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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Oakland Gardens, N.Y.
    Posts
    27,468

    Default Installing points conversion, and HEI System function, tests, and modification.

    I'm writing this because this is a frequently asked question (FAQ) on V8, and one of the first modifications owners make to an older car, is to replace the points. The points ignition has been around for a long time, and is very reliable, and easy to work on (GM), but it isn't maintenance free. Despite all the hype out there, there is no performance to be gained by replacing points in most stock and mild combinations. There may be some drive ability gains from a hotter ignition, including faster starts, and longer spark plug life including resistance to fouling.


    This is how the stock points system works. Extending from the firewall engine harness connector(below the brake booster), is a calibrated length of special resistance wire. This wire does not extend all the way to the positive side of the coil. In the harness, it is joined by a wire leading from the "R" terminal of the starter solenoid, and from there, it extends to the positive side of the coil. There is a shorting switch inside the starter solenoid. When the starter motor is cranking the engine to start, the shorting switch inside the solenoid, sends battery voltage through the yellow wire to the coil positive, effectively bypassing the resistance wire. Once the engine starts, and the key is released to the run position, the yellow wire ceases to supply voltage, and voltage flows from the firewall via the resistance wire. This drops the running voltage so that point life is maximized.

    To test the system for proper functioning requires a volt meter. Connect the voltmeter between the positive side of the coil and ground. Turn the ignition switch to the run position. The reading should be 5.0-5.5 volts. It is important that the ignition points be closed for this test. If the points are open, the voltmeter reading will be full battery voltage. Bump the engine over until the points are closed, and check again. Again, 5.0-5.5 volts is the normal reading with the engine stopped, ignition key in the run position, and the voltmeter connected between the positive side of the coil and ground. The second part of the functionality test requires that you pull the coil wire out of the distributor, and ground it so the engine will not start. With voltmeter connected as before, crank the engine continuously, and observe the voltmeter. The reading should jump from the previous 5-5.5 volt reading up to 9 volts minimum. If it does not, it indicates a problem with the shorting switch inside the starter solenoid, or a wiring problem between the "R" terminal of the solenoid, and the coil. This will result in hard starting when cold.

    If you are installing a points conversion, it is important to READ the instructions and determine if the system requires full battery voltage, or if it needs resistance on the primary side of the ignition. If it requires resistance, you can leave the stock resistance wire in place, or add a ballast resistor if the stock resistance wire has been replaced sometime in the past by you or a previous owner. In any case, if you cannot use the stock wiring including the resistance wire, you either have to run another wire that carries ignition on battery voltage, or you need to remove and replace the resistance wire including the wire from the starter solenoid. The right way IMHO, is to remove and replace the wiring. The easiest way to do this is to open the wrapping on the engine wiring harness. Then remove the bolt in the center of the engine harness connector at the firewall, and unplug the front half of the connector. The wires push in from the front with a metal "barb type" of connection. The barb can be compressed with thin nose pliers, and the wire will pull out from the front. Then you simply unsolder the the barb connection and attach it to a length of 14 gauge wire, and snap it back in to the firewall connector, and plug the connector back onto the firewall, tightening the bolt. Run the wire along the harness, crimp on the proper connection, and attach it to the positive side of the coil. Most if not all Pertronix, need full time battery voltage. GM large cap HEI distributors need full time battery voltage.

    Below is a picture of the barb type terminal that clips into the front half of the the engine harness connection at the firewall.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Larry
    1998 "Fully Optioned" SC3800 Riviera
    70 GS 455 Stage1, TSP 470, 602 HP@ 5900, 589 TQ @ 4900
    TA Hyd Roller Cam, 230*/238*, 112, .544"/.577" lift, 4-7 swap
    MSD Digital 6+, Ignitionman Distributor w/MSD trigger
    THM400 with Ultimate 258mm converter, Gear Vendors OD
    AED 1000 HO Carb, 800 CFM 7042240 Quadrajet
    8.5 10 bolt, 3.73's Race weight 4025lbs.
    Best E.T. 11.54 Best MPH, 116.06
    Larrymta@verizon.net, GSCA #291
    BPG # 1063
    N.E. GS/GN Club Assistant Director

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Stockholm, sweden
    Posts
    83

    Default Re: Installing points conversion, and HEI System function, tests, and modification.

    Hi!
    I'm putting in the crane cams adjustable vacuum advance kit in my hei dist. It's going in my Buick 350. Is the crane kit enough or do I need to do some more mods with the dist?

    Cheers
    johan

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Oakland Gardens, N.Y.
    Posts
    27,468

    Default Re: Installing points conversion, and HEI System function, tests, and modification.

    Quote Originally Posted by desolator View Post
    Hi!
    I'm putting in the crane cams adjustable vacuum advance kit in my hei dist. It's going in my Buick 350. Is the crane kit enough or do I need to do some more mods with the dist?

    Cheers
    johan
    See the Power Timing thread in this Forum.
    Larry
    1998 "Fully Optioned" SC3800 Riviera
    70 GS 455 Stage1, TSP 470, 602 HP@ 5900, 589 TQ @ 4900
    TA Hyd Roller Cam, 230*/238*, 112, .544"/.577" lift, 4-7 swap
    MSD Digital 6+, Ignitionman Distributor w/MSD trigger
    THM400 with Ultimate 258mm converter, Gear Vendors OD
    AED 1000 HO Carb, 800 CFM 7042240 Quadrajet
    8.5 10 bolt, 3.73's Race weight 4025lbs.
    Best E.T. 11.54 Best MPH, 116.06
    Larrymta@verizon.net, GSCA #291
    BPG # 1063
    N.E. GS/GN Club Assistant Director

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Citrus Heights, CA
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Installing points conversion, and HEI System function, tests, and modification.

    Larry70GS are you saying that we should remove the section that runs from the solenoid to the resistance wire? As I understood it, the resistance wire is only hot in the RUN key position while the solenoid section is only live in the START key position. If I were to remove the solenoid section of wire, wouldn't there be no charge going to the coil in the START position?

    I may just be reading this wrong or maybe I misunderstood something.
    -Spencer

    sbeane.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    LI,NY
    Posts
    20,025

    Default Re: Installing points conversion, and HEI System function, tests, and modification.

    Just as an FYI, the connectors used in our cars are called, "Packard 56" terminals and connectors. The one in question is called a "split tab male terminal". They are readily available if you Google it. Plus its a real PITA to uncrimped those connectors. If you have a notion that you might one day convert your car back to stock, I would suggest you leave the resistance wire in the harness, and just remove the resistance wire terminal from the bulkhead connector and tape it off. Get a new Packard 56 terminal and install it with a new wire crimped in place. That way the resistance wire is there, still in the harness and can be converted back to points easily. I did this with my black 71 as I have an MSD setup in it. Even in its modified state, I have cut anything up on that car.
    Jason Cook
    BPG #1675
    "Expert in obsolete technology"

    1968 Riviera GS- some assembly required
    1969 Riviera GS- my first car
    1969 GS-350
    1970 Stage 1 4 speed Aquamist
    1970 GS-455 Bamboo Cream beater
    1971 GS 455 11.93@113.36
    1972 GS-350
    1970 Stellar Industries vintage go kart

    Deo duce, ferro comitante

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Oakland Gardens, N.Y.
    Posts
    27,468

    Default Re: Installing points conversion, and HEI System function, tests, and modification.

    Quote Originally Posted by ssbeane View Post
    Larry70GS are you saying that we should remove the section that runs from the solenoid to the resistance wire? As I understood it, the resistance wire is only hot in the RUN key position while the solenoid section is only live in the START key position. If I were to remove the solenoid section of wire, wouldn't there be no charge going to the coil in the START position?

    I may just be reading this wrong or maybe I misunderstood something.

    Spencer,
    The resistance wire is hot in the crank, and run positions. You can confirm that by simply connecting a voltmeter between coil positive and ground as described in the first post of this thread. The solenoid wire bypasses the resistance wire during cranking. Again, you can confirm this by running the test described in my first post. No harm in leaving the solenoid wire in place, but most people remove it along with the resistance wire. It's kind of redundant when replacing the resistance wire.


    If you see yourself possibly going back to points one day, do as Jason describes. Leave the wire in the harness taped off.
    Larry
    1998 "Fully Optioned" SC3800 Riviera
    70 GS 455 Stage1, TSP 470, 602 HP@ 5900, 589 TQ @ 4900
    TA Hyd Roller Cam, 230*/238*, 112, .544"/.577" lift, 4-7 swap
    MSD Digital 6+, Ignitionman Distributor w/MSD trigger
    THM400 with Ultimate 258mm converter, Gear Vendors OD
    AED 1000 HO Carb, 800 CFM 7042240 Quadrajet
    8.5 10 bolt, 3.73's Race weight 4025lbs.
    Best E.T. 11.54 Best MPH, 116.06
    Larrymta@verizon.net, GSCA #291
    BPG # 1063
    N.E. GS/GN Club Assistant Director

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Butte, Montana
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: Installing points conversion, and HEI System function, tests, and modification.

    Hi Larry,

    I am hoping you can help me with my wiring question on my 70 GS. I am changing over to a 1 wire, internal regulated alternator along with moving to a stock HEI from points. My goal is to eliminate all the extra wiring under the hood. Here is where I am at: I have removed the resistor wire and the voltage regulator wire from the fuse block at the firewall. I know that the "R" terminal on the starter plays a part in the system but really not sure how to include in back in the loop. Can you walk me through the changes I need to make and more importantly explain why so I can clearly understand?

    Thanks,

    Dan

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Oakland Gardens, N.Y.
    Posts
    27,468

    Default Re: Installing points conversion, and HEI System function, tests, and modification.

    Quote Originally Posted by ameier29295 View Post
    Hi Larry,

    I am hoping you can help me with my wiring question on my 70 GS. I am changing over to a 1 wire, internal regulated alternator along with moving to a stock HEI from points. My goal is to eliminate all the extra wiring under the hood. Here is where I am at: I have removed the resistor wire and the voltage regulator wire from the fuse block at the firewall. I know that the "R" terminal on the starter plays a part in the system but really not sure how to include in back in the loop. Can you walk me through the changes I need to make and more importantly explain why so I can clearly understand?

    Thanks,

    Dan
    The resistor wire and the wire from the R terminal of the starter solenoid are joined together. The wire from the solenoid is the bypass to the resistance wire. The resistance wire extends from the firewall for a calibrated length, and then the bypass wire attaches to the end of the resistance wire and continues to the + side of the coil. You have to cut open the harness and you can remove the whole thing. Replace it from the firewall directly to the HEI feed with a length of 12 or 14 gauge wire.

    As far as removing any voltage regulator wires, I don't think that is advisable or necessary. I'd leave that alone. I converted my stock 70 alternator to a 12 SI 94 AMP internally regulated alternator . All you need to do is bridge 2 wires on the regulator plug, and move one wire from the 2 wire plug into the alternator. I got the Alternator from Jamie on this board. I would direct a PM to him about wiring modification. Here is the thread,

    http://www.v8buick.com/showthread.ph...rnators-w-pics
    Larry
    1998 "Fully Optioned" SC3800 Riviera
    70 GS 455 Stage1, TSP 470, 602 HP@ 5900, 589 TQ @ 4900
    TA Hyd Roller Cam, 230*/238*, 112, .544"/.577" lift, 4-7 swap
    MSD Digital 6+, Ignitionman Distributor w/MSD trigger
    THM400 with Ultimate 258mm converter, Gear Vendors OD
    AED 1000 HO Carb, 800 CFM 7042240 Quadrajet
    8.5 10 bolt, 3.73's Race weight 4025lbs.
    Best E.T. 11.54 Best MPH, 116.06
    Larrymta@verizon.net, GSCA #291
    BPG # 1063
    N.E. GS/GN Club Assistant Director

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Posts
    1

    Default Re: Installing points conversion, and HEI System function, tests, and modification.

    The crane kit enough or do I need to do some more mods with the dist?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Oakland Gardens, N.Y.
    Posts
    27,468

    Default Re: Installing points conversion, and HEI System function, tests, and modification.

    Quote Originally Posted by mikky7 View Post
    The crane kit enough or do I need to do some more mods with the dist?
    Depends on the distributor and everything else about your combination. More information, way more
    Larry
    1998 "Fully Optioned" SC3800 Riviera
    70 GS 455 Stage1, TSP 470, 602 HP@ 5900, 589 TQ @ 4900
    TA Hyd Roller Cam, 230*/238*, 112, .544"/.577" lift, 4-7 swap
    MSD Digital 6+, Ignitionman Distributor w/MSD trigger
    THM400 with Ultimate 258mm converter, Gear Vendors OD
    AED 1000 HO Carb, 800 CFM 7042240 Quadrajet
    8.5 10 bolt, 3.73's Race weight 4025lbs.
    Best E.T. 11.54 Best MPH, 116.06
    Larrymta@verizon.net, GSCA #291
    BPG # 1063
    N.E. GS/GN Club Assistant Director

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Posts
    32

    Default Re: Installing points conversion, and HEI System function, tests, and modification.

    Quote Originally Posted by LARRY70GS View Post
    I'm writing this because this is a frequently asked question (FAQ) on V8, and one of the first modifications owners make to an older car, is to replace the points. The points ignition has been around for a long time, and is very reliable, and easy to work on (GM), but it isn't maintenance free. Despite all the hype out there, there is no performance to be gained by replacing points in most stock and mild combinations. There may be some drive ability gains from a hotter ignition, including faster starts, and longer spark plug life including resistance to fouling.


    This is how the stock points system works. Extending from the firewall engine harness connector(below the brake booster), is a calibrated length of special resistance wire. This wire does not extend all the way to the positive side of the coil. In the harness, it is joined by a wire leading from the "R" terminal of the starter solenoid, and from there, it extends to the positive side of the coil. There is a shorting switch inside the starter solenoid. When the starter motor is cranking the engine to start, the shorting switch inside the solenoid, sends battery voltage through the yellow wire to the coil positive, effectively bypassing the resistance wire. Once the engine starts, and the key is released to the run position, the yellow wire ceases to supply voltage, and voltage flows from the firewall via the resistance wire. This drops the running voltage so that point life is maximized.

    To test the system for proper functioning requires a volt meter. Connect the voltmeter between the positive side of the coil and ground. Turn the ignition switch to the run position. The reading should be 5.0-5.5 volts. It is important that the ignition points be closed for this test. If the points are open, the voltmeter reading will be full battery voltage. Bump the engine over until the points are closed, and check again. Again, 5.0-5.5 volts is the normal reading with the engine stopped, ignition key in the run position, and the voltmeter connected between the positive side of the coil and ground. The second part of the functionality test requires that you pull the coil wire out of the distributor, and ground it so the engine will not start. With voltmeter connected as before, crank the engine continuously, and observe the voltmeter. The reading should jump from the previous 5-5.5 volt reading up to 9 volts minimum. If it does not, it indicates a problem with the shorting switch inside the starter solenoid, or a wiring problem between the "R" terminal of the solenoid, and the coil. This will result in hard starting when cold.

    If you are installing a points conversion, it is important to READ the instructions and determine if the system requires full battery voltage, or if it needs resistance on the primary side of the ignition. If it requires resistance, you can leave the stock resistance wire in place, or add a ballast resistor if the stock resistance wire has been replaced sometime in the past by you or a previous owner. In any case, if you cannot use the stock wiring including the resistance wire, you either have to run another wire that carries ignition on battery voltage, or you need to remove and replace the resistance wire including the wire from the starter solenoid. The right way IMHO, is to remove and replace the wiring. The easiest way to do this is to open the wrapping on the engine wiring harness. Then remove the bolt in the center of the engine harness connector at the firewall, and unplug the front half of the connector. The wires push in from the front with a metal "barb type" of connection. The barb can be compressed with thin nose pliers, and the wire will pull out from the front. Then you simply unsolder the the barb connection and attach it to a length of 14 gauge wire, and snap it back in to the firewall connector, and plug the connector back onto the firewall, tightening the bolt. Run the wire along the harness, crimp on the proper connection, and attach it to the positive side of the coil. Most if not all Pertronix, need full time battery voltage. GM large cap HEI distributors need full time battery voltage.

    Below is a picture of the barb type terminal that clips into the front half of the the engine harness connection at the firewall.
    Thanks Larry, now I know why the HEI falls down when it gets hot, Already ordered the new wire to swap it out.. Craig

 

 

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