Why I favor original equipment vs distributors on Model T Cars

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2014: Why I favor original equipment vs distributors on Model T Cars
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By David Kriegel Mishawaka Indiana on Sunday, March 16, 2014 - 11:51 am:

Sure before you get riled up the way I see things the Model T’s we are taking care of and restoring to running condition now will be around , hopefully , for another 100 years.

That said, the original equipment works fine and sounds fantastic. Parts are available. If one coil fails you can still get home

I now have and have had Model T’s with distributors that are unidentifiable (to me) . Therefore if the person who put the distributor on the car does not include the critical information for future owners how do you replace the distributor critical parts such as points, condenser and cap?

If you DO have a distributor, please write down all the information or buy up a few of each part for the ignition and include it for the next few owners as a favor

If anyone has collected pictures to identify different distributors used on Model T's that also would help. Yes I have pulled the distributor and taken it to parts stores, with so far no luck. One looks like an early 60's VW ? No ID marks

Will be changing it back to original equipment


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By A. Gustaf Bryngelson on Sunday, March 16, 2014 - 11:58 am:

Hey David, this holds true for any vehicle, once it has been changed from stock, it is sometimes anyone's guess as to what you need for parts.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Steve Jelf, Parkerfield KS on Sunday, March 16, 2014 - 12:15 pm:

In the seventies and eighties we "preserved" old radio programs originally recorded on transcription disks by transferring them to reel to reel tape. Today many of those tapes have deteriorated but the disks are still playable. When our local museum was established in the sixties many artifacts were labeled with phrases like "used sixty years ago". At the time, such labels meant around 1905. Now they mean around 1955. We often act in the present with little thought of the future.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By David Kriegel Mishawaka Indiana on Sunday, March 16, 2014 - 12:28 pm:

Steve my point exactly I try and put information in sealed zip lock bags in the back seat or taped to the gas tank of restoration photos, history that I know about the cars what repairs and parts I have used for use 100 years from now. These cars will be around LONG after I am gone


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Paul Vitko on Sunday, March 16, 2014 - 12:37 pm:

Volkswagen distributors are likely to be around until I push up daisies by then someone will think up something better.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mike Walker, NW AR on Sunday, March 16, 2014 - 12:38 pm:

David -- That's a good idea. I think I'll start doing something similar. I wish others had done that along the line, during the "life" of cars I've had.

It's a guessing game at best, trying to figure out what Model T's have been through in their 90-100 years since new. Maybe if all of us who work on these cars would do as you suggest, it will be easier for folks in the future to have some of the answers to their many questions.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Wes Nelson ........Bucyrus, MO on Sunday, March 16, 2014 - 12:39 pm:

When I worked for Napa, I had a customer that rebuilt antique wooden boats, he came up with all sorts of oddball ignition parts. I found a Balkamp parts book on antique ignition parts and we were in business, he was one happy guy, not only were we able to identify the parts he needed, but Napa district had them in their inventory. When you go to a parts house now, don't take no for an answer and leave, seems to me many young folks don't want to go the extra mile needed to make a customer happy, thereby a return customer and good word of mouth banter about the store to his friends. If you don't know what you have, don't sweat it, somebody knows.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By David Kriegel Mishawaka Indiana on Sunday, March 16, 2014 - 01:08 pm:

Wes great suggestion


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Steve Jelf, Parkerfield KS on Sunday, March 16, 2014 - 01:22 pm:

Preservation of knowledge and information is a long time challenge.

Before about 1850 books were printed on paper made from rags. Those books are typically in excellent condition today. Then somebody discovered a way to make paper from wood pulp. The process involves acid which over time causes the paper to deteriorate, so that many books printed after the middle of the nineteenth century now crumble when you open them. Newspapers are especially ephemeral, becoming brittle and falling apart in a few years.

It doesn't end there. Plastic also becomes brittle and deteriorates. In the late thirties the latest wonderful innovation in cars was the plastic dash. Senior Packards had them, but the mass market Packards were made with the cheaper metal dash. Guess which is in better shape today. This week I installed some lights in my garage. The staples I used to fix the wiring in place, bought about ten years ago, were in their original plastic jar. It was brittle and falling apart, and I had to put the staples in a new container. Ziplock bags and other plastic containers are temporary.

We used to have lick and stick reinforcement rings to keep notebook pages from tearing out at the holes. I have pages with them still in place after several decades. You can't buy those rings anymore. Now they're all peel and stick, and they dry out and fall off in a year or two. Peel and stick (Avery) labels are convenient, but they do the same.

Many pens and felt markers should be labeled with a warning that they use disappearing ink, because it does.

Here's one of my favorite examples of "progress". It very much applies to methods of preservation.



Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Walt Berdan, Bellevue, WA on Sunday, March 16, 2014 - 01:28 pm:

Maybe this is obvious but if you want answers for parts you need to go to a real parts person who will almost certainly NOT be found at the average O'Reilly, Autozone, or CarQuest store. The local Napa store has a a couple helpful people who understand old and non-standard configurations but it's still best to hit them up during slower hours and thank them when you get good service. The ding dong at O'Reilly that asks why you might want to buy a muffler and pieces of exhaust pipe rather than go to Midas is not the twit that will try to figure out what points will fit your distributor that may have started life on a VW, or old Jeep, or . . .

I have two distributors and have kept the box tags for the points, cap, and condenser for both of them. I have also kept the old but still serviceable parts in the side tool box for just in case. Kind of like keeping a spare coil or two and a timer available in the car that runs the stock ignition.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Paul Vitko on Sunday, March 16, 2014 - 02:15 pm:

Noticing your white plastic pail Steve Wonder if its PVC plastic. What looks like a metal can on the right much better! Think I will use black iron for my shop air lines!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Wayne Sheldon, Grass Valley, CA on Sunday, March 16, 2014 - 03:15 pm:

I remember those cowboy waste baskets.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By samuel pine on Sunday, March 16, 2014 - 03:38 pm:

simple just buy 4 coils


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By mike_black on Sunday, March 16, 2014 - 03:39 pm:

That hat looks like Hoppalong Cassidy!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Hap Tucker in Sumter SC on Sunday, March 16, 2014 - 03:42 pm:

David,

Yes, any information we can record about our cars will probably be appreciated by folks in the future. Even repairs with original type parts are helpful to know. I.e. when was the engine rebuilt, what was done to it etc. I keep a record for our cars and it lives under the seat. It tells things like when the oil was changed. When I checked the bearing clearance and if any shims were removed from which side(s) and how many shims were removed. So next time I will take the shim off the other side if it needs some clearance taken up. And in the case of our 1918 – that there are not any more shims to remove on three of the rod bearings.

Concerning your distributor question – I suspect if you post some photos of your distributor setup there is a good chance someone will recognize it and be able to help you know what type of parts to order. Additionally other types of points and condenser can often be adapted to work in the earlier distributor. For example for the 1928-31Model A Fords the vendors offer a new upper distributor plate with modern points and condesor. I’ve run those on my 1931 Model A and been very happy with the results. See: http://www.snydersantiqueauto.com/3777 and the directions that talk about it a little more at: http://www.snydersantiqueauto.com/uploads/A12151C-6374.pdf Something similar could probably be done for your distributor if original parts cannot be located. The distributor cap and rotor may be a harder issue depending on what brand it is.

And many of the distributor set ups can be adapted to use the VW 009 Bosch type distributor see: http://www.modeltford.com/item/BP-KIT.aspx that is very easy to find parts for (including an electronic ignition conversion) see: http://www.modeltford.com/item/DT-EL6.aspx . While I personally like the coils signing better, if a car does not have a functioning magneto, a distributor set up is one way to keep the car on the road [and of course a 12 volt battery running the coils (don’t let them sing for a long time – it is a little hard on the coils) would be another option as well as a 6 or 8 volt battery. The Model N, R, S, and SR used batteries (dry cell and/or storage) and did not have a magneto.

If you want to post the photos, I would suggest starting a new thread with a title related to “What type of distributor is this?” or something similar. Worse case you find out what it is not, and best case someone will be able to tell you what type it is and where you can obtain replacement parts.

Good luck with your T.

Respectfully submitted,

Hap l9l5 cut off


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bob Coiro on Sunday, March 16, 2014 - 06:34 pm:

When I bought my Tin Lizzy, it had a stock Ford roller-timer, and while that thing is no less cantankerous than all the other parts of the car, it works with at least as much precision as one might reasonably expect from a gadget that was developed at the same time as the light bulb. And like everything else on the car, it wants to be wiped and lubed more or less on schedule. The requirement for ceaseless tinkering is part of the warp and woof of Brass-Era automobiles and one might expect that the least expensive of them all might also be the least sophisticated (although in many ways, it wasn’t) and thereby have greater need of maintenance.

I guess there’s a sort of philosophy that goes along with wanting to own one of these cars. Folks like you and I are just more likely to percolate coffee, write with fountain pens and think of today’s popular music as an abomination. So, when we step into the Waybach Machine with Sherman and Mr. Peabody and intentionally sojourn to the world of gas lights and kerosene lanterns, it might not be reasonable for us to complain about a lack of cell-phone coverage.



It’s generally accepted that a Bosch distributor ignition system will require only token maintenance and perform as at least as reliably and well as a stock, buzz-coil and timer—if that happens to be the experience you’re after.

But as it happens, I don’t venture too far from home, so I can afford to go with less than gravity-dependable systems and in exchange for that, I get a somewhat more authentic experience. As Grandpa once said, “You give a little bit of this to get a little bit of that.” At car shows, I enjoy demonstrating the original ignition system and the response I get from a genuine enthusiast when I unsnap the box, haul out an ancient-looking buzz-coil and place it in his hands, makes it worth the extra maintenance (and when I announce that I’m going to hand-crank the engine, the reaction I get is as though I’d just promised to conjure a genie from a lamp).

It’s true that we’re the temporary custodians of some significant historical artifacts and their “moral worth” is greater if we keep them fairly close to stock. But there are so darn many Model T Fords that we can feel assured that there will be no shortage of originals to serve as historical references. Were we, on the other hand, talking about rarities like brass-era Pierce Arrows, Packards and Locomobiles, perhaps it’d be a better practice of citizenship to take a more orthodox philosophical point of view regarding originality. But with a Tin Lizzy, I’d guess we have at least as much wiggle room as we do wheel wobble.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Peter Kable on Sunday, March 16, 2014 - 08:09 pm:

Another part that needs to be recorded is Paint color especially if you wander away from black. Not so much on a Model T but on later cars it can be a real pain.

I always remember one of my students arriving with his car ready to paint with a color he had mixed at work but had modified it because he wanted more sparkle from the flake in it.

A few weeks later he was hit from behind but when he went to paint the repairs found he did not have enough paint. AS he had just poured in extra flake he had no idea what the amount was and matching the repairs to the first respray was a nightmare.

From a painters point of view its a lot nicer if one can not only be able to know what the actual color to be repaired is but also what type of paint it is.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Kevin Whelihan on Sunday, March 16, 2014 - 08:38 pm:

As I restore my '26 Tudor, I have established a file to save all receipts for replacement parts, work that was done and who did that, as well as the prices of all work done, that will go with the vehicle. The file also contains information on the previous owners as well as sale information and title copies, including pics of the vehicle in different stages of restoration. Generations down the road, I want whoever owns this vehicle long after I am gone to have all their questions about it answered.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mike Garrison_Rice Minnesota on Sunday, March 16, 2014 - 09:12 pm:

I wish I had that Hop-A-Long trash can. It would go could with my Topper rocking horse and Hop-A-long guns, holsters and hat.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Willie K Cordes on Sunday, March 16, 2014 - 09:27 pm:

I can tell it is still winter. After reading the above post indicates to me that there is a lot of idle time on everyones hands.
Spring is almost here, get ready to get those Ts out.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Paul Vitko on Sunday, March 16, 2014 - 11:53 pm:

You got it Willie, Its been raining day and night to the point where critters don't want to go outside and I am posting thoughts straying from the thread!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By David Dewey, N. California on Monday, March 17, 2014 - 03:15 am:

Steve's posting about the museum labels rings true with me, at my previous job. That museum was opened in 1932 (as a "relics house"), and we dealt with the same kind of labels: "100 years old" etc. Took some sleuthing to figure out what year to put on the new labels, as the item could have been donated anywhere from 1932 to 1990 (when the city took over the museum)!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jim Eubanks, Powell, TN on Monday, March 17, 2014 - 05:43 pm:

The Bosch T dist, either clip on or with the front plate are good dist, especially the ones with built in advances. Problem is finding points. I am sure they are out there but finding them has been a big secret! I have thought about redrilling one of the plates from them for 6cyl slant six points and cond which are cheap and available. I have a custom plate in my Packard which originally had high dollar dual points and now has one set of Ply points and runs fine.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jem Bowkett on Monday, March 17, 2014 - 06:07 pm:

Labels: when you find old photos which relatives have marked up as 'Mum and Dad on Clacton beach' please add their full names so your kids will know who they are!


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