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post #1 of 20 Old 06-29-2008, 06:38 PM Thread Starter
aaveryy
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Ignition system upgrade?

I have a 79 cj7 with a 304. I am wondering if upgrading the stock ignition system is worth the effort. Does anyone have any experience with drastic idle, MPG, or power improvements with an upgrade? If so what system did you use? Roughly how much did it cost? How difficult is it to do yourself?

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post #2 of 20 Old 06-29-2008, 07:04 PM
JeepHammer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aaveryy View Post
I have a 79 cj7 with a 304. I am wondering if upgrading the stock ignition system is worth the effort. Does anyone have any experience with drastic idle, MPG, or power improvements with an upgrade? If so what system did you use? Roughly how much did it cost? How difficult is it to do yourself?
OH BOY!
Have you come to the right place!

The stock distributor in the '79 is an excellent unit and it's easy to tune!

For now, you can put a cap/rotor/plug wire upgrade on your distributor that will smooth out your idle, keep your engine running when it would normally die, and generally get the job done all the way around...

It's called the 'TeamRush' upgrade, and you can search for the part numbers, but be aware, you should stick with PREMIUM parts when you do your upgrade!
Brass terminal cap, good quality rotor, good plug wires...

The gist of this is, From '78 to '86 AMC/Jeep used a Ford/Motorcraft type distributor, so all the upgraded Ford Parts will fit right on your existing distributor, and you don't even have to remove it from the engine to upgrade it!

AMC/Jeep used the old style 'Small/Short' distributor cap and rotor, and they used the old WW II style spark plug wires...
This combination gives you Leaky/Weak plug wires and a lot of Cross Fires (spark energy generated in the ignition coil crosses over to a wrong terminal inside the cap),

A lot of 'Ground Fires' inside the cap, (spark energy jumps to the distributor housing or distributor shaft inside the cap)

A lot of 'Multi-Fires' inside the cap, (Spark energy jumps to more than one spark plug wire terminal),

And all of this is for three major reasons,
1. The small cap isn't vented and builds up Ionized air that allows the spark energy to jump anywhere it wants to,
2. The cap is too small, putting the terminals to close to each other,
3. The cap/rotor is too short, allowing the spark energy to jump to 'Ground' at the shaft or housing.


These are simply 'Tune Up' parts...
Taller cap, Wider cap, Taller rotor, and better plug wires...

It will give you Wider spaced terminals, to restrict Cross fires & multi-fires,
It will give you a taller cap/rotor to restrict ground fires,
It will give you a vented cap to expel some of the ionized air and inhibit random jumping of the spark energy.

This link will take you to the set that will fit directly on to your distributor with no modifications...
http://store.summitracing.com/partde...5&autoview=sku

Here is what it looks like...
Distributor cap adapter base, Distributor cap with brass terminals, and tall rotor.


Now that you can actually count on the spark energy getting to it's designated spark plug terminal,
AND,
You can count on that BRASS spark plug terminal not corroding over from the arcing of the spark energy pulse,
You can move on to some spark plug wires that were designed to actually get the spark energy to the spark plug...

I use MSD p/n 3119 a lot.
http://store.summitracing.com/egnsea...t=msd+3119&x=0
They are an excellently made wire, all different kinds of boots, and they are 'Cut To Fit' so you will FINALLY have a set of wires that fit correctly!
You can buy more expensive wires, but they won't work any better on the average driver/wheeler...
---------------------------------------------

Now, part two if this upgrade is the ignition coil.

You DO NOT have to change coils, but a lot of people like the performance of the Ford Style E-core coil,
E-core coil on left, Standard Canister coil on Right...



The BEST DEAL on the Ford style E-core coil is from ANY '85 to mid '90's Ford vehicle with fuel injection...
Just raise the hood, find the distributor, follow the coil wire back to the coil, and get the coil, coil mounts, and coil connector.
The coils Ford used were TOP QUALITY, and coils rarely go bad,
AND,
You can get one at the local 'U-Pull-It' for about $5.

Otherwise, expect to pay about $50 for the coil,
$15 for the coil connector,
And you will have to make the bracket, since there simply isn't a regular source for the brackets on the aftermarket...
-------------------------------------------
-------------------------------------------

The third part of this upgrade comes if you want to give your engine the extra 'Zip' the HEI clone guys are getting...

Only without getting the detonation problems,
Gears wiping out cams problems!,
and all the other crap that comes along with a HEI clone distributor!

There is a BUNCH of adjustment built into your distributor!
All you have to do is spend about $5 for springs, and break out some basic hand tools and a 1/8" Allen wrench!

Get the other stuff done and I'll clue you into this part...
--------------------------------------
--------------------------------------

Now, If you are thinking about buying, or have someone telling you to buy a HEI clone distributor for your AMC engine,
Read this first,
http://www.JunkYardGenius.com/igniti...EIcompair.html

This is the alternative...
A CDI ignition module.
CDI stands for Capacitive Discharge Ignition, and it's a MUCH better way to do things!

A CDI module, like an MSD 6 Series module,http://store.summitracing.com/partde...5&autoview=sku
Or a Summit Racing module http://store.summitracing.com/partde...5&autoview=sku
IS AN AUTOMATIC 500% MINIMUM INCREASE IN SPARK ENERGY, and depending on your application and RPM, might be as much as 1,000% increase in spark energy!

Voltage, Amperage & Duration, the three most important areas of spark energy are increase a bare minimum of 500% just plugging in one of these units!
I'm sure there are other CDI modules that will work just as well, but these two types in particular are cost effect, blasting powerful and easy to connect to your existing distributor!

Wiring diagram link,
http://www.JunkYardGenius.com/igniti...andAlone02.gif

Anyway, if you have any questions, feel free to ask and I'll do my best to answer you...

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Last edited by JeepHammer; 06-29-2008 at 07:42 PM.
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post #3 of 20 Old 06-29-2008, 07:16 PM
kstopp
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I think the following thread helped me the most, JeepHammer knows best!

https://www.jeepforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=511389

I'm currently in the process of upgrading my ignition system with a larger ford distributor cap, msd coil and soon a msd ignition module. Just with the ford cap and msd coil, I could tell a big difference, everything is much smoother and feels better in the upper rpm range.
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post #4 of 20 Old 06-29-2008, 08:32 PM Thread Starter
aaveryy
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Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Birmingham, AL
Posts: 25
Thanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by JeepHammer View Post
OH BOY!
Have you come to the right place!

The stock distributor in the '79 is an excellent unit and it's easy to tune!

For now, you can put a cap/rotor/plug wire upgrade on your distributor that will smooth out your idle, keep your engine running when it would normally die, and generally get the job done all the way around...

It's called the 'TeamRush' upgrade, and you can search for the part numbers, but be aware, you should stick with PREMIUM parts when you do your upgrade!
Brass terminal cap, good quality rotor, good plug wires...

The gist of this is, From '78 to '86 AMC/Jeep used a Ford/Motorcraft type distributor, so all the upgraded Ford Parts will fit right on your existing distributor, and you don't even have to remove it from the engine to upgrade it!

AMC/Jeep used the old style 'Small/Short' distributor cap and rotor, and they used the old WW II style spark plug wires...
This combination gives you Leaky/Weak plug wires and a lot of Cross Fires (spark energy generated in the ignition coil crosses over to a wrong terminal inside the cap),

A lot of 'Ground Fires' inside the cap, (spark energy jumps to the distributor housing or distributor shaft inside the cap)

A lot of 'Multi-Fires' inside the cap, (Spark energy jumps to more than one spark plug wire terminal),

And all of this is for three major reasons,
1. The small cap isn't vented and builds up Ionized air that allows the spark energy to jump anywhere it wants to,
2. The cap is too small, putting the terminals to close to each other,
3. The cap/rotor is too short, allowing the spark energy to jump to 'Ground' at the shaft or housing.


These are simply 'Tune Up' parts...
Taller cap, Wider cap, Taller rotor, and better plug wires...

It will give you Wider spaced terminals, to restrict Cross fires & multi-fires,
It will give you a taller cap/rotor to restrict ground fires,
It will give you a vented cap to expel some of the ionized air and inhibit random jumping of the spark energy.

This link will take you to the set that will fit directly on to your distributor with no modifications...
http://store.summitracing.com/partde...5&autoview=sku

Here is what it looks like...
Distributor cap adapter base, Distributor cap with brass terminals, and tall rotor.


Now that you can actually count on the spark energy getting to it's designated spark plug terminal,
AND,
You can count on that BRASS spark plug terminal not corroding over from the arcing of the spark energy pulse,
You can move on to some spark plug wires that were designed to actually get the spark energy to the spark plug...

I use MSD p/n 3119 a lot.
http://store.summitracing.com/egnsea...t=msd+3119&x=0
They are an excellently made wire, all different kinds of boots, and they are 'Cut To Fit' so you will FINALLY have a set of wires that fit correctly!
You can buy more expensive wires, but they won't work any better on the average driver/wheeler...
---------------------------------------------

Now, part two if this upgrade is the ignition coil.

You DO NOT have to change coils, but a lot of people like the performance of the Ford Style E-core coil,
E-core coil on left, Standard Canister coil on Right...



The BEST DEAL on the Ford style E-core coil is from ANY '85 to mid '90's Ford vehicle with fuel injection...
Just raise the hood, find the distributor, follow the coil wire back to the coil, and get the coil, coil mounts, and coil connector.
The coils Ford used were TOP QUALITY, and coils rarely go bad,
AND,
You can get one at the local 'U-Pull-It' for about $5.

Otherwise, expect to pay about $50 for the coil,
$15 for the coil connector,
And you will have to make the bracket, since there simply isn't a regular source for the brackets on the aftermarket...
-------------------------------------------
-------------------------------------------

The third part of this upgrade comes if you want to give your engine the extra 'Zip' the HEI clone guys are getting...

Only without getting the detonation problems,
Gears wiping out cams problems!,
and all the other crap that comes along with a HEI clone distributor!

There is a BUNCH of adjustment built into your distributor!
All you have to do is spend about $5 for springs, and break out some basic hand tools and a 1/8" Allen wrench!

Get the other stuff done and I'll clue you into this part...
--------------------------------------
--------------------------------------

Now, If you are thinking about buying, or have someone telling you to buy a HEI clone distributor for your AMC engine,
Read this first,
http://www.JunkYardGenius.com/igniti...EIcompair.html

This is the alternative...
A CDI ignition module.
CDI stands for Capacitive Discharge Ignition, and it's a MUCH better way to do things!

A CDI module, like an MSD 6 Series module,http://store.summitracing.com/partde...5&autoview=sku
Or a Summit Racing module http://store.summitracing.com/partde...5&autoview=sku
IS AN AUTOMATIC 500% MINIMUM INCREASE IN SPARK ENERGY, and depending on your application and RPM, might be as much as 1,000% increase in spark energy!

Voltage, Amperage & Duration, the three most important areas of spark energy are increase a bare minimum of 500% just plugging in one of these units!
I'm sure there are other CDI modules that will work just as well, but these two types in particular are cost effect, blasting powerful and easy to connect to your existing distributor!

Wiring diagram link,
http://www.JunkYardGenius.com/igniti...andAlone02.gif

Anyway, if you have any questions, feel free to ask and I'll do my best to answer you...
WOW, I did come to the right place. Thanks for all of the info.
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post #5 of 20 Old 06-29-2008, 09:28 PM Thread Starter
aaveryy
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Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Birmingham, AL
Posts: 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by aaveryy View Post
WOW, I did come to the right place. Thanks for all of the info.
ON the wiring diagram... The Red wire that says it goes to the "painless" ignition wire. Is that for the painless wire harness replacement? Is that used at on on a stock setup? Also, the wiring around the solenoid??? is a little confusing to me from the diagram. Can you please clarify that?

Finally, I have noticed that the PO on my Jeep did some things to the vacuum system. It seems that the vacuum line that goes to the dizzy is not going to a cto switch. It goes directly to a vac line on the carb. Is that a problem with anything?

Thanks
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post #6 of 20 Old 06-30-2008, 10:30 AM
JeepHammer
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Location: South West Indiana
Posts: 11,194
Quote:
Originally Posted by aaveryy View Post
ON the wiring diagram... The Red wire that says it goes to the "painless" ignition wire. Can you please clarify that?
Yup,
Where it says, 'Goes To Painless', you simply connect that to your stock coil wire connector on the 'Red' wire side.

Quote:
Finally, I have noticed that the PO on my Jeep did some things to the vacuum system. It seems that the vacuum line that goes to the dizzy is not going to a cto switch. It goes directly to a vac line on the carb. Is that a problem with anything?
It's probably VERY cold natured then...

The CTO and Other 'Emissions' components where actually there to make your engine run better when it was cold, or it was under load... Not necessarily for 'Emissions'...

SO,
You can put things back to stock trim,
Or,
You can learn the system and make alternations to support the way you drive...

REMEMBER,
'Free' internet information is worth EXACTLY what you paid for it!
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post #7 of 20 Old 06-30-2008, 11:35 AM
Fjguercio
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Location: Burnsville, MN
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NICE job Jeephammer!!!! I have done the TeamRush to a newly rebuilt 258 in a 1978 CJ7 that had new stock plugs, plug wires, cap rotar. There was a great improvement with the TeamRush components even when compairing to brand new tune up parts.

I got a 2.5 mpg improvement to 18.5 to 19 mpg in single digit winter temps with a long 1-2 hr stop half way on 80 mile trip. Power was also better almost like adding another cylinder. Others posted the same time of my upgrade, TeamRush, and reported similar results.

This stuff works!!!!!!!!

Thanks, JeepHammer

Regards,
Fred
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post #8 of 20 Old 06-30-2008, 02:15 PM Thread Starter
aaveryy
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Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Birmingham, AL
Posts: 25
Just a little more clarification

Quote:
Originally Posted by JeepHammer View Post
Yup,
Where it says, 'Goes To Painless', you simply connect that to your stock coil wire connector on the 'Red' wire side.



It's probably VERY cold natured then...

The CTO and Other 'Emissions' components where actually there to make your engine run better when it was cold, or it was under load... Not necessarily for 'Emissions'...

SO,
You can put things back to stock trim,
Or,
You can learn the system and make alternations to support the way you drive...

Thanks for your help yesterday. I still have a few questions for you:


ON the wiring diagram... The Red wire that says it goes to the "painless" ignition wire. Is that for the painless wire harness replacement? Is that used at on on a stock setup? Also, the wiring around the solenoid??? (does it just go to the same post as the battery?) is a little confusing to me from the diagram. Can you please clarify that? What size wire do I use?

On changing to the ford coil: When I change the connector, I assume I just cut off my old one and splice in the ford one from the salvage yard. Is it best to solder it?

If I decide to change the module, How do I hook up the Tach?



Thanks. You've really been a great help
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post #9 of 20 Old 06-30-2008, 06:20 PM
kstopp
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeepHammer
Where it says, 'Goes To Painless', you simply connect that to your stock coil wire connector on the 'Red' wire side.
Do you mean the red wire on the plug going into the old factory ignition module? In my hanes manual it appears that red wire is connected to the coil, the ignition module and then the fuse block. Do you just splice into the red wire where the old igniton module sat?
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post #10 of 20 Old 07-02-2008, 09:17 AM
JeepHammer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aaveryy View Post
ON the wiring diagram... The Red wire that says it goes to the "painless" ignition wire.
Is that for the painless wire harness replacement?
Is that used at on on a stock setup?
On a stock wiring harness, you take the ignition 'ON' signal from the module two wire connector (harness side)
OR,
The old coil connector 'Red' wire side.
Something has to signal the MSD module to turn 'ON', and these are the easiest points to draw that signal from.

The part of the diagram where it says "Connect Small Red Wire To Painless Harness" was intended for guys that use an aftermarket wiring harness.

You connect the small 'Red' wire from the MSD module to the factory coil connector 'Red' wire,
OR,
To the factory harness side of the module 2 wire connector,
'Red' wire connection.
That's all there is to it.

Quote:
Also, the wiring around the solenoid??? (does it just go to the same post as the battery?)
is a little confusing to me from the diagram.
Can you please clarify that?

The wiring around the battery to the starter solenoid is there to tell you to hook up your MSD large 'Red' wire to the starter solenoid Battery Cable terminal, Instead of hooking directly to the battery.

Hooking directly to the battery will rot off you terminal ends pretty quickly,
While hooking to the battery cable side of the starter solenoid will preserve your MSD module positive connection away from the corrosive effects of the battery.
On changing to the ford coil: When I change the connector, I assume I just cut off my old one and splice in the ford one from the salvage yard. Is it best to solder it?

Quote:
What size wire do I use?
You use the wires that are included with the MSD module.
No extra wiring is required unless you want to put the module REALLY far away from the engine bay...

If you have another look at the diagram, you will see there is part numbers for the distributor 'Trigger' wire extension that is shielded and ready to plug in,
And the rest of the wires come with the module and are plenty long enough for any 'Normal' mounting.

Quote:
If I decide to change the module, How do I hook up the Tach?
Depends on what tach you have.
If you have an aftermarket tach, then it will probably plug directly into the 'Tach' terminal on the MSD module body.

If you have a factory tach, you will probably need a 'Tach Adapter'.
AMC used a really funky tach that isn't compatible with much else out there! (Just another AMC quirk)

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post #11 of 20 Old 07-02-2008, 09:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kstopp View Post
Do you mean the red wire on the plug going into the old factory ignition module? In my hanes manual it appears that red wire is connected to the coil, the ignition module and then the fuse block. Do you just splice into the red wire where the old igniton module sat?
Kstopp, you are mildly hijacking someone else's thread here...

That being said,
The small 'Red' wire on the MSD module will need to 'Sample' the ignition switch to see when the switch is 'On' or 'Off'.

You can connect that MSD small 'Red' to one of two places to get a good 'Sample'...

The old coil connector 'Red' wire,
OR,
The module 2 wire power connector (Harness side) 'Red' wire.

Just put a male spade terminal on the MSD small 'Red' wire and plug it into the Harness coil connector 'Red' wire side,
OR,
Put a male spade terminal on the MSD small 'Red' wire and plug it into the Harness/Module 2 wire connector 'Red' side to sample the ignition,
Either one will work.

By just using a male spade connector and plugging into the factory connectors like that,
You can disconnect the MSD unit, plug in the factory connectors and use the factory ignition in the event of an MSD failure!

Look in this picture for dual connectors (two factory unplugged, two from the after market ignition plugged in)...
This is the distributor plugged into the MSD adapter, and the factory plug is lying (wire tied to) the factory harness.



This is the Coil Connector being wired for Dual use...
Take a look at the factory coil connector wire tied to the harness down low, see the 'Small Red' wire with spade terminal pushed into it?




Now, at a moments notice, this guy can switch from the aftermarket ignition to the factory ignition just by plugging the coil, distributor and module back in to the stock harness!

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post #12 of 20 Old 07-02-2008, 04:20 PM
kstopp
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Thanks JeepHammer, my apologies to aaveryy, I had posted a similar question a few days ago and figured I might be able to ask a question to jeephammer you might have been thinking about too
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post #13 of 20 Old 07-11-2008, 08:41 PM
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My turn to hijack.

JH - Below are some pics of my ignition system as installed by the PO.

1. Can you explain what it is that I have and is it good, bad or ugly?
2. Will any of the above mentioned upgrades benefit me (i.e. e-core coil, CDI module)?

As you can tell, I don't know jack about ignition systems other than basic maintenance. Any input would be appreciated.

img_1013-medium-.jpg


img_1014-medium-.jpg


img_1015-medium-.jpg
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post #14 of 20 Old 07-12-2008, 12:31 PM
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Tttttttttt
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post #15 of 20 Old 07-12-2008, 01:07 PM
mylittlecj5
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IMO, what you have is good enough for street/mild trails.
My CJ sees a lot of mud and hi-RPM work, so I installed a MSD Off-Road ignition box, MSD Blaster E-coil, 8 mm plug wires, good spark plugs, a late 80's Wagoneer electronic dizzy (no points to mess with), and the wide spaced cap and adapter. Total investment? about $200, shopping ebay (coil), CL (offroad box and tach adapter),
my FLAPS (dizzy), and robbing a few parts bought for my '88 F-350 before they were installed.

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