I notice the suppliers sell rebuild kits for the "pin" and "clip" type ignition switches. What is the difference? Are they interchangeable?
It depends on what you're interchanging. If you're changing the back plate in a switch, the answer is no, they're not.
Some are held in the switch housing by tabs, like this. Others have pins instead of tabs. Which one you use depends on the housing.
If your switch isn't making contact, you may not need to buy a new backing plate. It may be that the switch isn't making good contact because the backing plate has become warped.
The cure for that is to rub it on sandpaper to flatten the surface. This backing plate happens to be the pin type, so you can see the difference between it and the tab type in the other picture.
The switches are rugged and simple. You can likely take yours apart clean it and caress it and make it work like new.
Thanks. I'll take mine off to see what type it is. The switch seems to work OK, but the ignition key often gets stuck in the "off" position, and takes finessing to turn "on". Could it just need lubrication, or do the tumblers tend to fail?
Lubrication is a pretty good guess. Squirt some graphite powder in it. That may be all it needs.
The pot metal center could be broke. I may have a solution, aloso@q dotcom
Andy, PM sent. Thanks, Dave
Steve and others.
DO NOT - I repeat DO NOT squirt LockEase or any graphite based lubricant including dry graphite into the ignition switch. Graphite is powdered carbon and is resistive. If you get enough of it in the wrong place (with or without some sort of lubricant on it) you may discover you have a dead battery for no apparent reason. The graphite forms a resistance path between electrical conductors. Had a good friend who squirted some LockEase lock lube into his ignition switch on his motorcycle and he kept finding his battery dead. He could not find the cause. I measured a leakage path and couldn't for the life of me figure out where it was coming from since he never mentioned lubing the switch. Finally as a last resort I opened up the switch and found gray greasy paste in there and he told me it was LockEase which I found out was a graphite based lube for key locks but NOT for electrical switches. I flushed it out and washed the thing out in a jar of denatured alcohol, reinstalled it and the leakage path went away.
Polish the connections in your switch with scotchbrite fiberglass cloth (not steel wool which may leave shards of metal behind) and add a wee bit of tension as needed and you should be good to go but forget about using any graphite in there.
For that matter forget using graphite anywhere in the engine either...some of the new oils that boast all sorts of heat resistance have graphite in them...good way to knock out your magneto, especially if any of your mag ring coils have chipped or missing pieces of their coverings.
Just in case you wondered how that switch goes together or need any parts...
The best advice I can give you is to have your switch completely rebuilt by Ben Martin. He can repair both the key tumbler and electrical switch parts like new. You can reach Ben at 404-789-6350.
Ron the Coilman
John, thanks for the warning on graphite. I forgot about its conductive property and didn't consider the possibility that it could get past the tumblers and into the electrical parts of the switch. How about silicone lubricant for the tumblers? I don't think that contains anything conductive.
P. Jamison: I can see by your profile that you are a piano tuner and you probably work on them to an extent also.
You are more than 'qualified' to repair a Model T ignition switch.
If its sticking or getting hard to turn take it out and take a look at it. If its the one with the 3 pins holding the backing plate in place push it down and it should twist out.
The other style has the tabs which you can carefully bend over to remove the plate.
In either case once you get it apart do as Steve says and make sure the surface is flat and sand contacts.
You can also carefully bend the contact tabs to make a better contact. It doesn't take much.
The problem with the graphite based lubricant is using to much. I've used some in my 24 several years ago and haven't had any problems BUT I used just enough for the key cylinder and NOT to lubricate the contact points in the switch itself. If you can use some type of dry type Teflon based lubricant that's probably the best.
I had the last switch in my 21 T "rebuilt" (wont say by who) and its wasn't any better than the one's I did myself. I wont do that again.
Good luck with yours and you can do it.
I'm currently working on a switch for a friend and have it apart for refinishing. Here's how the switch housing, lever, and face plate go together.
The lever is sandwiched between the housing and the plate, which are held together by two rivets. The rivets aren't shown in Lang's 2015 printed catalogue, but they're listed on the website for 25¢.
Here's a back view of the three pieces. It shows the lever's flange which is sandwiched between the face plate and the switch housing.
I think it wise to avoid any graphite type lube anywhere in or around an electrical switch. Lube of any type will usually "migrate" eventually. I don't use lube in my switch but I did take it apart and clean it up and made things smooth so that the contacts could glide across the insulator and then land into the "hole" where they should end up and provide a definite retention. Mine has worked without issue for over 20 years in my '23 which is a credit to Ford and his simplicity of good design AND of course it was probably cheap.
OT - of all the things that I have seen that I think were clever designs the absolute best was the top lid hinges on my wife's maytag washing machine. That washer and dryer still work like new and are over 25 years old. The hinge on the washer lid is simply a nylon ball that is held into dimpled recess in the lid with a matching recess in the washer top housing. They can be replaced easily but so far the original pair are still in there. There is nothing to rust nor to need lube. Simply a great simple functional design. My hat is off to the guy who came up with that idea.
I found out why my key was sticking. The car came with two keys, but it turns out they were a 55 and a 66. The 55 turned fine. Switching keys caused the problem. Interestingly, the 66 key worked also when withdrawn slightly.
I have some "white graphite" powder I acquired about 60 years ago and have used it without a problem in the ignition key cylinder. I think based on how the switch is made one would have to really flood the assembly with it to cause a problem. Next time I use it I will check it with a ohmmeter and see how conductive it might be.
The "pin type" is much easier to take apart. Just push down and twist. The "clip" type, not so much, but it is doable. First off, the "clips" need to be annealed, that is , heat them red hot and let them cool slowly. This can be done with a VERY small Oxy-Aceteylene torch tip. Just heat the bend on the clip to red hot, and let it cool. The cardboard may smoke a bit, but don't panic, as long as it doesn't catch fire, you're good to go. Then, just bend the clips(tabs) up and remove the guts of the switch, check it out, and repair as necessary. After everything has been fixed/repaired, just reassemble. Dave
If you do rebuild the switch and use one of the new switch backs, trails may develop on the contact side. These trails were causing a slight voltage leak. I corrected the problem by cutting across the track surface with a dremel tool cutting wheel.
I agree on the pin type switch back. They are much easier to open up. I have done a few of them, and I sand down the inside of the switch back to get it as flat as possible. I use Crazy Glue to hold in the pins if they are loose. I've had to turn down the two rivets that hold everything together to match the original configuration. After repainting everything, I use a fine artist brush, and Testors white paint, and repaint all the letters. It took me a week to do that because I didn't want to smear the paint, so I was only able to do two letters at a time, but the results speak for themselves. I showed the completed unit to Ben Martin, and he said it was the best switch he'd ever seen.