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PerTronix Ignitor Install

6/19/2019
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This is an article about the tried and true PerTronix Ignitor, part number 447-1282. Are you uncomfortable doing things that you haven’t done before? Are you the kind of person that doesn’t feel really confident about doing something unless you have already done it? I sure am that way. I don’t feel comfortable even giving advice or talking about a subject unless I have been there many many times and have a great understanding of how it works. I don’t think anyone could blame you for being that way because not everyone just wants to dive in and fail. I have felt that way about timing and distributors pretty much my whole life.

If you feel that way, the PerTronix ignitor may change your mind. I sell a lot of these awesome little things, but was afraid to install one myself as I am a little bit ignition illiterate. So, I dug out an old flathead distributor that I wanted to restore and use on a project later. I first took off the cap and checked out the inside of this distributor. This distributor was kind of special to me because in the recent past I have purchased eleven or so flatheads in search of a good stock one. I didn’t want a cam or anything on it to be built. I just wanted a good running stock one to put on a stand and start up every once in a while, and have a flathead on hand that ran.

This particular distributor came off of a running flathead that I purchased, then had the short block assembled by a friend. It is not special by any means, but I kept this distributor around to use it on something later. Once I had the cap off the distributor I noticed that it was really dirty inside and I was going to have to clean it up and remove the old points. I started to undo the flat screws that came in the distributor. These screws seemed pretty used, but still got tight and didn’t appear to have any stripped threads. I removed the old points as well as the wires for the points and the ground strap itself. I then noticed that the distributor had a grommet the wires went through and it seemed to be good and not dry rotted or cracked. The PerTronix ignitor does come with a new grommet, though, which is nice!

I have done some reading on points distributors and how they work as well as what the ignitor does to replace these points. In a points system the distributor rotates and the points open and close. With the PerTronix, it has an ignitor module that reads off of a magnetic sleeve that rotates and comes in the kit. This is quite the upgrade for this old distributor and really wakes up the motor quite a bit. After cleaning the distributor, I was looking through my flathead pile of parts and I actually found a new rotor!

The installation of the ignitor and magnetic sleeve is pretty straight forward. The ignitor plate has three holes on one end. The middle hole 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. Don’t forget to re-install ground wire to the breaker plate! I made a new ground wire with the supplied terminal connectors. You can run the wires through the hole in the distributor out and make sure they don’t rub any moving parts. I also had to drill out the hole in the base of my distributor to run the wires out.

I installed the PerTronix ignitor in the distributor, put the new rotor on and installed the cap for now. I will put this in the next stock motor I buy and see if it won’t fire up! If you are lucky enough to purchase a flathead or vehicle with a stock flathead that is already running, you can mark the orientation of the rotor and follow this install, add a coil and you should be able to start the motor right up with the ignition upgrade. If you have previously driven the car with stock points, then you will notice quite a difference in the performance of your flattie V8!

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