MSD ready to run, no spark

mrfleet12

Veteran Member
Aug 8, 2014
1,233
West of Chicago IL
Helping a friend with his 68 with an intermittent problem.
He's running an msd ready to run dist that will run fine, then the car will die and there's no spark at the coil. We have 12+ volts at the coil which is new, new cap and rotor as well. When the car is running, and it's under load up to about 4k or so it acts like it's hitting a rev limiter. I tested the mag pickup and it had like 260 ohms which they say should be between 400 and 1300.
Before diving in on the pickup, has anyone seen this issue?
Also, replacing that module, can that be done from the top without pulling the distributor?
 

mrfleet12

Veteran Member
Aug 8, 2014
1,233
West of Chicago IL
Was doing some Internet research last night, thinking it may be the control module which includes the pickup. With these distributors, there really isn't anything else managing the spark.
Thoughts?
 

ChevyReb

Veteran Member
Lifetime Gold Member
Feb 4, 2003
4,485
SC
I have one of those and will be watching this thread. I've not experienced any issues but I've read where some people carry a spare module or entire distributor with them.
 

CorkyE

Veteran Member
Lifetime Gold Member
Nov 4, 2004
11,706
Ringgold, GA
That sounds like a coil or module issue, more the coil. Heat will exacerbate any weakness. I know the coil is new but see if you can borrow a known good one to try. Good luck, I hate these kind of issues. I could be a fuel issue, but an old saying is the most fuel problems are ignition related. Take care of the ignition first.
 

1980RS

Veteran Member
Jun 17, 2006
6,139
MN
The MSD ready to run distributors are junk, so fat I have had 2 fail, one a SBC and a brand new out of the box 409 one that did not work once. What I did was, take the unit completely apart and cut the wires tossed the module and just used the pickup coil after using the 2 wires to then hook it to a good MSD 6AL. Those ready to run units have a huge failure rate, definitely not worth their cost.
 

ChevyReb

Veteran Member
Lifetime Gold Member
Feb 4, 2003
4,485
SC
Idk if I'd call then junk...normally any electronics are going to fail out of the box or during the 1st 30 days. Or two days after the warranty expires. I've seen that on computers and electronic equipment in my 34 years in the computer industry.
 

mrfleet12

Veteran Member
Aug 8, 2014
1,233
West of Chicago IL
He's been running this one for 9 years, this is the first issue.
Spoke to MSD tech this morning, he agreed that it was most likely the module since the coil ohm values were ok and the other checks I made were good, but his solution was to send it to them so they can replace the module. When I said I'd replace it, he was done with me.
Should be here Wednesday, I'll update after that.
Everything else checks out, good fuel pressure, float bowls are full, gas getting through the carb etc.
I'll snag a pic of this car too, all original body, interior etc, one repaint 20 years ago and the only body panel replaced was the hood, changed to a cowl. It's pretty sweet.
 

sandlapper

Veteran Member
Oct 9, 2020
1,289
SE CSA
well, you tell us the pickup resistance is way out of spec... I'd start right there.

IIRC, MSD uses a Ford pickup for that and many other distributors.

Take your pickup to your local NAPA and look in Standard Ignition/SMP product lines.
Perhaps pickup assembly SMP pn LX204

* btw, you prolly won't need or use the bottom plate that comes w/ LX204 assembly
Been many years ago, but I've done this job ... last was a nascar busch car w/ the the old dual-pickup MSD dist paired w/ redundant switchable CD boxes & coils ... back then all used that system or a similar one by crane. (nascar mandated rules).

Tip: do Not use smp parts that have a " T " suffix ... they're built cheaper for the garage/shop industry to get em out the door & make better margins.
 
Last edited:

mrfleet12

Veteran Member
Aug 8, 2014
1,233
West of Chicago IL
well, you tell us the pickup resistance is way out of spec... I'd start right there.

IIRC, MSD uses a Ford pickup for that and many other distributors.

Take your pickup to your local NAPA and look in Standard Ignition/SMP product lines.
Perhaps pickup assembly SMP pn LX204

* btw, you prolly won't need or use the bottom plate that comes w/ LX204 assembly
Been many years ago, but I've done this job ... last was a nascar busch car w/ the the old dual-pickup MSD dist paired w/ redundant switchable CD boxes & coils ... back then all used that system or a similar one by crane. (nascar mandated rules).

Tip: do Not use smp parts that have a " T " suffix ... they're built cheaper for the garage/shop industry to get em out the door & make better margins.
That part certainly looks like the MSD pick up.
It always amazes me how much people on this site know.
There was also another brand with replacement parts that would fit these distributors, Dragon Fire. They're a third the price but didn't want to take a chance, may have him get one as a backup.
 

sandlapper

Veteran Member
Oct 9, 2020
1,289
SE CSA
Perhaps simply replace all your vulnerable parts (and spares) w/ good pieces from SMP.
SMP parts with No suffix are good; those SMP parts with an " X " suffix are the best aka "blue streak" pieces.
While it's quite true some SMP parts are Not USA-manufactured; it's just as true they're still better.

AFAIK, "Dragonfire" is just some made-up moniker for a line of cheaper, chinesium knock-offs of established pieces.
Cheaper doesn't always equate to good value; sometimes so, but more often not.
If you're nursing ignition failures now ... IF it's that ... then why stick your toe in that sewer?
 




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