Duraspark II Ignition Retard -Fallacy or Fiction - Ford Muscle Forums : Ford Muscle Cars Tech Forum
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-12-2012, 07:03 PM Thread Starter
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Duraspark II Ignition Retard -Fallacy or Fiction

Yes...I know fallacy and fiction are basically the same. But I think it follows with the issue I am about to raise.

The DURASPARK II is a know good retrofit to non electronic igntion cars, such as my 70 XR7 and 73 Mustang. I don't use it personally, but many do.

There are dozens of posts indicating the DURASPARK II module is capable of retarding the ignition timing of a distributor during engine start up. Some statements such as this are posted on this site. In fact, this feature alone is often cited as the reason some use DURASPARK instead of the bowtie conceived HEI ignition.

However, based on my knowledge of the ignition system and the mechanical timing features, I am unable to see any way for the DII to change the timing of a distributor.

From my vantage point, the timing of a distributor is changed through 2 basic ways:

1. Rotate distributor, which is basically rotating the distributor cap but leaving the gear inside alone.

2. Rotate the distributor plate, which is done via vacuum or centrifugal advance.

Since the module has no control over either of these methods, how could it possibly change the timing?

Thank you for enlightening me.
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 06:05 AM
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Re: Duraspark II Ignition Retard -Fallacy or Fiction

The retard is accomplished electronically inside the module. When starting, the white wire to the module gets a voltage signal that causes the module to delay firing the coil.

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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 07:44 AM
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Re: Duraspark II Ignition Retard -Fallacy or Fiction



What he said (during CRANK)...

And this is the DURASPARK II with the BLUE strain relief.

There is also a DURASPARK II IGN MODULE with YELLOW strain relief that receives a signal from an outside mechanical sensor. The retard feature (while running) is for altitude and/or pre-igntion.

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The above posted information is in my opinion only. It may contain copy and paste material(s). Your opinion(s) and mileage may vary.

Last edited by KULTULZ; 02-28-2014 at 03:44 PM.
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 08:10 AM
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Re: Duraspark II Ignition Retard -Fallacy or Fiction

These guys are on it. ZGW (welcome to the forums!), to take this one step further, this is an early electronic design, where simple delay of the trigger signal causes a retard of the output spark. 10 years later, they ditched all the mechanical timing guts, and used an expanded 'retard' system, commonly called "next-cylinder" mode. What this means is that the trigger of the previous cylinder is actually used to calculate when to fire the next cylinder. Instead of retard, if you delay it long enough, you're actually firing the next cylinder in advance.

This is the basis of all modern ECM-controlled distributor schemes. If you instead take the trigger signal from the crank and calculate the next cylinder firing, you don't even need a distributor - you now have distributorless operation simply firing multiple coil packs in the correct firing order.

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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 11:23 AM
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Re: Duraspark II Ignition Retard -Fallacy or Fiction

get a box from a 79-81 mustang/capri turbo... it has a 2 step retard, IIRC, 4 degrees, then an additional 2, depending how you hook up the pressure switches...

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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 10:32 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Duraspark II Ignition Retard -Fallacy or Fiction

Actually, if you read the service manual page it says:

"On SOME applications a SPECIAL Duraspark II module is used...with 3 connectors instead of 2." Further reading of the text and figures show the necessity of the Distributor Modulation Valve which adjust the timing mechanically via the vacuum advance.

Only a Duraspark II with this 3rd connector and the Distributor Modulation Valve(DMV) has the capability to advance/retard the ignition.

As a result, it is false to believe any Duraspark II module alone can provide for advance/retard. The Duraspark II requires a 3rd plug and the DMV.

Thank you for the great service manual page!!!
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 11:10 PM
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Re: Duraspark II Ignition Retard -Fallacy or Fiction

Quote:
Originally Posted by zgwforum View Post
... Only a Duraspark II with this 3rd connector and the Distributor Modulation Valve(DMV) has the capability to advance/retard the ignition.

As a result, it is false to believe any Duraspark II module alone can provide for advance/retard. The Duraspark II requires a 3rd plug and the DMV.
You are mis-reading it without further info. Only DSII has altitude-compensating spark retard with the 3rd connector and sensors. That is not saying none have retard but those. I and thousands of others have proven working spark retard on various DS modules, where the spark retard is usually intended for cranking - not just altitude compensation or turbo boost. But, you can retard any time you want. All you have to do is apply power to the white wire and watch your timing. Bingo. Retard.

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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-14-2012, 02:22 AM
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Re: Duraspark II Ignition Retard -Fallacy or Fiction

Quote:
Originally Posted by PSIG View Post
You are mis-reading it without further info. Only DSII has altitude-compensating spark retard with the 3rd connector and sensors. That is not saying none have retard but those. I and thousands of others have proven working spark retard on various DS modules, where the spark retard is usually intended for cranking - not just altitude compensation or turbo boost. But, you can retard any time you want. All you have to do is apply power to the white wire and watch your timing. Bingo. Retard.

David
David is spot on.

I am one of the many that used the common 2 plug blue grommet controller's retard feature with great success when I rewired the Mustang when it had higher compression. It is a great feature.

I used this schematic that specifically lists the white wires function and the use of the blue grommet:

Duraspark conversion

Nothing proves it like actually doing it . . . . . .

Dennis

65' Stang Street/Strip. Dart 434W NA, Victor heads, G101A 4 Spd, 4:56 rear gear, on 93 octane pushing 3550lbs. [email protected]

Last edited by dennis111; 11-14-2012 at 02:24 AM.
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-14-2012, 04:41 AM
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Re: Duraspark II Ignition Retard -Fallacy or Fiction

You can also use it as an advance device... just run it normally with both retard steps engaged, then remove each one if you want... A good app for this would be to have it retarded for startup cranking, and once the engine fires, restore the advance.....

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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-14-2012, 06:04 AM
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Re: Duraspark II Ignition Retard -Fallacy or Fiction

Quote:
Originally Posted by PSIG View Post

You are mis-reading it without further info. Only DSII has altitude-compensating spark retard with the 3rd connector and sensors. That is not saying none have retard but those. I and thousands of others have proven working spark retard on various DS modules, where the spark retard is usually intended for cranking - not just altitude compensation or turbo boost. But, you can retard any time you want. All you have to do is apply power to the white wire and watch your timing. Bingo. Retard.

David
Seems I screwed up when I mentioned the YELLOW IGN MOD (casual conversation and obscure factoids should be avoided at all costs).

Dave is quite right (as usual). The White Wire retards IGN ADV @ crank for less load on the starter motor. Many (for whatever reason) do not wire that circuit in with a conversion.

DISCLAIMER-

The above posted information is in my opinion only. It may contain copy and paste material(s). Your opinion(s) and mileage may vary.
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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-14-2012, 06:06 AM
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Re: Duraspark II Ignition Retard -Fallacy or Fiction

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott66GTA View Post
You can also use it as an advance device... just run it normally with both retard steps engaged, then remove each one if you want... A good app for this would be to have it retarded for startup cranking, and once the engine fires, restore the advance.....
"A good app" doesnt that do it for the oem set up .

or did you mean switch to crank mode for high load retard
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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-15-2012, 06:05 AM
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Re: Duraspark II Ignition Retard -Fallacy or Fiction

Quote:
Originally Posted by DanH View Post
"A good app" doesnt that do it for the oem set up .

or did you mean switch to crank mode for high load retard

that's what i was suggesting, with a high initial advance, you could set it up so the engine will start when hot under these conditions, and when it catches, restore advance. You could wire the step activation through an oil pressure switch or something..

Overall, I was trying to get people to think outside the box. (no pun intended)

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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-15-2012, 08:55 AM
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Re: Duraspark II Ignition Retard -Fallacy or Fiction

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Originally Posted by Scott66GTA View Post
that's what i was suggesting, with a high initial advance, you could set it up so the engine will start when hot under these conditions, and when it catches, restore advance. You could wire the step activation through an oil pressure switch or something..

Overall, I was trying to get people to think outside the box. (no pun intended)
That's what Dan was saying - the most common use of the retard function is exactly what you are suggesting. The factory would connect the white wire to the starter relay (fender solenoid), so when you cranked, the DS would retard, and once the engine caught, releasing the key would restore advance. This is what Dennis described he did on his application in an earlier post. Simple start retard.

For creative uses, another is with non-vac-advance units, where retard is active all the time (and the engine timed so it's 'normal' with retard active), then the retard deactivated at cruise to give increased MPG with effective advance. I've seen this done with one throttle switch and a Hobbs switch.

Another popular creative use was during the early '80s with that "new" stuff - nitrous. The white wire was simply attached to the nitrous solenoid, so when triggered it would retard the ignition. This was a welcome simple solution to large HP shots that otherwise required involved techniques to provide the necessary retard for high horsepower with high cylinder pressure.

The same technique was used with superchargers and turbos for retard with pump gas before the 'turbo' version of the DS came out. Without a retard function, you were stuck with either ridiculously low compression or high-octane fuel.

BTW - if using DS, unless there is need for some other function, I strongly recommend the red-grommet box (California/non-Federal) over the others as it is considerably more powerful. While not commonly used in decades past due to extremely high cost and low availability; the red boxes are now common and cheap. The red box has dwell control, uses no coil ballast resistor, and so allows the use of HEI-style coils with higher spark energy and much wider gaps (or higher compression) and better firing of polluted (rough idle) and lean-burn cruise mixtures.

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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-11-2013, 10:59 AM
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Re: Duraspark II Ignition Retard -Fallacy or Fiction

Thanks for the interesting discussion. I just converted to Duraspark II with a blue grommet module, Motorcraft part number DY-893 (1U2Z-12A199-A). The conversion works great, idle is smooth, etc. However, the reason I did it was to obtain the start retard functionality presumably offered by the white wire, and I'm not sure this is happening.

I have noticed that with the engine running, I can connect the white wire directly to 12V and NOTHING happens. While running, the timing does not change regardless of whether the white wire is energized or not. Others have reported seeing the timing instantly change when doing this, and that's what I'm hoping to achieve also.

Is there some reason why the module would be smart enough to only retard when actually starting? Or was the start retard feature removed from this newest (1U2Z-A) version of the module? Did I get a bad module?

I am very confident that everything is wired properly. Any thoughts about what I can do to get the start retard working?

Thanks!

[UPDATE: Got it working! See newer post 03-13-2013]

Last edited by merc428; 03-12-2013 at 10:31 PM.
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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-11-2013, 12:13 PM
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Re: Duraspark II Ignition Retard -Fallacy or Fiction

Odd. I haven't used a real Ford box in a long time (just cheap aftermarket ones), and it is possible there is an RPM cutoff feature now - but I wouldn't assume so. To verify if it's either non-functional or has RPM cutoff, watch your timing with a light while cranking and apply power to the white wire. If it's limited, you should see the timing jump back. Otherwise it's not working, and there is no reason I know of that the feature designed for it it should have been removed.

I don't have any blue-grommet boxes here to test for readings on the white wire. If your cranking test fails, perhaps someone else can test for readings to see if they show different than yours.

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