One of the delightful things about being retired is being able to emulate Mr. Jelf and just tinker if you feel like it.
This morning I went for a short ride with a friend, he in his 1924 T touring and I in Rusty, my 1927 pickup. I recently rebuilt the engine on Rusty and have been working on the suspension. So today was a chance for a shake down run and some wheels-of-death (donuts). Driving past a schoolyard filled with eager students brings a smile to your face... I am not performing oral surgery on a little kiddie and my friend is not rehearsing the Jr. High band. The only dim spot is that Rusty has been sort of surging since the rebuild.
Knowing full well what the cause was I resolved to fix the problem when I returned home.
There are many types of timers available: some with contact points, some with brushes, some with rollers, and the Anderson style with a flapper. I am a devotee of the Anderson Style timer. This timer uses bent steel contacts and a flapper.
My experience with the original roller style and the New Day brush style is that the plastic insulator wears and the timer contact starts to bounce causing a nasty miss. Repair requires sandpaper on a drill press or mill, or turning the timer in the lathe. The advantage of these timers is that the timing on all four cylinders is always exactly the same distance from TDC or BDC and the dwell is fixed making the engine run smoothly.
When I used New Day or Ford style timers I always carried two extra timers to be sure to get home again. The Ford timer worked for me for 20-30 miles and the New Day for 40-50 before needing service. I had a saying whenever the car had a problem: "it's the timer!"
I prefer the Anderson because it seems to go with no attention for years. Even though it isn't required I wipe the timer out at least once a year even though my mileage is easily in the 5,000 mile range. I no longer carry spare timers. In the last 18 years I had my timer fail once, a spring fell out of the flapper. Other than that they are pretty bulletproof never causing rough running. The one down side is that as the timer wears it can go out of time. Believe me an out of time timer isn't good... it causes the rough running I had this morning.
So Since I needed to re-time my Anderson this morning I thought I would show you how I do it.
Thanks Terry - A very simple and effective ignition check
Drove by the schoolyard, eh? I heard a guy tell me he likes to go by the schoolyard and watch the kids jump up and down and screaming. Said he always uses blanks. . . .
Terry, this is brilliant. When I first got in the hobby the new Anderson's were not yet being made -the 'flapper' being the hard part to find. But if you found a complete one in decent shape you had it made, provided you had an old experienced T guy help you bend the contacts right,with respect to TDC.New ones are excellent. I used a few New Day repop timers from the 80's era as clay pigeons and blasted them to atoms, figuratively speaking. What junk.
Jim this one is a $1 ADVERTISER. I love finding them in swap meets. They are stamped $1 from the manufacturer. If you ask the swap vendor more often than not they say $1 when they see the stamping! I will go as high as $10 if they look nice.
The new ones are very nice, the contacts are hardened steel and the fellow who was making them claimed to be setting them up so you don't have to do this. I would check anyway... you can compensate for poor timing gear cover installation if necessary.
The one that lost it's spring was a $1 Advertiser also, the contacts were worn almost all the way through and the flapper and spring were original... at least 60 years old! Even on the old ones sometimes it can be a bit of a bear to bend the contacts.
Terry, when I get home I am going to look in the shed to see if any of the Anco types say $1 Advertiser on them.I never recall having seen that before, but I'll bet I have One or more.
I use a degree wheel mounted on the crank flange of an old block with a cam in it. Most of the Anderson timers need adjusting to get them to fire 90 degrees apart and to get them so they don't catch the flapper when it kicks back.
Brendan, that is a great way to go. I am sure you meant to say that on the crank you will need to set them 180º apart. 90º if you put it on the camshaft.
My method requires that the two hand crank ratchet teeth I use are 180º apart.
Another thing that this method shows me is that my timer rod (I do the setting at full retard) is too advanced. You can see that #4 never fires after TDC. So this tells me to reset my timer rod. Right now it is set per the instructions Steve Jelf posted. I must have set it to #1 which was too retarded resulting in #2-4 being too advanced. So today I will revisit this to set the rod length.
Some more hints:
1) Remove the spark plugs to make the job easier.
2) Turn the crank very slowly so you can mark the point when the coil starts to buzz.
3) I put an AM radio on the cowl tuned to a local station. That way I am entertained and when the coil fires I get an amplified blast of static which I can hear much easier than I can hear the coil.
4) When building my engine I put a mark on my pulley at TDC and BDC. There is a boss on the block at the top of the crankshaft I use as a pointer. I use an aluminum pulley so I file the marks and then punch the letters BDC and TDC.
(Message edited by thorlick on August 20, 2016)
You're getting far to fancy there, I thought Rusty was a "rough & tumble" kinda T!
I assume that after you bend the "tangs" up to hit on time, you then have to shape the contacting part so the roller doesn't bounce too much, and so it doesn't catch if the car kicks back?
I am thinking I have a piano tool that might do this very well, it's designed to bend action wires and I think might be rugged enough to bend the tangs. I don't have one of these timers around to try it, so next time I'm up your way, we'll have to give it a whirl--Hey, I could repackage them as a "specialized tool" eh???
It wouldn't be the first time I found a piano tool useful for something else--I have one I use on toy train repairs!
Today I took an hour and got all four coils firing at the same mark as discussed above. Next I checked the advance control rod. Using Steve Jelf's procedure I set to 15º ATDC. I found that when I had set to #1 with this procedure previously my timer was so far off that #4 could not possibly fire after top dead center. This made the car hard to start and hurt running performance.
In his defence Steve states that his procedure is for roller timers. The procedure will work well for Anderson style timers (Mr. T's timer, ANCO, and $1 Ad-vr-ti-sr timers) if you first set their timing as I have outlined.
When my daughter used to ride horses I would take her to horse shows. Folks would show up with their Peruvian Paso Ponies and proceed to ride with a full Champaign glass sitting on the saddle pommel. Impressive! Today I am finally driving a T with a smooth running engine... all balanced and timed. I can even hold a can of diet Pepsi and not get wet!
Because of Jim's post I went to the shelf and pulled down 5 timers. The first 4 were Advertisers:
Terry, do you lubricate those timers? If so, how much of what do you use?
Ken, I never lubricate mine. I have a modern seal on my camshaft. Still there is always a film of oil in there... perhaps the splash system creates a thin mist of oil all around the engine. That is more than adequate, in fact I have to wipe it out annually.
At least one of my timers has a drain cut in the lower edge by the manufacturer.
Look at the inside of your hood, if it is like mine it is covered with an oil film. (If you are not sure about this wipe it down with your best white dress shirt and look closely at the shirt.) I never oil the inside of my hood either. In using these timers for over 15 years I have never had a flapper seize or come apart due to wear on the hinge. The flapper pictured with the worn contact had some wear where it rubbed against the contact. I dressed this smooth so it now is ready for another 10,000 miles if I choose to use it.
No harm can be done by lightly oiling a flapper. If you use heavy grease or lots of oil you will just have to wipe it out sooner as the metal particles worn off the contacts can collect on the lubricant puddle at the bottom of the timer and eventually short out coil #2 or #4. So if I were to feel compelled to oil the timer I would place a single drop of light machine oil like 3-in-1 on the flapper hinge. The only purpose to do that is to keep lubrication fanatics from haranguing you (hmm... haranguing, good word... I think I will use it!).
BTW: With the engine and trans all balanced now and the ANCO Anderson style timer adjusted my car engine runs VERY SMOOTHLY. Almost no vibration... I think the engine has died when I set it to idle at a traffic light!
(Message edited by thorlick on August 22, 2016)
Thanks Terry. I have a new Anderson timer but haven't got around to installing it yet.
Terry,What did you do to make Rusty stop busting crank's?? Are you still running the same block? Bud.
Note, If you remove the spark plugs be sure to leave them attached and lay on the head or lay the wires on the head, preferably on a place which is not painted. It is very important not to buzz the coils without a spark gap or you run the risk of arcing either the coil box or the coils ruining them.
Come on Bud, I only broke three crank shafts. Technically only two because a friend was driving when one let loose. And then only one counts because one broke when my support hanger for my Muncie aux. transmission slipped loose suddenly putting all the weight of the Muncie onto #4 main.
I eventually went to Mr. Kazorski in Carson City and had two pans straightened. In over ten years since I haven't broken a crankshaft. Let's assume that the straight pans and no more busted cranks is just a coincidence!
I had two four dip pans straightened and put one in the junk... er, parts pile to age for 10 years. When I was balancing everything for the engine rebuild this last spring I dropped it all into the first pan... I couldn't get it lined up to my satisfaction (imagine that after only 10 years of hard running use!!!) so I pulled the other pan out of the "parts pile" (same place I got my "new" axle) and am running that now. When I say I am "running" my T some folks hear that "ruining"!
I love that old photo of you and the Mrs. in your brass touring. I am going arrange to look at a 1915 touring for sale today... Wife might bring up that Omnibus body in the garage as some sort of reason not to buy a car!
Terry,....one question, using your method of verifying the ignition points of the Anderson style timer, are you not relying on the notches in the hand crank fixture being exactly 180 degrees apart?
Not to say they are not, but I can't see the folks at Ford machining this to be exact.
I'm not saying your method doesn't work,... just that on my car 2 cylinders fire almost on the same mark, the other 2 cylinders are the same except they are 1" away.
I have centered the timing cover housing using an alignment fixture to reduce any runout.
Great article, thanks for posting
Dave, since the same notches in the hand crank are used for all ignition points - but from alternating sides, then I think it's likely the result will be similar and 180 degrees apart
Dave, I did mention that I am using notches ("crank ratchet teeth") 180º apart. If you feel that isn't accurate enough then you need to sight down the opposite side (trailing) edge of the crank handle and mark the bottom half of the paper using the same ratchet tooth.
You are correct that the teeth may not be 180° apart due to machining error or wear from use. The ratchet can be loose on the crank shaft also. My car runs superbly with this method, of course this may not be accurate enough if you have a Chebby or Doble.
Essentially you are making your own degree wheel. Your 1" difference doesn't tell me how far from the crank center you measured, so it might be a large or a small difference. At the very least #1&4 and #2&3 must fall on the same mark.
Terry, very good discussion of this. I did a similar adjustment on my Anderson several years ago, but put a bent metal tab under a timer cover bolt head and a filed notch in the crank pulley at TDC for my "degree wheel". I then bent the timer contacts until they were all firing at about the same point with the timer full retarded. I found that, probably due to a mild misalignment of the timer and cover, at full advance they were several degrees apart. I didn't feel there was much to worry about since the magneto is in charge of the current peaks and the magnets are 22.5 degrees apart.
I agree, Noel. However I run on mag or battery. When running on battery you can't depend on the magneto waveform to smooth out engine performance.