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Author Topic: Time for a new ignition system?  (Read 3349 times)

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Offline OverKnight

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Time for a new ignition system?
« on: September 18, 2016, 11:54:55 AM »
EagleJoe93's Dad here; on his 1986 Eagle, we have installed something of a hybrid ignition system.  We've installed the oversize Ford distributor cap and adapter, with a Ford TFI coil and a GM HEI ignition control module.  We've been cleaning and installing new grounds and replacing marginal connectors, but I am questioning how well the coil and ICM are working once everything is warmed up.  Yesterday we found a little too much play in the distributor shaft, so since we need to replace the distributor, coil and ICM, maybe it's time to upgrade the entire system.  Is there any consensus on which is the best ignition system for this car?  The common upgrades are the full Ford DuraSpark HEI or the full GM HEI.  Is one of these more  reliable, better-performing and easier to install than the other?  I've seen distributors on eBay (http://www.ebay.com/itm/AMC-JEEP-INLINE-6-232-258-6-CYLINDER-HEI-DISTRIBUTOR-BLACK-Spark-Plug-Wires/201493319064?_trksid=p2050601.c100574.m4253&_trkparms=aid%3D111001%26algo%3DREC.SEED%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D37338%26meid%3Dc8d1cde5a75348e3b37206b50c7fa4ca%26pid%3D100574%26rk%3D1%26rkt%3D4%26sd%3D201493319064 for $120 with the GM-style coil-in-cap; the wires are US-made, but there's no comment on the origin of the distributor itself.  Maybe I've heard too many stories of poorly-engineered products like these from eBay, but I'm leery of these distributors; does anyone have any experience or opinions with these?  Any other suggestions?

Thank you.
"I shall pass through this world but once.  Any good I can do, or any kindness that I can show any human being, let me do it now and not defer it, for I shall not pass this way again."
- Stephen Grellet

Offline amcfool1

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Re: Time for a new ignition system?
« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2016, 01:00:56 PM »
hi, what you are considering is the GM HEI conversion. This is a good and viable upgrade.  BUT... there is always a but!... you have an 86, so you have to understand what you are dealing with. On 84+ Eagles, the factory computer controls BOTH the carburetor AND the distributor, so if you take out the factory distributor, you have to "neutralize" the carb. Look up the "ECM Test bypass" here. Basically you have to center the stepper motor pins on the carb, then disconnect the stepper motor. (the thing sticking out from the back of the carb). I just rebuilt the factory system on my 84, not easy, but doable. New, (rebuilt) computers are still available from RockAuto or your local Advance, etc., about $120. Computer is behind pass side kick panel, btw.
If you want to go the HEI route, I recommend the DUI (Davis Unified Ignition) They are the only ones that properly curve the distributor for you. They are more expensive, about $300, but definetely worth it, unless you know how to curve your own distributor. good luck, gz

Offline OverKnight

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Re: Time for a new ignition system?
« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2016, 07:29:17 PM »
Thanks, amcfool1.  I should have mentioned that we've replaced the Carter with a Motorcraft 2150 (from Gronk), so this isn't an issue.  I've heard of the DUI systems, but until now have never had a need to look at them more closely.  After a quick look, I'm impressed; the ICM is contained inside the distributor, so this is one more thing we could eliminate.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2016, 07:34:40 PM by OverKnight »
"I shall pass through this world but once.  Any good I can do, or any kindness that I can show any human being, let me do it now and not defer it, for I shall not pass this way again."
- Stephen Grellet

Online vangremlin

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Re: Time for a new ignition system?
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2016, 08:00:45 PM »
I went with one of these all in one distributors from CRT.  I've had it a couple years now and have had no problems with it.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/351652972776?_trksid=p2055119.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT
1981 Kammback 258 - "Pepe"
1980 Coupe 258 - "Ginger
1972 Gremlin X 304
1978 Gremlin 4 cyl 121 - sold
1964 TBird 390 - sold

Offline amcfool1

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Re: Time for a new ignition system?
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2016, 09:28:36 PM »
hey, Mr. Vangremlin, you got lucky. and good for you. the "cheaper" HEIs are a crapshoot. Some are good, and some are not. You got a good one. They are made in a very large asian country, and their quality control is spotty, at best. DUIs are built right here in the USA, and their price reflects that. Also, if you have a question or a problem, you can call them up, and a real live person will answer, and try to help. They are in Memphis, TN. So, you pay your money, and make your choice. It's ALL good! I ran one of the First DUI distributors, bought back in 99, when they were first coming out with the AMC 258 part. Thing ran for over 16 years. After initial installation, and fine tuning, I NEVER TOUCHED IT AGAIN! 16 years. ..and..after Eagle #1 died, (due to rust, not any mechanical issues), I pulled the DUI dist. out, and sent it back to them, for a "freshening". they rebuilt the whole thing, cleaned, lubed, new cap, etc, for about $90., so it's good to go on my next motor. So, yes, it is more money than the Ebay "cheapies", but, IMO, it is money well spent. You DO (sometimes) get what you pay for. And , no, I do not work for them. Just a good quality product. good luck, gz

Offline OverKnight

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Re: Time for a new ignition system?
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2016, 11:07:27 PM »
My concerns about the eBay HEI distributors are, who makes them?  How good are the materials?  How well are they made, i.e., quality control and assurance?  They may have a three-year warranty, but has anyone needed to use it, and if so, were they satisfied?  I'm not automatically against everything made in China, but if it's a critical component and I have no way to at least inspect if by hand, I usually steer clear.  In some regards, China is catching up, but I think it'll be another 15-20 years before I feel confidence in their products.

The DUI system is pricey, but clearly a great option.  Although they're top-shelf, their wires are also very expensive.  I could purchase a rebuilt GM HEI distributor, gear, coil, cap, rotor and wires for maybe 1/2 of the price of the DUI system, but I'd have a system with possibly a lesser-quality distributor and a sub-optimal advance curve.
"I shall pass through this world but once.  Any good I can do, or any kindness that I can show any human being, let me do it now and not defer it, for I shall not pass this way again."
- Stephen Grellet

Offline amcfool1

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Re: Time for a new ignition system?
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2016, 11:35:03 PM »
you don't absolutely need their ( DUI) wires, they are nice, but probably overkill. I use an ACCEL set for a 91  4.0, no problems. good luck, gz

Offline OverKnight

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Re: Time for a new ignition system?
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2016, 12:23:04 AM »
Yeah, that was my thought, also.  The Accel wires are about $30.00 less than the DUI wires; there are plenty of areas on this car where the $30.00 could be put to better use.
"I shall pass through this world but once.  Any good I can do, or any kindness that I can show any human being, let me do it now and not defer it, for I shall not pass this way again."
- Stephen Grellet

Online vangremlin

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Re: Time for a new ignition system?
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2016, 10:02:04 AM »
hey, Mr. Vangremlin, you got lucky. and good for you. the "cheaper" HEIs are a crapshoot. Some are good, and some are not. You got a good one. They are made in a very large asian country, and their quality control is spotty, at best. DUIs are built right here in the USA, and their price reflects that. Also, if you have a question or a problem, you can call them up, and a real live person will answer, and try to help. They are in Memphis, TN. So, you pay your money, and make your choice. It's ALL good! I ran one of the First DUI distributors, bought back in 99, when they were first coming out with the AMC 258 part. Thing ran for over 16 years. After initial installation, and fine tuning, I NEVER TOUCHED IT AGAIN! 16 years. ..and..after Eagle #1 died, (due to rust, not any mechanical issues), I pulled the DUI dist. out, and sent it back to them, for a "freshening". they rebuilt the whole thing, cleaned, lubed, new cap, etc, for about $90., so it's good to go on my next motor. So, yes, it is more money than the Ebay "cheapies", but, IMO, it is money well spent. You DO (sometimes) get what you pay for. And , no, I do not work for them. Just a good quality product. good luck, gz

Hey Mr. amcfool1, here is a link to the CRT performance website

http://www.crtperformance.com/crt/

On it you'll find there find their phone number

508-783-0004

Please feel free to give them a call and ask them anything you want.  They are located in Massachusetts, right here in the USA.  Read the jeep forums and you'll find many favorable reviews on their products.
1981 Kammback 258 - "Pepe"
1980 Coupe 258 - "Ginger
1972 Gremlin X 304
1978 Gremlin 4 cyl 121 - sold
1964 TBird 390 - sold

Offline amcfool1

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Re: Time for a new ignition system?
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2016, 11:04:39 AM »
thanks man, I did not know they were a US company. Don't need one now, but will keep in mind for future. glad yours is doing well. i have heard way too many bad stories about the Skip Whites, and others, and even bought a "knock off" myself a couple of years ago, from 4WDR Hdwr, and never could get that thing right. thanks again, and good luck, gz

Online vangremlin

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Re: Time for a new ignition system?
« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2016, 02:10:15 PM »
You're welcome!  I know that the DUI system is top notch and probably the best you can get, but just wanted to make sure people know what their options are. 
1981 Kammback 258 - "Pepe"
1980 Coupe 258 - "Ginger
1972 Gremlin X 304
1978 Gremlin 4 cyl 121 - sold
1964 TBird 390 - sold

Offline OverKnight

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Re: Time for a new ignition system?
« Reply #11 on: September 22, 2016, 09:57:28 PM »
We decided to bite the bullet and go for the DUI system.  However, Performance Distributors was charging over $30 for shipping(!); sorry, that's just obscene.  This made me shop around, and I found that I could get the AMC DUI distributor from Summit Racing with free shipping.  We added a set of Taylor wires; both should be here tomorrow.  Although not stock color, Joe chose the blue cap and wires, because he plans on painting the engine the original AMC blue used on earlier engines.
Stay tuned...
"I shall pass through this world but once.  Any good I can do, or any kindness that I can show any human being, let me do it now and not defer it, for I shall not pass this way again."
- Stephen Grellet

Offline amcfool1

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Re: Time for a new ignition system?
« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2016, 10:37:52 PM »
hi, and good for you, and good luck. As for pricing, this is not just DUI, most of the time time it is cheaper to go through a large distributor (sic) like Summit, they buy in bulk, and can usually sell for cheaper than the original manufacturer. again good luck, gz

Online vangremlin

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Re: Time for a new ignition system?
« Reply #13 on: September 23, 2016, 12:17:13 PM »
Keep us posted on the results of the swap!
1981 Kammback 258 - "Pepe"
1980 Coupe 258 - "Ginger
1972 Gremlin X 304
1978 Gremlin 4 cyl 121 - sold
1964 TBird 390 - sold

Offline OverKnight

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Re: Time for a new ignition system?
« Reply #14 on: September 24, 2016, 06:18:17 PM »
Not very smooth sailing today...

Pulled the old distributor and the new one slid right in.  DUI recommends a 12-gauge wire to the distributor, but all of the switched wires were maybe 16 gauge, so we installed a relay to provide sufficient current.  When I make wires with crimp-on terminals, I use the uninsulated terminals, crimp them onto the wire, solder the crimped connection and then put heat-shrink tubing over the crimped/soldered connection, so I know these connections are as good as can be.  New Autolite Platinum spark were gapped to 0.050 (DUI recommends 0.055) and installed.  The wires weren't very easy to install; we had to bend the dipstick and it's mounting bracket slightly, and it would have been easier if a few of the wires were a little longer.  However, after switching them around, we figured out which was the best wire for each cylinder.  When we tried starting the engine, it (of course) sounded like the timing was off, and I tried turning the distributor to get it closer, to no avail.  A timing light confirmed there is a spark.  After a few attempts, it would no longer start.  We rechecked everything again.  The battery voltage is reading 12.86 volts, the distributor is definitely in the correct position, each plug wire is going to the correct cylinder and are all definitely connected...

Right now I'm stumped.  This is not the first distributor I've replaced; this is definitely not rocket science.  Sometimes one needs to step away and maybe sleep on it, so we quit for the day.  I'm betting it's something stunningly simple, so we'll give it a fresh look tomorrow.
"I shall pass through this world but once.  Any good I can do, or any kindness that I can show any human being, let me do it now and not defer it, for I shall not pass this way again."
- Stephen Grellet

 

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