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Electronic Ignition Upgrade for your Datsun 320 Truck


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#21 datzenmike

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 05:49 AM

The change is most likely messing with the mechanical advance curve weights and the vacuum advance can. You can't have a hotter spark running a ballast resister.


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#22 Stoffregen Motorsports

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 09:59 AM

I have around half of my customers with the same attitude.  Half of them come around when they try points set up properly.  That's around 500 people a year whose opinion I change when they feel the difference.  I adjust my own points once a year - at around the 6000 mile mark.  Everyone thinks they solve the problem with electronics, when they replace the bad ground wire, bad electrical connections.   Its rarely the points that were the problem when you convert.  Its corrosion where you forgot to look for it.  

 

Almost every vintage racer I build a distributor for and convert them to points will make a point of calling me back to let me know they shaved off 2 1/2-3 seconds per lap, and they're more fuel efficient.  No electronics on the market will match that.  If you ever have a chance to read Classic Motorsports magazine, there will be a distributor dyno shoot-out in one of the next 2 issues.  Next issue will have a page about my race truck.  After that is the distributor test.  Given that one of their biggest sponsors is Pertronix, it'll be interesting to see how they announce that I beat them with points...

I will say, I would gladly run points if it meant not having to install all that extra BS.

 

Which is why I like the Pertronix. I know you don't like them, but as I've said before, I've never had a problem with them.

 

Edit - I have had problems with them, but that was a long time ago and I've figured it out and not had a problem since.



#23 wayno

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 09:46 PM

This thread is not about what you guys are talking about, this is about keeping an engine running when you cannot find parts for the stock distributor.

I only know one person selling rotors for the 320 distributor and they are not going to last forever, she doesn't have caps anymore but they come up on ebay every once in a while.

I used to sigh when I went out to the L320 to start it and warm it up, I always wondered if it would even start, several times it didn't start, now it starts on the first revolution, 2 pumps of the pedal and pull out the choke, hit the key off you go, it's like a new engine.


 

 


#24 Stoffregen Motorsports

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Posted 07 March 2017 - 08:39 AM

Enough of these trucks are popping up and guys are interested in rebuilding them, maybe it's time for someone to make a simple adapter plate to run a more modern distributor.



#25 wayno

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Posted 07 March 2017 - 10:13 AM

Enough of these trucks are popping up and guys are interested in rebuilding them, maybe it's time for someone to make a simple adapter plate to run a more modern distributor.

 

That is what this thread is or at least was about. 

 

First I started with the Matchbox dist. which is easiest to do with the J13 mount plate, this has already been done by Mike K, actually it's pretty easy, then I figured out that the MG distributors bolt in using the stock 320 mount bracket, one doesn't even have to change the drive gear, one can even buy a Dist. with a side entry cap that looks a lot like the stock 320 cap, buried deep down on the side of the engine one would have to know what they were looking at to say it was not stock.

Then it became a mission for me to see if I could find a way to make one of this MG electronic ignitions positive ground so one could keep their generator instead of having to convert over to negative ground and use a alternator, well that is possible too, I did it using a MG Midget distributor I had with an optical trigger Crane XR3000 ignition box, it can be positive ground, it was a miracle that I had this 1500 MG Midget engine with this Crane EI system in my garage.

Then just recently I found a new Pertronix positive ground dist. that is a bolt in with the 320 mount bracket, now the only thing to figure out is if that Pertronix dist. can be fitted with a side entry cap or if them guts can be transferred to a dist. with a side entry cap which I suspect both can be done but I am set now, I don't see a reason to buy any more distributors as I only have one positive ground 320 truck left that has already been converted in this thread and I have another Crane setup if I need it.

I did buy a negative ground ground EI distributor with side entry cap to replace the stock 320 distributor in the U320 as it was converted to negative ground with an MG alternator before I bought it, as it's also hard to start.

 

I don't know how this thread became a debate about points verses electronic ignition, and I am not going to go back thru it and find out, to me this is about getting more 320s to the meets and on the road for that matter because they finally dependably start.

 

I can hardly wait till I start fitting MG dual SUs to my 320 trucks, can you imagine.........................................


 

 


#26 Stoffregen Motorsports

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Posted 07 March 2017 - 10:32 AM

I know there's a thread about the MG connection somewhere, but please post up what you find when you start on that conversion.



#27 wayno

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Posted 07 March 2017 - 10:55 AM

I know there's a thread about the MG connection somewhere, but please post up what you find when you start on that conversion.

 

I already did on the first page(post 15), the distributor with the blue spark plug wires is a MG Midget dist. with the Crane ignition system, it is wired positive ground, and it starts great.


 

 


#28 distributorguy

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Posted 07 March 2017 - 12:42 PM

MG distributors are a direct fit.  They share the same drive dog and clamp.   The drop-in depth is the same, and Lucas makes a pretty good distributor.  Both rotate CCW, 1-3-4-2 firing order.  MG HS4 carbs bolt right up to the Hitachi manifold, they just need slightly longer linkage rods made.  The jetting is usually very close.  Use the Hitachi spacers.   :thumbup:



#29 deerio

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Posted 08 March 2017 - 05:47 AM

MG HS4 carbs bolt right up to the Hitachi manifold, they just need slightly longer linkage rods made.  The jetting is usually very close.  Use the Hitachi spacers.   :thumbup:

 

I thought I heard somewhere that this setup interferes with the steering column and brake MC?



#30 wayno

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Posted 08 March 2017 - 09:27 PM

I thought I heard somewhere that this setup interferes with the steering column and brake MC?

 

Yea I seen that the column may be an issue, but I believe I can deal with that, the brake master is not an issue and I have a dual master, but the air filter might be an issue.

The Japanese carbs float bowls are adjustable and don't hang down as far, the spacers are half as thick, it will be close but I think it will clear.


 

 


#31 wayno

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Posted 11 March 2017 - 10:07 AM

It was brought to my attention by Andy this morning that the equivalent of the Datsun 320 E1 distributor mount/clamping plate is available at Moss Motors to this day(part #153-400), they can be bought brand new.

Here is a link to that part, it is part #21 in the diagram.
This can be used on the Datsun 320 E1 distributor and likely the J block also to mount a 320 distributor or better yet an electronic ignition MG/Triumph distributor in your Datsun 320/520, it will not work on the J block distributor or the Matchbox distributor.
unnamed.jpg

 

 


#32 320 Newb

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Posted 11 March 2017 - 01:22 PM

I can verify 100% that clamp fits the J block. I'm running a 320 distributor with that clamp right now on a J15. 

 

But since the 320 distributor is so hard to find parts for I'd love to switch over to a J series distributor. If anyone has a J series hold down clamp I'll happily purchase. 

 

-Moses



#33 wayno

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Posted 11 March 2017 - 08:35 PM

I have to say that electronic ignition is the way to go on any daily driver, it's a set it up and forget it thing, my work truck has a matchbox distributor, I have not touched that thing for years, and I am talking since I put that LZ23 in the truck, I might have even just transferred the distributor over used as it was running that old engine just fine.

it's been so long that I cannot even remember the last time I put a cap and rotor on it, that would not have happened with a points distributor, I would have to tinker with it every year or so to keep the engine running good, I don't have to do anything to the work truck except to start it and drive it to the job, I put about 8000 miles a year on it, and have not touched it since the new engine was installed.

 

So I just looked up when I installed that engine, it was July of 2011, so that is likely the last tune-up it had, 5/6 years ago as the wires look new in the photo, you cannot do that with a points distributor, that's like 40,000 miles without a tune up and it still starts fine with a good battery which I have had to replace, I cannot believe it has been that long, seemed like only a couple years ago.


 

 


#34 datzenmike

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Posted 11 March 2017 - 08:52 PM

wano, I hear you. My 620 I put a matchbox in it with unknown miles on the cap and rotor. Drove 5-7 years and never looked at it. One day it wouldn't start. The carbon button in the cap wore and fell apart. I cut a piece of fence wire and stuck it in to get home. Set and forget.


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#35 Roys320

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Posted 11 April 2017 - 04:29 PM

I'm new to this forum and Datsuns for that matter. There is a great deal of info here. A lot of knowledge. I just bought a '64 L320 and it's in pretty nice unrestored condition. It really needs a tune-up, but I have found that those parts are almost non-existent. I saw what was said above about using an MG dizzy and that made me look around. The MG was a Lucas and is available. I think its a 25D. Then I read how the 25D can be upgraded to a 45D4 and it was a simple bolt in. So an E1 dizzy can be upgraded to a Lucas 45D4, I believe anyway. The 45D4 can be bought from Pertronix or AccuSpark, both are self contained electronic dizzys. No outside box needed. I have an AccuSpark on it's way and will update everyone when I install it. They also have the sideways cap. There was a positive ground model with side cap, but that may have been by Pertronix. My 320 is already Neg ground so I didn't need it. Stay tuned.



#36 Conner

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Posted 12 April 2017 - 05:45 AM

Great, let us know how it turns out.  And start a new thread with some pictures of your truck. 



#37 wayno

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Posted 12 April 2017 - 05:44 PM

As far as I know the 45D4 will bolt right in using your 320 distributor mount bracket, some even have the MG bracket which is exactly the same as the 320 bracket.

I could hardly believe that that MG Midget distributor on that engine in my garage was the same as my E1 distributor, and even more incredible was the fact that it had a Crane ignition system in it that could be wired as positive ground, it was a freaking miracle that everything happened the way it did, that is why I started this thread.


 

 


#38 Roys320

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Posted 15 April 2017 - 04:21 AM

So far I have the dizzy in place. Went right in like it was made to go there. I used the Datsun clamp, but the MG would have worked with a little modification. The #1 cylinder location changed but that isn't a problem. You just start with where ever #1 is and follow the firing order going counter clockwise around the cap. I found a few other issues like the vacuum advance tube was broken, the coil was wired backwards and the trigger wire between the coil and dizzy was almost broken. It's a wonder this old truck even ran at all! I'll finish making the plug wires today and get her started up. Then I'll report the outcome. 



#39 Roys320

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Posted 15 April 2017 - 02:53 PM

Well, she started up and ran great! I don't have a base line to start with because there were so many other small issues, but this is much better and I can buy tune-up parts now. This was an easy swap and I'd recommend it to anyone. It even looks stock!



#40 320 Newb

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 05:02 PM

Sorry to resurrect an old thread but I'm on the verge of buying a new distributor and would love some advise. 

 

First the problem: I think there might be a short in my stock dizzy because when I accelerate I loose acceleration in kind of choking bursts. I first thought the timing was off but I've been adjusting it for a week with no improvement. I also re-gapped the points and they're fine. I recently replaced the points and there's less than 100 miles on them. 

 

Strange thing is it starts first crank and idles great. The problem just happens when I hit the gas. 

 

Where I need advise: I'm on the fence between a refurbished points Lucas dizzy:

https://www.ebay.com...cRZE8f5&vxp=mtr

I like the side entry cap 'cause it looks like a stock 320 dizzy and I don't mind adjusting points every now and then.

 

 

And an electronic dizzy: 

https://www.ebay.com...S9ZZ3ZO&vxp=mtr

I don't like the top entry cap and I'm not sure how to handle the two wires. If the black wire goes to the coil, where does the red wire go?