Putting in my electromotive FINALLY!

Discussion in '308/328' started by Birdman, May 10, 2006.

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  1. Birdman

    Birdman F1 Veteran
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    Hey everyone,
    Nearly a year ago I bought an Electromotive XDI ignition system from Nick for my 308. Between house construction, work, family and all those obligations we all have, I had no time to put it in until now.

    In the past two days I did the hardest part of the install which is putting the sensor and trigger wheel in. The trigger wheel is a toothed wheel that works with a magnetic sensor and goes on the harmonic balancer to tell the XDI "brain" where the engine is so it can fire the plugs at the right time. To put on the trigger wheel, you need to remove the water pump/alternator belt (easy) and the AC belt (a little harder) then slip the trigger wheel over the balancer. Once its on there, you can replace the belts.

    The sensor for the trigger wheel involves a little bit of fabrication. It comes from Nick with a nice mount, but it has to be bolted to the rear timing belt cover. You pull the rear timing belt cover and screw the sensor to it. The way I did it was to mark the cover where the sensor should go before removing it from the car. Then I pulled it out and drilled two mounting holes. I tapped the holes and screwed a pair of screws in from the inside and tacked them with "red" loctite (the kind that has the most adhesion). The material on the cam cover is not really thick enough to thread without a nut, and there isn't much space under there for a nut without hitting a belt or pulley. So what I did was basically create studs on the cover with a low profile on the inside. I'm using all metric hardware to match the rest of the metrics on the car, so I had to buy a metric tap/die set.

    Next I mounted the sensor on the studs of the cam cover and used nylock nuts with more red loctite.

    Then you set the engine up at TDC and align the trigger wheel with the sensor properly (trailing edge of 11th tooth), and lock the trigger wheel down with the set screws (and more loctite).

    Now the hard part is done. Next, I need to mount the rest of the components in the engine compartment. I have two DFU units (coil packs) that will go on a bracket where the existing coils are mounted, the XDI "brain" (controller) that takes the signal from the sensor and then controls the coil packs, and a tach "black box".

    The black box is a gadget that drives the tach from the XDI brain. Even though the XDI can be set up to drive a tach with the right number of pulses for a 2 distributor system so the tach reads the right number, the problem is actually the tach itself. The 308 tach (at least the carb model) is a high voltage tach that is driven right off one of the coils (the low voltage side, but still its a lot more than 12 volts when the points switch due to the inductive energy of the coil). So the black box is actually a voltage amplifier to take the 12 volt signal provided by the XDI unit up to about 120 volts.

    All these devices need to find a home in the engine bay where it's not too hot. I'm currently mounting those units. Next, it all gets wired together. Not that tricky though, everything comes with a nice wiring harness with connectors. I will trim wire lengths to be right and put all the connectors together, then everything should be cool.

    The last trick is removing the distributors, plug the cams (got cam plugs from Kermit) and building block-off plates. That will make the engine bay neater and the engine easier to work on.

    I'll post pictures soon when I get them off the camera.

    Why am I doing this? Well, points stink, of course. But also, this system completely eliminates a number of issues with the 308 ignition including mechanical advance, dual distributors that may not advance at the same rate, points, weak coils (i.e. weak spark) and plug fouling. I don't expect more HP, but I expect the car to run more consistently, burn the mixture better, possibly lower emissions, and have generally better drivability.

    Birdman
     
  2. enjoythemusic

    enjoythemusic F1 World Champ

    Apr 20, 2002
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    Birdman,

    CONGRATS!!! Looking forward to pics. So, um... dare i ask if you could, well... you see, the car here could use... :)
     
  3. smg2

    smg2 F1 Veteran
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    i have my tach box and relays mounted on an aluminum sheet that is mounted on the drivers side of the engine bay at the firewall. ofcourse it's a mondial so i have the room but i found it to be cool spot.

    also run the signal wire from the crank sensor as far away as possible from the spark plug wires, otherwise you'll get inductive signal cross. sounds easy until you realize the motor layout makes it difficult. i ended up runing it behind the stainless panel that covers the gas tank, along the bottom away from the top of the motor. i also went with Taylor 10.2mm wires to make sure i wasn't going to get any cross talk.

    the adjustability of the curve and rev limiter makes this a real nice upgrade.
     
  4. spider348

    spider348 Formula Junior
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    Birdman, Congrats! Let me know if you need a hand. Ferrari should definitely run better!
    Thanks again for the wonderful gathering at the "Birdman Compound"!!!
    Regarding the poster, definitely Carlos Reutemann. The ad was for a '77 308 if I recall correctly. I don't think Gilles Villeneuve started driving full-time F1 with Ferrari until '78. Also, the face in the photo is clearly Reutemann.
    Enough trivia for today, John.
     
  5. Birdman

    Birdman F1 Veteran
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    Spider, Thanks for the research! (For the benefit of the rest of the Fchatters wondering what the heck he is talking about, I bought a cool 308 poster on eBay with a race car driver in it and I had no idea who it was, that's how clueless I am). Anyway, if you want to lend a hand, you are welcome anytime. I have been working a few hours at a time when I can sneak out to the garage, like at night after my daughter has gone to bed. I actually ran the heater last night it was so chilly! MAN I love this garage!

    Smg-Thanks for the ideas. I was thinking the same thing. I'm also trying to keep all the signal paths as short as I can. It's tricky engine bay for this sort of thing!

    Steven-I'm not sure an XDI is really necessary on a QV that already has an electronic ignition, but I could be wrong. I just want to lose the points and mechanical advance. You car already lost those at the factory! Nonetheless, if you want one, I'll be happy to help you put it in. It's not that hard....so far. (Of course, it doesn't actually RUN yet!) ;)

    Birdman
     
  6. blainewest

    blainewest Formula Junior

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    Good Stuff Birdman...and your timing couldn't be better. I'm just starting to install mine (electromotive) so your tips are invaluable.
     
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  8. Birdman

    Birdman F1 Veteran
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    #7 Birdman, May 10, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    Here's some pics from today. I apologize for a couple having soft focus. The camera is having a hard time focusing in the dark wheel well!

    First two shots show the sensor and trigger wheel on the balancer, through the right rear wheel well.

    The other shot shows that in spite of everyone telling me that the cam ends need to be plugged, they DO NOT have a hole in them that would allow oil out. (The inside is grooved to allow the shaft from the distributor to slide in and lock. It is also bone dry and a little rusty in there. No oil has ever been in there. The original grease used to lube the shaft on the distributor is still there--hardened!)

    Also, the plugs I bought from Kermit are way too big to even fit in these cams, so I suspect they are for an injected car. (??) Perhaps the injected cars have cams that need to be plugged. Mine don't need to be plugged. FYI for you carb guys. I will just make a nice aluminum plate to cover where the distributor went and be done with it!

    Birdman
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  9. Birdman

    Birdman F1 Veteran
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    Ha! Get it?? I hope my timing is good, that's the whole point of the ignition system....
     
  10. andyc

    andyc Rookie

    Feb 26, 2005
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    When you do the plug wires make sure you read carefully what electromotive recomends for wire resistance per foot. The reason I say this is I just installed a tec3r on my Countach and was having problems fouling plugs. Went back and read the manual and for proper spark you need resistor plugs and wires that have 4 to 6 thousand ohms resistance per foot to allow enough time for spark build up to fire the plug properly. I know high resistance wires go against all we have been taught,but we used MSD 7mm low resistance wires and were fouling plugs.Back to the book and that's what the system needs is resistance wires,read the book on this.
    I hope this will help.
    Andy
     
  11. smg2

    smg2 F1 Veteran
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    wait, the coil builds the spark so to speak and the wire carries it to the plug. a high resistant wire would slow and 'bleed' off the charge. low resistant wires supply as much of the spark as possible to the plug. plug gap and type of plug are also factors. some plugs are resistant some are not.
     
  12. greg328

    greg328 F1 Rookie
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    Birdman,
    Your post was incredibly helpful to me. As you know I also have a 1977 308 GTB like yours--I bought a set of fuse blocks from you last year.

    Well, last month I also bought Nick's XDI setup off of Ebay. It's sitting here in a box, waiting for me to get to it. This install will be the most difficult thing I've attempted yet on my 308. I've done full suspension work, pulled radiator/condensor, but never touched the engine yet. Pretty intimidating, honestly.
    Would you consider making an extra sensor mount to sell to me? And any other extra bits Nick didn't ship w/ the kit? I'd really appreciate it! What size metric tap did you go with?
    I'll be following this thread to learn more about your install. For instance, how will the DFU coil packs mount? Does the bracket aid direct bolt-on?
    I plan on mounting the XDI brain behind one of the seats in the interior--how about you?

    Love F-Chat!!!!!!

    Greg
    77 308 USA
     
  13. andyc

    andyc Rookie

    Feb 26, 2005
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    smg2, I stated that it goes against all we have been taught. I'm not an ecu expert,all I know is we tried the best low resistance wires available and the car was fouling plugs,changed the wires to 6000 ohm/foot wire as recommended by electromotive and no more issues with plug fouling.
    That was the only change made ....New Low ohm wires to new Hi ohm wires.
    What more can I say. Believe it or not...try it yourself. I'm just trying to save someone else the headaches we went through with a little heads-up.
     
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  15. Birdman

    Birdman F1 Veteran
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    Regarding wires, I bought a complete kit from Nick that came with the wires, so for the moment I'm going under the assumption that he sent me the right kind since he's the king of the XDI. But that is very interesting food for thought and I'll give a look at the manual. It would seem to me that the resistance wires are to deal with the enormous energy from the coils from this thing and to attenuate RF broadcasts. I was under the impression that you did not use both resistor plugs and resistor wire at the same time. But I could be wrong on that one.

    Greg, I am mounting the brain to the right of the engine ahead of the Agip oil plate. It fits with 3/4" to spare between the top of the unit and the bonnet. No need to drill holes into the interior and run wires in there. I'm mounting the coil packs on a bracket that Kermit sells made just for that purpose. I thought about making my own, but why re-invent the wheel? Be sure to tell him that you need the one for the new style XDI with the larger coil packs, if that's the one you have because there is an old style and a new style, and the coil packs are a different size. I'll post some pics soon.

    As for the sensor bracket, I would like to take credit for that, but it came with Nick's kit. If you didn't get one with your kit, maybe you got the less complete kit version. I called up Nick and said "Sell me the whole kit with everything I need" and it came with everything except the bracket to mount the coil packs. You probably have the mount. Check your kit.

    I'll get the info on the threads for the mount. I forget what I used. It was a function of the size screw needed to mount the sensor. Really, it was no big deal. I think this is actually a pretty easy thing to install. The hardest part for the average person will be getting the AC belt off, but if you have done your own timing belts, you will already know how to do that.

    All you have to do is loosen all the bolts on the AC compressor including (and this is key) the three at the TOP to allow the compressor to slide down low enough to get the belt off the pullet on the compressor. Once it's off there, you can get the belt off the engine pulley, and then slip the trigger ring on.
    More pics to follow.

    Birdman
     
  16. greg328

    greg328 F1 Rookie
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    Thanks Birdman, good stuff....


    Greg
     
  17. Verell

    Verell F1 Veteran
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    Hmm,
    'common knowledge' is resistance wire, resistor plugs, but not both.

    Given the voltage those coils produce, the 6K Ohm/foot resistance is still low enough so it won't seriously limit the current.

    The resistance leads & plugs will limit the total current & provide some damping of the coil's disharge waveform.

    I'll speculate that the damping resistance is needed to provide a longer duration, higher amplitude spark current
    curve instead of an oscillating one with a lot of ringing that keeps the current from building up.

    I'm guessing that Nick's found out that some resistance beyond that provided by the wires is needed, hence the resistor plugs.
     
  18. tomberlin

    tomberlin Formula Junior
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    Approximate cost of a kit?
    Thanks,
    Tom
     
  19. greg328

    greg328 F1 Rookie
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    I paid $1495 + $40 shipping. This was the EBay special pricing; I think Nick usually sells it @ $1650 or so. I think it's on Ebay right now--search "Ferrari 308" (obviously! :) )

    Greg

    edit: Nope, not on Ebay right now.... Maybe Nick will work w/ you--tell him you saw it here! :)
     
  20. hanknum

    hanknum Formula 3

    Nov 1, 2003
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    You'll be amazed at how well it works. The drivability will improve along with mileage. I think you'll also pick up a few lost ponies. I'm sure you'll also reduce your emissions. I've had an Electromotive unit (an older HPV-1) on my '78 for about 10 years now without a hiccup. That's about 35k miles. I've replaced the wires and plugs once maybe twice. My manual does state the wires should be 3-5k ohms per foot. I originally had Accel carbon core wires but am now running with Taylors. Wires are only $50-60. No more $250 dizzy caps. I've passed CA emissions (stage II - on the dyno) multiple times now.

    Good luck

    Henry
     
  21. greg328

    greg328 F1 Rookie
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    Good news Henry, thanks.

    I'm looking forward to doing my install soon!

    Greg
     
  22. spang308

    spang308 Formula Junior

    Jul 17, 2004
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    Has anyone done dyno time with the Electromotive to determine the optimum timing curve for a 308 engine?
    If so, what's the ideal curve?
    I would guess a peak total timing of around 36 degrees around 3000 RPM flatening out to 32 degrees at 8000 RPM.

    Any ideas or real world experience?

    John
     
  23. Birdman

    Birdman F1 Veteran
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    Nick pre-set mine to factory spec timing and I probably will leave it well enough alone, but I am curious as well if anyone has diddled with the timing and what that might be able to accomplish.

    Henry, thanks for the comments. I can hardly wait to get this finished. If only I could have a whole day to work on it, I would be done. Having a job and a kid severely limits my free time! I'm seanking out to the garage to work on it an hour at a time here and there. At this rate it will be August before I'm done!

    Birdman
     
  24. Sloan83qv

    Sloan83qv F1 Rookie
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    I would reccomend that you purchase and use the optional MAP sensor (see owners manual page 32).
    This will allow a greater advance on the low end without having too much advance on the high end.
     
  25. Birdman

    Birdman F1 Veteran
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    Hi Paul,

    EXCELLENT! I was hoping someone would know about the MAP sensor. Do I basically have to drill a port in my intake manifold for that? (Pulling the intake manifold is a pain with all the carbs on there). I was wondering if there is anyplace on a carb car to plumb that in without doing major mods to the engine. Thoughts???

    Birdman
     
  26. Sloan83qv

    Sloan83qv F1 Rookie
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    You are just hooking a very small vacuum line to the intake manifold, the carbed cars have a place to pick up vacuum. This is no big deal.
    Worse comes to worse you just put a tee in the brake booster vacuum line.
     
  27. smg2

    smg2 F1 Veteran
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    not 100% sure on the 308, but on the mondial the brake booster vaccumm line has to check valves to keep the vaccum canister supplied with vaccum when the engine is off and under low vaccum conditions. if you tee from the line do it before the check valve on the engine side.
     

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