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C3 Corvette Ignition - Distribution Of Power

MSD Ignition Upgrades Set Our C3's Spark System Ablaze

Chris Endres May 1, 2008
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MSD Ignition's Digital E-Curve distributor is a direct replacement for your OEM points- or HEI-type distributor. It requires only three simple wiring connections and an hour or two of your time.

As with most things automotive, the ignition system has a fairly simple task. The job of the distributor and coil is to deliver spark to the proper cylinder at just the right time to create combustion. While this seems basic enough, it gets complicated quickly when it comes to optimizing the system for different conditions. Things like adjusting centrifugal and vacuum advance can easily overwhelm the novice tuner. This is where the innovation and flexibility of the MSD Ignition E-Curve Pro-Billet Distributor can save the day.

The E-Curve will drop right into your small- or big-block engine and requires you to connect only three wires. While that's cool, what really sets the E-Curve apart is that it's a stand-alone unit with no external boxes or controllers to operate. Its built-in high-output ignition module produces a powerful spark for improved combustion.

The other thing that makes the E-Curve unique is that it allows you to set a timing curve by simply twisting a rotary dial. The E-Curve's digital module lets you select from 20 different centrifugal curves and five vacuum curves, giving you 100 combinations from which to choose. The dials are easily accessed by removing the distributor cap. You can also set an rpm limit to protect your engine from damage caused by a missed shift or driveline failure. The rev limiter is adjustable from 5,000-10,000 rpm.

The digitally controlled ignition module is what makes these adjustments possible. The E-Curve uses MSD's proprietary magnetic pickup for an accurate trigger signal throughout the engine's entire operating range. Like all billet MSD distributors, the E-Curve is machined from a solid billet of 6000-series aluminum for unsurpassed accuracy and reliability. The tool-steel shaft is equipped with a heavy-duty gear and spins effortlessly on sealed ball-bearing assemblies. And finally, the E-Curve Distributor is topped with MSD's Rynite molded cap and rotor. It's even supplied with a matching three-pin Weathertight harness that makes wiring a snap.

An MSD Blaster Coil makes a natural companion piece to the E-Curve or any high-end distributor. MSD says the Blaster Coil line is designed for a maximum spark output of 45,000 volts! This is achieved through the use of special 100:1 windings that are held secure and kept cool in an oil-filled metal canister. The tower assembly is molded of durable alkyd material with high dielectric characteristics, while widely spaced brass primary terminals prevent the possibility of spark.

There are several versions of the Blaster Coil available, all of which have identical internal specifications. The only real difference is the housing configuration. We chose the traditional Blaster 2, which is available in MSD red or ultra-chic chrome.

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Make a drawing that illustrates the orientation of the rotor once the cap is off. Another option is to make a mark on the intake manifold with which the rotor will line up. Either way, this will make your life much easier when you install the MSD unit.

Topping off our MSD install is a set of the company's 8.5mm Super Conductor plug wires. These may be the finest wires available, offering incredibly low resistance while fending off all electronic interference. The secret is the low resistance: According to MSD, a 12-inch length of Super Conductor Wire has only 40-50 ohms of resistance, the lowest of any helically wound wire. To do this, MSD uses a copper alloy conductor, which offers excellent voltage-carrying capabilities. The conductor is wound so tight around its center core that it uses over 40 feet of conductor for a single foot of plug wire. Why should you care? Because the low resistance of these wires results in maximum spark energy reaching the plug.

Lastly, all MSD spark plug wires feature "Dual Crimp" terminals. As the name implies, each terminal features two crimps: one for the sleeve of the wire and another to grasp the conductor. This provides a more secure crimp and less chance of spark arcing to the engine block or exhaust through the boot. MSD is so confident in its Dual Crimp terminals that it warrants each factory-crimped plug wire against "pulling off" for five years. The 8.5mm Super Conductor Plug Wire is available in Universal Kits and Bulk Lengths in either red or black.

For this project, we chose a lightly modified '72 LS5 coupe. The owner noted a high-rpm miss that was traced to a low-quality electronic ignition conversion kit that was previously installed. Follow along as we take you through the steps required to swap out the parts. Note that exact timing numbers and curves have been intentionally left out, as every car is different. If you're unsure what timing will be best for your car, consult your factory service manual or give MSD's customer-service line a ring. They're truly experts at this stuff.



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