I'm keen to hear any recent reports regarding Truefire.
I remember when they first appeared and many folk were singing their praises. Then more recently, there have been several reports of them breaking down with an un-contactable manufacturer.
Are there any long term users still happy with them? or is everybody ditching them?
Whats the buzz? Tell me whats a happening.
Rob, I was an early adaptor when I ran out of coils for the Heinze box on my 1912. It has performed flawlessly for many years.
I have a second one in my speedster in a 27 coilbox on the motor. There was no room for it on the firewall with a cowl tank. With no magneto on the motor, I was left with either a disturbutor or a True fire. I did replace a board in the timer when a sensor went out, possibly due to a short on the block. Again, it performs brilliantly.
Others have had different experiences.
Allan from down under.
Like Allan, I put one in my '13 Heinz coil box. It has performed flawlessly for many thousands of miles for more than 10 years
I used to carry a set of Heinz coils and a timer, but haven't for years now, as a backup!!!
Thanks Allan & Les.
Still running the T.F. on my '20 Runabout that came with it when I bought the car 3 years ago, still running great. Only thing, it seems to be very sensitive to contacts that get dirty or show signs of corrosion from dampness. I'm of the opinion that about every two years it is advisable to take the coil box completely out of the car and thoroughly clean all contact points including the wire ends, and once I did that (forced to due to a radiator leak spewing antifreeze all over the firewall) it ran even better. This fall/next spring will be the time to re-clean things again. Takes about an hour. Should this unit fail, I have (ahem) an e-timer waiting in the wings. All my other T's are stock.
My 1924 cut-off touring came to me without a magneto and with a Truefire ignition installed, it works well.
Someday, if or when my engine has to be rebuilt, I will re-install the magneto and run the stock coil setup to get the "full Model T experience". No, my current Truefire unit is not for sale, so don't PM me asking about it.
If you install a Truefire, you should check, and if necessary, adjust the timing per the unit's instructions. I ended up fabricating a custom, longer timing rod.
Here is a link to an earlier thread with the timing instructions:
I bought one (brand new, thanks) about 5 years ago now and its just been sitting on a shelf.....every time I look at it, saying "boy, wasn't I waste of money".
Now that I have more positive information on the system, I'll consider installing it with more confidence.
I have been running two of them in two cars for ten years. Works perfect. Was told they wouldn't last but that has not been the case. Mike
I know two Ford Model S owners who have used TreuFire units for years with no problem. I had one on a 24 Tudor for a few years (no magnets) with no complaints.
I charge a 12 volt motorcycle battery from the T mag
I've been running the latest version that I ordered directly from Mr.Bittner. My old one crapped out after 10 or so years. Dad picked it up after his mag.went south. I'm real pleased with unit. It has an improved advance/Retard ratio very similar to the orig. T. The old units would max out at half way down the sparklever. The newer magnet pickup seems to be a little stronger so re timing and adjustment will be needed.Also make sure your power strip in the bottom of the coil box are real good. I had issue with my old one that would not stay in touch with the coil and I was constantly re bending those once a month.
I drove a 1924 T Coupe 25 miles on Friday for a friend. I was amazed at how quick it started and how smooth it ran.
He had problems starting the engine several years ago with the TrueFire installed and added an extra battery for more starting power. His whole arrangement was wired with 2 Gauge or 12 volt cables.
I convinced him to remove one battery from the circuit and measure the starter terminal voltage while the starter was engaged. Then do the same with the other battery.
The voltage dropped to 4.2 from one battery and 2.8 from the other battery while performing this test. That battery was actually trying to take a charge rather than providing any starter current at all.
It was a well known fact here that the TrueFire works better on 8 or 12 volts and will not work at all on around 5 volts or less, which is all many people have while cranking the engine with the starter.
I removed the weak battery altogether and replaced the battery, starter and ground strap cables on the good battery with 2/0 or 00 Gauge 6 Volt cables with soldered terminals and sleeves covering the connection area to keep out moisture, dirt, etc.
The fully charged battery measured 6.4 volts with no load and 5.8 volts while cranking. That was enough to provide TrueFire sparks every time and it evidently still is adequate.
The engine in this T is original and has never been rebuilt, so the compression is a little lower.
The TrueFire might not function as well with a recently rebuilt engine with doomed pistons or a high compression head, unless an 8 or 12 volt battery is installed.
The cable differences photo has the new 2/0 Gauge cable on top and the commercial 2 Gauge cable on the bottom.
Rob, if you have any doubts about your TrueFire operating, you can build a small tester, like I did.
There are TrueFire components in the Timer cover on the left and a small crank from an old mechanical pencil sharpener on the other side (not shown) to turn the TrueFire Rotor.
A set of standard coil box contacts are inside the box, except a single contact is on the lower end to apply power.
The upright angle brackets represent the block and are grounded. The angled electrodes provide the spark to the brackets and have a .035 inch gap to see the spark jump.
A small 6 Volt lantern battery provides enough current for this tester.
So far, I have only found one TrueFire box bad and that was repaired by a gob of silicon from a tube that prevented the spark from jumping external from the box.
Two spark plugs share each spark and they must be in good condition and have equal .035 gaps for equal sparks.
If the contacts in the coil box do not make a good connection to the TrueFire, part of your spark will be lost there and not available for the spark plugs to share.
The box rear board can be removed to look for sparks, but the box has to be pressed against the contacts for proper operation.
Then too, I do have a new one in the box yet and I do not have one in my Model T.
I've been running a TF in our '12 for more than 10 years (18,000 miles) with excellent performance, except for one failure of the small circuit board in the commutator which I replaced. A couple of years ago I had Mr. Bittner "upgrade my unit to the latest version." Since then no problem whatsoever.(I do carry a spare commutator module in my toolbox.)Locally we have a 1/2 dozen T's running TF, all with satisfied owners.
I have used the Truefire systems in 2 of my early t's . They work great and makes starting much easier.
If you understand the design of the system the coils used fire 2 cylinders at the same time. 1 and 4 and 2 and 3. so when cranking over your motor it will start quicker and easier.
I use them in my wood coil box 1912's and did notice a problem with having a electrical tracking inside the coil box. I glued a insulation on the back wall of the coil box and problem solved. I used strips of heavy gasket paper in between the coil contacts. AGAIN FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS.
I have quick and easy crank starts and more often than not free starts due to the firing of 2 cylinders at the same time.
I screwed up and did not follow the wiring directions supplied by Bittner and toasted my true fire unit. I sent it off to True fire and it was fixed and returned in 2 weeks. I have purchased a couple of units from other guys that did not follow instructions and they toasted them as well. I sent them to bittner and they were quickly fixed and returned at a very reasonable price. The important lesson here is to FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS, and you will have many trouble free driving miles.
Keep in mind this is not his full time job and he provides a valuable service to T'ers. I find that using the email or just sending a unit to him UPS works just fine.
I would not have a model t without a Truefire coil pack in my car.
Thank you all for your answers, suggestions and advice. Its much appreciated.
And because of the positive responses, I'll go ahead and install this one. I've read the instructions several times and I'm confident that I have my head around it.
However, I have just one more question.....where is the most convenient/appropriate/best place to take the "power" from. The switch, the terminal/junction block or somewhere else?
Thanks & Cheers,
Rob, wherever is most convenient. In my speedster, the ignition switch is a period push/pull switch with power from the terminal block.
When setting up the Truefire, make sure every connection anywhere in the system is clean and tight. Pay special attention to the earth.
Some users fitted these units in the hope to cure a problem. They are not a 'cure all' and are perhaps a little more demanding that wiring/circuitry be in optimal condition. Given this, they perform wonderfully well.
Allan from down under.
Rob, My two cents worth:When I initially installed my TF in our '12 Touring, several years ago, I wired it to the normal terminal block. However,more recently, taking the advice of a learned antique enthusiast friend, he recommended that I would be well advised to run a dedicated fused line directly from the battery to the on/off switch on the coil box to feed the TF."Transient currents" can be a problem with the electronic components in electronic ignition systems. Chrysler, several years back - in the '70's if I remember correctly, adopted this approach, as well as several other automotive manufacturers. We are simply reducing the chances of inadvertently overloading and burning up these electronic components.
I have T that came to me with a True Fire since the car has no magnets or field coil. The electrical connections on a TF need to be flawless. If the connections are marginal it will run like crap. After I learned about that the car has run without any issues. I would recommend them to any one who has a car with a bad mag. However; The next time the motor comes out of this car it will get a set of magnets and field coil as that is the way I like to roll! There is nothing like the enjoyment of listening to the coils on mag sing out to you 124312431243.....
I ran a wire directly from the battery to the ignition system eliminating any possibilities of trouble. I neglected to mention that I also used the Bittner regulator to charge the battery, taking the power directly from the Ford magneto.
I have found that these improvements for my model t's make the car a very nice touring vehicle. I have not had to charge the battery since I installed the regulator. This keeps the battery charged up and the car running smoothly.