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How to keep a Lucas distributor going

Gordon Hesketh-Jones (Harvest Gold 1904) from Cornwall has covered over 370,000 miles in his V8 and has a serious annual maintenance schedule with periodic major work, so is familiar with worn Lucas distributors. Here he adds some useful tips on maintaining the Lucas unit. (Dec 04)

The faults which Chris Armitage described in Note 316 on his Lucas distributor are simply a predictable outcome of high mileage, and in particular the "scatter" he describes is caused by wear in the bushes at the top and the bottom of the drive shaft, also possibly (but less likely) by wear on the pinion gear at the base of the shaft.

The Mallory unit is indeed well-made but members who wish to retain the Lucas part may like to consider the following in order of ascending price:

o MGBGTV8 distributor is to Spec. 35D8 and this specification also applies for the Rover 3500S - the specification for the Rover 3500 is similar but with slower advance/retard. By contacting the local Rover Enthusiasts Club, I was able to buy one of each for a total of £50. Note that the unit off the SD1 Rover is mechanically different and cannot easily be used.


o "Top overhaul" on the distributor can be carried out by MG Motorsport (Tel: Doug Smith on 01442 832019) and this will be successful provided you do not have timing scatter. Fitted during the overhaul work will be their own design of bob-weights which, together with a new single spring (instead of the standard two springs), are specifically designed for use with the slower combustion characteristics of unleaded fuel. Their price in 2003 was £71.18 including VAT and carriage.

o Holden Vintage & Classic
(Tel: 01885 488488) purchased all of the tools and remaining stocks of most of the Lucas Automotive range when the Prince of Darkness withdrew from the market. They still have stocks of parts for 35D8 but will not sell them separately, preferring to keep these scarce parts for their in-house repair work. They rebuilt one of my spare units very quickly in 2003 for £196.17 again including VAT and carriage. Every single moving part had been replaced with new components, the returned distributor even having new contacts, condenser and cap, with the sole original part being the aluminum outer casing. Being effectively a brand-new distributor it functions perfectly and its settings never vary.

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