E/P Distributor wiring notes:




Above is a photo on an E/P-X distributor.


Both the E/P and the E/P-X distributors (Part #3301) we offer have very simple wiring. The E/P-X has a quick disconnect plug, but the wiring is just the same:


The wire from the points goes to the negative side of the “B” coil. This coil terminal is also the connection for the condenser. The Condenser is part #3402 in my manual

The black wire with the yellow trace goes to the negative side of the “A” coil.  This is the ‘signal’ wire from the crane unit. It does not get a condenser, because only points use condensers.

The black wire with the red trace goes to the positive side of the “A” coil. This is the source for 12 volt power to the crane unit.


That is all there is to it.

If you would like to read the 9 pages of illustrated distributor installation instructions that come each one, here is a link:





The most common errors people make:

Reversing the yellow and red wires, even for a nano-second burns the Crane unit out.

Having a condenser on the e side

Pinching a wire under the cap

Having a poor crimp on one of the wires



No valid technical advice below this line:



Things that make me question the brilliance of my career choice:


Over the weekend, I got an email from a builder who had attended several Corvair Colleges, and even ran his engine at #34.  He said he was planning on starting his engine on the airframe over the weekend, but he already knew that his the electronic ignition wasn’t working.  Mind you, every single unit we have ever sold had to be run in the distributor machine, because they have to get the initial setting. Also, there was no way for him to say the E side wasn’t working, if he had not even tried cranking the engine. But this builder was comfortable jumping to the conclusion that I had sold him something defective.


By his second email, it was clear he wasn’t following the 9 pages of instructions. This was nothing new, I had already spoken to him at colleges about reading instructions and not jumping to conclusions.  I told him the only way that the Crane unit that worked in my shop but didn’t work on his plane, was if he reversed the red and yellow wires, and if he did this, the unit would be burned out. I added that a few people had done this, and that I had even done it once by simply letting the yellow wire brush over a positive terminal on the distributor machine. It is a split second, $75 mistake.


Because this builder is making a KR-2, Mark Langford agreed to fly over there and figure out why he couldn’t get it started. Mystery takes Mark little time to solve: The condenser is not grounded. If you didn’t know that was needed, that isn’t a problem, because in the #3402 section of my conversion manual, it plainly states that condensers must be grounded to the coil body and to the airframe. The builder didn’t bother to read that.


Once the motor is cranked, it turns out that nothing is wrong at all with the Electronic ignition system the builders said was defective in several emails. He writes back, but never mentions that his claim was not true.


What he writes back to say: Although he and his son don’t know enough about ignitions to know condensers need to be grounded, or know how to read installation instructions nor my manual, they have done “Reasearch” and found out that I don’t know what I am talking about!  They looked at the website of a company selling Crane units for cars, and it says something about reverse polarity protection. So he writes me:


So that’s good to know that you don’t damage anything by switching the wires. Because of the reverse polarity protection. “


He never slows down to consider that I have seen these units burn out right in front of my eyes, when the red/yellow wires are reversed. The reverse polarity protection is only speaking of  reversing the red wire and the ground of the body. Although the guy can’t follow directions, nor even start his own plane, he can use Google, and he can find some words to prove that he is right, and that my experience building more than 500 distributors means nothing. Not one word about how he didn’t read directions, was wrong in his claim the ignition I sold him was defective, not the slightest doubt that he could find something on Google in a minutes that would prove I didn’t know what I was speaking of. That was his reality.


If you are a reasonable person, and you are yet to meet me, but wonder why I sometimes seem harsh with people, it is because there are a lot of people in this world who are nothing like you…..there are many unreasonable people out there, and I have at least 100 stories worse than this.


My Mother turns 90 in another month. She has been sparse with her commandments to her children, but perhaps foremost among them is a tenant of her faith that requires we “Befriend the friendless.” My mother instilled in us a code that required that we demonstrate our gratitude for the family and friends we have, by extending some human kindness, particularly to people who are isolated by appearance, social graces, or circumstance. My mother felt that no one should be indifferent to the loneliness of others.  In the course of my work, I am often surrounded by old friends, better people than I deserve. I remember my mothers words when into such a setting comes a different person. Over the years I have tried to welcome these people. I love my mother dearly, but she failed to mention that many people who I have extended some extra measure of understanding toward never have the slightest appreciation for it. I am sure Mother would remind me that the exercise wasn’t for others it was for our betterment, but perhaps I could be granted some understanding, as I have a hand that has been bitten more times than I could count.


Consider that we have about 500 active builders at any given time, so the percentage of unreasonable people is still pretty low, if it is only 1 in 20, and they have two ‘issues’ a year, hardly a week goes by without one of them stiring the drama club on the internet, claiming things were defective, telling everyone they have discovered I was ‘wrong”. what a horrible person I am.  I get bored of it, because I can remember a time where less than 10% of our builders knew what the internet was, and in those years, the unreasonable people just seemed a little further apart.





About William Wynne
I have been continuously building, testing and flying Corvair engines since 1989. Information, parts and components that we developed and tested are now flying on several hundred Corvair powered aircraft. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics and an A&P license from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and have a proven 20 year track record of effectively teaching homebuilders how to create and fly their own Corvair powered planes. Much of this is chronicled at www.FlyCorvair.com and in more than 50 magazine articles.

6 Responses to E/P Distributor wiring notes:

  1. Ray Klein says:

    William, After 30 years of doing motorcycle repair work i have learned one universal truth. NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED. And yet I still try to help people.

  2. Ron D Leclerc says:

    William… dot not let it bother you! There is a certain segment of the population that subscribes to this kind of crap… so you are always wrong according to their creed!!!!

  3. Pete Jacobsen says:

    Why use the crane unit at all? There are electronic ignition modules available that have just a red and black wire that hook up directly to the coil. Thats what we have in my corvair car.

    • Pete,

      The power consumption is far lower on the Crane than any other unit we tested, and it will also make sparks at far lower voltages. Beside it has the same two wire hook up you are speaking of. The third wire is for the points, which your car dosent have.

  4. dan glaze says:

    ah yes, I remember the pre internet days, we were “comfortably numb “

  5. stah bohman says:

    well william your mother was right, we still need to be kind to those who don’t really desirve it. but i’m sure i can speek for all those who know you. you DO know what your talking about. There is nothing like experience. and those who don’t understad that will just have to figure it out the hard way. unfortunately for some it costs them their lives. Like they say you just can’t fix stupid. I’m love reading all your advice. and hope some day soon i too can build one of your engines. looking forward to it. Thanks for all you do to promote the building of corvair engines. You’ve spent many long years in our behalf. And i just want to say THANKS AGAIN. stan bohman idahofalls , idaho.

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