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post #1 of 56 (permalink) Old 03-24-2008, 05:11 PM Thread Starter
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123Ignition Revisited

I know that this is a dead horse, but I have something to add which was not noted in previous posts.

I recently bought the 123 Distributor. Now that it's finally working, I'd say that I'm very pleased. The general consensus seems to be more positive than negative.

I have three points of interest.

One: I was apparently the poor soul that had to change the position of the rotor shaft relative to the key-way (alignment pins). I had followed the instructions to the letter, but the rotor never seemed to line up anywhere close to a spark plug wire. The manufacturer was not helpful at all. They even have a note on thier website indicating that they don't answer installation questions. They just refer you to the forum.

Changing the pin was a pain. It doesn't tap out easily. I rubbed it on some emory paper to ease re-installation. Once I had relocated the pin (about 20 degrees off from the factory position) the car started and ran beautifully!

Two: I brought the distributor down to RML in Daytona this weekend to compare it to Ric's product and let him have a look at it. We mapped two of the settings on his tester. Of course he was biased, it is his competition after all...

The setting #0 was pretty much useless. The Shankle setting however was interesting. Ric and I disagreed on the topic. He didn't like the steep slope of the #E (Shankle) curve. He feels that it's advance curve needs to be steeper higher up. It seemed fine to me. I'd be happy to share our numbers and other opinions if people are interested.

Three: A few notes on the installation process itself.

1. Once the 123Dist is installed, the stock ignition control module becomes unnecessary. What must remain however, is a signal jumping from pin #1 on the ICM to the fuel ECU. It's a white jumper with a male/female spade connector on the '87 spider. For ease, I simply pulled the connector from the ICM and left the wiring harness intact. Later-on I will re-run just a large gauge white wire directly from the coil junction to the ECU input.

2. The outer case of the distributor can be rotated 360 degrees to facilitate the red/black wires.

3. Instead of a alignment grove for setting static timing of the rotor, the 123 uses a green LED that shines through one of four holes in the rotor base. Which hole is shines through is irrelevent. They are all 90 degrees apart. One simply needs to make certain that they place the #1 wire in which ever position the rotor points to. The light is MUCH nicer than the old groove since it allows more precision alignment. Of course, I had to go back and fine tune the darn thing with a timing light, so that green light became moot.

4. Some unfortunate individuals may need to reloacte the pin I mentioned earlier. Once it's done, all will be well.

I hope you find this interesting.

Danyl
1987 Spider Veloce
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post #2 of 56 (permalink) Old 03-24-2008, 06:09 PM
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I have used the "A" curve - Bosch 0.231.178.006 and the "E" Shankle curve.
The A curve is very slow and full advance is only achieved at 5000 rpm. It gave a very steady idle, Ok performance and rather poor gas mileage.

I switched to the E curve and I am happy with it. I previously had a Shankle modified Marelliplex that caused pinging and very uneven idle. The Shankle curve in the 123 distributor is much better.
I am still messing around with cam timing and jetting in my Webers but here is the current situation.
10:1 pistons and ported head from AlfaR7. RJ 136 intake cam and RJ 785 exhaust cam currently timed at 100 degrees and 102 degrees. 40DCOE116/117 with 55F17's, 34 venturis, 130 mains 160 air correctors and F41 ET's. The ignition timing is set at 36 degrees max advance. I am getting 24 mpg and I can run on 89 octane with no pinging. Low rpm performance is excellent when the engine is warmed up. I am fighting a couple of flat spots that seem to be worse since I changed from 102/104 cam timing. 135 mains may get rid of them but then it is running rich most of the time.

Ed Prytherch
79 Spider
85 GTV6 3L
76 Suzuki GT500

A little government and a little luck are necessary in life, but only a fool trusts either of them. - P.J. O'Rourke
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post #3 of 56 (permalink) Old 03-24-2008, 06:26 PM Thread Starter
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Curves

I set mine to the #1 curve as indicated for the Spider 2000. I'm running the stock L-Jet engine at present. Do you think I should try a more advanced curve or stick with this until I finish my modified engine?

Too bad one can't switch the curves without opening the distributor. I'm tempted to open the darn thing up and pull the pot out, add some extention wires and mount it on the side.

Danyl
1987 Spider Veloce
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post #4 of 56 (permalink) Old 03-24-2008, 06:49 PM
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I don't have a copy of the advance curve for "1" - 0.231.110.045 so it is hard for me to compare it with the curves that I have used.

Ed Prytherch
79 Spider
85 GTV6 3L
76 Suzuki GT500

A little government and a little luck are necessary in life, but only a fool trusts either of them. - P.J. O'Rourke
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post #5 of 56 (permalink) Old 03-24-2008, 09:53 PM Thread Starter
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I'll try to measure it sometime in the next month and we can compare.

Danyl
1987 Spider Veloce
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post #6 of 56 (permalink) Old 03-27-2008, 05:17 AM
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123 Accensione

After having the 123 ignition system in my hands and some simple dyno work it becomes obvious you could get yourself way out in the bushes tuning your Alfas ignition..... After you get a timing light with a degree wheel on it.... One must first map each of the settings available, to try and determine which one might suite your engine's mechanical tune! I'm not sure why they didn't do it for you........Do you know what a 1300 Berlina's curve is??? Me either!! They give information that says selection (D) is a "Whatever" this is not a simple task as each time you want to use a different setting the distributor must be removed and the setting changed and Re-installed initial timing set and re-mapped.......So if there are 16 settings plan for a late lunch.........To me it seemed like The old "OCTANE SELECTOR" adjustment on the 60's LUCAS units. More timing for better fuel back in the day. I didn't have enough time to do any seconday ignition tests but they suggest using a current limiting BOSCH BLUE coil that is not included in the price of the 123 distributor. There are NO installation instructions for the L-Jet cars. I saw no wiring instructions at all and I'm not sure if they want you to use the Ballast resistor on the cars of the 70's or not.

Some of the settings are moot........I have found that agressive timing curves down low have little effect on performance gains when the engine is "on song" usually over 5,000 R's. It should also be noted that it is common knowledge that when using modern switching and secondary instead of points, using less timing can produce better results. Most people tune their alfa engines to run with power and efffeciently somewhere from 3500 to 6500. I have found that bringing in the timing later in the scale produces much better results.

The unit looks to be nicely done but would be TOTALLY wrong in a vintage application!!!! It is certainly NOT what you would want in a FULL OUT racing engine for sure!!!

Unless I'm missing something, it looks like they have re-invented the wheel.

Last edited by ballough510; 03-27-2008 at 07:15 AM.
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post #7 of 56 (permalink) Old 03-27-2008, 11:23 AM
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The 123 advance curve info is in the Files section of the 750-101 Yahoo Group. I've downloaded a copy & will email on request

EDIT:
The original poster on the 750/101 list was Arno van Houtum. His understanding is the curves were provided by a Dutch Alfa specialist. Arno is not a member of this Board & has given us permission to freely re-distribute the advance curve info.

Last edited by 101 Alfa Mike; 03-29-2008 at 04:34 PM.
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post #8 of 56 (permalink) Old 03-27-2008, 06:17 PM
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It's true that it is a PITA to switch curves on the 123 distributor but at least you have a choice. How many competing systems give you that?
As for the authentic look, it sure beats the look of the RML ARP14101R that I had on my GTV.

I first used an old Marelli coil with about 1.5 ohm primary. It was originally used with a ballast resistor but I left it out. It went well for a few weeks then started to die. I have a Bosch Blue coil now and it does fine to 7000 rpm. I honestly see no reason to go with a multi-spark system.

As I said in a previous post, the Shankle curve works well with my motor. There may be theories about why you do not need so much advance at low-mid range rpm, but in my experience it works well. I recently wrote to Richard Jemison that I had no idea that I could have so much power and 24 mpg from a 2L Nord engine with Webers. And I had no idea that I could have such good driveability from a pair of racing cams. The 123 distributor is up to the task.

Ed Prytherch
79 Spider
85 GTV6 3L
76 Suzuki GT500

A little government and a little luck are necessary in life, but only a fool trusts either of them. - P.J. O'Rourke

Last edited by alfaparticle; 03-27-2008 at 06:21 PM.
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post #9 of 56 (permalink) Old 03-28-2008, 09:15 AM
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I used the data from Alfa Mike to draw curves #1, A & E. I normalized them for 36 degrees max advance. The 045 (#1) is closer to the Shankle curve than the 006 curve, except at 1500 - 2000 rpm. They both give full advance at about 4000 - 4200 rpm. I may give the 045 a try sometime when I have finished playing with the Webers and cam timing. My idle is not consistent with the shankle curve. It is possible that the 045 will give a better idle without sacrificing response and gas mileage.

Ed Prytherch
79 Spider
85 GTV6 3L
76 Suzuki GT500

A little government and a little luck are necessary in life, but only a fool trusts either of them. - P.J. O'Rourke
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post #10 of 56 (permalink) Old 04-03-2008, 01:48 PM
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Advance data 123 distributor

Hello !

101 Alfa Mike kindly forwarded the measurements to me , and I have organised them in a excel-sheet, see attached file. A question: My car has a 0231 110 041 JF4 Bosch cast iron distributor, so I currently use curve no. 7 called JF4. However by comparing the curves, I found that curves 4 (0231 110 041), 5 (0231 110 044), 8 (0231 129 032) and 9 (0231 129 034) are identical to curve 7. What are the differences between these distributors ? Does some of them utilise vacuum advance, maybe in different "rates" ? The JF4-programme has no vacuum advance.
Attached Files
File Type: xls 123-dist-measurements-from-NL.xls (105.0 KB, 1413 views)

[FONT="Comic Sans MS"]Morten Svendsen, Rødekro, Denmark
1300 GT Junior 1966 / 1300 Spider 1971[/FONT]
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post #11 of 56 (permalink) Old 04-06-2008, 11:45 PM
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Funny, just talked to Bosch Denmark, they say none of the mentioned distributors have vacuum advance ? Also the replacement distributor 0231 178 006 has no vacuum advance. So it looks like there are 4 identical curves under different names in the 123-distributor. Confused ? I am !

[FONT="Comic Sans MS"]Morten Svendsen, Rødekro, Denmark
1300 GT Junior 1966 / 1300 Spider 1971[/FONT]
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post #12 of 56 (permalink) Old 04-07-2008, 07:17 AM
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You are correct. Four of the curves are duplicated.

Ed Prytherch
79 Spider
85 GTV6 3L
76 Suzuki GT500

A little government and a little luck are necessary in life, but only a fool trusts either of them. - P.J. O'Rourke
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post #13 of 56 (permalink) Old 04-08-2008, 07:57 PM Thread Starter
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Vacuum advance issue

I'm hoping maybe Ric L. would be willing to add a few comments to this question.

In an ideal situation, the use of a vacuum advance is required for best fuel economy since it adds additional adjustment under load. It seems that the rationale for switching from the stock BOSCH ignition module which utilizes a vacuum advance, to either the RML or 123-Distributor, is that vacuum advance or not, the curve is inferior.

Does this mean that the RML and 123Dist make up for their lack of vacuum advance, by having better curves?

Danyl
1987 Spider Veloce
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post #14 of 56 (permalink) Old 04-09-2008, 10:47 AM
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The timing on the factory Bosch sustem of the L-jet era has inputs from coolant temp/engine vacuum/ speed and refrence sensors on the flywheel.....The analog signal created by the pick-up coils is sent to the Bosch ECU# 0 227 400 003 where is is processed using the inputs, digitized and a signal sent to the analog coil. The distributor is just that............it fires the spark plugs. That whole procedure is too sloooooow..... I have found that moving the switching and advance back to the distributor makes a 5-10 H.P. gain on some cars. I cannot comment on advance way down low in the RPM's because I have never seen an alfa that makes usable power there, nor do I think that a degree or two or even three will make difference between 1200 to 1800 R's. I suppose that it could have an effect on the engine if it were mechanically tuned that way i.e. cam profile and cam timing gear ratio etc. to make power from 1500R's to 3000R's. The RML 4101 systems make 30 degrees total advance that is all in at 4500 R's. The steepest part of my curve is between 2,000 and 3500R's that is usually where the engine starts to pull and demands more timing!
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post #15 of 56 (permalink) Old 04-09-2008, 04:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danyl View Post
I know that this is a dead horse, but I have something to add which was not noted in previous posts.

I recently bought the 123 Distributor. Now that it's finally working, I'd say that I'm very pleased. The general consensus seems to be more positive than negative.

I have three points...
With the 123 ignition points should be a thing from the past!
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