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Pertronix Electronic Ignition Conversion

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This is a mod that I'd been considering for some time, but just never got around to it. Mitch Johnson and his story of success in the Totally Triumph Garage gave me the shove I needed.

Installation is exceptionally easy. Just make certain that you order the unit that will be a perfect fit for your distributor. If you have a positive ground Spitfire, you'll need to convert it to negative ground like Mitch did.

I chose the Pertronix electronic ignition unit over the others that are available for sheer vanity reasons. I liked that no external control box is necessary, helping me to retain the stock "look" of the engine compartment. Everything the Pertronix uses fits neatly under the distributor cap. The entire installation took less than 15 minutes -- and I was taking pictures. Figure it'll take you about 10.

Installation couldn't be any simpler. The only reason I'm even bothering to publish this is to illustrate just how simple the whole procedure is... The kit comes with only a few parts and very clear instructions, plus a troubleshooting sheet, which fortunately, I had no cause to use. Let's start by removing the distributor cap, leaving all the wires attached. Make sure the ignition is OFF.

The electronic controller of the Pertronix unit is mounted to a small half-circular plate. Wires from this unit exit the distributor housing via a rubber grommet. Included with this component is a flathead screw for flush-mount attaching it to the distributor face, a magnetic collar that fits over the distributor shaft, and a spacer ring that sits atop the magnetic collar.

Remove the rotor, points and condenser. Two screws... Inspect the rotor for wear and replace if necessary. Check your distributor cap for excessive wear or cracks. Replace if necessary.

Disconnect the points wire that runs to the negative side of the coil. It looks like a spade plug but it isn't. You'll have to remove the nut that secures the wire.

I took this opportunity to wipe off the face of the distributor a little. It was pretty gunky with oil.

The point adjusting screw on my distributor was pretty well bunged up by the POs, and I had a bit of difficulty getting the Pertronix plate seated correctly, since some of the metal from the adjuster screw exceeded it's normal diameter. A squeeze or two from my pliers on the head of the adjuster screw brought it back into shape enough to fit the Pertronix plate over it. This photo was taken after the plate was pressed into place, but before I fastened it securely with the included screw.

Now, route the wires out the side of the distributor, leaving enough wire inside so it doesn't rub against the distributor shaft. Connect the red wire from the Pertronix unit to the positive side of the coil and the black wire to the negative side of the coil. Place the magnetic collar over the distributor shaft (wider open end down) and rotate until it seems to fit. Then press down to seat fully.

Place the spacer ring over the collar magnet, re-install your rotor, close the distributor cap and adjust your timing as usual (I did not find this step to be necessary).

I have to totally agree with Mitch Johnson in that the firing performance of the engine just seems smoother somehow -- like all the sharp spikes have been rounded off. I know it's got to be my imagination, but the exhaust note even seems to sound richer and acceleration through to the higher RPMs in third and fourth gear has definitely improved as well. The primary benefit seems to be much smoother performance as the engine winds up to higher RPMs.

I'm very pleased with this mod and look forward to never having to fiddle with points gaps or fouling again. But I'll keep a spare set in the toolbox -- just in case.

To put the finishing touch on this mod, I'm going to get some black shrink tubing to put over the wires leading to the coil and also shorten those wires considerably. They are much too long. Doing this will make the modification nearly 100% transparent to the casual observer. Only the wire connecting to the positive lead of the coil will distinguish the appearance from that of a stock points/condenser setup.


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