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Old distributor - how hard/realistic to recondition this one?
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RedSquare
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2021 4:52 pm    Post subject: Old distributor - how hard/realistic to recondition this one? Reply with quote

Here is the stock distributor that I just pulled from my 1968 fuel injected Squareback. I’m replacing it with an electronic one from 123 Ignition.

I’ve heard that finding parts to repair/recondition these can be pretty tough. Any thoughts or commentary from this group would be welcomed.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2021 6:05 pm    Post subject: Re: Old distributor - how hard/realistic to recondition this one? Reply with quote

Here is one for sale in the want adds .

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/classifieds/detail.php?id=2360773
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2021 10:46 pm    Post subject: Re: Old distributor - how hard/realistic to recondition this one? Reply with quote

The 311 AE distributor being offered is for a 1972 FI engine. It's a DVDA and the OP has an SVDA and needs to clean off the part number area in order to narrow it down further.

All that said, every part of your distributor is widely available. Even the vacuum canister loos like a 265 is readily available. On the other hand the build quality of these distributors is inferior to earlier years. It's not unusual to need two or three cores to get one good one. I stay away from restoring them.

By process of elimination it appears to be a 311 L stock for 1968-69 and correct for your car. It would be worth while trying to bring that back to life.

The points and condenser are the same as the "009". The cap and rotor are the early 1964-67 versions reintroduced on the Type III automatic distributors. The vacuum canister- I think I likely have several NOS. All you will need is a shim kit. The points cam (163) and weights assembly is pretty common and the points plate is nearly universal. I could supply you with several complete cores.

I'd have to disagree with what you've heard.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2021 6:41 am    Post subject: Re: Old distributor - how hard/realistic to recondition this one? Reply with quote

Thanks tasb. I appreciate the feedback. It was hard to get good photos of the part numbers, but they are Bosch part 0 231 163 001 and VW part 311 905 205 L. So your assessment that this is an L model based on the other details I gave looks to be correct.

As is probably apparent, I know precious little about these distributors, so pardon me if some of my questions are misguided. I don’t think I fully understood your comments on this distributor - you noted that you stay away from restoring these, but you also noted that this one might be worth trying to bring back to life. You also noted that it sometimes takes 2 or 3 cores to get a good one. Are you talking about using cores to salvage parts that can’t be found new?

Maybe I can reframe the question - if you were to try improve on this one, how would you go about it?
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2021 9:30 am    Post subject: Re: Old distributor - how hard/realistic to recondition this one? Reply with quote

I think the D-jet FI in your 68 needs the trigger points in the stock distributor. Not sure how you would get that from a 123.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2021 9:40 am    Post subject: Re: Old distributor - how hard/realistic to recondition this one? Reply with quote

The 123 has a trigger point circuit. I ordered one but haven't installed it yet (my engine is out and apart). I'm not sure about connectors, though.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2021 10:27 am    Post subject: Re: Old distributor - how hard/realistic to recondition this one? Reply with quote

tasb wrote:
The 311 AE distributor being offered is for a 1972 FI engine. It's a DVDA and the OP has an SVDA and needs to clean off the part number area in order to narrow it down further.

All that said, every part of your distributor is widely available. Even the vacuum canister loos like a 265 is readily available. On the other hand the build quality of these distributors is inferior to earlier years. It's not unusual to need two or three cores to get one good one. I stay away from restoring them.

By process of elimination it appears to be a 311 L stock for 1968-69 and correct for your car. It would be worth while trying to bring that back to life.

The points and condenser are the same as the "009". The cap and rotor are the early 1964-67 versions reintroduced on the Type III automatic distributors. The vacuum canister- I think I likely have several NOS. All you will need is a shim kit. The points cam (163) and weights assembly is pretty common and the points plate is nearly universal. I could supply you with several complete cores.

I'd have to disagree with what you've heard.



I kind of agree on the quality issue but its not that drastic of an issue until wear stacks up.

What I have found on these aluminum body distributors....and all I pretty much work on are D-jet for type 3 and 4....is that the original machining of the shaft bore....is sometimes imperfect....meaning the shaft may be set a couple of thousandths out of alignment. This causes a small amount of "helicoptering" of the shaft. Meaning more or less gap between rotor contacts.

Most owners can drive 100k miles and not really notice a difference in how it drives.....but there is a difference. Its no different than having your plugs gapped differently and you can see this from constantly higher or lower carbonizing of the cap.

Then again....if its really bad...the cap fit itself on these distributors has a good bit of slop. If one knows about the issue ...one could shim it.

The other BIG issue is the actual points plate stamping and plating quality varied widely through the years. Some of the late model replacements made in the 80's sucked. Some of the last few years say from the 1967 to 1974 date range....sucked in quality.

The stamping was less precise...like the dies were worn out....lots of slop between the plates due to flatness issues...and lots of slop between the steel "finger" opposite the ball and spring.

I have a thread about checking and working out details on points plates specifically for these distributors.

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=686352

The other issues with age that I find with these distributors...aside from those laid out in the points plate thread at the link above......are that the shims between the drive dog and body are worn out and missing creating a lot of axial slop.

Also underneath the trigger points cam is a shim set that SUPER important! If you already have axial play in the main shaft.....it translates to the upper shaft assembly. That wears the upper shim set. This shim set keeps the trigger point cam hard up against the advance spring plate......where this cam is held in its indexed position by a small pin or knob on the plate. As the shims wer out and that cam starts bouncing up and down....it literally wears a notch in your trigger points cam and it moves all over the pace...screwing with injection timing and trigger points opening dwell time.

Also....these distributors usually because they never get opened up and cleaned and lubed....get lots of wear and rust on the advance weight pivot points and springs like any other distributor.

Usually these distributors will work better with a complete bushing and shim kit....tightening up the points plate issues....checking the ignition point cam for wear and fixing that.

The problem is this.....some of the wear items these distributors run into may not be noticed at all on a carbed engine. But because D-jet is SUPER sensitive to ANY changes in ignition timing and advance....as well as changes in spark quality from ne cylinder to another....because all of that changes the combustion efficiency .....that changes the vacuum signature....which changes your fuel mixture at the MPS.

Some of the biggest issues with D-jet with rough running, poor idle and poor tunability.....are directly related to everything we are speaking of right here.

To add to that.....anything that makes your timing suspect....and causes you to turn the distributor body in its mounting to compensate......changes your injection timing farther and farther from its factory window.

All of that affects...combustion...which affects vacuum signature...which affects fuel mixture...which affects combustion....which affects rpm....which affects advance....which affects combustion...which affects vacuum signature.....which affects fuel mixture...which affects combustion....which affects vacuum signature....which affects fuel mixture.........well.....you get the picture. Its a "cascade" effect.

Ray
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2021 10:44 am    Post subject: Re: Old distributor - how hard/realistic to recondition this one? Reply with quote

From their website:

The 123\VW-4-R-V-IE is created in cooperation with VW-professionals ; this has resulted in a product that can be used in all type ‘1’, ‘2’ and ‘3’ cars.

This unit offers trigger outputs for Bosch D-Jetronic fuel injection engines.

The unit offers a maximum total of 16 advance-curves to be selected by the end-user.


When you look for information - use the manufacturer's website - the USA version is garbage in comparison and the prices are a lot higher.

There are two versions for D-Jet, according to their website:
https://www.123ignitionshop.com/gb/volkswagen/267-123vw-4-r-v-ie.html


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2021 11:42 am    Post subject: Re: Old distributor - how hard/realistic to recondition this one? Reply with quote

Ray - thanks for the detailed summary here. I'll go back through that link you included and study up.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2021 11:49 am    Post subject: Re: Old distributor - how hard/realistic to recondition this one? Reply with quote

ataraxia - thanks for the link and the info. I already bought mine from the US based entity that sells them. Bought it about this same time last year and it has been sitting patiently on the shelf ever since just waiting to be installed.

I looked at the curve data that was from their main website vs that from the table I included in my post, but aside from the formatting of it I didn't see any differences in the actual curves between the two. Did you notice a difference that I missed?

And by the way, you weren't kidding on the difference in pricing. I just checked their pricing for the same unit I bought. Today their European website lists the 123/VW-4-R-V-IE for 268.60 Euros, which is about $311. I bought mine a year ago from the US distributor for $485 + $23 in shipping. Not sure what the shipping from the Netherlands would be, but I'll bet it is a lot less than the $200 price difference here. Sheesh....
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2021 12:26 pm    Post subject: Re: Old distributor - how hard/realistic to recondition this one? Reply with quote

RedSquare wrote:
And by the way, you weren't kidding on the difference in pricing. I just checked their pricing for the same unit I bought. Today their European website lists the 123/VW-4-R-V-IE for 268.60 Euros, which is about $311. I bought mine a year ago from the US distributor for $485 + $23 in shipping. Not sure what the shipping from the Netherlands would be, but I'll bet it is a lot less than the $200 price difference here. Sheesh....


Shipping is approximately $55. I'm going to upgrade to the Bluetooth unit to make tuning a bit easier - there's a $100 price difference for the same unit AFTER Euro to USD exchange and UPS shipping to my house. I save $100 by getting it from the manufacturer.

EDIT: Changed shipping price from $75 to $55


Last edited by ataraxia on Mon Oct 25, 2021 5:45 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2021 1:23 pm    Post subject: Re: Old distributor - how hard/realistic to recondition this one? Reply with quote

Yes, buy from the 123/ LEEN APK site in NL. These guys are right there with the answers and support, too, no middlemen who are just selling the product. They even have a forum on their site for users to chat.

Shipping to me here in Oregon has always been a flat 40 Euros- $46 and change at today's rate of exchange. I almost always have it in hand in a week or less. Occasionally I've gotten the dreaded "out of stock" notification indicating it may be some weeks till shipment, but then I have gotten a notice within 2-3 days that it is on the way anyways. Again, these people are very serious and understand old- school customer service on steroids.

Also- follow me here- the price you see in Euros on their site INCLUDES THE EU VAT TAX. If you sign in and buy, you'll see the price is cheaper because USA buyers are not subject to their VAT. Once their site figures out you are in USA they discount it by 19%.

I know that "Mr.Fiat" is one of the USA sellers with the high USA price. I have a sneaky suspicion that's where the OP got his. His stuff is always top dollar plus, but on the other hand, lots of times I find crucial parts for correct restoration (esp. M-B) that just aren't available anywhere else so I cut him some serious slack. Wink
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2021 5:44 pm    Post subject: Re: Old distributor - how hard/realistic to recondition this one? Reply with quote

Tram wrote:
Yes, buy from the 123/ LEEN APK site in NL. These guys are right there with the answers and support, too, no middlemen who are just selling the product. They even have a forum on their site for users to chat.

Shipping to me here in Oregon has always been a flat 40 Euros- $46 and change at today's rate of exchange. I almost always have it in hand in a week or less. Occasionally I've gotten the dreaded "out of stock" notification indicating it may be some weeks till shipment, but then I have gotten a notice within 2-3 days that it is on the way anyways. Again, these people are very serious and understand old- school customer service on steroids.

Also- follow me here- the price you see in Euros on their site INCLUDES THE EU VAT TAX. If you sign in and buy, you'll see the price is cheaper because USA buyers are not subject to their VAT. Once their site figures out you are in USA they discount it by 19%.


When was your last order? Shipping is listed at 45€ on their website and the product price is listed without VAT - there's no additional discount. The VAT is a separate line item in the cart.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2021 6:06 pm    Post subject: Re: Old distributor - how hard/realistic to recondition this one? Reply with quote

ataraxia wrote:
Tram wrote:
Yes, buy from the 123/ LEEN APK site in NL. These guys are right there with the answers and support, too, no middlemen who are just selling the product. They even have a forum on their site for users to chat.

Shipping to me here in Oregon has always been a flat 40 Euros- $46 and change at today's rate of exchange. I almost always have it in hand in a week or less. Occasionally I've gotten the dreaded "out of stock" notification indicating it may be some weeks till shipment, but then I have gotten a notice within 2-3 days that it is on the way anyways. Again, these people are very serious and understand old- school customer service on steroids.

Also- follow me here- the price you see in Euros on their site INCLUDES THE EU VAT TAX. If you sign in and buy, you'll see the price is cheaper because USA buyers are not subject to their VAT. Once their site figures out you are in USA they discount it by 19%.


When was your last order? Shipping is listed at 45€ on their website and the product price is listed without VAT - there's no additional discount. The VAT is a separate line item in the cart.


Last order was in May.

Maybe they updated their software to recognise non EU !SP addresses. And $45 Euros is still only $52- not $75, although that was a good educated guess. I just checked my last invoice and they charged me 40 euros shipping.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2021 6:29 pm    Post subject: Re: Old distributor - how hard/realistic to recondition this one? Reply with quote

Your questions are not misguided or confusing. They represent someone whose interested and willing to learn. I restore the earlier distributors because the build quality is high and being an old guy the learning curve was more or less mastered long ago. Ray is an example of someone who is much closer and knowledgeable on the later distributors. I suggest restoring this one since it is original to your engine and a factory match. Note I didn't say it would be a walk in the park. Ray gave a superb assessment of the wear points on these Applause I would emphasize that the points cams were soft and many are worn beyond re-using. Yes, the typical tune up parts can be found NOS but the less common internal components like points plates and weight pivots need to be harvested from used(how much used?) cores. There's another restorer on here who complained once about the cores I sent him were already worn out. He paid less than $40 for one including shipping and at that price I don't take them apart and assess the quality of each and every part- you get what you get at that price.

RedSquare wrote:
Thanks tasb. I appreciate the feedback. It was hard to get good photos of the part numbers, but they are Bosch part 0 231 163 001 and VW part 311 905 205 L. So your assessment that this is an L model based on the other details I gave looks to be correct.

As is probably apparent, I know precious little about these distributors, so pardon me if some of my questions are misguided. I don’t think I fully understood your comments on this distributor - you noted that you stay away from restoring these, but you also noted that this one might be worth trying to bring back to life. You also noted that it sometimes takes 2 or 3 cores to get a good one. Are you talking about using cores to salvage parts that can’t be found new?

Maybe I can reframe the question - if you were to try improve on this one, how would you go about it?

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2021 6:56 pm    Post subject: Re: Old distributor - how hard/realistic to recondition this one? Reply with quote

Ok, now I’m tracking. Thanks for the clarification. Some bits you can get new, and for the rest you poke around for used but serviceable parts - makes sense.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2021 8:53 pm    Post subject: Re: Old distributor - how hard/realistic to recondition this one? Reply with quote

tasb wrote:
Your questions are not misguided or confusing. They represent someone whose interested and willing to learn. I restore the earlier distributors because the build quality is high and being an old guy the learning curve was more or less mastered long ago. Ray is an example of someone who is much closer and knowledgeable on the later distributors. I suggest restoring this one since it is original to your engine and a factory match. Note I didn't say it would be a walk in the park. Ray gave a superb assessment of the wear points on these Applause I would emphasize that the points cams were soft and many are worn beyond re-using. Yes, the typical tune up parts can be found NOS but the less common internal components like points plates and weight pivots need to be harvested from used(how much used?) cores. There's another restorer on here who complained once about the cores I sent him were already worn out. He paid less than $40 for one including shipping and at that price I don't take them apart and assess the quality of each and every part- you get what you get at that price.



Perfectly put!

The "ONLY" reason to save these distributors is because they are unique to these cars. If they did not have the correct part number or were not a D-jet specific unit...meaning if they had no trigger points...I would not bother with them.

They are not nearly as bad as modern Chinese distributors. Thats not what we are saying.

tasb is absolutely right that the build quality is lower than earlier aluminum and for sure cast iron distributors. He is spot on that to get all of the little parts to clean these up and make them "reasonably" accurate.....you have to really forage through some junk yards.....especially since many you might find in the junkyards...are already 40+ years old and worn and rusting themselves.

I would still do what you can to restore your original....but the 123 system sounds nice! Ray
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2021 11:23 pm    Post subject: Re: Old distributor - how hard/realistic to recondition this one? Reply with quote

How do switch between the different advance curves on the 123 dissy ?
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2021 11:45 pm    Post subject: Re: Old distributor - how hard/realistic to recondition this one? Reply with quote

Tvättbjörn wrote:
How do switch between the different advance curves on the 123 dissy ?
There are pics on the other thread, last page.
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=761093

There are more advanced versions available as well that are set up with a laptop or Bluetooth.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2021 6:14 am    Post subject: Re: Old distributor - how hard/realistic to recondition this one? Reply with quote

Thanks gents. I appreciate the discussion and the feedback. And Ray's last post really hits my interest in this, although I never really said it. I’d like to have a reasonably well functioning stock distributor that is authentic to the car simply for the purpose of being a good steward for this piece of history. The unit I have still functions - the car runs pretty well with it actually - but I’m going to run the 123 Ignition for daily driving which will allow me to take my time with the original and make it better. I am appreciative of this community of people who share these interests. No way that someone like me could do it without you. Very Happy

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