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2.3L ('83-'97) Swap head from 2.3 ignition coil packs (8 plugs)to a distributor !(4 plug) 2.3


Final777

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I have a 1989 ranger that has dual ignition with a 2.3 L engine (2 coil packs and 8 spark plugs) So my question is can I replace the head on that motor and switch it out with a head with 4 spark plugs and install a distributor in it, or is this even possible? Please explain this to me please
 


scotts90ranger

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Over the years the 2.3L got several different intake patterns, they'll all bolt onto the blocks the same I believe.

I'm going to assume you want to put the '89 engine in your '86 Ranger? If so, yes simple head swap, you'll likely want to keep the roller cam in the '89 engine just cuz it's better but will drop right in, you'll need to keep the front seal housing from the '89 and probably easiest to use it's oil pan as some stuff changed in the block around then that made things complicated
 

Josh P

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I seen a 2.3 ranger with a dual plug head. The guy mounted a V8 distributor on it's side and used a cog belt.
 

scotts90ranger

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That's an awful lot of effort for a system that already works fine in a normal setup, I kept the DIS on my turbo swap, the factory turbo computer doesn't know any different and it works fine, I deleted the passenger side coil pack since it's a 4 plug head and drilled the block for the crank sensor... But then again I had everything to do that and didn't want to modify the harness to go to a distributor and like the DIS setup...
 

Final777

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Well the head is seeping on my 89, and I am quite clueless when it comes to the whole dis thing, so I was just wondering since I have a rebuilt head for it, I thought to myself, I wonder If I can just switch it out, thanks guys I really appreciate how much you all have helped me out and how much help all of you have been thank you all so much
 

scotts90ranger

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If the DIS works there's no reason to swap around, one of the downsides if swapping around is the intake pattern has so many dang versions... You can run a 4 plug head with DIS no problem, it doesn't need the passenger coil pack to run at all, you have to do some things to get the tach working if you have one but otherwise it can just be unplugged. The DIS module doesn't even need to be mounted in the stock location, but it does need to be on a heat sink and the 3 originally used bolt locations need to be used and go to a good ground (don't ask how I know... ok, whatever, just don't feel like typing now...). Other than that it just needs the crank sensor as long as it's already wired for it... pretty simple really

There's all sorts of options, there's drawings on going back to TFI or one that I could post at some point for wiring from TFI to DIS. I didn't want to deal with the TFI modules since back in the day there were lots of people with issues and wanted to keep some factory stuff
 

Final777

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That's an idea I've had but I think I may just fix the head gasket problem on my 89 ranger,I would be fine with keeping the dis system and just having a 4 plug head I'm not a great mechanic, but I can do absolutely anything I put my mind too, so I'm going to attempt to figure out what I can do with her, if you could give me any pointers that would be great, although I'm not sure if you will bare with me on that. I have no idea what a heat sink even is but I know I can do this so any diagrams that you have would be fantastic, when ever u get the time of course ty!!
 

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Dual spark plugs per cylinder adds more power, always has, was just hard to do that with a distributor, and space/access in a head for a 2nd spark plug was also an issue, especially on V6/V8 engines
Aircraft engines pretty much all use dual plugs for more power but also safety reasons, they run separate dual spark systems, both are used for take off and landing but only 1 while in flight, just in case..............

DIS eliminated the distributor complication

4 valves per cylinder added even more power, and better efficiency, also better use of head space so dual spark plugs were replaced with 4 valve engines in vehicles, aircraft engines still used dual spark plugs for safety and power

2.3l SOHC Lima engine was introduced in the 1974 Pinto and used in several Ford cars thru 1988 with 4 spark plugs
You don't really need to change the head unless its cracked, you can just run it with 4 working spark plugs and 4 dummy plugs
The distributor hole in the block was deleted in 1990/91 castings I think
So if you have the hole then you can use a distributor

DIS modules get very very HOT
So they need a Heat Sink
A heat sink is a piece of metal that can dissipate heat faster than the smaller case on the module, spreads the heat out over a wider area
Heat sinks often have fins to increase their surface area

TFI module heat sink looks like this: https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/FEYAAOSwHepjT~-u/s-l1200.jpg
And like this with TFI module in place: https://www.supermotors.net/getfile/832641/fullsize/idm-ignition-002.jpg

ICM 2.3l DIS was mounted to the lower intake metal to use it as the heat sink and its location is also just behind the cooling fan so constant air flow when in use

With any heat sink you must use a thermal paste between the module and heat sink to increase the heat transfer, air gaps are BAD, lol
Applying the paste seen here: https://postimg.cc/3dM5SWgT
 

scotts90ranger

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Yeah, what Ron said on the heat sink. The distributor hole was in the blocks through around '94, some '94 California models had a cam sensor like the 4.0L and 5.0L engines in that spot.

Unfortunately these engines don't generally blow head gaskets like most engines, they usually crack the head between the valves
 

Final777

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Okay my mechanic told my the head was seeping on my 89. But it's never run hot until the other day when it started smoking inside the cab (not from the engine bay which led me to believe that the smoke was coming from the heater core. So of course I bypassed it. It's no longer smoking in the cab, but behind that happened the engine temperature gauge never even got lost the cold on the gauge.. but since that happened, it stays in the normal part. But I would think it the head was seeping then it would have run hot, but it never did. Something is obviously wrong because I lose a lot of power around 4th gear, lose a great deal of speed and momentum going up hill. If I take the valve cover off should I be able to tell once I'm in there if something like that is wrong with it,? Obviously if I see a crack somewhere I'll be able to notice, but the very same y thing happened to my 86, and it never ran hot, the only difference was that in my 86 the motor would shake vigorously while at idle but she would smooth out once I pushed the accelerater but same exact thing, I would lose a lot of momentum to him and she didn't want to go even if I had my foot to the floor. I took that engine out but couldn't ever find a crack in the head or anything like that. I'm trying to learn all I can so any advice or pointers that y'all give me i will surely listen, ty so much, you guys have been a great help
 

Final777

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Sorry I meant to say before that happened not behind
 

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