1. Registration trouble? Please use the "Contact Us" link at the bottom right corner of the page and your issue will be resolved.
    Dismiss Notice

The Old Distributor Did The Trick...

Discussion in 'Early CJ5 and CJ6 Tech' started by Robert Hanna, May 18, 2024.

  1. May 18, 2024
    Robert Hanna

    Robert Hanna New Member

    Abilene, TX
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2022
    Messages:
    20
    I had the engine professionally rebuilt and I was at a point where I was ready to start her for the first time. I was anxious and excited. It was time.

    I turned the key... nothing. I fiddled with it for several hours... still nothing. My father-in-law suggested we call in the big guns and the professional joined us with a plethora of timing tools. He eventually figured out the new spark plug wires that came with the new "electronic" distributor were crap.

    I bought some "premium" wires from NAPA and gave it another go. It started but failed to stay going. I fiddled with it some more. Nothing. I finally decided to go back to the uncleaned, Lord knows how old the points are 1965 original distributor. You know, the one Made in the USA that came with the jeep. And, it cranks on the first try.

    They don't make them like they used to.

     
    Beach66Bum, duffer, Glenn and 4 others like this.
  2. May 18, 2024
    tom h

    tom h New Member 2022 Sponsor

    Buffalo NY
    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2006
    Messages:
    46
    Congratulations, that is a great accomplishment
     
    Glenn likes this.
  3. May 18, 2024
    colojeepguy

    colojeepguy Colorado Springs

    At the foot of...
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2010
    Messages:
    7,273
    Sad but true.
     
    Glenn likes this.
  4. May 18, 2024
    PeteL

    PeteL If it wasn't for physics, and law enforcement... 2024 Sponsor 2023 Sponsor 2022 Sponsor

    Hills of NH
    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2003
    Messages:
    9,950
    Yet one more time, I'm confirmed in my belief that electronic ignition is a needless complication.

    But today's generation seems to think that setting points is too difficult. As hard as, oh I dunno, dialing a telephone used to be.

    1 (1).jpeg
     
    vtxtasy, Glenn and Ohiowrangler like this.
  5. May 18, 2024
    Daryl

    Daryl Sponsor

    Bonney Lake, WA
    Joined:
    May 25, 2006
    Messages:
    2,891
    I have now installed close to twenty Omix electronic distributors in both F-heads and L-heads. Not one has failed yet. I did have one not work right out of the box though. They do clock differently from an original distributor and could be challenging to a less experienced mechanic. I cannot count how many sets of points that I have changed though. The points and condensers that are available today are simply junk that fail on a regular basis now. Not to mention that an original points distributor shaft won't hold a set due to wear at about 50k miles. If you have one "forever yours" Jeep and can find old nos distributors and points then your experience may be different. I routinely revive old Jeeps and the electronic distributors have been a huge help.
     
    jeepstar, Fireball and Glenn like this.
  6. May 18, 2024
    PeteL

    PeteL If it wasn't for physics, and law enforcement... 2024 Sponsor 2023 Sponsor 2022 Sponsor

    Hills of NH
    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2003
    Messages:
    9,950

    I certainly respect your knowledge and experience.

    But setting aside particular cases, the general trend concerns me. Are we not a group that values maintaining traditional skills (and vehicles) that are otherwise are being lost? Are we not here because we enjoy learning and knowing their idiosyncrasies, and take pride in practicing and sharing that knowledge?

    If we accept as valid the convenience arguments for electronic and digital upgrades, etc, the evolution of that direction would logically lead us to owning Teslas.
     
    dozerjim and Glenn like this.
  7. May 18, 2024
    Oldpappy

    Oldpappy A.C. Fults - Curmudgeon at large 2022 Sponsor

    East Tennessee
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2021
    Messages:
    1,739
    I prefer a breaker point distributor mainly because if it fails, even out in the middle of nowhere, I know how to fix it. If I had an electronic distributor that failed I would not have a clue.

    I too have revived a number of old Jeeps, and every one that has come to me with one of those Omix electronic distributors gets a good breaker points distributor swapped in, and I sell the electronic one to someone that doesn't know how, or doesn't want to fool with setting points.

    I usually always have a distributor, I have rebuilt, on the shelf ready for the next Jeep I get. When put in good order, and properly maintained they don't give any trouble.

    I have to admit one part of my preference is I simply like doing a tune up the old fashioned way. A buddy of mine, who has worked on cars with me for more than 50 years, took a ride in one of my Jeeps the other day and commented on how it fired up before he heard the starter. That is what a well tuned engine will do, start on first turn.

    Yes, a lot of the tune up sets sold by even the big Jeep suppliers are imported crap, absolutely junk, but quality parts are still available. I buy Blue Streak brand points and condensers, have used them for years, and never had a single failure. Right out of the box you can see these are far superior quality than the sets that come in the unmarked boxes from some of the suppliers. I have also used the Echlin brand sets from NAPA with good results.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2024
    Glenn likes this.
  8. May 19, 2024
    Robert Hanna

    Robert Hanna New Member

    Abilene, TX
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2022
    Messages:
    20
    Daryl, my dad swears by them and uses electronic distributors for his assortment of classic muscle and British roadsters. I believe the Omix unit I had was faulty. It failed to provide spark to any plug consistently. Plugs were properly gapped in accordance with FSM. The order for the Omix was definitely different than what the FSM said it should be. The original autolite was just as the FSM said with number 1 at the 5:00 position (which was kind of fun to know the shop that rebuilt the motor put the oil pump in correctly). We did find the proper order for the Omix because it would start ignition, it just couldn't hold it because spark would vanish. I am very confident we had No. 1 at BTDC with the Omix. I admit that there may be more to it than that, but even the experienced mechanic we brought in for a cold beer and conversation thought the Omix unit was bad. I'm happy to try some other things if you have any advice based on the symptom. Sounds like you find them reliable and have experience with them.

    Thanks for the tip on the parts Oldpappy. I'm going to go through my autolite and clean it up. I'll rebuild it with Blue Streak components.

    I appreciate the dialogue gentlemen. Have a great Sunday!
     
    Glenn likes this.
  9. May 19, 2024
    Oldpappy

    Oldpappy A.C. Fults - Curmudgeon at large 2022 Sponsor

    East Tennessee
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2021
    Messages:
    1,739
    I traded for a 47 CJ2A about five years ago. The Jeep had sat in the guys basement for 10 years after he "upgraded" to an electronic distributor made in China and he couldn't get it to run after that so just gave up on it. I had it running 30 minutes after I unloaded it from the trailer. He had the number 1 wire toward the front as is shown in the diagrams, however when I brought # 1 up to TDC compression stroke and popped the distributor cap the rotor was pointing toward the rear. I just moved the wires around, hooked up my boat gas tank and a battery and the old gal fired right up. The problem wasn't the part but the guy not knowing what he was doing. He said he was an engineer for John Deere tractors.

    Even though that one worked, I just didn't trust it and replaced it with a rebuilt original distributor. I gave the electronic to a friend and he is still running it, so I think most of them will work reliably enough, but as I said if one failed on me I wouldn't have a clue of how to fix it. I carry points, condenser, cap and rotor in the tool box I keep in my Jeeps, but have yet to need them. The only time I have had any trouble out of a breaker point distributor was caused by the screw loosening and letting the points close which took me about 10 minutes to diagnose and fix.

    I won't knowingly use any Omix-Ada imported parts on my Jeeps, but that is just me.
     
    dozerjim and Glenn like this.
  10. May 19, 2024
    jeepdaddy2000

    jeepdaddy2000 Active Member

    Eagle Point oregon
    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2004
    Messages:
    1,253
    The biggest issue with any electronics today is quality.

    HEI ignitions powered literally millions of GM vehicles out of the factory without any issues. They were so reliable that they became the template for just about all electronic ignition upgrades.

    Petronix is a quality, less expensive option for the HEI. Early units would burn up if the key was left on, but I believe that has been addressed. They also can be switched back to points in an emergency.

    Both units, built with quality parts, are a viable alternative to points.

    Given quality parts, I'll take electronic ignition over points any day. Not only do I not have to deal with dressing, replacing, and adjusting points and condensers, but my timing remains fixed as well.
    I understand what you're saying, but realistically we all modify our CJ's to some extent. Engine, drivetrain, lifts, steering, brakes, the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, as industry overtook manufacturing and cars replaced horses, the blacksmith and the farrier and their knowledge became obsolete. As simple quality electronic ignitions became available, points faded away, and so fades that knowledge as well.
     
    dozerjim, duffer, JWillys58 and 2 others like this.
  11. May 19, 2024
    PeteL

    PeteL If it wasn't for physics, and law enforcement... 2024 Sponsor 2023 Sponsor 2022 Sponsor

    Hills of NH
    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2003
    Messages:
    9,950
    I am the exception then. Not me.

    I keep everything as stock as possible, my legacy to future owners.

    As for all that dressing and changing and timing.... that very misconception is part of the loss of knowledge that I am resisting. I go literally years without needing to do any of that, and when I do it is only a few minutes. And importantly - it is not a hardship. It is rewarding.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2024
    dozerjim, JWillys58 and Glenn like this.
  12. May 19, 2024
    Daryl

    Daryl Sponsor

    Bonney Lake, WA
    Joined:
    May 25, 2006
    Messages:
    2,891
    The incredibly poor quality of oem ignition systems in the 70s, think motorcraft and everything AMC ever tried, is why most everything that drives into a car show today has an hei distributor in it.
     
    Fireball, PeteL and Glenn like this.
  13. May 19, 2024
    59cj5

    59cj5 Member

    Central WI
    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2002
    Messages:
    43
    I know I’m in the minority here but the reason I bought an old jeep is because I like old things. I like repairing like I did in my youth. I’ve tried to keep upgrades to a minimum. If someone wants to upgrade more power to them but I prefer original if possible
     
    dozerjim and Glenn like this.
  14. May 19, 2024
    Howard Eisenhauer

    Howard Eisenhauer Administrator Staff Member

    Tantallon, Nova...
    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2003
    Messages:
    8,163
    You're not alone Buddy :)
     
    dozerjim, PeteL and Glenn like this.
  15. May 19, 2024
    Glenn

    Glenn Kinda grumpy old man Staff Member

    Apopka, Fl
    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2002
    Messages:
    12,433
    Central Florida these days is one big raceway. I've lost all interest in driving my old vehicles. At least my truck is big enough where I don't worry about much.
     
    dozerjim likes this.
  16. May 19, 2024
    Oldpappy

    Oldpappy A.C. Fults - Curmudgeon at large 2022 Sponsor

    East Tennessee
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2021
    Messages:
    1,739
    Glen,

    If you have lost interest in driving your old vehicles, you can send them to me :D

    Daryl,

    You mention poor quality ignition systems for Fords and anything AMC. I thought we were talking about early CJ5s which did not have such a problem.

    I never owned anything AMC, so can't speak to that, but I have owned a lot of Fords from that era, and don't recall any quality issues with ignition systems. I have built a number of Ford small block engines from that era with OEM distributors, and never had any problem whatsoever with the ignition system, so I am not sure what you are talking about.
     
    dozerjim likes this.
  17. May 20, 2024
    Jeepenstein

    Jeepenstein Me like Jeep.. 2024 Sponsor

    North Central FL
    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2003
    Messages:
    2,196
    New York International Raceway.. It's nuts.. I stay off the interstates unless I have to. Even our state roads up here are all going 4 lane divided now to handle the traffic and people driving like moorons..
     
  18. May 20, 2024
    T. M.

    T. M. Rubicon or bust!

    US of A
    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2024
    Messages:
    220
    When it comes to HEI vs points distributors, and why HEIs are becoming more popular, it is also important to consider their appeal to inexperienced folk suck as myself.

    If one just wants to drive around and does not care about maintaining originality, they can buy a HEI distributor and be just fine. If it craps out, they can simply throw a new one in. HEIs are easy and simple to use.

    If someone uses points distributors, there has to be a special reason for them to want to do so. Whether they like the system better, it gives them nostalgia, or they are trying to preserve that knowledge, there is some reason why one choses a points system. Points distributors are much harder to learn, but may offer better performance

    (to a certain extent) One can buy a HEI and trust/gamble with the manufacturer's quality, or they can spend time learning how to work points distributors and "make their own quality," determining how well the system works by the quality of their work.



    Personally, my Jeep is the only pre-2005 vehicle that I've really worked on. I find points systems and distributors in general to be somewhat intimidating, as they're new to me and there's a good possibility of me screwing it up and causing my Jeep to run poorly. An HEI distributor would be much easier for me to use, especially with the limited time I have to learn about old vehicles. That being said, I want to learn about points distributors and how to use them, so that is what I will do.
     
    mikvar likes this.
  19. May 20, 2024
    duffer

    duffer Rodent Power

    Bozeman, MT
    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2009
    Messages:
    4,550
    Yep and a 1000% better than points. I have never had one fail off road but always carried an extra module. Way less time changing those out than a set of points/condenser. The only vehicle I presently own with points is the 67 CJ and that will absolutely join the HEI contingent when I get around to it's resurrection.
     
  20. May 20, 2024
    PeteL

    PeteL If it wasn't for physics, and law enforcement... 2024 Sponsor 2023 Sponsor 2022 Sponsor

    Hills of NH
    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2003
    Messages:
    9,950
    Really not true. A factory manual, and a half hour of time would allow lifetime mastery.

    Kind of why I keep harping on this topic, however. As the language of your post indicates, we live in a world of technology that intimidates us into feeling vulnerable, and helplessly seeking magical hi-tech answers - which is a vicious cycle of helplessness.

    Practicing and building confidence - and pride - in ones own acquired skills counters that. Being able to maintain basic mechanical tech, such as points ignition systems, frees us from fear and dependency upon our cybernetic overlords.
     
    dozerjim and T. M. like this.
New Posts