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Dual Point Distributors

Many Panteras are still operating with dual point distributors that when adjusted correctly work super in cars that are not driven many miles per year. The points need adjusting every few thousand miles or once a year for most Panteras.  The good news about using the points and coil setup is that they seldom if ever suddenly fail. They tend to go out of adjustment slowly over time.  

The two sets of points are positioned in the distributor so that their open and closing timing is slightly overlapped.  One set becomes the closing (or make) and the other set becomes the open (or break) set.  This timing overlap provides the ability to set a longer dwell time that applies voltage to the coil for a longer duration of time.  The longer dwell time provides about 20% hotter spark than with a single point setup. 

When I got my Pantera I found that someone had disconnected the secondary set of points in the dual point distributor and the car was running on a single set of points.  The problem is that many people and some mechanics of today do not know how to adjust dual points. Sometimes people will disconnect the second set of points and run on one set because they do not know how to do the adjustment.   Itís really pretty simple!  Most dual point distributors are wired with two wires, one wire for the primary points and one wire for the secondary points that usually has a quick disconnect connector.

Accel 30202.JPG (47236 bytes)

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The Accel dual point distributor model 30202 like is used in my Pantera.  Note that the distributor cam is supported above and below by roller bearings.  On my car the points in the foreground were the primary points and the points on the other side were the secondary points and had a quick disconnect connector on the wire leading to the coil. The points are adjusted with an hex wrench inserted through the round rubber plug on the side of the distributor.   

To set the dwell, disconnect the secondary point wire lead, start engine and set the dwell on the primary points to 26 degrees. Stop the engine and connect the secondary point lead and start the car. Adjust the secondary point to give total dwell of 34 degrees. After the dwell is set, the initial distributor timing will need to be reset using a timing light. This initial distributor timing setting can vary by car but is usually from 6 to 10 degrees depending on the engine and the fuel that is used.

Many after market dual point distributors have points that can be adjusted while the engine is running.  I set my dwell meter on the top of the air cleaner facing the front of the car and reach the distributor to adjust the dwell from the front engine hatch. The red dwell meter lead is connected to the terminal on the coil where the distributor point wire is connected and the black lead is connected to ground.   The timing light is fun too!  I connect it to the battery for power and connect to the number one spark plug wire through the engine hatch.  Number one plug is the front plug on the passenger side of the car.  It would be a good idea to check the initial timing before starting any work as you may-or-may-not want to set it back to the original setting.

Dwell meters and timing lights can be purchased from your local Auto Parts store. The dwell meter also has a tachometer built in that can be handy when adjusting the engine idle speed.  I had saved my dwell meter and timing light for many years going back to the days when they were used on my last car with points in 1978.   You never know when you're going to need your old tools!   See my page on changing the points and setting the timing.  It is a good idea to recheck the dwell angle after after a 100 miles or so to make sure the dwell is correct.   Sometimes the oil pad can interfere with the point rub block making full contact with the distributor cam.    

Check the Pantera technical manual for more information on setting the timing and points.

Use extreme caution when running the engine with the engine cover off.  The belts and pulleys are very exposed and lethal.   The seat backs can come in contact with the belts and pulleys as well as body parts.