TeamRush Ignition Upgrade

TeamRush Ignition Upgrade

BusaDave9

Always Off-Roading Jeeper
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Durango, Crawlarado
Vehicle(s)
1979 Jeep CJ5 with 304 V8, T18 Transmission, Dana 20 Transfer case with TeraLow 3:1 gears, 4.88 axle gears, Detroit Locker up front and Ox Locker in back with 1 piece axle shafts, 36" SuperSwamper SX Tires, Shackle reversal, MileMarker Hydraulic winch, MSD 6A ignition.
I finally upgraded my ignition. Actually I did it a week ago. I decided to go with the TeamRush upgrade. I'm glad I did. It consists of upgrading the distributor cap and spark plug wires. This upgrade makes sure the spark energy goes where it is intended, to the spark plugs. With the smaller OEM distributor it is possible to get cross fire in the distributor where a spark goes to the wrong cylinder or a spark going down to a ground. Once the distributor was upgraded I installed a MSD series 6 ignition module. DO NOT install a high performance ignition module without upgrading the distributor. The OEM distributor has a hard enough time getting the spark to the correct spark plug.


Coil
Replacing the coil is optional. The TeamRush upgrade allows you to either keep the stock coil or replace it with an after-market. I already have a MSD Blaster High Vibration coil. My last coil shorted out and it may have been from getting bumped around off-road. Most coils are oil filled. It is possible for the wires inside the coil to bump around and short out. The MSD Blaster High Vibration coil is epoxy resin filled and can handle more banging around. Also it doesn't need to be mounted upright.

8222_01.jpg
I prefer canister coils. They offer stronger, high current sparks at low rpm.


Distributor Cap
As long as your CJ was made after 1977 you have a Motorcraft Distributor. These distributors can benefit from a larger distributor cap intended for a ford.
I bought the MSD Ford V8 Cap-Adapt kit for $36. (MSD Part 8414)
If you want to save a few dollars and get an OEM distributor cap just make sure it's good quality with brass terminals. You can get a distributor cap, rotor and cap adapter for a stock 1980 Ford F150 with a V8. The cap adapter fits over the distributor but flairs out big enough for the larger cap to fit on.


duraspark-cap.jpg

If you have a strait six in your Jeep you can look up the parts for the same year Ford F150 but with a 300 strait six.
To install this Ford Distributor Cap, it just snaps on like it was meant for your Jeep. No instructions necessary. (Actually it is a Ford Motorcraft Distributor in your Jeep)
These distributor caps have different terminals so you will need new wires.



Wires
I already had nice MSD wires for my OEM distributor but now I had to replace the wire ends at the distributor end. I bought the MSD crimp on ends. I cut the end off my wires and crimped on the new ends. The ends I got were MSD part 3330. These come with 2 in a package so I bought 5. (8 spark plug wires and one coil wire) This left me with one extra connector.
For everyone else that doesn't already have MSD wires you will need MSD part 5551 if you have a V8 or if you have a strait 6 you can get Motorcraft spark plug wires (part WR4050). These Motorcraft wires are ready to be installed.

These MSD wires (PN 5551) require you to crimp the ends on yourself. Trust me, it is very easy to do this right. The MSD wires already come with the MSD Mini-Crimper. The new style connectors use what MSD calls a Dual-Crimp. The connector has one section that crimps onto the insulation to physically hold the connector on. Then there is a smaller crimp section that only crimps onto the conductor part in the center of the wire. This part is crimped on with needle nose pliers. When I first realized I needed to use needle nose pliers I regretted not buying an expensive crimping tool. The first rule for crimping connectors is to use the right tool and never use needle nose pliers. Well, in this case needle nose pliers are the right tool. These connectors were meant to be used with needle nose.

.

crimponconnectors.jpg
On the left is the new style Dual-Crimp Connector. On the right is the old style.
The first step is to cut the wire to the correct length. I then use the MSD Mini-Crimper to strip the wire. Put the wire into the correct hole on the Mini-Crimper/stripper. There are 2 holes: one for 8 mm wires and one for 8.5 mm wires.


striper.jpg

I put the wire up to a marking for Dual-Crimp connectors. Then I use a razor blade to cut off through the insulation. This small section of insulation then twists off.

Next I crimpped the connector onto the wire. If you have the newer style Dual-Crimp connectors you will crimp in two steps. First crimp the connector to the insulation. To do this you will use a vise to do the crimping.


crimp.jpg

Pull on the connector to make sure you have a good crimp. Next use needle nose pliers to crimp the conductor.

Wireend.jpg

Once the connector is on the wire apply dielectric grease to the connector and press it into the boot.


Timing Advance Springs
This part is completely optional. These advance springs are in the distributor. They hold the advance weights. I put in lighter springs to allow the timing to advance at lower RPM. I used Mr.Gasket #925D springs following the advice on JunkYardGenius.com.
To get down to the advance springs remove the distributor cap. Next you have to remove the reluctor (trigger wheel) from the distributor. Some pry it off with 2 screw drivers but I found it very easy to remove with a small 2 arm puller.

Puller.jpg
Next the pickup assembly will be removed. Now you can see the advance springs.

Springs.jpg
These springs do not have to match. You can have one firm spring and one medium spring or any other combination. The springs work together to try to keep the weights from swinging outward at low rpm. When the weights are outward the timing is fully advanced.
The inside of the distributor can be cleaned with a spray can of electrical contact cleaner.



CDI Ignition Module
The stock ignition system uses the inductance of the coil to produce the high voltage spark. To get the next big jump in ignition performance you can install a CDI ignition module. CDI stands for Capacitor Discharge Ignition. MSD makes some of the best selling CDI modules. You will want to get an MSD series 6 ignition module such as the Digital 6A, 6AL or the 6 Off Road. I got the 6A (MSD part # 6201). The 6AL is similar except it also has a built in rev limiter. The 6 Off-Road is water proofed.

IgnitionModule.jpg
I mounted my MSD ignition module on the passenger front inner fender. All the wires are plenty long. In most cases too long. I shortened the wires and re-crimped ends back on. If you are not comfortable crimping the wire ends just keep them full length and tie wrap up the extra. The MSD ignition module I got included an extension for the wires to distributor.
Others that have done this modification have recommended you keep the OEM distributor connector and not cut the wires in case the MSD module fails. That sounded like a good idea to me since I do a lot of four-wheeling on remote mountain trails but you will also have to reconnect the coil back up with the OEM wires. To do this you should also keep the wiring diagram in your Jeep so you will know how to uninstall the MSD ignition.

I couldn't find an MSD wiring diagram for this application so I made one based on one of their other diagrams. The JunkYardGenius (JeepHammer) gets credit for the design.


Wiringdiagram.jpg
The heavy gauge black and the red wires need to go directly to the battery or to the end of the battery cable. For example the positive battery cable connects to the starter solenoid on the inner fender. This is where I connected the large red wire in the MSD harness.
I use dielectric grease on all connections.



Spark Plugs
With the ignition system upgraded you can now run your spark plugs with a wider gap. I used Autolite Copper Core spark plugs. It's part number 65 for my V8. If you have a strait 6 get Autolite part number 985. These are the regular spark plugs intended for the AMC engines. Champion also makes good spark plugs.
The plugs can be gapped to .045 to .050. Use the correct gapping tool. Don't use a gap measuring coin to pry open the gap.

3807-0048.jpg
When installing the spark plugs use copper anti-seize. Then when you install the spark plug wires use dielectric grease.


Next check the timing.

That's it! Now you've got better performance, gas mileage and easier starting especially in the cold. These mods don't have to be done all at once. You can do the distributor cap and spark plug wires alone.


Distributor.jpg
Credits: Once again I have to thank the JunkYardGenius (JeepHammer) for the idea.
 
Really good write up BusaDave9!
 
Very good write up, Busa. Good to see another option. I have already installed an HEI set up in mine, so we'll see how that goes. I am building another engine this winter, and I'm seriously considering this upgrade for it, and I'll have something to compare it against.
 
Spark Plugs
I need to make some corrections and clarifications.
If you installed the larger distributor cap, wires and
MSD series 6 ignition module you can now gap your plugs to .045" to .050".
These high performance ignition modules can produce much higher voltages to arc across a wider gap. They also have the ability to maintain higher current. With the 6A Ignition control MSD recommends you gap your plugs at .050" to .060".
The problem is the manufacturers don't recommend you gap the plugs any more than .008 larger or smaller than they were originally set at. This is because the ground electrode would no longer be flat above the center electrode.
Since the plugs for my V8 come with a .035" gap they wouldn't work. I did some searching to find different plugs. I found that Autolite 646 plugs come with a .059" gap but are otherwise similar to the Autolite 65 plugs that normally install in the 304. I plan on getting a set of those for my V8 but I plan on decreasing the gap before installing them.


BTW if you want to get spark plugs that are similar to OEM except have one trait (such as gap) that is different then check out this link:
Tuning information: spark plug construction, heat range, indexing, gap settings, plug torque, racing plug information at ChampionSparkPlugs.com
It lets you search by whatever criteria you want: gap, heat range, thread size, ect.



 
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As always Busa, :notworthy:

Now how about any special anti seize or anything for larger gaped plug running. I had read another members post mentioning something of this nature.

Is it just a given you use the anti seize all the time, or any research you've completed that mentions this at all?

Just wondering.

I thank you for this information just added as well, because i had just done a slightly similar (DUI and MSD) upgrade, and reset sparkplug gaps instead of buying new ones.

What does this cause? Poor running conditions, un even spark? etc?

:popcorn:

:chug:

~ JR
 
good write up. i did this to my 258 and well worth it. i went with a msd blaster 3 coil and a streetfire (msd econo brand) box. the strretfire has two dials on this side to adjust the rev limiter.
 
Now how about any special anti seize or anything for larger gaped plug running. I had read another members post mentioning something of this nature.

Is it just a given you use the anti seize all the time, or any research you've completed that mentions this at all?
The issue with spark plugs is you need a good ground. You want to use copper anti-seize for spark plugs because it is conductive and can withstand the high temperatures of the engine head.
Some spark plug manufacturers claim to coat the spark plugs with an anti-seize. It is not a liquid and I am not convinced it is as good as a separate copper based anti-seize.

You want to be careful about increasing the spark plug gap. You need to make sure your ignition can produce the voltage to span the gap. Even if it can produce the voltage the ignition may not be able to maintain much current. A strong high current spark across a small gap is better than a weak low current spark across a wide gap.
If you have installed an MSD Series 6 ignition module your ignition can produce a much stronger spark but you need to make sure you can get the spark to the spark plug. That's why I say you shouldn't install an MSD ignition on an OEM distributor. The sparks may just find a way to ground inside the distributor cap. Even then you can loose the spark from poor spark plug wires. It is easy to test the conductor of a spark plug wire with an ohm meter. It's not as easy to test the insulator of a spark plug wire. Even the insulation of a bad spark plug wire is still too high to read with an ohm meter. One way to check a spark plug wire insulation is to watch it in the dark. Unless you have new or high performance spark plug wires I think everyone should watch their engine run in the dark. If the insulation has failed you will see sparks go from the spark plug wire to the valve cover or any other ground metal. Try it, you may be surprised.
If you have a MSD Series 6 ignition module then you should increase the gap on your spark plugs. That is as long as you have good spark plug wires and distributor. Yes, the HEI distributor can handle the higher voltages.

If you try to increase the gap of a spark plug too much then the spark would go from the edge of the center electrode to the ground electrode. You are better off with a spark plug that starts off with a wider gap before re-gapping. I admit I have gapped spark plugs more than .010 than what the manufacturer made them but I haven't done any systematic testing.
 
Nicely done Dave....
I like the option of the MSD cap.
Went to the junk yard and couldnt find the correct year Ford to get parts to save my life.

Once my Jeep hits the street again in a few days, I'm gonna follow your path...

thanks Dave for bringing this mod up again,
and thanks to JeepHammer for the initial mod..
 
I like the option of the MSD cap.
Went to the junk yard and couldn't find the correct year Ford to get parts to save my life.
You can use the distributor cap from any Ford V8 from '75 to '84 but I wouldn't get the distributor cap or rotor from the junk yard.
Rock Auto has a cap for $17
1980 FORD F-150 Distributor Cap
They have the rotor for $4
1980 FORD F-150 Distributor Rotor
and a distributor cap adaptor for $4
http://www.rockauto.com/catalog/x,carcode,1121139,parttype,10738
 
Hi Dave,
Just to clarify, by using the MSD 6A module you are eliminating the Ford ignition brain that goes bad every once in a while-- correct?

And by doing this mod, does the ballast resistor go away as well?

Lastly, being totally honest, did you see an all around improvement? Did you see an improvement only at low rpm, or possibly only at high rpm, or off idle foot-to-the-floor throttle response? Did you have an ignition issue to begin with that this mod cleaned up?

thanks Dave
 
Hi Dave,
Just to clarify, by using the MSD 6A module you are eliminating the Ford ignition brain that goes bad every once in a while-- correct?

And by doing this mod, does the ballast resistor go away as well?

Lastly, being totally honest, did you see an all around improvement? Did you see an improvement only at low rpm, or possibly only at high rpm, or off idle foot-to-the-floor throttle response?

thanks Dave
Doing the mods mentioned in this thread made my ignition far superior to OEM. Most of the performance gains came from the MSD ignition. Let me step through each mod one at a time.

Distributor Cap and Wires - I was very sceptical that this mod alone could help at all. I posted my scepticism on this site but after installing the larger MSD cap and rotor I thought my Jeep was starting easier. To make sure I held off on all the other mods for a week to see how my CJ would start. My Jeep was left outside and I would go out to start it early morning even when I didn't need to drive it. Not a big difference but I do think it was an improvement. What's that mean? It must be that there was cross-fire in my distributor cap. Sparks must have been going down to ground or out the wrong spark plug wire. The cap and rotor I removed were not new but they were not in bad shape either.
Let me say once again the larger distributor cap and wires do not produce a more powerful spark. They only make sure all the spark energy goes to the spark plugs. DO NOT get a MSD ignition control without getting a larger distributor cap (or HEI).

Timing Springs - These springs gave me better throttle response.
Here is what JeepHammer says about the timing spring modification:

HEAVY springs make the CENTRIFUGAL ADVANCE LATER, OR HIGHER IN THE RPM RANGE.

LIGHER Springs make the CENTRIFUGAL ADVANCE SOONER, OR LOWER IN THE RPM RANGE.

Lighter springs will make the vehicle 'Jump' when you push the throttle,
But they can very easily come back to haunt you with detonation when you are cruising on the highway...

They also make trying to 'Finesse' an obstacle more difficult if the vehicle is going to 'Jump' every time you touch the throttle!
About all distributors will give you the same TOTAL advance (Centrifugal + Vacuum),
But the RATE at which each comes in is what gives you smooth power throught the power band.

Centrifugal should start about 800 RPM and be 'All In' by about 1,600 RPM,
Sometimes even faster if you have a light weight Jeep with 'Short' gears, closer to 3.70:1 ratio.

If you have 'Tall' gears, you might want that centrifugal advance to come in a little slower so you have some 'Wiggle Room' when the vehicle is straining.

MSD Ignition Control
- Now here is were you can expect major gains. My jeep starts better in the cold and immediately runs very smooth right from the start. It should have more power throughout the RPM range but I need to run it longer to give more specifics.
Why is MSD so much better? Capacitive Discharge, that's how. Energy goes it a capacitor and discharges all at once. This same technology is used in camera flashes. A camera may only have 2 batteries that only produce a total of 3 volts but it uses capacitive discharge to produce a high energy flash.
An MSD ignition module starts off with 12 volts but produces an output of 520 to 535 volts. That voltage is fed into the coil where it is amplified to tens of thousands of volts. This is why you need a larger distributor cap, to separate the terminals and make sure the spark goes to the correct spark plug.
Plus the MSD ignition produces multiple sparks. As many as 5 at lower rpm. At higher rpm one very strong spark is produced.
When you install the MSD Ignition Control you must remove the ballast resistor.
My CJ runs fine with the ignition module on the fender disconnected. It is not needed but I did not physically remove mine. My thinking was that I could wire back up my OEM ignition if the MSD module died. When I was changing the wiring for the coil I began to wonder if I would ever really need to swap back to OEM. It would be a hassle to undo this mod but if I was stranded in the mountains it would be a bigger hassle to try to get another MSD.

Coil - The coils main purpose is to increase the voltage going to the spark plug. Even an OEM coil may increase the ignition voltage 100 fold. To increase the voltage a coil simply has more wire windings in the secondary (output) portion of the coil. It sounds very easy to produce a high voltage performance coil but in reality I usually don't notice much difference when installing a high performance coil. Why? Because when a coil produces a higher voltage it also produces lower current. It's a trade off and this is one area you simply don't get something for nothing. Don't get me wrong performance coils are not a waste of money. They do improve performance but don't expect a whole lot from just replacing the coil.

Did you have an ignition issue to begin with that this mod cleaned up?
My Jeep was running fine before. I never like to do a mod at the same time as a repair. You never want to do a mod to find out your engine runs as bad as before because the mod didn't replace the bad part.
 
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The Nutter Bypass eliminates the ECM under the dash. The MSD module eliminates the OEM ignition module on the fender.
Here are some Nutter Bypass drawings:

ign1.gif

ign2.gif
 
Thank you for clarifying a few things...
You've spent as much time writing replies to this as you probably did actually DOING it.. !!! So thanks for answering some questions I had.

I totally agree about not doing mods at the same time of repairs. I like to see what mod really accomplishes above and beyond a good running factory machine--- not just a poorly tuned, issue-plagued nightmare.!!

On a side note, I am probably way off, but I thought the nutter bypass had to do with carbuerator/timing issues, specifically with a 258. Does that even apply to the 79 with a V8 and aftermarket carter (edelbrock) carb and intake.

Not trying to hijack the thread, but someone else brought it up, and it threw off my thoughts...

thanks again Dave.
 
Spark Plugs
I need to make some corrections and clarifications.
If you installed the larger distributor cap and wires you can now gap your plugs to .045" to .050".
But if you also installed an MSD series 6 ignition module you can go wider than that. These high performance ignition modules can produce much higher voltages to arc across a wider gap. They also have the ability to maintain higher current. With the 6A Ignition control MSD recommends you gap your plugs at .050" to .060".
The problem is the manufacturers don't recommend you gap the plugs any more than .008 larger or smaller than they were originally set at. This is because the ground electrode would no longer be flat above the center electrode.
Since the plugs for my V8 come with a .035" gap they wouldn't work. I did some searching to find different plugs. I found that Autolite 646 plugs come with a .059" gap but are otherwise similar to the Autolite 65 plugs that normally install in the 304. I plan on getting a set of those for my V8 but I plan on decreasing the gap before installing them.


BTW if you want to get spark plugs that are similar to OEM except have one trait (such as gap) that is different then check out this link:
Tuning information: spark plug construction, heat range, indexing, gap settings, plug torque, racing plug information at ChampionSparkPlugs.com
It lets you search by whatever criteria you want: gap, heat range, thread size, ect.
This maybe a stupid question but if you replace the cap with a bigger cap will you have to readjust the timing for the spark to hit the cylinder at the right time with the cap being bigger the gap between the wire plugs will be bigger or is this so minimal that it won't make that big of a differance?:dunno::eek: And also should you start with the old advance springs to see how it accelerates before deciding on lighter springs. I would like better acceleration but don't want the jumpiness that is mentioned by jeephammer.
 
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if you replace the cap with a bigger cap will you have to readjust the timing for the spark to hit the cylinder at the right time with the cap being bigger the gap between the wire plugs will be bigger
No, the size of the distributor cap won't affect timing. The rotor in the distributor will still rotate half as fast as the crank shaft.

should you start with the old advance springs to see how it accelerates before deciding on lighter springs. I would like better acceleration but don't want the jumpiness that is mentioned by jeephammer.
The springs are optional so yes you may want to hold off on installing them. You can do some experimenting to get good throttle response without the jumpiness.
Mr.Gasket #925D springs are working good for me.
 
Dave, anything new to report since the upgrade? Often it takes time for things to "settle out" and you see all the subtleties of the improvement.

Waiting for a couple more parts to do mine....
 
Dave, anything new to report since the upgrade? Often it takes time for things to "settle out" and you see all the subtleties of the improvement.

Waiting for a couple more parts to do mine....
Busta how has the upgrade gone you said you wanted a little more time to see the results of the upgrade. And also would this be a better upgrade then hei, I'm just conserned about the gear of the hei dist. eating the cam gear. Which do you think is better and or cost effective?:)
 
Wow. Sorry guys. I forgot all about this thread.

Yes, I still think it's a fantastic upgrade. I did quote JeepHammer saying the lighter springs may make the vehicle jumpy. That all depends on how light of springs you go, and on your engine and other factors.
Let me say that the springs (Mr.Gasket #925D) I put into my dizzy is worked great for my 304. I get better throttle response and the jeep is not in the least bit jumpy.

would this be a better upgrade then hei, I'm just conserned about the gear of the hei dist. eating the cam gear. Which do you think is better and or cost effective?:)

I think this is a much better, more cost effective, upgrade than an HEI ignition. Yes the gear can be a BIG problem. You can swap out the gear on the dizzy but sometimes that doesn't work because the shaft size isn't right. If you get a HEI ignition get a good (expensive) one. But WHY? :confused: If you've already got a good distributor don't replace it. The OEM dizzy and gear works great. Just replace what isn't working so great. That's another reason I say this is a better upgrade. VERSATILITY! You can start off by just replacing the cap, rotor and wires. Later get a MSD module and/or coil. Maybe the springs later.
Overall this gets you a better ignition at a lower cost than HEI.
I say don't waste your money on HEI. When I first heard of the TeamRush upgrade I was skeptical. Last year I was thinking of getting HEI. I am glad I changed my mind and went this route.
 
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