Lotus Elan

Electronic distributor systems

PostPost by: pimkeirle » Mon Aug 06, 2018 9:30 am

Does anyone have any experience of the multitude of cheap distributors fitted with electronic ignition that are now available at sometimes ridiculously low prices. I believe Accuspark do one for as little as £45. Would I be better spending a lot more on something like a 123 distributor. My car is a 1973 plus 2 S 130/5, engine in good order and head recently rebuilt.
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PostPost by: 661 » Mon Aug 06, 2018 9:58 am

My 2p.
Electronic ignition is worthwhile.
All a '123' is, is a distributor with electronic gubbins
If your own distributor is in good condition then there's no need to replace it, just get the gubbins.
I've used a Luminition Optronic on the Elan for 20+years and it works fine.
Nowadays all the electric trickery can be fitted inside the original distributor, and that's what I would do.
On my son's mini I think we used the magnetronic system, about £70-80??? ( memory)
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PostPost by: alan.barker » Mon Aug 06, 2018 10:06 am

On my Elan Sprint i have a "simonbloc" hall effect which i fitted 6 years ago. No problems and runs perfect. I have several friends here in France that have followed me and done the same 100% satisfied. If you buy one just make sure you order the correct one for your Dissy, there are 2 different models.
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PostPost by: LI-599 » Mon Aug 06, 2018 10:54 am

Hi, I bought a complete Accuspark distributor 6 years ago as it was cheaper than just the electronic module here in Australia. Original Lucas unit can be reinstalled if necessary.
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PostPost by: 10kph » Mon Aug 06, 2018 11:13 am

I have run Accuspark in two vehicles one for 4 years and one for 6 months which then suddenly failed when changing up into 3rd gear.When stopped and found there was no spark I first assumed it was the coil at fault so borrowed one from a friend and still no spark. Luckily I still had my points and baseplate in the car so refitted and started sraight away.
What I still remember is the sickly feeling when your car dies on a main road and a lost day going to a race meeting at Oulton Park.
When speaking to Simon the owner of Accuspark there was no repalacement and he tried to fob me off by saying I should have used his ignition leads...absolute rubbish.He did say that a few were faulty.
Points kept in good order have kept the car running for some 50 years so unless you like sudden dissapointments keep them.
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PostPost by: Grizzly » Mon Aug 06, 2018 11:49 am

I've gone off Accuspark products in quite a big way recently, i bought the full kit including leads, coil, ignition etc and then i went through a spate of Accuspark ignitions just failing (later found out they get hot so need to take that into account, they don't last long if they sit idling in the garage for example) but their customer service was great as they would just replace a part with no problem.

So i ended up fitted a Luminition Magnatronic ignition and Blue 12v Bosch coil to fix running issues i had.

Recently i've really been struggling with my 2 seater running rich, runs really well but couldn't stop the plugs getting sooty (N6Y's)..... i tried everything i could think of but ultimately took the car to a mate who runs a Rolling road, it took him ten seconds to tell me the spark was breaking up under load and i needed a new set of plug leads, so i've now got rid of the Accuspark 8mm leads for a set of Copper core leads which has made a massive difference and i now have a biscuit colour plugs.

The guy in question who set my car up really doesn't like Accuspark products (he has the opinion they are cheap Chinese knock off's) the only part i still have in my car i've not had a problem with is the red rotor arm.
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PostPost by: jono » Mon Aug 06, 2018 12:23 pm

I fitted a 123 to my classic alfa to replace the worn out Marelli.

It's great and one of the advatnages is it has 16 different curves built in which are 'switchable' so you can find the best curve for your engine.

On the Elan I went the whole hog and fitted a wasted spark DIS system. It work very well and there are no worries about that sparky bit sitting below your leaky Weber/Dellortos
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PostPost by: alan.barker » Mon Aug 06, 2018 12:46 pm

Imho all the systems can breakdown.
So if you choose a "simonbloc" like me you keep a pair of points and a nos condenser in the boot.
Or if you fit a 123 Dissy keep your old Dissy in the boot already fitted with new points and a nos condenser.
The biggest problem i have had is with crap condensers made in China.
In the past i used to fit "Austin Cooper S" Points CSI 111 heavy duty but even then the tuffenol/fibre heel on the Points broke off :shock: .
If you fit a "simonbloc" be sure to put the thermal grease to stop the senser getting too hot :oops: and fit a HT Coil resistance 3 ohms.
Whatever you choose i hope it doesn't let you down at the side of the road :mrgreen:
Alan
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PostPost by: Grizzly » Mon Aug 06, 2018 1:16 pm

Alan, My 2 seater did less than 100 miles on 5 sets of Accuspark ignitions, one of their coils and a set of their leads (the scary thing is the Coil and leads all still ran but gave odd symptoms that had me thinking i had a carb issue)...... if it's going in a running/used car and has the correct amount of thermal paste under it etc the Ignition might last a bit longer but if it's going in a fresh rebuild that will be moved round the workshop a far bit before going on the road frankly i'd stick points or a genuine pertronix kit....... Don't bother with their leads as the silicon is really cheap and has bubbles in it (which was my problem it seems).

Maybe i just ask too much of my Ignition set up's but i have had two Optronics that are still running 10+ years after purchase and a Magnatronic thats only 2 years old but i went with to get rid of the unsightly control box. I don't expect to have to swap out a Ignition at the side of the road frankly.
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PostPost by: alan.barker » Mon Aug 06, 2018 1:42 pm

Grizzly,
do you think parts from the "Distributer Doctor" are any good :?: I think is does an adapter plate so you can fit heavy duty "Austin Cooper S " points which is another possibility .
The last time i got stuck at the side of the road because of a Chinese Condenser it had only done 80 kms. Removing the Dissy at the side of the road, changing Condenser + burnt Points. Then retiming by eye 10° btd became a bad habit :shock: .
On my TVR 3000S it has a "Piranha " Ignition system which must be 25 years old and still going strong :mrgreen:
Alan
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PostPost by: ericbushby » Mon Aug 06, 2018 2:10 pm

Pimkierle,
It is not clear to me whether you need a distributor or just the electronic ignition conversion.
If your existing distributor is OK, then a Hall effect module fitted inside may be all you require. The ignition advance will still be provided by the old system.
I fitted the Ultraspark ICP 015 from Ignition Car Parts Ltd at £30.00.
It works on the original type ignition coil.
It fits with one screw and two wires to the coil. I did have to grind off the `pip` on the distributor plate to allow it to sit square on the plate for cooling. A smear of heat sink compound was applied to it.
Although the 12 volt supply was taken from the white wire supplying the coil, there was no interference with the Tacho.
Seven years ago now and no problems.
Hope this helps
Eric in Burnley
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PostPost by: alan.barker » Mon Aug 06, 2018 2:40 pm

+1 Eric same as mine "hall effect" except mine is "simonbloc". Remove the little pip on base plate + thermal grease :mrgreen: The only thing i couldn't fit was the "Lotus cutout rotor arm", not could i fit the red rotor arm.
So i fitted a normal rotor arm.
Alan
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PostPost by: 69S4 » Mon Aug 06, 2018 2:40 pm

I'm still running my S4 on points and have done all the time I've owned it. It /they have not given me any issues at all in over 30yrs other than the regular servicing that comes with the territory. From time to time I keep thinking I should "upgrade" to some form of aftermarket electronic ignition but what puts me off is discussions like this (there's been a few of them over the years!). Tale after tale of the upgrade failing and having to change to a set of points kept in the boot just in case in order to get home.

On the face of it it would seem that many of the aftermarket electronic ignitions available for cars and old motorcycles are only semi developed (there's an equal number of failures reported on classic bike sites). It does seem to be a bit of a lottery with some people having no issues with theirs over decades but others failing in minutes. Or do we just get to hear about the failures? Is reliability / maintenance the chief reason for changing? If it is then buying a system that fails and is then disowned by the manufacturer seems like a backward step. Given the mileage most of our cars do these days you might as well stick with points.
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PostPost by: alan.barker » Mon Aug 06, 2018 3:31 pm

I just looked on the "distributer doctor" website and he says condensers made in China have about 1 metre of wire inside and original ones like he has made have 3 metres of wire inside :?
I've had Lotus Twin Cam cars for 44 years and in the past it was my everyday transport. Many a w/e was spent getting the car ready for work on Monday morning.
It was only 6 years ago i switched over to a "Hall Effect module" because of the Condensers made in China. After breaking down at the side of the road 4 different times. Always condenser, condenser, condenser, condenser. :oops:
past cars : 1968 Twin Cam Cortina, 1968 Elan +2, 1970 Elan +2S, 1972 Elan Sprint, 1973 Elan +2S130/4
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PostPost by: Craven » Mon Aug 06, 2018 4:05 pm

Long lengths of wire use in capacitor manufacture new one on me, he says 3 metres of WINDING in side. Failure of capacitors in ignition systems is usually a break down in the dielectric material used between the plates, these days probably cheap, no, very cheap plastic.
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