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Old 11-11-2017, 09:00 PM   #1
beanious
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Post (New Spark Pics) Tired of ignition woes... MSD 6AL2 Install!

Hello all, I'd like to take a minute to document my ignition system woes and the long-term solution for the group.

Is it too much to ask for an ignition system to work for more than 2 years without maintenance? Does 1000 miles sound like a reasonable lifespan for a distributor? Not for me!

My original setup was a MSD ready to run distributor (8360) and a Blaster SS coil (8207). After installation it worked perfectly, however with a few years it corroded to the point that it was basically locked out on both vacuum and mechanical advance. I was running the wrong timing for a while… If you go to Google, look up “MSD distributor rust.” You’ll see a plethora of scurvy rusted dizzy internals.

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The root cause of the issue with my distributor was the high humidity and as a result, rusting of the steel moving parts in the distributor. Where I live, rust is basically unavoidable, so I have to try my best to eliminate it. The iron moving parts of the mechanical advance were terribly corroded and there is no real way to permanently “fix” that.

Sure, I could have removed, cleaned and lubed the distributor again but who want to do that all the time. I'm sure there are those out there that will say, this upgrade isn't necessary, I've got a points distributor and it has run fine for 40+ years. That's not what I'm trying to accomplish here, my nickname is overkill

My solution was to get an MSD box that does all of the timing adjustments (advance and retard) digitally in the box and use the distributor only as an ignition trigger and spark distribution point. I would have preferred to go DIS, but I didn’t want to spend the extra R&D time for mounting of the coil brackets, triggers, sensors, wires, etc. Also, I know this is reliable and is easy to find parts in case of a breakdown. On the new distributor I locked it out and then sprayed the internals with CRC 3-36 rust inhibitor. I let it sit wet overnight upside down on a towel to let it dry. The spray got good reviews on the Amazons and should give another additional layer of protection to the magnet and pickup.

The only real hiccup I had was the electric fuel pump relay. It’s triggered by ignition pulses, which I previously acquired from the neg. terminal on the coil. With the MSD, it is a different signal that gets sent to the coil, so I had to move the trigger wire from the coil to the tach output from the MSD box.

I components I opted for are:
MSD 8530 6AL2 programmable ignition box (lightning in a box)
MSD 8253 Blaster 2 HVC coil (wicked hot)
MSD 85553 distributor (set to locked out)

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I built a flat timing curve to set the initial timing, uploaded to the box and set the timing.

I created the my running timing curve, with vac advance and uploaded it to the box.

Verified the timing with the light, all good to go.

Verified the rotor phasing was good to go with the timing light, made a small adjustment.

Ready to hit the road!

It idles VERY well and has more pull than before, we’ll see how it fares the test of time but with no mechanical advance parts I feel more assured driving down the road.

Last edited by beanious; 11-13-2017 at 09:59 PM.
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Old 11-11-2017, 09:18 PM   #2
geezer#99
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Re: Tired of ignition woes... MSD 6AL2 Install!

A lot of time and money spent when a well placed vent hole in your distributor cap would have cured the internal corrosion that was caused by ionization and not from humidity. But that's JMHO!
But at least you now have a set up you can use to maximize your timing curve.
So what is your initial?
How much electrical timing?
All in by when?
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Old 11-11-2017, 09:33 PM   #3
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Re: Tired of ignition woes... MSD 6AL2 Install!

Got to love hatterade, last year I went to vented holes drilled in the cap as suggested by MSD, even two of them, same result. Like I was saying I didn't want to have to pull, and clean the distributor over and over again. It is just a poor design with iron weights that rust easily, they should use stainless steel or a material that doesn't rust.

Also, if you look at the spark voltages and power between the Ready2Run setup and the 6AL2 it is a 25,000 volt spark increase. Additional benefits include rock solid timing with no mechanical-vac advance and changes to timing on the fly with a laptop. If your goal is stock, you will be disappointed with anything else.

Last edited by beanious; 11-11-2017 at 09:51 PM.
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Old 11-11-2017, 09:57 PM   #4
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Re: Tired of ignition woes... MSD 6AL2 Install!

And what's your timing curve?
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Old 11-12-2017, 08:09 AM   #5
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Post Re: Tired of ignition woes... MSD 6AL2 Install!

I'm currently finding out what she likes best, I just got her back up and running last night. I'll make sure to post the final numbers once I get it dialed in perfect. The topic of what is the best timing for a SBC has been debated for years and there are so many variables, cam, displacement, compression, fuel type and octane, carburetor type and adjustment, altitude, transmission type, gear ratios, etc. In the end, you just have to play with it and see what the specific setup likes.
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Old 11-12-2017, 11:03 AM   #6
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Re: Tired of ignition woes... MSD 6AL2 Install!

rust is not a problem exclusive to MSD's. It takes a long period of neglect for it to be such a problem. there are lots of lubricant/preservatives on the market to prevent these problems.
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Old 11-13-2017, 09:56 PM   #7
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Post Re: Tired of ignition woes... MSD 6AL2 Install!

The verdict is in, the MSD box is awesome. The spark is huge and the motor is smoother with some power gaines and it pulls harder now. The spark can cross the gap at 40,000 volts. I took before and after pictures, I cant believe how much more intense it is! Totally worth it.

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Last edited by beanious; 11-13-2017 at 10:48 PM.
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Old 11-13-2017, 10:05 PM   #8
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Re: Tired of ignition woes... MSD 6AL2 Install!

I had the same problem with MSD, no matter what I tried they rusted. The newer MSD distributors are coated inside to prevent rust and mine hasn't had a problem since I installed the newer coated distributor. I'm running the old 6AL and 85551 distributor.
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Old 11-22-2017, 09:10 AM   #9
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Post Re: Tired of ignition woes... MSD 6AL2 Install!

Below is an interesting article on distributors, corrosion and diagnosis. It sounds pretty close to what I was experiencing. No turning back now, I don't have any advance, mechanical or vacuum under the cap. Which means even if it does rust it won't effect the advance, yay! I did make sure to get the adjustable rotor and phased it when I made the change over.

http://www.onallcylinders.com/2016/0...ou-avoid-them/

Last edited by beanious; 11-22-2017 at 01:31 PM.
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Old 01-29-2018, 05:01 PM   #10
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Re: Tired of ignition woes... MSD 6AL2 Install!

So you've had it installed for a minute, any updates? How are you liking it? What did you end up with for your timing curve?
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Old 01-30-2018, 08:11 AM   #11
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Re: Tired of ignition woes... MSD 6AL2 Install!

I don't know why people mess with aftermarket crap and don't just use the reliable GM HEI. Do you need more than 35,000 volts? I've tried "performance" distributors and nothing worked or lasted as well.
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Old 01-30-2018, 09:55 AM   #12
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Re: Tired of ignition woes... MSD 6AL2 Install!

I’m a huge fan of the GM HEI as well. BUT, on my Jimmy I really wanted to have the better access of a small cap and 20 years ago it got an MSD ready to run. I have never had the cap off so I don’t know what it looks like inside as it has never given me trouble (damnit. Knock wood!)

And for the big block in my Corvette I went with an MSD tach drive small cap because I wanted to keep the (mostly) original look.

But on a 2 wheel drive, HEI all the way! I’ve bought several of the Chinese knock offs and think the are a great value at $59. But for the L36 I screwed together for my 69 short step I went with the MSD Street Fire because it comes with the melonized gear that is compatible with the roller cam I chose.
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Old 01-30-2018, 11:02 AM   #13
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Re: Tired of ignition woes... MSD 6AL2 Install!

I installed one my HEI Jeep CJ seemed to start better. Then one day I put it back to just HEI and it did not start as Good of as quickly. It does help. I used 6 A I believe.
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Old 01-30-2018, 11:35 PM   #14
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Re: Tired of ignition woes... MSD 6AL2 Install!

The corrosion problem you are experiencing is an across the board issue with MSD distributors. Honda guys all b\+@h about the same issue. Low quality material selected in order to make a price point. Factory ones for the most part don't have the issue. Especially the earlier ones.
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