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…..so 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.


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