Electronic Ignition

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MechEng

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So I have been doing a little bit of research and couldn't find a good thread that talked about this so I thought I would start one.

Now that I've got my 'Stang running fairly consistently I wanted to make the switch from points to an electronic ignition. Originally I was just going to throw a PerTronix unit in and not give it that much thought. But when I went to Summit Racing I was surprised to find that there are quite a large number of options out there.

I wanted to list a few of them here and open it up for discussion as to which one people feel is the best. I understand that it seems like PerTronix is the most popular, but I don't necessarily believe that makes it the best option. Without further adieu here is the list that I've been looking at:

1. PerTronix 1281 - PerTronix Ignitor® Solid-State Ignition Systems

PerTronix Ignitor

2. Accel 2020 - ACCEL Points Eliminator Conversion Kits

http://www.summitracing.com/parts/acc-2020/overview/year/1973/make/ford/model/mustang

3. Crane Cams 750-1700 - Crane XR-i Points-To-Electronic Ignition Conversion Kits

http://www.summitracing.com/parts/crn-750-1700/overview/year/1973/make/ford/model/mustang

4. E-SPARK REPLACEMENT MODULE - part # 6100M

http://mallory-ignition.com/e-spark-replacement-module.html

This is by no means meant to be an exhaustive list, but just something to start the discussion. Let me know what your opinion is!!

 

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mdan575

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I just installed the Pertronix 1 Ignition and Pertronix Coil on my 71 and it is probably some of the best money I have spent yet. $130 from Summit Racing and the car runs awesome. I turn the key and the car instantly starts now compared to cranking for a moment before the upgrade. I have read a bunch so far about the Duraspark upgrade and it seems like a smart move but I am just not ready for that jump quite yet.

Far as I understand the Pertronix 1 is also compatible with the factory tach unlike many of the other aftermarket ignition upgrades IE MSD/Mallory.

 
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imusa76

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Mister 4x4

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I was really considering the Pertronix option, but my pal convinced me to go with something that could be found 'on the shelf' at the part store. Duraspark pieces and parts are all available at the 'big box' parts stores, after all. But something I also noticed: a Pertronix III module hanging on the 'hot rod wall' at my favorite O'Reilly Auto Parts house.

So basically, I'm a Pertronix fan again... but Duraspark is still my favorite.

 

imusa76

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I do keep the old set of points and condenser in the tool kit in the glovebox, just incase I'm out and I have to revert back to points if it should fail.

it takes 10 min to convert it back to points, I did it once just to get home.

come to find out it was just a loose wire from the 12v supply!!

 
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I went with a PerTronix ign III & the coil. I went with that because it had a built in rev limiter (eventually the women is going to drive so I didn't want my Cleveland at 6000+ RPMs. I discovered it had a weird issue at over 5,200 RPM. It kept stumbling, or maybe you could say "burbling" but it kept trying to push past it on the dyno. I called the manufaturer and they couldn't help me with the issue what's so ever. Btw I bought a brand new distributor to put this unit in. We put it on a a distributor machine and eventually it just quit working. I am not trying to bad mouth these unit in anyway. Everyone I talked to loves the PerT I &II. I just want to tell you my experience.

There are other things to consider however, than just ign. I rebuilt my Cleveland, it's a 408 so I needed a different vaccum advance curve. I had extreme diffuculty finding one that is what I needed (that for on the new factory replacement distributor). I ended up buying a used Mallory LED drop in off eBay for 35 bucks. The built in, machanical, and vacuum is right on the moment for total performance and overal drivability. These are expensive but with all that built in performance and you can find them used I would recommend a Mallory. And you can find them used off eBay.

Other users will have more input. If anyone else has a better experience or similar let me know how you fixed it.

 

nosdelacruz

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I actually have the xri unit from crane cams, and I really enjoy it! Car starts on the first time I turn the key. The rev limiter works great as well. Installation is a breeze like the perteronix a positive and negative wire to the coil. I would really recommend it if you are looking or one of these points replace units. Or do a duraspark conversion, we use that on my dads 69 mach 1 and works like a dream as well!!! Good luck

 

MechEng

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Found this post by George Pence, Forum Admin for DeTomaso Internet Community

OP Here: Click me!

Ford 1970's ignition modules 101:
Breakerless ignition showed up in North American Ford vehicles in 1974. The first ignitions were not called DuraSpark; they were referred to as breakerless ignitions. The modules had a green wire strain relief with two harnesses, one connector with 3 pins, and one with 4 pins. I mention these modules just to make you aware of them; the Duraspark modules are more desirable for ignition swaps.

In 1977 Ford began referring to the breakerless ignitions as DuraSpark ignitions, and released two modules simultaneously; the DuraSpark I for California, and the DuraSpark II for the rest of North America. The DuraSpark I module was more sophisticated in its design, more expensive to produce, and capable of producing a stronger and more consistent spark under varying engine load conditions. Ford found this necessary to meet California emissions standards in 1977. Both DuraSpark modules featured spark retard when starting the motor. I am uncertain if that feature was incorporated into the earlier module. Both DuraSpark modules had two harnesses, one with a two pin connector, and one with a 4 pin connector, 6 wires in total. The earlier module with the green strain relief had 7 wires; it had a blue wire that was not carried over into the DuraSpark modules.

The DuraSpark I module had a red wiring strain relief. It was a very sophisticated design, sensing & controlling the current in the coil primary as a means of controlling the current and spark quality produced in the coil secondary. It was only installed in California cars; therefore many hot rodders were not and are still not aware of its existence, or the difference between it and the DuraSpark II module. In 1978 Ford found it could meet California emissions regulations with the less expensive DuraSpark II module in all of its motors except the 302 V8. So California cars with the 302 V8 received the DuraSpark I ignition, and California cars equipped with all other motors got the DuraSpark II ignition like the rest of North America. The same applies to 1979 California cars. 1979 I believe was the last year DuraSpark I was installed in any Ford car. Worthy of mention is the safety feature built into the DuraSpark I module; if the distributor rotor is not turning, the module shuts off current to the coil primary, the ignition cannot fire, so it is safe to work on the ignition without fear of being shocked. NOT SO with any other Ford module. Disconnecting the wrong wire on any other Ford module while you are working under the hood can result in triggering the ignition and shocking you with enough current to stop your heart.

The DuraSpark II module introduced in 1977 has a blue wiring strain relief. It is not much different from the early module with green wiring strain relief. Its reliable and provides a nice spark, but it is less sophisticated than the DuraSpark I. Current in the coil primary is controlled just like it was with a breaker point ignition, with a ballast resistance in line with power to the coil. To provide a hotter spark while starting the motor, there is a second wire supplying the coil that bypasses the ballast resistor to provide full battery voltage when the ignition key is in the start position. This module is the most common module for retro-fitting breakerless ignition to early cars, simply because many people are not aware of the existence of the DuraSpark I module, or they are not aware of the differences. Its also worth mentioning this module can kill you while you are working on the motor unless precautions are taken to avoid an accidental discharge of the ignition!

After 1977 Ford developed other ignition modules with white, brown or yellow wiring strain reliefs that have other features that are unneeded or even undesirable for retro-fitting breakerless ignition. They are designed to work with input from sensors, such as knock sensors, altitude sensors, MAP sensors, etc, and they are designed to control spark timing based on those inputs, to compensate for knock, altitude, engine load, etc. Or they are designed to work in conjunction with Ford's early "EEC" engine management systems. Some of these modules were called DuraSpark II, others DuraSpark III, and beginning in 1981 there was also the "universal" module.

Suggested Shopping List

(1) Rebuilt & recurved Duraspark distributor (sourced from a 1977 – 1982 351M, 400 or 460)

(2) Duraspark I module (reference a 1977 – 1979 California vehicle with a 302 V8 at the parts counter).

(3) Duraspark compatible coil: Accel #140207, MSD #8205 (MSD #8200 or #8202 are OK as well)

(4) Painless Wiring #30812 Duraspark wiring harness

(5) Ford Racing Perf Parts 9mm plug wires #FMS-M-12259-M301

(6) Autolite Racing #AR24 plugs

Installation Notes:

1. When purchasing a module for your car, buy it from Ford! The Ford manufactured modules are very reliable. Reliability of the aftermarket modules is hit or miss.

2. DuraSpark modules use a high voltage coil made specifically for DuraSpark ignition. Use the Ford DuraSpark coil or DuraSpark specific replacement such as Accel part number 140207 or MSD part number 8205. Do not use a breaker point ignition coil.

3. DuraSpark coils are oil filled and must be mounted oriented vertically, with the top higher than the bottom. They must not be mounted lying horizontally.

4. Painless Wiring sells a wiring harness for DuraSpark II conversions. It should be applicable for DuraSpark I conversions too, as there is very little difference in the wiring between the two ignitions. It is available at Summit Racing under part number PRF-30812, or JEGS under part number 764-30812.

5. DuraSpark distributors for the 351C will be sourced from a 1977 through 1982 Ford vehicle equipped with a 351M, 400 or 460 cubic inch V8.

6. A ballast resistor suitable for DuraSpark II installations is available from NAPA Auto Parts, NAPA part number ICR23 (1.2 ohms).

7. The Duraspark distributor is not the best choice for sustained high rpm use even in perfect working condition, its propensity for spark scatter is infamous. For operation above 6000 RPM the distributor should be converted to centrifugal advance only, the vacuum advance plate should be locked out, the weight pins strengthened and the pick-up indexed with the rotor. Ford SVO once offered a distributor like this, part number M-12127-A301. Any Ford distributor should be expected to wear out within 50,000 miles. For the record the Moroso #72202 is the best distributor money can buy. It is a 351 Windsor distributor so the distributor drive gear will require replacement to make it fit the 351C.

8. The Duraspark modules are very reliable, good for over 100,000 miles and at least 10 years of operation. The Duraspark I module is one of the most sophisticated modules ever offered in a production automobile but it was not designed for operation over 6000 RPM. I’ve never read any reliable information about the high RPM performance of the Duraspark I module, I cannot comment on what happens to its performance at high engine speeds. However, to keep things in perspective, the Duraspark I module is most likely to perform better at high RPM than a dual point distributor. The Duraspark modules have one feature that is very desirable for a high performance motor; they retard the spark advance during starting. They also lack one feature that is very important for performance driving, an engine speed limiter. Ford SVO once offered a module with a programmable engine speed limiter, part number M-12199-A301 (or M-12199-B301 which included electronic tach drive capability), for use with ignition coil #M-12029-A302 and wiring harness #M-12071-A301.

9. If a better ignition is desired, then my recommendation is to look beyond an ignition employing a distributor and consider a distributorless ignition such as the Ford EDIS-8 or Electromotive Engine Controls XDI system. Distributor ignition systems are as obsolete as the slide rule and typewriter.

DurasparkIIwiring.jpg


DurasparkIwiring.jpg

A much more involved shopping list to be sure, but it seems like quite the robust set-up. I feel like this would snowball into me redoing my entire engine wiring harness since it's already pretty hacked up.

 

Kermit 460

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For my big block I went w/ the Pertronix II Flamethrower plug-n-play dizzy & coil. I've been very happy.

 
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Sun of a gun if Rock Auto doesn't show blue and red wiring strain reliefs depending on Federal or California emissions. Check out standard motor products for a 78 Mustang II with 302.

 
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My original factory swap out was to a dual point mallory. Ugh! I can't imagine how the chevy guys with the distributor in the back ever delt with that!

When it fell apart I swapped it for a mallory comp 9000 unilite. It was a rock solid unit that lasted me for many years.

When I tossed on the tripower I had to go 'small cap' so I went with a mallory unilite but with the small cap. Works great.

You need to look for something that will both fit and is adjustable. The mallory allows you to adjust total mechanical advance, the mechanical advance curve and the vacuum advance is adjustable as well.

Near as I can tell, the vacuum advance is just how much, not how fast.

I run my mallory with the stock tach no issues.

No fancy boxes. Just the distributor and a promaster coil.

 
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Born an I-6, spent the teenage, 20 and 30 years as a 302, but at 40 will reach full potential as a 351C.
Functionally, all options are the same. I had a P2 for 45k miles. Plugs looked

new. I replaced with an HEI. After 10,000 miles, plugs look new.

Size-wise is a different story. Pertronix lets you keep your original distributor. All other distributolr will have fitment issues with oem air cleaners.

$$$ tough to beat P2. And you can keep a spare module in your glovebox.

RPM Gage wise, that may be an issue. Electronic ignitions want 12VDC. Your tach wants 6.

 

CZ-75

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I finally landed on Duraspark for my '73 351c 2V. I ordered a rebuilt one with custome curve, designed for my motor, from Steve J at Re-In-Car-Nation High Performance.

Spoke with him on the phone for a good half hour tallking about my motor, transmission, gears, etc. He is going to do a custom curve on a rebuilt dizzy. He sounded like he really knew what he was talking about

So, Here's my question: Should I go with something like a Mallory or MSD ignition box and Coil, or stick with a normal Ford Duraspark control module & coil?

I want to be sure my Tachometer will work. Can I make my tach work if I go with a high output control box/coil?

Which product(s) offer ease of wiring?

 

Mister 4x4

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I finally landed on Duraspark for my '73 351c 2V. I ordered a rebuilt one with custome curve, designed for my motor, from Steve J at Re-In-Car-Nation High Performance.

Spoke with him on the phone for a good half hour tallking about my motor, transmission, gears, etc. He is going to do a custom curve on a rebuilt dizzy. He sounded like he really knew what he was talking about

So, Here's my question: Should I go with something like a Mallory or MSD ignition box and Coil, or stick with a normal Ford Duraspark control module & coil?

I want to be sure my Tachometer will work. Can I make my tach work if I go with a high output control box/coil?

Which product(s) offer ease of wiring?
Use a Duraspark 'Blue Grommet' control module, and whatever kind of cannister coil you prefer (Mine's an Accel Super Coil).

If it's factory tach, others might have more information on exactly how to wire it in. If it's a standard 'add-on' tach, run it to the negative side of the coil.

 

CZ-75

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But what if you want a high output spark with a nice wide spark plug gap? I keep hearing that is good for ignition, and helps with throttle response.

 

Mister 4x4

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But what if you want a high output spark with a nice wide spark plug gap? I keep hearing that is good for ignition, and helps with throttle response.
The coil provides the spark - not the controller. Accel Super Coil puts out 30,000 volts - standard Ford/Durspark 'cannister' coil puts out something like 19,000 volts. .055" gaps are what I'm running right now. :D

There are other coils that do the same and the style isn't really important... I was thinking 'cannister'-style would be easier to mount in the stock location with existing brackets. A different style coil (like the MSD) would require a different mounting solution.

 

CZ-75

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Good to know! Thanks!!!

 
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