<VV> "Points" to ponder - Pertronix Issues

Sethracer at aol.com Sethracer at aol.com
Thu Oct 27 10:51:50 EDT 2005

There are several reasons that all of the car manufacturers changed  from 
point actuated ignitions to electronic based distributors, then eventually  
distributorless electronic ignition systems. First was the advent of Smog  
regulations. The creeping car warrantees of the late 60's and eventually,  the 
ignition system performance required to meet the Smog Rules, mandated a  change to a 
better performing, longer interval-between-maintenance system across  the car 
lines. With initial toes in the water of transistor based systems, like  the 
Corvette and a few others, for GM, that ended up as the HEI  distributors. 
Those were designed to meet the 50,000 mile smog warrantees. (Two  other factors, 
larger plug gaps and better ignition wires helped.)  The  smog rules also 
caused the cars to run a bit leaner under many conditions. This  made the mixture 
harder to fire so more voltage was needed and the systems were  adjusted to 
provide it, reliably. The maintenance needed to keep a points  based system 
within smog regulations, timing - especially, could eat them up.  And they had to 
guarantee performance for that mileage.
Now - for the Corvair. The Pertronix offers some of the same advantages of  
the factory systems, the provision for higher voltage if needed and less  
maintenance. Some people need it, and some don't. We are talking about adding a  
system to a vehicle that is about 40 years old, and has seemingly made it this  
far. Of course, some of us older folks have problems that we didn't  have 40 
years ago as well. Age matters. But performance cars all moved away from  
points for reasons of high-RPM performance. The Corvair points plate was  not 
designed to use a high-tension points spring, needed to reliably  reach much over 
6000 RPM. You can install it, and it will work for a while,  then the pivot pin 
of the points plate will wear and you will have erratic dwell  and idle 
issues. The better the high-RPM points performance, the faster  the wear. The 
original points design, circa 1962, was never designed for  that high RPM usage. 
Again, if you never buzz your motor, it may be a  "feature" you don't need. 
Standard type points on an original point plate will  last fine at 3000 RPM.  As 
far as the turbo motor, that may, indeed,  be a special case. Smitty mentioned 
that Turbos did get special coils. That may  have targeted goofy cylinder 
distribution issues at all speeds as much as  on-boost ignition needs. Those 
original coils may be long gone by now on many  cars. I think that a cheap 
insurance policy to keep good performance on a Turbo  is to install a Pertronix II and 
a matching coil. The Pertronix, unlike many  other ignition systems, is 
virtually invisible as installed, with no "Big Ugly  Box" screwed on a frame rail.  
(one extra, short, wire) The aftermarket  coils can be disguised as stock, 
leaving the engine compartment pristine, or, at  least, only as dirty as it was 
before. Like any electronic part, it is  subject to possible failure at some 
point, so I subscribe to the "Points, on a  plate, with the wire, in a baggie, 
in the glove compartment" policy, as part of  the installation. 
Finally, nobody is saying that you must install an Ignitor, or keep points,  
for that matter. People are answering a question from a Corvair owner who is  
concerned about performance and expense. There will always be  trade-offs!  - 
Seth Emerson   

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