Confusion over ignition

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Well-known member
Oct 17, 2019
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Hi folks
Been away camping for 2 weeks and it's become obvious that the next thing I need to do is fit electronic ignition.
It truth, I don't have much idea what to order. My engine appears to be a B type motor, so single port 1600 USA spec. Its fitted with a distributor that appears to be mechanical/vacuum advance.
I've noticed on e bay that I can get a complete distributor with electronic for under £80 and a pick up kit from JK for quite a bit more. I quite like the idea of a complete new distributor as it would ensure there was no slop through wear. But you guys are where the best recommendations come from.
What is the recommendation? Can someone point me to the exact thing that I need. However cash is a bit tight at the moment so it isn't a money-no-object exercise. Also advice on timing the new parts would be appreciated.
Thanks again
Hi. I think it would be helpful to know your carburettor type/model number. If it's vacuum advance then that would influence the distributor type.

Sent from my moto g(7) plus using Tapatalk

What makes you say that you need electronic ignition??? Has something unusual happened or is it a starting problem perhaps. :mrgreen:

Ozziedog,,,,,,,,,stock usually wins in the end :mrgreen:
Before splashing out on a new dizzy I'd suggest you check a few other things first. Ideally a full tune-up ( or if you want to pair it back to just ignition system stuff then a few things spring to mind:

1) When was the last time you set the point gap on your current distributor?
2) Have you checked your spark plug condition and set the gaps correctly?
3) Is your vacuum pipe able to perform its job correctly (i.e. no blockage, free of kinks, and not got any holes)?
4) How are your HT leads? They can break down over time causing some strange electrical issues! Check for kinks, abrasions, and ensure the ends are snugly fitted to the dizzy
5) Check the dizzy rotor arm. Anything missing/broken/cracked here is a big problem. Clean the brass contacts, too.
6) Dizzy cap... basically the same as above. Any sign of degradation (if so, just replace it)?
7) The coil... Not sure how you check it's health, but I'd probably just borrow one from a known, working VW and see if it makes any difference.

If you still want to go down the electronic dizzy route then I would highly recommend AccuSpark:

Lastly, to echo the previous responder's sentiments: what are the symptoms that you are experiencing?
Ok. Firstly forgive me if I'm not on top of my game with ignition, but here is what I've got.
New plugs properly gapped.
New HT leads
New dizzy cap.
Points gap checked
Valve clearances set
New alternator conversion.
New vacuum pipe.
What happens is that the van starts and runs fine. But then suddenly dies, especially at junctions and roundabouts and becomes difficult to start. Tweaking the dizzy timing gets it running again by tuning-by-ear on the hoof. Also if I travel behind the van,
I can tell it's not just right because of the smell.
I have the original pulley which has 3 marks, tdc, 5° & 10° I think. But I can't find much info on the proper setting as most info seems to say time at 32°
All I want is the very best in reliability as I know that it will run with the timing slightly off, but it's not doing the engine any favours. Everything I have read points to breakerless ignition being the way forward.
So increased reliability is the golden goose.
I am not convinced an electronic ignition will be the silver bullet here.

Firstly, it doesn't sound like you have your timing set up correctly.

If you're not sure of your pulley marks then you first need to sort that. Ignore all the bumps and whatnot for now.
Pop plug #1 out and pop a long, thin screwdriver in to the #1 cylinder. Turn the engine over by hand (I use a wrench on the top pulley) and keep an eye on that screwdriver. You should be able to identify the highest point on its travel: that's TDC! Mark the pulley on the centre line of the crank case.

For an SVDA dizzy you set timing based on max advance (3,500rpm), with the vacuum hose and vac port on the carb plugged. Make sure your timing light is attached to the #1 lead and open the throttle up full, aiming for 28-30 degrees. Once set your idle should be somewhere around 5-8 degrees and around 1,000rpm. Don't forget to tighten up the dizzy clamp good and proper and then re-test the settings before calling it done.

The other thing that's suspicious in your description is that it sounds like the problems occur when you are stopping/stopped and therefore could be related to a problem in the brake booster vacuum. Get the timing nailed first and if the problem persists then this might be a place to investigate. I can't remember exactly how to diagnose, but if the engine note/revs/etc changes when you apply the brakes that's probably a tell-tale sign.
Some good advice there...

It is worth noting that if you set the distributor at 3500 (or thereabouts) and the idle setting is not as quoted above then you have a problem with the advance mechanism. I'm not a fan of acuspark for this reason, mine didnt advance properly (I am a fan of the 123 distributor, bought from parruzi as it was a lot cheaper in the Netherlands)

I'd also say, that at idle carbs rely on a bypass circuit. It could be that you would benefit from checking the carb after making ignition as good as it can be. My idle circuit has proven the source of idle problems a few times.

Sent from my moto g(7) plus using Tapatalk

Great advice. If the consensus is to keep the points, I'll have a go at the weekend. I've ordered one of those pulleys with the scale on the rim. Won't make it run better but might help with the strobe.
I don't have a servo, so there is no link to braking.
Before you start hating me, stick with the stock pulley and you won’t go far wrong.
If your motor has problems, the worstest thing you can do is to just start changing things willy nilly . A lot of the aftermarket stuff just ain’t very good and the pulley itself is not causing issues so think of your budget and let’s get concentrating on the golden fleece and get this beasty reliabubble. There’s been a fair few that have changed pulleys and give in eventually and go and find a good stock one. Do me a favour and check your oil for fuel.

Ozziedog,,,,,,,,, sorry , you said golden goose :mrgreen:
Lists of things to check for free, advance in dissy is advancing and returning , not getting stuck. Put your last condenser back on, I always keep all the plugs points condenser every time I change them as I know they was working, check the wiring in the bottom of the dissy too, check fuel pressure with the bottle trick and check it’s getting nicely to the carb. Have a good look in the noisey cupboard in the dark, don’t shove your pinkys in there just run the motor and look at it in the dark. Check your air filter, check your fuel cap for vaccing. When it’s hard to start, shove a capful of juice down the carby throat :mrgreen:

Ozziedog,,,,,,,,interesting indeedilly :mrgreen:
Rodger all that.
Stupid question I know but how do I mark the pulley in the right place for the timing marks without advanced mathematics? Cause I'm a bit thick.
Once you have TDC you can get a cardboard cut out if required to check exactly where you want your marks. Liquid tippex is a great temporary marker and it’s nice and bright. :shock:

Ozziedog,,,,,,,,,,, I’m not quite the sharpest tool in the box either :mrgreen:
Measure the diameter of your crank pulley wheel. If you have a stock pulley it will be 175mm diameter.
The circumference will be that multiplied by ‘pi’ or 3.14

If it’s 175mm, the circumference will be 550mm to the nearest millimetre.

So max advance will then be at 32/360 x 550 = 49mm around from TDC.

Put a mark there and use your strobe to see if your engine advances to this point.
I run a single port B engine, although the van was advertised with a 1641cc engine at the time I bought it so I don’t know the full history, other than it now goes very well.

My set up is Solex H30/31 carb and a single vac advance 113905205T Bosch Dizzy (the shorter type) fitted with Petronix Ignition and Flame Thrower Coil.
This is timed at 0 deg at idle (Vac port blocked) and should give Full advance of around 32deg under load.

Had this set up since the start of the year and have tweaked carb slightly to get plugs right colour and it’s night and day compared how it used to run with the previous 009.

Runs really cool too [emoji106]

What are your plugs like for colour after a run and what Carb do you have fitted?

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Right guys. Here is the latest update.
Got the timing set last night. It's a wee bit strange, but the sweet spot seems to be about 7.5° at idle with vac pipe off. Took the van for a road test and wow! It a different vehicle. It feels nippy now. Accelerates through all the gears really strongly. It almost like I've changed the engine. Interestingly, the Bentley manual says that my year of engine should be 0° at idle. Tried it, but it ran like a dog. It obviously a mish-mash of different carb and dizzy means that it won't time as factory. But it sure runs well now. I will run it around for a few days to give it a good test, but so far, fingers crossed, it running great.

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