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Rill Cosby

Do NOT buy a 123ignition distributor.

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Hey, everyone

I'll try to make this as short as possible, but there is a lot that has gone on in the past couple of days between me and various people of 123ignition so I will try my best. 

I will post copies of a pdf file containing the emails between the various employees of this company. I am pointing out now that I have intermediate experience in mechanics and engine building but there is a lot for me to learn still. This isn't really much of discussion on the fundamentals of timing, installation, etc. This is more so a post regarding quality of a product and quality of customer service. I ultimately don't want people to make the same mistake I made. I understand this can be a difficult situation for both parties and I will get more into that later.

Okay, moving forward. I recently installed a 260z 123ignition programmable bluetooth distributor. With this unit I purchased the coil of their recommendation, along with plugs and spark plug wires. This was to be installed two weeks before my vacation so I could have time to fine tune it and get ready for a big drive ahead. I made a post a week or so ago that I was hearing noises under the hood which was confirmed to be the water pump. I documented healthy compression and no damage to rod bearings at that time. The 123ignition is a pretty straight forward install, though they do not state that you need a timing light for this to be installed properly. You do. I have one and used one but the instructions state you rotate the distributor according to the direction your rotor within the cap rotates and stop once a light illuminates within the distributor. There is a small window you'd get this correct without a timing light. Other customers had this problem.

After installation is complete the car starts up no problem once timing is set. At this point I started having trouble with the app and that it had trouble reading the stock curve information from the app from time to time. This is not much of a problem as information is stored internally within the distributor. I take the car for a drive. Mapped out it was only an 8 minute drive. Within that small time frame, my cruising speed was cut prematurely by the smell of smoke. As I pulled over the engine was struggling to run. The app at this point was telling me there was no vacuum advance. Luckily I wasn't far from home and made it back.

Then my communication with the company begins. I will not post that here as it will be posted in a pdf link for everyone to read below. These emails mostly are asking information about their design of their product so I can get a better understanding of what may have happened. Did it lose vacuum? I just measured healthy compression a week ago, why would shortly after my drive a piston burn up? Issues within the distributor? Maybe this piston was on it's way out already? Both possible and I agreed that there were too many variables to prove. You can see in the emails at one point I tried to diffuse the situation before tensions got high and just stated I would like a refund. The conversation was continued by the director of this company, Ron, and that ultimately I was just trying to scam him. Fast forward and Ron has lost all contact with me. I was to deal with the person I bought it from. Fair enough. I spoke with Ed. Now Ed is a pretty nice guy and even after all this I do believe he is. Ed confirms that there is too many variables and again, I agree, hesitantly. I was told to package it and send it back for a refund in which I, of course, agreed. Upon getting ready for packaging and removing a bracket you must install to mount the distributor I heard something rattling in the inside. I remove the cap to find the coil contact had broken off completely. In that process caused marring inside of the cap meaning it bounced around a bit before falling to the bottom. Whether that can cause problems with misfires? You be the judge of that. It leads me to my point of the multiple times it lost advance in a 20 minute window. Roughly the combined time of adjustments at idle and the first and final test run. How can I be confident that the internals of this distributor can do it's intended purpose whenever the distributor cap can only do it's purpose for 8 minutes? I sent this photo to Ed and Ed did not respond. I called after almost a full business day in which Ed admitted that he did see the photo. Ed reassured me that what happened is normal to happen to a distributor. 

We can also note from the emails that after asking 3 times how these distributors work, my suspicions were confirmed that if this product was to fail electronically that it loses all advance. Not a terribly huge problem but this is where I'm starting to have more faith in old 40+ year distributors over a shiny new one. 

Ending this I feel sorry for Ed. If I were in his shoes I wouldn't know what to do either. You can only do so much in this situation, I guess. I certainly don't know if I would have went with his route in saying "well, I normally charge a restocking fee but I'm waiving that for you." I understand we install aftermarket parts at our own risks. Seeing as I am, I don't know, the 1% I can see how it can be chalked up to user error. After the facts I do disagree and I do think the product is at fault. Do I expect anyone to help replace my engine? No. It'd be nice to cover some cost of it but I'd prefer to replace my engine because of my own stupidity and mistakes. Not someone else's. 

This may rub some people the wrong way. I'm sure some with a good experience with Ed will try to blame me. I don't care honestly. I can't gain anything from this at this point. I just want to share my story and hopefully prevent anyone from doing the same.

If you spent the time to read this, thank you. 

The pdf is only edited to remove all personal information of both parties and to condense. There is a lot of quotes and signatures in the original. It's still a nightmare but only 4 pages and will revise later. Sorry about the watermarks.

123.pdf

Edited by Rill Cosby

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I'm very sorry to hear your experiences with 123. I loved it, then hated it with a passion and recently, very slowly starting to like it again.

 

I had the exact same issue with both the Beru caps that came on it and the silly expensive spare I bought at the same time.

 

Thankfully it failed relatively safely and all I got was back fire and loss of power.

 

377b82656c21f43010e69a57477a4e57.jpg&key=1d5e13ffceccd3834264d0e23f5f39f8bbfd7a365d2abffedf1d98fb89c0d0ff

 

I bought the equivalent Bosch cap - which I wouldn't say is a HUGE step up in quality / finish but hasn't had this issue.

 

To complement your write up and add to the body of evidence, I did a write up of 123 ign - warts 'en all on the link below:

 

https://zclub.net/community/index.php?threads/123-ignition-for-datsun-l6-on-my-l28.25467/

 

IMHO it's a great product that is plagued by quality issues which at this price point should not exist. There are other options out there that aren't as slick but provide data logging too, so worth researching before committing.

 

Here is one such option:

 

https://zclub.net/community/index.php?threads/speeduino-installation.23302/page-3

 

I do hope 123 get their act together and address customer feedback as I really love the concept and find the custom advance curve very useful for my fine tuning antics.

 

I am astounded how small companies take so little care to protect their reputation by providing lousy post sales customer service. Was it responsible for melting your piston? Impossible to know but at the very least acknowledging the issue with the cap would help to improve their product and avoid reviews like yours and mine (which incidentally come up in the top links of google searches).

 

Hope you get the car sorted again!

 

 

 Thank you for sharing your experiences. People generally shy away from writing up negative experiences and the rest of us fall into the same traps without this knowledge.

 

 

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Sorry about it destroying your exhaust and piston!  

 

Could be fake distributor caps that got into the supply chain as you both had the same failure of a robust part that is ubiquitous and easily well made.

 

Thanks for the warning... if the electronics go, I imagine something similar will happen.  I would worry cheap/fake Chinese electronic components exposed to all the heat will fail fast just like in Korean cars with Chinese electrics.

Edited by 240260280
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Sorry to hear of this unfortunate situation and the engine damage. While you'll never know if the cap failure or timing contributed to the engine failure, it will always leave the lingering doubt about the product, even without the customer 'service' contribution.

I too had the center electrode fail in my 123 dizzy cap that left me stranded in a far away place. I wasn't smart enough to carry a spare, as I thought the new one would last longer than 2000 km. Silly me. I carry a lot of spares, before and after that event, but rarely have had to use any of them, but experiences like this make the practice necessary. 

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11 hours ago, Rill Cosby said:

After installation is complete the car starts up no problem once timing is set.

I take the car for a drive. Mapped out it was only an 8 minute drive. Within that small time frame, my cruising speed was cut prematurely by the smell of smoke. As I pulled over the engine was struggling to run.

"well, I normally charge a restocking fee but I'm waiving that for you."

After the facts I do disagree and I do think the product is at fault. Do I expect anyone to help replace my engine? No. It'd be nice to cover some cost of it but I'd prefer to replace my engine because of my own stupidity and mistakes. Not someone else's. 

Seems like you had a confusing problem, blamed the wrong thing for the cause, tried to force 123 to accept blame for something that any reasonably knowledgeable mechanic would not accept as the cause, then they eventually tried to help you out by refunding your money with no restocking charge.

At the worst, they sold another broken distributor cap.  That's the only real fault here, that I see.

 

You spent more time complaining about 123 than analyzing the problem.  You even said that you can't be sure it was the fault of 123's product.  Stuff happens, especially with these old cars.

" Did it lose vacuum? I just measured healthy compression a week ago, why would shortly after my drive a piston burn up? Issues within the distributor? Maybe this piston was on it's way out already? Both possible and I agreed that there were too many variables to prove."

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Isn't it more likely that the engine started running poorly because of the broken cap, the driver got angry and started "beating" on the car to take out some frustration, and the over-revving holed a piston or broke some piston rings?  That's the sub-text, I think.  The broken cap caused the frustration which caused the engine abuse which caused the engine damage.   So there is a path back to 123 but it's a stretch.

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Is there difinitive engine damage? I didnt pick that up in the original post. These engines are pretty robust

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That's the rest of the story.  Apparently, he smelled smoke, then, later, he measured cylinder pressure and one was low.  But he didn't spend much time talking about what the actual damage found was.

" I just measured healthy compression a week ago, why would shortly after my drive a piston burn up? Issues within the distributor? Maybe this piston was on it's way out already?"

It's a bummer but it might be that the cause is completely unrelated and he's jumped the gun.  Too soon to assign blame.

Edited by Zed Head

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Zed Head, are you in cahoots with Ed or do you just enjoy playing devil's advocate? I'll get to everyone else's post but for now I am entertained. 

1 hour ago, Zed Head said:

Isn't it more likely that the engine started running poorly because of the broken cap, the driver got angry and started "beating" on the car to take out some frustration, and the over-revving holed a piston or broke some piston rings?  That's the sub-text, I think.  The broken cap caused the frustration which caused the engine abuse which caused the engine damage.   So there is a path back to 123 but it's a stretch.

That seems more likely? With the proof I provided and with all the information other users have posted? Also mine had an issue that people are overlooking as well and that was the distributor's ability to hold a curve. The only thing I can't prove is all the inconsistent information that was being showed by the app of the product. I didn't know the cap was broken until I removed it from the vehicle.

"Ah, the smell of an engine burning. I know what I must do. Floor it." You got me, mate.

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I'm just showing how rants almost never turn out well.  Losing advance would cause the engine to run hotter and probably smell gassy.  Did you smell fuel and did the engine get hot?

You didn't provide any proof that the lack of timing advance caused the problem, whatever the problem actually  is.  You didn't actually tell us what the problem was, just made indirect inferences about a damaged piston.  That's the problem with rants.  So many words in the head that the important ones get left out.

If you start over with just the details of the engine problems we might have a solution out here.  Your issues with 123 aren't going to stop anyone from buying a 123 ignition system though.  Seriously, they have too many success stories.

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I've seen my fair share of rants. I think I'm simply just putting my experience out there, there is no yelling or anger. I put a copy up of our emails. My first paragraph outlines that this is regarding the quality of a product and customer service. And I 100% disagree with your ending statement. I think this will influence someone, even if it is only one person. I'm okay if I just saved one person from headaches or at that very minimum save them from being stuck on this side of a road because of a distributor cap failing on a $600 dollar unit.

3 hours ago, Zed Head said:

You didn't provide any proof that the lack of timing advance caused the problem, whatever the problem actually  is.  You didn't actually tell us what the problem was, just made indirect inferences about a damaged piston.  That's the problem with rants.  So many words in the head that the important ones get left out.

 

3 hours ago, Rill Cosby said:

The only thing I can't prove is all the inconsistent information that was being showed by the app of the product.

 

What I'm highlighting above is not the first example of this, in only the short time we have been talking. As much as I am ranting, you are reading. We're not going to do this, at least I'm not. I've seen your work here and you're better than this. I've laid out my side rationally and you're attempting to use that as points in your own argument . I state things like " Did it lose vacuum? I just measured healthy compression a week ago, why would shortly after my drive a piston burn up? Issues within the distributor? Maybe this piston was on it's way out already? Both possible and I agreed that there were too many variables to prove." Which is ultimately why I agreed, with Ed, that we were to go our separate ways. But you're yet to see both sides of things. Even though their app is showing me that their product is not functioning, I have no way to prove that. I provided proof of what I could. Which is compression numbers (in emails, I'll edit my post), proof of what their product does in case of a malfunction, faulty designs, and customer interactions. As far as the problem goes, yes, it's low compression in a cylinder. I will dive into that internally once I get a chance to but it's a very short list on what causes low compression in a cylinder. 

The only thing helpful so far is you asking questions about what were conditions like before the smoke so I'm inclined to answer those. I had the windows down to help listen. I do not recall the smell of gas and my temps were okay on the vehicles gauge and the app. 

Edited by Rill Cosby

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2 hours ago, Patcon said:

Is there difinitive engine damage? I didnt pick that up in the original post. These engines are pretty robust

Sorry it was not talked about in more detail in the post as this was not the point of the post, but that information was provided in the email. I will make edits. 

I can attest to the strength of these engines as I've been daily driving mine for roughly 7 years. Hell and back, not just city cruising. I did do some refresh work on it at some point but never a problem with the cylinders really.

All I have is the variation of compression numbers before and after install. Low compression in a cylinder which I stated to Zed Head that I think that only leaves a few options.

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Your case would be helped immensely if you could rationally explain how timing problems cause damage that would cause low compression.  That lack of reason is why the 123 guys weren't helpful.  There's no cause-effect.  It might be coincidence.

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If you find something like a bent valve or loose rocker arm that is causing the low compression,  it's going to be awkward...

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12 hours ago, AK260 said:

 

Thank you for sharing your story and for reading. That's funny you share your post because I do recall now reading yours! I could have sworn it was longer than a month ago. Man, time flies.

Also thank you for your well wishes. I plan to get her up and running pretty soon. It's a shame I'll miss vacation but eh. 

I'll keep my fingers crossed for your unit over there, my friend.

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10 minutes ago, Zed Head said:

Your case would be helped immensely if you could rationally explain how timing problems cause damage that would cause low compression.  That lack of reason is why the 123 guys weren't helpful.  There's no cause-effect.  It might be coincidence.

Again, which I clarified already. 

Will it be awkward? No, not really. I'll share it here and it will be a learning experience for everyone. Mostly me.  I have nothing to prove, my man. I'll be the first one to say I'm wrong (also stated in emails)

That doesn't disregard how customers are treated when there is an issue with their product.

Edited by Rill Cosby

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I can at least say it's not a loose rocker arm. In that case, I have a perfectly good engine block with a bent valve for sale. Real cheap.

Edited by Rill Cosby

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5 hours ago, zKars said:

Sorry to hear of this unfortunate situation and the engine damage. While you'll never know if the cap failure or timing contributed to the engine failure, it will always leave the lingering doubt about the product, even without the customer 'service' contribution.

I too had the center electrode fail in my 123 dizzy cap that left me stranded in a far away place. I wasn't smart enough to carry a spare, as I thought the new one would last longer than 2000 km. Silly me. I carry a lot of spares, before and after that event, but rarely have had to use any of them, but experiences like this make the practice necessary. 

Thank you for reading. I remember coming across your post way back whenever I was doing research on these units. I remember when reading yours I convinced myself that you must have got the only fluke! haha.

I've also come around to carrying various spare parts that can fit in the storage bin by the spare tire. Belts, a fuel pump, filters, a spare cap for your spare cap. Can't be too prepared.

Edited by Rill Cosby

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43 minutes ago, Rill Cosby said:

Again, which I clarified already.

You haven't clarified anything for people that understand how engines work.  No offense intended, that's just how it is.

Loss of timing advance as indicated by the "app", smoke smell, poor running, low compression on one cylinder.  Just a list of things that happened that might or might not be connected.

Sorry.  Your frustrated, but you're not making things more clear with your posts.  Go get some real information.  Confirm valve lash, check spark plugs for signs of detonation,  add oil to the cylinders for the compression check to see if it's rings, do a leak down test.  Do more.

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29 minutes ago, Zed Head said:

You haven't clarified anything for people that understand how engines work.  No offense intended, that's just how it is.

Loss of timing advance as indicated by the "app", smoke smell, poor running, low compression on one cylinder.  Just a list of things that happened that might or might not be connected.

Sorry.  Your frustrated, but you're not making things more clear with your posts.  Go get some real information.  Confirm valve lash, check spark plugs for signs of detonation,  add oil to the cylinders for the compression check to see if it's rings, do a leak down test.  Do more.

I'm sorry, I should have been more specific with that. I meant to say I clarified that this could be a big, huge coincidence. 

You're missing the point of this post. This isn't in the "Help Me" section. Nowhere here did I ask for help on diagnosing a failure. Most of those things have been checked. Again, not what this post is about. What happens if it is shot rings, or if it's this, or if it's that? It will still be my fault by your theory. This is what confuses me.

I've voiced my concerns with Ed in what could have caused this scenario to happen. His response was "very unlikely." I stated "but possible?" He stated "yeah..but unlikely" We discussed timing and how this distributor is supposed to work.

I don't know why I have to explain that varying degrees of timing in each direction can be detrimental to an engine. Pair that up with a distributor that clearly is not functioning correctly as proven by it's own app, who knows what that distributor is doing internally. I have no idea what it's set to, nor do you, nor does 123ignition. Sometimes your senses can't save you before an engine failure. And trust me, I was looking for signs. 

I don't know what you're trying to achieve here. I have way more to lean on here than you do, albeit not much. Maybe you're trying to see it from both sides, but you are reaching, far. Your first thought was to think I got frustrated because something, that I didn't even know was broke yet at the time, happened that I couldn't understand so I started gunning my engine. Come on. There is no way you're not the director of 123ignition himself. 

Edited by Rill Cosby

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I'm also still confused by your theory. If I could "beat" up my car before the install, why can't I " beat" up my car with a new distributor that is set to the same specifications of my old, functional distributor? I could "beat" it up 30 minutes before. Why couldn't I after the install?

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You're "bad-mouthing" a good company, based on a lack of knowledge.  I do know how engines work, and I know how to determine the cause of a failure.  You have jumped to a poor conclusion and are sticking to it, no matter how much rational advice you're given.  You're spending more time defending a bad position than actually trying to find the truth.  That's why I'm here, to find out what really happened.

I did not read your email exchange with 123.  But if you communicated with them like you're doing here I can see why they gave you problems, and why they refunded your money.  You just wore them out.

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4 minutes ago, Rill Cosby said:

I'm also still confused by your theory. If I could "beat" up my car before the install, why can't I " beat" up my car with a new distributor that is set to the same specifications of my old, functional distributor? I could "beat" it up 30 minutes before. Why couldn't I after the install?

It's called a coincidence.  Two unrelated things that happened at the same time.  Your engine was about to die anyway, it just happened to happen right after you installed the 123.

image.png

Edited by Zed Head

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1 minute ago, Zed Head said:

You're "bad-mouthing" a good company, based on a lack of knowledge.  I do know how engines work, and I know how to determine the cause of a failure.  You have jumped to a poor conclusion and are sticking to it, no matter how much rational advice you're given.  You're spending more time defending a bad position than actually trying to find the truth.  That's why I'm here, to find out what really happened.

I did not read your email exchange with 123.  But if you communicated with them like you're doing here I can see why they gave you problems, and why they refunded your money.  You just wore them out.

Then why are you even here?

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