Tech Review: Taking A Quick Look At Crane’s Ignition Boxes

In the world of high performance ignition systems, it can become quite difficult trying to decide which ignition box to go with. There are so many different options and manufacturers, it’s no wonder enthusiasts end up leaving the parts store confused by the vast selection. One company in the business of aftermarket ignition modules is Crane Cams, and they too, have a wide selection of ignition components.

We Review these Crane Ignition Boxes:

  • HI-6RC (PN 6000-6700)
  • HI-6 Gen 2 Mag Trigger (PN 6000-6440)
  • HI-6 DSR CD (PN 6000-6424)
  • HI-6N (PN 6000-6410/6412)
  • HI-6 TRC CD (PN 6000-6466)

We’ve taken it upon ourselves to round up some of the latest ignition boxes Crane currently carries, and we investigated how they’re used and which is best for each application. We contacted Terry Johnson, head of Sales and Marketing at Crane Cams, to find out more about their ignition boxes.

Crane has been producing their ignition systems since 1993, as a way for the enthusiast to take better control of their ignition system.

The Basics

Before we break them down separately for you, we’ve decided to discuss what they each have in common. First, they’re all assembled right here in America, and they feature a billet aluminum outer shell. Their high-quality design keeps any unwanted moisture, dirt, or heat from entering the unit, and possibly damaging the internals.

Plus, they include Crane’s rubber mounting bushings to help quell the harsh bumps and vibrations that a race car or daily driver sees. Vibration and shock can damage the electronics inside the unit, and these rubber mounts isolate the unit from those harsh vibrations.

The finned aluminum outer shell was designed to dispense heat created by the hard-working electronics hidden inside the unit. The major differences, though, aren’t so much on the outside, they are on the inside.

“Although they look identical, each has one or two unique differences that set it apart from the rest,” Johnson said.

Although they look identical, each has one or two unique differences that set it apart from the rest. -Terry Johnson

They come complete with all necessary hardware, installation instructions, and wiring harness so you can adapt it to your vehicle’s wiring without much trouble. To see the full lineup of Crane’s boxes, visit their page here.

The Crane Boxes 

HI-6RC

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly digital ignition box with an adjustable rev limiter, for a 4-, 6-, or 8-cylinder application, then the HI-6RC is for you. It’s aimed at the enthusiast looking for a cost-effective, reliable unit with simplicity.

The adjustable rev limiter can be set anywhere from 900-9,000 RPMs in 100 RPM increments, and each adjustment is accurate within 30 RPMs. The sequential-style settings prevent over revving and engine damage, should you miss a shift.

The HI-6RC has an adjustable rev limiter than can be adjusted in 100 RPM increments from 900-9,000 RPMs. The Weatherpak connectors can be seen in this photo.

Crane says that if you wire the box to the start button, you’ll get a timing retard that’s intended to prolong starter life. You can mount the ignition anywhere, and like all Crane boxes it comes with everything you need for an easy installation.

The available Weatherpak connector as seen on Crane’s ignition boxes. It has a waterproof seal, to keep out any unwanted moisture and debris.

  • Street Price: $300
  • Intended For: Street/Strip, Road Course
  • Perfect For: Musclecars, Hot Rods, and Imports
  • Engine: 4-, 6-, 8-cylinder

HI-6 Gen 2 Mag Trigger

The HI-6 Gen 2 Mag Trigger ignition box is designed for engines equipped with 10:1 to 14.5:1 compression ratios, or engines running nitrous, superchargers, or turbos. For the enthusiast who needs a more precise timing control when they’re running a high compression engine, or one with a power-adder, the Mag Trigger allows you to adjust your timing for these conditions.

Also, like several other Crane boxes, it’s intended for street and strip use. Some of the unique features that you get with the Mag Trigger include a system problems check, crossfire protection for boosted applications, and a tachometer accuracy check.

The Mag Trigger is named for its mag+ and mag- electronic signal that’s used to “trigger” the ignition to fire – “an industry standard,” as Johnson tells us. It’s adjustable by increments of 100 from 600-9,900 RPM, and has a built-in rev limiter that automatically drops varying cylinders in the firing order to prevent fuel loading. Think of it as a precaution to engine failure.

It doesn’t matter if you’re relying on a 4-, 6-, or 8-cylinder engine to get you around the road course or down the dragstrip, the Crane Mag Trigger will work for your vehicle. They’re compatible with a points type or electronic ignition system.

  • Street Price: $250
  • Intended Use: Street/Strip, Road Course
  • Perfect For: Musclecars, Hot Rods, and Imports
  • Engine: 4-, 6-, 8-cylinder

The Crane DSR HI-6 box pertains to 99% of the enthusiasts out there.

HI-6 DSR 

We would like to consider this one the all-arounder, as it pertains to just about 99% of the enthusiasts out there from import tuners to drag racers, to street car builders all over the world. The HI-6 DSR has been specifically designed with drag racing, boost, nitrous, and high-compression in mind.

It’s a digital box that can handle naturally-aspirated 4-, 6- and 8-cylinder engines with up to 14.5:1 compression ratios, or engines with power-adders. The DSR has a dual stage rev limiter that allows you to set separate rev limits for staging and down-track control. You adjust the rev limiter with a separate remote control unit that comes with the complete package.

It comes with Crane’s “Plug and Go” Weatherpak wiring harness, an adjustable rev limiter with increments of 100 from 600-9,000 RPMs, and also features many benefits like the system problems check, crossfire protection for boosted applications, and a tachometer accuracy check. These built in features are pre-programmed for the enthusiast from Crane to help prevent engine failure.

  • Street Price: $315
  • Intended Use: Street/Strip, Road Race
  • Perfect For: Musclecars, Hot Rods, and Imports
  • Engine : 4-, 6- 8-cylinder engines

 

HI-6 TRC CD

On top of the heap is the HI-6 TRC CD. It’s the second most pricey of the group, but to that note it has the most features and accessories. Crane markets this box for enthusiasts with 4-, 6-, or 8-cylinder engines, and if you’re a heavy street/strip guy, this one is for you. Crane’s HI-6 TRC CD (Capactive Discharge) features a built in rev limiter, timing retard, and a retard input to connect the included under-dash mount.

The HI-6 TRC comes with a controller to adjust your vehicles timing from inside the cockpit.

Knowing how difficult and confusing wiring can be to a relatively new enthusiast, the TRC CD provides a “Plug and Go” adaptability. It includes a high-quality 6-pin Weatherpak connector for a much easier installation. and rubber shock mounted feet to quell harsh vibrations typically found in that of highly modified street/strip machines. 

Are you running boost or high compression? Then you don’t have to worry, because this box is good for up to 14.5:1 compression ratios, and for engines equipped with a turbo, supercharger, or a nitrous system. Another feature that sets the TRC CD apart from the rest is the adjustable timing controller included with the ignition box. It allows you to adjust your timing retard up to 20-degrees with the included under-dash mount.

  • Street Price: $430
  • Intended Use: Street/Strip
  • Perfect For: Musclecars, Hot Rods, and Imports
  • Engine: 4-, 6-, 8-cylinder

HI-6N

The HI-6N is just what the boys in the circle and dirt track sport need. Unlike the other Crane boxes, it’s a completely analog unit. Reason being, it’s illegal to run a microprocessor in NASCAR regulations. So this is the only Crane box that you can use in a stock car or dirt track car. It features a Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistor, otherwise known as MOSFET.

This type of technology regulates power supply and continually supplies full spark-gap energy, even when the vehicle’s battery drops below 8-volts. MOSFET may be considered old school technology these days, but it’s also one of the most reliable forms of analog power sources.

The HI-6N is the only Crane box that meets NASCAR regulations. It’s the only analog ignition box in the entire Crane portfolio that utilizes MOSFET technology, and offers enthusiasts the option of using a Deutsch or Weatherpak 6-pin plug.

It comes complete with an adjustable rev limiter and it meets NASCAR approval/inspection regulations. “The HI-6N box is the only one we produce in an analog configuration, since microprocessors aren’t allowed in NASCAR,”  Johnson said.

The HI-6N box is the only one we produce in an analog configuration, since microprocessors aren’t allowed in NASCAR.

Some other interesting features include rubber shock mount feet to quell vibrations, clear component sealing and a removable bottom to facilitate inspections. The HI-6N is available with either a 6-pin Weatherpak or Deutsch plug per NASCAR’s 20-6.1 rule.

The adjustable rev-limiter is tunable from 2000 to 9900 RPM in 100 RPM increments (accurate to ± 25 RPM of setting). Since circle track and stock cars are generally V-8 cars, Crane designed this one for 8-cylinder engines only.

  • Street Price: $500
  • Intended Use: Circle Track
  • Perfect For: Stock Cars
  • Engine: 8-cylinder

So Which One is Best for You?

As you can tell, Crane carries ignition boxes for just about every application and budget. With such an array of choices available to the enthusiast, it can be a little confusing if you are not sure what to look for. This guide will be helpful to you in terms of making the right selection for your project vehicle.  As long as you have a certain goal for your car and have an understanding of engine timing, this will help point you in the right direction. 

About the author

Rick Seitz

Being into cars at a very early age, Rick has always preferred GM performance cars, and today's LS series engines just sealed the deal. When he's not busy running errands around town in his CTS-V, you can find him in the garage wrenching on his WS6 Trans Am, or at the local cruise spots in his Grand National.
Read My Articles

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