Ignition fail after 43 years, not bad!


Nov 2, 2000
Louisiana, USA
Funny, the car I ordered from factory is older than most people I meet! So after 43 years it failed to make sparks! I had messed with every item on this car except one which is really buried deep. The little pickup coil in the base of the HEI distributor. The Accel Super-coill was still fine after 40 years. Just age and deep south humidity got to this little guy finally.
One thing for sure, I wanted anything that hard to dig to, to be an oem piece! And don't even think you can do this without pulling the distributor, and some TLC on a bench.
So with it out, also got a new module, capacitor, and little harness while in it; if not oem, than highest price ones. The new AC Delco coil looked very nice, so it should outlive me now!
Notice the new little colored bushings the weights pivot on, my originals were fragments laying at the bottom, and the metal pins had wear marks from the weights. I gotta keep an eye on those.

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New setup, cleaned, checked wear spots, used wheel bearing grease on weight pivots.
Little green marks are from a paint pen, to avoid mistakes in re-assembly. The old coil would show continuity on and off as you moved it's wires slightly.

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I hope I put the pictures in right! Sucker fired right up, and much faster revving without weights wobbling!


Veteran Member
Oct 3, 2013
SK, Canada
Congrats on the fix! Those pick up coil wires have been an issue with HEI distributors since the beginning. Holes burning in the rotor was another problem.


Nov 2, 2000
Louisiana, USA
Yeah, then you can enjoy it! Am I just weird that way?
I'm my case where do you start? The process of elimination can get expensive on time.
This took a couple years to figure it, cause it was ONLY when I would take off from a stop. Like someone turned off the juice for a half second to the ignition, then turned it back on. Whiplash!
Just started checking every inch of circuit from the key forward, nothing. I never could see the cracked wires under the coil way down there. Whenever the vacuum drops to almost zero (my right foot weighs a lot), I know the advance bar rotates the whole pickup assembly. But when I took off slow it was ok. And so I switch to checking gas pressures, filters, even bought new pump. But it would die going WOT up a slope. I let up slightly and it kicks back in. Ok wait, gas starve ain't like an instant light switch. New pump is still in the box.
What is NOW the new white and green wires in the picture, have slack to move with the pickup. The already broke wire under the coil opens like a switch in it's cracked plastic, the sparks stop, and the vacuum jumps back up on a dead engine to remake the broken strands back to each other, and away we go! Until the next red light. It finally cracked off, dead in the driveway, to let me find it. No fire at all, that became child's play then.
A true moment for a six-pack!

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Serious pin wear from weights. I swapped it with a spare shaft.
Oh yeah, that's got to come out to get to the coil anyway, so none of this
gets done under the hood, the camshaft gear has to come off first.

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And who ever goes down here to lube this felt? Under the coil, that felt don't look like splash oil was coming up any.

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Just dump a bunch of 30 weight on top of the coil here?

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Ok, bare naked, maybe the top of the bushing is normal dry?

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Pattern extends about 2 inches down shaft.
Just thought I'd add some pics, for those who'se never messed with the last of the mechanical distributors.


Veteran Member
Jan 4, 2011
Great story and info. Pictures are excellent and I can relate as my original 1980 distributor (removed in 2018) likely should receive the same "spa" treatment.

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