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Powerspark / Aldon ignition

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2018 5:05 pm
by jeff jackson
Hi All,
Investigating why the Plus 2 conked out on the A338 on the way to Romsey Boxing day, I have tested the coil, looks OK, swapped it out with a spare (tested the same as the one in the car), still no sparks.
So The only other thing is the Powerspark ignition module.
Question is, I have had two Aldon modules fail and now the Powerspark one, so has anyone else experienced failures of these things?
I am contemplating going back to condenser and points, but with the slight wear in the distributor I was getting wavering ignition firing, with the electronic one I was spot on.
Do I go again with the Powerspark? Can't remember when I fitted it, was a few years ago, but with the mileage I do per year <1000 then I can't say it has done many miles since fitting.

Opinions and advice always welcome....

Jeff (with sick 72+2)

Re: Powerspark / Aldon ignition

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2018 6:05 pm
by 69S4
Be interesting if it turns out to be the ignition module as it's one of the 'easy' upgrades I've shied away from for exactly this reason. If it packs up you're stuck at the side of the road and I've read too many reports of all sorts of aftermarket electronic ignitions (not just on Elans) failing to have any sort of confidence that they're as reliable as points. They may be 'better' from a performance perspective and require less maintenance but all that is for nothing if they fail at random.

Re: Powerspark / Aldon ignition

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2018 6:21 pm
by tvacc
Boy, are you preaching to the choir as far as I am concerned. Back in the early 70's I bought a Piranha ignition and it left me stranded. On a back road, middle of the night. I learned how to pull a distributor, replace points, reinsert the distributor and then retime the car, all in the dark with a rapidly dimming flashlight.

Years later having bought a Caterham with a Petronix, that packed in at Lansing MI on the way home with the car.

Then same thing happened with one of my Elans. That was it for me, I went back to points and condenser in all my cars. No more electronic for me. I thought I was the only one.


Tony V

Re: Powerspark / Aldon ignition

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2018 7:10 pm
by jeff jackson
Makes me wonder if the spec for the transistor is marginal. It's simple enough hall effect sensor that triggers the transistor to switch the HT onto the plugs. If that transistor does not have enough margin in it, it will eventually fail.
It might be me being cynical, but why would you make something that lasts for 30 years? Means your market will be saturated and you won't be able to sell any product. Yeah, I know there are millions of classics still on the roads worldwide, but this will be 2 Aldons and one Powerspark failures for me now.
Maybe I will go back to points.
OR use one of the duff units and change out the transistor for something more reliable. Make a mould up and fill it with Araldite or something.....an interesting challenge?

Re: Powerspark / Aldon ignition

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2018 7:31 pm
by toomspj
Unfortunately we've had quite a few failures with Aldon Ignitor ignitions while racing. Trouble is, when they work, they work really well and require no maintenance to keep everything at peak performance. When they die, they die.

Most of the issues appear to be related to either earthing problems or too large a gap between magnet and sensor. Earthing problems have been largely due to the rivets that hold the module to mounting plate coming loose - generally they just come loose or on a couple of occasions it appeared that the rotor arm had been contacting the module (hard to blame Aldon for that). My solution has been to put a screw through the steel components including the distributor backplate - takes the flimsy rivets out of the equation.

I have routinely been supplied complete distributors (via my engine builder) from Aldon - I always check them as the gap is not normally set correctly which is a pretty poor bit of QC.

Overall, I have been disappointed (understatement) to have a modern bit of kit, that should be the most reliable thing on the car, fail so often. It costs a £100 + each time which is not insignificant, but also results in a race being ruined which costs a great deal more!

Paul

Re: Powerspark / Aldon ignition

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2018 7:45 pm
by RichardHawkins
Gentlemen,

My intention is to use Electronic Distributorless Ignition System (EDIS) as I understand this is what is used in most current petroleum engined vehicles. Am I missing something? Why are you using distributors? The distributor is beneath our somewhat leak pone carburettors which I believe was a source of fires when our cars were new.

Richard Hawkins

Re: Powerspark / Aldon ignition

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2018 8:02 pm
by toomspj
Only because historic race regs say you have to use distributor type ignitions.

On the other hand, if you want reliable up to date technology, why drive a 60 yr old car? I love all the peccadilloes of my pretty much original Elan Sprint when I drive it - but I wouldn't commute to work in it!

Re: Powerspark / Aldon ignition

PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2018 4:33 am
by stugilmour
I used a Pertronix for years with no issue. Believe the Pertronix and Aldon are the same products.

On my new engine I got a complete new Pertronix distributor, wires, coil, etc. Couldn't start the car. Bought a new module, and still wouldn’t work.

Spoke with my engine builder and he mentioned both he and other shops are currently seeing very high failure rates with Pertronix.

I have installed an MSD electronic system, and it seems to work very well. Haven’t got the timing and carb tuning fully dialled in yet, but looks like a way better system.

https://www.holley.com/brands/msd/

Disadvantage of the MSD is the external 6AL digital control box is fairly large, about 4” x 8” x 2”. I mounted it in the car interior; the Plus 2 has an open pocket to the side of the glove box that accommodates the box out of sight and dry. The box now has a slick connector plug, so it could be replaced easily without removing all the wiring.

The 6AL is common across the MSD line so a replacement would be readily available over here at a parts shop. I bought a spare module for the boot. My engine builder says they have seen some module failures in race applications, probably from excessive vibration.The Instructions recommend rubber isolation when mounting. They have seen no failures of the distributor or Hall effect pickup. The distributor, wires, and coil are very good quality.

I went with the full MSD system including new HT wires, coil, distributor, and 6AL control box. Pretty spendy but good so far.

Once I get things sorted and the car running properly in the spring I will try to het the Pertronix working as either a spare or surplus to my needs and sell it on.

My local shop has had good luck with the 123 programable distributors, but those are more difficult to source our side of the pond and I was concerned about being stuck waiting on parts.

HTH
Stu

Re: Powerspark / Aldon ignition

PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2018 6:49 am
by webbslinger
I'm using Pertronix and have had 0 problems with it in about 12k miles. I've got their distributor that I updated with the # lll module only because it has a rev limiter in it. Previously I had the # ll module which is now the spare. Swapping a module could easily be done beside the road. I hope I haven't jinxed myself, but it seems like good gear to me.

Re: Powerspark / Aldon ignition

PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2018 9:21 am
by alan.barker
The last time my Sprint broke down at the side of the road the problem was the Condenser that had done less than 100 kms. That was the 3rd time with a crap Condenser made in China :evil:
At the side of the road i can now remove the Dissy, fit new Points + Condenser and be running again in less than 1 Hour :mrgreen:
I have now fitted a simonbloc hall effect which has been running for 5 years now no problem.
BUT i still carry in the Glovebox a set of Points + Condenser :wink:
IF i could have found a good proper Condenser i would have stayed with Points.
Many years ago i used to fit heavy duty Austin Cooper S Points :wink:
Alan

Re: Powerspark / Aldon ignition

PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2018 9:37 am
by david.g.chapman
I run with a Powerspark ignition unit, which so far has worked OK. I did make sure to fit high resistance ignition cables, and made sure that the heat sink connection was good to make the unit run as cool as possible. Having a good earth for the unit is also important.
.
However, I also have a spare distributor action plate fitted with points (already set up). If the Powerspark fails I just swap over the action plates. A small tweak of the distributor timing and the engine should be running again.

It does help having Stromberg carbs though!

Dave Chapman.

Re: Powerspark / Aldon ignition

PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2018 12:49 pm
by cobraboy
I wonder if you guy's who are fed up with Chinese condensers and points know about these ………..

http://www.distributordoctor.com/distri ... ensers.htm

http://www.distributordoctor.com/distri ... oints.html

Re: Powerspark / Aldon ignition

PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2018 1:33 pm
by alan.barker
Could someone say what's inside a condenser
Alan

Re: Powerspark / Aldon ignition

PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2018 1:39 pm
by Donels
Three failure on two different makes suggests it’s not the ignition modules. My background is in failure analysis and I would be looking for a common cause other than the modules themselves. What kills them will probably be excessive temperatures or vibration. High Temperature will kill the electronics and vibration will fracture the wiring or flapping about in the wind. Try some temperature stickers on the distributor and do continuity checks on the wiring of failed units.

I would think excessive temperature would be more likely on a race car so wiring would be my my bet. Make sure it’s well clipped and not under any strain.

Re: Powerspark / Aldon ignition

PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2018 1:49 pm
by Donels
Just another thought. Make sure their is sufficient slack in the wiring inside the distributor to allow the mounting plate to move with the timing advance and retard mechanism without straining the wires.