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Technical Timing Light For MSD Ignitions

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by mwhistle, Jun 17, 2019.

  1. mwhistle
    Joined: Feb 19, 2007
    Posts: 306

    mwhistle
    Member
    from sacramento

    Apparently, not all timing lights will work or are compatible with MSD multiple spark ignitions. Does anyone have experience with this situation or suggestion regarding what timing light can be used successfully with the MSD multiple spark ignition (like the MSD Street Fire or 6AL)? Thank you.
     
  2. Craig Owens
    Joined: Jun 28, 2006
    Posts: 379

    Craig Owens
    Member

    I have a couple of cars with complete MSD ignitions: MSD distributor, 6AL box, and MSD coil. I use an older Sears Craftsman inductive pickup timing light with the set back dial, and it works fine.
     
  3. deathrowdave
    Joined: May 27, 2014
    Posts: 1,581

    deathrowdave
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from NKy

    I don’t understand , all should work well . Inductive pickup should not be any issue .
     
  4. LM14
    Joined: Dec 18, 2009
    Posts: 1,541

    LM14
    Member
    from Iowa

    Have used all kinds of timing lights with MSD systems (6A, 6AL and 6ALN) thru the years and never had one that didn't work. Dial back, inductive in 3 different brands, non-adjustable in 2 brands and have borrowed several at the track. All worked fine.
    SPark
     
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  5. chevy57dude
    Joined: Dec 10, 2007
    Posts: 4,842

    chevy57dude
    Member

    1560854998871-558121160.jpg
    Trusty old Craftsboy worked fine last week on the El Camino, 6A MSD ignition.
     
  6. rockable
    Joined: Dec 21, 2009
    Posts: 2,562

    rockable
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    At about 3300-3500 rpm, my digital timing light starts to pick up the multiple discharges. My old Sears does not. Fortunately, I recurve my distributors so that all the advance is in before 3300, so I still use my digital dial back light.
     
  7. What problem are you having?
     
  8. dirty old man
    Joined: Feb 2, 2008
    Posts: 8,053

    dirty old man
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Some of the newer digital dial back lights don't work too well on multi spark systems.I use a non dial back light with inductance feature and a timing tape.
     
  9. Truck64
    Joined: Oct 18, 2015
    Posts: 3,154

    Truck64
    Member
    from Ioway

    "Should" being the word. It's a known issue with some dialback timing lights and MSD, maybe some others, if the online automotive forums are any guide. Maybe RFI? Lotsa juice flying around in an ignition system, electronics aren't shielded very well sometimes.
     
  10. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 42,677

    squirrel
    Member

    Interesting....it's been years since my scope worked (old SUN) but when it did, and I put something with MSD on it, the multiple sparks were clearly visible, and as you increase RPM, the number of sparks per cylinder drops, and goes down to one at some RPM around 3500. But that's only my memory, I could be mistaken.

    I don't have a fancy digital light to play with. I do have one of those 20+ year old dial back Craftsman lights as pictured above, and it has been working fine for me. Although I took the MSD out of my 55 a few years ago, right before I sold the car. I did recently install it in a slightly OT car, and I forgot to check the timing after the installation, maybe I ought to do that
     
  11. I used a craftsman non dial back for years until it broke. I now use a msd brand timing light. its battery powered and produces a light so bright it can be used on a sunny day with no shade.
     
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  12. tommyd
    Joined: Dec 10, 2010
    Posts: 11,091

    tommyd
    Member
    from South Indy

    I bought a new one at Sears a couple of years ago because my Snap-On finally bit the dust after 40 years. It worked for a minute and quit. I took it back and exchanged it and it did the same thing. Got my money back , went to Advance Auto Parts and bought a cheap $30.00 light and it works fine. All M.S.D. stuff on my car.
     
  13. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 42,677

    squirrel
    Member

    old sears lights work fine, new sears stuff...not so much.
     
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  14. dirty old man
    Joined: Feb 2, 2008
    Posts: 8,053

    dirty old man
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Brian, when you say the MSD timing light is battery powered, are you saying powered by the car battery or a self contained battery?
     
  15. indcontrols
    Joined: May 29, 2013
    Posts: 74

    indcontrols
    Member

    I use a battery timing light as well - and yes, it has it's own batteries in it (2 D cells). Besides being accurate, it is pretty convenient, just clip the lead on the plug wire and push the button...
     
  16. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 42,677

    squirrel
    Member

    The MSD 8991 timing light has three AAA batteries in it, so you don't need to connect alligator clips to 12v.
     
  17. greybeard360
    Joined: Feb 28, 2008
    Posts: 1,321

    greybeard360
    Member

    I have a Cornwell dial back. It isn't accurate with the StreetFire or 6AL boxes, but worked fine on my 7AL box. For some reason it was off by about 15* on the SF and 6 AL boxes. MSD website has all of the info and what lights work with their units.
     
  18. mwhistle
    Joined: Feb 19, 2007
    Posts: 306

    mwhistle
    Member
    from sacramento

    If you look at the specs on the Summit Racing web site for each timing light. It specifically shows that many (most) of the timing lights are not compatible with multi spark systems.
     
  19. Mine is powered by 4 small batteries. It comes in a plastic case. Expensive but very bright. I don't have fenders or a hood to block sun light. I also don't always have someone around to hold up a piece of cardboard to block the sun. It's very bright. Wizards warehouse has them the cheapest.
     
  20. rockable
    Joined: Dec 21, 2009
    Posts: 2,562

    rockable
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    When I get a chance, I'm going to go back and compare with my old Craftsman to see if the timing is "spot on". I will let you know.
     

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