Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Austin, TX, USA
You are right about the ballast resistor. It's a breaker point ignition item. Give HEI a full 12 volts.
If you have a ballast resistor, then I presume the original factory resistor wire has been replaced (or they may not have had them in 73 - when did HEI come out anyway?). Hook up to the hot side of the ballast resistor (leave the other side disconnected). Start the engine and measure the voltage on the ballast resistors hot terminal. Should see nearly full system voltage.
If you have a ballast resistor installed with an HEI coil, it will either run poorly or not at all. Perhaps someone here has had the experience.
Is your HEI distributor one with mechanical advance and vacuum advance? Someone poked an old HEI in my 68 when I bought it. Turned out to be from an 80's era pickup with electronic spark timing. I had no advance at all. Just stayed at base time and ran like total...crud.
68 Coupe, 350 w/ Edelbrock Performer RPM heads, cam, intake, 700R4, Dave's small body HEI