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New Mallory Distributor for 1957 Thunderbird with 312 V8

Posted By SDBirdman 8 Years Ago
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New Mallory Distributor for 1957 Thunderbird with 312 V8

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SDBirdman
Posted 8 Years Ago
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I have a 57' T-bird with a 312 V8 and an original 4150 Holley carb.  I bought it last summer.  It runs fairly well.  However, it just has not measured up to my other 50's cars.  I checked the distributor and discovered that the vacuum advance was shot and wouldn't hold a vacuum.  After further looking, I discovered that the vacuum advance is like what goes on a 1955 T-bird as it does not match the one used on either a 57' or a 56'.  It is also a tach drive distributor.  I decided I want to go to a Mallory tach drive distributor.  I looked at Mallory's catalog and called the tech line as well as looked at the aftermarket T-bird parts suppliers.  The aftermarket people sell a dual points set up for $600-800.  It is probably a Mallory number 2638701.  Mallory says its discontinued.  Mallory has an electronic ignition called Unilite (Mallory number 3838701) that the catalog shows will work.  However, on the electronic set up, it says it fits 1955-1962 Ford 256, 272, 292 and 312 Hex Drive Oil Pump (whereas on the dual points set up the catalog shows 1955-62 Ford 256, 272, 292 and 312 but does not mention hex drive oil pump).  So my concern is that the electronic set up may only work on a car with a hex drive oil pump.  Mallory's tech line says they don't know if its a mistake in the catalog or if it will only go on a 1957 312 with a hex drive.  I have not pulled my distributor to see what I've got.

I also have a tach driven by a cable.  I want to keep it.  However, the new Mallory appears to have a speedometer style screw on end whereas the old Ford one uses a gear and a bracket.  Mallory doesn't know where to go to get a new tach cable made up for my 57 T-bird.  They said look on e-bay-I didn't find what I wanted there. 

Does anyone have experience putting the Mallory electronic Unilite tachmoeter distributor on a 1957 T-bird?  If so, I would appreciate your advice as well as how to get a tachometer cable.  I'd prefer to buy a system through a Mallory dealer and find a tach cable and not be stuck paying $600-800 for a Mallory dual point set up at one of the aftermarket T-bird dealers-it seems high.  Thank you. 

dbird
Posted 8 Years Ago
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I think that's the distributor I have in my 55, Amazon had the best price, and a local truck repair shop made me a new tach cable for what I thought was a reasonable price, $30-40, I think.  Went right in with no problems and hooked up to the existing coil, though that will probably be changed. 57 block in the Bird, so things should be essentially the same.

Don

Hoosier Hurricane
Posted 8 Years Ago
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Birdman:

You have a hex oil pump drive.  '54 was the only year of the tang drive, and a '55 Bird distributor would be hex drive.

John - "The Hoosier Hurricane"
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SDBirdman
Posted 8 Years Ago
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I thought I'd let everyone know I did get the Mallory distributor installed ok and put in a new Ford Ballast Resistor.  Last summer my NAPA coil failed.  So I bought a new coil-not a high end one (it cost about $25 at O'Reilly's) but nevertheless it was a lifetime warranty one.  The coil on a 1957 T-bird mounts on top of the engine so it picks up all the heat of the engine.  These coils are also mounted parallel to the engine and not up and down.  This winter prior to replacing the distributor, the car would run about 20 minutes and once the coil got hot, it would stop.  If one comes back in an hour, it starts up again.  After putting in the new distributor, I have had the same experience. 

I ordered a new Mallory coil in hopes that a higher quality coil will fix the problem.  I also ordered a Mallory ballast resistor to install.  My concern is that by the coil sitting on top of the engine, the heat will cook the new coil.  Also, the fact that it sits parallel to the engine, I figure that the oil in the coil isn't cooling it as well as if the coil was sitting up and down.  I've looked around on my T-bird and there isn't a good place to mount the coil without drilling holes in my precious car (plus I'm not sure some of the other locations are any better-for example on the side of the engine puts the coil next to the exhaust manifolds).  Does anyone have experience with coils to advise if a coil mounted on an engine will resist the heat and if so, is having it mounted parallel make them cook quicker than if they are mounted up an down?  Also, does anyone have experience in re-routing the coil to a cooler location on a 1957 Thunderbird without drilling holes in the car?

Any help would be appreciated. 

Joe 5bird7
Posted 8 Years Ago
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I don't think you need to relocate the coil-----suspect something else is going on to cause your problem.  I've had the same coil on my 57 Bird for many many years in it's original position with no problem.
paul2748
Posted 8 Years Ago
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I have a 54 with a 312 and a 56 Bird with the 312. Both have the coil mounted in the same position as yours (this is the OEM mounting). I have never had a problem with either car as far as the coil is concerned. The Bird made a NJ to Oregon trip in the middle of summer with no problems.



Its not the mounting of the coil that is your problem.

54 Victoria 312;  48 Ford Conv 302, 56 Bird 312
Forever Ford
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RTCLASSICS
Posted 8 Years Ago
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Ditto that the coil location is not your problem. I work on these Thunderbirds daily and they're all on the intake with no problem. I have a 1955 Thunderbird with 1957 style stock distributor (rebuilt distributor on the shelf at Bumper to Bumper for $106.00) with a Pertronics electronic conversion ($65.00) and Autometer electronic tach mounted in the same hole as stock tachometer (use 3 3/8" tach). Driven for 6 years and haven't touched it. Runs and starts great and among other things, I take it 250 plus miles each way to Back to the 50's on the Interstate with zero problems @ 3000 RPM @ 70 MPH the whole trip. The '55 distributor was 6 volt and vacuum advance only design (not good) while the 1957 and newer use both centrifugal and vacuum advance. Check out "www.ctci.com" site technical link for distributor background for '55 vs '57 with good pictures and explanation. 1955 vacuum advance is physically bigger so check out the pictures since you think you might have a '55 style. By the way I use a stock coil 12 volt (yes I converted my '55 to 12 volts) WITH internal resistor from Bumper to Bumper. Same coil 6 years later no problems (don't jinx me now buddySmile.



Ok now, do you want to sell the Ford tach-drive distributor? If so call me at 608-469-1869.



Rod T
robin
Posted 2 Years Ago
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I don't know if anyone will see this based on the age of this thread. I have posted my distributor question on the cam thread that is trying to determine the cam used on the illusive 285hp E-code engine. 
Here is the issue. 
  I recently purchased a very rusty 57 T-Bird that has been sitting non-working since 1966.
The engine in this car may be rarest Ford engine in existence. If it can be verified to be a 285hp engine, it will finally help put to bed the rumors and speculation that has existed for many years as to what made up this engine. Nobody knows for sure what all was done to the regular E-Code dual quad 312 Y block to make it put out 15 more horsepower. I am in need of information regarding the distributor. Other parts of the engine point to it being a 285hp version of the E-Code 312 Y block, but the distributor is now throwing doubt about the authenticity of the engine.http://forums.y-blocksforever.com/uploads/images/53cf40ee-5331-42b2-b778-7a47.jpg
There are exactly zero 285 hp 312’s left anywhere that can be verified. Ford never documented this engine and they were supposedly built all in one very small run. The vast majority of these engines were sent to racing teams in order to boost Ford’s success over the Corvette. It is believed that only a hand ful of these engines ever made it into production cars. The engine I have hasn’t been messed with at all, but there is a question regarding the distributor. The original owner passed away, but the remaining family members do not think he ever did any real work on the engine. The distributor has a Mallory dual point ignition. One of the Thunderbird experts does not think it came from the factory with this dual point Mallory set up. I am looking for any information that may be available in regards to this Mallory coming from the factory rather than the regular Ford dual point distributor. I doubt that Ford had a lot of dual point distributors laying around in 1957, so is it possible that Ford bought these from Mallory for the small run of 285hp engines? Ford discontinued this engine very quickly when the supercharged 300HP engine became available. If you have any information that might help to verify this engine, it would be much appreciated.
Thank you,
Robin Gudgel ….  Phone 360-403-7207 …. E-mail:  robin@midnitesolar.com

Genuinerod
Posted 2 Years Ago
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Any numbers or letters on the distributor?  Does it have the two cap? 
Genuinerod
Posted 2 Years Ago
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It should have read two piece cap.


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