I've always liked the idea of
converting the ignition system to a breaker less unit. But the price of
these conversion units was always beyond reason to pay, especially, when the Land Rover runs as well as it
does with points.
Those that have a Lucus distributor, can
easily convert to an electronic ignition system from other
Leyland products. For example: Maestro, unfortunately, they were never sold here in Sweden. If your
lucky like me, having a Ducellier distributor, it appears that we are left out in the cold, or are we??
Many hours of research on the internet
and at the wreckers, I have found a distributor that can be
converted to fit the 2.25L Land Rover motor with a Ducellier distributor. A page by Marcel Chichuk in
Edmonton, Alberta, was a wealth of information. He has been successfully converting Hitachi distributors,
which are found on Nissan cars, to Mini's and other English vehicles.
What makes the Hitachi distributor ideal
for the Land Rover, is 1) it rotates CCW, 2) the electronic
control unit is self contained, internally, 3) the vacuum advance is adjustable, 4) and it's never been
converted to a Land Rover ( until now ).
I bought a Hitachi distributor, stamped
with part number D4R83, from a 1987 Nissan Prairie with a 1.5L
4 cyl. motor.
The first thing that I did with the
Hitachi distributor, was disassembled the unit and gave it a thorough
cleaning. To disassembly the distributor, first I had to remove the split pin that holds the drive dog to the
main shaft. Then I removed the 2 base plate screws and after that, I just pulled the internals out from the
On the housing, I had to remove the wing
securing plate. Then the remaining "stub" needed to be filled
down, so that there would be a round securing base. Luckily with the Nissan Prairie, there was oil and dirt
around the distributors base, this gave a clear line to follow while filling. I took my time filling, so that I
didn't damage the main shaft or have an uneven circle.
Once finished, I reinstalled the vacuum
advance unit and installed the distributor. the vacuum advance
housing didn't have enough clearance at the heads 3rd mounting bolt. I marked the area that needed grinding
and removed just what was required, so that the distributor could rotate without interference on the block.
Plus the vacuum advance tub had to cut down to fit properly.
Next, I removed the drive dog from
the Ducellier distributor. The split pin holes in the Ducellier drive
dog and the Hitachi distributor drive shaft don't line up. So, I had to drill new holes in the Ducellier
drive dog. Carefully measuring, knowing that the holes need to line up for the split pin and that there is
sufficient clearance at the bottom of the distributor body.
Also, I had to be aware, that I install the Ducellier drive dog correctly, because the drive dogs teeth are
off center to one side. If they weren't off center to the correct side, the distributor would never have fit
Once that was completed, I lubed
everything and reassembled the Hitachi distributor, paying attention
to the magnetic pick-up (stator) and the reluctor. The reluctor must rotate evenly between the two magnetic
pick-ups. I simply used a feeler gauge to set the gap. During assembly, this is the time that the distributor
advance should be set. On the underside of the counter weights, there is a plate that has the number of
degree's of advance the distributor is set to. On mine, it is stamped 15 degree's and also hand stamped
14.5 degree's. For the time being, I'm going to assume that the hand stamped figure, is correct. To ease
assembly, what Hitachi has done, is placed a machined groove on both the base plate and the inside of the
distributor housing. Also, from searching the internet, I know that for every mm of travel in the distributor,
equals to approx. 2.5 - 2.9 degree's at the fly wheel. The advance in the distributor has be to retarded by
3 degree's, to match Land Rover's specifications.
In order to achieve this, I used the same technique that Nissan used, by using shims to adjust the vacuum
advance on the connection rod from the back of the vacuum diagram to the base plate. In the picture, you'll
see positions 1 and 2, 1 being the connection rod and 2 being the shim I used.
To determine the amount of shim I needed, I used a Vernier Caliper to measure the amount of advance swing
there is on both distributors. The Ducellier distributor's advance swing was shorter than the Nissan's,
therefore I had to reduce the Nissan's swing, so that it would match my motor's requirements. It was simply
a case of trial and error, till I got a shim thickness , which brought the Nissans's advance swing close to the
Ducellier's. Number 2 is the 1mm shim that I'm using. Positions 3 and 4 in the below picture, shows the
difference with the factory setting marks, for the base plate and the distributor's body. I did not force
the base plate into position, I simply secured it where, it settled. With everything tightened, I tested the
advance swing in the Nissan distributor, several times, to make sure it was as near as possible to
Then I installed the Hitachi
distributor, I lined up firing position #1 according to Land Rover's spec's
and then pushed the distributor fully home into the motor. As you can see in the picture, the filling I did
earlier, has given the pinch bolt assembly an even surface to grab hold of, securely holding the distributor
in one place.
Once all of my markings lined up, I
secured the distributor, replaced the rotor, cap, vacuum advance line,
plugs and wires. The two electrical wires from the Hitachi distributor, were easy to install, the blue wire
was connected to the -VE on the coil and the black/white wire went to the +VE connection on the coil.
The moment I was waiting for, to turn
the ignition key, and yes, the Land Rover roared to life ! Some
final adjustments were required with the timing and gapping the plugs, but it ran, nice. The motor rev's
smoothly and evenly throughout the rev ban, there is no popping in the exhaust when the rev's are on the
down cycle and it starts without fault. I re-gapped the spark plugs to 1mm, opening them a little to take
advantage of the stronger spark.
The initial improvements that I noticed
to this point are, is that the motor starts easier, runs smoother .
I've tested the engine under load conditions, there is no signs of pinging or late/early detonation, the
motor pulls well throughout it's rev band.
The more I think about it, I'm sure that this conversion could be used on ALL 2.25L Land Rover motors.
Your more than welcome to try this conversion on your Land Rover, but, just because it works for me,
don't think that it will automatically work for you, every engine is different. I'm very pleased with this
conversion, it works well with my engine and my driving habits.
It was easy to do, I did the conversion in one morning and the total cost was under 400:- sk.
I've now ran the Land Rover for
over 10 month's ( 0ver 10000 km ) and the Nissan distributor conversion
has never let me down. I'm very impressed with how the Landy starts and how smoothly it runs at just a tick over.
1. Clearly mark number one firing position on the distributor's body. Nissan original distributor caps
usually have the firing positions marked, making this easier to do.
2. Clearly mark the number one firing position
on the Land Rover engine, outside of the distributor drive
hole. Before doing anything with the distributor, you should have the number one cylinder at TDC.
3. Know the position of the distributor drive
dog's offset (before drilling any holes), in relation to the
number one firing position. It should be to the right.
4. To retard the mechanical advance in the
distributor, rotate the base plate CCW, advancing the
mechanical advance is CW rotation.
5. Make sure that you install the vacuum
advance shims in the corrected position on the connection rod. If
you don't pay careful attention to it's placement, you will be advancing the ignition, even further.
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