The car has been stumbling under hard acceleration at high rpms recently and I was trying to tune that out so when I installed the 123Tune distributor I was comparing it to a good running system. I think mods and so called upgrades nowadays are more about placing a worn part with ANYTHING new makes people feel good. I want real data that the “upgrade” is really an upgrade over a proper running vehicle. I mean if your shocks are bad and you compare them to a new set of average quality “sport shocks” they will probably feel amazing but are they better then just a new set of stock shocks? Well I won’t have that opportunity because I could never get that stumble out of the car. It moved. Got better or got worse but never went away. So I have replaced the carb, plugs, coil, cap and rotor and checked everything and still couldn’t get it working better. So it may be the pertronix igniter unit or the distributor itself. The new distributor replaces all of that so let’s go for it!
The install was a piece of cake. I pulled off the valve cover and found Top Dead Center. That’s done by putting the car in fourth gear and pushing it until the mark on the cam just behind the sprocket goes under the guide. Ok. Then I pulled the cap of the distributor. Note where the rotor is pointing. Verified it’s right at the number one cylinder. Also not the position of the rotor because that’s where we want the new rotor to point when we drop the new distributor in. Remove the wires the pertronix were connected to and loosen the bolt holding the distributor and then pull up. And it slid right out! Nice. Now I slide the new one in. It was a little snug but it slips right in and I made sure the rotor was pointed in the same direction as the previous one. Nice. Now per the 123Tune installation instructions I hooked up the blue wire to ground and the red wire to the red coil wire the old pertronix ignitor was connected to. I did NOT connect the black wire yet. I turned the ignition on and it glowed blue from the side letting me know it was powered on and then rotated to distributor until the green led turned on indicting the static timing was set. Nice! Turn the ignition off and connect the black wire to the black wire the pertronix was connected to on the coil. Then moved the spark plug wires to the new cap. Then put the cap on the 123Tune distributor. The unit came with a supplied cap and rotor. Nice touch. I then cleaned the wires up and went to start it. It turn d over but didn’t start. Hmmm. Must be the timing is off. And yes it was. I did ALOT of turning of things before I turned it on and I must have turned it about 180 degrees. Anyway rotated it and turned the key and it fired right up and sounded amazing. I did the timing by ear adjustment basically in the middle where it was smoothest at idle. Then took it for an initial test drive.
Wow! The car is peppy and responsive. It’s getting more spark and using all the air and fuel the big Weber 38 DGES carb us putting into the engine. I stepped on it and it flew up to 6000 RPM and then stumbled. Uh oh. Same problem still? It then started to stumble all over the place and then it wouldn’t idle and then died. Uh Oh. Popped the hood and twisted the distributor. I must not have tightened it enough. Silly me. It started right up and then again revved right up to 6000 RPM. I was very pleased. The stumble at 6K rpm didn’t seem like the same stumble. More of a rev limiter. I wonder if this has one on it? So I connected my iPhone via Bluetooth to the distributor and sure enough the rev limiter was set to 6000 RPM. Easy fix! Moved it up to 7000 with a few taps on the iPhone. I was also able to see the advance curve as well as put in more points and set the advance very specifically. Nice! The unit came with the curve for the old Tii distributor already programmed. So thats what I’ll start with. It’s nice that there is also a vacuum circuit where the Tii distributor is mechanical advance only no vacuum advance. I think the reason the 02 Hot Rod guys use the Tii distributor is the more aggressive curve but the vacuum function will help with better fuel economy and drive ability. I get the best of both worlds here.
We are talking about a distributor for a 40 year old car and it’s got software??? Yes!! The nerd in me is loving this part yes I’m a tech geek…I have a blog about restoring a car and learning how to sail!! (Shameless plug time, www.cuajota.com ) so having some high tech gadgets that don’t seem out of place are amazing. I don’t have some crazy nav system or touchscreen audio system because for me that doesn’t fit in. I do have a nice audio system but other the the door speakers and the radio you wouldn’t know it was there. So when people pop the hood I want it to look vintage and correct. Headers, a big carb, and a that legendaryM10 engine. What some crazy German would have done in 1980 with this car to make it go faster. The ability to WIRELESSLY connect my phone to the distributor and have access to gauges and monitoring as well as tuning ability is just fantastic. It’s old school meets new school. Here are some screenshots of the gauges as well as the advance curve adjustments and vacuum adjustments that can be made.
What can I adjust?
Its nice to have one. You can set it for your own protection or if someone else (Valet!) or a kid is driving the car.
Very nice to be able to prevent the car from being started via the phone.
3. Advance curves
Now we are getting into the true benefits of this unit. You can control the timing advance at any RPM. Set as many adjustment points and save them into the distributor. Instant recurve!! This will allow you to get the absolute most from your engine.
Ok. I have to admit I don’t know a lot about the vacuum or how to set it so for now I won’t touch it. From what I understand is that this is used to change the advance based on atmospheric pressure as well as driving conditions. A mechanical only advance means the curves are set for RPM only so 4000 RPM would be getting mad advance because you may be accelerating. But what if you are just cruising down the highway at 65 mph? You would be at maximum advance. With the vacuum system it would recognize that cruise and retard the timing so you would not be at max advance and would be saving fuel. There is probably a lot more to it but that’s it in a nutshell.
In conclusion it’s only been a few hours since install but already this may be one of the single best things you can do to improve the performance and driveability of the 2002 especially if it’s a modded engine. I could have probably gotten similar results by sending my old distributor to get rebuilt and have it custom curved. But I wouldn’t have a programmable system or the programmable rev limiter. Plus the custom curving process would not be adjustable. I’d have to have it recurved every time I did any mods. Now, if I do more engine mods the curve can be adjusted to take advantage of these mods pretty easily!