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|Aftermarket Ignition Options
|Custom Spark Plug Cables
123 Ignition in the USA offers standalone ignition and distributor systems for a number of classic European and Japanese cars, including VOLVO.
These systems offer several different levels of programming, including Bluetooth support for IOS/Android and tablets.
A number of years ago I decided I wanted a nice looking and long lasting spark plug cable set. I wanted something extra special, tougher and nicer looking than the ordinary sets than I could buy from the normal places. So i decided to buy a good crimp tool and the parts needed to make it happen.
So how long do these wires last? Good question. I built these shown below in 2010 and they are still awesome.
I don't build these for sale.
I have created a guide below for YOU to build your own.
This MSD 35051 crimp tool is pretty expensive, close to $100. I bought mine from Summit Racing: https://www.summitracing.com/parts/msd-35051/overview
Years ago the selection of inexpensive crimp tools was not nearly as good as it is now. Now you can probably get away with a much cheaper version, such as this one from Amazon for $27:
Also MSD now has an inexpensive Mini-Crimper.that's used with a vise for about $10. I haven't used it, but one of the videos I found near the bottom of this page shows it in use.
If you use all of the options shown below (which I did), expect to spend over $200. Yes, that's lot. But keep in mind that some items can only be bought in certain lengths or minimum packages, so you will have leftover parts.
You COULD save some money by building TWO or more sets and then sell the others. But if you're a beginner, I recommend starting with making one. Then decide if you want to keep going.
SOURCES: I bought parts from several sources. Not every source had all the pieces I needed. Most parts can be found at Summit Racing or Speedway Motors. I have bought from both. There are plenty of other sources, but these were the main sources I used.
Most of the parts are made by MSD. They charge a premium. If you want to shop around for other brands, there are other ignition cable parts suppliers out there;
Taylor: http://www.taylorvertex.com/, Kingsborne: https://www.kingsbornewires.com/.
And if you don't like RED, pick another color when you make yours.
You can begin with a 25 foot roll of MSD 8.5 mm cable. About $68. You can order it in different lengths beginning with 10 feet. The total amount I used for this project was about 13 feet.
MSD 8854 high-temp spark plug boots with terminals. Cost was about $28 for set of 8 boots.
These are ONLY available in sets of 8. MSD offers other boots, but I chose these.
MSD 3321 90 degree DISTRIBUTOR Boots with terminals. TWO sets per package (about $8).
These DISTRIBUTOR boots are easily confused with the below 90 degree COIL boot. These are slightly smaller and designed for use on a distributor. So if you prefer a right-angle center boot on your distributor (on the coil wire), then this is one you can use. I used STRAIGHT boots on my distributor.
MSD 3331 90 degree COIL with terminal. ONE per package (about $7).
This boot looks very much like the above. It's different, larger hole, but terminal is the same.
Here are both of them side by side.
This opening for the small boot is 14 mm. The large one is 15 mm. Both are very flexible silicone.
MSD 3322 Straight Distributor Boots.
These only come in a set of two with terminals. About $10. You need THREE sets (so you'll have 5 boots), unless you prefer a 90 degree boot in the center of the distributor cap.
Many OEM Volvo style wires are made using four straight boots and one 90 degree center boot on the distributor. In this case you would use the 90 degree DISTRIBUTOR boot above.
These boots are made in RED or GRAY, but red can be hard to find. Last time I ordered I could only find them in Gray. Some places will show red, but you'll get gray (or vice-versa).
Thermal outer sleeve. I have used both the DEI sleeve below and the TechFlex Insultherm Tru-Fit. The Insultherm is a heavier product, so a bit less flexible. it's more expensive too.
The DEI sleeve is 10 mm wide and will fit over 8.5 mm cable, just barely. It will be pretty snug on the 8.5 MSD wire, however the DEI sleeve will also expand slightly when to push on it, so you can use that technique when installing. Be sure to use a lubricant (soapy water or cleaner) as mentioned a bit later. It will make it much easier to get this stuff on.
DEI sleeve is about $30 for 50 feet: https://www.summitracing.com/parts/dei-010621b50
The Insultherm comes in a variety of sizes and colors. I have used 1/2 inch. $38 for 25 feet: https://www.wirecare.com/category/shielding/heat-shielding/insultherm-tru-fit
Buy some DUAL WALL heat shrink tubing to seal the thermal sleeve ends. I recommend 1 inch diameter, 3:1 shrink ratio.
DUAL WALL means there is adhesive inside. That adhesive keeps this stuff in place. Standard heat shrink will move out of place on your wires. Buy a couple feet of this.
Thermo-Tec 14261 spark plug boot protectors. 6 inches long. Set of 4. About $38.00. These are not required, but they will help to make your wires and boots last longer.
The high radiant heat from the exhaust/turbo will eventually discolor these covers, but it will take years. These have been in my car next to the turbo for 11 years.
Maybe these are too expensive to just keep buying more, so you might just just try spraying them with some high heat red aerosol paint to renew them. It should be a BRIGHT RED if possibly. Many engine enamel red colors are dark red.
Taylor 42729 Wire Separators, red plastic, (large). About $16.00.
These have large 3/8 inch holes, which will be needed if you're adding the sleeve to your wires. If you accidentally get the smaller separators (like I did once), you can drill them out using a 3/8 inch drill bit.
A package comes with two of each piece. If you want more than TWO of the 4-hole pieces, buy two sets.
Spark Plug End
I prefer to begin the assembly with the spark plug end. You'll need to lube the boot to push the wire through. I like using a water based cleaner, such as Simple Green. Soapy water would be OK too. Some MSD videos suggest that you can push the wire through with or without the terminal installed. In these photos, I did this before installing the terminal.
This is known a "dual crimp" terminal. About 1/4 inch on insulation need to be stripped off.
If you're using the style of crimping tool shown below . . . 1. The insulator should be crimped first using #1 jaws. 2. Then the center conductor gets crimped using the #2 jaws. The videos below will help explain this.
Make certain the center conductor is tightly crimped.
Place a spark plug into the terminal. It'll snap into place. Smear some dielectric grease or other non-conductive anti-seize paste on the porcelain part of the plug or inside the boot. Using such grease there is a very good idea. It will help to keep the plug it from sticking (seizing) to the silicone boot after a long period of use.
Then carefully pull the wire from the back of the boot and/or push the spark plug to move the terminal into place. If you pull it too far (you probably will), just push it back in.
Now for the thermal sleeve. These are optional of course, but I like them. If you're adding thermal sleeve, make sure to do it before adding the boot on the other end.
Cut a piece of sleeve that will be roughly about 1/2 inch short of touching the boots on each end. I prefer to then use about 1.5 inches of dual wall heat shrink tubing at each end to anchor the ends.
First put the thermal sleeve over the wire using your water based cleaner to lubricate. Then place the heat shrink tubing over it. Then after you complete your boot assembly on both ends you can and shrink it down.
Again, I like using a water based cleaner as a lubricant, such as Simple Green, when pushing the wire through the boot. Some MSD videos suggest that you can push the wire through the boot with or without the terminal installed. That's up to you. For these photos, I installed the terminal after inserting the wire through the boot.
I prefer dual wall heat shrink tubing, because dual wall has glue inside that melts with heat.
This type of terminal is a "single crimp" style. make sure to strip off enough insulation, because you must fold the center conductor over and trap it between the terminal and insulation.
The photo of my crimping tool herte shows the proper location to squeeze this terminal. Pay attention to the videos below if you're a beginner.
After crimping, pull the wire back through the boot until it's positioned like this. Try a test fit onto your distributor to verify that the fit fells nice.
You should mark your cables as you finish each one to help keep them organized.
I chose this 90 degree boot for the coil because it works well on a stock 240 coil in a stock location on the left fender as pictured at the top of this page. If you prefer a straight boot for your coil, let me know which one works best for you. Also if you have a coil mounted elsewhere in the engine bay, I'm interested in the wire length you used.
If you'll be doing the same thing on the coil regarding the thermal sleeve and heat shrink, again, don't forget to add this before adding boots to both ends.
When you're ready to add the coil boot, again, you'll need to lube it. Then insert the wire into the rear of the boot and bring it out the front a couple of inches.
If you must resort to forcefully pulling the wire through with pliers, trim off a small piece if you damaged the end.
Strip about 3/4 inch of insulation.
This type of terminal is a "single crimp" style. You must fold the conductor over and trap it between the terminal and insulation.
This is the proper location on this crimping tool to squeeze this terminal. Pay attention to the videos below if you're a beginner.
This terminal is made for multiple angles. Use some pliers to bend the terminal 90 degrees. Make sure to lubricate, then carefully pull the wire back through the boot until the terminal fits as shown.
Then you can finish with the heat shrink on this end.
And for the distributor end of the coil wire, if you plan to install a straight boot as I did, use the installation guide above for the distributor boots, unless of course you plan to add a 90 degree boot there.
The plug boot thermal sleeves are optional and can be added at any time AFTER the set is completed. They simply slip over the boot.
TESTING YOUR WIRES
If you have an Ohm Meter you can test the resistance of your new wires to verify they're good. The second video below discusses this.
According to MSD, acceptable resistance should be about 50 Ohms per foot of wire (https://www.holley.com/blog/post/msd_tech_coil_and_spark_plug_wire_troubleshooting/).
Here are a couple videos on assembling these parts.
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