Locked out distributor...

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  1. j par

    j par Well-hung Member

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    As I'm preparing to install my MSD start and step retard controller pn 8987 it recommends the distributors centrifugal advance be locked out?..
    I know I'm not going to do this likely but I was wondering why they would say this?
    I get that the start retard is made for this kind of situation but I plan to use the step retard for nitrous...
    Just wondering what street drivability and idle would be like at full advance? Or if it's even possible? I've seen cars at the track like this but that's the only place...
    Thank you for your knowledge and experience...
     
  2. 318willrun

    318willrun Roadkill '80 D150

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    does the MSD control the timing? If so, that's why they want it locked out.
     
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    • j par

      j par Well-hung Member

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      I don't get what you're saying...
       
    • 318willrun

      318willrun Roadkill '80 D150

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      If the MSD is going to control the ignition timing, then you don't want the distributor doing mechanical timing too. I'm a little out of my field here on experience, because I've never run a MSD ignition.
       
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      • dirty white boy

        dirty white boy 47 yr old Juvenal delinquent

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        These MSD Start and Step timing controls are designed to provide an adjustable start retard to help high-compression engines crank over easily. Plus, they use a single-stage retard. They simply connect between the distributor and the MSD ignition. The MSD Start and Step timing controls feature two separate rotary dials for quick, easy adjustments. They require the use of MSD's ignition control.

        MSD Start and Step Timing Controls 8987

        advance is controlled by required msd ignition control, if dizzy advancing and retarding mechanically and by msd, spect it run all sorts of funny!!
         
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        • 318willrun

          318willrun Roadkill '80 D150

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          good explanation. I didn't know how to word it...
           
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          • dirty white boy

            dirty white boy 47 yr old Juvenal delinquent

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          • dirty white boy

            dirty white boy 47 yr old Juvenal delinquent

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            just copied an pasted from the summit page...
             
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            • j par

              j par Well-hung Member

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              If I don't lock out this distributor I don't need the start retard side I can just put that on 0... it says just hooking up this controller will instantly retard the timing four degrees.. as I understand it the first time I start the car with this new box connected I will have to go out in advance the timing four degrees.. also as I understand it when I put 12 volts to the activation wire at any time it will pull the amount of timing out that I set it for...
              likely this scenario won't play out till I'm at full timing anyways but I was just wondering if anybody knew how it scaled or if it did?
              As in if I'm at 19 initial and 33 all In and I had it set at let's say 6 degrees if I initiated it at idle with it drop down to 13 degrees and if I kept it initiated would it just go up to 27 and back up and down?...
              Or if I activated it in the middle of the curve would it just dropped 6 degrees and hold it up and down the scale or would it just lock it out six degrees wherever I'm at and hold it there?..
               
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              • j par

                j par Well-hung Member

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                Yes I have the instructions that come with it... The problem is they're just not clear about what I'm asking. Just like when I called to ask about wiring it they told me I was right that wasn't very clear on the instructions...
                 
              • j par

                j par Well-hung Member

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                Well I called the Holley MSD tech line this morning.. (aka the ashtray on a motorcycle)
                It took him a minute to find on the instructions where it said they preferred you to lock out a distributor... He got it once I pointed out it was right at the beginning LOL.. he said that when I did activate the retard that it would just drop it whatever amount I set it and follow through the curve... When I asked why they suggested locking out the distributor basically he hung up LOL...
                It looks like some questions are just going to have to remain unanswered LOL...
                 
              • jbc426

                jbc426 Well-Known Member

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                I was having unstable initial timing issues with my MSD Pro-Billet dizzy with the light springs on it. I was running 22* initial and 35* total.

                One day I decided to lock out the distributor to see how the motor liked it. I set my timing at 35*. It's been locked out for a year now and the motor loves it. It starts normally with no kickback hot of cold. I would like to have vacuum advance hooked up, but have yet to choose another distributor that has that feature. The motor has never run better, but I bet I can pick up a mile of two per gallon on the highway with the addition of vacuum advance. I get around 10 mpg at 70 mph now.

                I am only running 10.2 to 1 compression with aluminum heads, and the motor cranks 200 psi when warm.
                 
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                • 318willrun

                  318willrun Roadkill '80 D150

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                  My friends Duster is locked at 36* as well, and is happy there.
                   
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                  • j par

                    j par Well-hung Member

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                    I have about 11.3 to 1 with iron heads but it might even get higher than that when I put the aluminum heads on later this summer.Right now I have a minimum of 200 PSI cranking when warm.
                    With this new start step mechanism I could easily lock out the distributor and use the start retard..
                    I'm just not sure how this will make the overall Street performance react? I'm not sure if I'll have to reach in the carburetion or what direction it will take things as far as performance at lower RPMs with such a high timing rate at all times...
                     
                  • yellow rose

                    yellow rose Doctor of Thinkology.

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                    The problem with locking out the distributor is how do you account for the built in retard of the ignition box itself? They all retard. But one issue is the exact same model from the same brand not only won’t have the same amount of retard, it will start retarding at different RPM and continue to retard at different RPM.

                    The only way I would lock anything out is if I had a Grid or some other means of controlling timing. To just lock out a distributor because you have a retard doesn’t make sense to me.
                     
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                    • j par

                      j par Well-hung Member

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                      It's really this typical MSD confusing instructions. Right out of the gate they tell you that they recommend to lockout you distributor? But of course when I asked about it they hang up the phone...
                       
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                      • 318willrun

                        318willrun Roadkill '80 D150

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                        in the performance world, never expect to get a answer over the phone from a tech guy in a large company. Their best are doing other things, not fielding 200 phone calls a day. Usually the tech guys are looking at the same info you are looking at.
                         
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                        • j par

                          j par Well-hung Member

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                          I wasn't "expecting" to get an answer. LOL I've been down this road with them far too many times.. more just I'm here on the West coast and drinking my coffee in the morning and able to call them early just to kind of see what they say... and it was pretty much as expected they fumbled through the same instructions that I have and then I had to point out to them what I was talking about and then they gave me some generic answer that I expected and then when I asked a little bit more of a technical question they basically hung up or accidentally the line dropped lol...
                          that's why I put it out here on the Forum or so for people with experience like I said in my first post thank you for your help and experience...
                           
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                          • weedburner

                            weedburner Well-Known Member

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                            My timing has been locked (currently 36 degrees) for around 12 years with a start/retard box. I also have a 3 position switch that gives me the ability to activate the nitrous retard (currently 10 degree pill) without activating the nitrous. The only time I use the retard for casual driving is when i'm cruising at low speeds in town at low throttle angles, the lower idle speed reduces the annoying low speed bucking I get due to the lash in my faceplated transmission. I can flip the switch at any time during casual driving to see if the engine prefers the retard on or off, engine always prefers no retard. Low compression on Shell 92 pump gas, gets 20mpg.

                            Grant
                             
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                            • weedburner

                              weedburner Well-Known Member

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                              At one time I thought I would use the retard switch to map out an ideal seat of the pants timing curve, flipping back and forth between different settings at various rpms/loads. Kinda like going to the eye doctor- "this or this" "this or that" "one or two" etc.

                              Grant
                               
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                              • Sterling

                                Sterling Well-Known Member

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                                I know that you lock out the centrifugal advance when you run a crank trigger. My thought is they want the advance locked out, and when you set the timing, you would set it for the total advance you want. then use the box to retard the timing. So the advance will never go more than your initial setting, but can retard as much as you want.
                                 
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                                • jbc426

                                  jbc426 Well-Known Member

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                                  I was going to switch from the older MSD box to MSD's laptop programmable digital box in an effort to optimize my ignition timing. I would guess that the digitally programmable box requires the distributor be locked out too. However, my motor runs so good with the old school non-programmable, MSD box and the distributor being locked out, that I decided to leave it like it is. That saved me a bunch of money too.
                                   
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                                  • Cudafever

                                    Cudafever Well-Known Member

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                                    you need a more sophisticated controler to do what you want to do.
                                    You are using it for timing or retarding the timing for nos. You lock it out at X....lets say 35 degrees then you can drop the timing to y...let say 20 degrees when the nos comes on. you can move the dial up or down, up to total or 35 degrees. Aka 0 retard.

                                    A more sophisticated unit you still lock it out at max timing and then set a exceleration aka rpm curve and or even a curved timing(retard) with like like a two or more stage of.

                                    If your going to us the one you have you Have Too lock it out and then set the knobs to what you want. aka 10 degrees crank timing (retard) and then 25, 30, or 34 degrees of timing when the nos button is turn on but you can only choose one setting at a time. timing Swing is no longer a option any more.
                                     
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                                    • j par

                                      j par Well-hung Member

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                                      You lost me a little bit...
                                       
                                    • j par

                                      j par Well-hung Member

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                                      I'm pretty sure if I set both the start and step at zero when I start it for the first time it will be 4 degrees retarded like the instructions say. I'll then warm up the car and advance it 4 degrees... Back to its normal setting.. and as I understand it as soon as I give 12 volts to the trigger wire it will drop it any amount that I set the step for and will follow up and down that curve..
                                       
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