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Old 08-19-2006, 06:22 PM
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Help with MSD

Well I just spent my whole Saturday under the hood of my V8 powered Datsun replacing the stock GM HEI with a shiny new MSD system. I installed the MSD 6AL ignition box along with one of their Pro-Billet distributors, Blaster 2 coil and new 8.5 super conductor wires. The car now runs like crap.

When I accelerate hard the valves make a clattering sound like you would hear when running bad gas. It did not do this before the change to MSD so what did I do wrong?

The engine seems have no power gain from the change to MSD. In fact, it may run a little worse!

The engine in the car has been rebuilt recently and it is a 1975/76 Chevy 350. I have an Edelbrock 600 cfm carburetor and of course the MSD stuff.

What made the valves clatter after the change?
What do I need to do to fix the problem?

Any help would be appreciated.
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Old 08-19-2006, 07:24 PM
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i would suspect

maybe you got the disributor off a few teeth causing timming to be way off and maybe the valves our open to soon or late ?
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Old 08-19-2006, 07:36 PM
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It sounds like ignition timing to me.

What is your initial timing and how much total advance are you running?



You should not be running more than 34-36* total advance. I'd start with 34* at 4000 and see what happens.

hope this helps, mikey
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Old 08-19-2006, 07:37 PM
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does that dist have a vacuum advance?
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Old 08-19-2006, 08:09 PM
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No the distributor does not have a vacuum advance. I too was kinda wondering about that. The old HEI of course did have the vacuum advance.

As for the timing being way off. I marked the old position that the old distributor was in and made sure I put the new one in the same location, rotor pointed to the #1 cylinder.

I left the heavy springs that the MSD distributor came with and did not change the stop bushing hence the distributor was put in the engine with no changes right out of the box.

Also here is a little more information you folks to consider.

Edelbrock cam #7102
Edelbrock Aluminum intake #7101
Edelbrock Aluminum Cylindar heads #60899
Carter electric fuel pump
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Old 08-19-2006, 08:28 PM
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Re-check all your plug wires to make sure they are correct and none are crossed. Be sure that the vacumn source that went to your old dist advance is plugged off. Now check your timing with a timing light and set to specs.
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Old 08-19-2006, 09:13 PM
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Thanks, I will check the timing tomorrow. The vacuum port that I was using is blocked off. Checked the plug wires several times.
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Old 08-19-2006, 11:05 PM
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Try this before you do anything!!!!!!!!!!

I had a real similar problem after rebuilding and reinstalling my engine. The car started and Idled fine but went to **** under any load. TRY THIS before you do anything!!!!!!!!!!!!! Switch the two wires going to your distributor. You can swear that you did it right, but MSDs are real funny about that. You would think that it won't run if you hooked it up wrong but it will... Let me know if this is your problem...
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Old 08-20-2006, 09:51 AM
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The only two wires going to my new MSD distributor are plugged into the MSD box in their own harness. I thought that the harness would only plug one way. I will go look to be sure.
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Old 08-20-2006, 09:57 AM
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For testing - just switch the two wires on the distributor

You don't need to spend 30 minutes tracing and reading, just switch the two wires on your distributor. Even if they are correct right now, you're not going to hurt anything. You can thank me when you come back in-side. Well - I'm pretty sure this is the problem, don't want to sound too cocky!
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Old 08-20-2006, 11:42 AM
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Can I get a second on this?

By the way I did go and look at the car and the harness to the distributor was and is connected properly. Again this is fool proof because the harness will only connect one way. The only way to do what you are recommending is to cut off the MSD plug and splice the wires together. I cannot fathom this being the problem since the "MSD" ignition box is directly connected to the "MSD" distributor via the custom "MSD" connection that "they" provided with "their" kit.

I am leaning towards the timing being a little off.

Also no one has commented on the springs for adjusting the advance curve, which I will admit I am totally lost on, and only one person has inquired about if the new distributor has a vacuum advance or not. The old GM did this one does not.

"I'm pretty sure this is the problem, don't want to sound too cocky!"

dpjmw- I do not think that you sound cocky at all, you are just trying to help out, and that is how I took it. I just cannot see that as being the issue because if it is then MSD is truely screwed up, in my opinion.
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Old 08-20-2006, 11:49 AM
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Try your timing first.
I don't have the chart that comes with the MSD distributer. usually the factory installed springs are the heavy ones, and centrifugal advance is limited to 22* or so at 4000 rpm.They set it for a somewhat slow curve to prevent detonation.

The pre-set advance curve is listed in your instructions that came from the factory.
You can download it from the msd website, just have the part number of your distributer ready.

Set your initial timing at 10* at an idle and see what happens,or just go power time it.
later, mikey
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Old 08-20-2006, 06:44 PM
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Doc here,

The "Valve Clatter" you describe, Is it more like a pinging..like marbles in a can? And occur only under load?

If so your over-advancing. Change the weights.

Doc
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Old 08-20-2006, 07:55 PM
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I don't understand

The easiest solution for you to try was to switch the two leads to the distributor. If it don't work switch em back.... I hope you didn't mess with this thing all day today and not try it. I had this same thing happen to me... Anyway, good luck and can't wait to hear what the real problem turned out to be.
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Old 08-21-2006, 12:44 PM
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I will second and third the MSD purple and green wire hookup. I've seen multiple MSD boxes wired from the factor wrong. The harness connector does install only one way. Sometimes it still ain't right. Easy to fix though. Check your timing and make a note. Switch the MSD wires arond and recheck timing. Use the setting that retards the timing the most.


I learned a good leason a many years ago about trusting anything. Burned down a $30,000 engine because the box was wired wrong on the inside.
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