Products to Compare (max of 3)
Compare These Parts

241 Dodge Hemi Distributor Rebuild

Add Article To List

I made the plunge and decided on a 241 Dodge Red Ram Hemi engine for my little hot rod. While the machine shop finishes up the detail work on the block and heads I have turned my attention to the bolt on components to make her run! It is important to me that the engine appear as though it was pulled out of a Coronet back in the fifties and transplanted into a hot rod. Because of this I am running many of the stock components on my engine. Fancy parts are tempting, and believe it or not these days there are a vast array of modern amenities to satisfy anyone’s’ hunger for billet aluminum, fins, or chrome! In the distributor department things are no different. Many adapt later small block Mopar distributors for use on these “baby” Hemi’s, and if you want to go all out you can purchase a magneto, or magneto-look distributor. I am keeping it simple, so to stick with my ‘50’s theme I will rebuild the stock distributor to give me the right look. By choosing to run a stock distributor you are not stuck with old school technology of points. Tucked under the cap (where no one can see) I will have a trick electronic conversion making my distributor work like new without the need for an external ignition box.

First I selected a distributor to restore and luckily I had two from which to choose. One was the original distributor to the engine I have in the machine shop, and another bolted to a second engine I have been using for mock up on my chassis.

These distributors have brass bushings inside supporting the shaft. You should give yours a feel to decide if those bushings require replacement. I popped off the caps of both of my distributors and it didn’t take long to notice which distributor was in better shape. Feeling the side to side movement on the shaft can tell you how much wear the bushings have. The distributor off of my mock up engine was obviously a much lower mile example with no play at all. The other would require some serious work so I’ll put that one back on the shelf for another day. If you have an old distributor that needs to be re-bushed it should be a fairly straight forward operation for any machine shop. A sloppy shaft can lead to timing issues so give yours a look!

I stopped by Speedway Motors to purchase what would be the heart of my rebuilt distributor. The folks at Pertronix Performance Products have been producing electronic ignition conversions for a wide array of vehicles for many years. They have proven themselves as a reliable and superior alternative to points. Part number 447-1383 (1383) is the Pertronix “Ignitor” electronic ignition conversion kit for my little 241 Dodge. According to Pertronix this unit will cover all ‘51-‘58 Mopar distributors set up for dual points. I’ll talk more about the specifics of installation in just a moment. Chances are if you have an old engine with points, Pertronix produces a kit to convert you over, and Speedway Motors has it on their shelf ready for you!

I also was in need of a new cap and rotor to make things fresh. If your cap and rotor are in good shape you do not need to change them to run the Pertronix conversion, but mine were petrified from age so they needed to be swapped out.

Once I had all of the new parts purchased I began fixing things up. I took my distributor apart to thoroughly clean it. Even being the best unit I had to choose from, it was rusty, dirty, full of dead bugs, and in need of serious attention!

The first order of business was to set aside all of the old stuff that wouldn’t be needed after the electronic conversion was made. See you later points!

Once disassembled, I cleaned the parts to remove years of grunge and baked on grease. It took some elbow grease but slowly I was left with a clean casting ready for a fresh coat of paint.

Once the shaft was reinstalled, I heated the casting so the paint would stick well. After a quick shot of high heat engine enamel it was looking new again! When installing the ignitor plate you will notice three holes on one end. The middle of the three holes will line up with the threaded hole for the condenser and the hole on the opposite side will line up with the point screw hole on the breaker plate.

After test fitting the ignitor, I cleaned up the breaker plate and lubed up the bearing to free it thereby allowing the vacuum advance to work properly. When you install your Pertronix unit you will want to check your ground wire. Mine was in horrible shape, so I removed it and installed a new one. With a piece of scotch-brite and some oil I was able to clean up the vacuum advance mechanism too.

Next I fastened the ignitor plate using the new screws provided in the kit. I then routed the wires through the hole in the distributor housing and pulled the provided wire grommet into place. Be careful here as it is easy to pull it straight through the hole having to do it again! After a couple tries I got it!

It is important when doing this step to also allow enough wire inside the distributor to allow the vacuum advance to move freely. Also make sure the ignitor wires do not interfere with any moving parts.

It is important to note that the Ignitor I am using from Pertronix is designed to be used with a 12-volt negative ground system. I am using the matching Pertronix “Flame Thrower” coil (p/n 447-45011). By doing this I do not need to run an additional ballast resistor. If you are running a coil with less than 1.5 ohms of resistance you will need to run a ballast resistor.

Wiring the distributor back to the car is easy. The black wire goes to the negative side of the coil. If you are like me and are not running a ballast resistor you simply attach the red wire to the positive side of the coil and you are all set! With everything installed I finished the job by adding a new cap and rotor. What was once a crusty old fashioned distributor now looks new and is sporting some great technology!

Want to see more of Tim's Build?

Related Articles

What Is Positraction and Do You Need It?
by Mark Houlahan - Posted in Tech
Posi, limited slip, Traction-Lok, or whatever your favorite brand calls it is how your rear axle provide equal traction to both tires, and trust us, you’ll need it! So, read all about posi units and their benefits here in our guide.
The Best Wiring Solution for Your Hot Rod or Muscle Car Project
by Mark Houlahan - Posted in Tech
Electrical wiring is one of those tasks that enthusiasts dread tackling on their own. We're here to tell you that wiring your project vehicle is something you can do with a little help from your friends at Speedway Motors!
Two Pedal Tech: Finding the Best Automatic Shifter for Your Build
by Mark Houlahan - Posted in Tech
There are a lot of choices when it comes to automatic shifters, and we’ll help unpack all the options and features in our automatic shifter buyer’s guide
Adapting Tremec's Popular T5 5-speed Manual to Ford's Flathead V8 Engine
by Jason Lubken - Posted in Tech
We can teach you some of the major differences between the Ford and GM-style T5 Flathead transmission adapter kits. We'll also walk you through choosing the correct parts in order to make this installation a breeze!
Electric Radiator Cooling Fan Guide
by Eric McMillan - Posted in Tech
What is the best radiator cooling fan setup? Do you need a pusher or puller style fan? Should you run two fans or one? Our guide has the answers.
Upgrade Your Ride with a Mini Starter!
by Mark Houlahan - Posted in Tech
Little is thought of your engine’s starter until it refuses to turn your engine over at the worst possible moment. Today’s powerful mini starters can crank the biggest engines with ease. Learn how in our buyer’s guide.
Benefits of Electronic Ignition System Upgrades
by Mark Houlahan - Posted in Tech
Upgrading to electronic ignition is a huge improvement in performance, reliability, and lower maintenance that you can add to just about any engine your project may be running. Learn all about your electronic ignition choices in this buyer's guide.
Using GoJak Wheel Dollies to Easily Move Your Vehicle
by Mark Houlahan - Posted in Videos
The GoJak wheel dolly makes moving immobile vehicles around your shop easy as place, pump, and push! Watch the video for all the details and you'll wonder why your shop hasn't had a set sooner!
Understanding Shock Types and What Is Best for Your Project
by Mark Houlahan - Posted in Tech
Shocks and struts may be confusing, but our buyer's guide is here to help you make sense of all the options.
Dual Plane vs Single Plane Intake Manifolds Explained
by Mark Houlahan - Posted in Tech
Dual plane or single plane intake manifold? Which is the best for your project vehicle's engine? Learn the differences in our buyer's guide.