Do we really need a modern ignition?

Charlie Cheap

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I have spent the last 2 years doing research on the subject of modern electronic ignitions, specifically for older Ford 6-cylinder and 4-cylinder motors. My findings go against what is the accepted norm, but I have proof to back up my thinking. First, higher voltage is good but it must ignite the fuel/air mixture. Electronic triggered systems do have higher voltage but the spark is much shorter than our points system. As a reference, MSD (Multiple Spark Discharge) was invented to try to duplicate the longer spark of points. Think about a fuel/air mixture swirling around the chamber but not being ignited by the hotter-shorter spark. By making several sparks with MSD there is a better chance to ignite the mixture...much like the points longer spark. Below about 5,000 RPM points make as much HP as modern ignitions according to Hot Rod magazine. Above that RPM electronics are the better choice. Six and 4-cylinder ignitions have more time to build spark in a coil due to fewer lobes on the dizzy cam. The test I saw was a SBC V8 testing points vs electronics. The reason for using electronics is NOT for better ignition but less maintenance and the ability to trigger the spark with a computer. Because cars are now Fuel Injected and computer-timed electronic ignitions are used, but because they can be computer-controlled...not because they are better. Even if we can make a billion volts, the spark needed to arc across the plugs is all we need to fire the mixture. Above what is needed is excess that is not used. With a hotter coil, the best points, plugs, rotor, condenser, wires, and cap, we can increase spark with our basic points system. The Load-O-Matic can be helped with a Pertronix modification, but even better would be a later points dizzy using manifold vacuum and blocking the Dizzy spark control. Always use the best available parts (points, cond., rotor, cap, wires, and plugs) and keep the wires as short as possible. Upgrade to a hotter coil and use an ignition resistor with as low-resistance as possible to operate the ignition without heating the coil. During starting NO resistor is in the system, but once it starts the resistor drops voltage to the coil to keep it from burning the points/heating the coil. Higher input to the coil can mean higher output to the plugs. Just don't go crazy! I have an ACCEL #8140 coil with a MSD .8/1.0 ohm ignition resistor, BWD Select parts because they use the best available materials. Do NOT believe those who talk about constantly having to change/adjust points. Every 5,000 miles is usually fine...which is coast-to-coast driving. I understand many will disagree, but physics is on my side, and my little degree is in electronics.
 

StarDiero75

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Sounds logical to me. The real reason to go to electronic ignition is convenience. Thats it. I had points in my car for a short time (dizzy bearing was failing), but i never had issues with it.

Let me ask though, why is it with the HEI i use, can I have a larger gap in my plugs?
 

wsa111

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Modern electronics are far superior to points.
Higher voltage coils allow plug gaps in the .045"-.048" range that is the ideal gap.
MSD & the new Pertronix ignition boxes with the right coil produce several sparks each time. This prevents any misfires.
 

woodbutcher

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:hmmm: Also,you have to consider that a large amount of points and condensers are being made in China,and are for the largest part pure junk.Example.About two weeks ago a friend went to purchase new points for his Falcon and Camero.The first three sets that he looked at before leaving the NAPA store had NO contact on the arms :shock: .The next ones looked ok bought them and went home and installed them.The Falcon set lasted about 20 minutes.And the arm broke off.The Camero set lasted one day.It also had the arm break.He finally went to Knoxville to a friends store and purchased 6 sets each of points and condensers the were NOS items.
IF you can find NOS OEM parts good.If not forget points and condenser ignition.
Good luck.Have fun.Be safe.
Leo
 

chad

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good luck here w/Elgin company, Leo...
 

woodbutcher

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:D Yep.Eichlin is still a good product.Although the older stuff is much better quality than the current production.I think Elgin is a watch and clock company ;) .
Good luck.Have fun.Be safe.
Leo
 

chad

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There's all sorta "Elgin" I assume,
elgin machine wrks is the one I'm interested in

http://www.elginind.com

Unfortunately when a prts man my big box store had only duralast.

For OP: better is better. Match components as much as possible.
( for me? I'm kinda wishin I hada efi as its less maintenance, durable, improved performance ).

Sequential MPFi to the bosses on the VI alu intake seem just abt right...
I like the 6 Keihins but don't relish the linkages, throttle set-up, etc.
Each one has a set of probs to over come...
 

rbohm

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charlie, no we do not need modern electronic ignition systems, however they do have several advantages over the weak sauce points controlled systems, those being;

1: stronger spark output
2: more consistent spark output
3: more consistent dwell
4: more consistent spark timing, IE much less spark scatter
5: no point bounce
6: with the stronger spark the ability to use large plug gaps
7: with the stronger spark the ability to run leaner fuel mixtures
8: deposits on plugs burns off easier
9: the ability to set up a waste spark system to improve emissions and fuel economy
10: the ability to use a coil on plug system if you so desire
11: the ability for the computer to tune the spark output for the needs of each individual cylinder, including adjusting the timing for each cylinder individually.

modern ignitions are far more versatile than point controlled ignitions.
 

JackFish

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Very happy here with a DS2 and a MSD Blaster2 coil.
Quite reliable. 45,000 volts.

What might be interesting is a coil per plug scenario like on the LS engines.
 

xctasy

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Never liked multiple coil ignition, but love reduced spark saturation, waste spark, multiple spark burst.

I like Vertex Magnetos and aircraft ignition systems, and Argentinas wild belt driven magnetos with triggers.

I like the Duraspark III crank triggered system, the whole thing was the birth of TFi; I enjoy the versitility of EDIS 6.

Progress is for me not going backwards on service. The amount of cars driving around with lights that don't work, and the amount of waste spsrk cars dead at intersections show civilization its servicability has failed.

Last drag meet I went to had a stone age 327 Chev powered Vauxhall Viva based Holden dropping 11 second standing quarters while turboed Nissans with RB25DET's were missfiring there ways to 13.9s, slower than factory GTRs.
 

rbohm

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X makes some good points. technology for technologies sake is not necessarily the way to go. i prefer using factory systems as much as possible.
 

chad

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JackFish":30stv44o said:
link seems to be broken
I got that frm the CB site. Some1 on "4eyed" linked to a detailed on-line muscle ford specific 'magazine'.
I can not get it to open either. It did wrk the day I cut'n past the link. Will post on there for assistance. Unfortunately it's such
a long add.s I can't C the actual listing (damn automatic s4!+ on these modern puters)...much wuz the same as the other link posted earlier but w/additions, shucks...
 

pmuller9

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Looking at the spark waveform shows a high voltage spike that initially jumps the plug gap.
Once the air between the gap is ionized by the initial spark the gap resistance goes very low which drops the voltage to a low value and raises the current significantly.
It is the current that ignites the fuel and starts the flame front not the voltage and the more current the wider the spark and the more fuel molecules get targeted.
This is important to those that want to run a lean mixture at cruise to maximize fuel economy.

As the engine load and cylinder pressure increases the resistance between the plug gap increases which requires a higher voltage to initially jump the gap.
The ignition system needs to supply enough voltage to jump the gap at the engines highest cylinder pressure.
This also includes the gap between the distributor rotor and the cap which can be as high as 5Kv.
If the rotor phasing is off the voltage needed will be much higher.

In the case of the MSD, a capacitive discharge to the coil may be shorter than an inductive discharge but the current at the plug gap is much higher by several times in comparison to the standard street inductive system.

In all the cases so far the 300 six shows improvement in both low end power and fuel economy using the MSD ignition.

Do you need an electronic ignition on a street performance Ford six?
Surely it is not an absolute necessity. It depends on the person's goals.

If there is a nuclear EMP the vehicles with points will be running around the dead electronic ignition vehicles.
 

chad

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:!:
So, "No" Mr. CC...
4 me? I'm not sure...its a race
between the end of the world and end of me (I'm 67 y/o) !!!
 

wsa111

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I like the MSD box & their high end cost coils. If you can keep heat away from any coil its an improvement. The Ford TCI coil also has low primary resistance which is a plus.
Distributor advance curve is the key to improved idle, power, drive ability & economy.
 

pmuller9

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wsa111":52512d0j said:
Distributor advance curve is the key to improved idle, power, drive ability & economy.
Absolutely.
This includes actual ignition timing.
There are a lot of engine builds presently going on and how many take the time to verify that the timing mark TDC is really piston TDC before installing the head.
The same with checking cam timing during installation.
 
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