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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    Ely, NV
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    Default Anyone gone Distributorless?

    I'm contemplating going distributorless on the 455 in the Skylark. Anyone do this? Methods? Tips?

    I want to put a crank trigger wheel on it, the T/A timing cover comes with a place to mount a bracket for a pickup sensor. Then possibly run LS style coils on valve covers.

    I would go down to at least a points distributor with no wires going to it to drive the oil pump, but does anyone know if there is a 231, 3.8L, cam sensor that can be modified (i.e. change the gear) to fit the 455 to drive the oil pump, and possibly actually act as a cam sensor in the future?

    I don't need it necessarily for performance gains, but more to clean up some of the under the hood look and shorten up the plug wires and routing.
    The Silver Buick- '77 Skylark coupe w/455, SPX, MegaSquirt 2 & TKO-600 (Drag Week 2011!), '72 Centurion Conv't - 455w/TH400, '67 T-bird 4Dr (suicide) w/428, MegaSquirt 1 & C6. '69 Firebird replaced, now building a Pontiac Turbo L6!

    My Skylark thread
    http://www.v8buick.com/showthread.php?t=208168
    My Pontiac OHC Six thread.
    http://www.v8buick.com/showthread.php?t=219250

    I'm just a regular guy that fuel injected an old Buick and Thunderbird.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Louisville,Kentucky 40229
    Posts
    4,296

    Default Re: Anyone gone Distributorless?

    There is somebody on this board that has done it.

    I was thinking of doing it sometime in the future, but doing a few other changes first.
    He talked me through it and gave me a web site.

    It does not seem to hard.

    http://www.megamanual.com/ms2/EDIS.htm
    Last edited by Michael Evans; 04-04-2011 at 05:02 PM.
    Michael Evans

    "Universal means the part universally does not fit anything until you make it"


    Next Buick project...........1987 T-Type

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Anyone gone Distributorless?

    The wiring and programming part of it is cake. I'm more curious about actually mounting a trigger wheel to the Buick balancer/pulleys. What was the trigger wheel off of originally? What modifications had to be made? Welded or bolted on? A Ford Escort wheel seems to be popular to use (for guys I know running a SBC and a BBF), and I may be looking go that route when I have a chance to go to a junkyard, and/or if I don't get any applications here. If I do get something working, I'll be documenting it in my project thread.

    Same type of questions for individual coils, I'm not really looking at a wasted spark system.
    The Silver Buick- '77 Skylark coupe w/455, SPX, MegaSquirt 2 & TKO-600 (Drag Week 2011!), '72 Centurion Conv't - 455w/TH400, '67 T-bird 4Dr (suicide) w/428, MegaSquirt 1 & C6. '69 Firebird replaced, now building a Pontiac Turbo L6!

    My Skylark thread
    http://www.v8buick.com/showthread.php?t=208168
    My Pontiac OHC Six thread.
    http://www.v8buick.com/showthread.php?t=219250

    I'm just a regular guy that fuel injected an old Buick and Thunderbird.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    mass
    Posts
    801

    Default Re: Anyone gone Distributorless?

    why not copy(use) the 1999 vortec 5.7 sbc dist they use. I am pretty use they use that to pickup signal on a sbc. msd makes a universal crank sensor and wheel, a set of ls1 coils mounted on top and it would be a nice little setup..
    i might have a junk one kicking around the shop. maybe you can borrow some parts from it.
    Have you looked into megasquirt III? nice little setup, real easy to use and it is all gm parts..you can use it for ignition/efi or both.

    Paul
    66larkgs
    turbo 401 nailhead

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Anyone gone Distributorless?

    My current setup is a Megasquirt II, and it controls both fuel and spark. Currently my HEI distributor is hollow and just a single wire running from the pickup coil and a rotor. I'd only upgrade to a MSIII if I decide to go to sequential injection (not likely for this car's use).

    If a 231 cam sensor can be modified to fit the 455, I could probably go to just that and skip the crank trigger altogether, though timing accuracy would remain the same (relative to the crank) as off the distributor and timing chain play will come onto effect still.


    Last edited by TheSilverBuick; 02-08-2015 at 12:21 PM.
    The Silver Buick- '77 Skylark coupe w/455, SPX, MegaSquirt 2 & TKO-600 (Drag Week 2011!), '72 Centurion Conv't - 455w/TH400, '67 T-bird 4Dr (suicide) w/428, MegaSquirt 1 & C6. '69 Firebird replaced, now building a Pontiac Turbo L6!

    My Skylark thread
    http://www.v8buick.com/showthread.php?t=208168
    My Pontiac OHC Six thread.
    http://www.v8buick.com/showthread.php?t=219250

    I'm just a regular guy that fuel injected an old Buick and Thunderbird.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    mass
    Posts
    801

    Default Re: Anyone gone Distributorless?

    what year 3.8 you looking for. i teach at a tech school and we have about 4 or 5 3.8 that have been tore down and reassembled. i can look through the scrap pile if i know what i am looking for to see thier is anything useful. i also have one hell of a machine shop in our school if needed we can whipp something up to help out.

    Paul
    66larkgs
    401 turbo nailhead

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    Ely, NV
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    Default Re: Anyone gone Distributorless?

    If you have something you're willing to part with, that would be awesome. As for whipping something up, I need to do more thinking and looking at trigger wheels to see what would work best for me/the 455, and not screw anything else up (like belt alignment, etc) before I could ask for anything.


    This is really the first time I've looked at the Buick cam sensors, it appears they are kinda rare and possibly expensive* So if you happen to have one and willing to part with it for the right price, that'd be way awesome too!





    *Appears to be between $50 and $370 on Ebay....
    The Silver Buick- '77 Skylark coupe w/455, SPX, MegaSquirt 2 & TKO-600 (Drag Week 2011!), '72 Centurion Conv't - 455w/TH400, '67 T-bird 4Dr (suicide) w/428, MegaSquirt 1 & C6. '69 Firebird replaced, now building a Pontiac Turbo L6!

    My Skylark thread
    http://www.v8buick.com/showthread.php?t=208168
    My Pontiac OHC Six thread.
    http://www.v8buick.com/showthread.php?t=219250

    I'm just a regular guy that fuel injected an old Buick and Thunderbird.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Brookfield, IL
    Posts
    349

    Default Re: Anyone gone Distributorless?

    Have not gone distributor-less, but did put a FAST XFI system into Shari's GS 455. For the crank and cam reference I used the following:

    Crank sensor is a 7 inch diameter MSD Flying Magnet Crank Trigger MSD-8610 for a SBC with an adapter ring machined to center it to the BBB harmonic balancer. The MSD aluminum wheel had to have three holes filed inward to line up the holes (smaller diameter circle of bolts) of the Buick and three new holes drilled. I originally purchased an 8 inch diameter wheel, but found it hit the bottom of the water pump.

    With the MSD crank trigger pushing out the lower pulleys, had to add washers behind all the accessory brackets to event things out, and spacers behind the water pump pulley as well.

    Crank sensor pickup mounted to a fabricated bracket that bolts to where the stock mechanical fuel pump would sit.



    Distributor is a stock points style unit with points plate removed and a MSD Distributor Magnetic Pickup (MSD-84661) mounted directly to the bottom of the distributor. I used the pedestal used to mount the back of the vacuum advance bracket for one location and drilled and tapped a hole for the other mount with spacers to keep the pickup parallel to the base of the distributor.



    A 7/8 inch 12 point 1/2 inch drive socket fit relatively snug over the points cam. Therefore cut the 1/2 inch drive part cut off a socket and in the upper part drilled and tapped a hole for a set screw to cinch in place. A piece of 1/8 inch thick plate steel was welded on one side of the socket forming a paddle. A file was used to clearance the paddle to pass within 30 thousands of the magnetic pickup, when spinning in the distributor.




    This provides the reference signal (one pulse for every two engine turns) the sequential fuel injection needs. The mechanical advance was locked into place as timing is controlled by the FAST box. With no mechanical advance the distributor has to be clocked with the center of the rotor on one of the spark leads at 30 degrees BTDC (or the advance used near the maximum torque).



    I have considered going with the FAST XIM module that would enable conversion to a COP system. Without the need for a distributor a hall effect type cam sensor from a Turbo Regal would be simpler.
    Loyd Bonecutter
    1986 GN - A few mods
    1986 Regal Limited with Turbocharged V6

    Life under boost is all good

  9. #9
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    Jun 2008
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    Ely, NV
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    Default Re: Anyone gone Distributorless?

    Wow, that's some cool fabricating skills! That's a pretty innovative cam sensor, simple yet effective.

    Thanks for the info on being wary of an 8" wheel and water pump clearances. I'm curious about the adapter ring on the flying magnet wheel, is it a common adapter that you openned up the center to fit the buick hub, a different modification, or is it something else?

    Thanks for the pictures, they are worth a 1,000 words.
    The Silver Buick- '77 Skylark coupe w/455, SPX, MegaSquirt 2 & TKO-600 (Drag Week 2011!), '72 Centurion Conv't - 455w/TH400, '67 T-bird 4Dr (suicide) w/428, MegaSquirt 1 & C6. '69 Firebird replaced, now building a Pontiac Turbo L6!

    My Skylark thread
    http://www.v8buick.com/showthread.php?t=208168
    My Pontiac OHC Six thread.
    http://www.v8buick.com/showthread.php?t=219250

    I'm just a regular guy that fuel injected an old Buick and Thunderbird.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Framingham, Ma
    Posts
    2,784

    Default Re: Anyone gone Distributorless?

    I always found it odd that people use a distributor to fire the ignition system on a DIS setup. All you're really doing is adding more complexity to the system and running shorter plug wires, assuming you go with coil on plug. I've seen people add a crank sensor, use a distributor as the cam sensor and then mount the coils on the firewall with extra long plug wires

    I'd say go for as compact and hidden as possible. The 3.8 cam sensor and a crank sensor mounted inside the timing cover. I'd hate to see what happens to the exposed magnetic trigger after a few trips down a winter road

  11. #11
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    Jun 2008
    Location
    Ely, NV
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    Default Re: Anyone gone Distributorless?

    So a few months later I just picked this up from a local machine shop. For $25 they trued up the inside of the crank pulley so it was flat, mostly scraped the paint off of it, and opened up the trigger wheel. The next question becomes, will the inside pulley and/or the balancer interfere with the trigger wheel signal since it's so close?




    I have some wiggle room between the balancer and the inside pulley. Once I get the balancer back I'll probably see about setting it halfway between the two.


    It slides on to the pulley real nicely, I should be able to pin or tack weld them together once I figure out where I want the missing tooth to be located. I need my balancer back from the machine shop to set this up.

    As for magnetic pick ups and winter roads, tens of millions of cars drive with them exposed every winter.
    Last edited by TheSilverBuick; 02-08-2015 at 12:23 PM.
    The Silver Buick- '77 Skylark coupe w/455, SPX, MegaSquirt 2 & TKO-600 (Drag Week 2011!), '72 Centurion Conv't - 455w/TH400, '67 T-bird 4Dr (suicide) w/428, MegaSquirt 1 & C6. '69 Firebird replaced, now building a Pontiac Turbo L6!

    My Skylark thread
    http://www.v8buick.com/showthread.php?t=208168
    My Pontiac OHC Six thread.
    http://www.v8buick.com/showthread.php?t=219250

    I'm just a regular guy that fuel injected an old Buick and Thunderbird.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    2,178

    Default Re: Anyone gone Distributorless?

    While it is a little different creature, I use an MSD 6010 box to run individual coils on my LSX engine. It uses a crank trigger and a cam sensor. I absolutely love it. So much easier and cleaner than a distributor and infinitely adjustable with my laptop. Big thumbs up.
    Steven

    1965 Skylark - 9 second 403" LS2 - Don't hate me......
    Past Buicks:
    64 Buick Special
    63 Buick Invicta Wagon (The Battleship Invicta)
    71 Skylark
    87 Grand National - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XsayG2unsU
    87 T-Type Turbo

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    Ely, NV
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    Default Re: Anyone gone Distributorless?

    Thanks! At some point I'm hoping to go to individual coils to clean up the spark plug wiring and clean up a bit of noise (that is mostly inconsequential) by going to this system. With the distributor I have roughly 65* or so of timing adjustment. Cranks at 5* and I've had it up to a hair over 60* as a test. I don't know if it was the cap/rotor relationship causing the misfires at that point or if the engine just didn't like 60*+ degrees of timing =P
    The Silver Buick- '77 Skylark coupe w/455, SPX, MegaSquirt 2 & TKO-600 (Drag Week 2011!), '72 Centurion Conv't - 455w/TH400, '67 T-bird 4Dr (suicide) w/428, MegaSquirt 1 & C6. '69 Firebird replaced, now building a Pontiac Turbo L6!

    My Skylark thread
    http://www.v8buick.com/showthread.php?t=208168
    My Pontiac OHC Six thread.
    http://www.v8buick.com/showthread.php?t=219250

    I'm just a regular guy that fuel injected an old Buick and Thunderbird.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Olympia, WA
    Posts
    1,614

    Default Re: Anyone gone Distributorless?

    This is probably a little late but why didn't you consider the Accel
    Dual Sync Distributor PN 77441.

    Was it the $400?

    Paul

  15. #15
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    Ely, NV
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    Default Re: Anyone gone Distributorless?

    What does that $400 Accel distributor do that I don't already do with my hollowed out 231 V6 distributor? Or does it come with a 36-1 trigger wheel set up too?
    The Silver Buick- '77 Skylark coupe w/455, SPX, MegaSquirt 2 & TKO-600 (Drag Week 2011!), '72 Centurion Conv't - 455w/TH400, '67 T-bird 4Dr (suicide) w/428, MegaSquirt 1 & C6. '69 Firebird replaced, now building a Pontiac Turbo L6!

    My Skylark thread
    http://www.v8buick.com/showthread.php?t=208168
    My Pontiac OHC Six thread.
    http://www.v8buick.com/showthread.php?t=219250

    I'm just a regular guy that fuel injected an old Buick and Thunderbird.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Olympia, WA
    Posts
    1,614

    Default Re: Anyone gone Distributorless?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheSilverBuick View Post
    What does that $400 Accel distributor do that I don't already do with my hollowed out 231 V6 distributor? Or does it come with a 36-1 trigger wheel set up too?
    http://www.msextra.com/doc/ms2extra/MS2-Extra_Dual.htm

    It looks as though the MS2 dual wheel setup would work with the Dual Sync Distributor

    That's why I asked.
    Maybe someone else might be interested in a combination that is more "Off the shelf"

    Am I looking at this correctly?

    I realize that the crank trigger setup is more accurate and I like your approach.
    Nice Work!

    Paul
    Last edited by pmuller9; 07-23-2011 at 01:23 AM.

  17. #17
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    Ely, NV
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    Default Re: Anyone gone Distributorless?

    At this time I have no intentions of going to sequential injection on this engine. The GN cam sensor would just be for driving the oil pump. I'm looking to get rid of the spark plug wires running from the front of the engine because I can't seem to keep them neat. Also to take the timing chain slack out of the timing equation, and any distributor driven tach signal will have the chain slack issue. Both issues are trivial, but it's the direction I'm going.
    The Silver Buick- '77 Skylark coupe w/455, SPX, MegaSquirt 2 & TKO-600 (Drag Week 2011!), '72 Centurion Conv't - 455w/TH400, '67 T-bird 4Dr (suicide) w/428, MegaSquirt 1 & C6. '69 Firebird replaced, now building a Pontiac Turbo L6!

    My Skylark thread
    http://www.v8buick.com/showthread.php?t=208168
    My Pontiac OHC Six thread.
    http://www.v8buick.com/showthread.php?t=219250

    I'm just a regular guy that fuel injected an old Buick and Thunderbird.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Olympia, WA
    Posts
    1,614

    Default Re: Anyone gone Distributorless?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheSilverBuick View Post
    Also to take the timing chain slack out of the timing equation, and any distributor driven tach signal will have the chain slack issue. Both issues are trivial, but it's the direction I'm going.
    There is certainly nothing wrong with having precise timing.
    Also by going distributorless you will be eliminating any issues with distributor rotor and cap phasing as you mentioned earlier.

    Phasing has always been a pain with our turbo engines.

    Can you do a No waste spark setup with the MS2 or would you need the MS3?

  19. #19
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    Ely, NV
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    Default Re: Anyone gone Distributorless?

    I'd have to do an MS3 for no wasted spark. There are only four spark drivers on the MS1 and MS2.
    The Silver Buick- '77 Skylark coupe w/455, SPX, MegaSquirt 2 & TKO-600 (Drag Week 2011!), '72 Centurion Conv't - 455w/TH400, '67 T-bird 4Dr (suicide) w/428, MegaSquirt 1 & C6. '69 Firebird replaced, now building a Pontiac Turbo L6!

    My Skylark thread
    http://www.v8buick.com/showthread.php?t=208168
    My Pontiac OHC Six thread.
    http://www.v8buick.com/showthread.php?t=219250

    I'm just a regular guy that fuel injected an old Buick and Thunderbird.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    Ely, NV
    Posts
    4,374

    Default Re: Anyone gone Distributorless?

    Just sharing now.

    I bolted the modified pulley to my old harmonic balancer (new one should show up today?) to take a look at how it all fits together. My EFI go to guy still says he doesn't think there will be a signal interference with a sensor he recommended, but there are smaller and more filtered sensors if there is a fitment or signal problem.



    Last edited by TheSilverBuick; 02-08-2015 at 12:24 PM.
    The Silver Buick- '77 Skylark coupe w/455, SPX, MegaSquirt 2 & TKO-600 (Drag Week 2011!), '72 Centurion Conv't - 455w/TH400, '67 T-bird 4Dr (suicide) w/428, MegaSquirt 1 & C6. '69 Firebird replaced, now building a Pontiac Turbo L6!

    My Skylark thread
    http://www.v8buick.com/showthread.php?t=208168
    My Pontiac OHC Six thread.
    http://www.v8buick.com/showthread.php?t=219250

    I'm just a regular guy that fuel injected an old Buick and Thunderbird.

  21. #21
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    554

    Default Anyone gone Distributorless?

    I built a distributorless ignition using a V8 EDIS system with that same 36-1
    trigger wheel. Programmed the advance using an AUTO SPORT module and
    my PC. Replaced a fixed spark advance system, it made a dramatic difference
    in performance and fuel economy. That trigger wheel is made of powdered
    metal, I wouldn't modify it much. I read of one coming apart at high rpm.

    You can see/read about it on PHOTOBUCKET sub album CRANK TRIGGER IGN
    Bruce Roe

    http://s93.photobucket.com/albums/l7...er%20Ignition/

  22. #22
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    554

    Default Anyone gone Distributorless?

    Maybe this is a better link Bruce

    http://s93.photobucket.com/albums/l7...ion/?start=all

  23. #23
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    Jun 2008
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    Ely, NV
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    Default Re: Anyone gone Distributorless?

    Is that a lawnmower? haha, neat.

    Here is what mine looks like with a new balancer. I now have to pick up a sensor and make a bracket.


    Last edited by TheSilverBuick; 02-08-2015 at 12:24 PM.
    The Silver Buick- '77 Skylark coupe w/455, SPX, MegaSquirt 2 & TKO-600 (Drag Week 2011!), '72 Centurion Conv't - 455w/TH400, '67 T-bird 4Dr (suicide) w/428, MegaSquirt 1 & C6. '69 Firebird replaced, now building a Pontiac Turbo L6!

    My Skylark thread
    http://www.v8buick.com/showthread.php?t=208168
    My Pontiac OHC Six thread.
    http://www.v8buick.com/showthread.php?t=219250

    I'm just a regular guy that fuel injected an old Buick and Thunderbird.

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Ridgecrest, CA
    Posts
    60

    Default Re: Anyone gone Distributorless?

    Quote Originally Posted by BRUCE ROE View Post
    I built a distributorless ignition using a V8 EDIS system with that same 36-1
    trigger wheel. Programmed the advance using an AUTO SPORT module and
    my PC. Replaced a fixed spark advance system, it made a dramatic difference
    in performance and fuel economy. That trigger wheel is made of powdered
    metal, I wouldn't modify it much. I read of one coming apart at high rpm.

    You can see/read about it on PHOTOBUCKET sub album CRANK TRIGGER IGN
    Bruce Roe

    http://s93.photobucket.com/albums/l7...er%20Ignition/
    That really is cool!
    Dave Calvert

    1965 Buick Special Deluxe Wagon

    Former
    1995 Buick Riviera
    1972 Dodge Challenger
    1968 Chrysler New Yorker
    1973 Buick Century

  25. #25
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    Jun 2008
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    Ely, NV
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    Default Re: Anyone gone Distributorless?

    I pinned the trigger wheel in four places and set the missing tooth at 70* BTDC per the recommendation of my EFI go to guy (60*-90* BTDC).

    Last edited by TheSilverBuick; 02-08-2015 at 12:25 PM.
    The Silver Buick- '77 Skylark coupe w/455, SPX, MegaSquirt 2 & TKO-600 (Drag Week 2011!), '72 Centurion Conv't - 455w/TH400, '67 T-bird 4Dr (suicide) w/428, MegaSquirt 1 & C6. '69 Firebird replaced, now building a Pontiac Turbo L6!

    My Skylark thread
    http://www.v8buick.com/showthread.php?t=208168
    My Pontiac OHC Six thread.
    http://www.v8buick.com/showthread.php?t=219250

    I'm just a regular guy that fuel injected an old Buick and Thunderbird.

 

 
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