What is the best lubricant to use to oil an old original roller type commutator? I have used 3 in 1 oil in the past, but am not sure if 3 in 1 is the best oil to use for this purpose. What are your thoughts and experience? Jim Patrick
Some say it works great if they pack it full of red grease. Others say that didn't work for them, and a light oil is the only way to go. I can't say. I'm using a New Day.
Grease? Pack it full??? I never would have thought that! How about a light grease like Vaseline?
"3 in 1" is not good oil for anything. In fact, I think it's just paraffin. Do an experiment. Put a drop or two of 3 in 1 on a glass plate. Come back in a few days and see if it's still there. I have found that it evaporates. (Either that, or someone keeps washing my damned plates when they see they're full of oil!)
Clean it out really well, make sure you have a modern seal at the front and grease. You can use vasoline or Mobil 28 or Lucas Red N Tacky #2. The Lucas grease can be found at NAPA or most other auto parts stores.
The benifit to using grease over 3 and 1 oil is it will last the entire season without touching it. Oil needs the timer to be wiped out and re-oiled with every tank of gas.
I converted the one in my car to ball bearings and run it dry. If it wasn't that way I would use the grease.
Use the same oil as you use in the crankcase, or you can use grease as others suggested. If you use grease the timer should be about 1/4 to 1/3 or so filled with grease. When you first start it, the engine will run rough and then smooth out and you will be set to go.
Stuff it full of Vaseline or grease.
Using a mixture of grease and STP works fine also.
The timer on our Model N is impossible to remove without disconnecting the rear end, sliding it back a few inches, then removing the transmission frame, sliding it back, then sliding the timer off (located at the back of the engine, not front, very poor design).
So I have an opening in the top of the timer cover and I oil it (engine oil) frequently. That is the only way to lube it without pulling the car apart to get to it. So far, so good.
To lube my roller-type timer, I've used just about every kind of oil there is.
I tried red grease, but it caused the car to buck awfully hard. That stuff wasn't going to work for me, but others have had good results with it. Go figure.
Lately, I seem to be doing pretty good by giving the timer a short squirt of regular motor oil one day, followed the next driving day by a squirt of 3-in-1 oil. Alternating between the two seems to work very nicely for me. I don't really understand why.
One day, I sort of over-did it a bit when I squirted too many times. That formed a puddle of oil in the bottom of the timer—and apparently, "splash-lubrication" in there causes the engine to run a tad rough. Okay, lesson learned: Just one squirt, once a day.
Next time I take the timer cover off for cleaning, I'm going to put some of that thick, 600-weight, rear-end oil, that Don Lang sells, on the tip of my finger and see if I can work it in between pin and the roller. I figure it'd be good to have something clingy in there.
What? No suggestion of using "modified bitumen roofing tar in muriatic acid"?
Seriously, I think I'm going to pack the timer with Vaseline. Vaseline was often recommended for use in lubricating crank type, Edison and Victrola phonographs, which I have several of (why do we like crank wound contraptions so much?).
For 30+ years, I was the diligent morning 'oiler' with the dlick-dock of the oil can once or twice like you saw in old movies on train engines. Never had a timer actually go and crash on me.
Swallowed a new one and wasn't sure exactly why so its' replacement got the red grease treatment as suggested by others. (Turns out it was the timer itself) and now going into second season with the same red grease. Pop it, it looks OK, put it back on. But as others have mentioned...I 'think' you need to push the grease out of the way before the timer roller actually makes contact! A bit more stubborn to start...a bit of a herdy-girgy for about 15 seconds after start as each cylinder finds itself...and then smooth as silk.
So like always...I'm an equal opportunity band user, and an equal opportunity 'how to lube a timer' guy. Am I hedging bets? For me goes back to some of the other threads...the '15 is a pure '15 that's never been molested or played with other than a gray plastic coil box kit (which worked great) and moving to Jim Guinn bands (which have never chirped). the '19 was a bitsey to start with so why not, anything goes on that one! The '25? that's the one to use as a tie breaker if there are 3 alternatives. Somehow, each stays as 'trialed' and I usually never seem to migrate, but thats me.
My thought is that there is considerable arcing that takes place in the timer. When I use engine oil in the timer, it is black & sooty when I pull it off to clean it. This leads me to believe that I should use some dielectric grease/lubricant. I am currently using 3-in-1 oil and find less soot with it. The thought about the arcing comes from an episode I had with a 1971 Dodge. I put a new set of points on it but couldn't find any distributor cam lubricant so put a little oil on the cam. In a couple hundred miles, the points were pretty much burned up. Apparently, the oil got on the points and caused burning. I guess I am thinking the same thing goes on with the roller timer. In visiting with an "old timer" friend of mine, he said he cleans his timer every 100 miles or so. I have done this too and my timers last for years.
Use the original felt cam seal and it will be self lubricating, Ford had it figured out. KB
I clean mine no more than once a year, and typically that means over 1000 miles and as much as 1500 some years. I imagine if you use oil instead of grease you would have to do it a lot more often.