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· TC COBRA
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521 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello all!
I’ve been researching distributors and am confused by the selection and options out there and could use some advise. I have the FRPP 306 / 345 HP with an MSD 6AL ignition box, Holley 600 with mech seconds and obviously manual trans.


I believe I need an HEI versus a TFI For a non-EFI motor?

Is there any concern with having a built in coil in the HEI distributor – if the coil goes out do I need to replace the whole distributor?

Can someone give me the “cliff notes” on vacuum advance? Is this just for idle and fuel mileage, do I need this? Can the vacuum port just be capped without any issues?

The prices vary widely from $80 Mallory HEI to $500 plus for an MSD E-Curve pro-billet? I was hoping to stay under $200, can I get quality & reliability at this price? I was looking at this Mallory HEI piece??

http://www.summitracing.com/parts/MAA-8555101C

Just looking for quality and reliability for mild street use that wont grenade in my new crate motor and wont cost $400 bucks!

Thanks All!
-Tom
 

· Official OLD GUY
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3,877 Posts
Cam selection

What cam are you running, it makes a difference.

Steel hydraulic roller cams require a steel distributor gear (Factory FORD).

Standard nodular iron flat tappet or roller cams use an iron or poly type gear for the distributor.

Mismatching gear material can be catastrophic.

Make sure whatever dizzy you decide on, it has the proper gear for the cam you are running.

HTH

Doc :beerchug:
 

· Not a waxer
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12,098 Posts
Might be pricier than you want but I used an E-Curve on a Ford Racing X302 in a Mk4 that I built and have no complaints. Takes a minute to wrap your head around how to do the setup---you basically set it for full advance and then work backwards because the electronics will retard timing from that point depending on which of the multiple curves is selected. It includes an electronically variable vacuum advance as well which I'd recommend you use.

Jeff
 

· TC COBRA
Joined
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521 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
MSD 8503 - looks like a nice piece but, man, the best price I found was $390 from Summit! :eek: - I think maybe like overkill for what my needs are.
 

· Premium Member
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18,256 Posts
HEI stands for High Energy Ignition. It's GM's term for their distributer with the coil in th cap. Over the last few years, a couple of companies (like Davis Unified Ignition) have developed similar parts for non-GM vehicles.

Lots of people like these, because they're very simple to install. I'm not sure how they would intigrate into an MSD box. But I would say that most street cars don't need an MSD box. It's adds complexity, expense, weight, and failure points without adding any benifits.

TFI stands for Thick Film Integrated. It's Ford's term for their distributor with a control box of sorts added on. You do not need or want this. Reliability can be suspect.

A good distributor will set the timing where you want every time. It will be accurate and durable. And be inexpensive. Given those thoughts, you will have a tough time beating a stock replacement Ford distributor. They're accurate to about 6,000 rpm's or so, Inexpensive, and last just about forever. As you said, make sure the gear matches the cam.

Other than that, I generally use a Mallory Unilite. More expensive that a stock replacement, but more reliable at higher rpm's, and have a more adjustable timing curve.
 

· Moderator
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7,201 Posts
I have one of these.....Ford DUI - Street/Strip Version with one of the rev limiters, their plugs wires and separators. Before you buy, they send you a couple page sheet to fill out with projected use, type of cam, tow/not tow etc. Mine has 6000+ miles on it and I love it. Just make sure that #1 is at TDC and drop the distributor it. Which ever terminal the rotor is pointing at, that's #1. Then just plug in the other wires in the proper order. No bumping the engine to get the rotor pointing to a particular terminal. A single 12-v power wire, one for the tach and you're good to go. Parts go bad? Available at any parts store (hey, it's a GM-HEI dist. Parts are everywhere.) The only downside is that it limits your selection of air cleaners. No oval will fit but I've got a 14-inch round. You can see my set-up here: http://www.facebook.com/PerformanceDistributors?ref=ts&fref=ts

Ray
 

· section 8
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5,135 Posts
use an msd box and the dist from an 85 mustang GT or any v8 302 with electronic ign. Nothing fancy just good old factory ford stuff except the msd box. It's a 2 wire hook up and msd sells the adapter harness for cheap. MSD dizzy failed after dyno time + 1k miles. It wont matter what gear it comes with , change it to the one you need . .Hope this helps bob
 

· Junior Charter Member
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1,146 Posts
Frankly, the factories never saw a need for a capacitive discharge ignition in a street trim engine. That's why you can't find a factory version, and why adding one won't do much.

I've been looking for dyno tests showing any sort of extra power from them, and for all the hype and free stuff magazines get from makers, not so much. And, I've been looking for over 30 years.

Here's a pertinent link: Anyone ever dyno test an ignition box...msd or equal - 460 Ford Forum

And from the other side of the street: MSD Ignition box advice and review - Third Generation F-Body Message Boards

Note carefully, adding more than stock ignition to the car would only fix the problems already existing - not add horsepower. And a CD ignition can, has, and does cause problems with overloading the rest of the system. Search posts on here and you get the same drift. If the box is reliable enough to last a few years, the other parts fail and need upgrading to handle it. None of it creates horsepower that wasn't already there.

OH, BTW - Check the installed height of the distributor and shim accordingly to get the correct gear engagement. And taking the time to get the optimum gap and heat range is just as important regardless.
 

· Charter Member
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1,774 Posts
I run a Ford distributor, a Ford EEC-IV, 50K coil, SCT chip in the computer. I'm making a little over 400 to the rear wheels.
I bought a new Ford distributor from a Ebay store for $90 delivered a couple of months ago. I had to change the gear.
Nothing wrong with the Ford distributor!

Dwight
 

· 2010 FFCars Graduate
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3,027 Posts
I'm running a stock Ford distributor for an 85 GT Mustang 302. Coupled to an MSD 6AL. No problems in 24K miles other than a cap and rotor change due to wear. No regrets.
 

· TC COBRA
Joined
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521 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Great feedback form everyone, just what I was hoping to hear. One last question, does it make any diference whether I go with vacuum or mechanical advance? I understand after reading today that the vacuum is triggered by load and curious if mechanical is a better choice with a 2200 pound car. Or does it make a diference?

Thanks as always to the group!
Tom
 

· Registered
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919 Posts
Mechanical & Vacuum advance

Like was said previously a 85 Mustang GT distributor, With the MSD box and coil. I re-curved the mechanical advance and added a Mallory (I think) adjustable vacuum can. Using manifold vacuum & mechanical advance.

Jack
 
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