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Have you checked for vacuum leaks? Poor idling when cold that gets better when the engine warms up, or at higher RPMs are symptoms of vacuum leaks. Check all hoses and connectors. If it's a manifold gasket, you will want to use a smoke machine (check when the engine is cold).
You might want to pressure test the cooling system and remove the #3 spark plug. After the pressure tester sits on there for a few hours look into the combustion chamber to see if there is coolant. Misfires like these can sometimes be the result of a leaky head gasket. Also white smoke in the exhaust can be a sign. I assume the spark plug looks good?
The coil will do this as will a clogged catalist converter ( exhaust restriction ) Oxagen sensers will fail after getting too hot too and sometimes after coolant temperture sensers get hot they say their cool or even cold and thier not and give a rich mixture. Not all problems will turn the check engine light on, not a lying senser ( a failed altogether one will) Are the check engine lght on and has the oil been changed recently? If you have a missfire the fuel from the missing cyclinder ends up in the oil and it'll heat up and the fuel blows out of the oil and goes though the venting system and makes the mixture too rich. A therostate that does let the engine warm up all the way will do this too as the engine will stay cold and therefore rich to warm up the engine. Being you didn't list the year ro model or car or truck or engine size I can only guess and if it's a carborated vehical theirs still other things to check.
I would replace the spark plugs and more importantly the spark plug wires. It may be a bad plug wire with a break in it somewhere. It be so small that it only grounds the wire out when it gets warm due to expansion of the insulation around the wire.
I would check the valves for number 6. If one or both are burned, stuck or out of adjustment it would cause your problem. If a cam lobe for that cylinder is burned or badly worn it could be the culprit.
Running on a stand is not the same as running under power...In the water, you are essentially running on a dynomometer (dyno is a big water brake) If you can prove that the module isn't putting in enough advance, it would be doing the same thing that I mentioned with the damper, only for a different reason. So...you're likely on the right track. (rather have a points setup out on the water...anything goes wrong, you fix it without a tow!!!!) Good luck
I had this happen recently to our Buick rendezvous. Unfortunately it was due to a blown head gasket. It goes away when warm due to the block expanding. Coolant was getting through into the cylinder. Hopefully this isn't your problem but the same symptoms. We had replaced plugs, wires, and an 02 sensor before comfirming it was a head gasket. Luckily ours was covered under warranty.