Despite what you may think, there's more to distributor tuning than simply setting the ign
The main purpose of the distributor in your engine is pretty much self-explanatory. In basic terms, it distributes the high-voltage energy of the coil through the spark plug wires to the spark plugs, igniting the mixture in the combustion chamber. While this function seems pretty straightforward, the distributor is actually more complicated than most people realize. Whether your distributor is an older breaker-points-style unit, a factory electronic ignition distributor, or an aftermarket piece, it contains internal springs and cams, which work together with centrifugal force to alter ignition timing for different engine speeds. The rate at which the distributor alters ignition timing is known as the "advance curve" of the distributor. This month, we'll show how you can use the distributor's provisions to change the advance curve, improving the power and torque your engine makes.
Most factory Mopar distributors were designed for a compromise between power, economy, and emissions. The advance curve of factory distributors generally starts at low initial ignition timing for easy engine starts. Then as the engine rpm increases, a combination of weights and springs inside the distributor add more ignition timing to the engine. Additionally, a vacuum-actuated control will adjust the ignition timing for part-throttle settings, helping improve economy and reduce emissions. The problem with the advance curve of most factory distributors is that it's too slow to advance the timing for a performance engine, and not enough ignition advance equals reduced power and torque. Even a mildly modified engine generally likes the timing to be fully advanced at around 2,500 rpm, and most distributors don't achieve full advance until 3,000 rpm or higher. Fortunately, changing the advance curves of most distributors simply involves taking the distributor apart and changing the internal advance springs.
Generally speaking, lighter advance springs will allow centrifugal force to advance the timing more quickly for better performance. When tuning a factory distributor, the optimal advance curve can either be achieved on a dyno, at the track, or a combination of both. A distributor machine is a nice tool to use if you can find a local shop that still has one. This machine will spin the distributor and plainly shows at what rpm the advance curve starts and ends, so changes can be made before the distributor is even in the car. Alternatively, most aftermarket distributors come with a variety of springs and a graph that will tell you which combination of springs will give the advance curve you desire. Either way, getting the distributor to advance the ignition timing more quickly than the factory unit did will almost certainly help your engine make more power.
To change the advance springs, the distributor must be partially disassembled, so the firs
To remove the shaft and advance mechanism from a factory distributor, remove the lower bus
The advance springs are now exposed and are easily removed with a small screwdriver so the