Checking & Replacement Of The HEI Pick-up Coil

Written by: Mike Ervin

Checking and replacing the pick-up coil.

  • Remove the distributor from the engine.
  • Remove the rotor and disconnect the pick-up coil leads from the module as described in the Ignition Module section.


  • Connect an ohmmeter to each terminal of the pick-up coil connector or wire and ground (one terminal at a time).  The ohmmeter should indicate infinite resistance.  If it doesn't, the pick-up coil is defective.
  • Connect the ohmmeter between both terminals or wires of the pick-up coil connector.  If a vacuum advance unit is attached to the distributor, apply vacuum from an external source and watch the ohmmeter for indications of intermittent opens (if no vacuum unit is used, flex the wires by hand).  The ohmmeter should indicate one steady value within the 500 to 1500 ohm range as the wires are flexed.  If it doesn't, the pick-up coil is defective.
  • If the pick-up coil fails either test. replace it.


  • Mark the distributor shaft and gear so they can be reassembled in the same relationship.
  • Secure the distributor shaft housing in a bench vise and drive out the roll pin with a hammer and punch.
  • Remove the gear and tanged washer, then check the shaft for burrs.  If none are found, pull the shaft from the distributor.
  • Remove the three attaching screws and separate the magnetic shield.
  • Remove the C-clip and detach the pick-up coil assembly.
  • Install the new pick-up coil assembly and make sure the C-clip is seated in the groove.
  • Install the shaft.  Make sure that it's clean and lubricated.
  • Install the tanged washer (with the tangs facing up), the gear and the roll pin, using the mark you made earlier to put it back in the same position.
  • Spin the shaft to make sure that the teeth on the distributor shaft don't touch the teeth on the pick-up coil pole piece.
  • If the teeth touch, loosen, adjust and retighten the pole piece to eliminate contact.
  • Install the distributor in the engine.