Well, my period-correct Delco distributor didn't hold-up. The pot metal housing surrounding the drive gear broke during my 1919 Speedster's maiden voyage this afternoon about 60 yards from my driveway.
That said, I want to replace it with another distributor, as the car does not have a magneto nor coils. I'm looking at a Texas T distributor, but I have a few questions that I hope the experts out there can answer.
The Delco dizzy had auto advance, with the weights that advanced the spark when RPMs were increased. That said, the spark advance control rod had been removed from the car back in the 20s. Only the throttle lever remains.
Question: Will I need to install a spark control lever and rod to enable the Texas T dizzy to function correctly? For me, that means removing and disassembling the steering column also, correct? And, are there any alternatives that would work that would contain the auto-advance feature like my (now broken) period-correct Delco?
Thanks to all for your help and wisdom.
Call Ben Hardeman at Texas T Parts, he can give you the answers 1-800-337-6977.
Thanks. Tried the 800 number about an hour ago and had to leave a message. Didn't hear back yet, and their likely closed by now, so I though I'd check with ya'll. Gotta start taking it apart again this weekend, and was trying to get as much info as possible. Thanks.
Setting up automatic advance takes some tools and knowledge or a lot of trial and error. I'd be inclined to put the timing lever back in. As a short term work around you could use a choke cable type control. Because of a plan ahead error on my part, I'm using a choke cable rather than timing lever on my speedster and it works fine.
To answer your question, "Will I need to install a spark control lever and rod to enable the Texas T dizzy to function correctly?". Based on the installation instructions the rod is required. You can find the instructions at:
Even on your old distributor you loose some benefits of having a manual timing control with out it.
Here is a link to the Texas T web page for their distributor. Note that there is a link on the web page to a .pdf file containing the installation instructions. Those instructions include wording about connection of the control rod, which implies to me that there is no automatic advance in the distributor kit as supplied.
I have 3 Texas T distributors, one that is nearly 10 years old. I have yet to change the points. The only maintainence is the lubrication of the shaft via the oil cup supplied. A few drops every day and that's about it. Keep a 10mm open wrench around as the control arm from the steering column to the rod going to the distributor housing is all metric and requires a 10mm wrench to tighten or loosen the nut. Pack the gear casting with grease and you should be good to go. Make sure you put the came gear on properly or the gears won't mesh as they should. And make sure you snug the gear down on the cam shaft. If not tight, as the engine turns it will tighten itself and screw with the timing of the distributor. Don't ask me how I know this.
Seems like the housing could be repaired with epoxy...could build up reinforcing inside where it doesn't show. Clean breaks...if all the pieces are there...fix it. There isn't that much load on that part of the housing.
Think I have the part you need Dave, 20.00 and 12.50 one cost box shipping. I use Texas T.
John, see the pic below. If the metal wasn't strong enough to hold-up when it was in one piece, I can't imagine that it would be strong enough after being epoxied back together.
'Course, I could be wrong...
Paul - I PMd you.
Walt suggested a choke cable as a temporary or permanent alternative. How about a throttle control cable from a gas lawnmower?
The Texas T is an 009 Bosch VW cintrifigual advance dist. , no rod needed. I have mine attached but locked down, Only problem I ever has was the points closed and the T ran cutting out. Readjusted points and ran the best ever. Most parts stores have the points in stock
I have a new one never used missing the cap and the timing gear if you need it, Bob
If it were mine, I would fix it. Get all that grease out and clean to bare metal. JB weld applied to the fractures and inside buildup. It seems that there was something wrong to break it up that bad. Like, clamped too tight, some misalignment. Too valuable to trash.
Thanks to all for the information. Most helpful.
Steve - That's a nice surprise. I thought, as others mentioned, that since the installation instructions include how to connect the spark rod correctly, that it was necessary (?). I wonder why they'd include it if it's not? Thanks though, that'll save me a lot of work having to take apart my steering column!
Bob - I PM'd you. Thanks.
John - I'll try that, but I'm not hopeful of the result. It's kind of a pain anyway, as there's no simple way to time it correctly. The head does not turn; you have to mount it in position you think is right, then try it, then take it off and try another position, etc.... You get the idea.
I don't know why they include the spark rod attached, when it's auto advance Dist. I tryed moving the rod but the truck ran too advanced up hills, the retard arm was slowly creeping down the steering column. So I wired it down all the way to the top. I could use a little more power, the Z head was fantastic, The carb I have is the modern Texas one, and works great, with a fuel pump, but I called Ben and no answer as to I feel I need a larger carb more MM. Pict, It just flattens out. And I could feel engine power is there but not air intake . ps, also have the larger intake.
You stated your engine does not have the flywheel magnets. You may invest in a set of rebuilt coils and timer and run on 12 vdc...... yes, run on 12 vdc same as your distributor ignition.
Too bad the E-Timer is no longer available. You could run on either 6 or 12 vdc, use Ford coils with good secondary windings & not worry about bad capacitors or point adjustments, and use the E-Timer's automatic spark timing.
Now, before ANYONE decides that the standard Ford ignition is the best, keep in mind his engine is minus a flywheel magneto..... do you really want him to spend $$$ to tear down & replace magneto,,,,or have him enjoy for less $$$...... with any system he chooses ???
In using a Texas T or any Bosch 009 Dist. add a ground wire attached to a screw located outside on the Dist. head. Not having a good ground can cause intermittent missing just like a defective ignition switch. I noticed the intermittent missing more at higher speeds.
I found this out from another Model T owner running a 009 Dist. The 009 Dist. head is loose fitting in the lower housing so it can rotate easily for advance/retard.
Even though I used a coil with built in resistance, still had problems burning the points.
I bought a ballast resistor from NAPA and problem went away. In addition, for those using the Protronics pick up, in their tech. info....a 4.5 ?? Ohm resistance is recommended. I could be off on the resistance.....look it up in their data. Will require some measurements with an Ohm meter.
Steve E - Thanks for the additional information, and confirmation. I'll also check with the Texas T folks on Monday.
Bob J - Appreciate the suggestions. It's a 6vdc system with a battery. No way I'm pulling the engine again unless I have no other choice.
Les V - I'll make sure the housing is well grounded, as you suggest.
Steve, get rid of the high volume intake they don't work well on a stock t, there was a posting in the last two weeks about the problem, and the Texas T distributor is not centrifugal advance ,it is manual that's why they include the rod.
There are two different distributors offered by Lang's and others but I believe they all come from Texas T. I purchased mine 4 years ago and it doesn't have a flyweight or automatic advance, it requires the rod to be hooked up and I advance the timing using the original lever on the steering column. It may be that the more expensive model they offer has the automatic advance. I believe this is listed by the vendors as "best quality" and at the time was another $100 more expensive.
I have a Texas T distributor on my '22 Coupe hooked to the rod advance and it works great.
Thanks Rick and Chet. I'll be talking with Ben at Texas T parts on Monday, and will let you all know what I hear, FWIW. I've already removed my generator and steering column, so either way will work. Just as soon not have to disassemble the column if I don't have to; it'll be worth the extra $$ if they sell one with auto advance so I won't have to take it apart!
I sincerely appreciate all the information, suggestions, and opinions that you all have provided.
Does it say anything in the instructions about having to remove the radiator in order to get the long bolt in that secures the new, thicker distributor to the generator?
As stated before, I have several and it seems to me that is the only way to get that bolt in. Maybe he has changed the design.
Tom - I didn't want to remove my radiator, so I had to cut the long mounting bolt to get it out in two pieces. The instructions review this method, which allows you to mount the bolt/stud from the back of the generator housing rather than from the front, where you would have to remove the rad. Of course, if you want to remove the rad, you would not have to remove the genny. Either way, something has to come off, or you could cut a notch in the distributor mounting bracket and slide it over the bolt sideways. That's how my old Delco was set up. Sorry for the poor photo. (See the pic below)
Interesting. But all 009 dist are cintrigual. I worked for VW , and we got rid off all the vacuum assist. Dist. as I thought I'll check more into this. Maybe I have mine set too advanced all the time. .? But the t purrs. And runs very well. I'll do the ground wire. Cause I have intermittent miss fire at times. Cruising. Speeds The Intake. Seems not to notice too much. But Palcibo effe
My Texas T Distributor set up came with that spark advance rod. I have noticed that the spark lever can not be pulled down more than half way with a Texas T Distributor, but I never suspected it was because there was a centrifugal advance inside already doing the required advance.
Well, I got my new one on, with the spark lever and rod installed and connected to the head. It certainly turns the head, and I notice a distinctive change in the smoothness of the engine when the lever is moved; depending on RPMs. Since I'm new to driving a T, not a big deal to me to add the extra control for spark. If there is centrifugal advance, maybe it's not activated at the lower RPM range that Ts generally operate at (?).
I like the Texas T Distributor that I put on my '14 runabout. But having said that, Texas T does NOT answer their phone. Only rarely do I get an answer, and when I do it is Linda, and Ben is unavailable. I'm worried about them. The Sure-Stop Brakes that I got from them and the floating hubs are good too, but forget about any technical support.
As an example from Dave Barker above, he said on Friday after 6pm they are probably closed by now. Actually they are closed ALL DAY on Friday. We don't have these communication problems with Lang's.
While we are on this subject of the Texas T distributors why is it the older ones had a bell crank for advance and the new ones have the long rod instead? The bell crank advanced the distributor in the counter clock wise rotation but the rod pulls it clock wise? to advance the spark with the straight rod you will have to move your spark advance up instead of down? any answer for you distributor guys out there? Thanks Joe
Not all distributors turn the same way. That makes a bell crank necessary on some to reverse the action of the spark control rod.
a tip when looking at distributors: think of your shoulder as the pivot point of the point arm, the points are your hand. raise your arm above your head in an arch, looking at the top of the dist, if its clockwise, your left arm will match, counter cw, your right arm.
Do the other four timer wires (both on the firewall and down by the timer) interfere with the operation of the distributor?
Do the four wires need to be completely isolated from the system, both on the firewall and down by the timer?
There is minimal info in the instructions on these four wires.
I recently installed a Texas T Parts distributor:
With the distributor in use, they serve no purpose. Leave them connected to the coil box on the firewall and tuck the 4 ends for the timer out of the way (but don't cut them off as you or the next owner may want to go back to a stock ignition).
I am just worried about the way the wires are going just over the exhaust manifold.
The wires next to the exhaust manifold, that's why they make the wire supports. You could do the same thing with a piece of tubing with a bent piece of metal. Get a piece of tubing big enough to run 3 4 and the coil wire through. Flare the ends if you like, weld on a brace that has a 45 bent a the end with a hole to put the head stud through and there you go. You could shorten the lead to No 2.
Hey, use the screw tops of the spark plugs to make the wires stay over the center of the head instead of over the manifold.
I recently added some questions to a prior dist. thread about backfire problems that occurred in a newly launched speedster that drew no further comments. After pulling and disassembling the Tex T unit today I found that the geared shaft rising from the cam end on the TT unit seemed well designed, viewing the slotted fitting to receive the male mating part from the VW dizzy, but it apparently fell short of necessary specs since the end of the VW rotor shaft had been crudely machined, obviously by a hand file, given the tell-tale groove tracks, and angled such that, at higher speeds, the lower shaft was driving the rotor shaft upward until the coupling disconnected, causing the timing interruption and then, miracle enough, a following smooth period of motor performance that allowed me to get back to the shop. Another thing that might be of interest, given the previous discussion, is that this dist. has the centrifugal advance components, in place, but arrested by a clamp.
I tie wrapped those wires. End of problem.
Now it quits when I push the horn button!!!!
I thought a lot about your problem.
If it were me I would find a used cast aluminum distributor housing and adapt your distributor head to it. You know it works. You see used Model T distributor conversions on eBay all the time cheap and it would avoid any of the other modifications that would be required with adding a spark lever or modifying the existing wiring.
If you take this route be sure to arrange for adequate lubrication for the distributor drive shaft. Absence of that has caused the demise of many conversion distributors.
Ron the Coilman
Ron - Thanks for the follow-up. After the Delco housing broke, I installed a Texas T dizzy, and it's been working very well since early April.
As for the old Delco, it now has a new home. I traded it for a nice pair of cast aluminum side steps, which now look terrific on my Speedster. (Thanks, Bill K!)
My horn is toast! It is shorted out so bad it cuts out my ignition!