Factory Gage Installation
The 429 CJ Cougar Option
Ford Duraspark Distributor
Inspection Decals
Speedo Gears
429 Engine Detail
Identifying Platings
Rear Sway Bar
Valve Lash Mustang Central

My "Undercover" Ignition - Changing a 429/460 to the Ford Duraspark System

By Dan Davis

I prefer the DuraSpark distributor as it is bulletproof. Just put a new magnetic pickup in it (Borg Warner aftermarket for ~$30). You can usually find them at swap meets or on eBay for $10-15. If you use the original CJ vacuum advance, it is difficult to tell it's not original.

I use this distributor to trigger an MSD Blaster (part number 5900) ignition on my Cougar. You do not need the Ford DuraSpark ignition box if you use an MSD or other aftermarket performace igntion box.

This setup is hidden (MSD is in the fenderwell behind the splash shield) and very reliable. I have driven the car on the Hot Rod Power Tour (1500 miles in 5 days) with no hiccup. It starts after half a revolution of the starter.

Oh, my coil is the MSD Blaster 2 Hi Vibration (part number 8222), mounted in the stock location. I painted the top yellow with a hobby shop paint especially for polycarbonate plastic (RC car bodies) and removed the MSD decal.

To replicate my system, you need:

a) DuraSpark distrubutor -- junkyard or swapmeet; $10-40; new magnetic trigger; local auto parts store, $30

b) MSD Blaster ignition, Summit or Jeg's; $80

c) Repro rev-limiter repair harness and harness wiring clip; any Mustang vendor, $22 & $3

d) MSD Blaster Hi Vibration coil; Summit or Jeg's, $40

e) Pertronix spiral core 7mm wire set; any Mustang vendor, $40

f) Non-adhesive electrical tape as used by Ford harness OEMs; any Mustang vendor, $5

g) Misc 10-32 bolts & nuts, some wire, solder and soldering iron, shrink sleeve, two pin trailer wiring harness plug; local hardware or auto parts store, $15

h) Standard brand ignition parts offers a black cap with brass inserts. A high quality local auto parts store (NAPA, etc.) should carry the Standard line.

Some thoughts on the above items

a) any year 460 will do. Rebuild it by disassembling it, cleaning the moving parts, replacing the housing bushing if necessary and reassembling using anti-sieze lube on the shaft and di-electric grease on the mving parts near the pickup. Curve it as was described before. If you need help disassembling it, email me. Clip off the harness end (leaving the orange & violet wires long) and the black wire (cut this at the distributor grommet) from the module as you will not need them.

b) The hi vibration coil was needed due to the mounting location. The stock location has no insulators and transmits engine vibration to the coil (I did have to use a piece of inner tube to get the coil to fit the bracket (you can't see it). Also, this coil is epxoy potted, not oil filled, so the windings are not exposed when it is mounted flat like the OEM coil.

c) OPTIONAL -- use this to make the harness at the coil end look stock (see the pix). I also used the ring terminal as the MSD ground -- connected to the bottom bolt of the voltage regulator. The wiring clip goes under a valve cover bolt and holds the wires out of harms way. It also makes it look more like a stock installation.

d) You can use any aftermarket ignition box that will accept a magnetic trigger input (Mallory HyFire VIa, Crane HI6, MSD 6, etc.). I chopse the Blaster ignition beacuse it was inexpensive and reliable for daily driving. Others were overkill for my application in my opinion.

e) You can use any spiral core wire with this setup. I chjose the 7mm Pertronix to look stock and satisfy the rules for the Pure Stock Muscle Car Drag Race. I have no cross-fire problems due to "thin" wires, even with the MSD & hi voltage coil. If using a non-stock looking wire is an option, try the MSD 8.5mm super Conductors or Moroso Blue Max wires.

f) OPTIONAL -- I find that this tape makes better harnessed than the sticky back tape. Just use a little stick tape at the ends to keep the non-sticky tape in place.

g) Use the trailer harness plug to allow you to remove the distributor for service. It looks like a common plug used by Ford on harnesses of the day.

h) Open up your plug gap. I run 0.050" gap.

I routed the ignition harness across the front of the engine, to the RH inner fenderwall, below the voltage regulator, along the battery tray to a hole at the intersection of the battery tray and the RH inner fenderwell. I fed the wires through the hole. The MSD box is mounted on the front of a the plastic splash shield in front of the RH tire. On a Cougar, it is removable with 3 3/8" head sheetmetal screws. Once installed, it is invisible, but still have a nice airflow to cool the box.