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MG Midget and Sprite Technical - I've gone electronic - oh the shame

After another ignition problem this morning. I've gone crawling to simonbbc and have gone electronic - so that will be my weekend job.

I feel like a traitor - oh the shame!
C L Carter

I've had the Simon BBC unit for about two years. It#s been great. Removing the least reliable set of components on the car (to which comment there will be general muttering!)
G Williams (Graeme)

No muttering here, I went -ve earth and electronic three years ago. Not looked back, never missed a beat since.
What have I said?! Probably blow up next week.

b higginson

I'm sure it will be more reliabile -that I do not doubt. But it makes me sad - points and condensor are a wonderful piece of engineering that I am sad to lose.

I can take solace in that i can swap back at anytime should I feel the need.
C L Carter

I've been enjoying the benifits of electronic ignition for years now and can't understand why one would go through the torture of using points and a condenser!
Onno K

I know you wont like this or want it so it's for the benefit of others

from what I've seen one of the main problems with electronic igniter heads is the quality of the installation work, so take time and do a good thorough job and check for possibility of rubbing or chaffing inside and outside the dissy ans allowing for when it is in action

145 New Shop 04 19 11 –(igniter head delicate wires) –(from 2:30) –

53 Allison Ignitions –

155 New Shop 06 09 11 – (diagnostics) –
Nigel Atkins

if it works...then your the man

sadly... ive gone thur 3 pretronix chips and have now gone back to P&C...I may get another chip as a back up in case my P&C should ever fail along the road

great.concept, the.older stuff worked great, but damn those 8 year old female china workers... they really need to put more effort into there personal work ethics...esp with being paid 50 cents a, all they want to do is go to school and work in a safe enviorment less then 18 hours a day...augh!!!- just spoiled rotten


Prop and the Blackhole Midget

for those that want them there is a good supplier of good quality CB point sets and condensers in the UK (and I think USA)

the one in the UK is Distributor Doctor -
Nigel Atkins

the simonbbc set works and is reliable.
Points are fun for originality freaks who don't drive their cars.

The GT has a simonbbc set for over 2 years and starts always in all weather, runs well and delivers better MPG than on points
Onno K

Points are fun... yep

for originality ... yep

freaks ... yep

who don't drive their cars ... nope!

mine still has points and condenser and all that.
never let me down

mind you, plenty else has over the years!!
David Cox

I've run points and condensors on my road cars ever since I learned to drive.

My three race cars ran on Lumenition for 20 years between them, with no problems.

My Honda 750 - which I've now sold - had two sets of points and two condensors, on a 4-cylinder engine...along with four carburettors to set up. Now that's fun!
Dave O'Neill2

Ive had pertronix in my MGA for 11 years, never had a problem. Somedays Id have the car running for four hours minimum on a 2 way trip. I always carried a seperate distrubutor with the points set up, but its never been out of the box all these years.

Why did I just write that?, you know murphys law will kick in! Son-of-B
Steven Devine

Is there much to choose between pertronix and accuspark? The accuspark lot do a great deal on a new 25D with coil, plugs and leads that I've had on my watch list for quite a while (just waiting for funds to match the right time in my rebuild).

graeme jackson

I've been considering the Simon BBC ones for a while but have been put off by stories of the rev counter doesn't work with them (have an old positive earth changed to negative). Can anybody verify this one way or the other.

T Mason

Go to simonbbc
Cheaper and just as reliable
Onno K

as always my vote is for a fully electronic dissy rather than mechanical bottom and electronic head

I've got the 123 and it's great for starting, running and throughout the rev range, there's now also a competitor to it but the 123 seems a lot more straight forward to me
Nigel Atkins

Not a freak, or much into originality and use the car all year long, daily for work. However I've just ordered a simonbbc kit as I'm being troubled with repeated early failure of condensers.
I hope it works.
Paul MkIMkIV

see my earlier post and links on the installation of igniter heads

>>for those that want them there is a good supplier of good quality CB point sets and condensers in the UK (and I think USA)

the one in the UK is Distributor Doctor - <<
Nigel Atkins

The competition of the 123 is called CSI ignition.
It has one big advantage over the 123 and that is the ability to switch curves when the ignition is in place.
That is still a big design flaw in the 123 and one the company does not want to talk about.

But the 123 can be had with a programable curve where the CSI and normal 123 are stuck with 16 curves max ( that just don't seem to want to match my engine)
Onno K

standard 123 for not too far from standard engines and 123Tune for hotter engines

also I was going to add - Dissy Doc for good rotor arms too
Nigel Atkins

if you have alot of condenser failures after a short time... it sounds more like a grounding issue

alot of times there is a coating that has to be sanded down on the condenser tab that grourds to the dissy... make sure those 2 contact areas are sanded plus a new screw ... ad it might give better life and performance

I know this is a fairly common issue with the mallory duel point dissys and ive seen that coating on some of our condensers

Prop and the Blackhole Midget

I've fitted simonbbc, best £28 I've spent.
Pete Ottewell

Points and associated parts 1960's fine! Modern versions are poor copies and seem to give repeated problems associated with sub-standard manufacture - look at the issue with crap rotor arms!
I've had Simon for two years with no problems (fingers crossed!) and the revcounter works ok. The only downside (probably with all electronic units) is that you can't do an initial static timing set with a 12v lamp.
G Williams (Graeme)

Piranha for me. Fitted when Adam was a lad and not touched since; mind you I also prefer having a servo when mixing it in modern traffic conditions.

Jeremy 3

I fitted a PerTronix in my Mallory distributor several years ago following repeated failures (read: coming home on a flatbed twice), eventually traced to the condenser/points. It hasn't missed a beat since, and strangely, I've felt no longings to return to the old ways. It just works, so what more can you ask?

Gryf Ketcherside

A few years ago I would have agreed.
But I never could get our bog std GT running as nice or as economic on different 123 ignitions tried.
Switched to the old (original) dissy with simonbbc unit and since then it runs nicer and more economic than ever before.

Seems BMC did know what they where doing with ignition curves!
Onno K


With Lumenition Optronic, you can still set static timing with a bulb.
Dave O'Neill2



How long has that 123 deal been around? I never saw that before. I know you said look at your past posts... but what do you really think of it? The price
here in the states would be $340.00 English conversion price. Is it worth the money in your opinion? Im just scoping it out for the bugeye.

Ive got my car set up like yours but with pertronix,Im sure its close to the same thing,
Did you have your distributor rebuilt or are you running an old original!

The one in my car isnt rebuilt but always went like a scalded cat.

It always has run nicely and I agree with you... They really must have known what they were doing with the advance curves.

Mallerys, I had one! They had a bad run of points and condensers, what a nightmare, I changed it to there unilite system...

Way to expensive, Never performed well! Ill never buy a mallary anything again!

I found there techs to be huge a holes... It was like "we got your money and what do you want now!"
Steven Devine

that surprises me especially if your dissy has old and worn parts but if that’s what you found then that’s how it was for you

I don’t know anything about ignition curves I just had Peter Burgess set mine up on his rolling road (I’d already previously had it fitted) he left it on the setting it arrived on, standard for 1275 – with this and adjusting the carbs the car ran much better than it ever had

I keep meaning to do an economy check but the car doesn’t really encourage me to do this as it’s too much fun not to

I can’t think how long they’ve been around but the right angle cap model for the 1275 was just 6 months away from being sold when I bought my Aldon igniter head in October 2007, of course if I’d know this I’d have waited and just my luck the 6 months was only a delay in testing with the new cap !

is it worth the money, well just having an igniter head leaves the rest of the mechanical parts on the dissy, I personally prefer to go all electronic top and bottom, as put earlier there also now the CSI direct competitor -

also you can see others have success with less expensive alternatives, without having all options available for one car to compare on rolling road sessions who can say

the notes I mentioned earlier are about being careful with the installation of igniter heads as I think a lot of the problems with them are because of the way they’re installed so take time and do a good thorough job and check for possibility of rubbing or chaffing inside and outside the dissy and allowing for when it is in action

145 New Shop 04 19 11 –(igniter head delicate wires) –(from 2:30) –

53 Allison Ignitions –

155 New Shop 06 09 11 – (diagnostics) –
Nigel Atkins

Thanks for spending the time to post that Nigel!

Allisons, terrible bracketry.

I never bought one they always found there way to me used some how!

I had a friend that came from michigan over 2 decades ago who worked on mgs always talked about John Twist.

I heard his name so much before the internet took off!
It was a little intimedating to have him telling me all the time how great John was, and how little I could possibly know. I always liked the british Iron
and so kept plugging along till things started making sense or getting worse depending on my limited knowledge at the time.

My buddy made him out to be some superhuman being that sat on top of a mountian...only doling out mg advice to those who are worthy. Stuff of legends...or tall stories that couldnt be verified. Of course in his opinion I was not worthy.

I got a chance to meet Mr Twist at his shop for a seminar for tuning the b series engines...with carl heidelman ten years ago.

I was a little apprehensive at finally meeting him.

I wasnt sure what to expect, I thought after having my buddy filling my head with his stories I would meet
a prima donna... with a huge ego.

This was not the case.

Hes a great guy who has a passion for British cars. We shared stories and He was real nice to talk with.. technically knowledgable... willing to share what he knows..

I would say just open and down to earth! Sorry to sound like a commercial, Seeing you send that utube just shows me how far things have come...

Now you know him too. I met his wife at the time too.. caroline. May she rest in peace. Just a great lady... and bunch of great folks out there. Its a great memory for me and It was a privelidge to finally meet the guy..
Thanks for lettin me share that.
Steven Devine

having a bit of a laugh, banter, mickey (p*ss) taking is all part of forums but the main point here is people trying to help others with their opinions, knowledge and experience as best they can

I loved the very first John Twist video I saw, I also liked that he even posts videos where things don't go seamlessly and even one where he shows how (IIRC) to open a locked boot and as it fades out he's still trying unsuccessfully

the videos aren't perfect but the considerable knowledge is given freely with good heart
Nigel Atkins

Funny you should mention things dont go seemless...

One of the first things that happened in his shop.. that made me like the guy... Was his son brooks,
(He must have been 16 then) was working on an alternater chucked up in a vice for rebuild..

John was trying to let brooks fix it and explain what to do... At the same time he was worrying it would get destroyed...

I watched him fighting the impulse back and forth for 5 min to let the kid keep going or push him out of the way...

He fought the impulse all the way... because knew the kid had to find his own way... It was killing him.

I liked him right way when I saw that..

He kept his cool...but it was still killing him. Some how I could relate to being in a rock and hard place knowing this is how it has to be! But wanting to change the outcome for good!

It still makes me laugh when I think about it.

Steven Devine

We make our own external condensers when we need them as we have had so many poor quality'as supplied' ones fail, Our experience with Lucas distributors on points is they are fine when they are up to say three years old then they seem to eat points. Dont oil dizzies as the oil can be thrown onto the points and allow them to burn out ( very common), the heel material doesnt seem to wear as opposed to the old fibre heel material which wears out in a few minutes if not oiled!

We are, after a couple of years, seeing Accuspark electronics failing on a fair few occasions. Showing up in VW air cooled engines first.

The cheap 20p ( 1 dime) distributors often fall apart as we fit them! Whether points or electronic.

No axe to grind, we just see a fair few systems over a period of years and build up some sort of picture.

One axe I do have to grind is why manufacturers of aftermarket electronic ignition modules do not fit a diode to protect the system if it is connected the wrong way round. I suspect this maybe the major cause for dead ignition systems.


Peter Burgess Tuning

Hi Peter,
from years ago I was told to add a few drops of oil to the dissy, not too much, and to add a thin wipe of grease on the cam when fitting the points - and of course it's in the good book

so now I should say oil on fibre heel only - its been so many years since I've seen points up close I thought they were all plastic

of course oil and greasing is a thing of the past anyway with a 123 fitted
Nigel Atkins

I put a Simon BBC unit in and while the car runs fine and it was a simple fit, the rev counter just bobs all over the place once above 4000ish.
I think I'll probably reinstall points and condenser from the Distributor doctor as recommended by Nigel.
Paul (MkI

Paul, is that in the Mk1 or Mk4?
My Mk4 sprite has no problems with BBC and rev counter.
G Williams (Graeme)

Throw out the distributor entirely and go ECU with crank trigger, coil packs and wasted spark. Programable, reliable and not a crazy price if you go megasquirt!

(I'll get my coat :-)
T Dafforn

It's the Mk4, (the Mk1 is on points with a 1500 rev counter not the original mechanical).

I'll get your coat for you Tim.... :)
Paul (MkI

Hey Tim, come back, you got a link to that?
Dave Squire (1500)

Dave put it on your wish list for when you've finished the priorities
Nigel Atkins

I still use the traditional set up on my Mk 1 using wherever possible new old Lucas stock. Its never let me down.
Bob Beaumont

I still use the traditional set up on my Mk 1 using wherever possible new old Lucas stock. Its never let me down.
Bob Beaumont

as I've put before I've never been let down by various electronic igniter on various classics over a number of years and tens of thousands of miles - but I had to messy about at the roadside trying to reset the difficult to see and set points in a Spridget

with igniter heads it's not just a case of not being let down (good makes when installed correctly) it's a case that the electronic seems to improve starting, tickover and running

and certainly I feel the fully electronic 123 dissy (not just electronic head) has improved my car's performance noticeably throughout the rev range and it's fit and forget
Nigel Atkins

Hi all,
I have a 123tune and a I am very impressed with it. It has not let me down yet and the engine is very smooth.
If anyone is thinking about one (and if you are still on points, I think you should think about one), ask Peter Burgess for one and have a rolling road session to set it up properly at the same time. I am sure you will not be disappointed.
Dave Brown

Dave you're cutting in on my commission :D

I'd have had a 123tune if I hadn't already got the standard one but when Peter set the car the 123 remained on the standard setting out of the group of four settings

bit upsetting that my car wasn't powerful enough to need a higher setting but I forgave Peter as the car went so well
Nigel Atkins

No no, Nigel, I'm thinking of the other one. I've got a 1.8 K on a pallet ready for it when this midget is going OK. Then this one won't need the space to be fixed so much and I can put the 'final frontier' (the white one) in the car fixing work space.

This one is now sounding good by the way. Managed 100 miles last weekend on the A1 mainly 60 to 70 ish in 4 stints with coffee breaks. Just some fuel connector pipes to fix this weekend before a good run again.
Dave Squire (1500)

You lot are tempting me, it looks a bit pricey though, and the MkIV is still on a fairly standard 1275 whereas my Frog is a bit tweaked.
Paul (MkI

you got the engine without ECU and wiring and stuff then

only 25 miles between coffees - your an addict (ale I could understand)

my car isn't that far off standard, it's not cheap and you don't have to have the tune (well possibly for the Mk1?) doing away with the mechanical and probably worn dissy has the car running much smoother - I can't say you'll improve your mpg because you'll probably like me not be able to resist putting your foot down more
Nigel Atkins

Yes, It was a freebe so not end of world if I decide to use something else (I have a rather rusty looking 1500 and gearbox anyways) so just contemplating at this stage.
Dave Squire (1500)

You're selling the idea, the current dizzy has been there since 1970 and is most probably tired.
Paul (MkI

lets put it this way, I've read that even in the 60s when new the dissys were worn after only a few years use and Peter has put on here earlier >>Our experience with Lucas distributors on points is they are fine when they are up to say three years old then they seem to eat points<<

if you get one I'll split my commission with Dave ;)
Nigel Atkins

Hi Nigel,
50% of nothing is not much Nigel.
Go on, get one, you know it makes sense.
You won't regret it.
Dave Brown

it's better than 25%, I knows me maths :)

it's always best to have your car fully serviced before a rolling road tune up plus you'll more accurately see and feel the improvements the RR tune up and changing to a 123 make, I think the print out graph is a good reference point but it doesn't tell you the full benefits like you find when you later drive on the roads

some modest paper increases can translate to noticeable improvements on the road

some people want to see big jumps in the numbers which always surprises me as it must mean the car wasn't running that well when it turned up, (I think) some places cater for this by stretching the gauges, purely to bring the car owners a greater happiness of course
Nigel Atkins

I have a 123 which has been fitted for a couple of years now without drama, but I notice in the last few months a few people on the 123 forum are reporting failures, after about 2 years of use, which is a bit disconcerting!
If a 123 fails you really are stuck unless you carry your old distributor with you, which I do actually just in case.
Had a Lumenition system for about 30 years that never missed a beat, but I suppose they can fail just as randomly as anything else.
JB Anderson

I can remember a short time when Luminition had problems but I seem to be the only one

I've not heard of 123 failing after 2 years, I've had mine 2 years 8 months !

I wont be carrying a spare dissy just in case, where would that end, spare petrol pump, spare alternator, small light items maybe but heavy and bulk items?

I'll have a look on the forum but, and this may not be the case this time, but some people seem able to make things fail :)
Nigel Atkins

just had a quick look, there are two (so far who knows if others will follow)

most other problems with installation seem to come from classic car owners self installation, now for all I know some or all of them could be professionals or very knowledgeable in the subject but having dealt with the general public for many years and been involved in classic cars for 20 years plus I bet not all of them are allowing for other worn parts and components or the non-standard nature of their engine taking it outside of factory standard parameters

I'm sure the 123 is not totally faultless in its design, software and hardware but I've not heard of major problems and it is now widely sold

having said all that if any 123 is to fall apart based on my luck and previous history I would have bought it and I'm on borrowed time now
Nigel Atkins

I fitted an MG Metro electronic dizzy some years ago (following Bill's excellent advice). Cost £10 from the local scrapyard AFAIR. Needed a little modification to the drive and clamping arrangement but it has been faultless since then. Probably done 50,000+ since fitting.
Guy Weller

Not got a picture of the ECU base ignition on a midget.
But fitted one to a lotus elan and It helped a lot. Much smoother any very programmable.
I know there are similary systems for a series engines.
Ironically I plan to go back to basics with points on both the midget and TR6.
T Dafforn

Mine's still behaving just like a car from the factory with her Metro one too Guy

Funny that innit, MG Metro dizzy, right kind of advance curve thingy for a quick enough car. Good economy with the Metro carb too.

Runs like a dream :)

Mind you, I do need a new battery for the car soon though

Not all easy is it

Bill, it was certainly one of the better modifications I have done in terms of £ per benefit. Glad to hear yours is still performing well too. I suspect that MG Metros would be much harder to find in the scrapyards now than they were when we did ours though.
Guy Weller

There's Hell's Angel type of bloke, tee shirts and waistcoat tops all weathers, lives around the corner from me. Loves my car and drives his own MG Metro all over the place.

Kind of incongruous really, big hairy type and as nice as pie.

Point is I know where to find more bits if I need any, he has a couple stashed away somewhere I think...

Not that I am expecting to need anything, the car's just fine as she is.

that's it, you old 'uns pulling up the ladder to deny us young 'uns
Nigel Atkins

That's right Nigel, and you will do the same!
I have a spare MG Metro dizzy and a couple of spare modules, all collected when they were worth their weight in the oily mud of the scrapyard field.
Guy Weller

I try not to, I don't know why I bother though as they're not my children, or grandchildren or great-grandchildren - goodwill to all is only for one day of the year after all
Nigel Atkins

This thread was discussed between 20/02/2013 and 11/03/2013

MG Midget and Sprite Technical index

This thread is from the archive. The Live MG Midget and Sprite Technical BBS is active now.