Monthly Archives: March 2012

Chevy 4.3 liter build Pt. 2: teardown and parts search

well, the first thing i did armed with a bit of knowledge and the core i had is to commence teardown and assessment of what i really had. i was actually pleasantly surprised at how well the engine really looked. it was a high mileage engine out of an early 90’s S-10, and i had narrowed it down to a 91-92 vintage plant. this was a TBI engine with a remote oil filter set up, factory hydraulic roller cam, and non vortec heads. the timing cover was identical to the common older style i was looking for. the goal here was a 4.3 that appeared to look like an old school 70’s v-8 350 chevy. i have to admit, it took a bit of imagination to see it under all the electronic injection, emmissions, and serpentine belt stuff. all the accessories unbolt right off.

with any high mileage engine like this, the timing chain is shot and it was loaded full of varnish. it looked like it had ran hot for a long period of time so it probably had a bad oxygen sensor and/or a terrible state of tune on the ignition causing major carbon deposits on the cylinder head runners. after removing the heads i saw i had a slight dish piston with valve reliefs. the rods and mains were for the most part unmarked, so for ease of re-assembly i marked em like i would with an olds v-8. anyways the crank had seen better days, but was undamaged. it is quite possible i have the heavy duty romulus mfg crankshaft but i don’t know for sure….and don’t really care.

the real killer for me was the cylinder wear….about .010-.012″ of wear in the top of the cylinders leaving a ridge…..which i reamed off. after weighing out parts kits, and machining costs, i came in at around 2500$ to do a relatively standard build with a descent cam. i priced a GM goodwrench longblock identical to it for less than 1800$, so it didn’t take me very long to figure out that unless i wanted to overbore and build something really hot nutz, there is no point in a standard build. BUT, there was enough left of it i decided to buy a rering kit and have some fun with it.

the re-ring kit with gaskets,main, and rod bearings came in at around 210$. i went with an edelbrock intake at just over 200$. i had a set of taylor wires already(55$), and built the distributor for about 40$(as detailed in another post). the oil filter needed a mount, and i found a threaded arbor out of a junkyard for buttkiss. it simply threads into the oil filter location at the rear of the block and is removed/installed with an allen wrench to the center. i got an edelbrock performer carb off ebay for 75$, and i spent 30$ on carburetor cleaner and brake clean to clean all the parts.

now in listing pricing and parts, i must also mention that to simplify the approach to ordering parts, i consider there to be two major groups of these 4.3L engines, and the major design break is in the 1992 area. 92 and older engines similar to the one i have are more like an old SBC with the oil pump, cylinder heads, and timing chain cover interchangeable with a v-8……and no balance shaft. in addition the intake pattern is also the old style with an angle.

92 and newer engines they added a balance shaft, went with vortec heads(which also changes the intake pattern), changed the timing cover style, changed the oil pump parameters, and in the early 00’s even the bell housing and oil pans were unique. basically…..the newer you get:the more expensive it is.

even with these two major groups when it comes to ordering parts, i also discovered that they offer both shallow groove and deep groove oil rings for the same year same mfg engine. there is no way of telling what you have unless you physically micrometer the oil control groove ring for depth on your pistons. i attempted to use the rings that came in the kit and after arguing with the summitracing tech for an hour….and getting a piston stuck during re-assembly…..i ultimately ended up using the old oil control rings with the new compression rings in the kit. also you can only get moly top ring kits for the 4.3 and can run from 65-85$ a set. if i was doing this over again i would have bought a cheap v-8 set of rings for 25$ and simply robbed out what i needed. so the moral to the story is micrometer your pistons before you make an order.

in my case to finish this part up, i got a factory roller timing set for 37$, and in my case could use a good old common sbc oil pump for 20$. the grand total for this little learning experience was around 850 bucks including the core fee i paid at the yard. i have yet to buy some pipes, but i figure i can use the manifolds up until i figure out what vehicle it is going in. although i have yet to fire it to know for sure what i will end up with, hard money i am out if it doesn’t work and go with a reman engine is actually closer to 350 bucks, and that isn’t bad at all for the learning experience i got.


Chevy 4.3 liter build Pt.1 : information

Well, i decided to start into a 4.3 v-6 for my next project. with any new project you take on, do some research first to save yourself as much headache as possible. much like when i took on learning about 700R4 transmissions and the family a trannys with it, the 4.3-and the rest of the v-6 chevy family is just as elaborate. it didn’t take much to realize the the 4.3 engines are like snowflakes….making a right core essential for what you want to accomplish. i ended up with a 92 vintage 4.3, with the older style bell housing for my 700R4 tranny to bolt on to. it does not have a balance shaft so i will have less rotating mass(more power), and it was made in romulus michigan. the other plant these engines are made in is Towadanda  New York. there is no real clear cut designation to tell what it is from. i had to take crank, block, and cylinder head casting numbers on the engine in combination with the info i tagged on below to figure out what i had. one thing that is a giveaway is that there is a “4.3” cast into the left rear bell housing boss in the location you would find the block casting number on a SBC V-8. the casting number on the block is on the opposite side of the bell housing.

anyways, it has a roller cam in it and a metal retainer tray that resembles that of a votrec v-8. later models used plastic……so in essence i feel like i am starting with a great core. i have yet to tear it down completely.

unlike the v-8 small block chevy, the 4.3 has quite a following overseas.  my guess is it is due to it’s relative size and/or availability in comparison to most domestic v-8 engines. i chose it as a great alternative for a street rod cause of rising gas prices, as well as the power/weight ratio i was going for.

here is some tech info i found that may be helpful. it is quite an elaborate breakdown, i will simplify it a bit in a later post. thanx.


1985: The original block in ’85 was a 14071177 casting. It had a two-piece rear seal, a flat tappet cam and a fuel pump hole because all of the trucks still had carburetors. Just for the record, there were some ’86 blocks shipped with pans for ’85 service replacements, so it is possible for a customer to have an ’85 car or truck with a one-piece rear seal.

1986: In 1986, the block (c/n 14088553) was modified to accommodate the new one-piece rear main seal. The fuel pump hole was still open, even though it wasn’t always needed, because all of the cars and some of the trucks came with throttle body injection.

1987- ’94 WITHOUT BALANCE SHAFT: In 1987, a roller lifter cam was installed, so the block was changed again. Two bolt bosses were added in the middle of the valley for the lifter retainer that kept the rollers properly located on the cam and perpendicular to it. This same basic block was used through ’91 for everything, and in ’92 through ’94 for all of the engines without balance shafts except for one small difference – some of the blocks came with four bolt holes for the tunnel style retainer beginning in ’92. There were several different castings used, including the 10105867, 10172756, 14099073, 14093683 and 10066011 with the two-bolt retainer, and the 10172756, 14099073 and 10066061 blocks with the four-bolt retainer.

1992 WITH BALANCE SHAFT: The L35 balance shaft engine was introduced in ’92, so the block was modified to make room for it above the camshaft. The lifter retainer was changed to the tunnel design because of the balance shaft; it had two bolts on each side instead of the two in the middle.

There were two versions of the balance shaft blocks in ’92. The “first design” block had a needle bearing on the back of the balance shaft that was lubricated by the oil mist from the valley. The “second design” had a sleeve bearing that was pressure fed through an additional drilled passage in the back of the block.

All of the 1992 “first design” (c/n 10105903) and “second design” (c/n 10224834) blocks were missing the two bolt bosses, one on each side, that were used with the reinforcing struts for the automatic transmission on some of the ’93 and later applications, so they can only be used in ’92. Be sure to double-check the 10224834 “second design” blocks, though, because some of them came with the strut bosses in the later years so they can be used for the ’93s and ’94s.

1993-’94 WITH BALANCE SHAFT: Things got more confusing with the balance shaft blocks in ’93-’94. All of these engines have to have the two extra bolt holes for the strut bosses and 10 bolt holes for the tin front cover. See photo. There are five castings that may or may not be right:

•All of the 10224534 and 10224535 blocks have the two strut bosses and 10 holes for the front cover, so they will fit everything in ’93 and ’94;

•The 10227196 castings have the strut bosses, but they came with either six or 10 holes;

•The 10224834 blocks have 10 bolt holes, but they came with or without the strut bosses;

•The 10235359 blocks were the most confusing because they came with or without the two strut bosses and with either six or 10 holes for the front cover!

Consequently, all of these castings must be checked and sorted by both casting number and features in order to be sure that they will work in everything in ’93 and ’94.

1995 WITH BALANCE SHAFT: 1995 isn’t a whole lot better. All of the ’95 engines had a balance shaft and the strut bosses, but the flange around the timing gear was changed to accommodate the new plastic front cover. The overall shape stayed the same, but the flange was noticeably wider with big bulges around six of the bolt holes. See photo.

There was a mid-year change that can cause problems, too. The early engines used a “first design” tin front cover with 10 bolt holes. The later ones had the “second design” plastic cover that had only six bolts, so the flange can have either six or 10 holes drilled in it. See photo. That means that the tin cover won’t work on a block that was drilled for a plastic cover, so the blocks aren’t always interchangeable.

Things can get confusing in ’95, because the 10227196 and 10235359 castings that were used in ’95 came with the narrow flange in ’94 and were converted to the wide flange in ’95. All of the 10227196 castings had the strut bosses, but some of the earlier 10235359 castings didn’t.

You can use either one of these blocks in ’95 as long as it has the strut bosses and the wide flange with either six or 10 holes drilled for the front cover. But, you must be sure that the corresponding first or second design front cover is installed on the block.

Given the possible confusion over which cover the customer has and which block he really needs, it’s probably better to make sure all the blocks have 10 bolt holes so they will work with either front cover. Do not use an earlier block with the narrow flange with a plastic front cover under any circumstances because it will leak oil.

1996-’98: The block was changed again in 1996. Structural reinforcing ribs were added on both sides of the timing cover and both sides of the block were contoured to follow the shape of the cylinders more closely. See photo. This one is a 14099090 casting. This same block is used up through 1998.
There is one other subtle difference in the blocks. The cam bearing sets are different, depending on whether the block was made in Romulus or Tonawanda. The Tonawanda blocks use two larger diameter cam bearings, one in front and one in back, instead of only one large one in the front. Both bearing sets are available in the aftermarket.
There are three characteristics of each block which will tell you where it was manufactured:

•If it’s a Tonwanda engine, it will have a “T” stamped on the machined surface on the block just in front of the right cylinder head. The engine ID will be number stamped on the pad, and the chamfer on the cylinders will be quite shallow;

•If it’s a Romulus engine, it will have an “R” stamped on the machined surface on the block. The ID number will be made up of a series of dots, and the cylinders will have a deep chamfer on them.

Some of the blocks are drilled for a knock sensor and some aren’t. It’s almost impossible to know which applications came with and without the sensor hole, so most rebuilders drill and tap every block so the hole is there when it’s needed.


The roller cam motors have used three different lifter retainers. All of the ’87 through ’91 non-balancer blocks and some of the ’92s used a flat retainer (p/n 10046165) with two bolt holes in the middle. As of ’92, all of the balancer motors and some of the non-balancer motors came with the tunnel-shaped retainer (p/n 10105916) with four bolt holes, two on the outer edge on each side.

Starting in ’94, Chevy used two plastic retainers (p/n 12551431) that are bolt-in replacements for the tunnel-shaped version. There are some later intakes that will hit on the reinforcing ribs on the tunnel-shaped retainer, so it’s best to use the plastic retainers in all of the blocks that have the four bolt holes.

Chevy has used several different cranks in the 262. They came with one- or two-piece rear seals and in both light and heavy versions that were specific to each engine plant. Here’s an overview:

1985: The 1174N casting came with a two-piece rear seal and a flange in the back. See photo.

1986-’87: The 14088640 and 10105865 Tonawanda castings with a one-piece seal were both used only for heavy applications during these years. See photo.

1988-’98: The Tonawanda cranks were all 10105865 castings that came in both light and heavy versions.

1988-’98: The Romulus cranks were all 10055480 castings that came in light or heavy versions.

All of the engines with the one-piece seal were externally balanced with specific flywheels and dampers, but the cranks were also balanced according to the weight of the pistons and rods that were installed in the engine; it’s important to use the right combination of parts. Unfortunately, there’s no sure way to tell a light crank from a heavy one short of knowing where it came from and marking it at teardown or spinning it on a balancer. There are a couple of clues that can help, though:

•All of the 14088640 castings are heavy cranks that can be used in either the ’87 to ’94 non-balancer engines or in the ’93 to ’95 VIN “Z” balance shaft motors with the heavy pistons.

•If a 10105865 Tonawanda casting came without a hole in the first rod pin, it’s definitely a heavy crank. If there’s a hole in the first rod pin, it’s probably a lightweight crank. However, there were a few early 10109865 cranks that had the hole drilled in the rod pin to correct the production process, so having the hole drilled doesn’t always guarantee a lightweight crank.

•The 10055480 Romulus crank came both ways, too. If it has a hole in the first rod pin, it’s the lightweight version, and if it doesn’t, it’s always a heavy crank.

The heavy cranks were used in all of the engines without a balance shaft and in all the VIN “Z” balance shaft motors with the heavy pistons, including the ’95 “second design” versions. The lightweight cranks were used with the lightweight pistons in the ’92-’98 VIN “W,” the ’95 VIN “Z,” “first design” engines, and in the ’96-’98 VIN “X” engines. Using the right crank in the right engine will help prevent balance problems out in the field.

However, you should also be aware that all of these engines are externally balanced with various combinations of flywheels/flexplates and dampers for balance, and that they are “trimmed” at the factory after the hot-run test by pounding balance weights into the holes that are already drilled in the damper. So, if you build them right and still have a shaker, the customer will have to add or subtract weight from the damper and/or flywheel/flexplate in order to get it right.

There is one other subtle difference in the cranks, too. Any of the engines that were installed in ’96 or later and all of the ’95 “S” and “T” trucks with OBD II, including all of the Olds Bravadas, any Blazer with California emissions, and about 10% of the Blazers with federal emissions, had a reluctor wheel installed in front of the crank gear for a crank position sensor that was a part of OBD II. The raised, machined area on the snout is about .100? longer on these cranks than it was on the earlier ones so the reluctor wheel has a slight press fit. Be sure to sort out the 10105865 and 10055480 cranks with this longer, machined step and save them for the engines that have the crank position sensor.


There are four different rods in two different weights that come from two different engine plants, so there’s plenty of room for confusion, but it all works out if you follow these two rules:

Rule 1: Keep similar rods in sets by both appearance and weight;

Rule 2: Use only Romulus rods with Romulus cranks.

Then, the question is, how do you tell them apart so you can follow the rules? Start by sorting them by engine plant based on the shape of the balance pad on the big end. If the rod has a cast pad that’s only machined on the face, it’s a Tonawanda rod. These rods don’t have a forging number and may or may not have a dot on the shank.
If the weight pad on the big end is long and narrow and has been machined on all five surfaces including the sides, the ends and the face, it’s a Romulus rod. All of these rods will have an 818 or 045 forging number on the shank so they’re easy to identify.

After you have separated the rods by source, sort them by weight and put them in sets. The lighter ones will weigh around 662 grams, and the heavier ones should weigh about 675 grams.

The light and heavy rods can be interchanged in engines in sets, but it’s best to use the Romulus rods only on Romulus cranks because you may end up with a ticking noise if they are used with a Tonawanda crank. The Romulus rods have a wider face adjacent to the parting line that can hit on the side of the split pin rod journal, so the Romulus cranks are machined to provide additional clearance for the rods.

The Tonawanda cranks aren’t relieved in this area, so there can be light interference and a noise problem. The Tonawanda rods have the narrower face at the parting line so they can be used with either crank.


There have been five different pistons used in the 262 along with two versions of the lightweight piston.

1) The original, heavy piston used in the 262 was the same as the one that was used in the 350 V8 except that the pin boss was opened up slightly for the offset rod. It weighed about 745 grams with the pin and had a 9.1:1 compression ratio. It was used in all of the light duty engines without the balance shaft from ’85 through ’94 and in the VIN “Z” balance shaft motors from ’93 through part of ’95.

The parts catalog identifies the ’95 VIN “Z” engines with this heavy piston as the “second design” version even though they were built during the first part of the year. They will have one of the following engine codes: ALH, ALA, ALB, ALC, ALD, ALF, ALH, ALJ, ALL, ALP, ALS, AJS, AJT, AJW and AJU.

2) The lightweight piston weighs about 675 grams with a pin. It was used in all the high output, balance shaft engines (VIN “W”) from ’92 through ’98 and in all the VIN “X” engines from ’96 through ’98. It was also used in the “first design” VIN “Z” engines that were built during the latter part of model year ’95, including those with the following engine codes: AAB, AAC, AAF, AAJ, AAK, AAL, AAP, AAS, AAW, AFC, AFD, AHC and AHD.

The lightweight piston was originally a Mahle, full-round design (p/n 2753), but GM switched to its own “RPM” (Revised Permanent Mold) design with a short slipper skirt and a narrower pin boss in ’95. Both of these pistons have very short skirts, so the clearance must be right or they tend to make noise at startup.

3) There was a heavy duty engine offered for trucks and vans with over 8500 GVW from ’89 through ’95. It used a heavy duty, Zollner piston that had an 8.3:1 compression ratio and weighed the same as the regular heavy piston.

4) There was also a high output, VIN “B” (LU2) engine offered in the Astro van in ’90 and ’91. It used a special, hypereutectic, strutless piston that is available from GM under p/n 10181389 in standard, or from Zollner as a H-8269-D. It weighs about 745 grams, just like the rest of the heavy pistons.

5) There was one more piston used in the 262. It’s a low compression (8.6:1), strutless, hypereutectic piston with a deeper dish that was used in the turbocharged Syclones and Typhoons from ’91 through ’93. The OEM standard piston is p/n 12508702 and the Zollner number is a H-8269-E.

All of these pistons are specific to the application, so they should not be interchanged. Building an engine with pistons that have the wrong weight or compression ratio will guarantee a comeback, so it’s better to play by the book.



Any 90° V6 creates some strong, primary imbalance forces, especially in the vertical mode. The 262 is no exception. Chevy originally underbalanced these engines by putting about 46% on the bobweights instead of the usual 50%. This reduced the vertical imbalance that was trying to lift the engine up off the mounts, but created a strong horizontal imbalance that shook the engine from side-to-side instead. So, in order to eliminate a lot of the “noise, vibration and harshness” in the engine and make it into a world-class motor, Chevy added a balance shaft to the premium engines in ’92 and included it in all of them by ’95.

There are two balance shafts, a light one and a heavy one, and two versions of the light one. See photo. The light one is either a 10224542 or a 10172748 casting that comes with or without a metal wear sleeve installed on the back journal, depending on the application. The wear sleeve was used on the lightweight balance shaft when it was installed in a ’92 “first design” engine with the needle bearings in the back, but it wasn’t used when the lightweight shaft was installed in the “second design” engine that had a bushing in the back of the block.

This “first design” shaft should not be used in a “second design” engine because the wear sleeve shortens the surface area needed for the bushing. These lightweight shafts were installed in all of the engines that had the light pistons including the ’92-’98 VIN “W,” the ’96-’98 VIN “X” engines and the “first design” VIN “Z” engines in ’95 that were built with the lightweight pistons.

The heavy balance shaft is either a 10224541, a 10105902 or a 12550286 casting. It can be visually identified by the raised identification band around the middle of the shaft. It was used in all the ’93-’94 VIN “Z” balancer engines and in the ’95 “second design” VIN “Z” balancer engines with the heavy pistons. The heavy balance shaft weighs about 125 grams more than the light one, so it shouldn’t be interchanged with the lighter one.

The balance shafts rotate at engine speed and are gear driven off the front of the cam. There are two different gear sets, one with “wide” teeth and one with “narrow” teeth. The ones with the “wide” teeth were used in the “first design” engines along with the needle bearing balance shaft. Some of these early balance shaft engines had a whine to them, so the gears were modified at the same time the block was changed over to the “second design” version with the sleeve bearing in the back. We recommend using only the “second design” gears to help avoid any possible noise problems.

There have been several cylinder heads used on the 262 since it began in ’85. Some of the changes appear to be minor, but most of them will create problems if the wrong head is used in the wrong place. Here’s an overview year by year:

1985-’86: The 1985 and ’86 engines used a 14079248 casting. It had two holes on one end and three on the other end.

1987-’91 TRUCK, EXCEPT HEAVY DUTY AND ’87-’93 CARS: These heads were the same as the earlier ones except that they had three bolt holes on both ends. The intake surface above the ports was quite narrow; it’s only about 0.250? wide. The unmachined, cast ledge on the top edge of the head was 0.600? wide. Look for c/n 14094768, 10144103, 14099067 or 12553050. All of these heads had adjustable rockers.

1992 TRUCK WITH TBI AND NO BALANCE SHAFT: These heads had a wider surface for the intake gasket even though they didn’t need it because all of the tooling was changed to accommodate the new heads for the VIN “W” CFI engines that were introduced in ’92. The 10144103 casting was carried over from ’91, but it had the wide intake with straight ports on the top. It can be used along with any of the earlier 14094768, 10144103, 14099067 or 12553050 castings from ’87 through ’91.

1992-’93 TRUCK WITH CFI, BALANCE SHAFT: When the high output VIN “W” engine with central fuel injection was introduced in ’92, the heads were redesigned for the application. They had “eyebrows” added to the top of the intake ports to make room for the injector nozzles, so the intake surface above the ports was increased by 0.250? for improved sealing, and the cast ledge above it was narrowed down to 0.350? to provide more room for the intake manifold.

The 10077626, 14099064, 10240209 or 10238181 castings were used, but be sure to check them over carefully because there are two versions of the 10238181 and 10240209 castings with an important difference. In ’92 and ’93, they came with an 8° top angle on the intake seat and a 75° throat, but that was changed to a 30° top angle with an 80° throat in ’94. Separate the 8° heads from the 30° heads and use them only on the ’92 and ’93 engines.

Tonawanda switched to “net lash” rockers in ’92, so some of these are adjustable and some aren’t.

1993 TRUCK WITH TBI, EXCEPT HEAVY DUTY: The intake manifold on the TBI motor was modified in ’93 to take advantage of the wider intake surface that was machined on the ’92 and up heads, so these engines must have the heads with the wide intake and should use the castings with the 8° top angle on the intake seat.

1994-’95 TRUCK WITH TBI OR CFI, EXCEPT HEAVY DUTY: The top angle for the intake seat was changed from 8° to 30° and the throat was opened up from 75° to 80° to give a 10% increase in intake airflow for better performance in ’94. The same heads were used on both the TBI and CFI engines through ’95.

Both the 10238181 and 10240209 castings were used, but they have to be visually sorted because the early ones with the 8° seat probably shouldn’t be used on the ’94s and ’95s. If you do decide to stretch the rules and use the ’93 heads on a ’94-’95 engine, be sure to use them in pairs. Some of the ’94s still had adjustable rockers because Romulus didn’t switch over to “net lash” until ’95.

1996-’98 ALL TRUCKS EXCEPT HEAVY DUTY: There was another all new head introduced in ’96. It had bigger intake and exhaust ports, no exhaust crossover and four angled bolts for the intake. It’s the 10235772 casting that was used up through ’98.

1989-’95 HEAVY DUTY TRUCK WITH TBI: There have been three different heads used on the heavy duty 262 since ’89.

1) 1989-’92: The original head, c/n 14099066 was used up through ’91. The 10144115 casting with the wider intake surface showed up in ’92 even though the narrow one still worked. Both of these castings are interchangeable.

2) 1993: The 14099070 casting came with an 8° top angle on the intake seat in ’93, but it was also available with the 30° top angle in ’94 and ’95. Sort them accordingly and use them in pairs.

3) 1994-’95: The 14099070 casting with the 30° top angle for better airflow should be used on the ’94 and ’95 engines. Be sure to use them in pairs. See photo.

All of these heavy duty heads had hard donut seats, replaceable guides and heavy duty exhaust valves with 3/8? stems.

1991-’93 SYCLONE AND TYPHOON WITH TURBOCHARGER: The turbo motors used the same heads that were installed on the VIN “Z” throttle body motors. It appears that they came with the narrow intake surface all the way through ’93. Look for the 14094768, 10144103 and 1409967 castings.

From ’85 through early ’93, the 262s used the regular small block oil pump with the 0.620? (5/8?) hole for the pickup tube. In mid-’93, the pump was changed because the pickup tube was enlarged to 0.742? on the “S” and “T” trucks. After ’93, all of the engines used the pump with the big hole.

There are several different pickup tubes used, depending on the application, and there are two different diameters, depending on the year and application. Be sure to check it out carefully and match them up at the sales counter if at all possible.


4.3 262 chevy distributor build hei conversion

well, the new project i have going on now is a 4.3 liter chevrolet engine build for a street rod build. since the 4.3 line of engines came out in 1985, there is no real drop in non computer controlled distributor offered ever for these engines. this leaves you with either buying a cheap chinese knock off on ebay and hope it doesn’t wipe out your cam drive gear, or spending hundreds of dollars buying either a mallory or msd distributor……or simply using an efi set up. i wanted to go old school with a carburetor and older HEI set up. after some research, and a bit or trial and error i came up with something.

now, the first instinct for anyone is,” well you idiot just grab a distributor out of a 3.8/229 chevy engine and you’re good. BIG mistake. the 200-229 v-6 engines were an odd-fire engine and unique to themselves. the 4.3 is different in that it is an even-fire engine like the 350 SBC…..and also an inline 6 engine.

the basic strategy here is to take two distributors and make one good one. we need two 70’s vintage hei distributors: one for a small block chevy v-8 and another for an in-line 6 cylinder…..the one with the ford style cap above is the factory straight 6 dist. out of a 75 chevy 3/4 ton i got from the junkyard. we are going to use the v-8 shaft, gear, module/wiring, and base. we are going to rob out the 6 cylinder pick up coil and star shaped reluctor(the pointed piece that is part of the mechanical advance) to put into the v-8 distributor.

first step is to remove the cap and rotor off both distributors. you then remove both distributor gears  using a pin punch and small hammer. the gears usually come right off. at this point you can remove the shaft/mechanical advance assembly but it usually gets stuck about half way out. pull the shaft half way out and if it begins to bind, stop and shoot some carburetor cleaner into the base. it breaks up the oil varnish and usually will allow you to remove the shaft without forcing it. don’t get the brilliant idea to pound on it with a punch as the dist is soft material and will disform. with the shaft removed from both units, set them aside. now take your v-8 distributor and remove the pick up coil from the center. it has a small clip retaining it in the center. notice it has 8 points here in the picture….for 8 cylinders. this is what signal’s the module to trigger spark. we are going to install the pick up coil out of the 6 cylinder distributor in it’s place that has 6 points… go ahead and do that…..and your base is ready. also as a side note, you usually want to use the vacuum advance off the v-8 as it has more range of travel than the in-line advance

next, we have to remove both reluctors. it’s pretty simple, just remove your advance springs, outer weights, and you expose two c-clips. pop these off……and they like to fly so be careful…….then the center cam comes off. you may have to coax it to get it to come up and off. once all the upper hardware is removed from the shaft, the reluctor assembly should be able to be removed. set the v-8 stuff aside and remove the reluctor assembly  from the inline 6 set up in the same way. install the 6 point reluctor on the v-8 distributor shaft. assembly is reverse of the tear down and is pretty straight forward. when re-assembling the distributor take note not to forget the thrust washer between the distributor gear and the base housing.

now, for a better view of what to expect, to the left of this picture is your v-8 reluctor and rotor, to the right is the in-line 6 reluctor and rotor. it has two extra support tabs on the right, but there is no worried, these rotors and reluctors will interchange. HEI distributors came with or without the extra support tabs on the reluctor. you will also notice that the v-8 base has 3 wires comming out of the base electronics and the in-line 6 has two. well, the middle in-line has an external coil, allowing for the flat ford style cap. the extra wire on the coil-in-cap set up in the center wire(black) and is for grounding the coil, which is unnecessary on an external coil set up. if you are going to run a large carburetor like a 4150 holley on a 4.3 engine, you may want to use the inline external coil and flat ford style cap for clearance(along with a carb spacer too).


however it does not onto a stock tbi intake unless you remove the egr valve…..which is a mute point as if you are going to use one of these ignition set ups you will probably not be trying to use a tbi intake. they did however make 2g marine intakes for these engines, and edelbrock makes a nice afb/holley square bore intake manifold for the 4.3, which is going to be used in this case.