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Electronic ignition - huge horsepower improvement ??


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Just watched a TV show where  a ‘69 Corvette with a 350 was dyno tested  at 145 HP...the points were then changed to an electronic set up and the new test showed 190 HP..that’s a huge improvement..

 

I know the supposed advantages to reliability - don’t want to open that debate again or what’s best make to use...but is that kind of HP improvement really achievable?? Sounds too good to be true...

 

kev

Edited by moran75 (see edit history)
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Sir, I have a 63 zRiviera that has electronic ignition installed by one of the best in the country, Tom Telesco. Additionally, Tom rebuilt my original Carter AFB. The car has been tuned by Tom and the car runs to suit me.

The engine has recently been rebuilt. 
 

I find my car quite responsive to aggressive acceleration with no, none, no hesitation. I don’t know what HP gains were made, if any. The car starts easily enough and picks and goes real fast for me. But, my experience is relative to what? I’d say a big improvement in my engine performance. The increase in performance however has not been measured to quantify.

Turbinator

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IF everything was to spec. & working properly before the ignition upgrade the ONLY thing you MAY see is maybe a better idle quality (because of a hotter spark) & maybe faster starts.  BUT, a HP increase NOT unless the distributor was recurved at the same time, BUT AGAIN I very much doubt 45HP.

JMHO

 

Tom T.

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2 hours ago, moran75 said:

Just watched a TV show where  a ‘69 Corvette with a 350 was dyno tested  at 145 HP...the points were then changed to an electronic set up and the new test showed 190 HP..that’s a huge improvement..

 

I know the supposed advantages to reliability - don’t want to open that debate again or what’s best make to use...but is that kind of HP improvement really achievable?? Sounds too good to be true...

 

kev


 

Bet they are selling conversion kits.........

 

At Sturgis a guy was selling plugs and wires for your Harley.......he put it on a dyno and tested it, did the “tune up” and retested it. If you didn’t get six horse power more there was no charge. I watched him do three bikes, and on the fourth while he was doing the “retest” I openly and loudly suggested he sit back down on the bike like he did the first time he did the power run.........his fat ass was on the bike “before” but he stood off to the side for the “retest”. Crowd got very ugly........he gave back a bunch of money and the parking lot he was set up in tossed him out..........

 

A properly set up distributor will make two to three times the voltage any car can use.......it is still firing the path of least resistance..........the coil discharges the same amount of KV’s every time.........as long as there is enough time to saturate the coil between firings ,  that’s the theory behind dual points........except on pre war cars engine design and low rpm make dual points and dual coils a waste of time unless you flat head Packard or Pierce is turning 12 grand.

 

Electronic ignition on a pre war car is a solution looking for a problem that doesn’t exist. I don’t know of any serious and experienced collector that runs them.

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Ohms Law always stays the same. The primary side triggers and the secondary side produces the voltage required to overcome the resistance of the secondary circuit. About the only variable is the air/fuel density.

3,000 volts is all you see in normal driving. Over 4K and you are beginning to lean out. I would guess the test Corvette was due for a valve job. Boosting the spark would get it to fire through the excess air (higher resistance).

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52 minutes ago, 60FlatTop said:

Ohms Law always stays the same. The primary side triggers and the secondary side produces the voltage required to overcome the resistance of the secondary circuit. About the only variable is the air/fuel density.

3,000 volts is all you see in normal driving. Over 4K and you are beginning to lean out. I would guess the test Corvette was due for a valve job. Boosting the spark would get it to fire through the excess air (higher resistance).

 

This. Physics say that an ignition system will only make enough voltage to jump the spark gap. You could have a system capable of making a million volts, but if it only takes 3000 volts to jump the spark plug gap, well, that's all it's going to make. It's not hardware, it's science!

 

I'll admit that some electronic systems can make for quicker starts and sometimes a smoother idle simply because the spark is both more precisely timed and "sharper" in terms of on/off, but it can't and won't make more horsepower.

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7 minutes ago, arnulfo de l.a. said:

I like the fact that you don’t have to worry about parts wearing out and needing to change. Thats probably the biggest plus for me.

 

Except that points will keep working even in failure mode and get you home while electronic ignitions die in a mircosecond puff of smoke and leave you permanently stranded. There's a pretty good reason why many guys who switch to electronic ignitions say they keep a points and condenser set in the glove box "just in case."

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Biggest problem is 6 volt electronic ignitions don’t work well when under volted .....Like when old cars are not driven often, and batteries are low/weak, and your voltage drops when cranking. Thus, hard start and no start on a six volt electronic ignition are common issues, as well as electronic failures.

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1 hour ago, Matt Harwood said:

 

Except that points will keep working even in failure mode and get you home while electronic ignitions die in a mircosecond puff of smoke and leave you permanently stranded. There's a pretty good reason why many guys who switch to electronic ignitions say they keep a points and condenser set in the glove box "just in case."

I know a guy who carries a complete distributor in his emergency parts box. 

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10 hours ago, moran75 said:

Just watched a TV show where  a ‘69 Corvette with a 350 was dyno tested  at 145 HP...the points were then changed to an electronic set up and the new test showed 190 HP..that’s a huge improvement..

 

I know the supposed advantages to reliability - don’t want to open that debate again or what’s best make to use...but is that kind of HP improvement really achievable?? Sounds too good to be true...

 

kev

 

It's BS. If you take an old worn out out of tune points ignition out and replace it with something that works right, you will see an improvement but 45 horespower is a hell of a stretch.

 

To paraphrase what 1980s ignition guru Christopher Jacobs said about it, the best thing an ignition system can do for you is light the charge at the right time, every time.  If the engine runs good and doesn't miss, you are already 95% or more of the way there.

 

The main advantage of electronic ignition is that it does the same thing for years without tuning. A points ignition begins to degrade the minute you start driving.

 

A lesser advantage is that the amount of spark energy available is limited by how fast you can charge the coil, and that is in turn limited by how much current you can put through the points without burning them up. A power transistor can often handle more current. In practice, this may allow you to widen the plug gap a little and that will raise the firing voltage. A little. Not to 50,000 volts or whatever giant number is being thrown around by salesmen. Up to .055" or so a larger plug gap and the attendant voltage increase can make an improvement in power. A tiny improvement. Not 45 horsepower. You might need a dyno to see it.

 

 

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
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10 hours ago, Bloo said:

It's BS. If you take an old worn out out of tune points ignition out and replace it with something that works right, you will see an improvement but 45 horespower is a hell of a stretch.

 

Whaa....??  Are you saying my Pertronix isn't responsible for the rapid tread wear on my right rear tire?

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Faster starts and smoother idle are conditions where the calibration of the carburetor work in their least precise mode, choke and needle valves. The extra air in the mixture in those conditions cause higher resistance across the spark gap. One could benefit from a high voltage that would cover up a deficiency.

 

It all pretty much hinges on the conductivity of the air/fuel charge. Running on the carburetor high speed circuit is the most precise metering so they will generally run good there.

Air and fuel, good conductor. Air not so good.

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1 hour ago, 60FlatTop said:

Faster starts and smoother idle are conditions where the calibration of the carburetor work in their least precise mode, choke and needle valves. The extra air in the mixture in those conditions cause higher resistance across the spark gap. One could benefit from a high voltage that would cover up a deficiency.

 

It all pretty much hinges on the conductivity of the air/fuel charge. Running on the carburetor high speed circuit is the most precise metering so they will generally run good there.

Air and fuel, good conductor. Air not so good.


 

There is nothing quite like stoichometry..............if your not familiar with the term, look it up.

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I was over in Andover, Mass. attending training at Phoenix Controls and got into an entertaining conversation with the instructor about stoiciometerics. The vendor who provided the training though some shenanigans were going on and I was a ringer who had been planted.

 

Turned out the instructor had been a design engineer for GM's digital cruise control programming and I used to get 4 hours extra pay based on my power plant performance. It all connects in there.

 

Just an "in Mass" comment.

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One thing not commonly understood is that the running spark voltage is set mainly by the gap of the plug. The voltage goes instantaneously high until a spark is initiated, then falls to a far lower voltage while the spark is happening, eventually stopping when the coil runs out of stored energy and cannot continue the spark.

 

The voltage goes higher under high load and lower under light load. These voltages are only a few thousand volts. The "50,000 Volts" or whatever often quoted, and probably exaggerated, is the voltage that occurs with a plug wire off, as the voltage rises higher and higher trying to initiate a spark that never happens. In the driveability trade we called this voltage "headroom". It might be 50,000 volts, or maybe only 20,000 or so. Probably even less on some cars.

 

The highest voltage occurs at the highest load. That would be wide open throttle up a steep hill. If the engine, with it's current plug gap, never allows the required spark initiation voltage to rise above the headroom voltage, then the engine does not miss. Any properly engineered factory ignition system has enough headroom at the specified plug gap. Nothing close to the headroom voltage will ever be seen.

 

Points are nothing but a switch, a simple on-off switch. Changing that mechanical switch to a silicon power transistor (as typically used in an electronic ignition), without doing anything else, does absolutely nothing to increase the headroom voltage.

 

Redesigning the coil with a higher turns ratio can increase the headroom, usually at the expense of spark duration. Whether that is a downgrade or not is debatable. Personally I don't think it is a big deal. It isn't an upgrade because the headroom voltage will never be approached while driving. If at the same time you redesign the coil to draw more current, you could probably have more headroom without sacrificing duration. You might need to use a transistor to switch this coil, because points are limited in how much current they can handle.

 

All this sounds like I am against electronic ignition. I am not. The real advantages are in my other post. The first one is a big deal even if it does not sound like it. There are, however, some cars it would make no sense to convert, with 6 volt ones at the top of the list. One has to separate the physics from the barrage of marketing BS that exists in the aftermarket ignition world. It ain't easy.

 

 

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
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I HAVE TO POST THIS.

Having ANY KIND of electronic ignition DOES NOT lessen the need/nescessity for, at least, yearly distributor maintenence.  Like lubing the advance weights, a drop of oil in the center for oiling of the top of the distributor shaft to help to keep it moving smoothly AND checking the operation of the vacuum advance. 

With electronic ignition the dwell rate is ALWAYS the same & doesn't change throughout the life of the ignition compared to points, the dwell time is longer  (unlike points which can change on a daily basis)  & mostly always consistant which ends up with a "Hotter" spark and the timing will always remain the same so there are NO adjustemnts needed other than  at least yearly maintenence.

I coud go on for hours about all of this, BUT even though it's a Sunday I have things I must do to TRY & keep ahead of the onsault.

 

Tom T.

 

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2 minutes ago, telriv said:

Having ANY KIND of electronic ignition DOES NOT lessen the need/nescessity for, at least, yearly distributor maintenence.  Like lubing the advance weights, a drop of oil in the center for oiling of the top of the distributor shaft to help to keep it moving smoothly AND checking the operation of the vacuum advance.

 

^^This matters, and genuinely makes the car run better. It can't be repeated enough.

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