Do ignition systems really do anything?

Cdaniel

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Opinions...
Is there any real benefit to adding an MSD or smiliar ignition module to your stock type V8 engine?
Performance?
MPG?
Do they help with pre ignition "pinging"
 
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mustangman70

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Oh yeah, i went from stock points to a full MSD ignition including a billit distributer, 9mm super conducter wires, blaster 2 coil and a 6T box ( i got the box for 25 bucks lol) or i would have gotten the 6AL

I noticed a HUGE difference in top end power and it starts up every single ****ing time like its brand new... i couldent be more happier, ive been on this exact setup, not replacing ANYTHING for about 2 years now

Not to mention it looks GREAT (dont worry all the wires WERE cleaned up a bit, these were taken right after i had him running again.



 

FORCED2DV8

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Most modern ingition systems already have the features of the MSD or similiar built in, For emissions and performance, But it is definatly worth doing froma point style ignition system, much hotter spark and more spark atmore degrees of timing, (burns more fuel in the combustion chamber) and its elctronic you dont have to worry about the dwell or ignition curve, set tou weights and timing and it stays there.
 

302 coupe

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in the words of Smokey Yunick- "if it burns, it burns". In other words, if you're able to ignite the mixture with your current setup, you won't notice any performance gains (from the spark itself). Any performance increase will be due to a better advance curve or wider plug gaps, not as a result of multiple sparks or higher voltage. However, multiple spark high voltage systems do have their place. They do make for easier starting and smoother idle, and they have the capacity to overcome an air/fuel mix that's a little off. I won't go into the maintenance issues with points versus electronic because its basically a wash.

IMO, properly setup and maintained stock style points are fine for a weekend cruiser or low-useage app. Points can also be used to trigger an MSD box if you desire. Electronic conversions (pertronix, crane, duraspark) are great for daily drivers and performance use. MSD, Jacobs, Mallory, etc are nice products, but are only needed if you want the rev limit, timing retard, or other special built in functions. On a typical street machine, you will not gain any performance with a complete MSD system (box, dist, cap, rotor, wires) over the stock points system(assuming good condition and same advance curve). What you will gain with the MSD is easier starting and possibly better low rpm characteristics due to the multiple sparks below 3500 rpm.
 

Sicarius428

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I like mine. I was never able to drive the car before I installed because the whole car was disassembled but trottle response seems better compared to my friend's classic.
Kevin
 

zookeeper

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I really don't know why points got such a bad reputation. I agree there are better ignitions these days, but I left the points ignition in my wife's '69 Corvette simply because they work great. The car starts immediatley, gets 17mpg and runs hard when you want it to, so what more could you want? If your points are in good shape and adjusted correctly you won't notice one bit of difference. Having said that, my '68 has a Pertronix ignition inside a factory dual point ignition, simply because I wanted the look of the Ford dual point without the fun that goes with dual point ignitions. As far as any reliability advantage, forget it. I had my nearly new GMC truck end up on a tow truck a few years ago thanks to the wonderful, modern HEI ignition module failing. When points go bad they give you a lot of warning. When electronic ignitions fail, they go from running perfectly to not running at all immediately.
 

zookeeper

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mfp4073 said:
Its that reajusting the points all the time part that I didnt like!
How often is "all the time"? If it's more than once every 15,000 miles, you've got other issues. The points in my wife's car have nearly 9,000 miles on them with no problems whatsoever. All older cars had points ignitions at one time, and they were driven daily with no problems. Not everyone was a mechanic when our Mustangs were new, yet they were dead reliable. I sure as heck can't say that about anything I've owned lately. My Suburban had 2 transmissions, a fuel pump, water pump, alternator, battery and a steering speed sensor replaced by the time it had 70,000 miles on it. By comparison, my '68 had 91,000 on it when I bought it (from the original owner) and aside from the radiator and battery, it was all as it came from the factory. I can't say I call that progress...
 

mfp4073

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hehe....of course I did recently complain that I needed to replace my ball joints....until I realized that I last did my frontend 9 years ago.......adjustment every 10-12 months, replacement 2 years. About right......I just like to be done with stuff once I am done!
 

180 Out

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You're really talking about two things -- an electronic distributor and a multi-spark amplifier.

Points work just fine up to 5500 rpm or so. After that they have a real hard time keeping up. That's why dual points came along. But if you're rarely exceeding 5K and never exceeding 5500, the cost/benefit ratio of one of the high priced brands -- MSD, Crane, DUI -- just isn't there. However, a junkyard Ford Duraspark is so cheap that it's a toss up.

CDI spark amplifiers provide two benefits.

The first is that they fire a given cylinder multiple times over a range of 30 crankshaft degrees. But as rpms exceed 3000, they can't keep up, and the multi spark feature drops out. If you're running an extreme cam, any low rpm driveability improver is good to have. But if you're not, and you've got good plugs and wires and your carb is tuned right and your timing curve is right, then there really is no driveability benefit.

The second is that they step up the voltage to the coil. In the absence of a spark box, the output to the coil is the battery voltage, reduced by whatever resistance wire or ballast resistor that's in the circuit. This charge saturates the coil's core. The points open (or an electronic dizzie's reluctor or light window triggers the "off" signal) and the magnetic field in the coil collapses. This causes a high voltage to appear on the coil's secondary circuit and from there to the distributor cap.

The formula for this output voltage is V = L di/dt. L = the inductance of the coil, and di/dt is the change in current over time. Because "dt" is a very small number, V is a large number, from 20,000 - 30,000 depending.

An MSD box works the same way, triggered by points or an electronic switch. But the output of the MSD box to the primary of the coil is a couple hundred volts rather than 12 volts, giving a much higher secondary voltage output. This is why you can run a bigger plug gap with the MSD, and why blown engines like (require?) MSD's. And marginal engines with worn out components will run better too. But unblown engines in good shape, there's really no benefit.

Just look at any dyno test A/B-ing a spark box. AT MOST they pick up 3-5 peak hp; many show no gain at all.

On the other hand, there's this Ignition Solutions Plasma Booser thing that DOES give significant hp increases. Here's a link to a Mustang magazine story where they added one to blown 4.6 and got 11 hp and 11 lb-ft http://www.mustang50magazine.com/howto/138_0307_plasma/index.html . Not bad for $300 and twisting a few wires together. I would seriously consider one of these if I had an extra $300 laying around.
 

D.Hearne

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A simpler, cheaper setup: Just replace the points with a Pertronix unit and a Flamethower coil. Easier starts, no adjusting. ============Zookeeper obviously does't buy parts store point sets, been there-done that. A QUALITY set of points will last awhile, but the elcheapo sets don't last a year. Plus it's a bitch sometimes to initially set em.
 

Hack

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302 coupe said:
in the words of Smokey Yunick- "if it burns, it burns". In other words, if you're able to ignite the mixture with your current setup, you won't notice any performance gains (from the spark itself). Any performance increase will be due to a better advance curve or wider plug gaps, not as a result of multiple sparks or higher voltage. However, multiple spark high voltage systems do have their place. They do make for easier starting and smoother idle, and they have the capacity to overcome an air/fuel mix that's a little off. I won't go into the maintenance issues with points versus electronic because its basically a wash.

IMO, properly setup and maintained stock style points are fine for a weekend cruiser or low-useage app. Points can also be used to trigger an MSD box if you desire. Electronic conversions (pertronix, crane, duraspark) are great for daily drivers and performance use. MSD, Jacobs, Mallory, etc are nice products, but are only needed if you want the rev limit, timing retard, or other special built in functions. On a typical street machine, you will not gain any performance with a complete MSD system (box, dist, cap, rotor, wires) over the stock points system(assuming good condition and same advance curve). What you will gain with the MSD is easier starting and possibly better low rpm characteristics due to the multiple sparks below 3500 rpm.
I have to disagree with you and Smokey. Burning fuel isn't an all or nothing proposition. There is such a thing as incomplete combustion as well.

I put a Pertronix in my 6 cylinder and it worked much better and had more power. I didn't change the plugs. I would put electronic ignition in any car, it's well worth it. Even if you're just after gas mileage, you will gain there as well.
 

302 coupe

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incomplete combustion? Ever light a match and throw into a bucket of fuel? Have you ever noticed any fuel left in the bucket? me neither..... It doesn't matter how big or small of a match, or how many matches you use, so long as as one match is burning. Poof!

I can guarantee that your point gap and dwell were improperly set if you noticed any performance gain.

I am definately not saying that points are a superior system, its just that they get a bad reputation for all the wrong reasons.
 

washMO66

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BullittStangV8 said:
For you guys running MSD 6AL boxes with the blaster 2 coil, what distributor do you run?
6AL box
Blaster 2 coil
2 Step, um 2 Step
Pro-Billit dist

All MSD.

Can't comment on its performance because that is all I have had on the engine since I fired it. Had everything stock on the old 289 but it wasn't a hi-perf application...
 

D.Hearne

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I have a friend that after spending over $400 for an MSD distributor, ignition module and coil noticed nothing that was worth that kind of expenditure over the stock Ford EFI elctronic ignition. He kind of frowned after I asked him about the performance difference, :( this was after I had advised him to spend his money elsewhere in the motor.:D