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Discussion Starter #1
Okay guys I just bought the zz454 and I need a distributor. This is getting complicated. I am looking for the HEI style and completely happy with that for my purposes.

The first one I was looking at was the GM Performance $256 since it was recommended with my engine and since its the GM Performance brand.
https://www.jegs.com/i/Chevrolet-Performance/809/93440806/10002/-1

Then Talking to Jegs asking about distributors, they recommended their brand saying it was just as good for $99 and to save me money for the exact same thing. He was stating their quality and warranty are one of the best.
https://www.jegs.com/i/JEGS/555/40002/10002/-1

Then in my own search just below in the "Might also interest you" section on their website, there was the same thing for $53. After getting over the Jegs name brand and talking some truth here, the tech said they are the same and even he might go with the $53 in this case. So that is the one I bought, but I am worried now that its going to be a cheap piece of junk due to the price.
https://www.jegs.com/i/Speedmaster/746/PCE376.1034/10002/-1

So I talked to my mechanic over at the Chevrolet Dealership who will be installing the Chevrolet motor for warranty purposes and he highly recommended the one that is licensed by Chevrolet. Come on, each person I go to tries to sell me the one they are affiliated with.
https://www.jegs.com/i/Proform/778/141-682/10002/-1


So, can you guys shed some light on this? Are these seriously all the same or is there a difference based on price? Am I just paying for the brand name on the casing? Please have a look and let me know which one would be of highest quality, but also not getting ripped off on price. If there is another that you went with and highly recommend, then please link me to it, but price is a major issue since most of it went into engine, labor, and parts I have already bought. Thank you.


I am pretty set on the HEI style, so please stick to my question as much as you want to recommend your MSD box or something else. Thanks guys.
 

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Mike - 74 Nova Baltimore, MD
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Even though all of the HEI's you provided links to all look the same, there is no way to know if the quality of the components used to build the internals of the HEI's are the same (module, magnetic pickup, centerplate and weights, distributor gear material, etc).

I believe the Chevy zz454 comes with a hydraulic roller cam installed... which usually means you need to have a melonized steel distributor gear. The Speedmaster HEI does not specify the material used for the distributor gear and it may be cast iron. Be sure to confirm what type of distributor gear material your cam requires.
This HEI may also have a very cheap module compared to the others (but that is only a guess). I would also like to see what the Speedmaster's centerplate and weights look like - cheap pot metal or steel? The Speedmaster also looks like many of the ebay HEI's that are available.

If it were me, I would have probably selected the Proform HEI with your engine. The description states a steel distributor gear and steel advance weights. I would also imagine that they are using a GM approved module since this distributor is stated to be licensed by Chevrolet. Besides... since you are getting a warranty, why take a chance that if something fails it could be blamed on an "unknown" distributor.

No mater what HEI you finally go with, be sure the distributor's advance weights and centerplate are installed in the correct orientation. It might also helpful to be sure there is some thermal paste applied to the underside of the module before installing the distributor. Nearly all of these aftermarket HEI's are produced in China and sometimes things get missed.
 

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If you're goal is a gm hei why not just go to a wreckers and pick up a gm one for 20$ . It would gets better choice than a new made in China one .
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Even though all of the HEI's you provided links to all look the same, there is no way to know if the quality of the components used to build the internals of the HEI's are the same (module, magnetic pickup, centerplate and weights, distributor gear material, etc).

I believe the Chevy zz454 comes with a hydraulic roller cam installed... which usually means you need to have a melonized steel distributor gear. The Speedmaster HEI does not specify the material used for the distributor gear and it may be cast iron. Be sure to confirm what type of distributor gear material your cam requires.
This HEI may also have a very cheap module compared to the others (but that is only a guess). I would also like to see what the Speedmaster's centerplate and weights look like - cheap pot metal or steel? The Speedmaster also looks like many of the ebay HEI's that are available.

If it were me, I would have probably selected the Proform HEI with your engine. The description states a steel distributor gear and steel advance weights. I would also imagine that they are using a GM approved module since this distributor is stated to be licensed by Chevrolet. Besides... since you are getting a warranty, why take a chance that if something fails it could be blamed on an "unknown" distributor.

No mater what HEI you finally go with, be sure the distributor's advance weights and centerplate are installed in the correct orientation. It might also helpful to be sure there is some thermal paste applied to the underside of the module before installing the distributor. Nearly all of these aftermarket HEI's are produced in China and sometimes things get missed.
Thank you, this is all good info. The Speedmaster $53 one states its a steel gear. Here are the features listed.

Features:
All New Components
65,000 V Coil
Medium Weight Advance Springs
Aluminum Housing
Adjustable Vacuum Advance
Premium Large Diameter Cap with Brass Terminals
Low Saturation Ignition Module
High Output Coil
Reliable Operation through 7000 RPM
Billet 4340 Steel Gear

Your thoughts?
 

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Don’t buy $50 one
I had one of them lock up and started spinning in engine bay till it ripped all the plug wires off. I dodged a bullet that it didn’t damage camshaft

I went with msd unit that I bought from them
Maybe $140 ish dollars


Mike
 

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I’m sure you’re zz wasn’t cheap. I wouldn’t invest in cheap parts that can cause catastrophic failure either. If you stick with that $53 piece I would invest in at least replacing the gear, regardless of what they claim.
 

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I installed this 572 9 years and 5 months ago. It came from Smeding with a Speedmaster distributor (Not HEI) Never a problem. In my Wagoon project, when the MSD failed, I used a Speedmaster distributor, coil, and ignition box. It was trouble free until it ended up on it's roof.
 

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Like many other generic Chinese parts they are sold under many names by anyone who will buy them in quantity.
That (Speedmaster) distributor is commonly sold at swapmeets for $40 in a white box.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
If you are already paying a dealership to install a motor why not just keep paying and have them source and install the dizzy?
I think you are right. I did ask the service manager and he recommend their Chevrolet licensed distributor that I will most likely go with. $144 and Chevrolet warranty.

Well actually, do you guys see any difference from the Proform Chevy Licensed or the Jegs brand?

Proform Chevrolet Licensed
https://www.jegs.com/i/Proform/778/141-682/10002/-1

Jegs
https://www.jegs.com/i/JEGS/555/40002/10002/-1
 

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Mike - 74 Nova Baltimore, MD
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I did ask the service manager and he recommend their Chevrolet licensed distributor that I will most likely go with. $144 and Chevrolet warranty.

Well actually, do you guys see any difference from the Proform Chevy Licensed or the Jegs brand?
I think you are making a wise decision with installing the Chevrolet licensed distributor.

If you plan on hooking the vacuum advance up to full time manifold vacuum, you may also want to invest in a MSD Vacuum Advance Stop Plate (Part #84281). It will let you adjust/limit the amount of vacuum advance you would gain at idle when connected to full time vacuum source.
https://www.jegs.com/i/MSD-Ignition/121/84281/10002/-1

I have one of these installed on my HEI and it works great for dialing in your advance curve.


From what I have read, I believe the GM Performance distributor and the Proform Chevy Licensed distributor are the same.
The Jegs brand may just be a repackaged Speedmaster (who knows?... buy why take that chance).

If you decide to purchase the Proform Dizy, you can save a few bucks by purchasing it from Summit... or just get Jegs to match the Summit price.
https://www.summitracing.com/parts/pro-141-682
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I think you are making a wise decision with installing the Chevrolet licensed distributor.

If you plan on hooking the vacuum advance up to full time manifold vacuum, you may also want to invest in a MSD Vacuum Advance Stop Plate (Part #84281). It will let you adjust/limit the amount of vacuum advance you would gain at idle when connected to full time vacuum source.
https://www.jegs.com/i/MSD-Ignition/121/84281/10002/-1

I have one of these installed on my HEI and it works great for dialing in your advance curve.


From what I have read, I believe the GM Performance distributor and the Proform Chevy Licensed distributor are the same.
The Jegs brand may just be a repackaged Speedmaster (who knows?... buy why take that chance).

If you decide to purchase the Proform Dizy, you can save a few bucks by purchasing it from Summit... or just get Jegs to match the Summit price.
https://www.summitracing.com/parts/pro-141-682
Your email was so helpful. Thank you so much and thank you for the other link for the cheaper one. Awesome!
 

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Glad I was able to help.
Good luck with the new big block!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Glad I was able to help.
Good luck with the new big block!
Thank you. Just dropped it off today. Engine will be arriving this Thursday. So Im excited, but need to be patient. They told me it should take about a month with all of their other work on the line. I am okay with that just as long as I make the major Father's Day car show event in my town. The whole city turns into a classic car haven.

Capture+_2019-03-18-18-34-53 by ssnovass396, on Flickr
 

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A stock HEI pullout distributor from a 70s/80s engine will have too much vacuum advance, and too much mechanical advance but it comes in way too late for the typical performance engine. This is because these engines had fudged up retarded timing (including almost no initial timing) to create heat in the exhaust for early primitive catalytic converters.

There's no telling what kind of mechanical/vacuum advance a Chinese distributor has.

I would want to check what even the GMPP unit has, but it's probably the best choice of this type distributor.

My experience with big cap HEI distributors is that the coil/rotor connection deteriorates, and that the ionized atmosphere inside the cap corrodes the mechanical advance parts, resulting in pin and weight wear and sticking of the mechanism. There are better solutions. Take a look at the MSD small cap stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Alright, thank you guys. I just upgraded to the Chevrolet Licensed Proform distributor per your recommendation. Thank you.

This distributor is make in the USA and Chevrolet produces it and has final sign off on the parts and quality testing. This same distributor apparently is also used in their Chevrolet motors. So, I feel good about this purchase.

Thanks again.

Just checked out my car today and they have it up in the air and starting to get ready to pull the motor. The new engine will be showing up on Thursday. Im excited about that.
 
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