I was working on my friend's '16 Roadster today, replacing the old and seriously worn-out Ford timer with a new Anderson. Then, I ran into an interesting problem. After timing the engine with cylinder 1 just past TDC, the Anderson Timer's position was significantly different then the Ford's. In fact, it now so far rotated towards the fan belt that it can only get about half of the advance that it should have. It's genuinely in the wrong position for the advance linkage to work properly.
The picture shows where the linkage was for the Ford timer (lever fully retarded) and the position of the Anderson required to just start firing coil 1. This is by no means the first time that I've installed an Anderson Timer or timed a T. However I have never seen this problem before. Have any of you seen this happen before? On top of that, does anyone have any ideas as to what caused it, or how I can fix it?
That is a problem that comes up ever so often. Here is what solved my problem:
More pics at:
This is a question that I wondered about. Is it possible to install the Anderson timer brush backwards? Just wondering?
The brush will only fit one way but there is a possibility of modifying it to provide more clearance for the fan belt.
I had this with my first Anderson. My solution was exactly the same as Jim Thode's
I ran the Anderson for many years. Yesterday I installed a new TW carbon brush type timer and I was amazed at the difference in performance. I cant see me going back the the Anderson at all. Just a thought.
Will, that is interesting, can you expand on the difference you noted in performance. Thanks ,Joe
I had the same idea. I just wanted to make sure that I'm not crazy before I start cutting things!
I'm trying an Anderson for the first time, what's the best way to keep it lubed? I've always used grease in the tigers, do the same?
The biggest difference between the Anderson and the TW carbon brush is there is no moving parts other than the brush riding the contact area. It operates like the brushes in an electric motor. You do need to run a modern seal cam because it needs to be clean and dry. I noticed the difference the moment I started the engine. I put about 50 miles on the car yesterday and averaged around 40 to 45 mph. The car came up to speed faster and did feel like it had a bit more power. The Anderson I was running was far from worn but I had heard a lot of good things about the TW carbon brush timer so I tried it and now I don't see me going back to the Anderson unless something changes. It was a bit tricky installing it as the first time the wire holding the brush in place came out and the brush went flying across the garage floor. After I got everything in place the job went well. After about a month of running I will give another report on the TW timer to let folks know how its doing. Just a note on the modern seal, I did have to use some RTV to keep it in place. The engine was never made for the seal that is being sold so it dose not fit very tight. My coils are a year old Coil Dr rebuild and the coil box is a FP weather tight rebuild with new contacts last year. The sparkplugs are the Champion X take apart type. I start the engine on battery and drive on the mag. The engine is a George King rebuild last year. I have a Ruxtell that I use like a 4 speed transmission to get me up to speed.
Kerry, some run the Anderson dry, but a little grease is a good idea. Don't need to fill it, just get the contacts.
Kerry -- I use a little di-electric grease on the contacts. I don't know that it makes a difference, but it's what I do. My cars have always run well using it. The contacts will wear faster if you don't grease them.
I bought a TW timer a while back and so far it has been in a drawer. After reading Will's rave review, it sounds as if I need to get it out of the drawer and onto my car.
Kerry, I use the very thick grease suppliers sell specifically for the Anderson Timer; costs $1.50 . You'll get better wear I'd say using grease.
Why would the timing position be so different on some Anderson timers that they would require such a fix?
The bracket for the timer rod on the Anderson is in the same place as the original. Could there be something wrong with the lever on the spark rod? Check with the belt on, if nothing is hitting, why not just bend the rod.
I just shorten the timer rod when fitting an Anderson. Usually somewhere around 1/2" is what it works out to be, and I don't have any problem with fan belt interference. Cameron's looks like more than that in the picture.
If it's close or hitting the fan belt, maybe a shorter fan belt to drop and swing the belt and fan away.
I ran Anderson timers on all my cars but have switched over to the TW timers. I found the Andersons to be erratic performers. I have a bit over 375 miles on the first TW timer I installed and it is doing great and shows no wear. While you are supposed to use the modern cam seal I have not done so and, on my car at least, the felt seal seems to keep the timer clean enough.
Val -- If you were running your Anderson timer with the original felt seal and its brass retainer, that might be why the timer was an erratic performer. Frank Fenton used to include a note with his instructions for the timers which said to remove the brass retainer, because it can short out the timer. I don't know whether the new Anderson folks include that note or not.
An occupational hazard of rebuilding Model T coils is, you get roped into trouble shooting the other ignition sub-systems to get the entire ignition system working properly.
Most of these problems turn out to be an incorrectly functioning timer. There are many causes, but inter-cylinder differences is one common problem. The Anderson style timer seems to be very fussy in this regard.
For the last year I have been using and recommending Tony Wiltshire's new timer www.twcomponents.com with much positive feedback from my customers.
Users are impressed with smoother running which I attribute to the rotating brush and case terminal and insulator design and implementation. Additionally it exhibits very good long term wear characteristics.
Tony used the correct approach of beta testing several of his timers prior to selling them in great number and there have been some very minor bumps in the road which have all been resolved.
Try one of Tony's new timers and I think you too will be impressed as I have been?
Ron the Coilman
In your photo, you are just barely past TDC, (i.e. just barely retarded) and your timer is set just to just begin to buzz
However, your spark lever is at full retard.
I believe you need to be further past TDC, (with pulley cross pin at approx. 15 degrees past horizontal) with timer set to just begin to buzz. If you do that, I think you'll find that the timer rod will come closer to what you need. Regardless however, you will still need to do some bending to accommodate the Anderson timer.
It is too bad that the TW timer is not allowed on the MT 500, that would provide a real quantitative test. As it is now the Anderson timer is the preferred timer over the Ford roller timer and a couple of brush type timers.
Mike the problem with the timers shorting out occurs because the shields they sell are too small. I run original shields and can't see how they could short out the timer as they fit behind and are held in place by the timer. What I can't understand is why no one makes a timer shield that is the right size.it sure ain't rocket science!
Question; can you use the New Day on the 500? I would think the new timer which looks like the Ford version could be used. Ford did use a brush type timer sometime around 21.
The new TW timer can't be used according to the current rules of the 500, but rules has been changed before, so maybe some other year?
"B2j. Only stock Ford roller type, New Day, Anderson flapper type timers or Crystal timers allowed. Quick couplers NOT ALLOWED in timer wires."
If the New Day qualifies, the TW should as well since it is pretty similar in design. Since the rules call out timers by brand names, maybe the relatively new TW just hasn't made the list yet.
Here is an even better rationale for allowing the TW timer in the MT 500. It is, but a minor modification to the original Ford design "Plunger Commutator Brush" (Service part #3165B/Factory part number #4881BX) introduced in 1919.
The the other allowed types (New Day, Anderson or Crystal timers) are a significant mechanical variant from any original Ford timer design.
Ron the Coilman
You're right, Ron, it is very similar to the original Ford design, but with a brush. The brush idea is what I was referring to above, but the timer cover is really more like the original Ford roller timers.
How is the new timer different then the original Ford Plunger Commutator Brush type? The photos I have seen of the original Ford unit show the brush assembly with the offset and a replaceable brush/spring. If I understand correctly, the timer case was/is the same or like the roller type.
Not to persuade/dissuade, but the 1919 catalog does show the carbon brush 'timer'. It apparently did not work for Ford at the time and they immediately went back to old school thinking...
I'm not into MT500, but if original is as original does...they should review and say 'OK'
I have several original "Plunger Commutator Brushes", but I never knew the part number that would allow further investigation.
Coincidentally, I was looking at a 1919 (no date) Ford Parts book I received today and stumbled across the information you posted above. It is listed therein as "Commutator Brush Assembly" used 1912-1919 (interesting facts from an engineering point of view) ) Service #3165B/Factory part number #4881BX. In typical Ford parlance the X denotes an experimental part number.
"Commutator Plunger Spring" 3170B/4444X and Commutator Plunger 3167B/4474BX are also listed, but there is no reference to a service/factory number for part 3165C.
From this, I conclude they may have been trying to make timer functional parts more easily serviceable....we will likely never know?
I ask others to check their 1918, 1919 and 1920 parts books of different dates, which I do not have, for a reference to this part? As near as I can tell the "Plunger Timer" does not appear in 1921 and later Ford parts books.
From extant original examples on hand 4474BX is NOT a carbon brush. I have no information as to why this type timer brush was used for such a short time, but there is a tantalizing clue; Ford Service Bulletin August 1st, 1919 Page 66 has a short article entitled "The Plunger Type Commutator Brush" discussing brush wear and related timer case issues. As is typical with Ford literature they make no "statements against interest" ending the article saying "The advantage of this type brush over the roller timer type is that both the brush and the fibre in the commutator case wear smoothly thereby insuring a perfect contact at all times"
At this point who knows what was really in the minds of Ford on this issue? Like so many other subjects we will likely never know?
Now that I know the factory number I will try to obtain the Record of Change cards for this part assembly or its parts explosion. I expect to see an initial "experimental" part number adoption for service and where it goes from there is only conjecture at this point. Having read many ROC cards for Ford parts it is difficult to ascertain exactly why a part was modified or discontinued.
My educated guess is it was experimentally tried, soon discontinued for reasons unknown.
Just another investigation that results in more questions?
I agree with your concluding thesis.
Ron the Coilman
I've had some experience with timers and the Montana 500. From my perspective, there are pluses and minuses to all timers. The Newday, and I would guess the TW timer are very tolerant to the front cover misalignment/loose timer bore/worn out cam bearing situation that many T's have. The Anderson, out of the box, is less tolerant to these deficiencies, but can be adjusted to compensate for all of them, except the loose cam bearing situation. There are also issues with fore and aft cam positioning and timing gear thickness which can cause problems with either timer. A properly installed Anderson timer generally gives excellent service for many thousands of miles with virtually no maintenance. Newdays can give many miles of service too, when fitted with a proper brush.
I never even look at my Anderson timer on the MT500. Some folks with Newdays clean and check their timer after every leg. In my experience, Newdays require periodic cleaning. I think the MT500 guys prefer the Anderson because with a little work, they can get the timing nearly dead on.
As far as using a TW timer in the MT500, it is not allowed at this time, nor is a stock T brush type timer. This is not the only stock Ford part that is not allowed, by the way (L-4 carbs e.g.) I don't imagine that anyone would have heartburn about changing the rules to allow a TW timer if it were proposed at the fall MT500 meeting when the rules are discussed.
Good luck with further research.
FWIW, any mention of a plunger type brush seems to be gone completely by August of 1920.
As far as 'used' when it comes to Ford and used by Ford, I find it mentally easier to interpret that to mean 'usable on'...
However, it might be fun to hear about the ROC and drawing content of the 'B' and 'C'...we may just be surprised to find that they actually played with it longer because........because....they still call the other versions 'brushes' even though they seem to roll around!
I checked my parts books for 19-21 year issues. As usual my memory failed (hadn't dug out my parts books for a long time) as I only had an original 22. As you stated, 4474X etc. was not listed.
As to why the brush was discontinued my guess is that because the "brush" rubbed on the inside of the commutator rather than rolling it tended to wear the phenolic insulator section more quickly. Just conjecture and 2 cents worth on my part.
I was taking a stab at the date. Came close. The brush material may have been like the copper starter brush instead of carbon. Could be why there was so much wear also the use of pressed plant fiber type insulating material.
Frank, just pack it with grease, any good stuff is fine, l use Hi temp Bearing.
Been useing Anderson timer same one since '07, in my '26 touring. Just wipe it out at begining of season relube with clear caliper grease. No issues so far, car sat for 6mos. fired right up last w/e.
My '27 Tudor came with an Anderson.......I dap on a little vaseline once a year and that's that.
I've had zero trouble with it.......
I think Tom is right on about the TW timer being more tolerant to variations in the timing cover. A few of my cars had a cylinder that seemed to be weak at idle and could not be traced to a plug, coil, wire etc. I switched from an Anderson to an old New Day timer and the problem went away. I then replaced the New Day with a TW timer with the same result. I have since replaced all my old timers with TW timers and love the way they perform. Only time will tell how well they hold up over time but so far they seem to be doing just fine.
If you're running on mag power, timing variations in the timer should not be an issue. As long as the spark lever is set where it runs best (in the middle of the mag pulse) the mag will fire at exactly the same timing on each cylinder, no matter if there is some differences in the timer.
I would argue that if the engine front plate is not concentric (depending upon type of timer being used) that when running on mag power, the timer should (will) not be an issue. Take a look at this analysis. Accurate Spark Timing
In particular the "hot zowie" part
Ron the Coilman
It is probably a matter of scale. I agree with the logic of the referenced Accurate Spark Timing article but question the amount of offset used in the calculations. If the timer was off from center by 1/8" there would likely be other problems like sealing surfaces not fitting, the bolts and crank seal not fitting and the timing gears not meshing. The block bolt holes in the timing gear cover are only 13/32" and the bolts are 3/8". Without opening up the bolt holes that alone would limit the maximum adjustment to about 1/32". That is 1/4 of the offset used in the article.
Even of you say that the total adjustment could be up to 1/16" and followed through with that, the timing would only be off plus or minus 5°. The plus or minus 5° would easily be corrected by the 22.5° mag pulses.
Have you ever seen a timer that was off by as much as 1/8" and adjusted it to center? How did you handle the bolts, crank seal and sealing surfaces that did not line up?
In my view there are three variables, timer case (front plate) offset, crankshaft position and timer radial position. With any offset there will be a position of the other two that can cause this problem resulting in inter-cylinder timing differences. Some timer designs will be worse and others better in this regard.
The bottom line is the timer should be concentric with the rotor in all cases for the least inter-cylinder timing differences.
Ron the Coilman