After many years of testing and using various ignition components we have only found two that meet the criteria to be included in our line of products - The 123ignition Distributors from Albertronics and the Safeguard Ignition Control Units.
Both are high quality, state of the art systems, designed to fill specific needs, and built on a limited basis by small companies.
We have subjected both to extensive testing and can vouch for their performance and reliability.
We have been using the Safeguard for 10 years in our supercharged applications and could not have achieved the same level of performance without it. The selectable boost and knock based ignition retards, plus an enhanced spark, were just what we needed.
The 123ignition distributors are newer and fill the more common need for a reliable replacement distributor with a host of built-in performance features. I have had these in my racecar and street cars for several years, and have used them in extensive dyno testing. Its one of the few items that you can actually install in a few minutes and get an instant improvement in performance. The excitement right now is in regards to their new programable distributors, the 123Tune series, where both the mechanical and vacuum advance curves can be customized and the changes installed even while you are driving. And the best part is that its really easy to do and costs less than $50 more than their standard distributor. See details below.
Both systems are availalbe for vintage Volvos as well as a wide range of other cars.
The one step solution to classic car ignition problems - a high tech ignition system built into a new distributor, with key features not found in other systems:
- Not an add- on but a completely new, state of the art ignition system housed in a classic distributor case. The result: preservation of the original vintage look, but with modern performance.
- Sate of the art electronic components replace the original wear-prone parts including points, advance weights, vacuum diaphram.
- Microprocessor controled spark balancing based on technology developed for Formula I assures optimal performance.
- Sixteen selectable centrifugal advance curves built into each distributor - plus vacuum advance - not the vacuum retard found on all US spec early 70s Volvos.
- Automatic Dwell control provides the optimal dwell angle at all engine speeds, instead of the fixed dwell-angle found in mechanical distributors.
- Simple 2 wire hookup - one to the coil positive and one the coil negative - allows for quick installation
- Now available in a version with programable advance curves for most cars. See details below.
Thanks for all your help; the 123 distributor made a big difference!
One of our most highly recommended products is the unique line of 123ignition distributors from Albertronics in the Netherlands. Available for Volvo B16, B18, and B20 engines, as well as MG, Mercedes, Minis, Jags, Porsche, Triumph, VW, etc., this is not just a replacement distributor but a complete, state of the art ignition system. Key mechanical parts of traditional distributors that are subject to wear ( points, advance mechanisms, etc. ) are replaced by state of the art, microprocessor controled electronic components that provide optimal advance and dwell throughout the rev range to provide peak spark energy and improved performance. They have an excellent reputation for reliability, are a drop in replacement with 2 wire hookup, and have both selectable centrifugal advance curves and vacuum advance. A great upgrade for any vintage car and a much better option than the common optical or magnetic trigger kits that replace the points but still leave you with an old distributor with unknown amounts of wear in the advance mechanism, shaft, bushings and bearings. Compatible with Smiths tachs as long as they are wired correctly. Compatible with most coils, though for street use the coil primary resistance should be at least 1 ohm. See recommended coils in coil section below.
A complete range of 123 ignition distributor's is available for Aston Martin, Austin-Healey, Austin, Citroen, Fiat, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes, MG, Mini, Morris, Peugeot, Porsche, Rover, Triumph, Volvo and VW as well as other Lucas and Bosch distributor equipped cars.
$399.95 for the standard Volvo B18/B20 and most 4 cylinder engines. $414.95 for the unit designed to be used with Volvo DJet fuel injection and units for most 6 cylinder engines. Prices most vintage cars are similar. Email for the details for your make and model. Discounts for group purchases are available.
Key features of the 123 Ignition Explained
Spark Balancing - The 123 ignition analyzes engine performance on a per cylinder basis and adjusts the spark timing and energy levels of each cylinder in order to balance the power levels - optimizing engine operation. This spark balancing function, derived from Formula 1 engine management systems, has not been available for classic cars until now.
* As the engine runs, the rotational velocity of the distributor shaft will differ slightly with each power stroke, as a result of the unique combustion characteristics of each cylinder.
* The 123's microprocessor measures these velocity changes and uses this data to calculate the optimal timing and energy level for the next spark sent to each individual cylinder.
* The spark balancing program equalizes power strokes between cylinders, attenuating internal vibrations and resulting in a very smooth running engine with cleaner tailpipe emissions, improved fuel economy and enhanced full range power response.
Gated Switching - The 123 ignition uses a high quality, high speed electronic switch to turn coil current on and off with minimal losses. As a result, more energy is immediately available for each spark event, leading to better combustion and less unburned fuel.
Simple 2 Wire Hookup - All that is required is to attach the black wire from the distributor to the negative terminal on the coil and the red wire to an ignition switched 12 volt positive - usually the + terminal on the coil. For cars with early type Smiths Tachs attach the black distributor wire to the same wire that went from the original distributor, through the tach, to the negative coil terminal.
Selectable Centrifugal and Vacuum Advance Curves - Each distributor is preprogramed with a selection of advance curves appropriate for the particular distributor application. For Volvo B18/B20 engines there are 16 selectable centrifugal advance curves in addition to vacuum advance. This provides the widest possible options for tailoring the timing advance characteristics to a particular engine, whether stock of modified. The photo to the right below shows the dial for advance curve selection.
A Distributor with Programable Advance Curves
Available Now for most Vintage Cars
Our newest product is an innovation - a programable distributor for vintage cars - for only $445.
123ignition did it again ! If you want to custom tune your engine, or you have an engine for which there is no standard distributor available with the correct timing curves.....the new 123\TUNE is the answer ! By connecting it to a computer, you can easily adapt the 123\TUNE to fulfill even the most demanding requirements, including boost retard for superchargered or turbocharged applications. Using a laptop computer the ignition timing curve can be modified while the car is being driven or while on a chassis dyno.
Here are all the features offered :
- rotation CW and CCW ( autodetect )
- for 6 Volt and/or 12 Volt cars ( autodetect )
- for positive and negative earthed cars
( 123\TUNE-8 is for neg.earth ONLY )
- two centrifugal advance curves
( 500 to 8000 rpm )
- two vacuum-advance and boost-retard curves
( 0 to 200 kPa or -30 inHg to +15 psi )
- two MAP-start fields
- two rev.limiters ( advanced random spark stealing )
- real-time tuning under keyboard-control ( ideal for working on a rolling road )
- rpm-stopwatch ( ideal for tuning using the road itself as a rolling road )
- luxurious import-from-file and export-to-file ( curves can easily be exchanged over the internet )
- electronic "dashboard" with :
temperature gauge ( selectable in degrees Celsius or Fahrenheit )
manifold pressure ( selectable in Bar or inches Hg / Psi )
rev. counter ( 0 to 8000 rpm crankshaft )
spark-energy gauge ( primary coil current )
total-advance gauge ( in degrees crankshaft )
- available in 4- , 6- and 8- cylinder models with various sizes and shapes.
For more details go to the 123ignition website - http://www.123ignition.nl/downloads/folder/123ignition-tune-productsheet-2010.pdf
We are currently trying these units on various engines, so look for updated reports.
To the left are the screens that will be shown on your computer when setting up and using the 123Tune software to change and monitor your ignition timing.
The top image is of the "Dashboard" that shows rpm, actual ignition advance, manifold pressure - MAP, spark energy and temperature gauges - reading a temp sensor in the dist..
The lower image shows the mechanical and combined vacuum advance - pressure retard curves. Several are supplied as examples and can be used as the basis for your custom curves. Changing either of the curves is as simple as clicking on the curve and dragging that location up or down. The resulting curve can be saved either to your computer for future use or directly to the distributor which can store 2 curves. Selecting between the 2 curves stored in the distributor can be done with a switch, and does not require a computer connection. Either or both curves stored in the distributor can be replaced with other curves that have been created and saved.
Connecting the distributor to your computer requires a USB cable with mini USB connector on the distributor end. A sheilded cable is required if it is going to be used while the engine is running.
go to top | how to order
SafeGuard Ignition Control
Knock Sensing Ignition Control Systems
These are perfect for either high compression or forced induction applications. Originally developed for high end racing applications, the adjustable ignition timing retard system based both on knock and/or boost will allow an engine to run a higher compression ratio and/or higher boost pressure than is possible without the system. Highly sophisticated, in knock sensing mode the Safeguard will only retard the timing as much as needed, only in the cylinder(s) where a retard is needed, and only for as long as needed. This ability to customize the timing on a per cylinder, per crank rotation basis is an elegant solution just not found on other systems. On our supercharged engines this system has allowed 50% increases in boost. ( Some people were wondering how I could run nearly 15 lbs. of boost on a 10 - 1 compression engine when we were testing our supecharger system. This is the answer. ) Highly recommended for high CR or turbo/supercharger applications.
Includes adjustable RPM limiter.
With MAP sensor for both boost and knock based adjustable timing retards - $495
With knock retard only, for normally aspirated applications - $450
Available with an optional "dual monitor" ( the round gauge to the right in the above photo ) which senses and displays information on both air/fuel ratio and detonation. A very useful addition to the knock sensing ignition system that facilitates tuning. $179go to top | how to order
Pertronix 40011 Flame-Thrower 40,000 Volt 1.5 ohm Coil - $39.95
This is the coil that I recommended for use with the 123 Distributors. It features higher voltage and lower resistance than stock coils for a hotter spark, especially at higher rpms. Not for use with points ignitions where the ohm rating should be 3.0.
For racing where the engine will not be run at low idle speed, I recommend their .6 ohm coil which will have a slighly hotter spark at high rpm.go to top | how to order