308 ignition upgrades. Magoo? Peter? - Ferrari Life
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post #1 of 38 Old 12-19-2002, 06:45 PM Thread Starter
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308 ignition upgrades. Magoo? Peter?

OK, I know the ignition on the '79 308 is weak. Heck, I've already had to disconnect the low speed points set (Thanks for your help on that one guys!). Now Yesterday we had a beautiful (although chilly) December day. Roads were spotless and I wanted to take the Ferrari for the last ride of the year. I hooked up the battery and cranked and cranked. It wanted to run. It would catch, then die, catch, then die. It would "almost" run, but it wouldn't make that "spark of life" I was hoping for. I tried a little starting fluid because it was "almost" there. But that didn't help either. Temps were freezing, I got a couple of backfires that startled me. I know the gas is good and I had put some stabilizer in it before I put it away. I also know it was getting plenty of gas because of the backfire (through the muffler not the carbs) and odor. Just no fire. I am sure the plugs need to be pulled for cleaning at this point.

I want to rebuild/replace the entire ignition system. Out with the points, in with the electronic ignition. Also new coils and plugs. I want fire! I think my wires are fine unless you can come up with a reasonably priced replacement/upgrade. I know we have hit on the pieces of the ignition system upgrades in previous posts, help me put the whole thing together here. What do I need to make this upgrade and where do I get it? Approximately how much does it cost and how do I install it? I have the factory service manual for the car, an above-average knowledge of automotive repair and a well equipped shop. I also have a digital camera and am willing to make a photo-journal of the upgrade for Andrew's tech section.

Help me make Fire!

Capt. Pete
'79 308 GTS, '82 Jeep CJ7 Jamboree
"Time is what prevents everything from happening all at once."
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post #2 of 38 Old 12-20-2002, 02:17 PM
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If you only want the car to run and run reliably, get the Crane XR700's (specifically the 0700-231... I think). They are simple to install and set-up. When you are working on the distributors, it'll be a good idea to renew the bearings in them and to lube the advance mechanism - and do be careful with those, there are tiny springs and pins placed in a certain order. DON'T MIX THEM UP OR LOOSE THEM!). Doing this will make it run like new.

As for wires and coils, if you're not fussy about appearances (ie: identical Cavis wire and boots), you can make your own wires, although 7mm wire is getting harder to find (I've got 175ft of black wire stashed away in the garage. Just in case!). Any coil should run better than the original, tired, old Marelli's, but I'm positive Magoo will vouch for the Accell coils.

I can post photos of the guts of the distributors here later if needed...
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post #3 of 38 Old 12-20-2002, 10:10 PM Thread Starter
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Peter,
Thanks for your quick reply. Do you have a link to a dealer for the Crane ignition? I have not done any research myself yet. I'm hoping that you, or someone else here, has already done it for me. By the way you worded it I am assuming I need 2 of these kits? Do you know the approximate cost? I will take your advice and replace the distributor bearings. Good call.

I am not fussy about appearance and have no problems making up my own wires. Will I have a problem going with 8mm or should I try to con you out of a few feet of your stash of 7mm? (actually, I wouldn't mind having yellow wires instead) I would like to put the Accel coils on, do you have a part #?

I plan on starting the project in February so I am in no great rush. I remember seeing photos of your distributor guts but I may ask you to post them again here. How about spark plugs? I can't remember exsactly what is in mine but I remember that they looked fairly normal when I pulled them this summer. I think I need something hotter due to the colder weather here in Maine, but with the new ignition maybe I don't.

Thanks again,

Capt. Pete
'79 308 GTS, '82 Jeep CJ7 Jamboree
"Time is what prevents everything from happening all at once."
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post #4 of 38 Old 12-21-2002, 06:11 PM
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Pete, The coils Peter is talking about are the Accell coil no. 8140. They are rated at 52000 volts each. I used them and they really make a big difference. I am still running the orig set up. There is no doubt that the electronic ignition is a more precise system and probably gives you a little boost. Personally I want to keep the old set up as long as I can for originality.
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post #5 of 38 Old 12-21-2002, 06:15 PM
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Also Pete, I am using the NGKreg. plug No. 5 that has a reg electrode. It is a hotter plug than the Platinum 6s. I set the gap at .035 using the Accell coils and good bye rich condition.
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post #6 of 38 Old 12-21-2002, 06:21 PM
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Last but not least Pete, I ordered a orig type set of red wires that are precut with the orig wire looms and the green sheath on the coils from G.T. Car Parts 1-623-780-2200 about a year ago for $104.00. They have the best prices around in my opinion.
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post #7 of 38 Old 12-21-2002, 10:45 PM
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Pete, if you can't find any 7mm wire where you are, let me know and I'll send un-cut wire to you. Its in black by the way and is the usual carbon-core, radio-suppressed stuff.

You'll find all of the specs and other info at their website:

http://www.cranecams.com

And its the 700-0231 kit by the way (I placed the extra zero in the wrong spot previously!). You'll more than likely find the Crane kits at the local auto-parts stores and hot-rod stores. I doubt they'll have the 0231's on the shelf, so be prepared to wait (I waited more than 8 weeks for mine...). They should be around $100 each and yes, you'll need two (for each distributor).

Here's some pics:
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post #8 of 38 Old 12-22-2002, 06:06 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys!
I think I will go with the wires from G.T. car parts. So this is not too bad as far as price. Sounds like I can do the whole job for less than $500. Like I said earlier, I don't plan on doing this until February but I'll keep you posted on my progress.
Thanks again!

Capt. Pete
'79 308 GTS, '82 Jeep CJ7 Jamboree
"Time is what prevents everything from happening all at once."
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post #9 of 38 Old 12-22-2002, 07:48 AM Thread Starter
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Ok, I checked out the Crane Cams website. That is a pretty nice website they have there. The XR700 ignition is their direct "points replacement" ignition and does require the use of a ballast resistor.

Question: Does the 308 use an external ballast resistor, a resistor wire, or is the resistance in the stock coil?

Crane recommends the use of their PS20 premium street coil with the XR700 kit and it includes a ballast resistor. The Accel coil looks like it needs an external resistor but does not come with one.

The XR3000 kit is available for the Ferrari and is a little bit more high performance and uses a high output coil without a ballast resistor.

I found these for sale online through Summit Racing and the XR700 ignition is $90 and the XR3000 is $125. The PS91 coil for use with the XR3000 ignition is $45

Another question: If I go with the higher performance ignition, would I still need to retain the stock 7mm wires? Seems to me it would be like hooking a fire truck up to a garden hose. Is there a problem getting the 8mm or 8.5mm wire to fit? With the XR ignition and the PS91 coils the ignition will in no way look stock anymore so keeping the 7mm wires for the sake of originality no longer applies. But if the larger wires won't physically go through the looms than I'll go with the 7mm.

Thanks

Capt. Pete
'79 308 GTS, '82 Jeep CJ7 Jamboree
"Time is what prevents everything from happening all at once."
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post #10 of 38 Old 12-22-2002, 12:19 PM
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Okay, I'll try to answer those questions:

1) The stock Marelli coils do come with external resistors. I forget their rating, but you may re-use them (just multi-meter them to see if they're okay). Try the set-up first without them. Considering the use of hi-po coils, the resistors may be redundant. The manual gives instructions (although not very good ones) on determining the need of a resistor.

2) Crane's lower-model coils are pretty tame and match that of any coil you may obtain at an auto-parts store. Again, the use of a balast resistor depends on the coil itself. If the primary circuit of the coil is zero ohms, it'll need the resistor (around 1 to 1.5 ohms. I'm positive that's what the Marelli resistors are).

3) The XR3000 kit can be used successfully on the 308. I can put you in touch with a fellow who had it in his ex-308, to hear of his experiences with it.

4) My set-up is tame and the 7mm wires are handling it without problems. Again, its up to you to install 8mm wire. Not any bigger than that, you really have to squeeze (and sometimes trim the cover) to get 8mm wire into the cap (this is a more important point, than the looms. The looms are roomy). I should post in the "Tech Tips" section of this site on how to install wires in the caps...
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post #11 of 38 Old 12-22-2002, 07:50 PM Thread Starter
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Peter,
Right now I am leaning towards the XR3000 kit. I would like it if you could hook me up with the guy who had one so I can get his experiences, email me at [email protected]. I am leaving to go offshore tomorrow and can get email at that address.

I am looking for reliability and drivability rather than performance. The 308 performs just fine for me. The only reason I am considering the XR3000 over the XR700 is due to the fact that the price difference is not that great for a higher performance setup and I kind of like the idea of the higher power coils without the resistor.

You gave me the answer I needed on the wire size. I did not realize the problem lied within installing the wires in the caps. This is the info I need. I think I will go with Magoo's suggestion of the wire set from G.T. car parts. If you get a chance I would love to see you post a tech tip on wire installation.

I think the info for the XR700 from Cranes website called for a 3 ohm resistance. Even if their low end coils are pretty tame at least they come with the resistor as a matched set so there is no guess-work.

So I guess the question I need answered now is will the XR3000 with the PS91 coils be too much for the stock wires? Crane has a Tech line so I will give them a call. I'm sure it will be fine but I'll let you know what they say.

Capt. Pete
'79 308 GTS, '82 Jeep CJ7 Jamboree
"Time is what prevents everything from happening all at once."
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post #12 of 38 Old 12-22-2002, 08:23 PM Thread Starter
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Also Peter,
How about some tips on pulling and reinstalling the distributors?
On my Jeep I don't bother putting the engine in any special position, I just stamp the base of the distributor, note approximately where the rotor is pointing and pull it out. I put it back in where I found it and time it by ear (the old road test, advance it 'till it pings, back it off a little and bolt it method). Obviously I do not want to do this on the Ferrari!
Even though I have not nailed down exactly what I am going to end up with for an ignition (XR3000 is in the lead). There is no reason why I can't pull the distributors and clean 'em up and change the bearings and such.

Hey Magoo,
I remember when I was looking at FerrariChat you had something that would work wonders on dressing up aluminum parts and stuff. I think it was something you could get at a craft store. What was that stuff? I remember seeing pictures of the results and they looked great.

Capt. Pete
'79 308 GTS, '82 Jeep CJ7 Jamboree
"Time is what prevents everything from happening all at once."
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post #13 of 38 Old 12-23-2002, 08:40 PM
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Pete, when removing the distributors, its best to bring the motor up to TDC and then when removing the distributor caps, mark with a felt-tip marker (in an inconspicuous spot) the position of the rotor. Or if you can think up a different way of marking rotor position, try it. As long as you have a clear note of where it should be, follow it. Don't worry too much about exact position, you'll be doing PLENTY of minute adjustments when ready to install. The spline drive of the shaft will narrow down the exact spot it was in before.

Magoo's miracle lotion is Rub N' Buff. I'll leave him to help you out with that... 8)
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post #14 of 38 Old 12-23-2002, 09:18 PM
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Pete, you can find the rub and buff at most craft stores. Joannes, Micheals and art stores. Use it sparingly and clean up with W/D 40.
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post #15 of 38 Old 01-31-2003, 07:42 PM Thread Starter
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Update

I wanted to bring this back to the front for the benefit of j brosseau and also to update you guys on my progress.

As you know, I was concerned about the ability of 7mm wires to contain and deliver the spark I wanted to put through them. I got in touch with Magnacor, a company that makes racing ignition wire. Check them out at www.magnacor.com Their Tech Rep, Steve, was very knowledgeable about the 308 and assured me that the Electrosports-70 7mm ignition cable would be OK with the setup I was proposing. I was quoted a price of $112 and they would even make up custom coil wires if I want to relocate the coils.

The other new news is that you can now buy Crane products directly from Crane off their website! Peter, you said you waited 8 weeks for your XR700's. I will let you know how long it takes me to get mine. I plan on ordering them next week.

The Ferrari is not yet touched. It is sitting in the garage while I am outside shoveling snow. I have been re-doing the Master bedroom in our house so that my wife will let me work on the Ferrari next month un-interrupted.

Capt. Pete
'79 308 GTS, '82 Jeep CJ7 Jamboree
"Time is what prevents everything from happening all at once."
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post #16 of 38 Old 01-31-2003, 08:00 PM
 
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im really exited about this. if there is one thing i love to do. its upgradeing things and making them better.
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post #17 of 38 Old 01-31-2003, 11:48 PM
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Has anyone tried the distributorless direct-coil ignition system from www.nicksforzaferrari.com?

'83 308GTS QV
'91 Acura NSX
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post #18 of 38 Old 02-01-2003, 08:55 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zff
Has anyone tried the distributorless direct-coil ignition system from www.nicksforzaferrari.com?
I looked at that one but it is too expensive for what I want. $1500 for the direct-fire as opposed to $500 for the set up I am doing. I could even do it for $400 if I went with the XR700. I am not looking for ultimate performance, I am looking for ultimate reliability and a little bit more performance thrown in. Crane is a well known and respected name. Peter is happy with the Crane ignition and knows of at least one other person who installed it with success.

Capt. Pete
'79 308 GTS, '82 Jeep CJ7 Jamboree
"Time is what prevents everything from happening all at once."
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post #19 of 38 Old 02-10-2003, 12:34 AM
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I'm bringing this topic back up as I just completed some routine service this past weekend and that included the distributors.

Pete and Joe, I mis-stated in an earlier posting of mine that you bring the motor up to TDC and align the distributors from there. WRONG! Start with one bank of cylinders and bring the crank up to that bank's 7 degree timing mark (marked as "AF 7*" the TDC for each bank is marked as either "PM 1-4' or "PM 5-8") and adjust the infra-red pick-up to trigger from that point.

The beauty with these new Crane units is they feature a red LED light to signal the triggering point of the infra red sensor. You adjust the sensor's position until the LED flashes on.

Obviously, once you set it statically, warm the car up then fine-tune the position with a timing light.

I can't stress enough how good the distributors respond when you re-lube the advance mechanism. Clean thoroughly and use a high-quality medium thickness bearing grease (I used Esso Unirex). Breathes new life into them...
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post #20 of 38 Old 02-15-2003, 08:33 AM Thread Starter
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Peter,
Thanks for the info! Good stuff. I ordered the ignition through Crane's website late in the evening Sunday the 9th and it showed up on my doorstep Friday the 14th! The total for 2 XR3000 Ignitions and 2 PS-60 Coils was $347. There was no sales tax because it was an out-of-state sale and Crane paid the shipping costs. I'd say that was a good deal and good service! I am going to order the wire set from Magnecor today.

Right now I am still offshore, I don't get home for another 2 weeks and then I will start the ignition conversion.

Capt. Pete
'79 308 GTS, '82 Jeep CJ7 Jamboree
"Time is what prevents everything from happening all at once."
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