01 With the distributor cap...
01 With the distributor cap and rotor removed, the Firecore distributor looks like many other electronic distributors. With the Firecore unit, your total mechanical advance is adjustable by loosening the two outboard screws and moving pickup plate as needed. You can also see the advance weights and the factory installed "medium" advance springs. Depending on the timing needs of your engine, the distributors come with two extra sets of advance springs for dialing in how soon your mechanical advance comes in.
When it came time to purchase a new set of spark plug wires for one of our dyno engines, we decided to try the Firecore 50 wires, based solely on the fact that we had heard so many good things about the services they provide. When we ordered the wires, Rich Gorski asked if we would like to also test his line of distributors. He went on the tell us that he began selling a line of ready-to-run distributors, along with a line of billet distributors that are set up to run with your supplied ignition system. We explained to him what our test engine would be and within a few days we had his parts at our shop for testing.
We started testing our 421-inch small-block with a Mopar Performance distributor. This distributor was plugged into the dyno-mounted MSD 6AL that we normally use, but we borrowed the distributor cap off of the Firecore ready-to-run distributor so we could use the positive locking male terminals to go along with our new Firecore 50 wires. The first thing we noticed about the Firecore 50 wire set were the factory installed number markers on each wire. These make it much easier to get the correct wire on each cylinder. Having a pre-made wire set that fits well with your headers sure is a nice feature. If you've ever cut and crimped your own wires just to have a terminal pull off, you can certainly appreciate the factory installed ends.
02 The Firecore distributor...
02 The Firecore distributor uses male connections for the plug wires as opposed to the factory female style. This will either require different spark plug wired, or installing a cap with the factory style ends.
We warmed up the engine and verified the total timing was still 32 degrees, which is where previous testing with this engine proved to be optimum. A couple of pulls later, the baseline test gave us averages of 509.6 lb-ft of torque and 438.9 horsepower.
With a baseline set, we pulled the distributor cap and swapped in the new ready-to-run unit. Before installing it, we adjusted the mechanical advance to lock it out, as the MP distributor was set up this way, and we wanted to keep things equal. We wanted to make sure that both units were curved the same so as not to skew the test results.
We also swapped our coil to the Firecore unit. Using the coil that is designed to go with any ignition system assures that you don't have any issues with too much or too little resistance in any of the circuits which may lead to unsatisfactory performance or failure. To wire in the new system, all you need to do is connect the red and orange wires to the positive and negative posts on the coil. The third wire is simply a ground wire. Next, run your key on the 12-volt positive wire to the same positive post on the coil, and then plug the other end of the harness into the distributor and you are done! We fired up the engine once again and went back into the dyno cell and adjusted the timing to make sure we were at 32 degrees again. After a brief warmup period, we pulled the dyno's throttle again and came in with 511.7 lb-ft of torque and 441.2 horsepower for our new averages. Although we only gained 2.1 lb-ft of torque and 2.3 horsepower, we noticed that the engine repeated the numbers much more closely with the new ignition system.
03 This all started when...
03 This all started when our home-crimped wired came apart. Now with the Custom Wire Sets stuff, it's not a concern anymore.
The benefits of this distributor are: If you're building a restomod of sorts, you can clean up the engine bay by not needed the external ignition box and ballast. For you race guys, if you have a mild bracket race car that does not need all the fancy features found in some available ignition systems, you actually find you have a more consistent car. We talked to Rich, who put us in touch with one of the engineers involved with circuitry design in these distributors, and he explained that the electronics in this ignition are less sensitive to voltage fluctuations than several others on the market. This is why it repeats better.
Custom Wire Sets/Firecore also has a standard billet distributor to evaluate. It comes with a harness that will plug directly into a MSD ignition system. It shares the same easy-to-adjust mechanical advance as the ready-to-run unit. Both distributors come with two extra sets of advance springs--one lighter set and one heavy set. The factory installed medium springs set the curve so that it begins to advance at approximately 1,200 rpm and gives an additional 22-24 degrees near 3,200 rpm. Both units we received also came with an adjustable vacuum advance, although they are available without it.