#21  
Old 08-27-2021, 01:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by george kujanski View Post
The only OEM HEI problem I ever had was a pickup coil. Have driven many hundreds of thousands of miles in several different cars without other issues at all. IMHO it's the best street ignition system ever. Your mileage obviously varies

In my career in the electronics biz, I have found that the large percentage of OEM electrical/electronics failures are due to human error/misuse. Not saying those are the cases reported here, just my observations.

George
Amen...

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Old 08-27-2021, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Tom Vaught View Post
I would agree with what you have posted, George.

When the 1st Module failed, the Chief Mechanic replaced it at the dealership.
I observed the change-over. I carried a spare module and the special grease
in the clove box.

When the second, third, fourth, and fifth module failed, I installed the same spare module
and made a visit to my Uncle's dealership, the first chance I got, and the Chief Mechanic again
changed the modules UNDER GM WARRANTY.

So each time, the repair was documented by the dealership and the Chief Mechanic/Dealership
was paid by GM for the repair, (parts and labor).

I do not know how long the "Spare Module" would last, as it was always removed and a new GM part,
on a Warranty Parts and Labor invoice was filed and sent to GM.

So you are probably correct in some cases. I would disagree with your statement as related to my vehicle
and the Chief Mechanic who did the work (several times).

I bought a Pontiac Bonneville "family car" NEW to replace the TA and drove it 97,000 with no issues
as related to the ignition system. Go Figure.

Tom V.
I my opinion Mr. Chief Mechanic was treating symptoms instead of causes. NO WAY you should have had that many module failures. Decades later, you still blame the parts and/or design for this experience instead of the real cause.

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Old 08-27-2021, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by JSchmitz View Post
I my opinion Mr. Chief Mechanic was treating symptoms instead of causes. NO WAY you should have had that many module failures. Decades later, you still blame the parts and/or design for this experience instead of the real cause.
I have to agree. There was probably an underlying problem the Chief Parts Changer, oops I mean Chief Mechanic, wasn't catching. I also have found HEI,s very reliable. More so than the points setup they replaced.

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Old 08-27-2021, 02:09 PM
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I've heard an awful lot of bad things about the replacement parts available for points distributors these days, too, even those that come from suppliers that were previously thought to be high quality. Many examples out there of parts being junk right out of the box.

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Old 08-27-2021, 02:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Bruce Meyer View Post
I have to agree. There was probably an underlying problem the Chief Parts Changer, oops I mean Chief Mechanic, wasn't catching. I also have found HEI,s very reliable. More so than the points setup they replaced.
What's a mad man do? Repeat the same thing and expect a different result.

  #26  
Old 08-27-2021, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by JSchmitz View Post
I my opinion Mr. Chief Mechanic was treating symptoms instead of causes. NO WAY you should have had that many module failures. Decades later, you still blame the parts and/or design for this experience instead of the real cause.
I will repeat what I posted.

The module would fail, I would remove the module and install the spare module. The car would fire right up and I would drive the car until I drove the 150 miles back to my Uncle's Dealership, (sometimes that would be 3 months later) without a single ignition issue during that time).

Then we would install a new module right out of the parts box and I would drive the car again, sometime 3 months, sometimes a year, and then the module would fail again.

So this BS about the Chief Mechanic not knowing what he was doing or a poor installation is pure lies.

Tom V.

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  #27  
Old 08-27-2021, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Tom Vaught View Post
So this BS about the Chief Mechanic not knowing what he was doing or a poor installation is pure lies.

Tom V.
"When the second, third, fourth, and fifth module failed"

Since your posting part of your words. How about these. I'm not lying about anything. You're digging your own hole. Sounds to me like he knew what he was doing. I'd keep using him for sure!

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Old 08-27-2021, 04:24 PM
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I hate to even put this up here but I'm still using the same OEM 990 module that showed up in my HEI back in the mid-1970's.

Over the years I've tried several other "bug zapping" varieties and even the Mallory module they sold for a while with the adjustable rev-limiter in it.

ALL of the aftermarket modules took a chit after moderate use so I put the OEM 990 module back in and it's still working fine today.........now that I've said that the darned thing will probably crap out tomorrow!......LOL....

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  #29  
Old 08-27-2021, 04:38 PM
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Only Pontiac Warranty issue I ever had with my GM vehicles in 50 years.
When you blow up 10 bolt and 12 bolt rear axles you really can't claim that was GM's Fault.

Tom V.

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Old 08-27-2021, 05:01 PM
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I wound up with two because my neighbor didn't want points so I suggested the pertronix. I wound up buying one to replace the original 301 dizzy in my 81 with the transplanted 77 400. (yes whomever did the swap years ago used the 301 dizzy) fast forward a year or so later after doing many things to this 81, building a garage, my neighbor sells the Lemans to a good friend for cheap. He wasnt really a car guy and never touched the car after we put the pertronix in it. So the buddy that bought the car put a full MSD set up on it. The car came to life....we were constantly trying to adjust carb when it was the ignition. My bad... so we did the swap in my garage and he just left his here. Hence the pic. From now on every part I open will get looked at thoroughly. I've driven many just stock TA's and GTO's and this thing just never measured up and was such a terd, but it isnt now!!!

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  #31  
Old 08-27-2021, 05:31 PM
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Originally Posted by 4dblnkldude View Post
I wound up with two because my neighbor didn't want points so I suggested the pertronix. I wound up buying one to replace the original 301 dizzy in my 81 with the transplanted 77 400. (yes whomever did the swap years ago used the 301 dizzy) fast forward a year or so later after doing many things to this 81, building a garage, my neighbor sells the Lemans to a good friend for cheap. He wasnt really a car guy and never touched the car after we put the pertronix in it. So the buddy that bought the car put a full MSD set up on it. The car came to life....we were constantly trying to adjust carb when it was the ignition. My bad... so we did the swap in my garage and he just left his here. Hence the pic. From now on every part I open will get looked at thoroughly. I've driven many just stock TA's and GTO's and this thing just never measured up and was such a terd, but it isnt now!!!
Got ya. Just curious how you ended up with two turds. Lol!

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Old 08-27-2021, 07:31 PM
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Repeat HEI module failures are typically due to a failed ignition coil.

Module dies...replace it. Module dies again, replace it AND the ignition coil.

The GM HEI is "the" most-reliable OEM electronic ignition system on the planet. The first few years did have some reliability and performance (rpm) problems--select '74 vehicles, '75, and so forth until the in-cap coils got a black "ground" wire added, and the rotor color changed from black to white. I don't remember when that happened except I'm sure it was prior to '80.

I'm not saying the in-cap coils with the black "ground" wire are infallible; just that they're a better basic design than the ones without. The black wire is the "other end" of the secondary winding, which previously was connected to the primary winding; and still is on the stand-alone coils. The black rotors were known for "punch-through", where the spark would break-down the insulation and ground to the advance mechanism. GM first denied that that was a problem...then changed rotors to fix it.

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Old 08-27-2021, 07:35 PM
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Wow, this is a tough crowd. I figured I could throw my dependable Chevy HEI in there because it was a GM product. I'll watch myself from now on.

  #34  
Old 08-27-2021, 08:37 PM
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They only go after retired Ford Guys, because of ENVY.
That is totally understandable. Now a retired GM Guy, like Keith Seymore and I are good friends because we respect the things that we did in our lives, we understand that things happen in production. Plastic Gear Timing Gears, 10 bolt rear axles, HEI Distributors occasionally, etc.

When you could not do the job, you always have that ENVY, just human nature.
Maybe if you were never OFFERED the job, due to personal events, family, that is understandable.

Buy tjs72lemans, you had to have tough skin when you worked for Ford or any big auto company.
Remember 2 of them went bankrupt and thousands lost their life savings. Not a candy aze place to work.

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  #35  
Old 08-27-2021, 09:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Schurkey View Post
Repeat HEI module failures are typically due to a failed ignition coil.

Module dies...replace it. Module dies again, replace it AND the ignition coil.

The GM HEI is "the" most-reliable OEM electronic ignition system on the planet. The first few years did have some reliability and performance (rpm) problems--select '74 vehicles, '75, and so forth until the in-cap coils got a black "ground" wire added, and the rotor color changed from black to white. I don't remember when that happened except I'm sure it was prior to '80.

I'm not saying the in-cap coils with the black "ground" wire are infallible; just that they're a better basic design than the ones without. The black wire is the "other end" of the secondary winding, which previously was connected to the primary winding; and still is on the stand-alone coils. The black rotors were known for "punch-through", where the spark would break-down the insulation and ground to the advance mechanism. GM first denied that that was a problem...then changed rotors to fix it.
I will absolutely say that my HEI NEVER had a White Rotor and it was a very early 1978 TA. Thanks for the educational post.

Tom V.

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  #36  
Old 08-27-2021, 09:29 PM
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Just to close off the electronics failure thing..........Quite often I hear that a part has been changed many times, each time the problem goes away, and the part fails again. 2x 3x, is very suspicious and requires more scrutiny. Sometimes the real fault is disturbed in the replacement process and the problem seems fixed....for a while, because the problem was not originally corrected.

One story I have if you have the time,.....of course you do you are on the forum anyway......

Years ago I worked at Motorola Automotive in the charging systems group. We provided charging systems for AMC, Volkswagen, agriculture machinery, etc. The VW bug used our alternators at the time.

One time we heard from VW America that our alternators were burning up in VW bugs. This is obviously strange because they go thru tons of testing, design verification, etc. before going into high volume production.

Anyway we found some customer in Kansas City had her alternator changed several times for that reason. Management bought the customer a new car, the dealer's mechanic put in a fresh alternator, and it was driven back to our facility near Chicago. No failure.

We then used an engineering test alternator (wired with thermocouples) and went driving the car thru many different driving profiles, while monitoring temperatures. No joy, temps were fine, no observed failures.

Knowing the alternator was changed before the trip to our lab we started to think of what could have possibly changed.

To those who have never seen a VW bug alt or gen, it has a double-ended shaft, the drive pulley is on one end and the back end mounts the engine fan. There is a plate arrangement on the back end that bolts to the alt body which also seals the engine fan in the fan housing. The plate mounts on two bolts on the alt back housing, the bolts are 180 degrees apart. I noticed that there is a duct area towards one edge of the plate but not the other. I suggested we try to put the plate on 180 degrees out to see what would happen.

The plate bolted on, added the fan, installed the alt assembly onto the engine, and ran in in the lab garage with full electrical load. 5 minutes later, it started pumping smoke.

It turns out the duct portion of the plate needs to be on the bottom of the fan housing because that's a high pressure area which forces air thru the alt for cooling. No cooling air, alt burns up. Apparently the KC mechanic installed the plate correctly, whereas the previous alt changes had the plate installed incorrectly causing multiple comebacks.

VW changed the plate to add a slot for a locating screw we added to the alt rear housing.


Long story, but an example of changing parts, not finding nor fixing the root cause.

George

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  #37  
Old 08-27-2021, 10:03 PM
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Mgarblik: Moto and Philco Ford made the fender mounted ignition boxes. Any idea which had the higher failure rates? Believe it or not, the early units had wire in the harness where water would wick up between the wire and insulation, into the box innerds and cause corrosion.
The wiring was later changed to non-wicking type. Sometimes things happen that you never expect.

George

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Old 09-01-2021, 11:41 AM
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In my opinion, early HEI coils failed once in a while too. I remember replacing a couple in my very early May 1974 HEI car over the years. The car would misfire occasionally under load. A new coil would fix it for a year or two. This was seat-of-the-pants diagnostics with no proof. I once had the broken wire in the pickup coil due to vacuum advance movement. The carbon buttons could fail too, but it never happened to me.

The fun one was my 1975 GMC van. Leave the engine cover loose and it would run fine. Bolt the engine cover down and the HEI module would get hot enough to act up. The engine would backfire so loud it would make your ears ring.

If modules are failing repeatedly on a newer car, one might additionally suspect heat or a bad coil. Heat issues would more often would result in a gradual degradation of performance rather than suddenly shutting down, but it could happen. 78 was a transitional year for HEI updates. I would have put the car on an ignition scope with the bad module to see what was going on, but it's easier to just put a new module in and call it a day. The original Delco modules used a very robust custom made Beryllium power transistor and most aftermarket modules used an off the shelf transistor. That's why the 990 modules seem to last longer.

Here's a link to the Delco HEI manual
http://www.pontiacpower.org/HEI.pdf
Refer to the last page for running changes Delco made in the 70's. This last page is not from Delco, but written by engineers from Bear Automotive who likely attended a Delco HEI seminar back the the day. Thankfully they took notes!

George, I remember being a high school kid and helping Mrs. Ostrega wind the field for a prototype Motorola alternator at her kitchen table.

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Last edited by fiedlerh; 09-01-2021 at 11:48 AM.
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Old 09-01-2021, 12:11 PM
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Some really good info there Fiedlerh.
Thanks.

Tom V.

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Old 09-01-2021, 01:35 PM
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Fieldlerh: I hink I have that alternator on my GTO! (Off-site long term testing)

George

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