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Electronic Ignition Conversion - Factory Datsun "matchbox"


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I'll wait. Wish you had a comparison of the matchbox spark. Damn.... these units are everywhere in the wrecking yards.

if i had the coil to wire up i would do the matchbox setup, ideally the remote electronic dizzy would be better.  instead of having to gut a ignition module to wire it.  Yeah the prw-2 ignition module and gm coil are easy to get a hold of

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When comparing, or checking for spark in open air, you need to use a much larger gap, like cutting the ground electrode completely off the test plug.

The reason is because it takes a much stonger spark to jump (for refference) .040" under compression, than it does in open air.

The rule of thumb I have always went by is a minimum of .250" gap in open air.

On some really high compression applications, that needs to be even greater, or the engine will cut out durring full load with a standard plug gap.

The only way to get around that is to close the gap on the plug, or get a hotter ignition.


I campained a 125cc flat track bike in the mid '70s that had a 19:1 compression ratio.

The only way I could get it to run cleanly through the rpm range was to run a .016" plug gap.

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  • 2 years later...

Installing Matchbox distributor on 1974 l18 I have the pedestal for both engines l20 and l18 and I have distributor for both 18 and the 20 so far the best I can get is needing to cut a slot out of the timing on the back or use a big washer to hold the distributor down someone said take out the oil pump drive shaft but I don't want to turn that around and get it messed up so it won't run so I'm just I'm just getting the distributor so It'll point at number one any help would be greatly appreciated and do I need the ballast resistor with the Accel super coil? sorry for my so many stupid questions

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All you need is to get the engine at TDC and the rotor under ANY spark plug wire above it on the cap. Doesn't matter which one because this will become the #1 plug and all you do is move all the other wires into the 1342 (counter clockwise) firing order.


Now if you can't get this adjustment, or you are at the far end of the adjustment and can't quite get it, the easiest thing to do is unbolt the distributor from the timing cover and lift it out. Look down inside at the top of the drive spindle and note it's position. Grip the spindle with needle nose pliers and hold onto it while someone drops the oil pump out of the way. Two people should be able to lower the spindle enough to disengage it from the crankshaft and turn it one tooth in the direction you want the rotor to be turned. Push it back up into place and hold with the pliers. Install the oil pump with one bolt for now. You may have to twist the oil pump as it engages the spindle. Drop the distributor loosely back in place and check that the rotor does indeed now point directly under one of the plug wires on the cap. If not keep trying. If it is good, put the other oil pump bolts in and tighten them and bolt the distributor in. 


Expect to spill a couple of tablespoonfuls of oil when the pump is removed. Have rags handy. 

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Is it the SUPER COIL BIG yellow one?  they come with a .85 ohm ballast resisitor in the box.


Me ? yes I would use the stock ballast resisitor. as I don't think it wants a full14volts while running. otherwise buy a 79 Datsun coilor a MSD Blaster 2 coil and don't use anyballast resisitor.


PS there were 2 matchbox distributors one will fit the base mount and one will be like 60degs off.

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22 hours ago, 620Bisbee said:

 and do I need the ballast resistor with the Accel super coil? sorry for my so many stupid questions


There are no stupid questions only being stupid for not asking them. ..... ok there have been a few really stupid questions but you are a long way from it.



Throw the Accel 'super' coil away or sell it. If the primary coil resistance is 0.8 - 1.0 ohms you can take a chance but don't blame me if it blows up. Get a coil from any Datsun after '77 like a '79 200sx. It rated between 0.8 and 1.0 resistance and is perfect and made for the EI matchbox distributor. If you have a 'points' coil you have to run a ballast resistor or it will draw too much current through it and burn out. Also you won't get the higher output available with an EI coil.

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  • 3 months later...

You have the whole assembley? otherwise it might not fit a L16 mount will not work on a L20 mount as whats needed on a Late Model EI L20b distributor. and of those they were 2 types.

Most people forget the distributor mount on the front cover of the motor



look in the "HOW TO" section of Ratsun they have multiple instructions on this topic

Edited by banzai510(hainz)
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  • 2 months later...

I think the pertronix just replaces the points so no advantage in spark potential, you can use your points coil. An electronic ignition (EI) distributor uses a lower impedance coil that draws more current and makes more power. 


Hainz would know.

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pERTRONIX YOU USE YOUR STOCK COIL AND THE STOCK BALLAST RESISITOR  3.2 OHMS TOTAL. If you change it it could pop the pertronix if you don't get it right.  Yu can put a lower ohm coil but then need a higher ohm ballast or add another one with the stock one.


Hes not getting spark.is the real proplem

Edited by banzai510(hainz)
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This was near the end of the L series so not a lot made.


'78.... remote igniter. Has the electronics in a box mounted under the dash. If missing a GM  HEI module can easily be used.

S10 200sx

620 truck


'79 ....Electronics was miniaturized to a small box mounted on the side of the distributor. AKA 'Matchbox'

S10 200sx, A10 HL510

620 truck


'80.... unchanged from '79

720 truck L20B (last year for the L engine)

A10 HL510 with Z20S engine single plug per cylinder*

S110 200sx with Z20E engine single plug per cylinder*


'82.... all Z20 engines had the dual plug per cylinder and the 8 plug distributor. One of these will work in an L series if you don't mind the 4 extra plug wire terminals not being used.



* these are often overlooked as they had Z series engines but they are basically the same matchbox as the L series and will work on them.


Similar year 210 (A series) engines used the matchbox but it has a drive gear on the bottom held on with a roll pin. I think you can remove the gear and put the bottom from an L distributor on them and the work in an L series engine

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  • 1 month later...
  • 3 years later...

The plastic part (called a collar) helps align the the spindle and the distributor shaft. The part number is 22119-W0400 for most L20Bs earlier ones were metal, might fit.... on the chance Nissan still has them.


Try... https://ratsun.net/classifieds/category/9-datsun-parts/




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