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Electronic ignition

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TheZster Avatar
TheZster Steven Z
SAINT LOUIS, MO, USA   USA
Sorry to bring this one up - and hopefully the thread will die quickly... I've been through the archives and can't find a good answer,..

I've got a 78 spit - (just bought it and am doing basic investigations)..... and was of the impression that electronic ignition came with that model in the U.S. I could be wrong....

Pulled the distributor cap today to find points and condenser.... so obviously I don't have electronic.... No Biggie.... don't know what the PO did to the car - but am figuring it out bit by bit.....

I'll never set points again .... so will naturally want to swap to electronic.... I'm not a big fan of Chinese work..... but original English equipment doesn't seem to be much better....

Recommendations for my pending swap? Please!!

Z.

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N5329K Avatar
N5329K Silver Member Robin White
Pacific Grove, CA, USA   USA
The Crane XR-700 on my '78 has been perfect.
https://www.summitracing.com/parts/crn-700-0231
Robin

Bobs78Spit Avatar
Bobs78Spit Silver Member Bob Berger
St. Louis, MO, USA   USA

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lef2wander Avatar
lef2wander Gold Member James Thomas
Hatfield, MA, USA   USA
Well you should be all set for the North Korean mag pulse attack.

I've had an xr700 on my car for 15yrs. If it ever fails, I could flip a coin for a repeat or a petronix. The difference is the xr700 has a firewall mounted module and petronix all fits inside the distributor.

Points are more labor intensive, needing periodic maintenance,cleaning, adjusting. The electronic ones are install and forget. Mostly (xr700) is optical. Depending on the environment a cleaning of the sensor could be done once a year.

Points can be fixed on the road. Electronics, most failures would require a replacement part not usually found at a flaps on the shelf.

brucejon Avatar
brucejon Bruce Jones
Santa Cruz, CA, USA   USA
1962 Triumph TR3B
1963 Triumph TR3B "Tupperware TR3"
1969 Triumph Spitfire MkIII
1972 Triumph TR6
Many folks run electronic and keep either a set of points or second distributor in the trunk in case of failure.

Roy Avatar
Roy roy o
Marietta, GA, USA   USA
The Crane unit did not fire 90° apart . Crane knew about this & sent me a bunch of wheels to "trim" the shutter wheel openings to get 90° between firings . Took awhile to do . Don't know if the problem was ever fixed . I have Pertronix in cars & carry spare set of points(never needed them) .

Tonyfixit Avatar
Tonyfixit Tony M
Duncan, BC, Canada   CAN
In reply to # 1505580 by lef2wander
Points can be fixed on the road. Electronics, most failures would require a replacement part not usually found at a flaps on the shelf.

Another alternative is to adapt an OE igntion from a later model car. The type or system we have been using in our daily drivers for the last 40 years, and never really think about!

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lef2wander Avatar
lef2wander Gold Member James Thomas
Hatfield, MA, USA   USA
In reply to # 1505623 by Tonyfixit
In reply to # 1505580 by lef2wander
Points can be fixed on the road. Electronics, most failures would require a replacement part not usually found at a flaps on the shelf.

Another alternative is to adapt an OE igntion from a later model car. The type or system we have been using in our daily drivers for the last 40 years, and never really think about!

I'm very confident in my crane, I don't think about it at all.

Born Loser Avatar
Born Loser Silver Member Matthew Taylor
Land O Lake, FL, USA   USA
I run Pertronix in both my Triumphs. One has the module that drops into the existing dizzy, the other has the entire dizzy (Flamethrower). Would recommend both. There are a couple different versions, the cheaper one can cook, if the key is left on (power to the module), but the motor is not running. I would opt for the more expensive version, as thats not a factor.

Heard good things about the Crane - I never cared for having a seperate box. But if you're sure your car is really a '78 (and not a 77 sold as a '78 - although some '77s have electronic ignition as well), you have a module, or a place for one already - with wiring nearby. The Crane could go there.

As for the Pertronix module - you can carry the plate the holds the condenser and points as a backup. A screw driver would be the only thing required to make the swap back on the side of the road (been carrying that spare for 16 years, and never used it).



Matthew
1960 Triumph TR3a
1970 Triumph Spitfire MK 3
2012 Mini Cooper SS Convertible
2018 Jaguar F-Pace

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clshore Carter Shore
Beverly Hills, FL, USA   USA
It's important to distinguish between 'electronic ignition' and points triggered ignition, as they are not the same thing.
I have run a Delta Mark 10 Capacitive Discharge Ignition on my Triumphs for about 40 years now.
The Delta unit is quite strong, it will fire spark plug with a 1/8" gap immersed in oil, and is good up to about 15,000 RPM on a 4 cylinder motor.
It employs a standard set of points to trigger the ignition, but since they flow only about 1/100 th of the current
I have never had to change or adjust the points.
Eventually, the plastic rubbing block will wear, and points adjustment or replacement will be required.
Alas, these units are no longer available new, but do pop up on eBay from time to time.

You could also go fully electronic and programmable, and do away with the distributor entirely.
Megajolt uses standard Ford EDIS components, running two coil packs in a wasted spark configuration.
Several owners have done this modification to their Spitfire.

https://wiki.autosportlabs.com/MegaJolt_Lite_Jr.
file:///C:/Users/clsho/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Windows/INetCache/IE/BMNYDYYM/megajolt_article.pdf

It does require a timing wheel and sensor for the front engine pulley though.

Many folks have had good results with the 123 Ignition system, but it's a bit pricey:

http://123ignitionusa.com/

Kai @ Wishbone Classics for example only sells motors he builds equipped with 123 ignition.

Tonyfixit Avatar
Tonyfixit Tony M
Duncan, BC, Canada   CAN
The greatest advantage of electronic ignition is timing accuracy. Even when new, our Lucas points distributors would typically have 4 or 5 degrees ignition scatter. As wear occured in the dizzy shaft and contact plate this would only get worse.

The best solution of course is a crank triggerd ignition (Megajolt), but that is a whole different ball game for most of us.

I'm glad to hear that some members have had good luck with their optical systems (Allison/Crane) but aside from the odd rare execption, no auto manufacturer has used an optical trigger as OE.

clshore Carter Shore
Beverly Hills, FL, USA   USA
In reply to # 1505706 by Tonyfixit The greatest advantage of electronic ignition is timing accuracy. Even when new, our Lucas points distributors would typically have 4 or 5 degrees ignition scatter. As wear occured in the dizzy shaft and contact plate this would only get worse.

The best solution of course is a crank triggerd ignition (Megajolt), but that is a whole different ball game for most of us.

I'm glad to hear that some members have had good luck with their optical systems (Allison/Crane) but aside from the odd rare execption, no auto manufacturer has used an optical trigger as OE.

Here are some sources of timing variation (cylinder to cylinder) and jitter (each cylinder cycle to cycle) in the stock mechanical ignition system:

crankshaft to timing chain - sprocket tooth variation, chain slop
timing chain to cam - chain slop, sprocket tooth variation
cam to drive gear - gear backlash
drive gear to dizzy drive dog - drive dog backlash
dizzy drive dog to centrifugal advance - advance mechanism backlash
centrifugal advance to points cam - cam lobe variations: shape, lift, profile, indexing
points cam to points block - cam lobe variations, points bounce

Doug in Vegas Avatar
Doug in Vegas Douglas D
Las Vegas, NV, USA   USA
Currently running a dealer added Lucas AB-14 on my 78.


Attachments:
Lucas Electronic Ignition and 6v Coil (mine).jpg    23.8 KB
Lucas Electronic Ignition and 6v Coil (mine).jpg

clshore Carter Shore
Beverly Hills, FL, USA   USA
In reply to # 1505729 by Doug in Vegas Currently running a dealer added Lucas AB-14 on my 78.

And here is what's on the inside of that AB-14 unit ...

https://www.jaguarforums.com/forum/attachments/xjs-x27-32/4661d1281987955-lucas-ab14-ignition-amp-jagbox.jpg

Surprise!
It's a standard GM HEI ignition module, a rectifier diode, and a capacitor.

TheZster Avatar
TheZster Steven Z
SAINT LOUIS, MO, USA   USA
Thanks to all for the input.... My spit has 66,000 miles on it, according to the odometer.... and has run with points during that lifetime.... I don't like points.... having done regular 6 month adjustments/replacements while growing up as electronic had not been invented back then.....

With the advent of electronic - the world changed!!! No muss, no fuss, no maintenance.... I've changed all my vehicles, including boats, both recreational and racing - and never looked back....

The recurrent portion of this thread that disturbs me is "carry a spare for when the electronic fails"..... Do you carry a spare for your regular vehicle? I doubt it.... Otherwise we would all have distributors and/or parts in the trunk/storage area of every vehicle we own, boats, etc.... If aftermarket units for spitfires are that unreliable - someone should be able to point me in the direction of what would be considered a reliable product.... In fact - I've gotten several recommendations (see comments throughout this thread) for products that have lasted years and years....... which is what we should expect
of any quality product we buy, even for a 40 year old vehicle.....

I bought my current spit for my young daughter.... and am confident we can rebuild the moving parts to the point of "bulletproof".... A great part of my philosophy on achieving that is: for example: car is 40 years old - with points..... don't just replace with the electronic portions - but replace the entire distributor as well - (a very modest increase in price - and worth it to avoid the 40 years of wear on shafts/gearing/etc. on the original).....

Thanks again for everyone's input.... I think I'm going to go with the Pertronix system - distributor/coil - and all.....

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