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Electronic Ignition Upgrade
Having gotten tired of adjusting the points every 6 months
on my 1968 Rambler American, I decided to invest in an electronic ignition system.
There are several choices for AMC 199, 232, and 258 inline
sixes. The most common are: Chevy inline six HEI, Mallory Unilite, and Pertronix Ignitor.
Any of these will work well and will give you many, many years of trouble free service
with NO periodic adjustments. If you race your car, you'll likely notice faster times at
the track since you'll eliminate the bouncing common to points at higher RPMs. I decided
to go with the Pertronix unit (part # 1162A). I purchased mine from Summit Racing for about $73 (BTW, Summit's part #
The install couldn't be simpler. Here's what you need to
- Make sure the ignition is off so you don't fry yourself. Its
probably a good idea to disconnect the battery but its not necessary to do so.
- Remove the distributor cap and inspect the cap and rotor. If
either of them are pitted, cracked, or burnt, replace them. Remove the rotor from the
- Disconnect the wire from the coil to the points.
- Remove the two screws that hold the breaker plate to the
distributor housing and remove the breaker plate.
- Check the mechanical advance mechanism for freedom of
movement. If its never been serviced, I'd suggest removing the distributor, disassembling
it, and cleaning everything up. In any case, lightly oil the advance mechanism with engine
- Check the vacuum advance mechanism for function. Check your
service manual for test procedures as some may have a bleed hole that needs plugged.
- Install the ignition module to the new breaker plate. Do not
tighten the nuts at this time.
- Install the new breaker plate on the distributor. Make sure
the pin for the vacuum advance goes into the vacuum advance unit.
- Install the magnetic collar over the cam on the distributor
shaft. You may need to rotate it slightly to get it lined up internally.
- Use the supplied gauge (or a .030 non-magnetic feeler gauge)
and adjust the air gap between the ignition module and the magnetic collar. Tighten the
nuts that retain the ignition module.
- Install the rotor.
- File a slot in the distributor cap to allow for the larger
grommet (the Pertronix unit has a second wire coming from the distributor). The
instructions contain the exact dimensions of the slot you need to make. Install the cap.
- Connect the black wire to the coil negative terminal.
Connect the red wire to a power source that is on with the ignition. On AMC sixes, you can
connect this wire to the coil positive terminal.
- Start the engine and tune it up following the procedure in
your service manual.
That's all there is to it! Total install time was about 30
minutes. I haven't been able to get any mileage information but I can tell you that it
starts easier and runs much smoother than with the points. The next thing I want to do
with this is to install a higher output coil and widen the plug gap up to take advantage
of the coil.
01/05/04 09:25:55 PM