Duraspark II ignition with GM HEI module? - Ford Truck Enthusiasts Forums

Duraspark II ignition with GM HEI module?

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Old 01-01-2004, 10:20 PM
ClatonK ClatonK is offline
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Cool Duraspark II ignition with GM HEI module?

I have been hearing good things about using a GM HEI module with the Ford Duraspark II ignition. Has anyone done this? How reliable is it? Any performance improvement? Any info or tips?

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Old 01-02-2004, 03:06 AM
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That doesn't make any sense to me. What is triggering what? My first choice is a MSD 6A. Second choice is the stock Duraspark.
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Old 01-02-2004, 09:50 AM
aeomholt aeomholt is offline
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The stock GM HEI-module are only good up to 4000 - 4500 RPM then there are no more "power".
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Old 01-02-2004, 04:06 PM
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The stock DuraSpark is actually a pretty good ignition, since the DS coil is a high output design (about 40KV). I doubt if the GM HEI would be any better.

Using a high(er) performance coil, such as a Mallory or MSD would be a cheap alternative. After all, it's not the triggering device that gives the hotter spark, it's the coil.....
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Old 01-02-2004, 10:53 PM
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the hei conversion is just if you are converting from efi to carb and you don't have the know how or the time and patience to rewire the hole duraspark ignition box. do you actually have your truck at 4000 rpms when you drive it. anyway i am going to do this soon with my tbird. here is the info that i got for the conversion. this is exactly what the ford aftermarket hei distributors are made. A lot of guys when converting from fuel injection to carb use the Duraspark II system. This requires pulling out the TFI distributor and coil and replacing them with the Duraspark distributor, coil, module, starter solenoid, and ballast resistor. Yeah its complicated and can get spendy but what else is there besides an even spendier aftermarket system? Well, if you don't mind a little cross breeding you can use a GM HEI ignition module. All that's required is a Duraspark distributor, HEI module, and coil. Because of the dwell control and current limiting circuits of the HEI you can use just about any coil you want, including the TFI coil, and no ballast resistor is needed.
If you are converting from fuel injection all you will need to buy is a Duraspark distributor, HEI module, and some wire and connectors to hook it all up. The cheapest place to get the Duraspark distributor is at a junk yard or swap meet, usually $20 or less. Duraspark distributors came on Ford cars and trucks from the mid seventies through the mid eighties. Make sure you get one from a 302, the 351w and 351c-460 look similar but are different. You could also get a rebuilt one at the auto parts store, generally $40 or more. Make sure you get one with the right gear for your cam. Flat tappet cams use a cast gear where roller cams use a steel gear. If you look at the shank above the teeth a cast gear will be a rough cast finish where a steel gear will be a smooth machined finish. If you want a distributor with a cast gear tell the parts guy you want one for a 5-speed '84 Mustang GT. For a steel gear tell him you have a 5-speed '85 Mustang GT. If the guy at the parts store has two distributors listed and doesn't know which is which, the one with the cast gear is always considerably cheaper than the one with the steel gear.
For the module you want a GM 4-pin HEI. They came on GM vehicles from the mid seventies through the early eighties. You can buy one new at any auto parts store. Any good parts guy will know exactly what a four pin HEI module is. Although good parts guys are hard to find so you will probably need to ask for an ignition module for a '78 Comaro with a 350. Since they are so cheap you don't need to go to the junk yard. Besides, all the junk yards around here wouldn't even sell me just the module, they wanted me to buy the whole HEI distributor to get it. The module in the picture is a Car Quest #21040 and cost me $17.77. As you can see there are four pins labeled W, G, B, and C. The G pin is a 3/16" (0.187") male quick disconnect and the rest are 1/4" (0.250") male quick disconnects.
The HEI module gets pretty hot, whatever it's mounted to needs to act as a heat sink and carry heat away from it. Mount it securely to a flat metal surface away from the headers or other heat sources. There are two pins on the back of the module that you need to break off so it will sit flat. The module will come with some heat sink compound, smear it evenly over the back of the module before bolting it down. The compound aids heat transfer. You could also mount the module to a big heat sink. I bolted mine to a heat sink from a slot type computer processor. If you're a computer geek like myself then you probably have one laying around. If not then you can buy one at Radio Shack or a computer store. Again you will want to use the heat sink compound between the module and heat sink.
Once you have it mounted you need to wire it up. The B pin goes to the positive coil lead which gets power when the key is on, and C goes to the negative coil lead. The tach. also hooks to the negative coil lead. If you are converting from fuel injection then the coil is already wired for power (red) and tach. (green). Splice into these wires. Don't remove them from the coil just add some wires to them and run them to the module. On an older car you will need to bypass the ballast resistor so you get full power to the coil and module. The Duraspark distributor has a funky three pin connector. You can just plug into it with standard 3/16" female quick disconnects. The purple wire is run to the G pin on the module, and the orange wire is run to the W pin. Run the black wire to one of the mounting screws on the module. The black wire provides a solid ground connection for the module. The module must be grounded or it will not work properly.
Like I said before you can use just about any coil you want. Basically the only coils that you can't use are aftermarket coils which are for CD (capacitive discharge) ignitions only. I recommend the TFI coil, its the square looking coil used on fuel injected Fords. They are dirt cheap and work great because they were designed for the Ford TFI which is basically the same thing as the GM HEI. If the TFI and HEI modules are the same then why can't I use the TFI? The TFI distributor uses a Hall sensor instead of a magnetic pickup so the TFI module will not recognize the "analog" signal from a Duraspark distributor. However, you could hook a TFI module to breaker points since they put out a "digital" signal like the Hall sensor. No matter what coil you use you will not need a ballast resistor. The purpose of a ballast resistor is to add series resistance to limit current through the coil. The HEI actually measure the current and when it reaches a certain point resistance is added using the switching transistor to prevent excessive current draw. So basically it has a built-in self adjusting ballast resistor.
That's all there is to it. Whether you are converting from fuel injection or piecing together a weekend warrior the HEI is hard to beat. Its easy, cheap, and a great performer. You could spend five times more on an ignition and chances are you won't see much, if any, improvement.
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Old 01-04-2004, 04:09 AM
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You can get a distributor for some engines with a GM HEI unit built in from Davis Unified Ignitions (DUI). You can find ads for them in any hotrod magazine.
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Old 01-26-2004, 01:48 PM
bob arrington bob arrington is offline
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do a search in this forum for that upgrade , its a neet idea and the writer gives detailed instructions for it and a diagram. i dont have a scanner or printer or I would send it. I did it with a 1977 ford duraspark dist and it worked fine . its not something I would do to a customers car but if your stuck out somewhere and thats the only thing you can get, or if you do all your own work and the ford' box' is being tempramental, its perfect, and those gm modules are a lot easier to carry in a glove box. its done with a 4 pin module , you mount it on your firewall , and you dont need a 'special dist'. any duraspark ford will work, and you run 12 volts straight to it with out any resister or resister wire ,another thing i liked was that you dont have to butcher your stock wireing , just splice into it ,that way you can always go back tho the ford 'box'. good luck,F110 guy's idea is also excellent ,I personally dont like using a points dist, , not because they dont work , but up here in the cold the electronic setup works much better , bob

Last edited by bob arrington; 01-26-2004 at 02:04 PM.
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