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can i run a hot wire straight from the distributor to the battery to run the hei?
Yes but the wire will have to be pulled to kill the engine. Are you doing this as a temp thing just to start the engine? I did this once in an old Blazer just to start the engine. I ran a wire to the HEI and shorted across the starter to crank the engine.
 

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Just to start and test, straight from the battery is fine.

For perment, it is best to find the two wires going to the positive side of the coil. You need both of them. One of the wires is a resistor wire and you will to cut the resistance part out.
 

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One thing I have found when using a switched 12v from the fuse box is that when cranking there is no voltage. Sometimes it can cause the car not to start right away. Find the big pink wire off the ign switch, with a test light check it with key on and cranking should have 12v and key off 0 v. Run a 10-12 gage wire from the pink wire to the HEI "Batt" terminal.
I was always told that the 12v wire to the stock points coil is too small, won't carry enough amperage.
 
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