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Improving spark, Upgraded Ignition Coil VS. OEM Equivalent


bhgl

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So... I'm a boomer. I cut my teeth on four wheel manual brakes... points... carbs... computer controlled carbs... goofy AIR systems... thermactor valves... distributor machines... etc...

When evolution hit port fuel and crank fire... all the nightmares of drivabilty were no longer an issue. It was a real sweet spot for me. Stone cold reliable... good factory replacements if something went south. They just run great and personally I never saw a reason to fool with a good thing. I spent my money blowing out my fuel economy with lifts... off road tires... bumpers and such. It just made me happy... and the enthusiast in me was satisfied.

You're enthusiastic about eco mod and the like. I really haven't looked into it. I'm sure there are things that make a difference. I am skeptical about things by nature... but have no technical data to back it up. Bit I can say that I've pulled plugs that were well past their service life and these good old factory coils have handled the larger plug gaps without missing a beat.
Different generations look for different things out of their cars, its funny for me since I've been plugging a laptop into my car to do different things since I got my keys. I've never worked on a carb short of the one attached to my snow blower lol.

One thing I always appreciated about modern cars was that in some ways, they're kind of simple? As long as the sensors work, and the wires are connected.

I think I'll try gapping the plugs with the stock, somewhat damaged coil I've got in there now. I'll add a little extra dielectric grease to the tower with the crack.

If it works, hey! More spark. If it doesn't I might give the MSD unit a shot since I do want to replace the coil anyway.
 


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I have an old sunfire with 455,000 km. It started to run a little rough so I decided to change the plugs. First time since I owned it. I'd almost believe they were the originals... 2 of the four plugs you couldn't even see the center electrode! And it wasn't running bad... So the stock coil was pushing the spark over a gap of at least 150 thousands! Granted the compression was low on those two cylinders.
 
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stmitch

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It's fine if you want to pursue this just because it interests you, but before I spent hundreds on an attempt to improve an ignition system that's generally pretty good, I'd buy an underdrive pulley for similar or less money. They'll net better performance and improve efficiency more than hotter spark. It would pair nicely with your E-fan too.


If you're cruising steady state a lot, then aero mods are often great bang for your buck. A subtle grille block, air dam, or bellypan can be done without too much expense or without changing the appearance of the truck very much. The lowering that you're planning should help a bit too.
 

bhgl

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It's fine if you want to pursue this just because it interests you, but before I spent hundreds on an attempt to improve an ignition system that's generally pretty good, I'd buy an underdrive pulley for similar or less money. They'll net better performance and improve efficiency more than hotter spark. It would pair nicely with your E-fan too.


If you're cruising steady state a lot, then aero mods are often great bang for your buck. A subtle grille block, air dam, or bellypan can be done without too much expense or without changing the appearance of the truck very much. The lowering that you're planning should help a bit too.
I was looking at an underdrive pulley but for some reason it never made its way onto my list.

The only thing I'm slightly worried about with using the underdrive pulley at the moment is that the driven accessories while working, could be in better shape.

I'm not really in the mood to replace them at the moment, particularly when I'm going to be trying to delete them one at a time, but the pulley is pretty cheap so....
 

19Walt93

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With the emissions requirements and pressure to deliver more mileage, the factory ignition is already "upgraded" and more won't gain much if any improvement. A Motorcraft coil will have the correct resistance along with known good quality. Motorcraft plugs will be the exact correct heat range for the engine where some aftermarket plugs claim to cover a wider range and may not be right for your engine. Champion plugs are an example.
Higher octane fuel without an increase in compression is extra money for nothing- and, since it burns at a lower temperature, will likely increase carbon build up. Also, lower octane gas has more BTU's so it should get better mileage.
Cleaning the throttle body is good maintenance but I wouldn't dump anything into my oil.
A K&N air filter will flow a little more but it's important to clean and reoil them periodically, I've seen dried out K&N filters on dusted diesel engines.
I figured out back when I had a 4.0 sohc Ranger that synthetic oil helped the gas mileage and if gas cost $2.80 or more the extra cost of the oil was offset. Keep in mind I was buying Motorcraft 5w30 bulk oil at dealer cost at the time. I was also changing the oil every 3000 miles.
All season or low rolling resistance tires will help as long as you check the pressure frequently
 

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you guys want to know how good those stock units are? way back in the day, we learned that stock ford ingnition modules could be used on three and four wheelers when their factory ones went bad, the factory ones that were installed in their crank covers. you could wire the ford modeul in and mount it under the gas tank and gap the plugs to 3 or 4 times what the motorcycle called for. the little 90 and 110cc bikes would run like you were beating it after we did that ford mod to them.

this was back in, probably 05ish. we would specifically get the modules from f150s because they were so common back then
 

Uncle Gump

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You should also look into indexing your plugs.

I don't ever do it on my drivers... but common practice on our race buggies and sand drag cars. Little things do matter when trying to squeak out all it can be.
 

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Indexing helps with high compression engines. I don't know if it does anything with the lower compression street engines. It certainly would not hurt though. I had to index my race car spark plugs because if the electrode base was pointing down; the piston would hit it and close the gap. At nearly 15:1 compression ratio, it needed all help it could get including a very strong spark with a .025 gap to get it to fire when it was supposed to.
 

Lefty

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Once again, most of us believe a hotter coil will not change your performance or mileage., But it's your truck! Feel free to buy the coil you want. Let us know how it works. Provide some sort of before and after data. Maybe we are wrong.
 

bhgl

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Alrighty folks!

Based on everyone's feedback, it seems the hotter coil isn't going to be necessary, even with gapped plugs. I've put a bit of non-conductive epoxy on the damaged tower of the stock coil, and added a little tiny bit of dielectric grease to keep it from grounding out, it shouldn't be an issue going forward since the coil is otherwise working just fine. You've all recommended some great stuff for improving efficiency, some of which has already been done, others are in the works, and some I hadn't really considered, so thank you as always!

But in the game of maximum efficiency, every single percent counts.

Here's the plan with what we have on hand:

I'm going to be installing the NGK Iridium IX plugs gapped to 0.065, and try to index them to the best of my ability. Frankly I've never actually indexed my plugs, but hey, it's probably a good idea when we're going for even the tiniest of gains (thanks @Uncle Gump).

When it comes to wires here, we've got 3 options, and I'm going to measure the resistance on all of them with a multimeter to see which wires work best:
  1. Stock wires, I think they're motorcraft, but frankly they're still in the truck and I haven't had a chance to read what's on em.
  2. Standard Motor Product, 8MM Standard wires, (for some reason I thought I had bought NGK wires)
  3. A set of unused JDMSpeed 10.5MM wires that I forgot I had, I may need to splice on different plugs from the original wires, or the standard set if they don't fit the coil's towers.
When it comes to the coil: Given the fact that I live in snow 6 months of the year and I don't want to short anything out, I will be replacing the coil pack at some point soon, I may just grab a motorcraft unit from the junkyard given that new ones cost around 90-120$, give or take some shipping and handling. Or if I'm having trouble with the now gapped plugs, ordering the upgraded MSD unit.

Testing and measurement: Aside from testing the resistance on the wires, I'm not sure how best to go about measuring any efficiency upgrades short of subjective observations.

Fuel economy data is great, but affected by so many other factors, it'll be difficult to figure out if in fact we're getting more efficiency. Unfortunately I don't have a dyno laying around (or within 400kms of where I live) to help me out on this one.

If you have any ideas on how I can gather some data, let me know!
 

Lefty

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Just record your mileage. How many MPG before? How many after?

If you want, you could record your 0-60MPH times too.

BTW You have new spark plug wires. Correct? No need to report. Nothing needs to be proved.
 

bhgl

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Just record your mileage. How many MPG before? How many after?

If you want, you could record your 0-60MPH times too.

BTW You have new spark plug wires. Correct? No need to report. Nothing needs to be proved.
Yes we've got new wires, 3 options total, I'm going to do a resistance test to see which is better.

MPG is a little fallible, I don't have the most up to date info, and I don't really have the time at the moment to go on a long distance drive to get some quality data. Plus I just seafoamed the thing so even my previous MPG data is going to be fudged.
 

Lefty

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Just record your mileage. How many MPG before? How many after?

If you want, you could record your 0-60MPH times too.

BTW You have new spark plug wires. Correct? No need to report. Nothing needs to be proved.
Well you can always try 0-60 now and after.
 

Lefty

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With or without, a little Seafoam in the crankcase shouldn't matter much.
 

bhgl

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Would any of you wonderful folks happen to know what the name, or type of connector on the coil side of the plug wire is?

Seems to be a male type connector with a 90 degree boot that allows it to fit into the tower.

I'm trying to replace the boots and connectors on the JDMSpeed set I have, don't really want to start cannibalizing my other wires if I don't need to of course.
 

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