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Thread: Timing Light for MSD RTR distributor?

  1. #1
    Registered Member Belair-o's Avatar
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    Timing Light for MSD RTR distributor?

    Hi,
    I wonder if anyone has any guidance on a good timing light to use with a MSD RTR distributor (magnetic pickup)? I don't have a MSD box. I had hoped to use my Innova 5568 light, but read that light won't work with the RTR.
    Thanks, Doug

  2. #2
    Registered Member chevynut's Avatar
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    Why wouldn't it work? All it does is pick up the firing of the plug straight from the plug wire, right? Why does it matter what is firing the coil? Did you try it?
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    The only problem deal I know of is using some dial back lights with an MSD box. Never heard of any light being a problem with an MSD distributor and no box.

    One solution that you'll never go wrong with is a light powered directly from the spark plug wire of the cylinder being timed.

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    Registered Member Belair-o's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chevynut View Post
    Why wouldn't it work? All it does is pick up the firing of the plug straight from the plug wire, right? Why does it matter what is firing the coil? Did you try it?
    Hi, I had read about issues, but seemed to me it made more sense that the issues would be due to using one of the MSD boxes. FWIW, I called Innova tech support, and the person on the phone said their lights wouldn't work with MSD distributors. I followed up by asking what if there is no MSD box used, and he said, nope, won't work.

    I haven't tried it. I am preparing to do a first startup after building my 327 up from the shortblock, and want to eliminate problems in advance, if I can.
    Thanks, Doug

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    Registered Member Belair-o's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick_L View Post
    The only problem deal I know of is using some dial back lights with an MSD box. Never heard of any light being a problem with an MSD distributor and no box.

    One solution that you'll never go wrong with is a light powered directly from the spark plug wire of the cylinder being timed.
    Hi Rick,
    I only have the Innova dial back light. I am thinking I will go ahead and use it when I do the startup. If I have issues, I will shutdown, and get another light like you say.
    Thanks, Doug

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    Sadly the problem you are going to have will not be apparent if it is there. The problem is that it will give you false readings and you won't know they are false without something known good to compare to.

    Rather than talking to Innova, I'd recommend talking to MSD (actually you may have to call Holley now).

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    Registered Member chevynut's Avatar
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    I guess I still don't understand the problem, if there is one . I looked at the Innova user manual and it looks to me like it works exactly the same as any other timing light....it senses when the #1 plug fires via an inductive pickup ON THE SPARK PLUG WIRE and flashes a strobe so you can see the timing mark. All the dial-back does is delay the signal and flashes it later, then calculates the advance based on the RPM and displays it. So what does any ignition box or distributor have to do with it? Are you using some other signal to trigger the light?
    56 Nomad, Ramjet 502, Viper 6-speed T56, C4 Corvette front and rear suspension

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    Registered Member Belair-o's Avatar
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    Hi Cnut and Rick,
    I admit ignorance, I know just enough to be dangerous. I have doctor appointments today, but think I will call MSD later and ask tech support, and maybe call Innova again. I didn't ask Innova why the light won't work, but think I will. I did ask him if Innova had any lights that would work, and he said no, closing the door on Innova making any sales to the MSD crowd. I agree, I don't understand why the basic MSD distributor using magnetic 'points' is an issue, since no capacitive discharge is involved, or multi-spark.
    Thanks, Doug

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    Registered Member Belair-o's Avatar
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    I called MSD tech support today, and when I asked if there were any issues in using an Innova timing light with a MSD RTR distributor, the tech said he thought the issues with MSD systems using a dial back timing light were restricted to systems that had a MSD box. Since my MSD RTR doesn't use a MSD box, he didn't think there would be any issues.
    Regards, Doug

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    That makes sense. To me, the MSD RTR distributors are the same technology as HEI distributors, and dial back lights work with them.

    The multi-spark feature of MSD-6 and MSD-7 boxes is what messes up many dial back lights. Even when not "dialed back". There are some dial back lights that do work with MSD boxes though - some Snap On models being an example.

    That is why I prefer a more "old school" timing light, along with a degreed balancer or timing tape.

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