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What is a distributor… What does it do in my classic car?

A distributor is the key part of a classic car ignition system, tasked with controlling the output of the ignition coil and sending the spark to the relevant cylinder.

Going into more detail, a distributor works in conjunction with the coil to perform two functions:

1. It makes and breaks the low voltage or LT circuit of the coil at precise timing to generate the high voltage within the coil.
2. It distributes the high voltage, or HT energy from the coil to the appropriate spark plug via the distributor cap and rotor arm.

The critical function of the distributor is to control the advance (or the ignition advance) whereby the spark occurs earlier as the engine speed or load increases. This is achieved via centrifugal forces acting on springs and weights within the distributor body, or the vacuum generated by the carburettor, or a combination of the two. The distributor position needs to be carefully set so that the correct spark timing is obtained. The distributor needs regular maintenance to ensure that the points gap and dwell angle remain correct. Typically the contact breaker points need to be adjusted or replaced every six to twelve months. A Powerspark ignition electronic conversion kit replaces the points with a magnetically triggered electronic circuit, using less moving parts and eliminating tedious maintenance.

Our kits are easy to fit at home, are fit and forget and are available for a very wide range of cars in both positive and negative earth.

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