View Full Version : TR4/4A Tubular Headers/Pertronix for TR4

12-20-2009, 12:01 PM
I've heard that steel tubular headers might be a bit too hot, and that the Pertronix can be more trouble than points.

I'd be interested to hear how people have fared with both, or either.

For example, if points work, is there really a payoff with Pertronix, and would you rely on it on a long trip?

12-20-2009, 12:08 PM
If the headers are too hot have them ceramic coated inside and out. As for the petronics I feel that they are so trouble free that it is pretty much set and forget.

12-20-2009, 12:35 PM
I ran tubular headers on a previous TR3A for many years, never had any problems with "too hot".

But of course, just like the original cast iron, they ARE going to get pretty close to the exhaust gas temperature ... if they get "too hot" then maybe your EGT is out of line. Had that problem on Dad's TR3A; turned out the carb jets were worn causing the mixture to go lean at cruise. The overly lean mixture was causing the cast iron manifold to run red hot (as well as the coolant overheating). That engine eventually swallowed a valve, because the lean mixture also eroded an exhaust valve stem.

No experience with the Pertronix yet, mine just arrived a few days ago. But I am still going to carry a spare set of points, condensor & rotor on long trips!

(Actually, I carry a complete distributor including cap & wires, in the middle of the spare tire.)

12-20-2009, 12:39 PM
My TR4A has both (header and Pertronix). No problems with either and they've both been on the vehicle for quite a few years. As far a performance enhancement, the Pertonix made the more noticeable difference. It may be my hearing, but I think the tubular headers made underhood noise louder (and it's a tone I don't particularly care for).

12-20-2009, 01:34 PM
I've had the Pertronix for about 3 years with zero issues. Even if this one gives trouble in the future, I will go back to it as I believe I have a better spark and startup with the unit.

12-20-2009, 02:56 PM
+ 3 or 4 of whatever the count is in favor of Pertronix. Just make sure to get the right coil for it.

12-20-2009, 03:02 PM
Steel tubular headers will raise the temps under the hood, more surface area to radiate heat etc... They shouldn't have any effect on how hot the engine runs. They do also increase the sound level under the hood. Again, more surface area and thinner material than the cast iron exhaust manifold. Various coatings can reduce the radiated heat and the sound somewhat.

I've had a Pertronix installed in my TR6 for nearly a decade. Several thousand miles and several long trips with no issues from the unit. I do carry a spare points set up just in case but have not needed it at all. I've used the same Pertronix with a stock type coil, a Lucas Sports Coil, and a Jacobs Electronics multi-spark system. The Pertronix has performed flawlessly throught out. Others have not had my experience though.

12-20-2009, 07:54 PM
Hi Mark, I ran headers with 40 DCOE webers for a couple of years on my Black TR-3, removed headers and Webers because I kept blowing out header gaskets between the header and cylinder head. I went back to a stock exhaust and SUs. When I installed the Headers I also had to go to a gear reduction starter as my stock starter could not be removed unless you removed the exhaust and carbs first. A REAL PAIN.
Good Luck, Bill C. Mesa, Az.

12-20-2009, 09:46 PM
I put a set of Petronics in my TR4 that I had on the shelf sitting for 5 years I purchased it for another car,but never installed them. Car ran for 15 mins,got so hot it melted the rotor and fried the petronics. They told me I installed a negative ground unit in a positive ground car. I checked the part numbers and it was a case of right box ,wrong part. Oh well,back to points. Just like tuning a big lawn mower. Never got stuck with points.

12-21-2009, 08:20 AM
No experience with tube headers. But, I do have a Petronix running on my car. Had it about 3 years now and the car definitely starts easier/faster and idle is much smoother. Note, I installed it at the recommendation of a mechanic who noted my distributor shaft was a bit worn and slightly loose. He said this would not fix the problem but considerably reduce the issues. I would agree I noted a difference.

I also installed the Pertronix Flamethrower coil at the same time (40K volts). It was the 1.5 ohm model which I have only come to learn last week is not the ideal. Pertronix tech-line advised last week I should be using the 3.0 ohm model or I could burn out the module in the ignition (or reduce its life). So, 3.0 ohm already ordered and ready to be installed.

Lastly, I asked the tech-line about the increasing spark plug gap to take advantage of the stronger coil. Stock gap on the TR4A is 0.025". Pertronix said you don't have to increase the gap but, if I do, do not exceed a gap of 0.032".

The car is tucked away for winter now but, after I install that 3.0 ohm coil I may experiment with a 0.030" plug gap.


12-22-2009, 07:30 PM
Such confusion about which coil to use. Really it's simple.
One of these 2 conditions will exist.
Triumph had a ballast resistor wire to the coil and if you have this wire you must use a 1.5 ohm coil.
Triumph also had a full time 12 volt feed to the coil; if you have that you need the 3.0 ohm coil. Note that some ignitions that were originally ballasted have been converted to these non-ballasted systems by PO's
The Pertronix Ignitor cares not which coil you use as long as it gets fed a minimum of 8 volts and a maximun of 16 volts.
From the Pertronix box:

12-23-2009, 08:13 AM
Since I'm doing a stock restoration I would not be putting in tubular headers, However, at one point I had a Fiat 124 sport coupe with headers and I had a pretty hot Ford F150 and had headers on it. The reason I went for the headers was to give the exhaust system more free flow and reduce the back pressure. Did a great job with that. I found, that since the Fiat was a daily driver I went through the headers quite fast. On the F150 I had them ceramic coated and that reduced the problem. It was not a daily driver either. The ford also had an electronic ignition system, though not Petronix. As I recall the ignition system gave a stable level of performance through all RPM ranges.

My thoughts FWIW, Tinkerman

12-23-2009, 12:58 PM
I guess I'll add my two cents. I have the Petronix system on my TR4A and have had no issues with it. Set and forget. I have tubular headers on my GT6, but have decided they are just too loud for my liking. I guess I've aged to the point where comfort has trumped sounding cool...