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Why an MSD ignition?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Boeing Bomber, Jan 5, 2011.

  1. Boeing Bomber
    Joined: Aug 5, 2010
    Posts: 1,079

    Boeing Bomber

    I just picked up a sweet ride that a fellow HAMBer built. He did a GREAT job, but it has an MSD ignition in it. I've heard these things can leave you stranded. What's the big advantage? It's not a race car, so I'm not out for every 1/10 off my E.T. I'm more interested in reliability.
  2. If it has a good electronic ignition in it, in good working order, the MSD box is overkill for a mild street motor.
    If the ignition system is weak, or still point based the MSD can provide better starting, smoother running etc.
  3. DirtyThirty
    Joined: Mar 8, 2007
    Posts: 2,396

    from nowhere...

    They have always worked well for me...never been stranded yet. Love their stuff in a race car, it has all sorts of compatibility with other devices, like timing control, launch, in a race car. I probably won't use them in my next hot rod, though, because it is all "new-fangled" looking...the distributor, anyway...the box you can hide anywhere...VERY user-friendly stuff. Easy to install and wire.
    Not very traditional, of course...
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2011
  4. BigBlockMopar
    Joined: Feb 4, 2006
    Posts: 1,360


    A flat tire can leave you stranded aswell.
    Why do we even bother putting air in a tire while all it does is trying to get out again... :D

  5. Total Performance
    Joined: Jan 4, 2011
    Posts: 1,496

    Total Performance
    from Nor Cal

    I have an MSD on a few of my projects. They have always worked well for me and I have had years of trouble free service. The one time I had a problem, MSD fixed it without an issue.

    Check out there web site, It basically boils down to alot more spark = more efficiency + mileage + horsepower and a cleaner burning car. If you already have it, run it.
  6. I Drag
    Joined: Apr 11, 2007
    Posts: 884

    I Drag

    The main advantage is that each spark 'event' consists of Multiple Spark Discharges, instead of a single spark discharge. This helps to make sure there is combustion in a car with high compression, or a big fuel load, or at high rpm (or all 3).

    It is doubtful that it is necessary in most street cars.

    They are no less reliable than any other electronic ignition.

    If you don't like it, and certainly if you don't understand it, take it off and go with points.

    They make a tradional "points-looking" distributor too.
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2011
  7. Except they quit multi sparking at 3,000 RPM, hardly High RPM. Only the PerTronix Ignitor III and Second Strike continue to multi spark past that range.
  8. Beef Stew
    Joined: Oct 9, 2008
    Posts: 1,253

    Beef Stew
    from So Cal

    This is true but it only works up to 3000 rpm. After that there is not enough time for the second spark.

    The MSD is a capacitive discharge ignition system. Your normal points ignition system is an inductive type. CDI systems blast the coil with 500+ volts to make them have a very large but short spike in output whereas a regular induction ignition system charges the coil with 12 volts for a few miliseconds.

    CDI's kick out major voltage (50,000+ volts) where an inductive system usually generates more amperage. I know a lot of people talk up CDI's but I personally don't like them. Think about it for a sec... when you want more heat out of your welder, do you adjust a voltage setting or an amperage setting?

    The other side of the coin is if it isn't broke don't fix it aka leave it as it is.
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2011
  9. I had an MSD dizzy & 6A box in my SBC powered '55 Chevy and have one in my 354-powered Model A.

    Once wired up correctly and the correct springs are installed, they work great- huge spark, extremely reliable and whatever centrifugal and vacuume advance you want.
  10. jamn47
    Joined: Jan 3, 2011
    Posts: 135


    They work awesome! I use a 6A, no problems at all.
  11. Boeing Bomber
    Joined: Aug 5, 2010
    Posts: 1,079

    Boeing Bomber

    Thanx for all the input. This is very insightful.
  12. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 49,311


    Take it off, send it to me.
  13. Lucky3
    Joined: Dec 9, 2009
    Posts: 652


    A good ole HEI in a street car is really hard to beat !!
    I only have race cars (on Methanol) and the hotter MSD ignitions are a must. Anything in the 6AL offering is just fine for Hot Rods.
    Happy Motoring !!!

  14. flamedabone
    Joined: Aug 3, 2001
    Posts: 4,952


    15 years and 100K plus miles on mine with out so much as a hiccup.

    Leave it on there and don't worry about it. There is alot more shit on that car that will give out before that MSD will. The guy who built it made a good decision, don't sweat it.

    Good luck, -Abone.

    PS. Got any pics of the car??

    PPS. If you are a Boeing guy, any chance you will ever be at the new plant in Charleston? If so, gimme a holler and you can buy me a beer.
    Joined: Oct 19, 2006
    Posts: 1,204

    from Ramona CA

    Yeah some where in the neighborhood of 2 amps per plug.
    When running a MSD with a dual point setup you disconnect the trailing point set.
    I would advise replacing the dizzy with a electronic of the generic brand. IE a duraspark for Ford.. Use the msd pigtail and it will save you tons of cash. I could turn mine up to 7200 rpms and no issues.
    Would of warning. DO NOT touch the exposed lug on the dual points dizzy. AFA durability. My MSD box is still working. 15 years with no failure.
  16. Boeing Bomber
    Joined: Aug 5, 2010
    Posts: 1,079

    Boeing Bomber

    PS. Got any pics of the car??
    picture.jpg Vintage heater core blew, got a new one. Fan shroud is being built. Since the engine is newer, I'm not going to try to make it look older. I'll mount the MSD on the firewall I guess.

    PPS. If you are a Boeing guy, any chance you will ever be at the new plant in Charleston? If so, gimme a holler and you can buy me a beer.[/QUOTE]
    No, Never worked for Boeing. I got my bike in my Avatar at the old Boeing surplus, check it out in my profile photo albums. (Sure miss that place since they moved headquarters back East) If they have a surplus store there, you GOTTA' check it out.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2011
  17. The MSD system is very appropriate when you have an engine that an HEI or similar dizzy isn't available. I tried a points and coil system on my 4 cyl Chevy II engine with twin webers in my rpu and couldn't stand to be in the garage it was so fat. What it really needed was enough spark to burn the charge. Once I set up the MSD using the points dizzy the engine was actually lean and I had to up the jetting in the carbs. I'm not saying I'd automatically go MSD as I've had good performance with HEI's and points dizzys on some pretty stout v-8's in the past. But the MSD was a real solution for this engine.

  18. 55chevr
    Joined: Jul 12, 2008
    Posts: 956


    I had an 85 Z-28 that was a problem starting in winter ... I added an MSD 6AL and it fired right up ... probleme solved.
  19. Boeing Bomber
    Joined: Aug 5, 2010
    Posts: 1,079

    Boeing Bomber

    I thought it might have been added for better starting, This is one COLD blooded chevy engine.
  20. yellow wagon
    Joined: Jun 13, 2007
    Posts: 612

    yellow wagon
    from WI

    been using a 6AL box for years. Works great
  21. Black_Sheep
    Joined: May 22, 2010
    Posts: 1,267


    Installing a 6AL made a huge difference in the starting and idle quality of my 440 equipped with a long duration/high overlap cam. The rev limiter is a nice touch too, I've "hit the chip" a couple times and consider it cheap insurance against hurting the engine...
  22. Rebel 1
    Joined: Oct 25, 2010
    Posts: 568

    Rebel 1

    I have the 6A MSD and I have never had a problem. I run more race than street and have mine mounted inside.
  23. 1Bad67
    Joined: Mar 22, 2006
    Posts: 221


    OMFG.... If that is the way it was mounted I would question how it was wired. An MSD box wired correctly will work reliably, but one wired half arsed will burn up and leave you stranded.
  24. redshoes36
    Joined: Oct 18, 2010
    Posts: 32


    I had a msd billit ready to run in my 351w it puked at 30,000miles. I have a friend whose msd puked around 30,000mi. If you run yours I wood carry a spare sensor. There about 25.00.
  25. shanesflames
    Joined: Dec 21, 2005
    Posts: 139


    I burn'd one up some how...wired good...I was told not to charge the battery with out un- hooking the Batt. it was at least 10years old
  26. 55chevr
    Joined: Jul 12, 2008
    Posts: 956


    I would that MSD are a really good company and stand behind their products. A pleasure to deal with ....
  27. landseaandair
    Joined: Feb 23, 2009
    Posts: 4,472

    from phoenix

    No, Never worked for Boeing. I got my bike in my Avatar at the old Boeing surplus. (Sure miss that place since they moved headquarters back East) If they have a surplus store there, you GOTTA' check it out.[/QUOTE]

    That's an interesting installation method.:rolleyes: I like to put them under the dash, out of the heat and weather. They do put out a hot spark and help performance noticeably. If your paranoid, some people carry an HEI module around with a prefabbed harness for a backup.
  28. lostforawhile
    Joined: Mar 23, 2008
    Posts: 4,160


    the points last so long because they are no longer carrying any current for the coil, just being a trigger signal. no current, means no points wear or burning. the box handles all of the current going to the coil. I'm putting one in my off topic japanese car, a 6T, it has a problem with the igniter in the distributor overheating, so using the box will remove all the load from the igniter. the multiple sparks help keep the burn clean at idle too. I'm also putting it inside of the car, due to space limitations. Running the high voltage wires to the coil in vinyl tube like MSD did factory, taping them to the floor pan and running copper tape over them to cut down any interference
  29. Rogue63
    Joined: Nov 19, 2010
    Posts: 228

    from New York

    I have run a MSD box on almost all of my car,they do crap out sometimes and they will repair it for you.As far as being stranded,in the old installation instructions there was a diagram for bypassing the box and going back to the old system.There used to be two black tabs you bolted to coil and if the unit failed you just unplug the msd and replug the coil the coventional way and you are up and running.I don't if they still supply these with the kit.Maybe the newer units are much more reliable now.Rogue
  30. 39 All Ford
    Joined: Sep 15, 2008
    Posts: 1,531

    39 All Ford
    from Benton AR

    For me an MSD box in the engine compartment of a driver just makes everything look too damn busy, hidden from line of sight I think they are fine.

    P.S.,,,, the bungee cord mount is simply hideous, worse even than I was talking about....

    Who would do such an EVIL thing.... I don't even need paint under the hood, but shit, bungee mounts, zip tie mounts, and extra long hoses coiled up "to fit" are somewhat unimpressive in my book.....

    I don't want to come across as an elitist but damn...
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2011

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