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Old March 22nd, 2007, 09:56 PM
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David
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Who is the ignition module / pickup coil authority here?

OK. I'm getting pretty tired of NOT driving my Defender. I've had several problems that have finally gotten sorted out, but one (the biggest one) simply continues to plague it......Something continues to happen to the ignition module (or something else in the dist. of which I am not aware). New distributor, new module. Install new unit, drive it less than 50 miles, goes dead like the coil wire was removed. Assuming it COULDN'T be a bad module since everything was just replaced, I tried everything I could think of to get it running again (all fuses, wiring connections, etc.) including installing a new Bosch coil....nothing worked. OK, so I take it back to the mechanic, and he says there's no fire out of the dist. .... Send everything back, get a totally new distributor with module, install it and drive 1.3 miles....dead as a hammer under the same circumstances.

All that being said: what is the retrofit answer? Isn't there a way to get away from this silly, problematic setup? I've been looking at every thread I can find, and many claim the Mallory retrofit is the answer; however, it appears that the Unilite module is nearly as fragile as the factory one......

You know, as late as 1995, this shouldn't still have been an area of concern, especially on a vehicle that was expected to see severe duty like a Land Rover . Most mfrs had this issue straightened out by then.............I'm at wit's end.......any advice? What could be making the electrical internals of my distributor go bad?
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  #2  
Old March 22nd, 2007, 10:49 PM
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Another option that I have only briefly looked at, but is supposedly an easy swap, is to use a standard 4-pin GM HEI module. It works with the existing distributor and other than a few wire connections is an almost exact match. The parts are available everywhere, as GM made millions of the things, and fairly cheap.... far far less than a Rover module, and much less than a mallory module. I wouldn't suspect the distributor pickup itself, as those hall-effect sensors are absurdly reliable in just about everything that uses them. Not to mention, you already tried 3 of the things.

I don't have any info here about the actual change, but I know it's been covered on other websites out there.

Another thing I'd check into is the possibility of a frayed or misconnected wire somewhere. Something in there is causing the modules to go bad. Is yours mounted on the distributor, or is it the remotely mounted one next to the coil? I'd personally break out a wiring diagram and trace every wire from end to end, making sure they are all connected in the right spots, have clean connections, and are in good condition. And don't forget, the starter system ties into here as well, so I'd also look into that system AND the ignition switch itself too.

Next thing I would trace is the main battery cables, make sure they aren't frayed and sending any voltage through the chassis anywhere that could be frying the modules.

-Hans

Follow-up Post:

Bah, this is driving me nuts. I used to be able to find the wiring info for that swap right away, but now I can't find it at all. This is the closest I can find so far, still looking.

http://www.discoweb.org/forums/showthread.php?t=24404
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  #3  
Old March 22nd, 2007, 11:12 PM
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http://members.ai5.net/foosrover@ai5.net/rr_ignition/
http://www.kwiksgarage.com/tech/ford_hei/index.htm
http://www.solihullsociety.org/archives/107

here are some good reads
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Old March 22nd, 2007, 11:13 PM
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You beat me to it Pete!

This is all I was able to find, you gotta scroll down a bit until you see the module next to a section from a tape measure. You can basically ignore all the stuff about extra resistors and such on this one, as it is dealing with spark issues on a very specific EFI system. But it does list what wiring terminals do what on the HEI module.

The only thing I can't find right now are which are the positive and negative on the VR sensor inside the distributor. And that will make a difference on the timing, as it will be picking up the wrong side of the pulse.

http://www.megamanual.com/v22manual/mwire.htm#ignition

-Hans
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Old March 22nd, 2007, 11:16 PM
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Finally!
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Old March 22nd, 2007, 11:25 PM
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LOL, and the info you gave is much better than mine too!

Another thing I found in a web posting..... if it has the remote ignition module, and there are three wires coming from the distributor to the module, the black wire is just a ground connection. Instead of connecting to the new module, just ground it.

-Hans
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  #7  
Old March 22nd, 2007, 11:26 PM
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Thanks for the GM options. I'm going to look into that. In the meantime, is there an MSD option that's less "fragile" than the Mallory?
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Old March 22nd, 2007, 11:30 PM
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Yep, buick 215 distributor and MSD box of choice. You just have to swap your existing distributor gear onto the new MSD unit.

I've also heard a few folks mention for the Mallory Unilite to use the E-spark module instead of the older optical one. Much more reliable than the standard Unilite, and a drop-in fit. At least, that's what I'm told.

There is also the DUI, which is a full HEI distributor adapted to the rover. But there are some serious clearance issues to deal with regarding the intake manifold, and I while the distributors themselves are very well made, the fitting problems cause me to not recommend it.

-hans
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Old March 22nd, 2007, 11:41 PM
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I have been using my Mallory with the E-spark module for 2 years, no problem. I highly recommend it. Replacement modules, which I have not needed, are about $30.
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Old March 23rd, 2007, 06:39 AM
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The E-Spark is now standard per Mallory. Their tech support said they ditched the old system nearly two years ago due to those problems. I asked around and not one person has had an issue since. If needed I can pull the receipts for the exact part numbers. I have no experience and found few posting on the MSD setup so I can be of no help but Hans sure will be.
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Old March 23rd, 2007, 10:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottYates
The E-Spark is now standard per Mallory. Their tech support said they ditched the old system nearly two years ago due to those problems. I asked around and not one person has had an issue since. If needed I can pull the receipts for the exact part numbers. I have no experience and found few posting on the MSD setup so I can be of no help but Hans sure will be.
Wow, that'd be great! If I had the exact part numbers from someone who had actually performed the swap, I'd know I'd be getting the right stuff......thanks for the offer!
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Old March 23rd, 2007, 12:28 PM
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You may want to get your alternator checked -- mine was frying ignition modules like you wouldn't believe, all the while both charging the battery and operating the tach. Took a year + to figure that one out (thanks again, Pendy!) Dropped another alternator in, put a new module onto my exisiting remote plate and harness (Northeast British had the best price on the module) and it's been working fine ever since.
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Old March 23rd, 2007, 03:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abrooks
You may want to get your alternator checked -- mine was frying ignition modules like you wouldn't believe, all the while both charging the battery and operating the tach. Took a year + to figure that one out (thanks again, Pendy!) Dropped another alternator in, put a new module onto my exisiting remote plate and harness (Northeast British had the best price on the module) and it's been working fine ever since.
Yeah, I was concerned about that also. After my first module fried, I started wondering if my alternator might have become "unclean" and sent out an electrical spike to the module. Accordingly, I installed a brand-new alternator at the time I installed the new module, but that combination only powered my rig for a total of 1.3 miles before going completely dead!............
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Old March 23rd, 2007, 04:22 PM
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MSD distributor number 8548, which will require the external box, and like the mallory will need the gear swap.

There is also the possibility of using the number 8552, but I am not sure on that one. IIRC the small and big buick distributors are the same, with different gears, but I haven't been able to confirm if that is true. This one could run either on its own, or with the separate ignition box.

With either MSD distributor, you need new plug wires also, but thats because they have the MUCH better HEI style connectors on them.

One issue to think of though is if you have strict emissions testing in your state or not. The MSD does not have a vacuum advance, only mechanical. Mallory has vacuum advance available in some models.

-Hans
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Old March 23rd, 2007, 04:58 PM
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David
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Thanks to everyone so far on your responses. I'm considering all options presented so far (I hope Scott can find all the part numbers on his Mallory swap), and I'm also wondering about the viability of the Ford Duraspark retrofit. Anyone have any concerns about that? It would be the least expensive overall, but is it a true fix or is it just a little better than stock? On this next fix, I want to make it the cure for this problem once and for all !
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Old March 23rd, 2007, 05:08 PM
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Here is the part info and prices from Summit Racing (best I could find, YMMV):

MAA-29219 IGNITION COIL $43.99
MAA-4768901 DISTBUTOR WITHOUT GEAR $315.99
MAA-700 RESISTOR $14.88

I also got wires from the idiots at Auto Zone (coil wire to short) so I won't give you that one lol.
Just use the gear of your old distributor. It is very easy to put on and the instructions are great. This distributer, unlike the older Unilite, does NOT require you to cut the shaft. My whole install took about an hour and fifteen minutes.
Hope this helps,
-Scott
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Old March 23rd, 2007, 05:14 PM
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No need to cut the shaft? that's definitely a welcomed change, and the price seems to have gone down as well, does it have the E-spark already installed?

-Hans
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  #18  
Old March 23rd, 2007, 05:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hans
No need to cut the shaft? that's definitely a welcomed change, and the price seems to have gone down as well, does it have the E-spark already installed?

-Hans
Is the E-spark the module that replaced the optical one?
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Old March 23rd, 2007, 05:29 PM
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Yes, the E-spark is the newer one. Cheaper, more reliable.
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Old March 23rd, 2007, 05:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottYates
Here is the part info and prices from Summit Racing (best I could find, YMMV):

MAA-29219 IGNITION COIL $43.99
MAA-4768901 DISTBUTOR WITHOUT GEAR $315.99
MAA-700 RESISTOR $14.88

I also got wires from the idiots at Auto Zone (coil wire to short) so I won't give you that one lol.
Just use the gear of your old distributor. It is very easy to put on and the instructions are great. This distributer, unlike the older Unilite, does NOT require you to cut the shaft. My whole install took about an hour and fifteen minutes.
Hope this helps,
-Scott
Thanks VERY much for the parts run down! That's exactly what I needed.
I looked at the description of the Mallory distributor 4768901, and it said it doesn't come with the drive dog.....I presume I won't need one to come with it, right?

Follow-up Post:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hans
Yes, the E-spark is the newer one. Cheaper, more reliable.
Great! That's one concern of mine that's been settled...........
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