Remanufactured Electronic/Points Ignition Distributor for FlyCorvair.com Corvair Conversion
This Remanufactured Distributor, Part No.3301, is a precision built and thoroughly tested unit. It provides reliable
Dual Ignition for Corvair flight engines.
There is a summary of my early years of flight testing Corvair ignition systems in the June 2003 issue of
Kit Planes magazine. This is a good illustration
of how long I have been making flight ignitions. Over 90% of the flying Corvair engines in the world use a Distributor
made in my shop.The E/P Distributor represents the ultimate evolution of my work.
The E/P/X is an optional high end Distributor. It has the same components and performance as our standard E/P Distributor.
However, it adds two features that enhance its installation: A state of the art Weatherpack connector, and studs in the housing
in place of the distributor cap's slotted screws. I developed these details and they were later flight proven on the engine
I assembled for the Panther prototype aircraft. The Weatherpack connector comes pre-wired with the mating airframe connector.
Please print, complete and return a Liability Statement with all orders. These are available for printing at the
Liability Statement Page.
Thank you for your order.
Installation Instructions for Remanufactured Electronic/Points Ignition Distributor
Thank you for purchasing a Remanufactured Distributor, Part No. 3301. Your purchase makes possible my continued research
and development on the Corvair.
In this way, you’re investing in the future development and perfection of your chosen engine.
These notes are supplementary to my most current Conversion Manual. This Distributor is developed as part of the system that
we use to convert aircraft engines. This system is outlined in the Conversion Manual. The parts alone, without the information contained in the Manual,
will not allow you to develop as reliable an aircraft conversion. When I develop and market a part, it is fully flight tested, and designed to work
in concert with the other parts in the conversion. I take into account the way that most people are capable of installing and operating the part. There’s
a great deal of consideration that goes into these issues, and I urge you to utilize all the information in the Manual and the parts in the way
that they are intended to be used. Of course, contact me at any time with any question you may have.
To be fair, everyone needs to understand that these are not certified parts, and it's not a certified motor.
Experimental is not a misnomer; everything we do in this field is of increased risk. If anyone even suspects that
they have a problem, E-MAIL or CALL ME. If you have never worked with torque wrenches and precision fasteners,
get help from an A&P. Let's all remember to use our heads and not take unnecessary risks. I have gone to great
lengths to make these components as reliable and easy to install as possible within the bounds of affordability. I have personally
flown all of these parts, because I have a low opinion of people who market aircraft parts without flying the parts themselves. I
believe that each and every part I sell is the best solution to its respective aspect of converting a Corvair engine. Take your
time and do good work. The system is proven and will reward you with the same type of reliable flight performance we have always had.
Let me start by saying NEVER adjust the points in your Distributor before running it! I have countless builders who
start installing their Distributor by changing the point gap. The only reason why they do this is because “It looked small”
or “I checked it with an oily feeler gauge and it wasn’t .019.” Neither of these is a valid reason for adjusting points. I
set and ran every single Distributor I made since 1989. Not a single one has gone out the door without being set correctly.
Any adjustment to the point gap will change the timing, and produce a “split” in the timing where the back up side no
longer matches the primary. Flying a plane this way is willfully choosing to do something incorrect and dangerous.
Point gap is a representation of dwell, it is not the actual dwell measurement. The points have an acceptable range of
dwell, and we set them in this range in the shop. This is done very accurately. Anyone who wants to argue with me that
“all points need to be set to .019” should understand that they are admitting to using the Distributor in an incorrect
and dangerous way. If you want to learn why point gap does not equate to a specific dwell, come to a College, I will show
you in person. If you want to install the Distributor correctly, do not change the point gap.
A rebuilt and recurved Distributor is the heart of a good running aircraft conversion. Your overhauled and
modified Distributor will provide peak performance.
I test these Distributors to 5,000rpm. They arrive ready to install. The only tool builders will need is a regular
automotive timing light. These Distributors are built to have all the advance in before the propeller reaches its static
rpm. This way, you can check the full advance with a timing light with the engine at full static rpm on the ground. This is
vital, car distributors are not set this way.
In 2008, a KR builder destroyed his aircraft on the first flight by putting in a distributor directly from a car. As his
engine rpm increased in flight, his ignition kept advancing, getting to more than 50 degrees BTDC. The engine quit from
detonation. The forced landing destroyed 10 years of work. A year after the accident he sent the distributor to me, and
I spotted the issue in a one minute test. The builder is actually rebuilding the plane, but has told me he is going to
use the same distributor. As the saying goes: “Some people you just can’t reach.”
When setting the static timing, make sure the engine is idling around 700 rpm. If you check the timing with the
engine rpm above this, the mechanical advance will be creeping in. In any case, the full static advance must be verified.
Engine ready for Distributor installation.
1. The #1 sparkplug is the one closest to the Distributor. Remove it from the engine and put your finger
over the hole. Rotate the engine in its direction of rotation until you feel compression. Watch the
balancer for the Top Dead Center (TDC) notch to align with the timing marks. The engine is now at
TDC on its compression stroke for #1 cylinder.
2. The marks on the Corvair case show 0, 8 and 16 degrees Before TDC. The length between the 0 and 16 degree marks is .950". Two times this length from the timing notch
should be marked on the balancer as 32 degrees BTDC. It is a simple matter to mark the balancer with a silver Sharpie.
3. Rotate the engine slightly so that the balancer TDC mark is aligned with 8 degrees on the case.
4. We always install the Distributor so the notch cut in its plate faces the centerline of the engine. If you're standing beside the #1 cylinder
head facing the Distributor, this notch will be in the 12 o'clock position. With the Distributor cap off, there's an empty screw hole visible in the 11 o'clock
position. We always set the plug wire terminal in the 10:30 position as the #1 terminal.
5. Look down the Distributor hole with a flashlight. You will see the slot in the top of the oil pump shaft which
is driven by the tang on the bottom of
the Distributor. This slot needs to be aligned with a long screwdriver until it runs from the 11 o'clock to 5 o'clock
6. Make sure that you have a gasket beneath the Distributor. Insert the Distributor in the rear accessory housing. Hold the plate notch at 12 o'clock and make sure the rotor is pointing at 10 o'clock. As
the Distributor drive gear begins to engage the crank gear, the rotor will move slightly clockwise. If you have it timed correctly, the last 3/8" of downward
travel will smoothly engage the bottom distributor shaft tang with the oil pump drive. If it does not drop in smoothly,
lift out the Distributor and realign the oil pump drive with a screwdriver.
7. The correctly installed Distributor will have the rotor pointing very close to the #1 terminal. Verify that the balancer mark still points at 8 degrees.
8. With a multi-meter or test light, check for a circuit through the closed points. You can ground anywhere on
the Distributor Plate, and put the positive
lead on the points terminal. Rotating the Distributor body while examining the points closely will show you the points just opening as your meter or light shows the
circuit opening. This is how a points system works: The opening points collapse the field in the coil and send the high voltage spark on its way. When you have
it set so this occurs when the TDC mark on the balancer is aligned with the 8 degree setting on the case, you have the ignition close enough to fire up on the
Put down the distributor clamp and secure the Distributor in this position.
9. Reinstall the Distributor cap, being careful not to pinch any of the wires. In the photo above, my fingers are touching the #1 sparkplug lead.
Moving clockwise, the firing order is 1-4-5 2-3-6. Notice that we always set up the sparkplug leads so there's room to remove the cap without having to pull
the leads from it. This is one of the many small details I've learned and included in this Web site, my Corvair Conversion Manual and
601/Corvair Installation Manual that make some engines easy to inspect and maintain.
10. When you get ready to start your engine for the first time, you absolutely, without exception, must use an automotive timing light to set the
final ignition setting. In this case, the 8 degrees is referred to as the static advance of the engine. In flight, you're concerned with the total
advance of the engine. The total advance is the static advance plus the centrifugal advance I've built into your Distributor. This varies from unit to unit, and
is part of the reason why I test them all individually to ensure each centrifugal advance is within limits.
11. The easiest timing light to use is a model with an inductive pickup, like they sell at Sears. The inductive pickup is a clamp that goes around
the #1 sparkplug wire, which will trigger the strobe in the timing light. If you've never used one before, any automotive mechanic can show you how they work.
The engine should start almost immediatetly on the static setting. Once it's thoroughly warmed up, the actual timing of the engine can be set. With the tail tied down,
and a competent pilot at the controls, the rpm of the engine must be raised to 2,700 rpm. In most Corvair powered aircraft, this is near the full static rpm of the
propeller. This is the point where the timing is checked with the timing light. Countless dyno runs and hundreds of engine builds
have taught us that the great majority of Corvair powered planes are best served by 32 degrees of total timing advance. They make expensive digital timing lights
which can automatically calculate the 32 degrees for you, but I never use one of these because some are equipped with switches for the number of cylinders in the
engine, and others have very vague timing scales. You're best off with the simplest timing light, and using the 32 degrees you already marked on your
balancer. When the timing is correctly set, the 0 mark on the case will line up with the 32 mark on the balancer when you hit it with the timing light at 2,700 rpm.
WARNING:Corvair ignitions as I build them are extremely powerful. NEVER touch the Distributor cap or wires on a running Corvair engine. Although the
possibility of being surprised with a 40,000 volt shock is low, it happened to a builder in Australia, and the involuntary jerk of his body put his other hand
in contact with the turning test club prop. He was very lucky to escape in as good a shape as he did. When adjusting the timing, stop the engine to turn the
Distributor and then restart.
WARNING:These Instructions apply ONLY to This Distributor. Stock Corvair car distributors have very stiff counterweight springs inside. They will
frequently add 8 or 10 additional degrees of advance above 2,700 rpm. Distributors not verified on machines to a specific rpm could easily destroy your engine
by sending it into detonation when the rpm picks up in flight.
These are not new recommendations. There are many references on FlyCorvair.com to checking timing with a timing light. You can
Google [TM] it in the box at the bottom of Our Home Page. A careful look through our Web pages will show you how frequently
we use them with the dyno. Every 601 Installation Manual we've sold includes a photo of Gus and I performing this operation on
our 601. Manuals I wrote as far back as 15 years ago contained capitalized warnings about flying any
engine you might even suspect would detonate.
The Number One cause of detonation in Corvair powered aircraft is careless builders setting the static timing,
but neglecting to check the total timing with a light. Remember that you cannot hear detonation in most aircraft. And it's possible to damage a Corvair engine even
in a 2,000 rpm ground run with excessive ignition advance. Engines that "sound good" to most builders from idle to 1,500 rpm frequently have 10 or 15
degrees too much ignition advance. Opening the throttle to takeoff rpm on these engines would send them into detonation. 32 degrees has a reasonable factor
of safety built in. We've tested engines in idealized setups with timing far advanced beyond this. However, new engines that are run lean or on auto gas
or have unproven cowlings have very little margin of safety against detonation.
If you have any questions at all when installing the Distributor, please call. I’ll be glad to spend the time to get your questions thoroughly answered. Remember, safe practices are paramount. By choosing a Distributor I built with thousands of hours of proven flight time on it, and is made of the best materials, you have taken a giant step toward minimizing the risks associated with ignition systems. Thank you for your purchase and congratulations on your good judgment.
Your purchase of parts like the Distributor offered through www.FlyCorvair.com
makes possible my continued research and development on the Corvair.
In this way, you’re investing in the future development and perfection of your chosen motor.