LT1 Based Engine Tech 1993-1997 LT1/LT4 Engine Related

Water pump failed. How long before Opti does too?

Old 01-14-2019, 11:21 AM
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Re: Water pump failed. How long before Opti does too?

There is no 100% certainty that an Opti that got wet is going to fail. I know we all feel that way, and I always advise people not to get the Opti wet, to protect it from water pump drips, to avoid under car sprays at car washes, etc. But over the 20+ years I've been active in helping with the LT1, many times when I gave that advice, someone would post and say its wrong, and that they "power wash my LT1 engine at least once a month, and never had a problem".

Yep... that's the extreme, but it illustrates, getting the Opti wet is not a given that it will fail. It just like a crap shoot... sometimes it fails and sometimes it doesn't.

With regard to the aftermarket Opti's, a failure right out of the box is most likely a faulty optical module, not a problem with "sealing". Most likely due to poor quality circuit board and soldering by the Chinese manufacturer. (GaryDoug has even repaired one ). While some Opti's may be advertised as "assembled in the USA", it's still likely they are assembling cheap Chinese parts. Or even a faulty cap that is allowing high voltage RFI to screw up the optical module output (first hand documented case with an MSD unit - they changed the design based on the data I provided from data logs of two vehicles with the same problem). I will never understand how MSD can provide the gold standard, dual magneto ignition systems for 12,000 HP top fuel dragsters, but can't solve the problems with the elusive Optispark distributor.

I found at least one reference that said the Spectra was made in Taiwan, but these reviews have been around for 10 years or more. Is appears to be sold by Rich Porter. Online reviews (Amazon, popular parts dealers, etc.) are not good. But one can always make the case that the people who post reviews are more likely to be people who have had problems, skewing the results.

Important lesson - There are no 100% sure bets, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.. And it seems to be difficult to sway the odds in our favor.
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Old 01-14-2019, 09:57 PM
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Re: Water pump failed. How long before Opti does too?

Thx for the Spectra observation. That Rich Porter name sounds familiar. It's just that I'm looking at Opti's from the outside and really need to spend some time on the inside of one. That and collect some signal shots/data with my o-scope.

Yea MSD could'a had the market as they advertised a new type sensor good for 10,000rpm and a timing adjuster but maybe they became skimpy with testing and development. Again I'm looking in from the outside here. MSD did file for bankruptcy I recall. There is a corvette owner that tracked and posted his mileage before MSD failure when he finally lost his resolution signal at 30k mi - over a 3 year period. But that was due to leakage he found out as the owner had some power steering leaks in the area. Man when I read the MSD literature I want to buy one bad. But for nearly $600 makes me take my time before spending.

I really like what the Opti Doctor has to say about opti failure when he visits the LT1 forums. Not only leaks from water through the cap but the rear bearing seals let the bad liquids in. He likes the MSD caps and swears by the original Mitsubishi sensors. He wouldn't comment on my positive pressure ideas though.
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Old 01-15-2019, 08:51 AM
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Re: Water pump failed. How long before Opti does too?

Cardo

Today if I needed a Opti I would buy a reman AC Delco....if I could find one. It may be the best of the worse which unfortunately is as good as it gets now.

Injuneer has spent a great deal of time with MSD but unfortunately it has just gotten worse with their units

There are still 100's of thousands of used original AC Delco optis in junkyards. My $.02 is the odds are better finding a good one in 1 out of 3 salvage pulls. Clean up insides and put on MSD C&R or send it off to the ebay guy that does the rebuilds. At least you would be getting the Mitsubishi sensor

I am running my "spare" Delphi I picked up several years ago back when thepartslady.com was selling them on ebay. My AC Delco works and has a MSD C&R but the bearing will slowly weep oil into it. I have cleaned it a few times and it works fine but is now my "spare". I may send it to the ebay guy for a bearing replace
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Old 02-10-2019, 09:41 AM
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Talking Re: Water pump failed. How long before Opti does too?

Originally Posted by cardo0 View Post
.... I tried a Cardone rebuild once and it lasted maybe a year (too bad I traded in my original for the core charge). But you can find a Cardone video that claims they have sealed up their reman Opti's as it was a major cause in failure..... I read on the forums that the current AC Delco Opti's didn't have the Mitsubishi sensor at the time I bought my latest but w/o checking my maintenance records I'll say I have at least 50K mi on this one.
Just an update here. I got a new Cardone opti from Summint racing for a little over a hundred bucks. I really only had the on-line pictures for comparison but the housing of the Cardone looked the most like the AC Delco from what I can see. So it's still in the box and I want to get my supplies ready to do an inspection and reseal when I'm ready. Anyone see the price of a tiny tube of LockTite at AZ lately? 8 bucks! Ooch! Finally bought some at Walmart and saved enough money to buy a gallon of gas. But as for the
Teflon ring seal I'm not sure what to use. I want just a sealer that will stay on plastic, Teflon and aluminum not an glue/adhesive so I can disassemble the opti again later. Using my best guesser again it looks like good old blue RTV. Maybe something for all those new composite manifolds the newer car use now would be better but I don't see anything specific for that on the auto parts store shelves.

I also looked up my latest opti replacement in my maintenance records and it has 70,000 miles on the current opti. I recall buying that one from Summit Racing when they were only $200 something. Guess I should have stocked up but who would expect AC Delco to drop the production? And that leads me to believe someone/some company would have bought up the tooling for the AC Delco opti rather than try and copy it.

I'm still seeing plenty of opti threads so I don't see how this could hurt to post.
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Old 02-10-2019, 10:02 AM
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Re: Water pump failed. How long before Opti does too?

Originally Posted by cardo0 View Post
But as for the
Teflon ring seal I'm not sure what to use. I want just a sealer that will stay on plastic, Teflon and aluminum not an glue/adhesive so I can disassemble the opti again later. Using my best guesser again it looks like good old blue RTV. Maybe something for all those new composite manifolds the newer car use now would be better but I don't see anything specific for that on the auto parts store shelves.

.
use blue loc-tite on rotor screws and a skim coat of dialectic grease on the large "O" rings to seal the cap/base
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Old 02-10-2019, 10:48 AM
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Re: Water pump failed. How long before Opti does too?

Looks like in the spring it won’t be a bad idea to pick up a couple Opti at the U Pull. Maybe have one rebuilt and just keep it on the shelf.

i just had a new old stock one put on my Buick RoadMaster wagon. It wasn’t exactly cheap. The guy also sealed it up as he was aware of the water issues. Also had a new water pump installed. I’ll have to ask him what spline I have too.
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Old 02-11-2019, 10:25 AM
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Re: Water pump failed. How long before Opti does too?

Originally Posted by cardo0 View Post

I really like what the Opti Doctor has to say about opti failure when he visits the LT1 forums. Not only leaks from water through the cap but the rear bearing seals let the bad liquids in. He likes the MSD caps and swears by the original Mitsubishi sensors. He wouldn't comment on my positive pressure ideas though.
Hi card0, Have you made any progress on positive pressure feed to the opti? The failures I have had with my previous optis looked to have been caused by contamination brought through the bearing around the distributor drive. I looked at it and wondered how that stuff got into the case and it dawned on me that the case is under vacuum and of course crud would be drawn into it through the (in my case poorly sealed) bearing. Since then I have though that a small air pump causing a slightly positive pressure inside the distributor case would be a good idea.
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Old 02-11-2019, 10:23 PM
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Re: Water pump failed. How long before Opti does too?

I bought a tiny 12V aquarium pump and a flow meter but haven't had time to tinker with them yet. And now I'm considering adding a desiccant chamber for high humidity but I need to research this more.

Really just hoping to get a ready spare opti sealed up and tested right now. Life is full of left turns so I just try to keep it fun and don't work on my hobby stuff under pressure or time schedules. My Z28 is just a hobby but ya know I got 270,000 miles out of it while bought it for $4,500 long ago. But I can take it to the drag strip anytime I want to and have a lot more fun than having to race a compact or work truck. And I can get it fixed at nearly any shop in town if I need to.
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Old 02-27-2019, 11:17 AM
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Re: Water pump failed. How long before Opti does too?

Service Engine Soon light coming on. 2 days in a row now. Can' use the car until I pull the codes.
Engine does a fart - not like a backfire - and drops out'a cruise but engine doesn't stop. My guess the opti is degrading.
​​​​​​
Glad I bought that spare opti now.
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Old 02-28-2019, 09:37 PM
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Re: Water pump failed. How long before Opti does too?

I hope it is something easier than an opti change; good luck!
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Old 02-28-2019, 11:00 PM
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Re: Water pump failed. How long before Opti does too?

So if you change the vacuum from the Opti to positive pressure what happens to the vacuum line? Isn’t this sort of a calibrated leak to the intake?
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Old 03-01-2019, 07:46 PM
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Re: Water pump failed. How long before Opti does too?

Good question but it does have a simple answer - just keep the original vented tubing with the opti bypassed. When the engine is running closed loop and using the MAF sensor i don't think there would be any difference. But in open loop there might be a enough change to make a difference in how the engine runs.

Myself I plan on doing my own tuning with my TunerCat software so I would remove the tubing and plug the holes.

Does this make sense?
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Old 03-02-2019, 07:01 AM
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Re: Water pump failed. How long before Opti does too?

I have a question for you guys, why does EVERYONE say "STAY AWAY FROM THE MSD OPTI", I got a 95-97 MSD Opti, MSD coil/new ICM, 58mm BBK tb and 36# injectors all for $150.00 from a running car that had no issues?

So what are the things that make everyone say stay away?
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Old 03-02-2019, 10:12 AM
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Re: Water pump failed. How long before Opti does too?

First you need to understand - not all MSD Opti's fail. Not all $75 Chinese rip-offs fail. Not all Dynaspark Opti's fail. Not all AC Delco Opti's work perfectly. The issue is the rate of failure. In general, the less an Opti costs, the higher the rate of failure.

The MSD is an exception.... it's one of the most expensive Opti's on the market. But over the two decades it’s existed, it has a very checkered record of reliability. The first models had gasket problems. They corrected that, and another problem cropped up, and another, and another. At the beginning of 2016 I started to see a pattern of vehicles with major idling problems cropping up. Turned out they all were running MSD Opti's, and it seemed that they all were purchased over a preceding two year period. In one case the owner had returned the MSD Opti to MSD because of the erratic idle (the problem also caused upsets during operation under load on the highway). MSD “rebuilt” his Opti and returned it to him. The problems were still there. The erratic idle problem was being reported on multiple forums dealing with the LT1 engine. It was widespread.

I obtained data logs from three of the people, who were experiencing radical swings in idle RPM, suddenly increasing to ~2,500 RPM, and jumping all over the place. The data logs at idle typically showed a repeated pattern of a single frame of data with an irrational RPM reading, as high as 7,000 RPM. The PCM was reacting to the high RPM reading by doing what it is supposed to do - opening up the IAC valve to prevent engine stalling if the throttle blades were to suddenly close. Problem is the data logs clearly showed the throttle blades were closed, and not moving.

It happened that an MSD tech service person who is active on ltxtech.com posted indicating MSD was going to be offering to sell some cosmetically damaged MSD caps, and asking for thoughts on a reasonable selling price. I used the opportunity to bring the erratic idle RPM issue to MSD’s attention. The tech guy took my info, including at least two Excel spreadsheets of the data logs, with the problem data, and PCM responses color coded to show the dependency. MSD initially responded by trying to blame the problem on the IAC valves. When I explained that was the PCM's normal reaction to high RPM signals, the seemed to understand. I tried to get the MSD tech guy to put me directly in touch with the MSD engineers, but they wouldn’t talk to me.

Eventually MSD seemed to indicate they agreed with my analysis. The feedback seemed to indicate a problem with the dielectric properties of the cap was causing high voltage RFI issues with the optical module, and they had revised the design of the cap and the optical module.

MSD told me to tell the member here at CamaroZ28.com to return his MSD and they would rebuild it. In the meantime, he had installed a Chinese cheapie, and it was working fine. So when MSD returned the rebuilt unit, he didn’t install it. Eventually he decided to install it, and THE ENGINE WOULDN'T EVEN START. Eventually I found out he had once again returned the unit to MSD and they rebuilt it again. Third time was a charm. To me, this experience indicated to me that even after 20 years MSD still is not capable of building a reliable Opti. OK, yours works fine, but I, personally would never consider purchasing one.

The ltxtech.com MSD thread is here, my input starts at post #11.

MSD Cap and Rotor - Page 2

There is a thread here on this site documenting the first-hand experience of the member who only got a working Opti from MSD after three tries. If you are really interested, take the time search for it.



Last edited by Injuneer; 03-02-2019 at 11:13 AM.
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Old 03-02-2019, 11:35 AM
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Re: Water pump failed. How long before Opti does too?

Originally Posted by 87Aerocoupe View Post
I have a question for you guys, why does EVERYONE say "STAY AWAY FROM THE MSD OPTI", I got a 95-97 MSD Opti, MSD coil/new ICM, 58mm BBK tb and 36# injectors all for $150.00 from a running car that had no issues?

So what are the things that make everyone say stay away?
I have no experience with the MSD opti's. I like what MSD advertises but their reviews don't justify buying one for their price. If you want more information you should start your own thread and share your experiences.
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