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Discussion Starter #1
As a first time poster here like many others, it is because I need help. A few searches were run on this board regarding a problem I have been dealing with to no avail. The searches were run on the words “ignition control”, “ignition control module”, and in case of abnormal spelling “ignition control modual”. Some discussion was found but the language used was foreign to me. A PIP or a TFI module are terms although very basic to you, are ones I do not understand.

The automobile is a 1987 Mustang GT Convertible with about 105000 miles. I am the original owner. The reason for the low miles is because I used to have a company car, and took vacations with friends that drove. Currently I am putting about 8000 miles a year on the car. About two years ago the top was replaced, otherwise besides the radio it is in very good stock condition. On to the problem.

Living in the inland area of Southern CA the summers are quite hot. The problem I seem to have had is with the ignition control module. The first one lasted about 68000 miles and at the time it was replaced the mechanic told me he was surprised that one lasted as long as it did. Since then I have replaced at least four more of them, the distributer with a rebuilt one that failed and then was replaced with a new one. Driving up to the mountains this weekend, my car died and left me on the side of the road for two hours yet again.

It seems to be like a baking recipe, if the car is run when the temperature is over 95 degrees for more than 60 to 90 minutes the ignition system is cooked. The car stops running and after about two hours it runs fine. As a side note, the cooling system on my car works well. The original radiator sprung a leak and was replaced with a three core a few years back.

So the question my sea rch on this board failed to bring up is: is there a design problem with the ignition control module relative to heat, and what is the solution? Given the frequent failures maybe this is just the symptom of another problem. Any ideas here? I am surprised the mechanics that worked on my car did not say anything like, “We see this all the time, you have to abc…”.

Before consulting here I started out on yet another one of my own solutions to this problem. Getting a distributer without the control module seemed to be the way to go so I bought a Mallory 1255104 Max-Fire Distributor. A search on this forum did not yield anything about this distributer, which I thought might give a clue to my problem. As this was bought as an open box item on Amazon for $107 and could easily be sold on Ebay for over $300 I am not worried about it not working out for my car.
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My mechanical abilities are fair. I have replaced water pumps, rear brake drum shoes, and a clutch on a previous car (My current one is too heavy and I am too old to deal with that).

With this being a very long post, you have my thanks for taking the time to read it. Your patience with my ignorance is commendable and any comments you might provide to correct that would be greatly appreciated. Please remember if you provide comments, I am not familiar with common automotive acronyms.

All The Best,

Rich Pasma
 

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I would try arctic silver 5 instead of the stuff they give you. Works on the 150degree heat-sink for my xbox.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thermal Compound on Ignition Control Module

Currently the RichPorter Distributor I have, came with the ignition control module already mounted. On modules I have installed,Dow Corning thermal heat sink compound, an industrial grade product, was used. This has been used on several computers, including one that is overclocked without any problems. With the distributor vertically mounted on top of the engine, my guess is the module probably gets more heat from the distributer rather than the other way around.

I have tried AC-Delco, Cordone, Napa's brand module without any success. Regardless of who makes this component, it is likely to fail sooner or later because it gets too hot. One thing I have tried is taking the boot off the distributor in order to get more air flow around the module. This seems to help, but that is just a guess.

Using a lower temperature thermostat might help, but that is not an option for me as that will put the car out of spec for its smog check. Even though smog checks in CA are only every two years, changing the thermostat on my car is a pain in the butt. Changing a distributor takes only about 15 minutes, so if required, that is not going to be a problem. What is cool about the distributer I have on order is it can be programed with a lap top so if the smog station does not freak out I might be able to pass smog with it anyway. Right now I do not think I am going to try to do that as I do not want to take the chance of having a failed smog check on my car's record.

Thanks for the suggestion, it was appreciated.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
1987 Mustang TFM Ignition Control Module Relocation Kit

The relocation kit confirms the problem is with heat. I will give this kit a try. To play it safe, I will hold on the the distributor mentioned in first post above, until the end of the summer. Thank you for the information, it was exactly what I was looking for.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Installed Ignition Module Relocation Kit - 1987 Mustang GT

I Just finished installing the McCully relocation kit for the ignition control module (also referred to as a thick film ignition module TFI).

The installation had a few snags. The biggest snag was one of the holes in the heat sink supplied was not threaded all the way through. If you should buy one of these kits be sure to check this before mounting the heat sink to the firewall. It is very important that the module be firmly mounted against the heat sink and this is not going to happen if the mounting bolt is stopped by a lack of threads. As I did not have any small taps I just drilled my heat sink out and used a small nut and bolt to secure one side of the module. Obviously, my heat sink was not mounted flush with the firewall. But the way it is mounted looks good.

The existing wiring harness for the end plug of the module was long enough to do an acceptable reroute to the suggested passenger side firewall location. In my opinion the supplied distributor to module side plug harness was about one foot too short. It came out well enough that I am not going to make or a new harness, at this time anyways.

The connection to the distributor, spade connectors on three separate wires, is a little flimsy. After a couple minutes of trial and error the connectors were plugged in without pulling the distributor. I would have preferred a plug holding the connectors together that could be bolted in place.

After the installation the car started right up. Today with the temperature being in the mid-nineties it was a perfect time to test out the new setup. It all worked well with the car fully warmed up for at least 20 minutes. After stopping the car I checked the now empty heat sink on the side of the distributor. It was too hot to touch for more than about one second. Hot enough to cause a burn. Some heat sink that is.

The new heat sink was hot to touch, but not hot enough to burn. So as mentioned earlier a firm bond between the heat sink and module is very important. For now I am very happy with the peace of mind this will give to any future hot weather driving. To be on the safe side I am going to carry a spare TFI. If you are having problems, one of the positive things with this setup is you can quickly plug in a different TFI for testing and doing a complete change would take less than five minutes.

For now I am a happy camper. Should there be problems they will be posted here. So if you are reading this some date far down the road of the posting date, no news is good news.

All the Best,

Rich
 
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