Q: HEI Distributor (Revisited Again)
I’m thinking of getting a HEI-distributor for my 1968 bird. But I wonder, will the larger distributor require body modification? I’ve heard so much good about the HEI so I’d like to give it a try in order to save some gas. (Could you imagine living in a country where you have to pay almost 4 dollars/gallon??) And if body mods will be needed and before I go crazy with my big sturdy hammer, whats behind the firewall? …anything fragile?
A: I swapped to HEI on both my 1967 and 1969 Firebirds. On the 1969 I had to pound the firewall in about 1/4″ to 1/2″ to make room for the Accel Supercoil I added to the HEI. On the 1967 no modifications were required. The best way to modify the firewall is to use a big splitting mall or big hammer when the engine is out of the car. If you’re careful how you do this it’s hardly noticable after you have installed the HEI. Good Luck,
A: If your body bushings and subframe position is all good there should be just enough room for the HEI. Before you go pounding on the firewall, check the bushings.
A: I have a 1968 400 and HEI fit with no modification…
A: I installed an HEI in my Bonneville. I just bought a new unit from a local shop that had a distributor machine. They set it up and I installed it. Simple.
My Firebird was missing the original dist. and had an Accel dual point completely worn out POS. But, there was not enough room for the cap to clear the firewall on my bird. Before you invest in an HEI, make sure you have the room! Some birds do some don’t (borrow one, drop it in, then install the cap). You can take a block of wood and a hammer to make room on the firewall too. I didn’t like this idea.
If the HEI fits, it’s pretty straight forward to install. You will need to re-gap the plugs (.045 ?), and new thicker wires are a good idea too. In fact, I think you will need them to attach to the new style cap.
Grease: yeah you need to grease ’em up. A new unit comes with it. If you go the used route, just get some di-electric grease. The HEI units have a coil built into them.
Also, and I don’t remember why, but stay away from the Accel clone (anyone know why I’m saying this?) Get the genuine article. It was worth a few extra bucks to me to buy the new unit from GM. By the time you rebuild a used unit with the usual components they need, you have a lot of your resources invested. New stuff is so clean too.
For my Firebird I settled for the Mallory Uni-light with mechanical advance for added simplicity ( I have a 4 speed). I think you have more options to trick these out than the HEI. Besides, that red cap is prettier (here come the flames).
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Content last modified: January 16, 2014 at 2:29 pm