Help with hEI conversion

Old January 3rd, 2019, 10:57 AM
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Help with hEI conversion

Mechanics for older cars are few in my area. Thought I had found one that new a lot. Let him switch out my points distributor for an HEI in my 71 Cutlass Supreme. Swithed it for a pertrinix with the built on coil. Switched out the wires with 8mm wires. Now my radio is not getting power at any time. Guy that did the switch says he has no clue. Any ideas?
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Old January 3rd, 2019, 11:08 AM
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For clarification to ensure everyone is using the same terminology, HEI and Pertronix are not the same thing. HEI is a complete electronic distributor originally manufactured by GM and installed on 1975-up vehicles and Pertronix is an aftermarket transistor switch replacement for points and the rest of the original points distributor is retained.

Which one do you have - HEI or Pertronix?
The installation is not the same for both, so it's important to know which you have.

Either way, have you checked the fuses to ensure none were blown during the installation?

Do you have the factory radio or an aftermarket radio?
Many aftermarket radios need both constant and switched power. The radio power wires may be connected to the fuse box terminals, so if aftermarket radio, ensure no wires have been disturbed.

Last edited by Fun71; January 3rd, 2019 at 11:13 AM.
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Old January 3rd, 2019, 11:29 AM
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This is the distributor I used. https://www.summitracing.com/parts/p.../submodel/base. I have an aftermarket stereo, and the fuses were the first thing we checked. Could there be a ground issue? No wires should have been disturbed. I did not instal the radio, previous owner did.
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Old January 3rd, 2019, 11:56 AM
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Hope the guy ran full battery voltage to the HEI and is not using the resistance wire that powered the points coil.

Why not follow the power wire/s from the radio back to the source and see where you lost power. There is not much to a stereo unless there is a separate amp.
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Old January 3rd, 2019, 06:30 PM
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As stated, the HEI distributor needs full 12 Volts so the resistance wire needs to be replaced or bypassed. The simplest thing is to run a new wire from the IGN spade terminal in the middle of the fuse block. If the radio was getting power there, its wire may have been removed. I had to use a dual spade terminal on mine to retain power to the radio.
That's bout the only thing I can think of with the limited information available for your radio to not have power after the distributor install. If the mechanic who's there working on the car is stumped it will be nearly impossible for someone on the internet to tell you what's wrong. You'll need to do as said above and trace the wires to find out if one is disconnected.

Last edited by Fun71; January 3rd, 2019 at 06:33 PM.
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Old January 3rd, 2019, 07:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Robbys71 View Post
This is the distributor I used. https://www.summitracing.com/parts/p.../submodel/base. I have an aftermarket stereo, and the fuses were the first thing we checked. Could there be a ground issue? No wires should have been disturbed. I did not instal the radio, previous owner did.
FYI, that IS a coil-in-cap GM-style HEI distributor, it just happens to have been sold by Pertronix.

There is nothing connecting the distributor to radio power. Without knowing how your aftermarket radio is wired or what your mechanic touched in the process, we are only guessing. The fact that this alleged mechanic can't figure out how to trace power to the radio should give you an indication of his skills...
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Old January 4th, 2019, 07:21 AM
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Fuse?
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Old January 4th, 2019, 07:31 PM
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And yes it could be a ground issue. Amazing it stop working after the man was finished. He absolutely moved that wire so his job would be done. Look for a wire hanging near the fuse box and you will need that double sta-con to plug it back in.
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Old March 5th, 2019, 01:50 AM
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This won't save you now, but perhaps for future projects...when converting from points to a true HEI distributor, in my head it is easiest to create an isolated harness to feed 12 volts to your HEI (since it's pretty important for it to function, and the wiring on these old cars generally is not meant to support a bunch of upgrades). I like to run from the battery to a breaker, then to a relay and on to the HEI. All I'm asking of the factory wiring is for a keyed on spade in the fuse box to send enough juice to the relay to flip it open. Trouble shooting becomes very easy with this setup, and my radio works just fine...just my preference. Also, removal of a somewhat hidden relay in a shady neighborhood will generally create enough of an issue for a car thief that they will give up pretty quick...unless that car thief is me!

Last edited by 02WS6SSZ71; March 13th, 2019 at 01:28 AM.
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