Out of the blue my recent 6 build died. Here are the facts as I recall them...
Early one morning recently i decided to drag my car to our place in Scottsdale to do some desert driving as I am sick of the traffic in OC. I started the car as usual and drove it to the back of my tow vehicle. I hooked up the towbar and aux. lights (no attached to the 914's electricals).....
As I made my way towing the 914 up the grade up on the I-10 outside of Redlands, the serpentine belt and pulley gave out on the MBZ and proceeded to leave me going 65 in lane 3 of 5 surrounded by semi's and other vehicles that did not want to let me get to the shoulder. As i muscled the no-power steering and no-brakes conundrum toward the shoulder, the car spewed fluids all over the windshield because, by this time, a piece of the pulley went thru the radiator and windshield washer resivoir trashing them along the way to a fried engine.
I managed to get to the shoulder and calledthe car and A,.... then called AA then AAA............ Eventually Gomer and the flat bed showed up and picked up the dripping ML. He then headed back to Laguna while I prepared to drive the 914 behind him back home.
Dead............Plenty of turnover but no spark / or should I say one spark then no spark..
For the first time in 3000 miles+, the 914 would not start. Normally 1st crank and it explodes into a nice roar then back to idle... Not this time. Nothing. Zero. Zilch.
Keep in mind, I drove the car to the back side of the tow vehicle quite fine. Towing it croaked it?
So I called AA then AAA again.... and low and behold, the same driver and truck came back to hitch my 914 to the back of the flatbed that had my toasted MBZ on it.
Long story but a longer day on the side of the freeway...........
Now the 914 is in AZ dead as a doornail. My pal Keith and I did much trouble shooting on the wiring / this,.. between the two transmissions that went into and one out of his car in the meantime.
All leads from the MSD plug to the P.K. wiring harness (that has been flawless for the past several thousand mile of seamless spark) show continuity. the coil is good to go - as proven by exchanging Keiths with mine and mine with keith's... His car runs mine doesnt.
We performed several Parts Classic tests to prove that the distributor is good and not fouled in any internal way. I replaced the 85 dollar little green wire (Pelican Parts... ridiculous ) then replaced the coil wire with another MSD unit with the "Power Tower" to allow a standard coil to mate to MSD proprietary wire ends.... another
anyway,... One of the MSD Tech guys was a smartass smug dipsey doodle talking down at Keith and I - and the second guy from MSD Tech that both Keith and I talked to (Joe) was a complete professional in style and manner of presenting a few tests to eliminate the coil and the distributor (ahhhgen...)
So my simple question for the folks out there is.. Has anyone with the MSD Digital AL6 experienced this kind of DOA mystery? the hills and mountain roads leading to the Grand Canyon are begging for an answer.
The simple way to add a week to no driving is to pack up the box and send it to MSD for a test / and I will do that if no sage advice comes from this lengthy narrative..
but there is always the hope (unfortunately).. that one of you guys has seen this issue before me and can relay some sage advice.
Oh man - sorry to hear that story X2. I hope you get this sorted and are back on the road very soon. Best of luck.
Hang in there Forrest. I know you will get this sorted out. Hope to see you back on the road again soon.
Thanks Guys! Today I am going to take the entire wiring harness out of the car and put it back in step by step. That will tell me that it is time to send the MSD box back to the factory for inspection and testing.... or maybe I will get lazy, fo for a mountain bike ride and reverse the order stated above..........
for general interest, a pic of our pal keith working on his car in the coveted upright position............
That sucks!! Sorry to hear this. Positive note that the motor still turns over, so it probably is electrical / ignition which is not a major cost, just hassle.
Forrest has in spades what every 914-owner needs: a sense of humor.
Rough day, Forrest, but hopefully it's nothing major.
Sorry Forrest, was wondering where you have been. Banning pass is a brutal place to break down. Glad you are ok.
That stretch of highway has more potholes, potheads, and pot bellys on it than I hope to ever encounter on foot again. The god news is that I have time to systematically sort out the issue.
A question for MSD 6AL digital box people: Is there a rogue security feature kill-wire in the harness as delivered from MSD? I seem to remember something about using or not using a wire as a kill switch to ground...... maybe the white wire (unused in the diagram)
if so, that could be grounded somehow and simply killing my spark.
That much trouble almost sounds like the "suby curse".
Damn Forrest, that sucks. I have a 6AL on my TIV motor and can look how it's wired if you want...but the wiring didn't change by towing it. Hopefully it's something simple and you'll be back on the road soon. Send me a PM if you want to get together for a teener drive while you're in Scottsdale.
Does yours have the LED that blinks when it first gets power? Just switched to a 6AL a couple months ago when my VR went to 17V and fried my Mallory Hyfire box, the Unilite module, and my new Odyssey battery. 4 things bad made it hard to troubleshoot. Chose the 6AL for the diagnostic LED and the quick-change harness if it goes bad again.
This is easy. The 914 went into shock as they are always in front of the MB's. Never behind. Console it and promise to never humiliate a Porsche again. That Suby curse that Elyut mentioned is as real as the Unicorn.
What kind of pick up are you using as a trigger? Magnetic or other?
I had that problem on a twin plug setup on my 3.2 ss that had 1 6al.. It overheated and would shut down.. Went to 2 6als and never had a problem again.. I wonder if you may have an impedance issue? Or something is not matched up properly?? Or just your ignition switch is toast.
Have you gone through the basics? Fuel, spark, compression? Are you certain that you lost spark? Did you pull a plug, lay it on the engine and crank to observe if you have a spark? Is there a possibility that you are not getting fuel? (I'm assuming you have compression. It's readily apparent when that unexpectedly goes away)
You might try disconnecting the tachometer. I chased a problem like this once. Turned out the tachometer had shorted out, causing the ignition to miss-fire or not at all. This was on a 1980's chevy with a factory tachometer. So your mileage may vary....
I feel for ya, Forrest. 'Eileen' (Westfalia) is in the shop too, looks like she may have sucked a valve last night - engine only rotates 180°
Hopefully there isn't any serious piston damage, but if she needs a total rebuild (167k on the ODO), we're going to 2.1L
Hope you find the gremlin soon
Sorry to hear about your streak of bad luck.
My -6 conversion ran for a month last fall with the MSD 6AL unit and then it failed on me. It was running fine in the morning and then I went to run an errand and it wouldn't start. I replaced the MSD 6AL unit with a new MSD 6AL unit since it was dead and it has run fine ever since.
Fortunately I live 20 miles from Summit Racing so I didn't have to wait long to get it running again.
It’s also a double negative to tow a German car with a German car. You are tempting the gods of fate. How often do you see a Japanese courtesy vehicle?
Hook up a AC volt meter or oscilloscope to the distributor pickup wire then crank the engine. For a reluctor type you should be seeing 0.5 ish V AC. ( I think this voltage is correct, it's been a while since I've tested this )
Once you get things going, a 73 to 81 ish GM 4 pin HEI module bolted to a heat sink would be cheap backup.
Good luck on this one; when I previously ran MSD, I had two mounted in the trunk with a switch that could shut one down and turn on the other.
Seems a few folks have had issues with them and many more haven't ,during my research to find an improved system over stock I noted comments on failures ,then I googled ebay and found a fair amount of non operational units for sale....made me think,not dissing people who use them but I made a decision to go another direction based on my research ,purely that.
I don't know what MSD have as a "return" policy,but IMO it would be difficult to get a replacement of an item like this because they don't know how the customer installed it ,theres the issue really hence many companies not offering returns on such items (electrical) ,seems the norm these days .
tow the MB with the 914
I had an MSD die on me while driving one day, like some turned the key off. The newer version has a plug and play harness so swapping is quick. I ordered one in black (looks more stock) and now I carry a spare. That was also the first (and only) day I used my flat tow bar.
Was the 914 in neutral while being towed by the MZB? Have you pulled any plugs?
Thanks for the advice guys / MSD has agreed to take the unit back and exchange it if it is the problem as it is less than a year old and I am the original owner........ I need this fixed to get back to my addiction to the sound of a 6 (not Suby ) winding up to 7K.......
Sidebar: Kent: Please see reference Temeculites in the post on where the Rt66 should be held next.........
update: At 4pm MST today, MSD acknowledged that they received my 6AL on Tuesday. It is now in the cue for "testing".
Contrary to my earlier conversations with Tech/MSD that they would send out a box when mine got to El Paso, I am now waiting for testing.
What with Larmo's success with Clewett, I am wondering what a nice recurved 911 distributor, cap, rotor, coil, new stock wires, and a spanking new MSD AL6 Digital as a bundle would be worth to someone who............
a.) hasn't read this debacle of a thread,
b.) is not a member of 914 World, and
c.) has money to defray the relatively high cost of a hassle free Clewett system.
Hmmmm maybe Pelican 911 Parts FS, eBay, Craigs,..........
This spell of three+ weeks is the longest straight period of time w/o a functioning porsche in the stable since the seventies...........
I need to borrow Larmo's helmet to bang my head against the Arizona pavement!
They are f ing with you Forrest that's why I mentioned their return policy,they would know straight off if the unit is faulty,not 3 weeks later,shame it has taken that long.
Lawrences setup is right up there cost wise but Richard @ Clewett makes great products that work hence my choose of his plug leads.
Carbs are really a bit of a hassle but IMO matched with a correct modern ignition really are not that bad.
Get on the phone to the buggers and TUNE them up.
Thanks to all for the support and information along the way to a solution. As w/ PorscheTub and others, the MSD box simply croaked. Not while driving but maybe when first starting to turn over the motor on the side of the freeway some weeks back when the ML Benz toasted its engine and totaled it life.
In any case, Joe at MSD apologized for a miscomm in the RMA department. (in the return) and he rushed overnight out a new AL6 Digital version new in box with all of the associated parts, new harness, etc.
It was plug and play / but........... I fubared the reinsertion of the dizzy by one gear tooth so performance, although running, was horrible / then off to determine the correct gear alignment on the dizzy R&I and VAROOM! The little beast is back to full power at all ranges of RPM.
Now that I am up and running in Scottsdale for the winter, I will have to learn the nz and outz of weekend drives and meets / or organize one or two.
Cheers and thanks again for the support.
Great news!! Missed you this weekend at the so cal events.
Run Forrest, run ...
I was driving along headed to Lo Lo's Chicken and Waffles for a breakfast treat and LoLO and behold, the car died on me again - at about 50 mph / so there I was in the center lane without power steering, power brakes and without power...... Of course, I only had one of those three things to begin with.
I immediately feared another dead MSD box as it stopped firing instantly and yet when i rolled to a halt, the fuel pump was still working. Uhoh.....
So I did what every 914 owner has done more than a few times,.... I opened the hatch to view my dead engine and noticed the smell of electrical olfactory singisities imininating from the area of the coil. Indeed, the MSD "Power Tower" thingy that mates an MSD Coil wire to the MSD Blaster coil was laying on top of the coil but not connected and apparently the spark was arching between the top of the coil and coil wire to create that delicious smell. The good news is that it became a roadside fix and then an in-shop real-fix. Wheew!
Eat a few more of those type breakfast and your heart is going to die.
Does MSD stand for Multi Situational Disfunction?
Forrest is not meant to die.
None of us will die. It's only a transition.
Nice seeing you at the G&R Ellyut.
MSD M ine S imply D oesn't...........
MSD M ystery S uprise D aily
MSD M y S avings D wendels
MSD M e S usan D oused
I could go on......... but for ow I am back in tall cotton what with the machine running better than ever on a new MSD box / Which, BTW, confirmed that Perry's wiring harness was good to go all along / and I actually installed it correctly..........
There’s water in the desert?
Glad your car is running again. Hopefully that MSD issue is not the norm...
Ellyut gave me a 914 toy car at the G & R.
I thought that was real gentlemanly of him.
Good to know it wasn't on me, whew!
Please tell me that's your boat! I love it!
BTW, when you sell your place I know a nice spot in TN where you can do pretty much whatever you like
I’m not even into boats, but this one is beautiful. My next thought was “How did he get that photograph? From his wife’s helicopter?”
I’m looking forward to tips on how to repair the 914 power steering and power brakes. I haven’t seen my shop manual since I left it in the back seat.
And Steve: Flat Water in the desert lakes and big water reservoirs... / verses the rollers on the Big Blue Pacific.......... The boat is a 33' Aquariva / Riva / Yanmar turbo Diesel / our Chris Craft 28' Corsair / twin Merc Mag 350 was like a 57 chevy compared to any Riva / handles like a Ferrari but worse yet, ... a boat-Ferrari........ Yikes!
I will stay with the 914 for now.........
And just as an update......... The newly replaced MSD "box" was a plug and play solution to the one that failed.
The 3.0 is running great since MSD promptly sent me a replacement and their Tech help is second to none in my only experience with that company.
Thats why we have a spare for the race car on hand.
Its not called Mein Sparken deid for nothin.
I ran two MSDs; both wired to a switch so that either MSD could be selected. I still have the switch if you want to go this route...It was sold by MSD back in the day.
Hey Jim: Thanks and the fact that MSD would sell a backup plan is an interesting bend on product support.....
After seeing the simplicity of the Clewett system installed by Larmo and Keith, I am hoping my second MSD will fail so I can install that sexy system - what with all of those iginition wires and coils in the trunk and no dizzy to clutter up the fan-side of the engine bay.....
But for now, the digital 6AL is a screaming solution.... and as i am living on a tiny retirement income from the government, I hope not to have to bust a move on a four digit ignition replacement any time soon.
Sidebar: I have a AAA club card glued to the engine compartment now and with my "Premier" membership of 26 years, If the MSD fails a second time, I will have the 914 flatbed towed from the curb in Scottsdale to Blythe at the border / ....then dropped at the Popeye's Fried Chicken joint to await lunch... / then call for a second 250 +/- mile tow back to the coast.....
The Third call: 310-406-8788 .....Clewett
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