The Next Update Upon Was To Update The Ignition Coil System

  •   Many people don’t realize how much our old cars ride and run like, well, old cars. Carbs can be temperamental, especially with today’s gas, drum brakes will fade and pull, old Pencil Ignition Coils are weak and wear out, plus there’s a chance of a few rattles or wind noise here and there.

      To many enthusiasts, these characteristics are part of the charm of cruising an old car. However, when you’re on a road trip, or really plan to rack up the miles on your classic car, many of these old-car nuances should be replaced with modern technology.

      The next update upon was to update the ignition system and rather than go the usual route with a new distributor, coil and ignition box, he upped the ante with MSD’s new Direct Ignition System with a coil per-cylinder, just like every modern muscle car available. The timing curve is controlled electronically based off parameters you set, or by manifold pressure, plus there are also advanced features including a 2-Step rev limiter, a step or launch retard, data acquisition capabilities and more.

      The DIS Kit is based around a compact controller (smaller than your average CDI box), eight LS3 style coils and a distributor housing that provides a cam sync signal and crank signal to fire each cylinder. Harnesses for a complete installation are supplied along with a set of Super Conductor Spark Plug Wires since you’ll be installing eight new coils.

      The installation was very straightforward as most of our time was spent routing the main harness after mounting the ignition box under the dash. The distributor housing has a very low profile and really cleaned up the look of the engine without having plug wires snaking around.

      Once the components were all in place. From here, you get to do as much programming as you feel comfortable doing. There are loads of other settings including timing-per-cylinder, a launch retard feature to aid getting off the line quicker, not to mention being able to record data to review after a race!

      For this cruiser, the modern timing curve and rev limiter were welcome updates and it’s nice to not have to mess with a distributor, coil and wires for a change.

      When it comes to Ford distributor gears, there has been updates, changes and utter confusion. MSD applies tags to each distributor that explain the use and break-in of each gear. In this case, an iron gear was being used to mate with the standard flat tappet cam. Liberally coat the gear with the supplied break-in lube before installing the distributor.

      We prepared to make the leap to the coil-per-cylinder system with a set of coil brackets already installed to the small-block Ford’s valve covers. With the coils installed, each connector received a call-out label (A, B, C, D…) which will help set the firing order of the engine in the MSD software.

      With the coils labeled and connected, the harnesses for each bank were connected to the main harness. (The DIS box is mounted under the dash with the harness routed through a grommet.) Note that each bank of coils has a ground wire, which were secured to the block through a bolt on the intake manifold.

      The DIS Kit is supplied with a new set of cut-to-fit 8.5mm Super Conductor spark plug wires. The wires come out of the box quite long, but that’s to cover applications that relocate the coils out of site. A strip/crimp tool is supplied to install the terminals producing a strong crimp to the sleeve.

      With the distributor positioned correctly, it was time to get serious and open the View software.

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