Ignition Iprovement

I have the original electronic ignition system in my L48, 1977 coupe. Would it gain me much of anything to put an MSD in it, or a higher output coil or
any other ignition system modification?
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BDragon wrote:

heavy engine loading or at higher rpm. If your stock ignition is kept in good repair and adjustment, it should be more than sufficient (and efficient) for normal driving. When an engine is modified to run at higher compression ratios and higher rpm, then the ignition system might need to be upgraded to handle that.
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Thank you, WayneC. I've wondered about this every time I read too much advertising.
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You are definitely reading too much advertising. MSD is good in the right application, but for yours, you don't need anything more than a good stock HEI.
The stock HEI will saturate somewhere around 7500-8000 rpm, depending on the parts. Really around 7000 rpm it is not very dependable, but then, are you revving your L48 to 7000 rpm? :-)
The HEI kicks out a great spark. The MSD has the advantage to fire under adverse conditions, in that if the first fire does not jump across the gap, then the second or third might. Also, the high dollar (not basic) will use rev limiters and such that can be very beneficial to keeping your engine alive in the event of missed shifts.
The L48 will begin to float valves before you rev high enough to break it. As soon as that happens, it stops revving. With a high compression race motor, floating a valve could be disastrous in that the valve and piston would probably hit, but the dished pistons of an L48 won't.
In motors we kept under 7000 (basically set for 6500 and hope we didn't push that too much), I've run fresh HEI setups and had no ignition problems.
It is possibly one of the best things GM ever did, and may have been if they had put a tach drive on it.

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Thanks Tom. You know, when you have an L48, even a nicely rebuilt 350 like mine, you always have time to wonder how you can get it to kick out a bit more. That's what I do in the rest time from 0 - 60. Well, kidding, sort of. It's a really nice piece of equipment, and it makes daybreak tolerable knowing I'll be driving it, but it would be nice to find a way to put a little more zip in it without spending way too much.
I keep reading on here about the C5 and dream about having that, and keeping the one I've got (because I built it; every piece of it, and learned on every nut and bolt). I don't know how the guys afford them though. Or maybe most just have a more lucrative occupation than teaching high school. Unless I can find one hellofa hellofa deal, I will be happy with what I've got and proud of it, but always be trying to find a way to zip it up a little more.
Anyway, thanks for the input. There is so much I don't know yet.

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Two things make an engine run - spark and fuel. After that, what determines how it runs is how fast it can take fuel in, process the fuel, and then get rid of the waste. It is really very simple.
If you built your L48 stock, then you should have the 333882 heads on it. These are not a performance head, known as lightweights due to how the casting cuts back in between the lower row of head bolts, however, they were used with the L82 also and should flow up to 6000 rpm with no problem. What will stop you from having some snap are:
1. cam profile 2. ignition map (ignition timing curve) 3. exhaust system configuration
If you still have the original exhaust, then you have a good chance your original catalytic converter is nearly plugged. If you have no emissions testing, you have a few options. First is a new factory exhaust with a new catalytic converter. Second would be true dual exhaust, ordered for a '74 Corvette. Of course, this isn't PC as there is greater emissions. The third would be true dual exhaust with new style small performance cats that do not restrict the exhaust flow. Fourth option would be headers and dual exhaust, even headers with sidepipes. The fourth option would permit the most power.
If you have emissions testing, you would be stuck with the first but you might get away with the third. It depends on if they do configuration exams or just check that there is a cat.
Timing on the stock L48 isn't that great. However, it should be matched to your engine, gearing, and cam, so with that information, you can probably get any local speed shop to recurve your distributor to improve things.
Cam profiles we went over on Larry & Michele's '79 L48 and the same would apply to you.
Also, be sure what you have is working. The number of Quadrajets running around with sunken floats is incredible. The composite float develops a leak, fills with gas, and then sinks. This leaves the needle open on the seat and allows the bowl to overflow with gas at low speed, creating an overly rich condition. Usually, your tailpipes are black and you see black smoke at low speed if you goose it a little. Your mileage is probably terrible.

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Tom in Missouri wrote:

What Tom meant to say was "three" things make an engine run - spark, fuel and air - the more the better. After that, what determines how it runs is how much air it inhales and how fast it can take fuel in, process the fuel, and then get rid of the waste. It is really very simple. An engine is basically an air compressor.
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That's a nice analogy. Easy way to picture it. Thanks.
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Not within the RPM range your engine will live at. MSD does have a multiple spark but you won't see enough benefit to justify the cost. The multi spark and larger Zaaaap of the MSD helps at high RPM and very high cylinder pressures i.e. high compression, nitrous, turbos or blowers, yada yada.
If you were building a vette o hotrod around in I'd go with a MSD.
BDragon wrote:

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Ric Seyler
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a club member that has (had) it on his '77. On one of our club trips it went south and there was no fixing it. It was replaced with stock Chevrolet parts and the trip went on without a hitch. Why pay a premium for an inconvenience?
--
Dad
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That was one worry about my '32. The mismash of parts on it and repairs on a road trip. Although any speed shop will have MSD stuff in stock, but finding a speed shop in many small towns is futile.
Dad wrote:

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While a agree that an MSD will give little back on a stock engine for the money (but not that it will give nothing). However I totally disagree with the comment on "repair". I have found that MSD is a very reliable system. The fact that someone has experienced a failure doesn't mean that they're all bad. In fact I don't care who the manufacturer is... they will have failures, including GM stock components.
As far as upgrading the ignition system, I recommend getting top of the line solid core wires with shielding and avoiding the carbon core stuff. Use good quality spark plugs and upgrade to a high performance coil and then gap the plugs just a little wider. You should take your distributor down and have it spun up and checked for wabble and runout. Some the the factory distributors have some bearing slop (especially after a some miles) or shaft warp which can throw off individual cylinder timing slightly at higher RPMs (usually greater than 4500 RPM). You want everything to be as "clean" as possible. The hypertech coil is a good choice (about $100). The key is to make everything work together and not just upgrade on component and ignoring other things, especially those things that will get in the way of what you upgraded.
If you're going for show looks an aftermarket distributor can look really good, if that's also what you want try the Mallory HEI (about $200). Its a direct replacement (no mods).
Dennis
Dad wrote:

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to get yours running, anything can be fixed and everyone that carries stock GM parts has MSD parts. Spend the extra money for the upgrade (?), and then put another one in the back so you can keep it running if it goes down in the hills of Pennsylvania. Of course now you have 3 systems, the one you took off, the one running and the one for a spare that may never be used, not a efficient use of money for a minimal gain. Maybe you could put the old GM in the back to fix the better ignition, less cost and you have one you know will work.
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Dad wrote:

in, it drops in and you can replace it with a factory distributor if it fails (including the one you took off). What's the big deal? As long as you wire the new ignition system so that a factory unit can replace it easily, you're no worse off than if you had a factory unit that failed. Been there done that...
Besides, on customized cars there are normally lots of things that fall into the "you can't get one of those here" categories. I've driven with groups where one of the roadsters with the Jaguar rearend broke and there was no place close to get one even looked at. If your afraid of that sort of thing... be sure your car is absolutely stock. No higher quality aftermarket for you...
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What's your point?

worse off means that parts stores all carry MSD parts and GM replacement parts, get real.

ignition in good shape.

knowledge that all aftermarket is not higher quality.
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The whole point of driving a Chevy is that you can get parts for it anywhere. (At least until they started those LT and LS motors.) Remove the Chevy and you remove that advantage.
Just crossed into Tennessee from Kentucky about midnight one trip and suddenly the motor in the van sounded like a you'd stuffed a potato in one exhaust and trying to backfire out the carb.
Pulled into an all-night station under the lights, the only light around for as far as you could see, pulled both valve covers, and found two broken rockers. A guy in getting cigarettes and beer told me he had an old Monte Carlo sitting in a field about a mile down if I needed parts.
I thanked him, told him I had all the spares I needed, and pointed to the two engines I had in the back. But the point was, you wouldn't find an MSD on that Monte, I'd bet a paycheck on it.
The old saying "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" really applies here.

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I'll bet that ol' Monte wouldn't have had any parts for my factory Opti-spark ignition system either... Or any parts that would work on my TPI (injectors, throttle body parts, etc...) either.
Tom in Missouri wrote:

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Well, as I said,

After Chevy began the new engine every two years syndrome, all bets were off.
Maybe that is why the Mustang crowd is so strong.

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