MSD Ignition Install

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An aftermarket ignition system shouldn't be the first on your list of priorities as far as upgrades go with your Prelude. With about anything less than an installed Intkae, Header, and Exhaust, a complete aftermarket ignition setup will prove almost pointless. However, there does come a time when it'll take more spark to produce more power in order to keep the engine running efficiently. For this article, I will be discussing the proper install of a new MSD ignition system.

The application being referd to will consist of the MSD Blaster2 Ignition Coil and the MSD 6AL Ignition Coil Amplifier Box. Keep in mind that the Blaster2 coil can very easily be exchanged for the Blaster3, but that there is a slight bit of spark plug wire modification required on the Blaster3. The same applies to the 6AL box in this case. An MSD 6A coil amplifier box will be wired in the same way as our new 6AL. Each of these items can be purchased through the Internet or Speed Shops around town; I've found the best prices to come from Summit for the Ignition Coil Amplifier Boxes. The coil shouldn't run much more than $35 and the box (MSD 6AL) shouldn't run more than $175.

Now that the MSD items have been purchased, it's time to prepare for the install of the new equpitment. First we need to put together the parts list of the items needed for our install. You will need:

Soldering Iron
Fine Point Solder
Wire Stripers
1'Heatshrink Tubing
10mm Socket 3/8" drive
3/8" 3 - 6" extention
3/8" Ratchet

The next order of business is to remove the battery's negative cable as to prevent any suprises while playing with open wires and soldering irons. In my honest opinion, I'd remove the battery all together as it's in the way and you could still accidnetly have the negative cable come in contact with the battery, thus providing current for the car.

Now, our primary concern is the stock ignition coil. There are three wires leading into the coil itself, two thin blue wires and one heavy black/yellow wire. From Figure #1 below, you can see a clear pic of the area I'm refering to. The black/yellow wire is on one plug to the ignition coil along with one thin blue wire and that the other blue wire is on a seperate plug of its own. This heavy black/yellow wire is actually the positive cable for the ignition coil. Our other single blue wire on the other plug is the negative for your stock coil. This leaves us with one other blue wire that's attached to the positive wires plug, and it just so happens to be the Tachometer signal pickup which will soon be attached with the other blue negative wire from the coil.

I recomend cutting these three wires as close to the plug as possible as to provide ample amount of room to work with for our new setup. NOTE: Once cut, there's no turning back. After your three wires are cut, you need to pull out the 10mm socket and remove the stock ignition coil mounting bolts so that you can free up that space under the hood; remove the ignition coil. Now pull out your wire strippers and strip off about 1/2 of an inch of shielding from each of those three wires; two blue and one black/yellow. At this point, you have two options. You can wire up just a new coil via these new wires if you like. Remember, the black/yellow wire is positive and the two blue wires will now be your negative's (one blue is the RPM pickup lead). If you choose to do this, mount your new ignition coil in an up-right position and your done with a coil install. For those of you wanting to install the MSD 6AL Box, continue reading.

The fun part comes when you get to actually pull the MSD 6AL Box out and set it in the engine bay itself; see Figure #2. Keep in mind that the wiring will depend on where you decide to mount your ignition box. Some have mounted their box behind the intake manifold on the firewall, some even in the glovebox inside. I chose to mount mine in a special location though that most would/should not attempt; the stock fuse box area. Wherever you decide to, make sure that you wire the box up in relationship to the items you must connect with for wire length purposes. Location being the subject, you also need to find a place for the ignition coil mounting. Do remember that MSD (and common since) tells you that this coil should be mounted in an up-right position.

Now that you have the box and coil placed where you want them and mounted, it's time to start soldering and heat shrinking connections. Fortunatly, the wiring is a walk in the park for this install. Your MSD 6AL box has six lengthy wires coming off from it. There should be one orange and one black wire bundled together, a white and red wire, and then your positive and negative (red and black) wires with O-ring type ends on them for your battery mounting. The black and orange wires are perhaps the easiest to install and hook up, so let us start with them. The black will go to the negative side of the new ignition coil, and the orange to the positive; See Figure #3. Do remember to take off whatever amount of wire your not going to use from this point onward. For my personal application, I chose to hack off the provided "spade" connection ends and go with my own O-ring ends so that I can just slide them over the positive and negative posts of the new ignition coil. No matter what you do here, use heatshrink tubing or bare minimum electrical tape over the spliced connections to keep these free of open wires. Any open lead can cause serious malfunctions in the electrical system if another piece of metal was to ground out with it. Finally, refer back to the three wires that we discussed earlier. Your yellow/black wire will now need to be soldered to the Red wire leading into the box, and the two blue wires need to be soldered in place with the leading white wire that also comes from the box. This will provide the impulse and tachometer signals to your new MSD box.

Everything is about done at this point and your about ready to fire the car up for it's initial start. Make sure that you do a few things first however before connecting the final positive and negative connections to the battery. First, on the side of your MSD 6AL box there's a small black plug that's screwed in place. You'll have to remove that plug and cut the two wires that are looped together; blue and red. These are used for the box to recognize your engines size in cyl. numbers. With those two red and blue wires connected, the box thinks that you have a V8, cutting just the red wire makes it think you have a 6 cyl and finally the blue and red being cut makes it recognize just 4 Cyl's. Once both of these are cut and the plug is once again installed, you should be one step away from reconnecting your battery. The MSD 6AL features a "Soft Touch Rev Limiter" and works off of your desired RPM ignition cut. The 6AL set comes with a 3000, 6000, 7000 and 8000 RPM plug for the side of your box. I chose to use the 6000 RPM plug so that I could keep myself from touching that majic "redline" number on the tach. You can almost see my 6000 RPM selector plug on the side of my box in Figure #4. Last but not least, you need to provide the box with power. Your O terminal ends on the boxes final wires, red and black, slide easily over the bolts lined up through the battery posts, so place them there and bolt your battery down. Sit back, relax, and get ready for the startup of your new ignition system.

MSD is quite a company that far surpases their competition in the world of ignition systems. Proof of this can be seen in the MSD 6AL that you just installed. MSD offeres RPM Plug Kits for those wanting a bit more tuneability for their setup. I'd recomend, on a 3G, starting with the 6000 RPM plug once you hit the dyno for a tune session just so you can see where your power curve is. Once you find this out, lower/raise your RPM plug to that RPM and try again. Keep in mind that it's still not the best idea in the world to go over Redline on the Tachometer, but that's what these plugs are for. MSD offers a good wide range of these selector modules ranging anywhere from 3000 on up to and probably past 9000 RPM plugs in 100 RPM incrumentsm. These kits can be found online with Summit and other MSD suppliers.

The last thing I wanted to note has to do with the pictures above. The first pic comes from a true engine bay style JDM Prelude, and was taken from my good friend Ania's car; she's from Australia. You can make out the brake master cyl. in the shot if you look to the right as this car is right hand drive. I used this pic b/c my Prelude already had the stock ignition coil cut off and complete MSD setup installed when I started this project; my thanks to my great friend Michael for taking this picture. Fgures #2 and #3 are self explanitory I believe. In figure #3, I did move the Blaster2 Coil so that I could show the wire colors off with the new ignition box pick up wire splices as well. Finally, in Figure #4, I did some rather unorthodox things. You'll notice that my coil and box isn't mounted first of all. This is b/c I was in a rush to take the pics with my friends digital camera, and had no time to do so. A true 3rd Generation Prelude nut will notice the mounting location of my ignition coil amplifier box; the stock fuse box location. I'm going to remount my stock fuse box along with the battery in the trunk as to free up that space. From there, I'm going to install a more efficient intake design that should look very similiar to a 5th Generation Prelude setup. This is a highly risky move however and requires about a weeks worth of downtime to relocate these items. Again, I'd recomend mounting the MSD 6AL elsewhere for the purpose of simplicity. Other than these last few notes however, our project install is complete. If your box is working, you'll hear ticks going at a million miles per hour and if you purchased the 6AL, you'll know it works when the rpm's won't go over your desired plug modules setting. As always, email me if you have any Questions about the project.

Last updated on 1/20/02 @ 9:15am