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Electronic ignition

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firebrick43 View Drop Down
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    Posted: 05 Oct 2010 at 10:34am
First, I know that some of you love points and see no reason to change.  I value your position but this thread is not about that argument. 

I do a fair amount of automotive/ag electrical work for people and one thing I have done for several is install petronix ignitions conversions.  Many lack the know how to set points(or are to lazy) but I do notice that they typically to run slightly better.  I have however seen a failure(and read about many more) of petronix products.  Also they tend to be 85$ plus and farmers being frugal bastards are reluctant to part with the cash no matter the advantages, yet complain when their tractor runs like crap(or not at all) because they don't take the time to fool with the points(or did but didn't do it right). 

Anyway I was looking around for alternatives the other day and came across two.  They really seem to be the same thing(I'm guessing)

One is http://www.cadillacpower.com/forum/download/file.php?id=15346&sid=f38b59bca05360f09d59b5d273a3f94e&mode=view


The other is

http://www.kirkengines.com 
Pointsaver is the product listed on the page. 

Both of these products use the points still but remove all the current from them making them last longer(forever? is stored out of the weather). 

Cheaper than the petronix, have to wonder about durability.  Has anyone used these?  Of course they both can be used on equipment that doesn't have drop in solution from other manufactures as well. 

Also I have heard about adapting the head of an HEI distributor to the base of another distributor.  Saying I did this on a delco from an Allis.  What problems would I come upon do to spark advance?  I am talking stock rpm engines. 

Thank You for sharing your thoughts. 
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jaybmiller View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jaybmiller Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Oct 2010 at 10:57am
I've made several of my own 'pointsaver' units in the past for Kohler engines and all are still 'up and running'.
Unless you have a basement full of electronics, you can't beat the $28 the website price.
 
HTH
Jay
 
'57 D-14,'59 D-14,'61 Gleaner A,another '57 D-14,'49 B, another '49 B



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Roddo View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Roddo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Oct 2010 at 11:41am

Ive been thinking of ordering one of these units.  I know your looking for cheap but I really like the idea of them and that no hacking is required to install one.  I can go back to stock in 10 mins if I need/want to.  http://www.geneseeproducts.com/

 
Here is a write up about it from an actual install.
 
Just more to consider I guess.  Its appealing to me since mine has been converted to 12v.  I have a ballast resistor installed but its the elimination of moving/wear parts that I'm interested in.
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firebrick43 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote firebrick43 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Oct 2010 at 12:19pm
"Unless you have a basement full of electronics, you can't beat the $28 the website price."

That is what I was thinking Mr. Miller



Roddo, what Genesee sells is pertronix. Good people.  Interestingly enough the yesterdays tractor article states.

" Also, I would advise everyone reading this to steer clear of "point amplifiers". These are boxes that mount on the outside of the distributor and allegedly preserve the points by reducing the current that flows through them. Essentially, they are electronic ignition units that use the points themselves as the pickup mechanism. They are worthless as far as tractors are concerned."

Now he doesn't say why?  But looking at his tractor, especially his oil filter, and the problems with his wiring(last pic) I would say that he isn't qualified to make such a statement. 


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Brian Jasper co. Ia View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Brian Jasper co. Ia Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Oct 2010 at 12:30pm

You can make your own Point Saver with a Ford TFI module from the late 80's. No basement full of electronics required. Find a TFI on a vehicle that the module was not mounted on the distributor and it will have a nice heat sink.  The advantage to the Pertronix unit is there are no points to ever need to set and over time, as rubbing block does wear (not much) changing the timing. A Hall Effect switch is more accurate trigger than points. The only thing to change timing there is wear in the timing gears and dist drive. I would disagree with saying point triggered amplifiers are worthless. Dave Kirk's Point Saver has been around quite a while now and is popular with the Cub Cadet and John Deere garden tractor folks. The old Kohler K engines only have magnets under the flywheel for the charging system. A magnet could probably be machined in to the rim of it, but then there would be balance issues and the possibility of a bullet should the magnet not stay put. Using points to trigger the coil on a Kohler K engine with the point saver makes it possible to adjust the timing a small amount without affecting dwell time.



Edited by Brian Jasper co. Ia - 05 Oct 2010 at 12:40pm
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Gerald J. View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gerald J. Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Oct 2010 at 12:40pm
With tungsten alloy point contacts you can't run very low current and keep them working. You need probably close to an amp minimum point current to keep them clean, then when parked open (50/50 chance) they will oxidize and not conduct when closed. With the low current and no inductive kick the points themselves won't wear but the rubbing blocks will. So they will need cleaning to get an engine to run.

I had a VW pickup with hall effect pickup that got to runing badly, its trouble was that the thin wires from the pickup broke from flexing as the vacuum advance rotated the timing plate. Repair was expensive, VW wanting to sell only the complete distributor. I'm recalling I found the hall pickup and plate cheaper at a local auto parts place, but its been at least 20 years since I did that.

Though the nature of the parts affects reliability, military reliability formulae based on the number of components makes the electronic ignition quite suspect in reliability while there are few parts with points that based on component count the reliability should be better. It helps though to own a point file and to be willing to use it each spring.

And for those challenged by battery polarity, solid state is absolutely intolerant of reversed polarity, while the points alone my run a bit less well with reversed polarity, nothing gets destroyed.

Gerald J.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote M Diesel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Oct 2010 at 4:15pm
Originally posted by firebrick43 firebrick43 wrote:

One thing I have done for several is install petronix ignitions conversions.  Many lack the know how to set points(or are to lazy) but I do notice that they typically to run slightly better.  I have however seen a failure(and read about many more) of petronix products.  Also they tend to be 85$ plus and farmers being frugal bastards are reluctant to part with the cash no matter the advantages, yet complain when their tractor runs like crap(or not at all) because they don't take the time to fool with the points(or did but didn't do it right). 

What? -maintenance and +complaining from the same person? Whodda thunk it!

I like my Pertronix setup but like you have read of many failures. Disturbing for a low end product that sells for such a price. (Keeping a spare is pricey) Gotta wonder why the failures. Heat? Voltage spikes? Thermal cycling? Poor construction? Lame fab house?

About the point savers. If starting out with shiny new points, they don't require nearly as much wetting current to keep them alive. FYI, 20ma keeps the phone people happy and I have used a lot less than that in circuits that ran for decades. Low current switches rely on a slight wiping action and a cam will do that for ya. I still don't prefer them however. Those circuits that show a 3 legged transistor? Eventually vibration will take those out. Garmin leaned that lesson the hard way.

About the running better, switches always have some contact bounce (especially on closing) and it may affect sparking when you get the occasional rough bounce. Add in some shaft bearing wear/slop and it sure gets to be a crap shoot. (Chaos theory, show your stuff) And the danged cap has to be just big enough to stop arcing when opening but small enough to not store a big charge and arc bad when closing. Running at slow speeds they are a little short sized for smooth operation. As in all things, simplicity has it's trade offs.

An HEI has no internal advance in the electronics if it is the computer controlled variety. The computer is inserted between the pickup and distributor and it controls that stuff. If the ECU dies then the internal circuit provide a spark to get you home. If not controlled then it has a mechanical internal advance and you would want to disable one or the other.

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mlpankey View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mlpankey Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Oct 2010 at 4:22pm
you can also use the 70 era crysler box or the ford tfi box . they are easier on the person whos electronic wiring isnt quiet the speed of converting a anolog signal to a digital signal to make the four pin hei module work . If you have a lathe you can make the four cylinder delco hei distributor work really simple. search my name I have pics and alot of verbage already typed on the forum about this. sorry i had the signals reversed the first time .  then reread and fixed.

Edited by mlpankey - 05 Oct 2010 at 4:38pm
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mlpankey View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mlpankey Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Oct 2010 at 4:25pm
the fourpin 4 cylinder hei dizzy has mechanical and vacuum advance . accel makes a vacuum advance block off putting you right back to mechanical only advance.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Brian Jasper co. Ia Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Oct 2010 at 4:55pm
What engines were you getting your HEI dist's from? Chevette? What about the smaller cap dist's from like an old 2.5 Iron Duke from an S10 or ft driver? Did you ever try them? Just curious...
When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it. Frederic Bastiat
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mlpankey Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Oct 2010 at 5:25pm
no i didnt try any small caps I like giving the coil all the time it needs to saturate by cap spacing plus not having ionization and arc over from running several hundred mjoules of spark energy at 55000 volts is my main reason in the widest spaced cap. plus a 4 pin hei dizzy will produce the same spark energy at low rpms as a mallory or msd 6 box it just doesnt produce a multiple spark . Its a good way to beat the natpa  rule on no ignition boxes just tell them it came from a new model industrial fork lift or power unit  . Fork lifts do use hei quiet often.

Edited by mlpankey - 05 Oct 2010 at 5:42pm
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Rick of HopeIN View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick of HopeIN Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Oct 2010 at 6:00pm
Pertronix kit worked good on Volkswagen squareback motor in the Bosch distributor.  The little motor would run nearly underwater on a woods buggy.  Nothing shows on the outside.   Do not hook up the wires backward or it is fried...  Been there, did it once.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gary in da UP Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Oct 2010 at 6:17pm
 I have a pertronix in my D17, found that I could open the plug gap to over .040 and index the plugs and see an improvement in starting and overall performance.  Previous to that my WD45 had one installed and it eliminated the need to replace a distibutor with worn shaft/ bushings, points were difficult to set and keep set, the pertronix unit  don't care about a few thousandth's slop. I have also modified spark plug outer electrodes and opened them to 45 thou, and with a good coil had a big blue spark. Might not work at 14 to 1 , but good enuf for me and the tractors I pull .
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote j.w.freck Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Oct 2010 at 8:12pm
why dont you call jim danforth in mounds oklahoma,and spend around 75-80 dollars andget you one that will work for you .that is ok tractor company.i have 4 of his units and they are great...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote darrel in ND Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Oct 2010 at 8:26pm
I put electronic ignition (not sure what brand, and can't remember the price) on my one-ninety gasser a couple years ago, and it now starts and runs so nice I wouldn't think about anything else. Over time, I hope to eventually get all of my gas tractors converted to electronic.  Darrel
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mlpankey Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Oct 2010 at 6:32am
Originally posted by Gary in da UP Gary in da UP wrote:

 I have a pertronix in my D17, found that I could open the plug gap to over .040 and index the plugs and see an improvement in starting and overall performance.  Previous to that my WD45 had one installed and it eliminated the need to replace a distibutor with worn shaft/ bushings, points were difficult to set and keep set, the pertronix unit  don't care about a few thousandth's slop. I have also modified spark plug outer electrodes and opened them to 45 thou, and with a good coil had a big blue spark. Might not work at 14 to 1 , but good enuf for me and the tractors I pull .
If you could hit the petronix and coil with a full 16 volts then you could open the gap to at least  .100  if not clipping the ground electrode completly and create a even bluer spark . the hei will take the full 16 without a ballast resistor inline dropping the voltage .

Edited by mlpankey - 06 Oct 2010 at 6:33am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rich(CentWI) Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Oct 2010 at 10:59am
In 1973 I installed a capacitive discharge unit on my new Ford car. This unit connects to the distributor and uses the points to trigger the spark. The unit produces a very hot spark so the spark plug gap wasn't  to important. I drove that car for 13 years and never had to monkey with the ignition except to open the points some when the block wore down. The point settings were not important. I never changed the  points in all that time. I then use that unit on my 52 Ford pickup but had to make some changes because Ford had positive ground at that time and  only 6 volt system. I still have the unit and it works good.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mlpankey Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Oct 2010 at 5:46pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DaveKamp Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Oct 2010 at 10:13pm
I've been converting marine engines from Mallory and Delco marine point-type distributors to the mid '90's Delco EST_HEI distributor (smaller cap) for the last 13 years, and the results have always been excellent.  The distributor uses a reluctance pickup (not hall-effect), and base timing advance is controlled by the trigger module, so running it in 2-wire mode (no computer) is slick... plus, no weights to mess with, no pivots or springs, so it's rock-solid in timing.  I haven't adapted an EST distributor to an Allis, but very well might someday.

I have several of David Kirk's points-savers... two on Cub Cadets, had one on a Jeepster (225 odd-fire V6), and one on an old motorcycle... and they all work great.  Gerald's note about the contacts cleaning properly under low current is correct, but David worked on his circuit quite a bit, and the result is excellent- even with old, dirty, burned up points, his circuit triggered reliably. 

Anyone that works on the Kohler K-motors knows that ignition timing on these engines is totally set by adjusting gap.  One of the unique properties of the four-stroke single, is that the ignition coil is in a closed-circuit state for a WHOLE LOT more time than any other engine design... so if you're gonna burn up points or coil, the single is the way to do it.  One thing that David's Points Saver does, is it prevents points from being burned up (and batteries being run down) by engines stalled with ignition switch left on.

Hall effect sensors have two common failure conditions- first is vibration, second is heat.  When they fail, the most common failure mode, is that they go into conduction.  In order to 'break' that state, a sharp rap with a mallet... the shock will break the HES, and it'll resume to normal operation until the next 'fail'... so while they're really cool, they ain't infalliable.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote firebrick43 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Oct 2010 at 12:26pm
Update

Well, I bought a the pointsaver and installed it on my 8hp kohler on a gravely 2 wheel tractor.  It made an amazing difference in idle, I imagine because I could open up the gap on the spark plug.  I can adjust the idle so low now and it just lumps along but vibration is bad so I set it just where it smooths out.  Also it makes a big difference in idle to high idle acceleration, no hesitation at all now. 

The timing indicator is very nice, much better than trying to set do the initial setting with a .020 feeler gauge.  It was still about 3-4 degrees off compared to a timing light but I could tell no difference compared to the two ways set so I imagine that a timing light would be unnecessary but?  


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DaveKamp Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Oct 2010 at 7:25pm
The Kohler K-series manual identifies setting timing by setting point gap to 0.020" (except for the smaller... slightly different).  It is important to note that this is appropriate for a brand new engine, but as things break in, the actual point gap no longer maintains relevance to timing.  Best way to do it, is either to put a timing light on it, and shine it through the little hole in the flywheel shroud (down on the bottom, lower right side if you're looking into the flywheel air-screen)... and find the timing mark.  Hard to see, so if you have the engine apart, dig out the mark good and fill it with a reflective colored paint.

The only other way, is to engine-off move the flywheel to center the mark in the hole, then adjust the points so that they've just opened.  Of course, after you've snugged the points down, check timing again, as it WILL settle a bit.
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