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  #1  
Old 02-24-2013, 04:11 PM
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Distributor / Ignition upgrade 351m/400?

Yes, I know this topic has been beat'n to death in previous posts, but my searching (of those old posts)
showed much more confusion than answers.

Can someone (who's the expert) just outline the steps and the parts to purchase for upgrading the
STOCK ignition on my 78 F250 (351m)?
Nothing has been upgraded with this engine. It's bone stock, the way Ford shipped the truck in 78.

(maybe this is covered in Tips/Tricks/Upgrades, but I could find anything there either. )

Bronco Graveyard.com was even more confusing.
They list a number of products to purchase, but I can't tell what's the difference between them
(and they don't do a very good job of explaining the differences) sorry to say. Here's the example I got at that site:
  • HEI Distributor Tune-Up Kit Blue, # 18550, Tune-Up Kit, Blue Cap
  • HEI Distributor Tune-Up Kit Black Cap, # 18552, Tune-Up Kit, Black Cap
  • HEI Conversion Distributor, # 28550, 351C,351M,400
  • 1974-80 429, 460's, 1978-82 Ford Bronco, 1973-86 Ford F100, F150, F250, F350
  • HEI Conversion Distributor Black Cap, # 28552, 351C,351M,400
    1974-80 429, 460's, 1978-82 Ford Bronco, 1973-86 Ford F100, F150, F250, F350
  • High Performance Distributor 351M,400,460, # 28555, 1978-96 Ford Bronco
    1973-96 Ford F100, F150, F250, F350
Which one of these would I purchase? the Kit or the entire Distributor? whats' the Diff between the HEI Dist and the last one listed (High Perf)?
And that just the distributor! what about the other stuff(coil, wires, plugs)?

The other problem is (with all the online suppliers) they don't walk you through all the parts you need.
Distributor? Coil? wires? plugs? other?
I need the WHOLE LIST. what do I need? part numbers and Mfgs names?

thanks in advance for you kind assistance
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Old 02-24-2013, 10:22 PM
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I'm confused whether you want to keep the stock DSII ignition or are looking to upgrade to a newer style ignition.

The HEI is a GM-style self contained electronic 1-wire distributor, with higher kV spark output. It has mechanical and vacuum advance, the coil is in the cap, and the ignition module is housed under the cap.

If you're looking at keeping your DSII ignition, then you would need the High-Perf distributor from this page, but I'd look at Summit or Jegs for more selection. I'm thinking that is a Mallory distributor. The DSII distributors can be A1 cardone, Mallory, DUI, Accel, etc, etc. If you're looking for the ignition module, another member should chime in, and you need the blue ignition module, a Motorcraft part. The coil again can be aftermarket like Petronix, Accel, etc.

Again, are you looking to keep the DSII or upgrade to an HEI setup?
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Old 02-24-2013, 10:35 PM
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I too am befuddled.

The stock DSII system works really well on a stone stock rig. There is better value in spending money elsewhere, like upgrading the exhaust system, before messing with the ignition system. It's not like these rigs spend alot of time above 4,500 RPM or have high compression as to need assistance lighting off the mixture.
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Old 02-24-2013, 10:43 PM
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Why "upgrade" from the DSII system to HEI? because all the hot rod magazines/forums said so?
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Old 02-25-2013, 07:02 AM
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Keep the distributor you have, use a GM module and a coil from an efi.
It is a great upgrade. But I also wonder why you think you need it???
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Old 02-25-2013, 03:53 PM
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Ditto on the EFI coil. Im using one off a 90 5.0L Stang. Works great. Also make sure that your cap and rotor have BRASS contacts as aluminum just doesn't conduct as well as brass. Accel is an excellent choice for that. Mine doesn't go over 4500rpm very often either.
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Old 02-26-2013, 11:53 PM
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Sorry guys, for the late reply to your posts. Thanks for the input.

so... I was 'told' that to gain some extra mileage, it's a good thing to upgrade the ignition, hotter spark, better burn.
Or so that's the theory.

The recommendation was to ditch the ignition box on the fender.
Replace it with an 'all in one' distributor. Replace the coil (for one with more volts),
Wire to handle the volts and plugs to work with all of that.

Is this wrong? From your replies, seems like it is.

maybe I'll just spend some more time searching the posts, reading what's on the web and improving my education.
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Old 02-27-2013, 08:09 AM
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Just one more suggestion to do nothing and save your money. Recurving your present distributor would be all that I would do. I've spent more money, but never found anything better.
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Old 02-27-2013, 10:10 AM
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I am one of those people that has played around with the aftermarket parts when I was younger and now like everything stock...Motorcraft. Just seems like it works right and lasts. I agree with GFW1985 and the distributor curve adjustment is a great idea...

I am trying to find someone to take on the job as my 'oldtimer' retired for the last time and I think it's sort of a dying art.

My two cents...
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Old 02-27-2013, 11:18 AM
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With the lack of "old timers" left around to do these things, there comes a time younger people must learn to work on the older technology. It's not rocket science, just have to have the desire to learn. Here is one article to get someone started in learning: Duraspark_distributor_recurve_instructions_index
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Old 02-27-2013, 04:38 PM
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I am an OLDER guy(from Canada) and have never touched a distributor of any kind. I got it it my head and JUST DID IT. That is to say I recurved my DDII. It was SOOOO easy I couldn't believe it. Got the recurve from Mr. Gasket cost $10. Found out later that if I used the lighter spring from another DSII I could have saved $10. Yes, I tried the GM style DIzzy didn't see or feel a difference and pulled it. Got it in a box on the shelf. My engine compartment looks "normal" now.
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Old 02-27-2013, 08:46 PM
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Yep, me too on recurving the duraspark. Did mine and couldn't be more happy and I'm not a fan of the huge peice of chev HEI dizzys. Good luck.
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Old 02-27-2013, 09:44 PM
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So what's the purpose of "recurving" the distributor?
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Old 02-28-2013, 08:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pumpdriver20 View Post
So what's the purpose of "recurving" the distributor?
This era engines were factory tuned for smog control, not performance. Here is another article you may find good reading: FORDMUSCLE webmagazine: Timing is Everything - Distributor Curving for Maximum Power
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Old 02-28-2013, 08:25 AM
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In my case I increased compression, air and fuel into and out of the engine, removed all emissions equipment, and changed the cam timing. All of which requires the spark curve to be adjusted.
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Old 02-28-2013, 08:25 AM
 
 
 
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