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Wayne 962's Avatar
Pelican Parts Distributor Problems...

Hi folks. Most of you know I just recently bought a '72 911 RS clone with a 3.0L in it. This thing was built in a hurry (for the German AutoFest), and still has a few issues that I'm trying to work out. One of them is the distributor.

The first thing I did was ditch the points and install a Pertronix Ignitor. This is a very good upgrade, and I really feel I should have featured this in either one of my books, but I overlooked it.

Next, I tried to set the timing, and I checked the advance. Seems that the distributor wasn't advancing enough, which leaves power on the table. If the distributor isn't advancing, then that means the weights inside are not expanding fully, right? Wrong.

What appears to be happening is that the springs have become weak and the distributor has started advancing *too early*. So, at idle, the distributor is already advanced 10-15 degrees. When it gets up to 6000, it's supposed to have a full advance of 31-38 degrees (2.7 distributor). I'm finding it's only advancing about 15-20 degrees total.

So, the springs appear to have been weakened. I'm trying to source some new ones (not an easy find, as these were never sold separately - when I find them, I will either stock them or let everyone here know where to get them). Then I'll install them in the distributor, and check the advance.

The bottomline? Your distributor is very important to gaining power out of your car - if it's not advancing properly, you may be leaving 10-20% of power "on the table." Most people look at the distributor and assume it's working, without checking. One way to check to see if it's advancing when it shouldn't is to check the timing with a timing light by cranking the engine *only*. Set the timing to TDC while cranking (disconnect fuel pump or CD box, etc). Then start the engine up and check the timing at idle. If it's the same, then you're distributor is not advancing prematurely. If it reads advanced, then you need new springs.

This applies only to 1965-83 911s, as the 1984 and later cars didn't use a mechanical advance mechanism...

-Wayne
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Wayne R. Dempsey, Founder, Pelican Parts Inc., and Author of:
101 Projects for Your BMW 3-Series 101 Projects for Your Porsche 911 How to Rebuild & Modify Porsche 911 Engines 101 Projects for Your Porsche Boxster & Cayman 101 Projects for Your Porsche 996 / 997
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Old 12-16-2004, 11:58 PM
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Wayne, What motor and dist? The SC dizzys did not have much advance and usually require a recurve. I am using a 78 dist. with carbs and it does not seem to be quite enough. The total advance is about 19 +/- 2 deg if i remember correctly. i have mine set at 12 BTDC at idle which gives me about 30 BTDC at 6K. not ideal.

I don't see how you can have a 2.7 dist in the car. It would spin backwards in the 3.0 even if the gear was changed.

You can mill a bit from the plate using a dremmel to increase the total mechanical advance.
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Old 12-17-2004, 08:42 AM
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Usually you want less mechanical advance than more...

The idea is you put cams or carbs on the thing and the engine wants more timing at lower engine speeds. Rather than the 5 or 10BTDC degrees it normally has, you add 5 to 10 initial while keeping the same total. It should really help wake up engines like I've described.
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Old 12-17-2004, 09:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by jpnovak
I don't see how you can have a 2.7 dist in the car. It would spin backwards in the 3.0 even if the gear was changed.
No, if you replace the crank gear and use a 2.7 distributor, then it will spin clockwise. The distributor rotation is determined by the interaction of the two gears (crank and destributor shaft). On the SC, those two gears spin the distributor counter-clockwise. On the 2.7, those two gears spin it clockwise. Basically, as long as the crank gear matches the distributor, then it will spin in the direction that the distributor originally spun...

-Wayne
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Wayne R. Dempsey, Founder, Pelican Parts Inc., and Author of:
101 Projects for Your BMW 3-Series 101 Projects for Your Porsche 911 How to Rebuild & Modify Porsche 911 Engines 101 Projects for Your Porsche Boxster & Cayman 101 Projects for Your Porsche 996 / 997
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Old 12-17-2004, 10:47 AM
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I did not realize you changed the crank gear. I was thinking about changing the pinion on the dist itself. There was a dist. rebuild kit on ebay last week. Springs were included.

When I tore into my SC dist I found that one of the springs had no tension until the weight was almost half out on its travel. this would induce a few degrees of advance at idle. I bent the tab back to increase the tension slightly. It really helped.
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Old 12-17-2004, 11:08 AM
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Send your dizzy to pelican, I think they can have it fixed for you

My limited knowledge of mechanical advance is as follows:
The springs and mass of the weights work together to determine how early and how quicky the advance happens, the slots in the weights determine total advance.
Assuming the dizzy is mechanicaqlly sound as far as play/wobble, stronger springs will solve the problem as you described.

Sounds like we need to find a dizzy shoup that can spin and measure and map everything. I had a contact years ago but he specialized in "merican iron, I have no idea if he can do German stuff. I think I'll try and find his phone number if no one else has a place.
I've been thinking of sending mine out to have it checked, the other day I was setting the timing and it was wavering about 3 degrees.
Old 12-17-2004, 11:41 AM
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Wayne, you could send it down to me and I could put it on my machine and map it. I can set total and perhaps secondary spring engagement.

Your primary spring is the weakest link. When they are small they tend to weaken at a more advanced rate.

Or you can stop by on a weekend if you are so inclined.
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Old 12-17-2004, 02:35 PM
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Interesting!

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=7939679750&category=33690

I don't see the springs though. I have never seen anything like this...

I know of several places that can recurve this, however, I want to find a source for the springs so that I can offer them to you guys!

-Wayne
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Wayne R. Dempsey, Founder, Pelican Parts Inc., and Author of:
101 Projects for Your BMW 3-Series 101 Projects for Your Porsche 911 How to Rebuild & Modify Porsche 911 Engines 101 Projects for Your Porsche Boxster & Cayman 101 Projects for Your Porsche 996 / 997
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Old 12-17-2004, 02:43 PM
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The E-bay auction link that Wayne listed above was won by me!!! I too suspect that that my distributor requires some maintenance and this looked like a 'cheaper' possibility because the true rebuilds are quite expensive. Springs are not part of the package I purchased.
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Old 12-17-2004, 05:06 PM
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if that rebuild kit has a Porsche number on it please post it so I can check in to ordering one.

thanks
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Old 12-17-2004, 06:28 PM
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One more reason why I am going to a distributorless ignition system on my 930.
Old 12-17-2004, 06:32 PM
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Isn't that PartWerks new ID though? Didja get the part?
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Old 12-18-2004, 09:25 AM
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"I want to find a source for the springs so that I can offer them to you guys!"

Wayne,
Try Century Spring in downtown L.A. (also huge website, www.centuryspring.com). They have a huge inventory of springs, but you may have to have them custom made if they don't have one that fits off-the-shelf.

BTW, the early S distributor curve provides the majority of advance at relatively low rpm (10 static and ~20 distributor) for a total of around 30 crankshaft.

It'd be nice to have a distributor machine so one could verify and tweak the curve.

Sherwood
Old 12-18-2004, 02:52 PM
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Wayne,
The 84' 3.2 distributor does have advance weights on it too, this doesn't have the trigger wheel and mag sensor on it however,that's a function of the motronics., I think that the springs on the 3.2 distributor are the same used on the 3ltr.,I'll check my notes for a spring source, 'cause I bought some years back.,cheers,Antonio.
Old 12-18-2004, 04:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by 911pcars
Wayne,
Try Century Spring in downtown L.A. (also huge website, www.centuryspring.com). They have a huge inventory of springs, but you may have to have them custom made if they don't have one that fits off-the-shelf.
I'm sure I could find springs to fit, but then how would you know which ones worked for the proper curve?

-Wayne
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Wayne R. Dempsey, Founder, Pelican Parts Inc., and Author of:
101 Projects for Your BMW 3-Series 101 Projects for Your Porsche 911 How to Rebuild & Modify Porsche 911 Engines 101 Projects for Your Porsche Boxster & Cayman 101 Projects for Your Porsche 996 / 997
Coming Soon:
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Old 12-18-2004, 07:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by ANTONIO
Wayne,
The 84' 3.2 distributor does have advance weights on it too, this doesn't have the trigger wheel and mag sensor on it however,that's a function of the motronics., I think that the springs on the 3.2 distributor are the same used on the 3ltr.,I'll check my notes for a spring source, 'cause I bought some years back.,cheers,Antonio.
Yes, it does, but this is simply to rotate the distributor so that the rotor and position on cap line up when the timing advances. These weights don't actually control the firing of the cylinders, and as such, they don't need to be precise or calibrated at all.

-Wayne
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Wayne R. Dempsey, Founder, Pelican Parts Inc., and Author of:
101 Projects for Your BMW 3-Series 101 Projects for Your Porsche 911 How to Rebuild & Modify Porsche 911 Engines 101 Projects for Your Porsche Boxster & Cayman 101 Projects for Your Porsche 996 / 997
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Old 12-18-2004, 07:36 PM
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Wayne, have you talked to Ron at MotoParts (800.745.1531)? They dont like to recurve anything, but maybe they know where to get the springs.

I'd never heard anyone stress getting a distributor rebuilt, but this one had been sitting for a while and I figured it would be good insurance.

Last edited by Shuie; 12-18-2004 at 07:46 PM..
Old 12-18-2004, 07:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Shuie
I'd never heard anyone stress getting a distributor rebuilt, but this one had been sitting for a while and I figured it would be good insurance.
In my book, I emphasize checking the total advance - if it's not advancing all of the way, then you're just leaving power on the table. If the advance is broken, then it's time for a new distributor or a rebuild...

-Wayne
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Wayne R. Dempsey, Founder, Pelican Parts Inc., and Author of:
101 Projects for Your BMW 3-Series 101 Projects for Your Porsche 911 How to Rebuild & Modify Porsche 911 Engines 101 Projects for Your Porsche Boxster & Cayman 101 Projects for Your Porsche 996 / 997
Coming Soon:
101 Projects for Your MINI Cooper
Old 12-18-2004, 07:56 PM
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".....but then how would you know which ones worked for the proper curve?"

You would have to obtain a set of springs from a distributor assembly with a known advance curve (given equal centrifugal weights), then have the spring company replicate the physical dimensions and spring rate.

This may not be as accurate as one would like, even with replacement "factory springs". Even an ever-so-slight error factor (manufacturer's tolerances) could result in a less-than-desireable advance curve.

Perhaps a kit with a mix of springs labeled "normal tension" as well as "+1", "+2", "-1", "-2" might work for the owner (or tuner) to mix and match.

or..... tackle this from another direction and somehow add weight to the existing centrifugal weights to change the advance curve. As you know, the shape and weight of the mech. advance weights also determines the advance rate.

In each case, a distributor advance machine would be ideal to verify the modifications. Short of that, a test procedure with an advance-type timing light could be devised to verify and record the resultant advance curve.

Ideally, a preliminary spark test on a chassis dyno will reveal the maximum advance/rpm for your particular engine (all engines are not the same, even factory engines). With that data in hand, one can proceed to change the distributor advance curve per the dyno test.

Sounds like a viable project.

Sherwood
Old 12-18-2004, 09:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by 911pcars

You would have to obtain a set of springs from a distributor assembly with a known advance curve (given equal centrifugal weights), then have the spring company replicate the physical dimensions and spring rate.
I thought of that. But even if I obtained a brand new distributor, I wouldn't be 100% sure that the springs weren't already stressed (if it was NOS, but 30 years old). I suppose I could check the advance and spring rates, but that wouldn't necessarily be a guarantee...

-Wayne
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Wayne R. Dempsey, Founder, Pelican Parts Inc., and Author of:
101 Projects for Your BMW 3-Series 101 Projects for Your Porsche 911 How to Rebuild & Modify Porsche 911 Engines 101 Projects for Your Porsche Boxster & Cayman 101 Projects for Your Porsche 996 / 997
Coming Soon:
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Old 12-18-2004, 09:48 PM
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