GM HEI-Thoughts?

Rat Rods Rule

Help Support Rat Rods Rule:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Well-known member
Mar 29, 2012
Berry, Alabama
I'm fixing to start gathering parts to convert the Vette from TPI to a carb. I'm tired of sinking money in a sinking ship, I've replaced just about every component in the system and I'm tired of it sitting here or in a shop for months at a time, only to have it quit again in a few days of getting it running. I have to replace not only the fuel system, but the distributor as well since the current one is computer controlled. I'm going to use a garden variety HEI, I'll have to change the gear to the one off of my current distributor since it's a roller cam, but that shouldn't be a big deal.

I see probably off shore HEI units on eBay for less than $100. Anybody running one of these? Any issues? I've heard good and bad, just want the truth.
I have also found some OEM used Delco units the same price range. Better? Would you rather trust a unknown used one, or a new off shore unit?
I also saw some aftermarket units like Accel that said they were factory rebuilt. Sometimes that is the best way to go?

Just ready to get the pig going again. Not trying to hot rod it, just want reliability. It's fast enough! Can't believe I said that! :eek:
Good find Smallfoot, I missed those somehow. Got my eye on a factory GM on da Bay right now for $20 that goes off today. I'm a little scared of a used unit, but also a little scared of the import stuff, too.
You might find this interesting... from another forum I belong to (chevytalk)... I can't seem to copy and paste :mad: so, I'll have to plagiarize and type word for word...

"As far as the country of origin of the various distributors. Skip White, Speedway, are same-same as PRO-COMP Chinese JUNK. All these and the NO-DOLLAR E-bay garbage are made in the worst electronics factory in China. AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE.

Now, that GM dist is also made in China, by PROFORM and is of excellent quality. It and all GM crate, ZZ, GMPP distributors are made in the best electronics factory in China, and are also marketed as Delco-Remy replacement, Delphi and other good quality brands. THIS IS THE QUALITY STUFF.

I've read much, much more, but to keep it short, it would seem Proform is as near to a GM part as it gets... aside from your dealer's "Chevrolet Performance Part" (and price) for the same part they have "licensed" to Proform. Coincidence? You decide.

I also detest offshore/import crap... but assembled and inspected in the USA is better than nothing.

For your consideration...

Good info DR. I'm thinking now I'll just buy a used factory GM piece. As long as the shaft bushings are tight, there's not much else to go wrong with them. Modules are easy enough to replace,and not too bad expensive.
used one in a drag car sbc327 and turned over 9000 rpm consistantly.

ran 5 or 6 different cars on the street over a twenty year period and only
had one fail on me, the the pickup wire broke at around 150K.
I have an aftermarket HEI that i think came from Speedway, but there is absolutely nothing on it to tell me what make or manufacturer it is. Seems to work okay but gives barely 12 -14 degrees total mechanical advance. I guess it needs some modification inside.

I've tried running it connected to manifold vacuum, it raises the idle quite a bit, but when adjusted down with the idle screw it starts to fart through the exhaust quite often, so I guess the vacuum advance is huge, mechanical is minimal.

Not exactly a quality item I guess.
So you buy a brand new distributor, then have to order a bunch of stuff just to make it perform 'normally'?:confused:

SO, $20 for a re-curve kit and $25 for an adjustable vac chamber that allows you to dial in the best MPG's and most HP for the dollar, you consider it a waste of time and money??

In the right tuners hands, these parts are the difference between a good running engine and a GREAT running engine.
SO, $20 for a re-curve kit and $25 for an adjustable vac chamber that allows you to dial in the best MPG's and most HP for the dollar, you consider it a waste of time and money??

In the right tuners hands, these parts are the difference between a good running engine and a GREAT running engine.

You seem to have read someone else's post, as they must be the one who mentioned waste of time and money, not me.[S

If I lived in the land of plenty I'd have the stuff you mention in my garage already, but everything I use has to be shipped from the other side of the planet, hence why I'm a bit ****ed that I should need to order parts just to make a distributor work properly, like it is supposed to.

I just made an order from Speedway, but that was before I read the thread, it's been shipped already should be with me.... in two months.... :eek:
I had a look at mine a couple of days ago, and found it is a Pro Comp unit, written on the rotor. So, no surprises that it is cheap and nasty. You can feel the slack and rattle in the stamped out moving parts.

The reason I pulled it apart was that the metal tab in the cap, that contacts the carbon centre pin, had snapped off. Not even 500 miles on this HEI. While it was apart I took the counterweight mechanism apart, and found a spacer underneath that I assumed limits the travel. I swapped that with a small diameter one from under one of the springs, and I now get 20 degrees advance.

I'd bet a case of beer the bloody thing falls apart before too long, it is so crappy in construction.
To update an old thread- I put a new module in my distributor and it's working fine now. If you didn't see my other thread, I found out somebody had vandalized my car by stealing the gas out and replacing it with water. :mad:
Funny, but water don't burn too good.[S Had 5-6 gallons of some nice gas flavored water....

Latest posts