Just a bit of backstory:
I am by nature a skeptic. I generally do not take claims at face value and where new things are concerned, I'm from Missouri. Hearing about the then new E-Timer caught my attention as the mostly 1923 Runabout I have been fooling with for more than a decade off and on had no magneto and I wanted to convert it back to 6v from 12v. The E-timer offered to power the ignition on 6v (or 8, 10 or 12v for that matter) and that would solve a particular problem for me. I was interested but did not buy an E-Timer until I heard a presentation by some friends who I trust & respect on Model T matters at one of the Orange County Model T Ford Club monthly meetings. An astonishing claim was made that evening. The E-Timer would run the car better than the hand of a practiced expert on the spark lever. If I hadn't heard it from this particular fellow I would never have swallowed that one but he did say it and I had to believe the E-Timer was a not only a real advance for the Model T hobby, but that it would solve my particular problem of a lack of magneto. I bought one.
While this was going on the Model T became an active project and it was taken apart to clean up the damage from a leaking head gasket. As it came apart it soon became evident that the head gasket was the least of the problems. The block & crank were badly cracked, the babbit was crumbly and falling apart and it was not even bored straight. There were many other problems. What a mess my supposedly "new" motor turned out to be!
I built a another new motor using some parts from the existing motor mixed in with a (new to me) block, crank and many other bits. With the E-timer in mind I omitted installing a magneto. Why go to the added expense and risk that it might come apart in service if it wasn't going to be used? I certainly regret that decision now as the E-Timer is currently out of production and I have no backup magneto . . .
More than a year went by before this new motor was built, installed and ready for the E-Timer. The E-Timer is easy to install and the motor was soon ready to try a start. I had left a bolt sticking up from the front of the pan right where one of the timer terminals could strike it and short to ground. This, or something else so far unexplained caused the E-Timer to quit producing sparks before the motor was even run. Mike Kosser, the inventor of the E-Timer volunteered to fix it at no charge even though it was out of warranty and there was little doubt that I was the cause of the problem. I shipped the E-Timer to him and he fixed it and returned it to me in under a week. Both Mike and the US Post Office were really on the ball this time.
While the E-Timer was out for repair, I put the Anderson timer back on to get the motor started and see where the project was at. The motor started and ran with no further trouble in the electrical area.
Just to satisfy my own curiosity, I hooked a 12v battery up to the magneto post and started the motor and warmed it up on 6v then flipped the switch to MAG. There was an instant increase in revs and the motor ran better with less fluffing. 12v really does help.
With that test done, I installed the E-Timer. I was not able to figure out the rather elaborate timing method detailed in the instructions and decided to try to run the motor anyway at the same setting used with the Anderson timer. Just as with that timer, the motor would not run with full retard. After advancing the lever just a little bit, the motor burst into life. Advancing all the way made an instant improvement! The motor runs smoother with no missing, no fluffing, better idle and all of that with what may be less than full advance. The Model T motor needs 55° of advance, a full 70° from the timing setting!!!
My buddy Bill and I drove the car for an hour or so & found the improvement marked. The car starts easier, runs smoother and seems to have more pep although this latter is very subjective. Even the exhaust note is different, more staccato with better definition. The pulses sound stronger. Overall, the E-Timer is a big improvement over 6v and even over 12v. The car runs better than it has ever run before. It did not seem to get hot or have any other issues.
The car has now run for several weeks with the E-Timer and I'm extremely pleased with the improvement the E-Timer has made. I look forward to getting things sorted out completely in the near future, it can only get better with properly dialed in timing. Here are some pics taken on that first drive with the E-Timer installed. The location is a quiet cemetery where we were paying our respects to a departed pal.
My buddy Bill
Vintage Paul on a very hot day
You state that the car was missing before you installed the E timer. Obviously (and maybe I am missing something) the E timer made a poorly adjusted or maintained Model T run better by removing the poorly adjusted or maintained part and installing a new $400 timer.
The E timer makes it impossible to operate the car on the original ignition system.
The Model T ignition system is simple, effective, and above all, cheap to repair or maintain. A Model T with its original ignition system operating properly is reliable as hell.
I don't think an E Timer is a good thing for the Model T hobby.
Beautiful car, I like the look.
The car looks great and if it allows you to enjoy the hobby = mission accomplished.
I naturally did a double take when I read your posting above. I had no idea you felt that way about the E-Timer. Why haven't you expressed your thoughts on the matter in the past?
Congrats on the success of your project. It sounds like your goals match mine, a Model T that runs good and drives well without too much trouble. Good job!
In this complicated and ever changing life, its good that there are some things you can depend on ! ;o)
Ya Paul, Glad to hear your car is running better.
I heard the same "salesman" talk about the E Timer at our club meeting and explain how it worked an how it differed from the original system. I went out and got one the next day. My Anderson was worn out from lots of driving.
When a winner of the Montana 500 stock T race gives advice I listen carefully. I've learned a lot.
I now like driving with the E Timer and also am able to run that original system if I want to even though one think it's impossible.
Best of both worlds and surely great for the hobby to have so many guys able to get their T's on the road.
PS Paul, you should have installed the magneto system. Maybe next time... Just enjoy driving
Paul;;; If you pull his chain, he'll condemn it right off.
Thanks guys! I have wanted a Model T since I was a small boy and noticed that the cars Laurel & Hardy drove on TV were neater than the jobs Pop had out in the driveway. Now as my 60th birthday approaches I finally have one that runs and can be driven. I take real satisfaction in that and that I mostly built it myself from the wreckage of previous Model T dreams. Next are a set of wheels, a Ruckstell and more fine tuning. Who knows, I may even WASH it . . .
Gene - we all know folks who we ask different sorts of questions of. Some are good at identifying parts and can tell you everything wrong with your car. I LIKE this sort of information as it helps sort out what should be changed when that part of the project comes up for work. Other folks are born mechanics who understand the dynamics of how the Model T works and what mods give what results. Our speaker that evening is one of the latter. I am not being coy about identifying him, I just haven't asked his permission in what MIGHT be construed as a commercial endorsement.
Royce - You are one of the folks I ALWAYS listen to on this forum. You have swayed me from my intended course several times, on the sacrificial anode just for example. In the case of the E-Timer you are way off the beam. I have many regrets with my T project including failing to install the magneto while I had it apart, but buying the E-Timer is not one of them. I would run it even if I did have a nice hot mag.
There are many flim-flam claims in automotive circles and with Model Ts. The E-Timer is the real deal. It does exactly what is claimed for it and that is why I wrote this piece. Other T owners should know the facts right from the horse's mouth.
It just comes down to what one wants from their T. If performance is your only concern, one can make all sorts of modifications that don't show and some that do. If appearance is your only concern, then there are many hidden modifications that can make your car more powerful and some may say 'reliable'. If originality is your primary concern, few to none of the above modifications are going to be acceptable, whether they show or not. I fit pretty squarely in this latter category, as I suspect Royce does as well.
I too consider myself an orginalist in MOST things. I want the car to look and run pretty much the way they did back in the day but I'm very happy to have modern oil in the motor and modern rubber on the road. I do not wish to replicate the short engine life & many flat tires that were apart of motoring when our cars were new.
I put the E-Timer in the same category as modern oil. It is undetectable from the outside and still retains the essential character of "Model Tness" that make these cars so much fun to mess with.
I have (shudder) made other modern modifications too. I recently added a mid '30s stoplight with a Fun Projects switch. The stoplight even has (horrors) a phillips head screw appropriate to the vintage of the stop light. I freely admit to having succumbed to a vogueish impulse in this case but it does look cool.
"The E timer makes it impossible to operate the car on the original ignition system." LIE
"The Model T ignition system is simple, effective, and above all, cheap to repair or maintain. A Model T with its original ignition system operating properly is reliable as hell."
Ford "Steady by Jerks" Ignition is what they called it in the era.
The T magneto was such a boat anchor, no other car ever adopted it. Henry didn't even think enough of it to keep him from cheating Spider Huff out of his patent royalties that had been promised.
Tell us again, Royce, that was the very first low tension magneto. Granted, it was probably the first one put in such a stupid, lousy location.
I have never understood your disdain for the T magneto. They're antique cars for Pete's sake. Their obsolescence is what a lot of folks find interesting about them.
Actually Ricks.....it's high tension.
Jump spark is high tension......make and break ignition (igniter) is low tension....... ;)
Royce said: "The E timer makes it impossible to operate the car on the original ignition system."
I think this is a true statement, just as the statement "It is impossible to operate a T with a stock head when a Z head is installed" is true.
True, and vacuous.
Paul's magneto was dead so he has to run on battery one way or another. On 6 volts the E- timer was probably his best spark option. A 12 volt system would have been less expensive, but he chose the E-timer. To each his own.
Paul: For someone who drives a Model T that does not have a magneto , you my friend have the best ignition system for your application.
When will you paint your "original" 1912 touring the correct color? Might make your anti E Timer posts a bit less hypocritical.
I'm glad your able to enjoy your T.
The E-timer has its use but I would have put the mag in. My 26 runs great after a magnet recharge from Lang's and it is not that expensive to do but as long as you are enjoying it that is all that counts
Sure is looking great Paul, I get a lot out of all your posts as I'm just a little behind you on your project. I hope to start my engine this fall and have a body [ huckster ] going this winter...Your pictures have solved many of my miseries, as I as well am building a vehicle from several donor cars and several 5 gallon buckets of parts..Keep up the good work, and thanks for all the pictures..Jim Derocher, AuGres, Michigan
Ralph, I have read your comments time and time again putting down the ford ignition when you have never even owned a T that had stock ignition, so how do you arrive at your assumptions? There is nothing at all jerky or unsatisfactory about the stock Ford system unless if you have a bunch of worn out, poorly adjusted /maintained junk.
Paul, I'm glad that you are enjoying your T. There is nothing like finally getting to drive the car you put so much work into.
God almighty.......some people could suck the fun out of the Three Stooges.......
Drive carefully, and enjoy!
Sad. But true.
Any thing that gets a T back on the road for the present owner to enjoy is a good thing in my opinion. The original system works very well if you understand it and your car will support it. There is a narrow minded faction of the hobby that will not accept any deviation from original. I have found that setting up a car to run on the original system is not so cheap and easy as some on this forum maintain. I have been involved with T's for over 30 years and when I first started I knew that a T would not run right unless it had a distributor. I was wrong. Over the years, with help from several mentors, I found out how pleasurable it is FOR ME to drive my cars with the original system. Not all folks that are entering the hobby have the time to invest to understand, or maintain, the original system and just want to drive their cars. I say good for them! Distributors, E Timers, or high tensions mags all work well, and if set up properly with good components are very reliable. It is silly to piss and moan that distributors or other ignition systems are unreliable. 100 + years of experience with most of them sort of prove their reliability. Again if it gets a T back on the road so much the better. I like running my cars as supplied by Ford but do not understand why some look down their noses at any one who uses another system. In the end all that counts is how many T's that are road worthy! Let's get out and drive!
I think several guys are - again - reading something into my words that is not there.
The car reportedly - according to Paul O'Neal - "would not run with full retard..... missing..... fluffing (?????)" with the Anderson timer installed. This is obviously a case of poor installation or adjustment.
Anyone can make a T start, run, and idle perfectly on an Anderson timer with out having to spend $400 or more dollars.
Paul I am concerned about your statement about not understanding how to set the timing properly. Even with the E Timer this is critical to keep someone from being seriously injured or destroying your starter bendix. If you were within 100 miles of me I would come over and demonstrate. It's pretty easy. Certainly there must be someone in your area who could help you understand this. It's the likely reason the car didn't run right with the other timer that didn't cost $400.
A Model T magneto is indeed what I would consider a low tension mag. Unlike some low tension mags (Make and break), it is not used to directly ignite the fuel mixture. Instead, it is used to supply power to the coils which convert the current to high tension. High tension mags fire the plugs directly. They provide THOUSANDS of volts. The Model T magnetos provide close to 30 volts. I would characterize that as low tension.
One other thing. I can understand those who are intolerant of those who are intolerant. However, taking pride in keeping one's car original should not be considered narrow minded. To do so could be construed as narrow mindedness.
A Model T ignition system is actually not a low tension magneto. It is actually a permanent magnet alternator. Ford knew that people would understand more easily the word "magneto" so he called it that for the sake of simplicity.
The bulletproof reliability of the original ignition system is the heart and soul of a Model T, and perhaps one of the most important reasons for the success of the Model T.
Far from insisting that everyone must use the original ignition system, I simply disagree with every post that infers that a $400 timer that doesn't replace an original's functionality fixes crappy performance caused by poor adjustment or a lack of competent maintenance.
When the physical wear/slop is corrected in the spark lever linkage, you will find that the engine response is improved..... in the automatic advance mode and better in the manual mode with the E-Timer.
Take the time then and follow the installation instructions for setting the basic setting,,, you'll be glad you did.
The benefit of the automatic advance mode is built into the software of the E-Timer. Some T drivers really don't know what to do with the spark lever other than setting the retard for starting or full advance after the engine starts.... the automatic advance gives perfect timing according to engine speed
In defense of Royce and some of the other folks who try to keep their "T's" in as original condition as possible, I applaud their efforts. These "preservationists" serve an important segment of our hobby in keeping their cars operating as a living time capsule. This includes those folks who keep their cars in "original, as-found" condition. Nothing is more interesting than watching these relics come chugging into a rally or car show.
With that being said, there is also an important segment of the hobby that recognized that modern innovations can help put cars on the road that might not be there without the benefit of modern technology. For those vehicles with sick or tired magnetos (and owners who lack the financial resources or mechanical expertise), an alternative like the E-Timer gives them an alternative to get their cars back on the road an enjoy them. In doing so, they also advance the cause by increasing public exposure to Henry's machine we all hold in such high esteem. In the end, isn't that what's really important?
An alternator is an electromechanical device that converts mechanical energy to electrical energy in the form of alternating current.
Most alternators use a rotating magnetic field with a stationary armature but occasionally, a rotating armature is used with a stationary magnetic field; or a linear alternator is used.
In principle, any AC electrical generator can be called an alternator, but usually the term refers to small rotating machines driven by automotive and other internal combustion engines. An alternator that uses a permanent magnet for its magnetic field is called a magneto. Alternators in power stations driven by steam turbines are called turbo-alternators.
The only thing I have seen that reminds me of the Ford magneto was a 1930 Bugatti with its generator belt-driven off the drive shaft. There was even a spare belt tied back, a la Lycoming O-320.
Every time I read this E-Time controversy I have to laugh. Why is this such a big deal? There are other companies that are producing parts that aren't original to a Model T, such as plastic to replace the wood in coil boxes, different non-original cut-outs, etc. Doesn't seem to bother anyone. Is Mike not in the right clique? In my own personal opinion, I like my T's as original as possible and I run the original ignition system, A good friend of mine likes to experiment with his T's. He has a couple of his Model T's with E-Timers on them. Last week we were both touring in Mass. Both cars ran perfect with no ignition problems. You can raise both hoods and couldn't tell which one had the E-Timer in it. If I had a car that the magneto wasn't working I wouldn't think twice about using an E-Timer. Again, What is the big deal? There are many companies producing non T parts. Does a project need to part of a higher clique to be approved?
Lot's of people do not understand the Ford mag/alt or anything anyone want's to call it.I think i was the owner of two model T's and in my 7'th year of T ownership before i could mag/alt start either of our T's.How many people can't,will not try,or even crank start their T? Maby if your unknowing,unwilling,or just hard headed it's better to fault the Model T?? Rember history say's 15,000 000 plus sold!!Bud.
Opp's,My post has nothing to do with any timer,only a mindset! Bud.
Dan is right on the mark in my opinion, glad someone finally said it like it is. Will be interesting to see if the theory holds when the ECCT hits production. Working hard to provide the folks who prefer operating the original ignition system with a simple, cost effective and most accurate way to align coil points for engine performance that rivals the E-Timer using the original ignition system.
Paul, thanks for sharing your honest experience with the E-Timer.
Dan you are absolutely right as long as we are all having fun we shouldn't make a big deal about it there are more important issues than an E-timer (it's not a drastic modification) we Should be more concerned about people who take perfectly good T's and hot rod them or getting ourselves down the road with out getting run over by maniac drivers
There we go again: another E-Timer discussion.
Hasn't recent history told us that there is no merit in discussing this? If somebody already left out the magneto and has installed an E-Timer, telling him now that this was a really bad idea is like trying to tell somebody that non-detergent 30-grade motor oil he just poured into his engine is not state-of-the-art anymore, or a Christian in church that the person Jesus Christ never lived but was an invention of bishop Eusebius in the 4th century.
It's entertaining to read this, but unfortunately it also creates tension among Model T owners, as the E-Timer happens to be a love or hate kind of thing that wants people to defend their position vehemently.
What is wrong with Vintage Paul sharing his ideas and experiences with his Model T ???
Even Royce defends his position of his right to post
his ideas on the Forum....... as you have in the past, no matter how etherial. My observation.
Hope you are better since the accident.
Would that be "low tension" or high tension"?
Sorry, to easy to pass up. You make good points, most of us are not going to change our opinions. If someone is able to put a T on the road to enjoy (and allow others to see) great.
I'm all for originality, but I'm equally for driving our cars. My cars will probably have the opportunity to spend eternity in a museum as static displays someday, and no one will have a clue what ignition system they ran on.
I think if someone would just repair that water pump from under Royce's car tire, he would loose that bad attitude he has. Probably caused by his car overheating without the pump.
Have fun with that T even if it is equipped with an E-timer or water pump.
A Model T that runs better and brings more joy than it did before is never a bad thing.
Just scanned these, in spite of much higher priority tasks:
from Model T Speed Secrets
Don't forget Kevin, there are many racers built without magnetos - for them it's not a matter of a dysfunctional magneto or finances, it's a matter of getting rid of useless weight.
Ralph - those scans are WAY too small for my eyes to read. Can you make them bigger without loosing resolution? I try to use 1100 pixels left to right to make it easier on weaker eyes.
Vintage Paul, not seeing like I used to . . .
Ralph, not every model T is a speedster. Also, the Montana 500 cars runs stock ignition so it must work better than "fairly well at speeds of 35 mph or so."
Garnet, good point! As I have a '26 Tudor "Improved Car", I know nothing about 'useless weight'.
The original book is finer print than this, Paul. I blew them up to Large on the resizer toy. Here is Custom, at 188K, the biggest this Forum will take. If this isn't good enough, I'll email the original scans to you.
Royce Said - "Paul I am concerned about your statement about not understanding how to set the timing properly. Even with the E Timer this is critical to keep someone from being seriously injured or destroying your starter bendix. If you were within 100 miles of me I would come over and demonstrate. It's pretty easy. Certainly there must be someone in your area who could help you understand this."
If you were close I would take you up on your offer and buy a cup of coffee or a martini or two. Just the clarify the timing situation with the ANDERSON timer, I bought one of those plastic spark plug devices with the little yellow plastic straw. With all the plugs out of the motor, it was tugged over with the crank (this new motor was very tight) and when compression was felt leaking past a thumb on No. 1 cylinder the straw was brought to it highest position. The crank was bumped just a bit further to make sure it was past TC.
Using this as the basic setting point, the timer was rotated anti-clockwise (toward the outside of the motor) and then with the ignition ON it was rotated clockwise (toward the center of the motor) until the coil started to buzz and the spark plug started to fire. That SHOULD be the spot to bend the timing rod to fit. The problem is that this position was at 12:30 rather than the 10:00 or so I had expected. I just don't see how this setting can possibly give enough advance. I've certainly gotten myself good & confused here!
Switching to the E-Timer gave exactly the same results. Next time the radiator is off I'll mark the pulley and a convenient reference point to make absolutely sure of this point and then I can follow the written procedure in the E-Timer instructions.
As it is, it needs just a notch or two of advance on the lever to start. It runs fine and does not get hot even climbing hills on a hot day. The coolant is the premix anti-freeze. No water pump is fitted. I'm going to have to get a more experienced T driver to assess the car and see if it really needs more advance. We have some great guys locally so it is just a matter of time before we have some informed opinion.
Vintage Paul, happy with progress so far
Thanks Ralph, I can read'em now.
Hmm, didn't even come out the same size. Try again;