Matt's Old

Fiddling with Rambler's since 1995

Rambler American Restoration

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Electronic Ignition Upgrade

Having gotten tired of adjusting the points every 6 months on my 1968 Rambler American, I decided to invest in an electronic ignition system.

There are several choices for AMC 199, 232, and 258 inline sixes. The most common are: Chevy inline six HEI, Mallory Unilite, and Pertronix Ignitor. Any of these will work well and will give you many, many years of trouble free service with NO periodic adjustments. If you race your car, you'll likely notice faster times at the track since you'll eliminate the bouncing common to points at higher RPMs. I decided to go with the Pertronix unit (part # 1162A). I purchased mine from Summit Racing for about $73 (BTW, Summit's part # is PNX-1162A).

The install couldn't be simpler. Here's what you need to do:

  • Make sure the ignition is off so you don't fry yourself. Its probably a good idea to disconnect the battery but its not necessary to do so.
  • Remove the distributor cap and inspect the cap and rotor. If either of them are pitted, cracked, or burnt, replace them. Remove the rotor from the distributor.
  • Disconnect the wire from the coil to the points.
  • Remove the two screws that hold the breaker plate to the distributor housing and remove the breaker plate.
  • Check the mechanical advance mechanism for freedom of movement. If its never been serviced, I'd suggest removing the distributor, disassembling it, and cleaning everything up. In any case, lightly oil the advance mechanism with engine oil.
  • Check the vacuum advance mechanism for function. Check your service manual for test procedures as some may have a bleed hole that needs plugged.
  • Install the ignition module to the new breaker plate. Do not tighten the nuts at this time.
  • Install the new breaker plate on the distributor. Make sure the pin for the vacuum advance goes into the vacuum advance unit.
  • Install the magnetic collar over the cam on the distributor shaft. You may need to rotate it slightly to get it lined up internally.
  • Use the supplied gauge (or a .030 non-magnetic feeler gauge) and adjust the air gap between the ignition module and the magnetic collar. Tighten the nuts that retain the ignition module.
  • Install the rotor.
  • File a slot in the distributor cap to allow for the larger grommet (the Pertronix unit has a second wire coming from the distributor). The instructions contain the exact dimensions of the slot you need to make. Install the cap.
  • Connect the black wire to the coil negative terminal. Connect the red wire to a power source that is on with the ignition. On AMC sixes, you can connect this wire to the coil positive terminal.
  • Start the engine and tune it up following the procedure in your service manual.

That's all there is to it! Total install time was about 30 minutes. I haven't been able to get any mileage information but I can tell you that it starts easier and runs much smoother than with the points. The next thing I want to do with this is to install a higher output coil and widen the plug gap up to take advantage of the coil.

Last Updated 01/05/04 09:25:55 PM