1948 Willys CJ2 jeep starter, coil and distributor replacement

Now that I can actually sit in my jeep I went ahead and decided on sort of a tune-up. The previous owner just put in new plugs and wires recently but I wanted to go ahead and get the 12V starter, coil and solid-state distributor in there. This will complete the 12V system and get rid of annoying point-based spark distribution. After many forum *help me* posts I put this how-to together for future reference.

I was going to show a how-to on the starter replacement but if you cannot figure this out, you shouldn’t be under the hood. That’s right: 3 bolts, one nut and 6 minutes is about all it takes. Unhook the battery before doing ANY electrical work.

For the distributor, I was a bit naive and thought if I could keep the engine from turning, accurately note the position of the rotor once I had the cap off, added the wires to the correct wires back to the new distributor and tightened them in the exact same position, I would be able to do this.

I was wrong.

Unfortunately the new distributor hated me. The biggest problem is that the bottom of the dist shaft that notches into the bottom position, is in a different location in relation to the keyed position of the rotor! So here’s how the old one was positioned, it was just a degree ahead of the #3 wire post.

Here’s how the new one had to be positioned to get the same relative position from the rotor to the #3 plug:

I went ahead and made sure the mechanical timing was right (there’s a timing mark window in the bell housing you can easily see, right below the starter) mounted the new coil and she fired up fine.

While I was in that part of the engine bay, I went ahead and replace the backwards-colored positive, negative and starter cables. I got ones of the proper length so there weren’t extra lengths of wire just flopping around in there too.

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