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Old 04-17-2009, 01:20 PM   #1
betyelou
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Default MSD or optispark

Looking for your opinion on what you think is the best. Vette is a 1996 CE LT1. Should I go with the MSD Pro Billet Dist. at $519.00 or the Accel LT1 Performance Dist at $299.00. Or AC Delco at $349.99. Or perhaps there is a better make out there.Thanks.

Last edited by betyelou; 04-17-2009 at 03:04 PM.
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Old 04-17-2009, 02:42 PM   #2
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I've never had,fortunatly,have to buy one.I've heard the MSD is very ggod.
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Old 04-17-2009, 03:32 PM   #3
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Your 96 has the second generation, vented opti, which is a big improvement over the original design. But if you compare the MSD (and Dynaspark) you'll see that they are much better units than OEM. Having said that, a lot depends on your budget; they'll both require the same amount of work (or $$ if you have someone do it for you) to install.
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Old 04-17-2009, 09:04 PM   #4
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In what ways are they better?
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Old 04-18-2009, 01:11 AM   #5
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I went with MSD and have no regrets. Very well made. Also installed a new MSD coil while I was doing the work.
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Old 04-18-2009, 08:37 AM   #6
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With all the problems with the C4 opti that you read about on the forum, I thought that there would be more opinions. Thanks for input so far. Still not sure which way to go.
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Old 04-18-2009, 10:29 AM   #7
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I haven't heard much good about the Accel unit. If you are interested in the MSD, get a quote from epowershops.com. I installed the MSD last year and it has been fine.
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Old 04-18-2009, 01:48 PM   #8
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How hard is it to install a new one? What specific steps are involved?
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Old 04-18-2009, 03:45 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by curtis74 View Post
How hard is it to install a new one? What specific steps are involved?
It's best to have the FSM for torque specs, etc., but here's the basic steps:

1). Drain the cooling system, by opening the petcock on the radiator, and then by removing the knock sensors on each side of the engine block
2). Disconnect the battery negative cable
3). Remove the air cleaner bellows and serpentine belt, disconnect electrical connections to MAF and water level sensor
4). Disconnect radiator and heater hoses, and remove the water pump (you may also want to remove the radiator hoses to get them out of the way)
5). Remove the harmonic balancer pulley (3 bolts) - you may want to spray some PB blaster where it mates to the hub, and also mark the pulley's position. Note that the pulley bolts must be roughly at 10, 2 and 6 o'clock in order for the opti to clear the hub. The pulley may be difficult to remove (hence the PB Blaster) - one method is to loosen the three bolts slightly, then fire up the engine briefly to see if that breaks it loose. If that fails, you can tap on it with a 2x2 from underneath and behind, rotating the engine every few taps.
6). Mark the spark plug wires and vacuum hoses, and disconnect from the opti
7). Remove the cap from the opti and mark the location of the rotor
8). Remove the opti
9). Check the seals around the opti and water pump drives, replace if necessary, and clean the water pump mounting surface.
10). Install new opti, noting rotor location - make sure it mates easily with the front cover without force
11). After plug wires, etc. are attached to new opti, install the balancer pulley (coat the mating surface with anti-seize first), connect battery and start the car briefly to make sure opti is functioning properly
12). Reinstall everything in reverse order - note - check the o-ring on the engine shaft for the water pump to see if it needs replacing. A new water pump will come with only one o-ring for the pump, so you may need to buy another. Also make sure to use thread sealant on the water pump bolts.
13). Make sure to bleed air from cooling system when refilling.

You may find that removing the belt tensioner and the coil gives you a little more room to work. Also, this is the optimal time to replace the plug wires and hoses. If replacing the plug wires, you will find that loosening the power steering pump to allow you to pull it forward a bit is helpful.
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Old 04-18-2009, 09:56 PM   #10
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Brad,

Thanks man! Good to see that there are not too many steps involved

Good lord.........I hope to not have to do this anytime soon.

What are some of the symptoms of an opti going bad?
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Old 04-18-2009, 10:18 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by curtis74 View Post
Brad,

Thanks man! Good to see that there are not too many steps involved

Good lord.........I hope to not have to do this anytime soon.

What are some of the symptoms of an opti going bad?

Wait until you need new plug wires!!! Almost just as bad!!!

Let me know if you have troubles with the opti, I can make a trip to Columbia and pass some tools if needed. It really isn't that bad.
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Old 04-18-2009, 11:08 PM   #12
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I installed the MSD unit a year ago on our '96 and it has been awesome for 10,000 miles and counting.
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Old 04-18-2009, 11:58 PM   #13
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I put the MSD on my 94 LT1 last year (June) and it's been just great. When you look at the difference between the Opti and the MSD, you'll see the reason for the price difference. Installing is the same.

bill
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Old 04-19-2009, 03:29 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew View Post
Wait until you need new plug wires!!! Almost just as bad!!!

Let me know if you have troubles with the opti, I can make a trip to Columbia and pass some tools if needed. It really isn't that bad.
Thanks Andy. I may just have to do that. Being a devoted C3 guy for so many years, I just look at this '95 engine bay and scratch my head several times wondering what in the world was I thinking . These cars a so much more advanced than a C3, but I do love a challenge!
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Old 04-19-2009, 07:43 PM   #15
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can first gereration be upgraded to the second generation, vented opti?
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Old 04-19-2009, 09:08 PM   #16
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I have an MSD on the shelf in the garage to install when the one on my car goes **** up.
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Old 04-19-2009, 11:22 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aroccor View Post
can first gereration be upgraded to the second generation, vented opti?
It require's a new timing chain cover. Also, the dirve pin from the cam to the opti is different. There are some othere parts that need to be changed as well, but I'm not sure what they are. Do a search, the topic has been discussed before. I think there's also a write up in the tech section on how to vent a first gen opti. The after market optis (MSD, Dynaspark) are vented in both the first and second generations.

Also, while the opti is out it's a good time to check the water pump and replace it as well if it shows any signs of wear. You can change an opti without removing the wp, but you can't change the wp without removing the opti.

Finally, whether you replace the wp or not, it's a good idea to fit a drain tube to the weep hole to allow coolant to bypass the opti in case the waterpump does fail.

Last edited by jrzvette; 04-19-2009 at 11:25 PM.
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Old 04-21-2009, 03:20 PM   #18
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The MSD opti for the 92-93 has a vented style cap.
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Old 04-21-2009, 04:27 PM   #19
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I've got an MSD waiting in a box for my new engine.

I did a cap & rotor on my stocker when I hit 110k, it's got 140k on it now.
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Old 04-21-2009, 08:22 PM   #20
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I'm not sure how different the LT4 is - I have a 96 LT4 with 56K on the clock. The symptoms of a dying distributor in my case were an instantly dead engine on a back road...

I had it towed to the local dealer (I'm often on the road and I dont have time to work on it at all), and they told me that the water pump had a seepage issue which caused corrosion in both the distributer and (once they got it apart) the wiring harness. They recommended replacing the water pump as well as the damaged parts. They showed me the parts - and they were really frammissed.

FWIW

Tom

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