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3,842 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
so my car didnt start at a show one day i checked a plug wire for spark... none my friend a g.m. mechanic for 30 years pulls the tach wire from the cap and bam the car starts instantly because the tach wire was grounding the distributor hot wire.
i havnt touched it for a week. so just afew minutes ago i attemp to start the car and the lead is off, it is not flooded and im sure the coil isnt fryed since theres only about 4k on the new motor. when i took the hot wire off to test it it had current and arced bigtime, then i see a puff of smoke come from the mess of wires coming from the firewall the place where the distributor hot wire comes from. im too afraid to start it now in fear of a fire. all the accesories work blinkers, fan tail lights, dome light...
any ideas?
the distributor is a brand new pertronix H.E.I ignition coil in cap.
could it have got too much current and popped the coil?
it could be a bad coil at this point im not sure. the distributor isnt grounded. could it have needed a ballast resistor?
any help at this point would be great.

thanks in advance.

any questions about the distributor and wiring ask away if i didnt state enough info.

Premium Member
22,122 Posts
Generally HEI's do not require a ballast. In fact, if your distributor hot wire is still the original fabric covered wire that itself is a ballast and should be removed with HEI.

Also, there isn't, or shouldn't be, a mess of wires behind the distributor.

It might be a good idea to pull them out of there and fix the mess, there is not a lot of wires. From the "longest wire":
Orange to heater blower.
Big purple to inner starter terminal
Yellow to outer starter terminal
Blue wire to oil idiot light sender (won't be there if you have factory guages)
Yellow wire from starter to pos coil (not needed on a 68 with HEI, disconnect and tape both ends)
White fabric covered wire to pos coil (should be cut out and replaced with 12 guage stranded wire for HEI)
Brown tach wire to tach terminal on hei (may be a different color if aftermarket tach)

and 4 wires to the wiper / washer.

That's ALL you should be dealing, 11 wires at the most, and they shouldn't be messy. I would disconnect em all, drape the harness over the fender, check it all out, fix what needs fixing, and put it back.

If you're fuzzy on electrical, look at the basics series at the top of the electrical forum. All connections you might have to fix, and all terminals you might have to replace should be soldered and insulated with heatshrink tube. The repro house sell the "non-sticky" tape to wrap the harness back up for a couple of bucks.

Here is a picture of a new complete 68 factory guage engine harness. Note the blue wire with the round push in connector for the oil idiot light isn't there.

In the closeup, all the wires with black plastic connectors go to the wiper washer. The single terminal wire is the tach. The terminal with both a dark and a yellow wire attached to it is the positive coil.

As this harness is so small, it might be better to replace it if yours is severely hacked up, they are not expensive. Call Teresa at American Autowire tell her JimM sent you, tell her you need an hei hookup and if you have factroy type guages.


3,842 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
cool thanks.
not sure if that is it though. the wire is not factory it has been replaced with a red 12 gage wire.
it isnt really a mess of wires its just alot coming out of the fire wall they are neatly taped to factory specs there arent really any wires behind the distributor.
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