Tips on Using a Distributor on a T?

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2015: Tips on Using a Distributor on a T?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By James Chochole, Oswego, IL on Wednesday, July 01, 2015 - 10:51 pm:

Gents,
I picked up a '27 Touring from an elderly gent who passed away. This is my first flivver with a distributor. I understand that my Magneto is now a thing of the past on this car, but my question is this- to start the car, is it still normal to advance the timer lever down a few notches? It seems silly to do that since I don't have a timer.

But as always, I wanted to ask first. Just haven't used a dist. before.

Thanks in advance,
Jim


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dave Barker - Dayton, OH on Wednesday, July 01, 2015 - 11:02 pm:

In short, no. No advance is necessary for starting with a distributor. In fact, if you advance the timing, it could kick-back and injure you.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Les VonNordheim on Wednesday, July 01, 2015 - 11:12 pm:

I do not advance the Texas T distributor on our T when starting. Only after the engine has started do I quickly advance the timing. With the distributor, the full advance lever position is only half of what it was when using a timer. Take care to not over advance the engine as this will case expensive damage.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Wayne Sheldon, Grass Valley, CA on Thursday, July 02, 2015 - 01:37 am:

I think it depends upon the specific distributor. Some have centrifugal advance, and some do not. If the distributor does have centrifugal advance, it is "supposed" to make starting easier by not needing to advance the timing after the engine starts. I think some of them are not that well set up.
The couple distributors I have had all had manual advance. Retard timing to crank, then advance timing after it starts.
Either way. Check the timing carefully. The best way I know is to use a volt/ohm meter to determine the exact point when the points open, and make sure that for starting, the points open several degrees AFTER top dead center with the spark lever retarded. Some distributors do not have quite enough adjustment range in the linkage. My coupe still has the distributor it came with (just too many other things to do). It takes full retard to start and full advance to run nice.
Good luck!
Drive carefully and enjoy the new toy! W2


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Chad Marchees _____Tax Capital, NY on Thursday, July 02, 2015 - 06:07 am:

I have found with my Texas T distributor that the range needed for advance/retard lever movement is about an inch or so total. I made two marks on my quadrant to make it easier for me to find the best start position and the best full advance position. It is way to easy to go to far with the timing and cause detonation--that's bad. and if you can hear it knocking, it is knocking way before that. But to answer your first question, most likely you will have to retard the distributor to start--(depends on the distributor model).


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Larry Smith on Thursday, July 02, 2015 - 10:08 am:

The best advice is to remove it, and put a timer on!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dave Barker - Dayton, OH on Thursday, July 02, 2015 - 11:53 am:

Larry - That's your opinion on what the best advice is, and though I respect that, it's not everyone's, and it's not what James asked in his original post. James simply asked if he needs to advance the timing when starting his car with a distributor, not what he should or shouldn't do to make his car more "original". His car, his choices.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Doug Wilson - Omaha NE on Thursday, July 02, 2015 - 12:19 pm:

I have a Texas T distributor. It could just be the way my timing is set, as it maybe off a degree, but mine starts best advanced a notch, maybe two. Fully up it will not start as well, any more it does not want to start.
In driving, it only needs advanced total maybe 2/3's of the quadrant if that much. There are so many ways to get your adjustment, they all seem to end up just slightly different.
I run a distributor because I want to drive my car. Of all of the coils I have, about 8, none of them worked. The magneto coil was damaged and the magnets week. Yes they are all repairable at a cost. The distributor was easier, quicker, and cheaper. I did just what I would if it were 1930. They have been an available accessory for years


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Harold Schwendeman - Sumner,WA on Thursday, July 02, 2015 - 12:38 pm:

Larry - Besides putting a timer on it, I suppose you'd want 4 coils, a coil ring, and magnets put back on the flywheel too, huh?

Just making light of this Larry, but seriously, I'm pretty sure there's a very good chance that James' new speedster might have been built like a lot of speedsters, with a distributor so as to save the weight of all of the original low tension magneto parts, plus in effect, lightening the flywheel by not installing magnets.

Nothing wrong with a distributor on a speedster in my opinion, and again, I think that's how most of them were built,....harold


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Frank Harris from Long Beach & Big Bear on Thursday, July 02, 2015 - 01:00 pm:

Here is the way it works: The spark control rod should be slightly bent in order to clear the water pipe. That rod should be threaded on both ends with a jam nut and connectors much like a carburetor has on most engines. That rod must be disconnected at the outboard end is adjusted up and down the until the spark is fine tuned and then the jam nut tightened to hold the setting. Most set-ups require a reversing bell crank in order for the spark to advance when the lever is pulled down, This means that no two are alike.

If you like a very slow idle you should have the spark retarded a whole lot when the lever is up all the way. In this case you will have to pull the lever down a bit in order for the engine to start. The previous owner may have set the timing in that manner. When running a Pertronix you can set the idle VERY slowly.

You can set the timing accurately with a test lamp connected to the points and the ground. The distributor is rotated back and forth with number one cylinder at T.D. C. When the light goes out the points just open and that Is when the spark plug fires.

The crank pin is vertical at T.D. C. I remove the fan belt and paint the end of the pin white so I can use a timing light.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Harold Schwendeman - Sumner,WA on Thursday, July 02, 2015 - 01:48 pm:

Frank - you mean horizontal at TDC, right?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Walt Berdan, Bellevue, WA on Thursday, July 02, 2015 - 02:26 pm:

Key question not asked is how the distributor is timed with the lever all the way up. If new to me, I'd be wanting to pull the #1 plug and do a slow hand crank process to see where it fires - before, at, or after TDC with the lever up. If set properly for my world, all the way up would be firing a few degrees after TDC. Hard to tell how it was set up by the prior owner without testing.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By James Chochole, Oswego, IL on Thursday, July 02, 2015 - 03:37 pm:

Thanks guys, I am taking most of the engine components off to clean, degrease and repaint. My engine was completely rebuilt but had gobs of road-grime all over it and was flaking paint off badly. I'll determine which dist. I have and start tinkering with it.

Thanks for all your experiences and valuable suggestions- I love having a T and the help this forum provides is invaluable!!!

Many thanks again!!!
Jim


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By James Chochole, Oswego, IL on Thursday, July 02, 2015 - 03:43 pm:

Here is a pic of thetype of distributor I have. Anyone running this one? Plus any tips, the gentleman that rebuilt my car is gone now, so I can't ask questions of him.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Walt Berdan, Bellevue, WA on Thursday, July 02, 2015 - 07:06 pm:

Looks a lot like the one I have on my speedster that I got over 15 years ago. I think a fellow by the name of Rader had them made up then and his son-in-law Rudy Saarela continued his parts business for several years. The distributor head on mine began life on a Type 3 VW but had all the automatic advance stuff locked up. The unit has been trouble free with just an occasional bit of grease.


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