By the mid-'50s, Detroit's race to produce an overhead valve V-8 engine was full steam ahead, with offerings from all of the major manufacturers. For Ford automobiles and trucks sold in the United States, the switch from a flathead to overhead valve configuration took place with the introduction of the 1954 models (one year later in Canada). Over a half of a century has passed since the introduction of the venerable Ford Y-block engine, and amongst many a Ford fanatic the trusty engine is still considered the king.
For '54-64 Ford F-100 owners with Y-block power interested in upgrading their engine to deliver increased horsepower and dependability, a good place to start is with the ignition system. Mid- 20th century ignition systems tend to be problematic, as we discovered firsthand on our '56 F-100 that's still equipped with the 272-inch Y-block it left the factory with.To make a long story short, the culprit responsible for our series of breakdowns was traced back to a bad ballast-resistor, points, and condenser. After we installed new parts the breakdowns ceased, but unfortunately one of the inherent flaws of a points ignition system is that wear occurs as soon as the engine turns its first revolution. Another source of ignition failure or poor engine performance can be directly linked to wear of the distributor shaft and bearings. Internal wear translates into slop that allows the octagon point cam to run untrue, producing erratic dwell and engine performance.
To rectify all of the problems associated with a stock antiquated ignition system as described above, the MSD Ready-To-Run Pro-Billet distributor incorporates a magnetic pickup that never wears out.Additionally, the distributor has a built-in ignition module, so there is no need to mount an external MSD ignition control. This module delivers up to 7.5 amps to the coil, creating a stout inductive spark.MSD claims this improves combustion of the fuel mixture, resulting in quick starts,a smooth idle, and great performance.Due to numerous problems with the stock ignition, we didn't get a chance to get the'56 over to our Mustang dyno to get a baseline run; but, after we do we'll drop the MSD Ready-to-Run Pro-Billet distributor in and see if we picked up any additional horsepower.
In the meantime, we thought the best way to clearly illustrate the procedure necessary to install the MSD Y-block distributor into the engine would be to use our C-Code 292, freshly plucked from a '57 T-Bird.
In order to swap-out the stock...
In order to swap-out the stock Y-block distributor and drop in the MSD Ready-to-Run Pro-Billet--and do a proper job of it--we mapped out a diagram that depicted the Y-block's firing-order, cylinder location, and direction of rotation.
Although it wasn't a necessary...
Although it wasn't a necessary step to remove the distributor, we removed the cap by flicking-off the two hold-down spring-clamps with a screwdriver to get the cap out of our way.
The Y-block distributor is...
The Y-block distributor is held in by a base-clamp that allows the distributor to advance or retard. A special 9/16-inch distributor wrench is needed to loosen, or remove, the pinch-bolt.