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Unilite distributor?
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imperial2100
Posted 2018-08-22 12:55 AM (#568819)
Subject: Unilite distributor?


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I'm trying to troubleshoot an ignition problem where the engine seems to backfire quite frequently while under load. This is a 392 hemi on a 57 Imperial and the distributor appears to be a modern replacement, but I do not see a vacuum advance on the distributor. All I can see of the distributor is a partial label that says "UNILITE". Are these distributors any good? Do they typically lack a vacuum advance?




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Powerflite
Posted 2018-08-22 8:49 PM (#568875 - in reply to #568819)
Subject: Re: Unilite distributor?



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No, they are not any good. Get a good electronic distributor with vacuum advance setup, or an original distributor with a Pertronix conversion. I sell this kit to work with the small block electronic distributor & HEI module so you don't have to mess with the typical orange box, associated wiring & ballast.

http://www.designed2drive.com

That said, I have the exact same issue lately with my 331 hemi. But the vacuum advance is working perfectly on it and no amount of timing adjustment will solve the issue. The fact that it backfires only under load is indicative to me that it may be a camshaft timing issue. I suspect that I may need to replace my timing chain. So that may be an issue for you as well.


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imperial2100
Posted 2018-08-23 5:52 PM (#568921 - in reply to #568875)
Subject: Re: Unilite distributor?


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I know this is a knock off, but what do you think of this one as a replacement?
https://www.ebay.com/itm/253413592600
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Powerflite
Posted 2018-08-23 6:39 PM (#568925 - in reply to #568819)
Subject: Re: Unilite distributor?



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That cap is really going to get in the way. Check out how close your distributor is to your heater box. If you run dual quads, it is a no-go too. Also, it is much cheaper to swap to a small block electronic distributor. Only problem is it isn't easy to swap the oil pump drive shaft, but it isn't too difficult with the right tool.

Edit: You should check out your distributor though. There is a good chance that it is really a small block distributor that has been converted to the 392. If so, you may not need to do anything depending on how they did the conversion.

Edited by Powerflite 2018-08-23 6:48 PM
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imperial2100
Posted 2018-08-23 6:57 PM (#568926 - in reply to #568925)
Subject: Re: Unilite distributor?


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Thanks for the information. Why would the oil pump shaft be involved with the distributor? Is that what the base of the distributor connects to that turns it?
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Powerflite
Posted 2018-08-23 7:23 PM (#568930 - in reply to #568819)
Subject: Re: Unilite distributor?



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Yes. Hot Heads sells a new intermediate shaft to enable you to use regular small block distributors in your motor.
http://hothemiheads.com/ignition_system/intermediate_shaft_360SB.ht...

You will need these reverse pliers to get the old one out.

Edited by Powerflite 2018-08-23 7:26 PM




(LIL-44900_xl.jpg)



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imperial2100
Posted 2018-08-23 9:14 PM (#568935 - in reply to #568819)
Subject: Re: Unilite distributor?


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So the one I posted from eBay will not work? Even if I'm only running one carb?

If not I may just hunt for an original and upgrade it to electronic. Anyone have a spare 57 Imperial distributor sitting around they don't need? Any other model distributors from this era that would be a perfect match as well? Dodge? New Yorker? 57-59?
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Powerflite
Posted 2018-08-23 9:32 PM (#568939 - in reply to #568819)
Subject: RE: Unilite distributor?



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Measure it out and see if it will fit. I don't think it will based on how close everything is in my New Yorker.

This one would fit with a small cap, and is made for the 392.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/MSD-8389-Distributor-Pro-Billet-Ready-to-Ru...

Original 392 hemi distributors are all over Ebay. Just do your own search. Here is one, but I didn't do an exhaustive search. Do your own shopping!

https://www.ebay.com/itm/1957-Chrysler-300-Mopar-HEMI-392-Dual-Point...

Edited by Powerflite 2018-08-23 9:35 PM
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wayfarer
Posted 2018-08-24 10:40 AM (#568951 - in reply to #568819)
Subject: Re: Unilite distributor?



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Replacement LA electronic distributors are available just about everywhere. The gm module mount shown above is a real space saver and there are a gazillion suppliers for different modules.
The best part of the LA unit is that it looks like it supposed to be there as opposed to some of those gawd-awful looking billet things and LA caps are alot cheaper too.

As to a replacement shaft, the LA dist shaft is a wee bit short so a new (taller) intermediate shaft is needed. I sell shafts but recommend buying a shaft with gear installed unless you have some talent with a 20 ton press.

Edited by wayfarer 2018-08-24 10:44 AM
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imperial2100
Posted 2018-08-24 7:03 PM (#568966 - in reply to #568951)
Subject: Re: Unilite distributor?


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Dug around in the parts box that came with the car and found what looks to be the original distributor. It doesn't look like the other factory correct ones I see on ebay though. Can anyone tell if this is likely a different variation of a factory correct one, or is it some old aftermarket distributor?

It's missing the second latch to hold the cap on, and I'm missing the cap that would have gone with it. Just need to decide if I try to stick with this one and try using petronix with it, or if I just go with an HEI or something if it will fit.




(re_800_20180824_192239.jpg)



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mstrug
Posted 2018-08-24 7:28 PM (#568968 - in reply to #568819)
Subject: Re: Unilite distributor?



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I found this:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/NOS-New-Auto-Lite-IBK-4304-1957-Chrysler-39...
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imperial2100
Posted 2018-08-24 7:43 PM (#568969 - in reply to #568968)
Subject: Re: Unilite distributor?


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Thanks! That looks like it would be perfect as long as the diaphragm isn't old and useless in that vacuum advance. Got a message out to the guy asking about it. It didn't show up in my search because he didn't use the word "distributor" in his title.

Edited by imperial2100 2018-08-24 7:49 PM
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Powerflite
Posted 2018-08-24 9:22 PM (#568973 - in reply to #568819)
Subject: Re: Unilite distributor?



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The distributor in your picture looks like it is a single point small block 318 distributor for 1967-1970, or 273 from '64-'69.

Edited by Powerflite 2018-08-24 10:22 PM
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imperial2100
Posted 2018-08-24 10:35 PM (#568975 - in reply to #568973)
Subject: Re: Unilite distributor?


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Powerflite - 2018-08-24 10:22 PM

The distributor in your picture looks like it is a single point small block 318 distributor for 1967-1970, or 273 from '64-'69.

My guess is it was on the car at some point as it was in the box of stuff that came with the car.
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BigBlockMopar
Posted 2018-08-25 4:40 AM (#568991 - in reply to #568819)
Subject: Re: Unilite distributor?



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On the 'found in parts box'-distributor, the vacuum advance is on the other side of the distributor shaft, meaning the rotor turns the other way.
Most likely a bigblock ignition.
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Powerflite
Posted 2018-08-25 8:23 AM (#568998 - in reply to #568819)
Subject: Re: Unilite distributor?



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Good catch Herman. You're right, probably from a "B" motor.
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Powerflite
Posted 2018-08-26 1:36 AM (#569018 - in reply to #568819)
Subject: Re: Unilite distributor?



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For your information Adam, I just fixed my car's backfiring problem today. I figured out that the vacuum port in the carburetor was plugged so that I wasn't getting any vacuum to the advance. I installed the advance directly to a port on the intake and re-timed the distributor for less advance (I had it heavily advanced previously to try and prevent the late ignition backfire), and it worked out great. Much more power and no more backfire issue. So it wasn't a timing chain issue after all. The vacuum advance just wasn't getting any vacuum to do anything.
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imperial2100
Posted 2018-08-26 2:18 PM (#569055 - in reply to #569018)
Subject: Re: Unilite distributor?


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Powerflite - 2018-08-26 2:36 AM

For your information Adam, I just fixed my car's backfiring problem today. I figured out that the vacuum port in the carburetor was plugged so that I wasn't getting any vacuum to the advance. I installed the advance directly to a port on the intake and re-timed the distributor for less advance (I had it heavily advanced previously to try and prevent the late ignition backfire), and it worked out great. Much more power and no more backfire issue. So it wasn't a timing chain issue after all. The vacuum advance just wasn't getting any vacuum to do anything.

That's likely similar to my issue as well. This cheap aftermarket distributor on my car does not have any vacuum advance. I went ahead and bought an original distributor with the same model that would have come in the car- will post some pictures here below.

Now just need to test the vacuum advance on this one to make sure it's still working, and insert a pertronix ignitor 1.

Hoping I can salvage the rotor and cap from the one in the car now. If not, will need to find some replacements for those, but I don't think they will be expensive.

I would have bought the nice restored distributor on ebay, but couldn't get the seller to respond about a buy it now price and do not want to wait 10 days to have a chance at winning.

Any recommendations on what to do (and not do) when cleaning these distributors?

Edited by imperial2100 2018-08-26 2:23 PM




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imperial2100
Posted 2018-08-27 1:45 PM (#569098 - in reply to #568819)
Subject: RE: Unilite distributor?


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Is there any major difference between the dual point distributors from this time period? For instance, this one:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/253587636691
or this one:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/191738504902

Would either of those also work in a 57 Imperial in place of the IBK-4304 model? Same shaft length?

Edited by imperial2100 2018-08-27 1:54 PM
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Powerflite
Posted 2018-08-27 2:21 PM (#569101 - in reply to #568819)
Subject: Re: Unilite distributor?



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You can use any distributor from a 392 hemi. 354 or 331 hemi distributors are different, so they won't work.
Therefore, the second one you posted will work fine, but the first one won't work.

From the parts book, the possible 392 distributors that will work are:
1957:
C76, C76-300, IM, LC3 (note 1)________________IBK-4304______1689325_______New Yorker, Imperial
C68-300, C72-300 UP TO Eng. No. 3NE56-1025___IAZ-4001G_____1658989_______300C
C72-300 AFTER Eng. No. 3NE56-1025___________IBK-43U1C_____1704309_______300C
1958:
LC3, LY1 (note 2)___________________________IBS-4007A______1841 515______New Yorker, Imperial
LC3-3OO, w/o Fuel Injection__________________IBS-4007_______1838 822______300D
LC3-3OO, w/Fuel Injection____________________IBS-4008_______1841 498______300D EFI




Edited by Powerflite 2018-08-27 2:50 PM
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Powerflite
Posted 2018-08-31 5:59 PM (#569332 - in reply to #568819)
Subject: Re: Unilite distributor?



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Further update: Fixing the vacuum advance port connection helped my car a lot. It no longer backfired under load when cold. But when fully warmed up, and loaded, it will still backfire. But it isn't nearly as bad as it used to be. Nevertheless, the problem still persists, and is likely causing worse fuel mileage when under load, or going uphill. So I am back to doing the R&R on the timing chain to get it right. I'll let you know how it goes when I get it done, probably in a month or so.
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imperial2100
Posted 2018-08-31 6:06 PM (#569333 - in reply to #569332)
Subject: Re: Unilite distributor?


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I received the used distributor from ebay along with a new cap and rotor. I won't receive the pertronix unit for another week though. Also have a proper set of spark plugs to go on the car when I tackle it. I have noticed after replacing the coil the car is not backfiring as much, but it's still there under load.

The distributor (pictured above) is pretty dirty, and did not want to turn, so had to get a wrench to break it free. It's turning now by hand, but is stiff. I'll probably use some penetrating solution to help loosen it up a little more before attempting to put it in the car. Any other prep work I need to consider before dropping in the used distributor?

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Powerflite
Posted 2018-08-31 8:03 PM (#569340 - in reply to #568819)
Subject: Re: Unilite distributor?



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Check that the vacuum advance works. You can suck on the tube (requires multiple draws to get it to move) or you can use a hand-held vacuum pump. When you release the vacuum, you should hear it spring back. There are multiple checks for the alignment of the Pertronix, but the instructions should lead you through it. Also check that the shaft is well-lubed and turns freely. There is a lube port on the side of it so you should be able to get it to move very freely after filling that with oil and working it around a while. If not, you can take it apart and clean & grease it, but you will need to press out the drift pin holding the collar at the bottom first.


Edited by Powerflite 2018-08-31 8:05 PM
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imperial2100
Posted 2018-08-31 8:14 PM (#569341 - in reply to #569340)
Subject: Re: Unilite distributor?


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Thanks, I'll get it all lubed up and ready to go then. I haven't checked the vacuum advance, but I went ahead and bought a new one just in case, so if it doesn't work, I'll have one handy.

I installed a pertronix in my last car, but I really can't remember much about it other than it wasn't too hard. Didn't have any issues with it that I can remember. Someone tried tried to talk me out of a pertronix because it would cause the engine to start slow as it needs to charge up. I know from first hand experience this was not true on my last car as it fired up immediately.
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imperial2100
Posted 2018-08-31 8:15 PM (#569342 - in reply to #569332)
Subject: Re: Unilite distributor?


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Powerflite - 2018-08-31 6:59 PM

So I am back to doing the R&R on the timing chain to get it right. I'll let you know how it goes when I get it done, probably in a month or so.


I had the same issue with my 68 Cadillac, the timing chain was all worn out and was too loose. After replacing that, it was MUCH better... was peeling out from stop lights after that.
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