How do I upgrade my HEI distributor ?

G_RIDE_81

Apprentice
Oct 30, 2019
52
8
So, I've been thinking about getting a new HEI distributor for my V8 '81 MC . It's nearing 200k miles and to the best of my knowledge still running the original distributor. It is an ECM controlled unit. All the replacements I've seen from parts store are versions with the vacuum canisters. Rebuild kits come with vacuum canister as well. My car is stock regarding the ECM, HEI, wiring, sensors, etc.

How should I go about with this upgrade? Is it possible go with one of these new units, remove the vacuum canister and somehow add & modify the ECM wiring harness from the car to the new unit? Can I use the new unit as is, tap into a vacuum port, leave the ECM plug dangling Should I rebuild my existing distributor with a kit, minus the vacuum canister?

I'm trying not to cause a check engine light or other misfire by leaving the ECM plug just dangling there.

Thanks in advance.
 

69hurstolds

Geezer
Supporting Member
Jan 2, 2006
6,633
113
No. I doubt you would be successful trying to adapt an older unit to the new one. The way the wiring fits into the housing and everything...I think you'll be crying if you tried it.

I think your original distributor number, I believe, would be 1103443. I'm not 100% sure though. 1103460 could be it, but that may be 82 and up. Not sure.

May try this one. Yours probably looks like this if it's a small block chevy with a 4 pin connector to the CCC system. $101 for a rebuilt isn't bad. That terminal wire that the 4 pin connector is attached to is over 100 bucks alone if you can find it from ACDelco.

 
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Clone TIE Pilot

Comic Book Super Hero
Aug 14, 2011
3,243
113
Galaxy far far away
Rockauto has some electronic HEI distributors.
 

G_RIDE_81

Apprentice
Thread starter
Oct 30, 2019
52
8
Rockauto has some electronic HEI distributors.
Thanks! I'm not sure about this one, it's got bad reviews and this brand is known for having bad reviews on their other parts.

I did find a remanufactured unit at my local parts store. Image online looks correct.
 

G_RIDE_81

Apprentice
Thread starter
Oct 30, 2019
52
8
Why change it? Is it acting up or just a "I want to change everything and then ask why the engine isn't running right!"
I've been having a misfire for some time now. I've eliminated a vacuum leak and carburetor performance. Engine is a stock rebuild. The old engine has the misfire as well. So, been eyeing the distributor (pick up, mainly). Given the mileage, it's a logical point of interest.

I mean, if the new unit works, should be a no harm-no foul situation, right?
 

Clone TIE Pilot

Comic Book Super Hero
Aug 14, 2011
3,243
113
Galaxy far far away
Thanks! I'm not sure about this one, it's got bad reviews and this brand is known for having bad reviews on their other parts.

I did find a remanufactured unit at my local parts store. Image online looks correct.

Its hard to find quality anymore. Another option is to rebuild your original distributor. Computer advance HEI should be even easier to rebuild than an older unit with fewer moving parts.
 

69hurstolds

Geezer
Supporting Member
Jan 2, 2006
6,633
113
Its hard to find quality anymore. Another option is to rebuild your original distributor. Computer advance HEI should be even easier to rebuild than an older unit with fewer moving parts.
But not cheaper. Depending if you get quality parts (i.e., old school Delco made in U.S.A. stuff)
 
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