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Observations on new ignition components by FieroDan86
Started on: 05-01-2013 01:48 PM
Replies: 11 (568 views)
Last post by: FieroDan86 on 08-05-2013 11:48 PM
FieroDan86
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Report this Post05-01-2013 01:48 PM Click Here to See the Profile for FieroDan86Send a Private Message to FieroDan86Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Yesterday I swapped in all new igniton components amongst other items in preparation to get my car smogged at the new STAR station.

A little background on the car first: 88GT 5spd, 290,000 miles on original engine and trans. I have owned the car for four years and put almost 60,000 miles on it doing a 170 mile/day round trip commute of which about 80% is highway miles (the I-15 superspeedway). Right after I got the car I pulled the engine and replaced every gasket in the engine except the head gaskets, replaced timing chain and water pump. New Bosch 7mm wires, E3 spark plugs but otherwise stock ignition system. In fact I would say the entire engine is factory stock. I've never had the heads off but compression when I pulled the engine was all cylinders around 150 psi. I did notice maybe a 1mpg difference with the E3 plugs. OK, so the car has been running pretty well up until the last few months: my tach started being erratic and bouncy and below 1500 rpm the engine would buck and hesitate in any gear.

So yesterday I finally swap in the brand new, not remanufactured Cardone select distributor, Taylor Thundervolt 8.2mm wires, NGK UR5 plugs gapped to .045" and MSD Blaster coil. I set the timing at 10* with the engine in diagnostic mode. Upon first drive, the idle is smooth, the bucking and hesitation below 1500rpm is gone, it now pulls smoothly at any RPM in any gear and as an added bonus, my tach is now steady and smooth.

Some things I noticed when I was removing the original components: the stock coil had grayish, powdery residue on both sides of the steel frame between the sealed coil windings and the steel frame, like it was arcing through the insulation. Also, the connectors were a loose fit on to the coil whereas the MSD coil connectors fit very tightly and have excellent retention. Another thing I noticed: my Bosch 7mm wires were trashed; lots of evidence of leakage through the insulation and two of the connectors broke off at the plug when I pulled them. The E3 plugs looked OK for having 50K miles on them. They are not gappable, they are set in manufacturing. I have no complaints about them, they did look like they gained a bit of MPG for me but I wanted to try conventional copper plugs with the hotter MSD coil and excellent wires after reading all of the posts and experience of other members with the NGK plugs and the tests about various ignition setups effect on mileage and power.

The reason I decided to go with the Cardone distributor over replacing the components was this: I wanted to replace the ICM, cap/rotor and pick up coil in my stock distributor. After pricing the individual components versus the NEW Cardone select, there was only a few dollars difference and for that you get all new components, not remanufactured, brass insert cap and rotor, the newer star style induction pickup versus the old "rusty fork" I had and being new, no worn out, sloppy shaft play. The new dizzy came assembled with heat sink compound but just to make sure I pulled the ICM, cleaned all surfaces and installed new electronics grade thermal compound. Here are some pictures of the old versus new dizzys:








I know the new ICM is not a GM original so we'll see how the aftermarket one lasts. i will keep the GM original as a backup if needed. Finally, I don't know how much longer the original pick up coil would have lasted as the plastic connector broke quite easily when I tried to remove it and the sealing tape around the coiled wire was all dried out.

Only thing left now is to change the oil and filter today, drive it around a bit to get it hot and then take it to the STAR smog station for testing, I will post my results after I get them, Wish me luck!
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FieroDan86
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Report this Post05-02-2013 01:34 AM Click Here to See the Profile for FieroDan86Send a Private Message to FieroDan86Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
PASSED!!!
Took it to the STAR certified station today and passed with no problems. The tech even knew how to work the Fiero parking brake! All of my numbers were good and low except for the Hydrocarbons (HC) at 15mph; barely squeeked by with a measured 81ppm, max limit is 83. I think running the Seafoam through everything may have decarbonized enough that I was under the limit.

So in conclusion, the new ignition components seems to have done their job exceedingly well. Time will tell how long the generic ICM will last.
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Joseph Upson
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Report this Post05-02-2013 07:52 AM Click Here to See the Profile for Joseph UpsonClick Here to Email Joseph UpsonSend a Private Message to Joseph UpsonEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
The high performance ignition coils by themselves offer no advantage as the coil only delivers the amount of voltage required to jump the gap no matter how much higher than stock it is rated. You would need to increase the plug gap a little to start drawing on the higher output capability. I also recall that fuel with a higher alcohol content helps reduce emissions although I wouldn't recommend anything home made without doing more research as to the limits of the stock fuel system to handle the corrosiveness of it as some carb cars are said to be going through rebuilds as a result of it.
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ZCR1
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Report this Post05-02-2013 12:09 PM Click Here to See the Profile for ZCR1Send a Private Message to ZCR1Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
True, the coil will only supply required voltage to overcome the path of least resistance (plug gap hopefully). But voltage should only be looked at when going high compression or forced induction where the denser air has higher resistance. When buying a high performance coil for a stock engine, pay attention to the mA rating. This will tell you how hot and thick the spark will be which WILL ignite the fuel faster. A 15K V coil rated at 800mA will have a much hotter spark than a 50K V coil rated at 100mA provided it can jump the gap. Think of someone getting zapped with a 50,000 V taser or 220 V household current; the taser hurts but the 220 can kill. --- Amps=Heat.
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FieroDan86
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Report this Post05-02-2013 05:48 PM Click Here to See the Profile for FieroDan86Send a Private Message to FieroDan86Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
I had thought about opening up the plug gap to maybe .050" to take advantage of the hotter coil but in the end decided to keep the stock .045" gap so I could get through the emissions test. I may try it now since I passed the test yesterday. Also, I have a theory that what burns up so many Fiero ICM's in addition to the bad heat soaked location they are in is using the hot coil's that pull a lot more current than stock through the ICM.
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Joseph Upson
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Report this Post05-02-2013 07:23 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Joseph UpsonClick Here to Email Joseph UpsonSend a Private Message to Joseph UpsonEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by FieroDan86:

I had thought about opening up the plug gap to maybe .050" to take advantage of the hotter coil but in the end decided to keep the stock .045" gap so I could get through the emissions test. I may try it now since I passed the test yesterday. Also, I have a theory that what burns up so many Fiero ICM's in addition to the bad heat soaked location they are in is using the hot coil's that pull a lot more current than stock through the ICM.


Actually a wider gap is more likely to cause that problem since it demands a higher voltage which generates more heat and that's part of the reason the dielectric grease is used to help transfer as much as possible to mount base. What you may want to do is find out what the resistance of the primary (module side) of the new coil is relative to stock as lower resistance in the coil primary translates into higher heat load on the module.

An interesting note is that when ignition systems were produced that generated higher voltage output, the plug gaps trended narrower, .060 in the early 70s to ~.035-.050 now.
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82-T/A [At Work]
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Report this Post05-02-2013 08:28 PM Click Here to See the Profile for 82-T/A [At Work]Send a Private Message to 82-T/A [At Work]Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Joseph Upson:

The high performance ignition coils by themselves offer no advantage as the coil only delivers the amount of voltage required to jump the gap no matter how much higher than stock it is rated. You would need to increase the plug gap a little to start drawing on the higher output capability. I also recall that fuel with a higher alcohol content helps reduce emissions although I wouldn't recommend anything home made without doing more research as to the limits of the stock fuel system to handle the corrosiveness of it as some carb cars are said to be going through rebuilds as a result of it.



I agree somewhat with what you're saying, but I think it's important to mention that the real point of having the improved ignition coil is to properly support combustion at higher rpms. Aside from the fact that the coils (as they age) lose some of their potency, the ability for the coil to provide the spark as it does at those higher rpms gets more and more difficult. The hotter coil improves this. Most people who switch from a stock coil to an aftermarket hotter coil notice an improvement in the smoothness of the motor in the higher rpms, and they see less of a loss in performance in the upper rpms.
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lateFormula
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Report this Post05-02-2013 09:48 PM Click Here to See the Profile for lateFormulaSend a Private Message to lateFormulaEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Joseph Upson:
...and that's part of the reason the dielectric grease is used to help transfer as much as possible to mount base.


Joseph, I believe you know better. The grease used between the ICM and the distributor base is not dielectric grease, it is thermal grease. If you use dielectric grease under an ICM, you ICM will have a very short life.

Here's a tip for any newbies: if you have to replace an ICM on your Fiero, do not use the grease that comes with the ICM. Go to Radio Shack and buy a small tube of "Artic Silver" thermal grease ( http://www.radioshack.com/p...sp?productId=2216879 ) and use that instead. It is a much better product than what will come with any ICM you buy, and cheap insurance to keep your new ICM operating correctly.

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Joseph Upson
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Report this Post05-03-2013 05:48 AM Click Here to See the Profile for Joseph UpsonClick Here to Email Joseph UpsonSend a Private Message to Joseph UpsonEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by lateFormula:
Joseph, I believe you know better. The grease used between the ICM and the distributor base is not dielectric grease, it is thermal grease. If you use dielectric grease under an ICM, you ICM will have a very short life.


I do and that's an error carried from seeing the term used synonymously with the actual heat transfer compound that I used which is thick, white and expensive.

 
quote
Originally posted by 82-T/A [At Work]:
I agree somewhat with what you're saying, but I think it's important to mention that the real point of having the improved ignition coil is to properly support combustion at higher rpms. Aside from the fact that the coils (as they age) lose some of their potency, the ability for the coil to provide the spark as it does at those higher rpms gets more and more difficult. The hotter coil improves this. Most people who switch from a stock coil to an aftermarket hotter coil notice an improvement in the smoothness of the motor in the higher rpms, and they see less of a loss in performance in the upper rpms.



I had this discussion with darth a while back and after reading up on it a bit more as well as personal experience, that performance coil alone is not likely to offer you any benefit over a properly functioning stock coil. The aftermarket is okay with not driving home the fact that in many cases you would need to purchase their entire outfit to gain any significant benefit. Darth told me upgrading to MSD coils over stock probably wouldn't change anything and he was right. I still had spark blowout under boost at the same point with the new MSD coils that I had it with the old stock coils, the only thing that made the purchase worth it is that I got them at the same price as the OE coils. Read up on it some more and I'm sure you'll find the consensus supports that where seat of the pants feel doesn't over influence. This is a physics issue that can't be trumped by good advertising/deception. Remember, no matter what the coil potential is, the system has to demand the output in order for you to get it. If all your sysyem requires is 30k volts to light off the highest load, that's all you're going to get from the coil all else the same.

[This message has been edited by Joseph Upson (edited 05-03-2013).]

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FieroDan86
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Report this Post07-22-2013 10:00 AM Click Here to See the Profile for FieroDan86Send a Private Message to FieroDan86Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Just an update on the new ignition components. Shortly after I passed the smog test in CA I drove the car to my new house in IL; about a 2000 mile drive. I am happy to report ZERO issues with the ignition system (or the whole car for that matter) on the trip and to this day is still running great on the generic Cardone ICM that came with the new distributor. That drive was done in late May with the A/C on nearly the entire trip using I-15,70,76 and 80, going through the Rockies at almost 12,000 feet.
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Report this Post07-22-2013 10:09 AM Click Here to See the Profile for masospaghettiClick Here to Email masospaghettiSend a Private Message to masospaghettiEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
It's encouraging to see the original engine and trans approaching 300,000 miles. Impressive! Congrats on the emissions test.
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FieroDan86
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Report this Post08-05-2013 11:48 PM Click Here to See the Profile for FieroDan86Send a Private Message to FieroDan86Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Another longevity update to report:
The o-ring that came on the new Cardone select distributor gave up the other day; I had a nice oil leak coming from the top of the distributor collar where it meets the block. I ordered one of Rodney's high temp distributor o-ring's and installed today...leak is gone! Another plus to Rodney Dickman.

So in conclusion, if using a new Cardone select distributor, change the o-ring first, as the one that came with it lasted exactly three months and just over 2000 miles. Other than that, all is well.
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