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TR8 ignition options

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TR8 ignition options
#1
  This topic is about my 1980 Triumph TR8
Cheapsnake Avatar
Cheapsnake Tom Soik
Sturgeon Bay, WI, USA   USA
My TR8 has the original distributor with the typical Pertronix conversion. It's performed adequately in the past, but lately I've been having issues with hard hot starts and break-up at higher RPM's. I've even had a couple random engine shutdowns at cruise speeds. It immediately starts again, but that does nothing to restore my confidence in the car's reliability. I initially attributed these issues to the fuel system (Edelbrock 500, 35 gal/hour fuel pump) or vapor lock on hot days, but after changing out the fuel pump and resetting the float levels the issues remain.

So now, after 37 years I'm thinking it's time for an upgrade to the ignition system and would like to hear some opinions and successes and fails on various alternatives. I've already gone the route of the MSD boxes on other cars and have a shop wall lined with dead boxes (they're too pretty to throw away). I still run two boxes on a Cobra replica, one primary and one as a spare, but for most street cars these things are more for show than function.

Here's one option I'd like to mention. In recent years I installed a Rover 3.5L in a Porsche 914. The engine had to be located so far forward in the engine compartment that the distributor would have intruded through the firewall into the cabin. My solution was to get rid of the dizzy and go with a crank trigger and coil packs from, I believe it was a Ford F150, all controlled by a microprocessor. It was highly programmable by laptop for a number parameters, making it very versatile and it looked really cool. To boot, it was relatively inexpensive. It was also quite straightforward to install, except for the crank trigger which required removing the harmonic balancer and installing a sensor. Not a big deal with the engine out of the car, but not sure about laying on my back and trying to do it upside down.

This is still an option for me, but I'm open to any others and would love to hear them.

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Bergie Bob Berg
Powell, Ohio, USA   USA
I currently run a Mallory unilite mechanical distributor (3764301) with promaster coil (29440) and HyFire VI digital CD ignition box (685) with no issues for 12 years and still going strong.... I did swap out my old Mallory distributor (same 3764301) last year which was installed in 1987 with newer one which had evolved over the years to allow easy spring changes without pulling it out......all are now not available today except replacement parts (dist cap) because MSD purchased Mallory a couple years ago forcing you to MSD products and brands-some items they kept like fuel pumps & regulators because of brand recognition in this area.....
...if I had to replace everything today I would use MSD pro billet 8548 distributor, msd blaster 2 coil and MSD digital 6 plus CD ignition box (6520)...not cheap and you could swap out ign box for standard msd 6al box which is cheaper...they did have quality issues over the years as they moved offshore for source and assembly...
other choices are available for distributor ...pertronix, proform, DUI (davis unified) all with or without vacuum advance...search speed shops under 1963 buick 215 v8...you will need to add the distributor drive dog on any of these...

TR8todd Avatar
TR8todd Todd Kishbach
Mass, USA   USA
1977 Triumph TR7 "Rally Fraud"
1978 Triumph TR8
1979 Triumph TR7
1980 Triumph TR8    & more
I literally have two 12qt oil case boxes full of Mallory crap. Some of its probably still good, but most of its junk. All of these things have been removed from cars I bought with it on and then something broke, or off of other peoples cars that were frustrated with it. This stuff is expensive to buy, and you have to throw a lot of money at it when something breaks and leaves you stranded. Not a fan of Mallory ignition products. My easy button has always been the complete Pertronix dizzy for under $200 from Summit. Have not broken one yet, but even if one does fail, a new complete unit is $200. Last time I bought just a Mallory module, it was over $100. I like your 914 solution the best. The whole cam driving the dizzy and oil pump has always been a weak link in the Rover V8.

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Cheapsnake Avatar
Cheapsnake Tom Soik
Sturgeon Bay, WI, USA   USA
I may actually end up with another Pertronics unit, but wondering if there are any cars running around with OEM (except Lucas) systems, such as Ford's Duraspark. Not too sexy, but rock solid reliable and cheap. That's what I liked about the Megajolt setup, the actual working components were all off-the-shelf OEM stuff.

MSD/Mallory/Crane may have improved their reliability in recent years, but I'm still feeling the burn of past crap.

Darth V8R Avatar
Darth V8R Vance Navarrette
Beaverton, Oregon, USA   USA
1980 Triumph TR8 "Wedgie"
In reply to # 1490399 by Cheapsnake I may actually end up with another Pertronics unit, but wondering if there are any cars running around with OEM (except Lucas) systems, such as Ford's Duraspark. Not too sexy, but rock solid reliable and cheap. That's what I liked about the Megajolt setup, the actual working components were all off-the-shelf OEM stuff.

MSD/Mallory/Crane may have improved their reliability in recent years, but I'm still feeling the burn of past crap.

I don't know if this will help or not.

My car came with the Mallory Unilite, and it worked a treat. Kept me going until I sorted out a few things. I especially liked the adjustable vacuum advance feature, and they offered a weight kit that would allow you to tailor the mechanical advance to your motor. My PO had installed it with the optional noise filter on the +12v supply, and just let it dangle in the engine compartment. I tossed it and cleaned up the wiring, and it still worked just fine.

At one point I tried adding a Pertronix to a stock Lucas distributor, but the Lucas distributor body had some sort of weird problem with timing - It would start just fine if the ignition was way retarded, but if I rotated the dizzy to the correct timing, the engine would stall. I concluded there was some sort of grounding issue through the dizzy body such that the ground was good when the timing was retarded, and it would go intermittent or open when the dizzy was near the correct timing. Bizarre.

Then I went with the Pertronix exact replacement distributor from BPNW. Caught it on sale for half price. Not exactly smooth sailing, however. It had been misassembled at the factory, and the advance weights were jammed. After the initial drive with lots of engine knock, I disassembled it and saw what had happened. Correctly assembled it and it has been rock solid for the last 18 months. I don't know if overall that is an endorsement or not.

The Pertronix distributor vacuum module, despite having the retard nipple does not retard the ignition at idle. I was worried that might make me fail emissions testing, but it seemingly had no effect. The big thing for me is that it looks stock.

Vance



1980 Platinum Metallic TR8, navy blue interior
Bare metal respray, Crower cam, raised compression
ported heads, modified Zenith carbs, 0.060" overbore

Cheapsnake Avatar
Cheapsnake Tom Soik
Sturgeon Bay, WI, USA   USA
OK, good stuff. How about coils? I have a feeling that my high RPM break-up is coming from the coil.

Darth V8R Avatar
Darth V8R Vance Navarrette
Beaverton, Oregon, USA   USA
1980 Triumph TR8 "Wedgie"
In reply to # 1490564 by Cheapsnake OK, good stuff. How about coils? I have a feeling that my high RPM break-up is coming from the coil.

That is a symptom of a bad coil. The most common Failure mode is the break up at high RPMS.

Easy enough to swap in another coil and find out.

Vance



1980 Platinum Metallic TR8, navy blue interior
Bare metal respray, Crower cam, raised compression
ported heads, modified Zenith carbs, 0.060" overbore

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AHBN1 Avatar
AHBN1 Dave K
Oakville, Ontario, Canada   CAN
Hi Tom,
I changed my carbed TR8 dizzy to a Pertronix unit a few years ago and initially had the same problems that you describe. Not sure if your Pertronix kit came with the rotor but I found the resolve was to replace the rotor as the supplied unit was crap and unreliable. Haven't had any issues since. This may not be your problem but its cheap to check and see if it is.
Good Luck,
Dave

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