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How to upgrade your Crossflow engine to Electronic Ignition for £ 20.00 - Chris Laycock

Having now cover over 2500 miles in AFG 486S, in one year since it passed the SVA Test, it was now time to modify some of the electrics that had give some trouble.

The first of which was the original fuse box which I have used from the Escort MK2. This caused and total power failure on the winkers, instruments lights, stoplights etc. on a run out one evening.

The fuse box is made of plastic, with copper fuse holders. The problem is caused by corrosion between the holders and connecting pins riveted through the plastic holder and you cannot solder or fix it in any way. The only solution is to scrap the thing and obtain a new one (rare as rocking horse poo) or a second-hand one.

A trip down the local Ford breakers was in order. They had six in their bin, two of which were wired up differently underneath. The remaining four were the same type as mine of which only two was good. The other two had the same problems as mine so I bought the two goods ones for a total of £10.00

Back home I plugged the new fuse box in and have no more problems up to date.

The second item I wanted to change was the contact breaker system on my Ford Crossflow 1300 engine.

On the Bucket & Spade run in June, the engine had started to miss-fire and on investigation the points had closed up. Time to upgrade to a electronic system.

Looking through the magazines, they range in all prices and I remembered an article in the LOCUST Mag on a Maplin product for about £ 12.00. I did look at the product but felt I could go one better.

I scoured through my books on Ford parts and found that Ford went over to electronic ignitions round about 1981 on the Escort. The Mk4 1300 Escortís has got a nice Bosch electronic ignition, not on a CVH engine, but on a Valencia engine which is very similar to the Crossflow fitted to the Mk 1 & Mk2 Escorts, Cortinas and Capriís.

They are the type with the amplifier mounted on the side of the distributor body as in the Fiesta 1.4,Orion 1.3, 1.4, 1.6, & 1.6i, XR3 & XR3i.

The only problem which accurse with the amplifier module is contact with the main body of the distributors. Take the two screws out and clean both surfaces. coat then with special heat conducting compound available from your Ford dealers and screw amplifier back on.

What is good, is the distributor from these will drop straight in to the Crossflow engine with a few minor wiring alterations and change of coil.

Why do you need a change of Coil?

If you run a Crossflow engine using the original Ford wiring loom, it will be ballasted at 9 volts, and this will not suit the above distributors. A standard coil of 12 volts will do.

Back down to the Ford breakers. After searching around, I found a nice distributor in a Fiesta 1.4, compete with coil and more importantly the multi-plug lead and a decent set of HT Leads, all for the sum of £ 20.00.

Back at the car and with the distributor all cleaned up I was ready to install it.

Off came the rocker box cover and I turned the engine till no. 1 cylinder was on compression, both rocker arms have clearance at top dead centre which is marked on the crankshaft pulley.


remove the old distributor and retained the old clamping plate as the new one of the Fiesta was slightly different.

Around the rim of the new distributor you will find a line or notch. You can see the notch or line in the picture at 8 oíclock position. This is the firing point of cylinder No. 1. That the front one on the Crossflow and in case you have forgotten the firing order for the Crossflow it is 1-2-4-3. The rotor runs in anti-clockwise direction as you look at the top of the cap.

Before you drop the distributor in, put the rotor arm on and align the rotor pointing at the line or notch.

Slide the clamping plate on and feed the distributor in and watch how much the rotor turns past the line or notch. Make a pencil line on the rim where the rotor is now pointing. Now make a pencil mark the same distance away on the opposite side of the line or notch.

Pull the distributor out again and turn the rotor to your second pencil mark.

Drop the distributor back in and the rotor should stop turning at the line or notch. You are now on No.1 cylinder firing position and when you fit the cap, the rotor will be pointing at the lead to No. 1 cylinder.

Do not use the lead from the loom as this is ballasted. Run a new wire from the ignition switch down to the positive side of the new coil (SW15) and join the black wire from the multi-plug to the same. The green wire from the multi-plug then fits on the negative side of the coil with a feed from this, to your electric rev.counter if youíve got one fitted. The third wire is brown and goes to chassis earth.

All ready to switch on. The distributor should be fairly accurately timed up to start the engine and when running at tick over ( 850-900) a setting between 6 degrees before TDC and 11 degrees before TDC should suit depending on your cam.

A try out on the road and make adjustments a degree or two at a time to see how it behaves. If you get pinking on hard acceleration, then back the distributor off a degree or two.

And there you have it, a electronic ignition system for about £ 20.00 for a fraction of the cost.

I did buy and new distributor car and rotor arm, but these are peanuts. You may also find, depending on your manifold that the HT Leads to your "top entry cap" foul the manifold but you can buy side entry HT Leads to over come the problem.





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