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post #1 of (permalink) Old 04-08-2002, 12:35 PM
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Questions on ignition systems for SBC

I'm looking at upgrading the ignition on my '56 and had some questions:

What are my best options for a distributor/coil setup for a mild 283 SBC?

I have firewall clearance issues, so the standard HEI setup is out of the question. How are the remote coil HEI's?

I've been looking at the MSD UniLite dist with some interest, but I haven't seen any feedback on this dist. Are these very good distributors? How do they handle the vibration/abuse of off-road?

I know Aaron could answer these questions in an email [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img], but I figured I'd post it because I doubt I'm the only one with these questions. With the 'search' button being on vacation, it makes it difficult to find any other posts to address this... Thanks to any and all that reply with some info... Bret
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 04-08-2002, 12:46 PM
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Re: Questions on ignition systems for SBC

In my opinion, the HEI is a huge improvement over the old points-type setup, as far as simplicity and reliability, so I'd go with a remote coil HEI, so it will fit your Jeep. As far as MSD, I used to run their complete system and pro billet distributor when I was mud drag racing. Good stuff, no problems.
post #3 of (permalink) Old 04-08-2002, 06:08 PM
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Re: Questions on ignition systems for SBC

Thanks for the info mudracer.. I am leaning towards the HEI w/remote coil setup, so I'm glad someone else thinks they're decent distributors too.. Anyone else have any suggestions? Coil type/mfg? Any that should be avoided? Is there a TR upgrade for SBC's? Thanks, Bret
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 04-16-2002, 11:58 AM
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Big OOPS on the Unilite dist. Mallory makes it, not MSD [img]images/icons/blush.gif[/img].

Aaron, what are some good choices for SBC ignition systems? Best bang for the buck is what I'm looking for...[img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img] Thanks, Bret
post #5 of (permalink) Old 04-16-2002, 12:13 PM
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Re: Aaron?

Here is the e-mail I sent you, but it was returned as 'Undeliverable'....
*I was wondering if you had a 'TR' type of upgrade for a SBC?*

Yes, there is a set up I use for the older SBC's with no fire wall clearance.
Use a MSD 'Cap-A-Dapt', P/N 8420.
The kit consists of...
A cap adaptor. Adapts the short Ford style cap to the GM Points style distributor.
A Ford V-8 Distributor cap.
A rotor that will work with both, and is adjustable for rotor phasing.
Larger very well designed cap and rotor (MSD's version of the Ford V-8 cap is the best we've ever tested), good (HEI Style) terminals, remote coil, NO MODIFICATION of the distributor, reasonable price, and will fit even the tightest fire walls, any Ford V-8 cap ('75-'86) will work...
This configuration will require an MSD rotor, P/N 8421, and MSD is the ONLY one that makes it, so carry a spare or two...

There is a lesser version of the same set up, (no phase adjustable rotor) MSD P/N 8445 that uses a custom rotor also, the extra rotors are MSD P/N 8423.

As for a Module, you can fire a MSD 6 series module with a set of points.
The points will last virtually forever, and by using the MSD module, the worn bushings affecting the points dwell is corrected, as the module will control the dwell.

These two units, combined with a modern E-core coil will just flat kick [censored]...
You will be able to fire accurately above 10,000 RPM with this set up.

It's a mild ("RV" cam) '65 283 w/Quadrajet sitting inside of a '56 CJ-5. It does have the fender well headers.
*The engine was supposedly built to withstand 8K, but the builder has since passed away, so I really can't confirm this. I've never run it up past 5500 myself.*

6500 RPM is safe for most SBC's and unless you know all of the EXACT details and parts used to assemble, conservative is better than being sorry.

*My goal is a strong ignition that works well up to ~7K. I don't have much firewall clearance, so I've been looking at the remote coil HEI systems.*

Don't waste your time, see above...
*Are these distributors any better than the MSD UniLite dist?*

MSD doesn't make a UniLite, Mallory makes the UniLite.
In my opinion, Mallory ignition products are junk except the plug wires, and they are only acceptable...
Even Mallory makes a magnetic conversion for the UniLite distributor now. (I guess they finally accepted defeat)
They use a totally brain damaged advance system also...

MSD makes a top quality, simple and easy to work on distributor, but it's EXPENSIVE!
And you don't need a billet distributor for a basically stock engine.

Don't waste your money on a custom distributor, you don't need it.
Unless you plan to sustain 5,500 RPM for long periods of time, or expect to rev past 7,500 RPM under full load, your stock distributor (fresh reman version...) will do just fine.

You may want to add an electronic trigger to your Delco points distributor, there is the PerTronics trigger, (Don't use the PerTronics complete ignition system, just the Flying Magnet Trigger conversion from points.)
Around $80.

You can also modify stock Chrysler parts to work just fine, and that only costs about $15, but you have to be handy with a file...

*Are there any better options?*

In my opinion, yes there are better options... (again, see above...)

1. I'd use a fresh Reman Delco points style distributor.
2. I'd convert it from points to Chrysler or Ford electronic trigger. (Cheap, Safe, Cost Effective, but Reliable above all else, and replacement trigger is at ANY discount auto parts store. (time consuming)
3. I'd use the MSD Cap-A-Dapt for your application. (I'd use the Phased Rotor, and I'd make sure I had an extra rotor in the glove box)
4. I'd buy a $12 weights and springs tuning kit for the distributor.

If you have trouble with the conversion to magnetic pickup, I can do it, but the cheap part goes away in a hurry like that...

*I know that you're not a real big fan of the GM HEI setup (at least for Jeep conversion), but in all of your years of building and testing, which seems to be a good combination for a good ignition system? *

Stock Delco Points distributor with conversion (see picture) and an MSD 6 series module with the MSD Cap-A-Dapt. You can also fire the MSD module with points with almost as much success.

We go racing with the mag trigger conversion all the time, and it works great up to about 5,000 RPM sustained or up to about 7,500 RPM drag racing. You going to join NASCAR anytime soon?

Reliable, dependable, easy to work on, parts at (except rotor and MSD module) at any parts store...
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 04-16-2002, 12:39 PM
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Re: Aaron?

Stupid format didn't take my attachment!
This is the Chrysler magnetic trigger.
I use one from a '76 New Yorker with V-8.
Just file the reluctor out to slip over your points cam lobes, and silver solder or Loc-Tite it in place
I sneak up on the fit so I can keep a press fit.
Both parts of the magnetic trigger are about $15, and the reluctor is only about $5, so if you mess one up, don't sweat it.
Use a round file(s), and take your time.

Took me about three trys the first time I did one of these, but they work great now when you get them right.
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 04-16-2002, 12:40 PM
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Re: Aaron?

Wahoo! That's what I was looking for! Thanks Aaron! [img]images/icons/cool.gif[/img]
That's weird that my email addy bounced. That one was my work address. Hmm, I wonder what our email group has been dinkin' with now [img]images/icons/mad.gif[/img].
post #8 of (permalink) Old 04-16-2002, 12:50 PM
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Re: Aaron?

This is what the MSD Cap-A-Dapt looks like.
You will notice that it's Not much bigger than the original distributor, but it uses a full size Ford V-8 cap.
Ford caps are MUCH better designed than GM HEI caps.
You will have to buy custom rotors from MSD for this arrangement, there is no bolt in stock rotor that will work.
So keep an extra rotor or two laying around...
Any off the shelf Ford V-8 cap will work.

In a pinch, you can go back to stock cap and rotor with the electronic trigger still in place.

This is a VERY slick arrangement, and I've used it for several years with great success.

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post #9 of (permalink) Old 04-16-2002, 03:54 PM
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Re: Aaron?

Hey Aaron,
That is the perfect set up for me also IF there are parts to fit an odd fire Buick 225 V-6. I have an oddfire set up MSD 6a already and have the Pertronix conversion. Space is not a super concern but ionization and crossfiring in the cap is. I've recurved the mechanical advance already and am using an adjustable vacuum advance so that is ok. This is a severely built 225 and regularly sees 7-8,000 rpm [img]images/icons/cool.gif[/img] and am convinced it will take more IF I can correct the current high rpm crossfiring problem in the cap [img]images/icons/frown.gif[/img]. The MSD Cap-a-Dapt is a great idea if there is a different cap that will work for me. I've spoken to MSD reps and they don't have much interest in building a distributor for it (understandably) [img]images/icons/crazy.gif[/img]. Any light you can shed on this would be great.[img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img] I don't know if you've read any of my posts but I rarely ask for help as I like to figure things out for myself, but HELP! [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img] Nickmil.
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