I recently picked up this power unit that is on railroad wheels for some odd reason. narrow gauge I figure for some kind of mining operation. Anyway I cleaned all the connections on the buzz coils and in the coil box and spun the April 1917 engine over with the crank and still no spark. does the whole thing need to be grounded? How important is that switch on the back of the coil box? I have retried it both ways still no spark.
That switch is the ignition switch. 1 click counter clockwise to start it on battery and two clicks clockwise from the Bat position to run on mag. Have the coils buzzed?
You will also need to know how to turn the Commutator to time your spark to assure your firing at the correct time. You'll also need to know where to set your gas in order to assure proper mixture. It all needs to be done correctly.
Have you connected a battery to power the coils? The mag be weak and hand cranking it may not produce enough voltage to spark at hand crank speed.
No coil buzz at all. Haven't tried the battery yet. didn't think I needed it. Where you hook the battery in at?
There seem to be some of the major parts missing that I would not try to start it with out them. Throttle control,spark control, I don't see a gas tank plus other things. Do you have any T people in the area that can help you. Don't
want you or your project to be hurt.
Richard, Bob is really on the money with his comments. A competent Model T guy would probably have very little trouble getting it to run. You've entered the realm of a pretty unique and specialized area of expertise. Like any other engine a proper fuel/air mixture with good spark at the right time and sufficient compression is necessary to make your engine run. A good Model T guy can be a real asset for your project.
The throttle control was rusted badly so I pitched it and will jerry rig something.
I found out about one Model T expert but I think he is old enough to have bought them brand new. Hopefully I can coax him to the garage. I can't find anything to do with the spark control either..
Here are a couple of pictures that may help:
(notice the terminal for an accessory battery - 6 or 12 V doesn't matter, ground to the frame or engine)
Make sure the timer is positioned so the sparks comes when the pistons are at their top position or preferably slightly after when you try starting the engine on battery. That's retarded timing. If the spark comes earlier you risk serious injury when it kicks back.
After starting you'll instead want the ignition to come earlier or advanced - that's why you need some lever to control the timer's position.
Thanks Roger for the diagram on the wiring and the timing.
I have an extra firewall and it is metal and not correct for the 1917 engine but I think I will clean it up and try it since it doesn't have the switch on the back of the coil box. I am assuming the magneto connect wire is the place to connect the positive pole of the battery and of course the negative to the frame.
Tho I am not interested as of yet in trying to start the engine I would like to make the plugs spark
BTW, the round thing in the back is the gas tank.
Do not connect the battery to the mag post. You would probably get a big spark and might wreck the mag if it is any good.
Is there another round thing in the back? The one that I am seeing on the corner is a vacuum fuel pump.
I can save you a lot of trouble and come pick that unit up. I've got a good home for it here in va.
Get the coils to buzz,then clean the carb.
make sure the valves are not stuck.
Look at the wiring diagram, you connect the battery to one terminal of the coil box, the magneto is connected to another terminal. Never mix the circuits - DC battery voltage will destroy any magnetism left in your magnets if the engine isn't very carefully positioned for a magnet recharge try, but that's for later.
Another thing, what Ford called the commutator is what most people call the timer. You should take it off and clean/check the innards - a dirty timer is another common cause for missing coils. The coils are grounded one at the time through the timer.
Have you changed the oil yet? Bud.
Change the oil? Heck I can't even find the oil drain plug!!! LOL unless that is it under the flywheel/magneto part of the transmission. Wow, and no dip stick either. I know, i know open the petcock and see if the oil comes out while you lay in a mud puddle.
So the round tank in the back is a fuel pump? They had fuel pumps and no dip sticks? Model A's didn't even have fuel pumps.
Thanks for the offer Fred but the unit is Jinxed. My truck broke down on the way home from the auction so your's would probably have major problems too.
OK, I see where the battery hooks up now.
I'll clean up the timer too.
Thanks to everyone who has contributed.
The round tank is a vacuum tank from some other brand 20's car - not Ford. They were mounted on the firewall delivering fuel by gravity flow to the carb while sucking new fuel from a larger tank in the back by intake manifold vacuum. Didn't take much for them to act up so few missed them when mechanical fuel pumps on the engine replaced them in the 30's.
And yes, you'll find the drain plug under the flywheel part of the pan.
Richard. Just for safety reasons, I would disconnect the wire from the mag post. It is the post at the top of the transmission cover(hogs head) just behind the rear of the head. That way there is no danger of ruining the mag. You do not need it till after the thing runs. To test the coils and bypass everything. I would hook a 12 volt battery charger to the engine. Hook the negative clamp to a clean spot on the engine. Then hook the positive clamp to the post for the battery terminal on the coil box. It is shown in the diagram above. Then take another wire and ground one end to the engine block. Then by taking the other end of that grounded wire and touching it to the top row (green blue red black in the diagram) one terminal at a time, the coils will buzz and fire each plug as you touch the wire to the terminals. The ground wire you are using will not shock you but the spark plugs will. If you have no fire then you have a loose or dirty connection. The timer on the front is doing the exact thing you are doing with the wire. The contacts in the timer go to "ground" when the cam turns the roller or brush into position. If you have fire at the plugs you will need to address the problem of timing the timer (correct start position) and being able to adjust it after starting. Do not attempt to start the engine before you know the timer is set correctly. As to changing stuff such as the firewall. Most people would say to leave it alone. It is the things that are there and have survived for years and years that are the character of the engine. It is your engine to do as you want, but please be carefull as to making changes, once they are gone you can not get them back.... good luck and have fun
Roger. The diagram above showing the crank pulley pin being level will work on most engines, but on some engines it can be vertical instead of horizontal. I believe some of the later cranks were made by outside sources and were drilled different. But it will always be vertical or horizontal. I know this from owning a Ford stamped EE crank in my 1927 with a vertical pin.
Thanks for that advice Donnie. I'll try that when I get back to the shop.
As for the firewall I understand what you are saying. But it is in bad shape and ready to break off. Same with the hood that is about to rust away apart. If I do replace the firewall I would keep the old one for sure, I just want to get rid of that switch on the back of the coil box as it seems broken.
A pic of the back
Were there any remarks as to where or what it was used for. Looks like it was some sort of power for belt driven units, very interesting unit. There's no sigh of any way the motor can move it on the track.
the tank on the back is a vacume fuel pump
Richard I noticed in your first post you said "spun the engine over with the crank,and still no spark" That is a very good way to join the "broken arm or wrist club". Never spin a model T engine. Only pull up (preferably with the left hand" and never wrap the thumb around the crank handle. The thumb and fingers should be on the same side. After you verify spark at the coils and plugs with the battery charger , clean the timer up and let us know what type of timer you have. Photos will help. We will then help you to the next step of the start up process. It is just a step by step process. If you make sure to test all the things, then the engine should start with one 1/4 turn pull of the crank handle. The coil box with the switch is not hard to fix. You will need some kind of switch anyway, so I suggest to fix what you have and came with it. Keep us posted ... and remember.... "some of us are always here"
Richard: One more thought. In the old engine world, A lot of collectors are really trying to save the patina and age of the engines. They do a mechanical fix of what is needed, and then tidy up loose and broken things with as minor of changes as possible. We engine people call it "leaving them in their work clothes" Like I said Its your engine, do with it as you see fit, but once its changed it can not be brought back. At an engine show, the old "survivor" engines will always have a crowd, and the nice restored ones will get looked at, but just not as much ...
Bob, the only thing they mentioned was that the deceased owner went from near to far to purchase everything he could find to buy. There were no comments on this power unit and it looked like no has ever worked on getting it running since it had last worked. I pulled the coils and all were old and filthy except one clean one, a KW dated 1946 so that's probably close to the last time it was used.
There is also another pulley shaft with it a longer one that replaced the one on her now for different applications I assume. Looks like a mining use, maybe for pumping water or drilling.
Clayton I guess I can take the vacuum fuel pump off as I see no need for it and just mount a gravity feed tank. The fuel line leads directly to the carb but none leading to the fuel pump.
Donnie, I have gotten hurt cranking my hit and miss engines so thanks for the heads up on cranking the T.
I understand your point about leaving them in their work clothes. But is there a problem with power washing the grease and grime off them to clean them up them maybe a spraying of WD40 or something to stop any additional rust? And what about replacing wires that are frayed badly or broken? I guess I could used the ones from my extra firewall instead of new material.
Regardless this is going to be fun.
Richard. You will just have to do the best you can with what is there if going the conservation route. Washing and cleanup is OK. Most of the old engines are cleaned up with solvents or steam cleaned. Useally all hand work and no power tools or blasting. The object is to try and remove some of the gunk but save what little remains of the paint, aged look of the wood, ect. Then a oily rag and W-D 40 or Kroil or ??? to give it a uniform look. Some people use linseed oil as it will dry and give a slight "wet look" but not look new or faked. And dust is not as much of a problem. Then maintence is just a oily rag and dust her off. Resist the urge to paint anythng. Just experiment, ask others how they did it when at shows, go slow and as you said "Its going to be fun" As to the wiring, coil box switch, hoses, belts, ect. Try to find good used parts if you can. There are plenty of people on the forum who will have good used stuff. Just place a free ad on the classified section at the top of the forum page. You have a very unique piece, (Im jealous), respect it for living as long as it has, and have fun ....
It appears that the cross shaft for the hand brake has a cast cam (which indicates it is an early one) that throws the transmission into neutral. Nice power plant !
great project, I had to start from scratch and parts to make my clone of a 1925 rail road speeder
Mine in Ely Nv. 2004
Mine and the orig. in Jamestown Ca.2004
That vacuum fuel pump could be used as a small gas tank to feed the engine for shows and grins.
It'll run for a heck of a long time on the amount of gas that thing will hold. Longer if you take the inards out of it.
Ken, the tank is already plumbed with the gas line to the carb so it would be easy to use. But I have plenty of used Briggs gas tanks from the 30's which can use that would work better. Someone could be looking for that fuel pump for their restoration.
Bob the railroad speeder is a beauty. I just wish my unit had a real axle in it so it could power down the track. Thanks for sharing the pictures.
Steve, thanks for the compliment on the unit and the information on the brake. I'm learning more on this unit all the time.
Donnie, thanks again for even more information and admitting that you are jealous. I figured most everyone would turn their noses up and this thing. Tks for letting me know otherwise.
rear axles are a dime a dozen. all are wore out, but i'd pu one one if it were me
Well today I hooked the battery charger to the engine and the battery post and tried to make the coils buzz as I was directed in the earlier posts. I had no luck on any of the four coils that I triedůSo I guess the next step is to disassemble everything and clean and then try again.
Here are some pictures of the timer or commuter.
Richard, Your no "buzz" problem more than likely is in the coil box or the switch. The switch will have to be in the battery position and making contact for the test to work. You can test each coil seperately to see if they buzz, by touching the positive battery charger clip to the bottom lug of the coil and touching the negative clip to the top lug on the side. When you do that the coil should "buzz" Remember that the bottom lug on the side of the coil will shock you till the enamel of your teeth hurt. (do not ask how I know that). If you have no buzz let us know and we will suggest ways to proceed. If all four coils buzz then you will need to start cleaning and fixing the coil box next.
Richard: From looking at the photo of the timer, it appears to be a standard Ford roller type. The wires going to it look dirty and rusty. You will need to clean every nut, washer, and wire clip in the whole timer, wire, and coil box assembly including the spring clips in the coil box, till they are nice and shiny clean. Make sure the contacts are nice and clean inside the timer also. But like I said above a quick test of each coil will let you know the coils are buzzing
Thanks Donnie, I'll get started on that next week.
Oh I've been shocked with those coils before. A buddy of mines Dad had a gas station and we found those coils there and played with them as kids. got nailed many times trying to nail others as a gag. Had no idea what they were then but they were fun.
Finally Got them plugs to spark when I turn the crank! Still I had to have the battery hooked up. Tried it on the magneto only and no spark at all, even put my fingers on the wire and no pulse at all. I guess the magneto is dead as a doornail.
Also changed the oil and found the petcocks.
I watched closely as the pin through the crankshaft came up to a horizontal position, I found the #1 plug buzzed just a hair before it was to the horizontal position. I assume that is a hair early.
Also I cannot find any adjustment for advancing or retarding the spark anywhere. What am I missing?
Spark timing is achieved by the timer. It is moved back and forth to set the correct timing position. You will have to set the engine to TDC on number one cylinder and position the timer to spark the plug for that cylinder. When starting retard the spark so as to not get a violent kick back when cranking.
You won't feel anything when touching the magneto output even if it's working - it's actually an unregulated alternator that only gives up to 30 volts ac depending of the rpm of the engine. When you get the engine running on battery you can test the magneto by measuring the voltage over a 1157 bulb connected to the output.
Peter, thanks, I'll use that to time the ignition. The problem is I can't figure out how to retard the spark. There is no device that I see.
Roger, I didn't understand that they had both a magneto and battery, sorry. I thought they could run off the magneto like a lawn mower since it was a hand start.
When new they started on the magneto, Ford didn't supply any battery for the non electric models or before 1919, but when the thrust bearing part of the third main gets worn the gap between the flywheel magnets and the spools starts to get larger and the output of the magneto diminishes. Magnets also tends to lose their magnetism over time, so a battery helps a lot when starting an old and worn Model T engine.
The magneto output from a tired engine may well be enough for the ignition at idle and up, but not at cranking speeds.
Thanks for the insight roger.
The timer cover is moved back and forth to set the timing. This in a car is connected to a lever on the steering column by a rod that attaches to the timer cover. You will have to come up with some sort of rod and lever so as to adjust the timing.