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2.3L ('83-'97) Need help with 2.3L ignition


Tbuilder

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I have a Ford 2.3L I4 out of a 1994 Ranger truck that I have installed in a 1925 Model T. The fuel injection has been removed and a carb installed. The question is can I make the existing dis ignition control module system work without the input from the powertrain control module (there are no sensors connected to it).

I could install a conventional distributor from an older 2.3 if the input from the crankshaft position sensor would trigger it, but I am at a loss to know which one would work. Top performance or mileage is not an issue here, I just need it to run reliably.

Any help or suggestions would be appreciated.
 


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tomw

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Attempting to work without the computer is a mighty difficult task. The computer controls firing, power, spark advance, cranking power level(maybe), and leaves nothing but sparking to the under hood bits.
If you want simple, get a 1974 Pinto 2.3 distributor(uses points). I don't even know if the 94 has the distributor hole machined. The 74 uses vacuum & weight advance, and 12v / resistor for the coil power. Only made one year, aka hens teeth.
The pre-EFI systems could be made to work. From memory, they don't require anything in particular, but again, you must be able to mount a distributor. Perhaps after market such as Racer Walsh and Summit may have usable items.
I searched for 'ford 2.3l performance distributors' and got a lot of results.
tom
 

Shran

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I don't even know if the 94 has the distributor hole machined.
That is my #1 concern here, I don't recall my '96 having a hole in the block for a distributor and that would have been the same engine. I doubt anyone has gone through the effort of making a 2.3 run on DIS and a carb, you simply must have something to control spark and a computer & some sensors in particular. I have seen it done on GM LS engines and a few others but not a 2.3.

If you can stab a distributor, you could use a factory Duraspark ignition setup from a pre-EFI vehicle. I bet you could even do aftermarket MSD or whatever if you want but the Duraspark stuff is pretty good and simple. Lots of guys are running 2.3's in dirt track race applications so it's totally doable.

If you don't have a distributor hole, I'd be curious if you could have a hole machined into your block and use '88-older oil pump/drive shaft stuff for your choice of distributor.
 

Tbuilder

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The hole is in the block and the gear is present on the stub shaft. The 94 was the last year that the parts are in place to drive a conventional distributor. The question is which distributor to use. Without the ICM there is nothing to tell the Duraspark or an aftermarket MSD what advance curve to use. I see lots of EFI's that are converted to carbs so I did not think it would be that difficult to set up.
Thanks everyone for your responses.
 

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Interesting, I thought '93 was the last year of the distributor hole.

Correct me if I'm wrong but doing a Duraspark conversion just entails the correct Duraspark distributor, ignition module, a coil, and the associated wiring harness? So you should be able to buy just about all of that at a parts store and be up and running pretty quick - just need the harness, probably could even build that yourself from scratch.

It's been a few years but I did a bunch of Duraspark conversions on 2.8L Rangers and Bronco II's and it seems like that's all that was involved on the ignition side of things anyway.
 

dasophoto

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I'm doing the same thing with a 49 Willys, dropping an 85 ranger 2.3l in it. Did anyone ever come up with a specific parts list for this? I'm needing help too.
 

tinman_72

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Interesting, I thought '93 was the last year of the distributor hole.
Nope, '94 2.3 is same as '93 2.3. They changed to ODBII in '95 and reconfigured the motor.
 

Tbuilder

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I am using the lower half of the fuel injection manifold to mount the carb. I was going to use the conventional Duraspark distributor and module from a 1988 Mustang but reading through some of the older posts here it seems that the distributor will hit the the intake manifold.
Does anyone know if this is true?
None of the older carb mount manifolds will fit as from the pictures it apears that the bolt pattern to the head is different.
 

dasophoto

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I am using the lower half of the fuel injection manifold to mount the carb. I was going to use the conventional Duraspark distributor and module from a 1988 Mustang but reading through some of the older posts here it seems that the distributor will hit the the intake manifold.
Does anyone know if this is true?
None of the older carb mount manifolds will fit as from the pictures it apears that the bolt pattern to the head is different.
You'll need to get an older head, I have an 85 head I'm using, or you'll need to custom build an intake for that later model head.
 

Tbuilder

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This posting is a couple of years after the original but I hate posts that never reveal the solutions to the asked question so here is what I did to get the 2.3L running without the original computer controls.

After some research I ordered a distributor and coil for an 83 Mustang, it installed perfectly and looked like it was going to work ok. This is an electronic distributor so it will fire an electronic ignition module. Some more research determined that the GM HEI module word work with it as others have used it in similar installations. Some people have said that the HEI module is prone to failure from overheating because it is located inside the GM distributor but with it now being located outside in the breeze it should be more than reliable enough.

All this brought out another more serious problem, the top of the distributor cap hits the FI manifold, and by a lot. I thought I might be able to grind some aluminum off the manifold and get enough room but that was not going to work. I do not know why Ford made the distributor cap so high, I have not been able to locate a lower one so we are just going to have to live with it.

After a lot of thought and deliberation I decided I was going to have to fab up my own intake manifold.

I cut out a manifold flange from some mild steel 3/8” plate using the intake gasket as a pattern. Some trial and error determined that 1 5/8” diameter exhaust pipe fits the intake flange hole almost perfectly with a little hammer forming to fit it to the D shape. I used two 1 5/8” short radius U bends that I had in stock, cut them in half, fitted them to the flange and angled them up to make a sort of tunnel ram manifold. I fabbed a box shaped plenum from some 1/16” steel and welded it to the four tubes. The top of the plenum was cut out to fit two Holly 94 carbs that I had from an old project that never got finished. I made it as compact as I could but with the air cleaner on top it still came out a little higher than I liked. I added a fitting to it for the distributor vacuum advance.

In the 2.3 dual plug ignition system the engine starts on the primary set of plugs then after it is running the PCM fires up the secondary set of plugs, this is supposed to reduce emissions. The primary plugs are on the exhaust side of the engine so this set of plugs are the ones I will use to run the engine. The other set will not be used for now. I will try to devise a way of firing them at a later time after the engine is running.

I welded a bracket to the intake manifold to hold the ignition coil and another one to hold the HEI ignition module. Wired it up and it worked!

The engine runs unbelievably well. It starts as soon as the starter engages the ring gear and idles smoothly. While this is no hot rod that little engine pulls the car along quite briskly. It accelerates well and I have revved the engine to over 5500 rpm with no misfiring. The straight through exhaust system gives the engine a real nice sound. About the only problem I have with it is that it spits back through the carbs when under heavy load and the throttle is opened quickly. I dunno if it is over carbureted or running too lean. I will have to work on that some more.
 

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