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MSD Success

First a little history that might help another newbie troubleshoot...

Since winter hibernation, I've been chasing issues with my 87 930. It wouldn't idle when cold, the throttle response below 2k was seriously pathetic, and there was an inconsistent hesitation at various RPMs on WOT.

Vacuum leaks-check. AAR-check. Fuel pressures-check. Injectors-check. Then a round of "what if I buy this..." LM-1..AFRs-check. Plugs/wire/cap/rotor...no improvement. Clean and grease every fuse and connector I can find...no improvement.

Trolling the forums, it dawned on me to check the timing. Dumb to have overlooked it, but it's been a long time since I owned a car that has a dizzy. The idle timing was actually retarded 5* and didn't change with the lines on or off. Hmmm.

I pulled the dizzy and discovered the vacuum retard side of the pot was leaking (didn't discover that with my ether tests) and the whole mechanism was "creaky" and tight. Rather than replace it, I decided to delete the whole pot, lock the dizzy and get a 6AL-2 programmable MSD unit to handle the timing.

I installed the 6AL-2 with a 3 bar MAP and Blaster 3 high vibration coil. I switched to NGK R5671A-8 plugs gapped to .040 and a Napa EP407 rotor. I set the timing at 26* and then set the MSD to retard off 16* at idle and gradually let it back in by 2k. The boost retard is set to back off 12* by .5 bar.

Amazingly it started on the first crank and hit a nice high idle. I haven't done a respectable full blast run yet, but the throttle response is night and day from before and it is so much smoother through the midrange. I am sure there are some gains yet with more agressive mapping of the advance, but I want to spend more time with it first. All in all, very happy at the moment.

The unit and MAP both fit nicely where the old CDI was (for sale soon once I'm sure all is good for awhile).



I locked the stator (is that the right name?) by tapping in a screw with a dab of Loctite. I removed the weights, shimed up the mechanism so when the spindle screw under the felt is tightened, it actually locks the spindle from turning. I chose to lock the dizzy in full advance as a safeguard, if something comes loose it will go to retard instead of advancing.



Hope someone finds this helpful, it was a fun project.

Steve
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Old 05-24-2011, 09:21 PM
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Good writeup. Amazing what timing (customized timing, especially) will do for these cars. I took the cheap route awhile back by just adding the MSD BTM module and leaving the dizzy mechanisms as-is....running 12 degrees advance at idle with the hoses connected (pretty close to where you're set with the dizzy retard locked). Someday I'll graduate to the fully 2programmable 6AL-2 I suppose, but for now am perfectly happy.
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Old 05-25-2011, 04:44 AM
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Great writeup!

Q: How hard is it to remove the dizzy and work on it on bench? Thanks...
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Old 05-25-2011, 05:46 AM
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Super easy. Remove the 13mm advance adjustment nut and put some pressure on the backside of the bracket. I use a small nail remover that is shaped like an L. It slides under and with just a little rocking motion it pushes up on the bracket. It takes very little pressure and once the dizzy moves about a cm, you can grab it and pull the rest of the way out.

Take a minute to mark where the dizzy is adjusted in the slide, as well as where the rotor is pointing. It's not hard to line it up after the fact if you forget, but it makes it a no brainer if you mark it.
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Old 05-25-2011, 06:52 AM
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Thanks

I'll take that project on within the next 12-mos...

Right now, doing a complete rebuild on the A/C system. Went with Griffiths 3-serpentine condensers [front, rear and behind driver rear tire]; new evaporator; and hurricane fan motor with potentiometer [sp]...

Summer is here!!
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Old 05-25-2011, 02:28 PM
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Is that a regular 6 box with boost capabilty??

Sorry I am a bit old school with MSD stuff. I know they have boost specific boxes with a boost port but yours seams to be the lower cost option???
Old 05-25-2011, 06:25 PM
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The 6AL-2 is fully programmable. You can set the advance retard based on RPM in 100 RPM increments, and based on boost. There are two curves. To use the boost retard, you have to add a MAP sensor, which is the small black box on the left in my first pick.

It also has three rev limiters. You can set one for launch control (trigger it off the clutch and hold the gas to the floor), burnout (spin the tires at a set RPM, need LOTS of power to use this one) and a standard rev limiter.

To program, you simply plug a laptop into the serial port and click on a graph to create your retard curve. Dizzy is locked at the max advance you want (I'm at 26*) and the MSD pulls it back out. This is what it looks like in the software, the boost x-axis is psi and the sensor starts at atmoshperic, so 1 bar boost is roughly 29 psi on the graph. I'm still tinkering with the curves, but this is working pretty well. I'm open to anyone's suggestions


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Old 05-26-2011, 05:50 AM
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So, if i read this right, it's pulling out 14* of advance at 1,000 [effectively running 12* advanced] and slowly inches its way back to 26* by 3,200 rpm? I'm still trying to wrap my head around timing, etc... Thanks!
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Old 05-26-2011, 06:02 AM
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Yes, you got it. The MSD can only retard the spark, so you have to flip your brain upside down and work from where you set the static timing at the dizzy and where you want to end up.
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Old 05-26-2011, 08:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mooney265 View Post
So, if i read this right, it's pulling out 14* of advance at 1,000 [effectively running 12* advanced] and slowly inches its way back to 26* by 3,200 rpm? I'm still trying to wrap my head around timing, etc... Thanks!
Mooney, I wrapped my head silly around this back when I did the BTM addition to my standard 6AL. You need to understand centrifugal (mechanical) advance, vacuum retard (at idle), boost retard, and how they all interrelate. Tons and tons of discussion on this topic. When I think I have it all straight in my head, something else eventually confuses me. Age related, I'm sure.

I don't remember exactly, but I think I'm running with about 36 degrees total advance at 4000 rpm, but when on boost the extra timing advance I have dialed in all disappears and the timing returns to something close to stock values at .8 bar.

The BTM, as I said earlier, is the poor mans approach to gaining performance through timing modifications. Fer shur, the fully progammable 6AL2 would give you almost infinite control...it's kinda like analog vs. digital when compairing the two methods.
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Old 05-26-2011, 11:08 AM
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Do you have any phasing problems with the locked advance? By this I mean, Any spark cut based on the finite length of time the rotor contact passes the cap contact in angle degrees?

I have wanted to run a locked distributor on my setup but did not think there would be enough rotor phasing to make it work.
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Old 05-26-2011, 12:40 PM
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jpnovak, this is a "gut" answer, not a scientific one. Assuming you stay within the specs of the distributor, locking it in one place is no different than the mechanical advance doing its thing. If the mechanical advance can shift the timing to 26*, fixing it there is no different. The relation of the rotor to the cap is the same.

I'm sure it's physically possbile to rotate the dizzy too far and run into crossfire within the cap. Mine's bolted down close to the middle of the slide.

You have me wanting to go throw the timing light on the wires next to 1 (5 and 6 if my brain is working) and see if they are firing at the same time as 1. Yeah, i'll do that.
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Last edited by PrimeMvr; 05-26-2011 at 01:29 PM..
Old 05-26-2011, 01:19 PM
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It's very informative PrimeMvr. I was hoping somebody would have done this same project and posted the graph a few months back when I still had the programmable 6AL2. But I went on a diffrent route. I never installed the programming part but just used it as a regular 6AL2. I had almost the same graph when I was playing with the software but was so afraid to install the graph to the unit as I don't know if I was doing it correctly. The only difference was I started retarding 14 deg at 0 rpm.

What would be the effect if you started retarding 14 deg. at 0-1000 rpm? Would it be easier to start the engine since you are starting at 12 deg advance instead of 26 deg adv.?

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Old 05-26-2011, 01:33 PM
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Good point 930_pit, although starting has never been an issue for me. I've spent about four hours on the road playing with the timing and here is my latest chart that is giving quite snappy results off the line and cruising at 1800 rpm. The chart has to start at zero, as the software won't let you move that point.

I'm still at 26* max. If the weather cooperates tomorrow, I'm going to try 30* max and adjust the retard curves so I'm still in the same place prior to 2k and on boost.

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Old 05-28-2011, 12:55 PM
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How do you set the static timing to say 30 degrees ? engine not running,
How do you know where to lock the dizzy down when you have no points to tell you when they open .?

John
Old 06-01-2011, 05:15 PM
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Slow Car: I'm not sure how to get a specific advance with the engine not running. With piston 1 at TDC on the compression stroke, the rotor should be pointing at spark plug 1. This is where to start when you put the dizzy back in. From there you adjust with a timing light.

If you look at how the centrifugal advance and vacuum/boost retard move the parts inside, you can see which direction to rotate everything so that stand alone, the dizzy is fully advanced (rotor hitting the contact sooner and the spider meeting the pins on the magento sooner). It doesn't have to be locked in this position, but I feel it's safer in case something comes loose; it would retard and not advance more risking detonation. I also don't think you could get to 30* if you locked it in full retard.

BTW, haven't had a chance to bump up to 30* yet, but I'm loving where I'm at. Don't have a snap of my current curve on this laptop, but I increased advance between 1400 and 2000 and it gets away from the line better than the curve above.
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Old 06-01-2011, 09:57 PM
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Steve,
does it drive the tach directly?
Old 06-03-2011, 03:39 AM
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Quote:
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Steve,
does it drive the tach directly?
Yes. However, I've read reports of needing an adaptor. I bought the tach adaptor just in case, but didn't need it. My SSI-4 is reading RPM from it spot-on as well.
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Old 06-03-2011, 04:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PrimeMvr View Post
If the weather cooperates tomorrow, I'm going to try 30* max and adjust the retard curves so I'm still in the same place prior to 2k and on boost.
I'm guessing you would be able to move from 26* to 30* with a timing light and loosening the 13mm adjustment nut on dizzy and turning?
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Old 06-03-2011, 05:11 AM
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Any updates on this? I am thinking of tackling this project during the winter.
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Old 09-21-2011, 04:10 PM
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