I am building. 27 model t and would like some advice on weather I should purchase a distributor or 4 coils . .
I would like to get your thoughts before I go out and purchase either of them.
Which is best ?.
I dont know ,hehe
The original Model T ignition system provides many advantages over a distributor.
1. The charging system or battery can be completely failed and the car will drive forever.
2. Less maintenance cost, less maintenance frequency. A set of coils and timer require 5 minutes to clean and lube the timer once every 1000 - 1500 miles. The coils require no maintenance after they are rebuilt properly for typically 15,000 miles. For many T owners that is forever.
3. Better reliability - If you carry a fifth coil under the seat you will probably never need it. If a coil fails completely the car still drives home.
4. The sound of the original ignition system - priceless. Nothing can replace the sound of a set of coils singing in the coil box.
5. Cost - coils are rebuilt for $60 each, or $240 a set.
6. Free starts - not possible with a distributor. See the video......
Listen to this (sorry about the Cicadas in the background at times, it was 95 degrees that day)
Are you building a stock slow speed antique or a period speedster? How deep into the engine are you? If the engine is being restored and if you're going stock, then you should get the magneto coil rewound and the flywheel magnets recharged (remember to change the bronze screws, old ones crystallize in use and may crack)
With a fresh magneto inside it's no question - go with coils.
If you're building a speedster and wants to run with higher speeds, you may want another ignition system. I have four paddles on the flywheel for oiling and a high tension magneto for period technology with better high speed ignition accuracy.
In my view a disturbutor makes the car less interesting but many find them easier to understand and work with than the Ford coils.
It depends on what you are willing to do, keep it original or you don't care.
For me a Model T should be fitted with four right working coils and a good working magneto. This give much more pleasure to drive it. You can hear them ticking while driving, just as your heart
To service the coils is no problem, parts are available and most of the T people know how they had to be served. About 75 million coils were made by Ford during the Model T time, there are still good coils found in attics.
Distributor parts, if it is an old aftermarket, are sometimes hard to find. The newer Bosh set up is better but for how long?? Ben Harding (texas t parts) is retiring, I read a few weeks ago.
Good luck and keep it safe.
My good mate helping me build the T said coils all the way and you have confirmed it coils it is .
I am building 27 like this one in the photo attached , I have sent the owner an email for some more shots but he had not replied as yet .
You guys are so helpful cheers Bill
Since you're at the stage of deciding on which ignition system to use, you could also consider
"True-Fire" http://www.true-fire.com/and "E-Timer".http://www.modeltetimer.com/
Good choice. In the long run it will give you more options that running a distributor and probably be cheaper too. Consider a good brush style timer. Less maintenance hassle that with a roller timer. Another coil option are Cameron Whitaker's electronic coils. Traditional look, electronic performance, easy to switch back. You can get a hold of him on the forum for more info.
Model Ts are known for reliable ignition they have one coil per cylinder. The newest cars are the same way. From the Model A days through the rest of the century though, the world went to single coil and points. How I remember the regular break downs as do millions of others.
If you have nothing to start with, the start up costs are roughly the same for any of the options out there. I have recently just done the math on all of this determining what to put in my T tractor. They do all have their advantages and disadvantages, and while I am not a purists, I do believe a original coil based system should be in most stock style T's--for prosperity and originality. My pickup truck my runs coils and Anderson timer.
That being said, I choose a distributor for my tractor based on a few factors, mainly it will be kept outside all the time, and I intend to use it in all weather conditions. Wooden coils and moisture generally don't get along. And while it's true I could pull the coils after every use, sometimes I get lazy and/or forget, so I went with the ease of set it and forget it. I also did not have another spare set of wooden coils here to use.
And as far as carrying spares, people carry at least one spare wooden coil, what's the difference of carrying a modern replacement coil. Although changing a wooden on is a heck of alot easier....... The debate will never end.
My opinion and worth exactly what you paid for it....Distributors and alternators are just plain UGLY under the hood of a T.
If you have a good magneto, coils are hard to beat. Although there are some on here that say they get good performance, my experience has been that coils running on 6 volts result in such retarded timing that the car will not do highway speed. Coils on 12 volts perform much like coils on magneto. While it is not really an issue, coils on magneto have 3-4 distinct 'nodes' when it comes to timing advance. Coils running on battery have infinite adjustability of the timing between it's two extremes. Like I say, this is not an issue and full advance is pretty much full advance when comparing coils on 12v to magneto. The different 'nodes' of the coils on magneto are part of the charm and dare I say 'experience' of driving a Model T. The 'experience' doesn't mean as much to some as it does others. To some, their 'experience' is being seen driving some cool looking sheet metal around and couldn't care less what was under the hood. For those of us who like to 'experience' the Model T as it was designed, there is no substitute for coils on mag.
Don't forget about the plethora of after-market timers and distributors. There must be a message here. Timers are crude and subject to a lot of maintenance. Somehow all my Ts ended up with era-correct distributors/magnetos...mainly because they are interesting...and work.
Bill, as I'm learning the "ins and outs" of these things, I'd at least have to say go with the coils, then if you want to "modernize" it a bit without really sacrificing the "cool factor" of the coils, I'd say do an e-timer. I have a tru-fire on my Runabout, coils on all the others. I like the Tru-Fire, but for whatever reason if I were to go electronic, I think I'd do the e-timer. In fact, thinking about going that route for my '15 anyway. That way, you keep your nice ticking coils, and it would be a very easy "switch-back" if the e-timer should fail. Not so with the tru-fire. JMHO
People always seem to forget that there is in fact a period correct, 3rd option for an ignition system: the high tension magneto! I run a Bosch DU-4 but there are lots of good ones to choose from. To me, at least, the high tension mag is much more speedstery looking than a distributor. It's also nifty like the original ignition system in that you don't need a battery to drive. Only 5 wires to worry about: 4 to plugs and 1 to engine kill switch. No need to fuss with all those crazy coil problems the distributor folks have. =)
I was thinking Distributor for my speedster project but that Bosh has me thinkin!
Hey Tony do an image search on google "magneto drive mtfca" or "high tension magneto mtfca" and you'll see tons of pics of different setups. There are lots of ways to mount them.
If you have a generator block there are mounting plates (I think one in the classifieds right now) or you can just make a mounting plate (needs to be really sturdy) that holds the magneto in the same place as mine.
There's a good looking Eisemann magneto drive on eBay right now - nice part about that one is you won't have to fabricate a linkage for working the spark advance - just a new rod to go over to the built in advance lever. Maybe 2 or 3 times a year I'll see a Bosch triple gear drive like the one in the picture.
Steve at www.mainelymagnetos.com rebuilt both of them for me and added the impulse couplers - he does a great job. My mag will shock the ever-loving bejesus out of you at idle (don't ask how I know lol). If you are hand cranking all the time then I definitely recommend the impulse coupler - if you have a starter than an impulse probably isn't necessary.
Tony, look on ebay. There is a Bosch mag and a mounting plate up right now. PK
First off are you familiar with either system? Assuming your new to T's so probably no experience with coils. Do you have any idea of the condition of the car's magneto? Chad mentioned that the start from scratch cost for either system is about the same but if my mag was NG I MIGHT consider a distributor though either system works well on batt. I know it's not much help but either set-up is a wash with me. Both OK & "period" for the car. Neither is better. They both work if you know how to maintain them.
Personally, I recommend looking for and getting the mounting setup or plate that you want (gen or non gen) and if it happens to come with a magneto, great, you really should just buy a mag that is already rebuilt from Steve though. One of the ones I had him rebuild was supposedly rebuilt already and once he got into it needed all kinds of TLC - the first rebuilder just spun it to see if it sparked, he didn't test the coil and set the points the way Steve does.
I just really like the high tension mags because you get all of the timing accuracy at high RPM's that a distributor provides but it's not very common - not a lot of high tension mags on T's out there compared to dizzies.
Just curious Seth, what was the startup costs on doing a complete Mag setup? That was one system I never considered, but probably should have--espcially for my application.
My costs were: $60 for a working swap meet magneto - might be a bit too new though.. (I may eventually need to send it off for refurbishing, have a couple of other working mags to use if this one suddenly breaks down)
plus about $50 for the home made magneto drive.
($40 for a high quality bicycle chain)
I should have made the magneto shelf/bracket a bit higher up on the LH side of the engine - didn't measure the water pipe route right and uses a flexible pipe now. Well, always something to fix this winter too
Everyone has their preference. Some like coils, others e-timer, others distributors, others tru-fire.
Every Model T owner has his/her purposes for the car. Some, want it to go faster, others want it to look like a speedster, others want to show the car, others like to tour. Some like to do the mechanical work by themselves. Others hire all the work done by others.
So it all depends on you. I saw the car you want to duplicate. To me it looks like a touring with the back modified to a pickup or hack. Maybe that was an original style in Australia? Anyway, it looks like a Model T. Coils would be appropriate.
Some people think that coils are not as reliable as a distributor or other more modern ignition system, but that is just not true. There are maintenance problems with the original roller type timers and other timers have been developed which do the same thing as the original timer and look very similar to original equipment without the frequent cleaning and maintenance.
Most importantly, for a car to run its best on coils, you need a good working magneto and a good coil box. You also need good working coils, and a good timer. With these 4 components, you will have a very dependable car, and it will have some of the uniqueness of the original T. You can experience "free starts" You can pull out 3 coils and make the car run on one cylinder (a trick to show curious bystanders). You have two power sources, magneto and battery.
All you really need to have along on tours to assure the car will keep going are a few spare parts. A timer, one or two extra working coils and one or more new spark plugs. You will hardly ever need to use these spare parts, but they are not available at the modern parts stores, so it's good to carry spares, just in case. If you use a distributor, you should also carry spare rotor, cap, points and condenser. These parts vary from distributor to distributor.
A good thing about using the coils, is that when you are on a tour, there will be quite a few people who carry the spare coils, timers, spark plugs, but if you use a distributor, you are on your own. Some parts stores will have parts which fit some of the distributors, but you will need to know which distributor it is, and what more modern car has the same parts, because the parts store employees will not.
My particular setup was $350 including shipping off eBay for the Bosch triple gear drive with a later model (ed. 19 I think) Bosch DU-4 magneto. I paid another $450 I think to have the magneto completely rebuilt and the impulse coupler added. I made the linkage from stuff I had in the garage. I also got a correct Bosch Magneto switch but any switch will do to kill the engine.
Jay has a triple gear drive like mine and his gear teeth are in better shape than mine were. There's one or two other posters on here who have a triple gear drive as well. That's part of why I liked it - correct but different. Lots of folks have dizzies. In the last year I've seen 2 other triple gear drives on eBay and one had pristine teeth but not the mounting plate for the mag - just the gear part, and the other had really bad teeth on the gears but had all of the parts. The complete unit went for like $475 I think (again that's no magneto) and the partial unit went for around $350.
That's not the only way to do as Roger showed - I would do a chain drive on mine except I have *cough cough* an alternator mounted right there *shhhh!! Don't tell anyone* so when I saw the triple gear drive I jumped on it.
Bill Volkman - The picture of the '27 depot hack is mine; I was quite surprised to see that picture attached to your post. That is an old picture, taken in California when Pete Cosner, the original owner/builder of the car was still alive. I bought the car from his family several years ago. You mentioned that you "sent the owner an email for some additional shots but he has not replied as yet".
Well Bill, at this time, I have not received your email, so at this time, I guess this is at least a reply:
I'm just barely "computer literate", so sending pictures is difficult, however, with my wife's help, I will certainly do my (our) best to send what you need. The only additional problem is that we have two places,....our primary home is where the car is, and our other place where we are right now is about a hundred miles northwest on Lopez Island in the San Juan Islands in Washington. Not sure how soon we'll be back home, but if I do receive any specific requests from you for photos or information, either by email or otherwise, I'll do my best to comply.
In the meantime, I can tell you that the '27 depot hack is our absolute favorite of our 4 Model "T's, and having owned, driven, and worked on it for several years now, I'd buy this car again in a heartbeat! (Professional engine/transmission rebuild by "Steves's "T" Works" in Milton, WA. year before last.) As depot hacks go, I really like it and I especially like the fact that it utilizes the totally unaltered '27 cowl and windshield. One major difference between our depot hack and most others is that the windshield is attached to the roof and there is no "gap" as in the usual type depot hack design. Several have advised that this is not a good idea, but I'm not sure why, because it's been very successful for many years now, and I'm of the opinion that as the saying goes,...."if it ain't broke, don't FIX it!" I mention this as I'm thinking that the windshield being attached at the top or not, might be a decision that you're considering. Bottom line is, I'd build the car again just as it is if that is any encouragement to you. (If you haven't done it Bill, you might click on my profile as it's a more recent shot of the depot hack)
Again, have not received your email Bill, but will help any way I can in future,........harold
P.S. Bill, the Long Beach Model T Club in California has a very nice web site. I originally bought the car, sort of "sight unseen", initially based on pictures of the car on that club web site. The original owner, Pete Cosner, was very active in the club, and the car shows up in many photos of past tours that I think you might be able to find on their web site.
Bill - I guess I gave you some bad info! I just went into the Long Beach Model T Club web site for the first time in several years, and it's a whole new web site. Photos of those old club tours they had do not seem to appear in their new web site. Sorry about that,.......harold
Go original . As the owner past and current of several T's and A's I can tell you that almost always modern 'improvements" turn out to be no improvement at all. And that is the voice of (painful) experience. The basic design of early fords is pretty good and takes some beating. Also the difference from modern is what makes them so much fun!
A T's gotta buzzzzz .........
I have resent you an email hopefully it gets through to you please let me know if you don't receive it in the next few days .
Many Thanks Bill
Bill your will learn much from this forum as I have! Be sure that with the right gear fitted your T will run magnificently on coils and with its own magneto source of electricity! When the times comes be sure to have your magnets remagnetised, fit a new rewound coil plate, have the flywheel magnet gap set correctly and you will be good to go. Fit a good NOS timer or perhaps a new TW or Anderson timer and a good rebuilt set of coils. All these are necessary but these works will give you years of reliable Model T motoring the way they were built. Good luck with your new project. Another
Aussie T on the road is always good!
It seems every time I try to modify my T or A, I end up going back to the way it was built the first time. What comes to mind, was my Riley manifold downdraft experience on my A with a Holley experience. I learned a lot and had my Zenith on my A rebuilt and now I am as happy as a clam. I run 4 coils recharged magnets, rebuilt coil ring and a timer. I like it. I don't have any reason to run a distributor. If I did it may turn out like my experience with the downdraft.