MSD Pro-Billet advice please

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minorv8
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Re: MSD Pro-Billet advice please

Post by minorv8 » Tue Mar 27, 2018 5:35 am

Sidecar, it is not uncommon that an engine needs more advance after torque peak advance. We tried even more advance than 32 degrees but did not gain any more power. So, we backed down at 32 degrees. Of course this applies to my engine only, some might like different advance settings. I need to check the ignition map but IIRC the cranking advance is 20 degrees and at idle more

Haltech ECU that I use has an internal 2,5 bar MAP sensor. My engine is NA so there was not so many usable load sites. I converted to 1 bar MAP sensor and naturally had to redo the maps during the winter. Once we get rid of the ice and snow I will check and adjust the maps.



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Re: MSD Pro-Billet advice please

Post by Allan Robinson » Fri May 11, 2018 2:10 pm

Hi Guys. Its been a while since I have updated this post; however, I have now fitted the MSD Pro-Billet distributor and been playing with the timing.

According to Des Hammill tuning book he states that a 4.5 ltr or larger engine will require 10 to 12 degrees initial advance and 28 degrees all in and that this should be true in 98% of cases. He also describes how to find the initial advance (lower end of the highest stable RPM) however this would place my initial timing at 20 degrees and by default 38 degrees all in.

So starting at 20 degrees I slowly decreased the advance (retard) and the engine gradually slows down until I get to 13 degrees when there is a noticeable greater drop in RPM.

In terms of performance, in such a light car I really can't feel any difference other than the exhaust note is more 'angry' when more retarded.

Based on this, for my 4.6, 9.75CR and stealth cam would it be reasonable to set my timing at 14 degrees initial which would equate to 32 degrees all in at 3500 rpm?

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Re: MSD Pro-Billet advice please

Post by sidecar » Fri May 11, 2018 3:38 pm

I have read Des Hammills book on timing and whilst it is worth a read I don't agree with his method of find the best idle timing, in my opinion if the revs rise as you advance the timing then the engine is basically telling you that it likes what you are doing, why would you then want to retard the timing from this position?

Over the last few weeks I had another look at my ignition system, I now run 30 degrees of timing at idle, the engine 'told' me that this is what is wanted! 14 of the 30 degrees comes in because of the vac system (MAP system) that I am using, as the throttle is opened the timing can therefore back off down to 16 degrees which is fine because the VE is going up! it can then work its way up to 32 which is the all in figure that I use. The system can actually run 32+14 which makes a total of 46 degrees when the revs are reasonably high but the manifold vacuum is high.

The aim of all of this is to get peak cylinder pressure to occur at 14-20 degrees ATDC for any operating condition of the engine, in other words for any combination of revs and load, if you don't use a vac system then you are only setting the engine up to monitor one of the important conditions which is not all that good, it's like having a graph with only one axis! AJMHO!

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Re: MSD Pro-Billet advice please

Post by Allan Robinson » Fri May 11, 2018 6:31 pm

Thanks Sidecar. After I posted this I gave it some more thought and I too came to the conclusion that if the RPM is increasing while advancing the timing then surely that is a good thing but of course there is no load on the engine. I'll have another play tomorrow to see at what advance the RPM starts to drop off.

Although this Pro-Billet distributor has adjustable advance curve (springs) and a max all in adjustment (stop bush) it does not have any vac advance system so unfortunately Im stuck with that for now. So hypothetically speaking if my initial advance ends up at say 20 degrees (max RPM at idle) this would equate to 38 degrees of all in advance @ 3500 rpm.

Do you recon this sliding scale of 20 to 38 degrees would be a safe window for all load conditions up to 3500 RPM and then 38 degrees above 3500 RPM? I would be interested in your thoughts.

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Re: MSD Pro-Billet advice please

Post by sidecar » Fri May 11, 2018 10:14 pm

It a shame that you don't have a vac advance. Personally I would not push the idle timing up too high in your case because it is the starting point for the rest of the timing curve. In my case it is not the starting point because the system can actually pull out timing and therefore reduce it back from the 30 degree starting point. In my case the lowest timing figure that I can have is 16 degrees.
All of this fuss that I'm going to is down to the change in VE when the throttle is floored, when the VE goes up high the inital cylinder pressure is high therefore the flame speed goes up which means that less advance is required.

Just out of interest it would be good to see what your engine wants at idle but after that I would not really want to run more than 18 degrees, the all in could be at around 3000 RPM and that may want to be around 28-32 degrees (I would not push it up to the 38 degrees that you are suggesting). In my case as I have a programable system I run 28 all in fairly early and I hold this figure up to 5000 RPM, only after that because the VE is dropping (my manifold does not flow well enough above this figure) so I add another 4 degrees up to 6000 RPM which is my rev limit.

Running too much advance won't give you any more power even if the engine does not detonate, the old method of advance until it knocks then back it off is complete rubbish, some engines never achieve a cylinder pressure high enough to detonate the fuel even with loads of advance, the aim is to get peak cylinder pressure at 14-20 degrees ATDC, if it occurs early in the power stroke then then the crank and con-rod are not best placed to convert the cylinder pressure into torque.

Really without hours on a dyno it is all a bit of an educated guess but as long as you do not set the system with some stupid figures it will be fine! :D

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Re: MSD Pro-Billet advice please

Post by Allan Robinson » Sat May 12, 2018 2:49 pm

Up until recently I was happy to run without a vac advance hence I went for the MSD Pro-Billet; however, I have since changed my mind. Funny how that often happens. Unfortunately MDS don't make a distributor with a vac advance that fits the Rover (Buick) engine and I do like the look of the MSD under the bonnet. It also complements my 6AL control unit, Blaster coils and leads.

I had a further play with the timing today and taken onboard your comment and settled for 14 degrees initial with 32 degrees all in at 3500. It seams to run very well and sounds good at this setting. I will however explore options for an upgrade for a winter project.

I was considering the MSD EFI system as it will run on a single fuel feed and replace the Edlebrock carb which as we have previously discussed does not run too well with a vac advance. Early days yet but I don't think that this system has any vac advance capability either.

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Re: MSD Pro-Billet advice please

Post by sidecar » Sat May 12, 2018 3:07 pm

You could fit a programmable MSD 6AL unit, you can then 'lock out' your dizzy. You can then use a MAP sensor which gives you a vac advance system. The programmable MSD is a great bit of kit in my opinion! It has some good features, some of which I use but some I don't, I use the retard function when my NOS is running, it has a launch control system that I don't use.

With regards to the Eddy carb and vac advance I think that it does work with some of the Lucas vac canisters but does not work with others, you have to run some tests on your engine such as checking the vac level on idle and whilst cruising then check the figures stamped on the side of the Lucas canister, these tell you how the canister operates. The programmable MSD can be programmed to work with the MAP sensor and you can pick and choose the vac levels that you want the system to add or remove timing.

I guess without a vac system you can only set the ignition up for a WOT condition from idle up to max revs and that is really what you have done. If you run a vac system then it won't allow you to make any more BHP it just increases the MPG of the car. A while ago Muscle Manta and I setup his Opel Manta (4.6 engine) with the same system as mine, he was running a well setup Eddy 500 carb. At motorway speeds if he was careful with the throttle he could get mid 30's MPG which we were both pleased with!
Last edited by sidecar on Sat May 12, 2018 6:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: MSD Pro-Billet advice please

Post by DaveEFI » Sat May 12, 2018 4:45 pm

Really can't see the point in spending a lot of money on anything distributor based. Given how cheap you can do proper programmable wasted spark these days. And I did play with a Mallory dizzy where you can adjust the curve before seeing the light. :D After it burnt out its cap and rotor arm.
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Re: MSD Pro-Billet advice please

Post by Allan Robinson » Mon May 14, 2018 11:07 am

I took the car out over the weekend and it ran really well so common sense would say leave it alone but I know by next winter I will be itching to make further changes.

EFIDave, I admit it does look like I am pussy footing my way round by not going to a full-on EFI system; however, I do like the muscle car look under the bonnet that I have achieved with a Carb and distributor. Putting aside the various EFI carb offerings, would I be wrong in assuming that to go full EFI and Wasted Spark would involve changing to a Plenum, Serpentine front end and a crank ignition type timing sensor?

Sidecar, with regards to the programable MSD programmable unit, does this take an input direct from a MAP sensor?
On my Edelbrock Performer 180 manifold there is a threaded vac port on one of the cylinder intake tracks, is this where a MAP sensor would be fitted?
Would you happen to know if it can be programmed via an apple computer?

As I have previously mentioned it is early days yet and at the moment I am just exploring options.

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Re: MSD Pro-Billet advice please

Post by DaveEFI » Mon May 14, 2018 12:20 pm

You can have stand alone distributor-less ignition with a carb. MegaJolt which (IIRC) controls an EDIS setup. But MegaSquirt can be used ignition only (or fuel only, or both) MS with extra drivers added would remove the need for the EDIS module. Or you could use individual active coil packs, one per cylinder, either as wasted spark or sequential. The choice is pretty limitless.

If you went MS, it would give you the choice of adding EFI at a later point, without having to start from scratch.
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Re: MSD Pro-Billet advice please

Post by sidecar » Mon May 14, 2018 12:26 pm

The MAP sensor actually plugs directly into the 6AL unit, you then run a vac tube to the non-timed port of the carb so its dead easy to install!

I'm not sure if the software works with a Mac but you can download it from the MSD website, it probably states on the web site what it will run with. The only slight pain in the ass is that it uses an old school nine pin serial cable so you need a USB to nine pin converter.

I found a couple of Youtube vids that are worth watching...

From about 4:50 they talk about the programmable 6AL...

The vid below is just another random one that I found, watch the spark at 8:30, you could weld with it!, actually your MSD unit will be producing a similar spark...




The way that the unit works is that it actually 'adds' retard not advance, it seems odd but this is the only way that it can possible work because it can not predict when the pickup is going to send a signal at some point in the future! What you do is set the static timing up for the max all in figure that you ever want to use (in my case 46 degrees), you plot on a graph the amount of retard that you want at any RPM and the unit just delays the spark (5 sparks at low RPM) for that amount of degrees. With the vac system setup that just uses another graph, the system just adds up the two amounts of retard and uses the total figure.

The software is available here, it's at the top of the list...

https://www.msdperformance.com/support/ ... _Downloads


With regards to the 'Mega' stuff I have no experience with it but there was a guy on this forum that was building a serious drag car, he looked at the 'Mega' stuff and from memory his comments were far from good! He compared it to the MSD stuff and decided to stick with MSD. Check out all the top fuel engines, they all run MSD. :wink:
Last edited by sidecar on Mon May 14, 2018 4:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: MSD Pro-Billet advice please

Post by DaveEFI » Mon May 14, 2018 3:06 pm

'Top Fuel' engines all stick to a distributor? Is that part of the regs?
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Re: MSD Pro-Billet advice please

Post by sidecar » Mon May 14, 2018 4:25 pm

DaveEFI wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 3:06 pm
'Top Fuel' engines all stick to a distributor? Is that part of the regs?
Probably!

Really I'm not sure what the 'downer' is on distributors is anyway...

1.OK so on the low tension side people reckon that you get timing scatter because of end float in the camshaft and that sort of thing, well the MSD systems can work from a crankshaft trigger so that sorts that one out. (sorting out the end float and using a decent dizzy more or less gets rid of the issue anyway).

2. People reckon that having a single HT coil means that there is a limit to the RPM that the engine can run at due to the time that it takes to saturate the coil between firing pulses. The MSD system is capacitor discharge system so the capacitor is charged between firing strokes and a cap can be charged much quicker than a coil so even at high RPM the spark strength at the plugs is still very strong.

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Re: MSD Pro-Billet advice please

Post by Allan Robinson » Tue May 15, 2018 7:26 am

Thanks Guys, I appreciate your input and lots of good info for me to mull over.

Going back to my original subject and for anyone considering buying a MSD Pro-Billet 8548 distributor for a Rover V8, the following is my considered opinion.

1. It is a very well made distributor and looks great under the bonnet.
2. It does NOT come with a Vacuum advance and it would appear that MSD do not make one for this model.
3. Very important this:- It comes with the early oil pump drive (female pump drive and male distributor shaft end). I actually have the later higher volume pump (male pump drive and female distributor spigot unit). I therefore had to make the following modification:

- Remove the drive gear by punching out the retaining pin.
- Shorten the distributor shaft by cutting off the male spigot.
- Drill a hole in the drive gear flange to accept a connecting pin for the female oil pump drive unit. It drilled out quite easily using a good quality HSS drill. Fortunately this hole is a loose fit for the pin allowing the pump drive unit to pivot. There are a lot of YouTube clips showing how to drill a hole in a round bar using a sea-saw method. I actually uses a single edged razor blade to sea-saw and find the centre of the drive shaft flange. It is a pity that MSD did not have the foresight to provide the drive gear already pre drilled.

I hope you find this helpful
Allan

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Re: MSD Pro-Billet advice please

Post by DaveEFI » Tue May 15, 2018 8:43 am

i think you could liken a distributor to a clockwork watch. Sure it will tell the time after a fashion - but nothing like as accurately as a cheap electronic one.
You can spend a fortune trying to get a clockwork one that is almost as good as the cheap digital one accuracy wise, but will never succeed.
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