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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Thinking of changing out the factory distributor and doing an upgrade in that area,
What distributor would be a good choice? What would you recommend?
I have a 350, 700R4, and the car is a cruiser, looking for reliability. As of several years ago I put a Pertronics conversion in, I'm happy with the performance but question the old distributor reliability. (still has the oil tube) Planning to take a long trip this summer.
Is it worth the upgrade or do I just buy a spare Pertronics to throw in the trunk?

Thanks
Gary S
 

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Not sure what you mean by "oil tube" but based on your stated needs, a spare might be all you need.
 

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If the shaft has no excessive play and spins freely, I would use it. PerTronix 1 or 2 ?
I think this is what he meant by oil tube.
8EAAE851-CD55-42F8-B61D-779B417D79B1.png
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
If the shaft has no excessive play and spins freely, I would use it. PerTronix 1 or 2 ?
I think this is what he meant by oil tube.
View attachment 337576
I have the PerTronix 1,
The oil tube is what your showing on the picture, I put a little oil in in a few times each year, It came on an original engine and I put it in the 350. It had points and condenser in it for years and in 2014 I switched it to Per Tronix.

Gary Sanger
 

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Based on my experience I would always carry a spare Pertronix with me even on a short trip. You have had better luck than I did with Pertronix. I was left on the side of the road once and came limping home twice. Never again.
 

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I recommend a Pertronix D104600 cast distributor. It is a brand new clone of a 1957 and later Chevrolet distributor. It has a module (included) that uses lobe scan technology, so no magnets are used. The module, which is inside the distributor, senses the rotation of the distributors cam to fire the plugs. This distributor uses Ignitor I technology, so it can use a regular stock points style coil or you can upgrade to a Flamethrower I coil (though it will work just fine with an original coil and a stock ballast resistor). It uses the same distributor cap and rotor as a stock Chevrolet distributor. There is no other external box/ module required. All needed parts are included, even the cap and rotor. It has a simple two wire hook up. I have had one of these distributors installed in the 350 engine in my 56 Nomad for four trouble free years. I used a stock points style coil and a stock ballast resistor in my installation. The engine starts instantly. Here is a link: PerTronix D104600 Flame-Thrower Electronic Distributor, SBC/BBC, Black | eBay

The only quirk with this distributor, is that the Ignitor I module and coil will overheat and be damaged if you leave the cars ignition switch in the "On" position without the engine running. The distributor in my photos has a NOS 1957 4BC vacuum advance installed instead of the one Pertronix provides. This is because I wanted to continue using the steel vacuum line from my WCFB carburetor.

To clarify, you can use this distributor with a stock points style coil and a ballast resistor. If you opt for the Flamethrower I coil then no ballast resistor is needed (it must be removed or bypassed). This is because the Flamethrower coil has the needed 1.5 Ohm resistance built into it.

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DSCN5907.JPG
 

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If you have a good reliable set up at the moment, get a spare. I still run original points system, no issues either, maybe get a spare just incase they are easily sourced
 

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I recommend a Pertronix D104600 cast distributor. It is a brand new clone of a 1957 and later Chevrolet distributor. It has a module (included) that uses lobe scan technology, so no magnets are used. The module, which is inside the distributor, senses the rotation of the distributors cam to fire the plugs. This distributor uses Ignitor I technology, so it can use a regular stock points style coil or you can upgrade to a Flamethrower I coil (though it will work just fine with an original coil and a stock ballast resistor). It uses the same distributor cap and rotor as a stock Chevrolet distributor. There is no other external box/ module required. All needed parts are included, even the cap and rotor. It has a simple two wire hook up. I have had one of these distributors installed in the 350 engine in my 56 Nomad for four trouble free years. I used a stock points style coil and a stock ballast resistor in my installation. The engine starts instantly. Here is a link: PerTronix D104600 Flame-Thrower Electronic Distributor, SBC/BBC, Black | eBay

The only quirk with this distributor, is that the Ignitor I module and coil will overheat and be damaged if you leave the cars ignition switch in the "On" position without the engine running. The distributor in my photos has a NOS 1957 4BC vacuum advance installed instead of the one Pertronix provides. This is because I wanted to continue using the steel vacuum line from my WCFB carburetor.

To clarify, you can use this distributor with a stock points style coil and a ballast resistor. If you opt for the Flamethrower I coil then no ballast resistor is needed (it must be removed or bypassed). This is because the Flamethrower coil has the needed 1.5 Ohm resistance built into it.


Just curious. In photo #2, you have what appears to be a vacuum line running from behind the carb. to the valve cover?? What is this for?? Is this your own design?? Thanks, Carmine.

View attachment 337580 View attachment 337579
 

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If it doesn't have play in it, I wouldn't worry about it. The Pertronics I know nothing about except what I read here and a lot of people say to carry a spare. As for the oil tube, I would try my darnedest to pull the wick out and clean it. I know in other equipment like old electric motors the wicks get gummed up and don't allow oil through them like they should. I've had so many problems with wicks that I'd cut it to 1/2 or 1/3 the length and give it oil more often. Is there some info that says what kind of oil to use in it? Last but not least I'll say again, if it has no play it should be good.
 

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I have the PerTronix 1,
The oil tube is what your showing on the picture, I put a little oil in in a few times each year, It came on an original engine and I put it in the 350. It had points and condenser in it for years and in 2014 I switched it to Per Tronix.

Gary Sanger
There is another very good reason to replace your distributor now. Although it will work if properly installed, the use of this 1955 and 1956 distributor in 1957 and newer V8's is problematic. In 1957 Chevrolet re-designed the V8's oiling system to be a full time oiling system. The 1955 and 1956 265's used a pulsed oiling system. The last cam bearing has an extra oil hole, and the camshaft has a notch machined on the last journal to port pulsed oil to the cylinder heads. The 1955/ 1956 distributors were not designed to hold up to the flow rates of a full time oiling system. So, what happens is that as they wear, the upper shaft internal bushing can become worn to the point that as too much oil is ported to the distributor, the oil drain hole is inadequate to drain out all of the oil, and the worn upper bushing can not stop it from leaking by and filling up the top of the distributor (not a good thing). It gets Verrrrry Messy and your car will be disabled!

So in my opinion, even though your current distributor works..... it is not advisable to keep it, especially since you plan on a long trip this summer. That being said, when I bought my current 1956 Nomad it had a 1957 283 engine in it with a correct 1956 distributor and worked like a champ. I have since replaced the distributor with a Pertronix D104600. If you also want the added security of having a spare module (I do), the module alone for the cast distributor is part # D500715.

See photo and note partial oil channel directly above lower gear.

.jpg
 

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Just curious. In photo #2, you have what appears to be a vacuum line running from behind the carb. to the valve cover?? What is this for?? Is this your own design?? Thanks, Carmine.

Carmine,
The engine appears to be stock, but is in reality a GM 350 crate motor (so no road draft tube). I dressed it with original components because I like the original stock look. The vacuum hose comes from the base of the 1957 Carter WCFB carburetor, and goes to the side of the PML cast aluminum valve covers. These valve covers have a cast in baffle and a hole with a grommet for a PCV valve. Just visible is the top of the PCV valve.

Steve
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
There is another very good reason to replace your distributor now. Although it will work if properly installed, the use of this 1955 and 1956 distributor in 1957 and newer V8's is problematic. In 1957 Chevrolet re-designed the V8's oiling system to be a full time oiling system. The 1955 and 1956 265's used a pulsed oiling system. The last cam bearing has an extra oil hole, and the camshaft has a notch machined on the last journal to port pulsed oil to the cylinder heads. The 1955/ 1956 distributors were not designed to hold up to the flow rates of a full time oiling system. So, what happens is that as they wear, the upper shaft internal bushing can become worn to the point that as too much oil is ported to the distributor, the oil drain hole is inadequate to drain out all of the oil, and the worn upper bushing can not stop it from leaking by and filling up the top of the distributor (not a good thing). It gets Verrrrry Messy and your car will be disabled!

So in my opinion, even though your current distributor works..... it is not advisable to keep it, especially since you plan on a long trip this summer. That being said, when I bought my current 1956 Nomad it had a 1957 283 engine in it with a correct 1956 distributor and worked like a champ. I have since replaced the distributor with a Pertronix D104600. If you also want the added security of having a spare module (I do), the module alone for the cast distributor is part # D500715.

See photo and note partial oil channel directly above lower gear.

View attachment 337581
Thank you this all makes since, so far the original type distributor is doing well but it was something I never felt good about. The engine I am running now was put new in a 84 Chevy 3/4 ton four wheel drive suburban. The suburban lasted about 5000 miles before the transmission puked and the guy was just tired of throwing money at it so he parted it out.
I bought the engine and was pleased as to how well it ran and how hard it pulled. Been running it for 14 years now and I am thinking its time to change the dizzy out.

Thank you for your response.
Gary Sanger AKA Buckshot
 

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I know a lot of guys don't like the MSD Ready to Run distributors, but I had one for probably a decade and didn't have a single problem with it.

Before I installed it I was running a modified HEI. I put the MSD in and it instantly ran better, started better, and was noticeably more powerful I think because it's easy to tailor the advance curve with their adjustable springs and advance bushings. I ran it with a simple canister style Blaster coil...still have the coil too. I think I bought that coil and distributor in 2008 and the coil is still good. Only reason I'm not still running the distributor is because I switched to an EFI setup with a computer controlled ignition.

A little pricey, but in my opinion worth it.

Given what I've read about the Pertronix stuff, I'd not be inclined to run one. Everyone saying to have a spare on hand is the opposite of a ringing endorsement.
 

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My msd RTR would act up when it got REAL hot. Ran great when cooler but when going WOT it really seemed to have lost a LOT of power. Maybe something to do with the higher rpm's? Turned out to be the circuit board inside the RTR. Took me a long time to figure that one out. It's now gutted and just the magnetic pick up is wired direct to a 6al box (which is sort of a waste of money in itself).
 

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If after you get your new distributor you have any questions about how to hook it up properly, be sure to ask. Remember, do not leave your ignition switch in the "ON" position without the engine running, or the module and coil will overheat and be damaged. Make sure that you are using a points style coil, or if upgrading to a Flamethrower coil, use Flamethrower I only. If using a stock points style coil, retain your ballast resistor. If using the Flamethrower I coil, the ballast resistor must be removed or bypassed.
 
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