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Distributors - including Flatheads and Magnetos


There are a number of symptoms involving a faulty distributor: poor performance; rough idle; high speed missing; ping or detonation; hard starting, or failed emissions testing.

With the distributor still in the vehicle you can check for a change in dwell or the marks might flutter while under a timing light.

Remember that the shaft should not have more than a .002 inch of play. If you remove the distributor from the car the vacuum advance plate should move smoothly without binding or play.

Worn, frayed or broken wires will cause distributor failure. Check out the wire harness and electrical parts. Compare the original unit to the replacement unit before installation.

The appearance of the housing, breaker plate, or vacuum chamber may vary slightly because of the manufacturer designs. This will not affect the performance of the distributor.

However, the replacement distributor's gear size, number of teeth, shaft length and hex drive size (if applicable) must be identical to the original to prevent extensive damage to the engine.

Flathead Distributeo

Flathead Distributors for Fords are hard to come by. '32 to '48 Fords used this form of distributor for good reason: it was the only type of Ford distributor made. It is possible to rebuild these units to work as good as new. Philbin's is working on a unit that is a hybrid of the original flathead and the modern electronic Ignitor. This new distributor is a must for the hot-rod enthusiast.

Magnetos are used in the older model farm and industrial applications. There are Magnetos designed for use in monster trucks, tractor pulling, Bonneville vehicles, drag racing and other motorsports applications. It is a system used in injected, turbocharged supercharged or normally aspiring racing engines primarily burning gas, nitromethane or methanol/alcohol based racing fuel. Also, Magnetos are used for Sprint cars, Midgets, Modifieds, and Supermodifieds.

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