North American Turbocoupe Organization



Alternatives to OEM distributor?
BradM Offline
Member
#1
I've gone through 2 remanufactured distributors (Cardone) and I'm looking for an alternative. Is anyone running something else? I've seen MSD's that require an ignition module but nothing else (super pricey). '87 TC.
1965 Mercury Comet Caliente; 1968 Mercury Monterey; 1969 F100 Ranger; 1987 Thunderbird Turbo Coupe
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vegas_ss Offline
Senior Member
#2
(06-02-2022, 01:26 PM)BradM Wrote: I've gone through 2 remanufactured distributors (Cardone) and I'm looking for an alternative. Is anyone running something else? I've seen MSD's that require an ignition module but nothing else (super pricey). '87 TC.

What has been the problem with the remanufactured units?  As long as the shaft bushing and gear are in good shape, you can rebuild them with a new pickup coil.  They are a little tricky to get the gear lined up with the roll pin hole, but worse case, bring it to a local machine shop to get the roll pin installed.  They make a tool to press the gear off, just more difficult to get the roll pin hole lined up when installing Just be sure to put the gear on the correct way (don't ask how I know!)  May be able to find a motorcraft pip, but if not, standard motor products should be a decent alternative.  You sure the ignition module is in good shape?  Using thermal grease when mounting?  They will fail from heat pretty quickly is the heat sink compound isn't used.
1987 TC, 5sp, Boport Stage 3 Head/2.1 Cam
1996 Impala SS, DCM, Borla Cat Back, too much other stuff!!!
2009 Pontiac G8 GXP 6M, 6.2l LS3, Kooks Long Tube, Hi Flo Cats, Mild Cam
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88turbomajor Offline
Member
#3
(06-02-2022, 01:26 PM)BradM Wrote: I've gone through 2 remanufactured distributors (Cardone) and I'm looking for an alternative. Is anyone running something else? I've seen MSD's that require an ignition module but nothing else (super pricey). '87 TC.

Hi Brad,

I've seen a DIS system on a TC at the Foxtoberfest meet up last year in Charlotte.  He didn't want to run a distributor and aux shaft so he got a DIS from an Escort and got it working.  I could find out more about this, or have him contact you if you like.
1984 Mercury Cougar 5.0L LS Silver/Gray
Previous: 1988 Turbo Coupe
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BradM Offline
Member
#4
Thanks. My first reman distributor sheared the roll pin after one year. The gear rotated about 20 degrees ATC, jammed in place, and turned my manifold and turbo into a cherry red disaster. It sheared due to a defect during remanufacturing (longer story). The warranty replacement distributor from ORielly's would not fire cylinder #1 after 30 minutes (these things are garbage). The next day I went back to OReilly's for a replacement and they can no longer get these from Cardone. I literally got the last one in OReilly's inventory nationwide (I even called a west coast store to confirm). OReilly's, NAPA, and AutoZone, etc. all source these from Cardone and can no longer get them...period. Cardone appears to be the only company that was remanufacturing these. There are still distributors in stock at these stores but without the TFI module and I assume these will no longer be available once depleted. RockAuto offers a mail-in rebuild service. As far as I can tell, TC's are running out of options. For me, I ordered a new TFI module from a company out of Massachusetts who claim "made in USA" (CRT Performance; eBay). I believe the hall effect is working in my distributor as it fires cylinder #1 with SPOUT out. We will see what happens this week. In my research, I also found a remote TFI mounting solution to keep it out of the heat (http://www.mccullyracingmotors.com/index...fikits.htm). For those who might not know, TFI's are notorious for heat-related issues and Ford was sued over it's design.

As for the DSI conversion, that's very interesting. I don't know how or whether it would work with PiMPx and I don't think I could fit a coil pack on my cylinder #3 due to the wastegate position on the Gnari manifold.
1965 Mercury Comet Caliente; 1968 Mercury Monterey; 1969 F100 Ranger; 1987 Thunderbird Turbo Coupe
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88turbomajor Offline
Member
#5
(06-06-2022, 02:23 PM)BradM Wrote: Thanks. My first reman distributor sheared the roll pin after one year. The gear rotated about 20 degrees ATC, jammed in place, and turned my manifold and turbo into a cherry red disaster. It sheared due to a defect during remanufacturing (longer story). The warranty replacement distributor from ORielly's would not fire cylinder #1 after 30 minutes (these things are garbage). The next day I went back to OReilly's for a replacement and they can no longer get these from Cardone. I literally got the last one in OReilly's inventory nationwide (I even called a west coast store to confirm). OReilly's, NAPA, and AutoZone, etc. all source these from Cardone and can no longer get them...period. Cardone appears to be the only company that was remanufacturing these. There are still distributors in stock at these stores but without the TFI module and I assume these will no longer be available once depleted. RockAuto offers a mail-in rebuild service. As far as I can tell, TC's are running out of options. For me, I ordered a new TFI module from a company out of Massachusetts who claim "made in USA" (CRT Performance; eBay). I believe the hall effect is working in my distributor as it fires cylinder #1 with SPOUT out. We will see what happens this week. In my research, I also found a remote TFI mounting solution to keep it out of the heat (http://www.mccullyracingmotors.com/index...fikits.htm). For those who might not know, TFI's are notorious for heat-related issues and Ford was sued over it's design.

As for the DSI conversion, that's very interesting. I don't know how or whether it would work with PiMPx and I don't think I could fit a coil pack on my cylinder #3 due to the wastegate position on the Gnari manifold.
The coil pack is not on each cylinder.  It is similar to this: https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/pkYAAOSwx...s-l400.jpg

But not quite the same.  I just grabbed a picture so you could see some resemblance.  Let me know if you want more info.  PM me your cell so I can call him, and let him  know you'll be calling and get him to explain it to you.
1984 Mercury Cougar 5.0L LS Silver/Gray
Previous: 1988 Turbo Coupe
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BradM Offline
Member
#6
Thanks. I researched this a bit further. DIS requires you to drill, tap, and mount a crank position sensor. Stinger offers a CAS kit which uses the stock distributor (https://www.stinger-performance.com/stor...t-ign-1a-4). Very pricey. I just want a decent quality remanufactured distributor. Sigh.
1965 Mercury Comet Caliente; 1968 Mercury Monterey; 1969 F100 Ranger; 1987 Thunderbird Turbo Coupe
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vegas_ss Offline
Senior Member
#7
(06-06-2022, 09:47 PM)BradM Wrote: Thanks. I researched this a bit further. DIS requires you to drill, tap, and mount a crank position sensor. Stinger offers a CAS kit which uses the stock distributor (https://www.stinger-performance.com/stor...t-ign-1a-4). Very pricey. I just want a decent quality remanufactured distributor. Sigh.

You can get a new PIP module (motorcraft may be hard to find) and have a machine shop press off the gear, swap the module and press the gear back on with a new roll pin that will not shear off.  Then you need to find a decent ignition module.  I know there is a lot of discussion about how heat kills them, but that is most likely due to installation error (using dielectric grease instead of thermal paste) more than the location.  My 87 turbo coupe does fine in the desert heat of Las Vegas when it's well over 100 degrees and haven't had a problem with an ignition module in the 15+ years I've driven it.

Now back to the ignition modules... there are many varieties (and superseded numbers) and which ones are compatible is another story.  You can find many on eBay, I even ran a borg warner from O'Riely's few a few years without any issues.  Just use some thermal paste compound that is used for computer CPU's between the distributor and the module and there shouldn't be any heat related issues.

For me, the main issue with the distributor is the gear!  They like to wear down and break and take to aux shaft with it.  Be sure to use oil with a high zinc content and/or add ZDDP at each oil change for added protection.
1987 TC, 5sp, Boport Stage 3 Head/2.1 Cam
1996 Impala SS, DCM, Borla Cat Back, too much other stuff!!!
2009 Pontiac G8 GXP 6M, 6.2l LS3, Kooks Long Tube, Hi Flo Cats, Mild Cam
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anasazi4st Offline
Senior Member
#8
(06-06-2022, 02:23 PM)BradM Wrote: OReilly's, NAPA, and AutoZone, etc. all source these from Cardone and can no longer get them...period. Cardone appears to be the only company that was remanufacturing these. There are still distributors in stock at these stores but without the TFI module and I assume these will no longer be available once depleted. RockAuto offers a mail-in rebuild service. (http://www.mccullyracingmotors.com/index...fikits.htm). For those who might not know, TFI's are notorious for heat-related issues and Ford was sued over it's design.

As for the DSI conversion, that's very interesting. I don't know how or whether it would work with PiMPx and I don't think I could fit a coil pack on my cylinder #3 due to the wastegate position on the Gnari manifold.

I replaced my distributor assembly about 25 years ago with a new NAPA one—back before NAPA stuff like nearly all aftermarket products became garbage. There wasn’t anything wrong with it…back in those days I replaced parts way before they wore out, so now I have a lot of serviceable backups.

The NAPA one uses a dome-shaped rotor, which has been a problem over the years when I go to the store to get a new one and they try to sell me the upright version. Still, I have no complaints as I have been running it since 1997, and I too am in the heat of the desert.

Too bad sources are drying up for our cars. Is there a Mustang replacement? I’m sure you know they are often compatible and that supply will way outlast ours.
Another proud dues-paying member.

1987 Turbo Coupe w/T5OD, 8.8 axle, grey smoke; most options. Got it in 1991 with 41K miles: 3 turbos, 2 heater cores, 1 T5OD full rebuild, 5 clutches, 1 head gasket, 2 Teves II ABS units, etc. later....
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