Electronic Ignition for 2600 Sprint? - Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board & Forums
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post #1 of 38 (permalink) Old 03-17-2008, 01:39 AM Thread Starter
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Electronic Ignition for 2600 Sprint?

Hello to all,

Just want to get some opinions about replacing the original distributor with an electronic version. In past restorations of 4-cylinder Alfa's, I always switched to electronic systems with good results, and wondered if a change to electronic on the 2600 would bring positive results as well.

Richard
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post #2 of 38 (permalink) Old 03-17-2008, 09:32 AM
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See the suggestions here and here. The 123 ignition is newer and a drop-in replacement without modifications. I've only heard positive responses from owners who tried it.

-Ruedi
[SIZE="1"]'63 2600 Touring Spider (AR 191437, the car that started the 2000/2600 International Register, reassembly in progress)
ex-'65 2600 SZ (AR 856043, the car in my avatar, sold as resto project to Austria)
Maintainer of a private 2600 SZ register (not the one in the Netherlands).[/SIZE]
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post #3 of 38 (permalink) Old 03-18-2008, 03:09 PM
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New distributor for 2600 engines

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Anyone needing a new distributor or maybe a bit better performance from a 2600 engine follow this link (Also for 4 pot Alfa)

Link Alfa Romeo

Or there is a used Marelli on Ebay - Item 110213900049 - $150


123\ALFA 2600
Price: 299.00
Availability: Op voorraad / In stock

Add to Cart
The 123\ALFA 2600 is designed for 6 cylinders Alfa Romeo engines fitted with a Marelli S93A distributor or a Bosch distributor no. 0 231 111 034 .

Description
The 123\ALFA 2600 is designed for 6 cylinders Alfa Romeo engines fitted with a Marelli S93A distributor or a Bosch distributor no. 0 231 111 034 . No more wear, no more replacement of points nor condensor EVER again. The advance is now electronically calculated : set it, and forget it! The unit offers a built-in LED for easy static timing and several different advance-curves, which can be selected by means of a little switch. This is a great feature for easy fine-tuning your engine!

It also offers:
- automatic dwell
- spark balancing
- automatic power-cut after 1 second
- etc. etc.

Note: Although used coils all look alike, they should be viewed with suspicion since one cannot tell from the outside whether, and how often they were exposed to overheating in the past. Installing the 123 Ignition system will ensure that the coil will never be overheated again in future. We recommend the Bosch Blue Coil.

Availability: Op voorraad / In stock
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post #4 of 38 (permalink) Old 03-18-2008, 03:12 PM
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sorry limk is Alfa Romeo
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post #5 of 38 (permalink) Old 08-02-2009, 03:40 PM
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alfa 123 ignition

Hi all,

I have a question about this nice electronic distributor.

On the data sheet there is a vacuum advance

the 2600 berlina has vacuum advance but the spider and sprint have none.

Can this electronic distributor alfa 2600 : 123\ALFA-6-R-V used on sprint and spider ??

rgds Franco
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post #6 of 38 (permalink) Old 08-03-2009, 09:47 AM
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The 123 distributor advance curve for the 2600 was derived from the specs for the Spider and Sprint (provided to 123 by a member of this forum). I confirmed this when I bought mine two years ago. I don't know if the sedan has a different curve.
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post #7 of 38 (permalink) Old 08-03-2009, 11:48 AM
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My friend Tim just installed a 123ignition on his 2600 Spider. It was a relatively easy swap (when preparing properly: Note that the slot in the distributor shaft is offset to one side and double-check whether you're at TDC of cyl 1 or 6 when aligning the static timing mark on the crankshaft pulley).

With respect to the timing advance curve, I'm not convinced that it is correct. Changing the distributor led to a flat spot and hesitation around 2'000 RPM (which was not there with the Marelli distributor). I took the data from the leaflet that comes with the device and put it in the attached spreadsheet for analysis.

I wrote about my hunch that ignition timing advance is tied to a possible time constant for the flame front to spread in the ignition chamber a while back in a post in the Yahoo group. It is worth noting that Alfa ignition advance specs have changed over time and are only available for leaded fuel. I read that switching from leaded to unleaded fuel requires to retard the ignition by 2-3 degrees. This would bring the 123ignition in line with the revised Alfa specs at the top end. Still, there is a difference in the shape of the curves.

Tim and I will fiddle with the 123ignition advance point and carb settings during August and see if we can improve performance.
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Attached Files
File Type: xls 123ignition advance curve.xls (24.5 KB, 169 views)

-Ruedi
[SIZE="1"]'63 2600 Touring Spider (AR 191437, the car that started the 2000/2600 International Register, reassembly in progress)
ex-'65 2600 SZ (AR 856043, the car in my avatar, sold as resto project to Austria)
Maintainer of a private 2600 SZ register (not the one in the Netherlands).[/SIZE]
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post #8 of 38 (permalink) Old 08-03-2009, 01:14 PM
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Ruedi,

Thanks for providing the advance curves. I checked the information that I had and it appears that we have slightly different data and/or we are interpreting it differently. First, I have the same data that you have provided for the 123 advance curve.

Second, I got the following from page 5 of the "2600 Cars...technical characteristics and principal specifications" - a factory manual with a green binder about 5mm thick:

Vehicle: Sedan-Spider-Sprint (it appears they all have the same curve)

Fixed setting of advance = 7 degrees, plus or minus 2 degrees

Maximum advance = 47 degrees, plus or minus 3 degrees, at 5000 RPM

Low speed advance = 27 degrees, plus or minus 3 degrees, at 2000 RPM

My assumption (and apparently 123's) is that you subtract 7 degrees fixed from the maximum 47 to get the 40 degrees of total advance provided by the distributor. Likewise, 27 minus 7 = 20 degrees "distributor advance" at 2000 RPM. If my assumption is correct, then the 123 distributor would be the same as the factory spec at 5000 RPM and 1.5 degrees higher (21.5 instead of 20) at 2000 RPM - but still within the 3 degree tolerance.

So, this different assumption could explain our different conclusions, except for one data point, which is still bothering me - why do you have a maximum advance of 43 degrees instead of the 47 that I found in the factory specs? Is there another/better source?

My recollection is that 123 was aware of the effects of unleaded and they recommended adjusting the fixed timing accordingly.

I look forward to your response.

Barry
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post #9 of 38 (permalink) Old 08-03-2009, 01:35 PM
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Barry,

As I mentioned, Alfa revised their numbers over time. There are 3 versions of the Owner's Manual and at least 2 versions of the Technical Specifications. The newer numbers for ignition advance are:

3 +/-1 @ 750 RPM
43 +0/-3 @ 5,000 RPM (changed from 47 +0/-3, which was changed from 47 +/-3)

I don't recall seeing changes to the Low Speed advance information but would expect it to be 4 less as well (changing the nominal value from 27 to 23 before adjustment for non-leaded gas) but I did not include such a change in my spreadsheet until someone can confirm it. Furthermore, I don't know if Alfa ever changed the crankshaft pulley markings to reflect the changes in advance settings.

Please note that in the tech. bulletin page copied below (dated 02-Dec-64), Alfa advised to reduce the max. advance from 47 to 43 for switching from Lodge 2 HLN (adjustable gap) to Lodge 2 HL (fixed gap) spark plugs. I would presume this change applies to all modern spark plugs (e.g. NGK BP7ES).
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-Ruedi
[SIZE="1"]'63 2600 Touring Spider (AR 191437, the car that started the 2000/2600 International Register, reassembly in progress)
ex-'65 2600 SZ (AR 856043, the car in my avatar, sold as resto project to Austria)
Maintainer of a private 2600 SZ register (not the one in the Netherlands).[/SIZE]

Last edited by tubut; 08-03-2009 at 02:05 PM.
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post #10 of 38 (permalink) Old 08-03-2009, 02:32 PM
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Ruedi,

Thanks for the explanation and the history - I now understand all your numbers. I continue to be amazed and grateful at how much collective wisdom and information there is on this forum.

It appears that the only thing that has changed in the specs is the recommended initial (fixed) timing, which automatically changes all the values at higher RPMs by the same amount. I don't see any evidence suggesting that the amount of advance from the distributor has changed or that they moved the static timing marks (either of which would have been a big deal).

So, I'm left with the same interpretation that the 40 degrees of total advance (at 5000 RPM) is the same for the factory distributor and the 123 distributor. And that the 123 distributor is only off by 1.5 degrees (21.5 v 20) at 2000 RPM. If you normalize both of your curves to the same initial timing, they will agree much better.

Accordingly, assuming the original distributor in your friend's car was set at exactly the same initial timing, then the small difference (1.5 degrees) in advance at 2000 RPM would not likely explain the flat spot.

It could be that the original distributor was not behaving to spec because of worn plates, weights and/or springs (mine was very erratic).

I'm not saying that the change of distributor couldn't have caused the flat spot, but I don't see it in the relative (theoretical) advance curves between the original spec and the 123 spec. Have you verified the curve on either distributor with a timing light? My 123 seemed to match the expected curve as best as I could tell - which you would expect from a digital device. The main reason I changed to the 123 was the wear and erratic behavior in my old Marelli.

Let me know if you think my interpretation is flawed - it wouldn't be the first time.

Barry
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post #11 of 38 (permalink) Old 08-03-2009, 02:38 PM
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Wow - I never realised that there is quite so much detail to consider when changing to electronic ignition!

By coincidence my late-1964 Sprint is in the garage today to have a new 123 dstributor fitted so I will report back with my (slightly less well-educated) impressions once completed.

One question, the information from 123 refers to a switch with several different advance curves - does this not deal with the debate you are having above? ie will I just be able to try all the settings until I find the best one? I am also lucky enough to have a petrol station with a supply of leaded fuel (102 octane) close to my house in London. On that point, isn't it the octane level that affects timing rather than leaded/unleaded?

Thanks, as ever, for your learned debates.

Piers
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post #12 of 38 (permalink) Old 08-03-2009, 05:29 PM
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Piers,

Your 123 distributor should come pre-set to the Alfa 2600 spec (subject to Ruedi's confirmation), which I believe is the "0" setting on the tiny switch (which I needed a magnifier to see the numbers). You should be able to confirm the correct setting using the instructions that come with the unit. My understanding is that the computer chip comes pre-programmed with several other advance curves with different shapes and these can be employed by simply turning the switch to a different number. My sense is that this design allows them to use the same part for several different applications. If one of the other settings works better on your car, it will be by accident, but stranger things have happened. I wouldn't hesitate to try other curves, if you have performance issues. My car performed so much better with the 123 distributor that I didn't feel the need to try other curves. By the way, I also installed a Bosch Blue coil at the same time, which could account for some of the improvement. I hope you have the same good experience with your new distributor.

Barry
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post #13 of 38 (permalink) Old 08-03-2009, 06:38 PM
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The leaflet for the 123ignition model 123\ALFA-6-R-V (82 KB PDF document downloadable via this link) talks only about 1 advance curve. I didn't see any switch on the distributor (as described in the Alfa 4-cyl documents) but it's on my list of things to check next time I see the car.

I agree pretty much with everything Barry pointed out:

1. The 123ignition distributor replaced a worn Marelli (which let idle randomly drift anywhere from 800 to 1,500 RPM. After the distributor was changed, idle returned to the same value every time.

2. I agree that static timing also affects slow advance and max. advance settings. Still I was surprised to see how much the advance setting at idle affects the RPM. Turning the 123 distributor allowed me to set the RPM anywhere from 800-1,500 RPM -- just like the flawed Marelli did (but steady).

3. The ignition improved immediately by just changing the distributor. I believe the electronic ignition shuts the coil off quicker than the mechanical contacts (no arcing of at the contacts), which should result in a hotter spark. Furthermore, the microprocessor control supposedly optimizes the dwell angle (charging time of the coil) at various RPM. That being said, I agree that changing the coil to either a Bosch Blue or Accel coil is a good idea (and will be next on the list -- however, I believe in changing only one thing at a time for a better understanding of what impact each component or element has on performance and/or responsiveness of the engine).

-Ruedi
[SIZE="1"]'63 2600 Touring Spider (AR 191437, the car that started the 2000/2600 International Register, reassembly in progress)
ex-'65 2600 SZ (AR 856043, the car in my avatar, sold as resto project to Austria)
Maintainer of a private 2600 SZ register (not the one in the Netherlands).[/SIZE]
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post #14 of 38 (permalink) Old 08-03-2009, 06:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Forzapiers View Post
I am also lucky enough to have a petrol station with a supply of leaded fuel (102 octane) close to my house in London. On that point, isn't it the octane level that affects timing rather than leaded/unleaded?
It is my understanding that unleaded fuel ignites faster and burns considerably quicker than leaded fuel (in fact, I believe lead was added both for lubrication as well as for slowing down combustion). This could lead to pinging, which is the reason why the ignition point of unleaded fuel needs to be retarded when compared with the specs for leaded fuel.

One thing I recommend: Don't trust the values blindly; experiment and tune -- just like any good Italian Alfa mechanic would do.

-Ruedi
[SIZE="1"]'63 2600 Touring Spider (AR 191437, the car that started the 2000/2600 International Register, reassembly in progress)
ex-'65 2600 SZ (AR 856043, the car in my avatar, sold as resto project to Austria)
Maintainer of a private 2600 SZ register (not the one in the Netherlands).[/SIZE]
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post #15 of 38 (permalink) Old 08-09-2009, 04:21 PM
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static advantage 123 distributor

Hi All,

What will be the best setting for the static (fixed) advantage of the 2600 123 distributor

10 degr. , 7 degr. , 3 degr or 0 degr. ?

I am going to put NGK BR7EIX sparkplugs in my engine ,these gives a better spark then the lodge 2HL.
and using unleaded fuel ron 95

The standard bosch/marelli has 7 static and 47 max
or 3 static and 43 max with use of Lodge 2 HL

the 123 has 7 static and max advantage of 40 degrees

RGds Franco

Last edited by franco-veloce; 08-09-2009 at 05:27 PM.
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