1957-1974 Corvette Distributor Electronic Ignition Conversion

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Posted April 22, 2013 by Zip Corvette in Corvette Technical Articles
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How many times would you have liked to convert your 1957-1974 Corvette to a solid state electronic ignition but a few problems always stood in the way? You had to use a non-stock distributor, had wiring so complicated it took an electrical engineering degree to figure it out or you had to mount black boxes on your engine compartment. These were things most Corvette owners just were not interested in doing.

Zip Corvette Parts, 8067 Fast Lane, Mechanicsville, VA 23111, (800) 962-9632, can provide the perfect solution. PerTronix manufactures a complete solid state electronic ignition system – The Ignitor – that uses your original stock Corvette distributor. It has no complicated wiring or any black boxes. As a matter of fact, the whole system fits completely under your Corvette’s original distributor cap, allowing you to maintain your Corvette’s factory ignition shielding.

This system will install in about one hour and costs less than $100. Since this unit is one piece, you do not have to drill any holes or cut any wires. Best of all, you will not have to buy anything else. According to PerTronix, The Ignitor system has an effective rpm range from 0 to 6000 rpm with a standard coil. If you need to go from 0 to 15000 rpm, all you need to do is change to a stock heavy duty coil. Another nice thing about this system is that you do not have to change the timing or your stock plug gap.

We installed The Ignitor on our 1973 L48 350 Corvette. It took less than one hour and worked flawlessly. So if you want the convenience of a solid state electronic ignition system and still use your original stock distributor, this is the answer. Installation can be performed with the distributor in the Corvette on on the bench. We decided to install on the bench which would allow for better photography and a check on our Corvette’s distributor end play.

Follow along as we install The Ignitor on our 1973 L48 Corvette and see just how easy it is.

Click on the images for expanded views – it’s much easier on the eyes. 
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Step 1

01: Here is the complete PerTronix Ignitor Electronic System. The only other things you will need are some hand tools, feeler gauge and a timing light.
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Step 2

02: Start by disconnecting your Corvette’s battery. Remove the distributor cap and disconnect the coil wires. Then make a diagram so that you can remove and replace the distributor in its exact location. Make a drawing of a clock. Then make the location of the rotor and the vacuum advance. Here you can see the rotor is pointing at 6 and the vacuum advance at 8:30.
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Step 3

03: Remove the rotor, coil wire and condenser wire from the point assembly. Then remove the breaker points assembly. Keep the screws and washers because you will reuse them.
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Step 4

04: Secure the coil wire back to the breaker plate with the screw that held the condenser. Make sure the loop in the coil wire does not rub the shaft or rotor.
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Step 5

05:  Install the magnet ring with the two threaded 6/32 studs. Keep the nuts and the two thick washers. Now check the air gap between the face of the magnet ring and the face of the Ignitor module. It should not be less than .010” and not more than .040”.
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Step 6

06: On Delco Corvette distributors, the shaft has a tendency to climb as the car is started and as the engine accelerates. This is due to the bevel of the gear on the distributor shaft and camshaft. If the clearance between the gear and the lower end of the distributor housing is too great. it may allow the clearance between the magnet ring and the module to become more than .100”. If this happens, the engine will miss or not fire. Here we are checking the clearance and we found it to be too great.
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Step 7

07: To reduce the clearance at the end of the shaft and prevent the shaft from climbing, we installed the provided shims. We drove out the roll pin and installed the shim provided. Notice that we also marked the gear with a crayon so that we reinstalled it exactly in the same position that it was removed.
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Step 8

08: After you have installed the gear shims, re-check the magnet ring to Ignitor module gap. Remember, it should be between .010” and .040”. Here we installed the .032 washer, which is provided, to adjust the gap to fall between the accepted limits.
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Step 9

09:  Now install the rotor with the nuts provided. It is a good idea to install a new rotor.
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Step 10

10: Remove the cap’s sliding door and notch the corner of the door at the bottom lip. This is done so that the insulating sleeve can slip through without binding. When installed, the wire fits between the lip of the cap and the distributor body. Now re-install the door.
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Step 11

11:  Re-install the distributor in the Corvette as per your diagram. Install the distributor cap and locate the wiring through the slot in the door. Be sure the wires are not pinched. Make sure they move freely.
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Step 12

12: Connect the black wire to the (-) negative side of the coil and the red wire to the (+) positive side of the coil. Re-connect your battery terminals to the battery. Start the engine. Let it run for about five minutes and time it to your specs. That’s it! Now you have an electronic ignition and your original stock Corvette distributor.
1957-1974 Corvette Distributor Electronic Ignition Conversion: How to Install a Corvette Electronic Ignition

Source: Zip Corvette Parts

8067 Fast Lane | Mechanicsville, VA 23111 | (800) 962-9632


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