil. There are other makes out there that probably work as well, just my choice on this one.

I feel that an electronic conversion/distributor is the route to go. You don't have to change out points/condensors, set dwell, or worry about point bounce or rubbing block wear. Aftermarket points/condensors can be junk, so many opt for NOS Delco points/condensors from Ebay. With the low mileage most run each year, points will last a couple seasons before needing to be replaced. if you can't do this yourself and have to go to a shop, you may have to hunt around to find someone who knows how to do points anymore.

I like the MSD box as it provides a multi-spark at low RPM's which can help idle quality and a better fuel burn. I got the 6AL which has the rev limiter. It provides a "hotter" spark. Have used the earlier MSD6 in 1982 with good results, so going with another on my build.
Thanks, I'm pretty sure that I will do an electronic upgrade of some kind. I've just seen numerous posts and reviews on the conversion kits, both positive and negative. I believe that my current distributor is in good condition, so I'm leaning towards the drop in module type conversion to keep the cost more affordable. Anyway, thanks again, just trying to do my research before jumping into it.
 

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Thanks, I'm pretty sure that I will do an electronic upgrade of some kind. I've just seen numerous posts and reviews on the conversion kits, both positive and negative. I believe that my current distributor is in good condition, so I'm leaning towards the drop in module type conversion to keep the cost more affordable. Anyway, thanks again, just trying to do my research before jumping into it.
I keep my old Mallory dual point running only because when they nuke the zombies your electronic stuff won’t work

They all work , points just take more of your time
 

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I installed this in my point distributor. Breakerless Ignition

have ahd zero issues with it, biggest improvement vs the points is on starting, much quicker now .
this has an advantage over other kits in that it fits in stock distributor and somehow uses the stock single wire for power and control, looks stock and works with a tripower set up
 

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Points are fine but I got tired of adjusting them to compensate for the rubbing pad wearing down.

My first foreray into points conversion was installing an early version of the Pertronix magnetically triggered type. After a few months, the magnets fell out of the plastic housing. Called the tow truck.

My second version was a Mallory Unilite. It's optically triggered. Naysayers said that the optics wouldn't work if they were covered with oil or grease. I disagreed since the optics use infrared and the long wavelengths wouldn't easily be blocked by a petroleum film. After a few months, it also died. Callled the tow truck.

Investigation revealed that the main integrated circuit, a Harris 14N40FVL failed. I did some research and substituted a new 14C40L made by International Rectifier. This chip, bought from Digikey would be a form & fit substitute. After making a home reflow setup, this ignition is still operational after 27 years. I made this mod for three cars and they all work perfectly.

I noticed that they now have an E-Spark version. I'm not sure if they made an update to the chip like I did.

The Breakerless Ignition is interesting. I wish I had one to take apart and see how it's designed.
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I keep my old Mallory dual point running only because when they nuke the zombies your electronic stuff won’t work

They all work , points just take more of your time
Yes, always have that spare points distributor so when the Chinese or Russians zap us with High-altitude nuclear detonations and electromagnetic bombs which can generate EMP that has the potential to damage or destroy electronic devices over widespread areas taking out your electronic ignition and..................electric cars.

I have mine ready! (y)

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The "new thing" everyone is doing, is using the Progression Distributor, which is fully controlled from your phone, with some cool additional features.

Next is adding a Pertronix conversion to your stock dizzy, to make it look oem... if that matters.

Next is an HEI conversion, easy, basic, tons of parts support... but big and may interfere with some manifolds an air cleaners, AND you cannot easily control centrifugal advance

Next is an MSD Ready-to-Run billet. It, along with the Progression, give full control over your timing curve.

Finally, is an MSD Billet Dizzy, used in conjunction with an MSD ignition box. Once again, it gives total control over your timing curve, plus many additional benefits from the box.

Summit makes an MSD copy, which is much cheaper and will check all of the boxes.

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Thanks, I'm pretty sure that I will do an electronic upgrade of some kind. I've just seen numerous posts and reviews on the conversion kits, both positive and negative. I believe that my current distributor is in good condition, so I'm leaning towards the drop in module type conversion to keep the cost more affordable. Anyway, thanks again, just trying to do my research before jumping into it.
It's your choice. Just keep in mind that the idea that electronic ignitions of any kind will provide any performance improvement over the factory points system below 6000 RPM is pure myth - they won't.
One "benefit" you'll get with an electronic system is that they usually will give you zero warning when they fail. One second they're working, the next second you're sitting stranded on the side of the road.

However, I'm running a 'fancy' electronic system from Progression Ignition in my GTO because of a significant benefit I get from it at idle RPM that makes my car a lot more drivable than it has ever been. The ability it provides for tuning with a smart phone or tablet is "nice", but for me that's a secondary concern. I also carry a backup distributor in the car along with the tools to swap it out just because of how electronic systems can fail suddenly and without warning. If I was using a Pertronix system, you'd better believe I'd be carrying a spare module with me.

Knowing what I know now about HEI systems, I don't recommend factory HEI or any variation thereof that uses a 'normal' HEI module, because the modules tend to get hot, and heat is what kills them.

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Points are fine but I got tired of adjusting them to compensate for the rubbing pad wearing down.

The Breakerless Ignition is interesting. I wish I had one to take apart and see how it's designed.
This is a pic of the breakerless kit -https://www.americanautowire.com/shop/breakerless-se-ignition-system?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI-czsnoHe_AIV1_rICh1FDQDMEAQYBCABEgLzUPD_BwE

The trigger wheel bolts under the rotor/weights. The module is I believe a hall effect sender that bolts in place of the points. Easy to install without removing distributor. Like I said it made a huge improvement in how fast my car started. Not sure if my slow starting starting was a result of voltage drop during cranking or worn distributor or what but it is a significant improvement.

As a back up I keep a spare complete kit in the car... so yeah I don't trust it more than anyone else. Also can swap it back to points in about 20 minutes....
 

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Yes, always have that spare points distributor so when the Chinese or Russians zap us with High-altitude nuclear detonations and electromagnetic bombs which can generate EMP that has the potential to damage or destroy electronic devices over widespread areas taking out your electronic ignition and..................electric cars.

I have mine ready! (y)
One note on EMP most findings since 2005 found that most of the damage from EMP will be long line connection IE data and power land lines. testing on vehicles made after 1986 reported less than 10% failure. But will temporary stop your engine from running. This goes along with the 1962 findings of airburst 800 miles off of Hawaii. It caused fuses in homes and telephone system to be downed.

Electric vehicle charging during EMP 🔥

My thought was if a pulse is strong enough to damage small electronics what is the metal pins going to do in my shoulder. MRI are a no-no with metal pins.

One way or another its break out granddads still and that alcohol Holley

Zombies, EMP and Dodge Hellcat all good reasons to own a cannon.🏴‍☠️
 

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One note on EMP most findings since 2005 found that most of the damage from EMP will be long line connection IE data and power land lines. testing on vehicles made after 1986 reported less than 10% failure. But will temporary stop your engine from running. This goes along with the 1962 findings of airburst 800 miles off of Hawaii. It caused fuses in homes and telephone system to be downed.

Electric vehicle charging during EMP 🔥

My thought was if a pulse is strong enough to damage small electronics what is the metal pins going to do in my shoulder. MRI are a no-no with metal pins.

One way or another its break out granddads still and that alcohol Holley

Zombies, EMP and Dodge Hellcat all good reasons to own a cannon.🏴‍☠️
Ya, just nothing but doomsday ahead of us. Why waste the alcohol on the Holley, at that point, I'll be drowning in it until I am numb and can't feel the Zombies chewing on my old dead flesh. (y)
 

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i put a factory hei in my 66 gto 389 all stock and all i did was take out the resistor wire and got the pink wire from ames plugs into dist cap and goes in the plug at fire wall pretty easy do not buy some junk ebay dist get a factory rebuilt from your parts or get one and just put good new parts in and it will be fine
 

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I can see it now...the day after the electromagnetic bomb...nothing but old GTO's on the road and 8N tractors! We'll see more GTO's on the road in the coming weeks than in the last 30 years...lol Mine will be one of them!
I have plenty of copper tubing!!

 

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i replaced my points setup with a HEI dist, did not use the box for extra power, it works fine, i just carry an extra module just in case. it hasnt happened yet but im sure it will someday. i did have the pertronix module conversion in there and it DID let me down, fortunantly it was in my driveway so no tow truck. i converted back to points at that stage and had an offer for an HEI dist and took it, so far i like it, no more power just smooth fire.
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Most of the points sets start tossing in additional firings as low as 4,500 RPM and just gets worse the higher up the RPM scale. You can blame the spring in the points set and it's not as simple as too light of spring since even heavy springs will set up a harmonic that destroys performance. My introduction to wayward points was in 1985 during the initial dyno runs of my newly built engine. Had a nice set of Mallory X points which were the standard back in the day. Dyno operator pointed out the popping that would happen sporadically. Finally after some coaching I could pick out the miss fires. He sent me down to the local speed shop and I brought back a Unilite module to install in the small body distributor. After that the engine was smooth as silk up to whatever RPM he choose to push it. Still have that original Unilite in my GTO. There should be eight arrows showing on my distributor machine, but here is a set of points at 5,000 RPM showing a lot of spark scatter - basically bounce city:

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Here's the replacement Fast XRi module on the same distributor at 5,000 RPM:
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Price doesn't seem to be that much of a factor in how the points perform. My backup points distributor has a no-name combination points/condenser set and it is the only points set that can hang with the distributor machine until it tops out. All the other combination sets I've tested are bottom feeders, but this one set does really work and will out perform the Blue Streaks or other top dollar points.
 

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i am sure you people have read about my ignition switch problems this past season i got a used switch to try maybe it will last because the aftermarket repros are junk but what i did in case is put a hidden starter button in and made a jumper wire i took a plug from an old harness to a wire with a gator clip that i can run from dist to pos post on battery if need be to get home just have to open hood and take off wire to shut it off whatever you do if you do this is plug wire right back into cap or you may do what i did and change switch and tear your hair out with no start because dist was unplugged
 

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I keep my old Mallory dual point running only because when they nuke the zombies your electronic stuff won’t work

They all work , points just take more of your time
I had my last points for 10 years with no issues. Maybe 10/15k miles tho. Rebuilt my engine in 2019, New nos tune up parts...should last the life of my clutch knee . :LOL:
 
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