By Todd Ryden
High-Performance Ignition platforms: layout, construct & set up is a very up-to-date advisor to realizing car ignition structures, from old-school issues and condensers to trendy computer-controlled distributorless platforms, and from bone-stock structures to hugely converted.
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Extra resources for High-Performance Ignition Systems: Design, Build & Install
Actually, new cars don’t use distributors anymore. However, most hot rods and traditional domestic performance engines use a distributor (although the late-model Hemi, Coyote, and LS engines are challenging that). As electronic engine management system development progressed, the roles of the distributor continued to diminish until they completely disappeared. The majority of racing and performance cars still use distributors, which is why I include them throughout this discussion. However, the distributorless contingent is growing.
This distributor cutaway shows the relationship of the rotor tip and the distributor cap terminal post. This is another gap across which the spark must jump. The cap and rotor need to be inspected periodically. The rotor tang is generally bent up and away from the base of the rotor. This is either the entire rotor tip, or it joins into a thicker material for better spark transfer. Watch for excessive pitting or signs of burning on the rotor tang. When the rotor tip aligns with the distributor cap terminal, the spark should jump across to the terminal.
When the rotor tip aligns with the distributor cap terminal, the spark should jump across to the terminal. Once the spark makes it across to the cap terminals, it’s a simple run through the spark plug wire to the spark plug and across its gap. As with any path, there may be obstacles along the way. Spark Plug Wires The importance of good-quality spark plug wires cannot be stressed enough. Spark plug wires are the arteries of the ignition system, as they provide a path for the sparks to get to the spark plugs.