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Old 08-13-2010, 09:11 AM
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Balast resistor???

My car has one, but there is a HEI distributer in the car, no more old points style.. My question is, what does it do, and can I remove it?? I am kind of lost when it comes to electrical systems..

also, whats the difference between a 1 wire alternator and 2 wire alternator??And can they be interchanged??

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Old 08-13-2010, 09:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dajerseyrat
My car has one, but there is a HEI distributer in the car, no more old points style.. My question is, what does it do, and can I remove it??
Yes, you can remove the ballast resistor. The ballast was used to reduce the running voltage to the coil, when using points. An HEI requires full battery voltage.
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Old 08-13-2010, 11:48 AM
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True....with a GM

What kind of car?.....a Dodge will still have the ballast even though its has electronic ignition.
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Old 08-13-2010, 06:50 PM
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http://www.oldengine.org/unfaq/hei.htm Look here about the resistor/resistor wire and hei.
check here for alternators http://www.oldengine.org/
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Old 08-14-2010, 05:10 AM
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Unless the op is using "HEI" as a catch-all phrase for ANY electronic ignition system , or he's running converted GM HEI in conjunction w/the OEM MOPAR PCM, or he has some other use for the ballast, he can remove it, I believe...

Or, to put it another way- provided he is asking if a ballast needed to run an HEI GM ignition- the answer is NO.

Last edited by cobalt327; 08-14-2010 at 05:27 AM.
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Old 08-14-2010, 11:24 AM
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Im sorry i left out some information..It is a GM car and motor.
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Old 08-14-2010, 01:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dajerseyrat
Im sorry i left out some information..It is a GM car and motor.
Funny, most GMs used the resister wire when they had points......Just out of interest, what year is it?...I dont remember if my 55 Chevy had a resistor or a resistor wire
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Old 08-14-2010, 04:10 PM
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First car I ever owned/built was a '55 post. Had a ballast. They were gone around the time Q-jets were around, IIRC.
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Old 08-14-2010, 05:28 PM
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There was a thread a couple of days ago about this same thing and I guess I made a mistake by trying to explain about the ballast resistor/resistor wire and why they were/are used. It was stated that the voltage drop is only to prevent points from burning which is not the case at all and resistance systems were/are used many years after points became obsolete. The reason I spoke up in the other thread is that this seems to be a fairly common mistake any more and I have seen several problems relating to this in the last couple of years. The resistor and it's accompanying bypass wire are used to deal with the voltage drop that occurs when the starter is engaged and together they provide a stable voltage to the coil of 8 to 9 volts whether the engine is running or the starter is engaged. Without this system and with a coil that actually is designed for 12 volts, due to the heavy AMP draw, the system voltage would drop when the starter is engaged and only provide 8 or so volts to a coil designed to run on 12 volts. This low voltage condition would result in a weak spark just when a hot spark is needed the most-during starting. If the coil was wound so that it would produce a hot spark on the 8 to 9 volts it would receive during cranking it would go into an overvoltage condition when the key was released and system voltage would rise to over 13 volts. The simple solution is to use a coil wound for a continuous 8 to 9 volts and use a resistor to drop system voltage down to the same 8 or 9 volts it would be during cranking. Then a bypass wire is used to get around the resistor and provide system voltage during crank otherwise the resistor would drop the already low voltage to unusable levels but this bypass wire must only be hot in "start" and electrically "cold" all other times.

I have seen this system bypassed several times in the last few years (on systems other than HEI) with problems ranging from non-starts or hard to start to burned out coils and control modules. The usual reason for eliminating the ballast or wire resistor is that they were only to prevent burned out points or just as common is that the ballast resistor is to prevent interference in the radio, neither of which has anything to do with it. The most recent case I worked on was a while back when a fellow with a Motocraft system had run only a hot wire from the ignition so that the coil was getting a full 12 volts, actually system voltage of over 13 volts when it supposed to get no more than 9. He had gone through several coils in the 6 months or so he had been driving the thing and could not figure out why, his mechanic had told him the ballast resistor was only to prevent radio interference. Another case not long ago was a local fire station van (Ford) was doing the same thing, burning out the ignition every few months because the resistor wire had been replaced with a solid Copper wire. The mechanic said he had to do that because he checked the coil and it was only getting 9 volts, he should have checked the service manual because that's all it is supposed to get! The bottom line is that depending on the system these resistor/bypass wires are necessary and it has nothing to do with points or radio interference although this seems to be a fairly common misconception.
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Old 08-14-2010, 10:47 PM
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AGAIN Oldred, the gentleman is working with a GM HEI. NO BALLAST, OR ANY RESISTOR NEEDED, IN FACT, RESISTANCE CAUSING ANY LESS THAN CHARGING SYSTEM VOLTAGE WOULD BE A PROBLEM. Is that clear enough??
While everything you've said is technically correct, IT DOES NOT APPLY HERE!
Why don't you write a WIKI article on the subject, it will be linked in your posts, and you can simply refer to it, and/or quote it when you feel it applies,
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Old 08-15-2010, 07:37 AM
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Not sure what your problem is but the guy asked about ballast resistors and even asked "what does it do"? Again I simply explained what the darn thing is and what it is for, he asked so apparently he wanted to know. That's what this forum is about.


On the other thread it was the same thing the poster was apparently somewhat confused about what certain wires were for so I felt maybe an explanation of what they were for might help, maybe the guy was already fully aware of all that but explaining why there was a wire from the solenoid should not have been a problem. The problem started when someone else tried to say that the explanation was wrong and that resistance was only to protect points but as I said I have seen this misconception cause several serious problems, he gave a seriously flawed explanation of why the resistance wire was used, along with an obvious reference to the coil firing through the points, and nobody said a thing.

Last edited by oldred; 08-15-2010 at 07:58 AM.
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Old 08-15-2010, 09:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldred
Not sure what your problem is but the guy asked about ballast resistors and even asked "what does it do"? Again I simply explained what the darn thing is and what it is for, he asked so apparently he wanted to know. That's what this forum is about.


On the other thread it was the same thing the poster was apparently somewhat confused about what certain wires were for so I felt maybe an explanation of what they were for might help, maybe the guy was already fully aware of all that but explaining why there was a wire from the solenoid should not have been a problem. The problem started when someone else tried to say that the explanation was wrong and that resistance was only to protect points but as I said I have seen this misconception cause several serious problems, he gave a seriously flawed explanation of why the resistance wire was used, along with an obvious reference to the coil firing through the points, and nobody said a thing.
Thank you for explaining the purpose of the Balast resistor..It was informative. Gentlemen, lets keep it civil..
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Old 08-17-2010, 08:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldred
Not sure what your problem is but the guy asked about ballast resistors and even asked "what does it do"? Again I simply explained what the darn thing is and what it is for, he asked so apparently he wanted to know. That's what this forum is about.


On the other thread it was the same thing the poster was apparently somewhat confused about what certain wires were for so I felt maybe an explanation of what they were for might help, maybe the guy was already fully aware of all that but explaining why there was a wire from the solenoid should not have been a problem. The problem started when someone else tried to say that the explanation was wrong and that resistance was only to protect points but as I said I have seen this misconception cause several serious problems, he gave a seriously flawed explanation of why the resistance wire was used, along with an obvious reference to the coil firing through the points, and nobody said a thing.


Your in depth knowledge and explanations are truly an asset to all who view this board!!! Thanks.
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Old 08-18-2010, 07:09 AM
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If your cranking voltage is dropping to 8 volts you have bigger issues
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Old 08-18-2010, 08:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T-bucket23
If your cranking voltage is dropping to 8 volts you have bigger issues



It will not usually drop that low but on most vehicles unless the engine cranks for at least a few seconds with a standard battery and a V8 engine then it will drop substantially, on smaller engines the drop is not usually as severe but it will still drop. On most cars if the engine starts as soon as the starter engages then voltage drop is negligible because the battery is only exposed to the load for a second or so but if it cranks for even a few seconds, which happens often, then voltage does indeed drop. The thing is if the by-pass wire is removed the vehicle will still run normally and start just fine MOST of the time if the battery is strong and fully charged and the engine starts immediately. The problem occurs when when the battery may not be 100% or even if it is the engine might not start immediately for any number of reasons, that kind of thing happens all the time. For a car that always starts instantly and always has a strong fully charged battery with still new cables that have little resistance then the by-pass wire would hardly be necessary but it, in combination with the resistance circuit, is there to ease starting when things are not perfect-which is the case for most cars on most days.
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