Last night I was reading my latest copy of The Vintage Ford. On page 53 an advertisement for an E TIMER. This made me realize that I know very little about any "timers". I have been leaning toward a dizzy for my 1919 engine. I really do not need any discussion about going back to a original ignition system. I do understand dizzies as I have had and do have a British car (1960 Bugeye Sprite), but know nothing about timers. How do they differ from a distributor?
Thank you-Paul in Tacoma
Read about it here
In my Opinion... Disy's look ok on a speedster which is usually a highly modified T but on a stock looking Model T they look out of place.
Yes they perform OK but I have been on many tours where something failed and nobody had a spare coil or set of points. Everybody had a spare T coil or a timer to lend. That's one of the advantages of the Etimer. It's as simple as changing the timer back to a stock one that nearly every T carries.
It also has some performance advantages as well.
Thanks John for posting the link
First look at the cost. The distributor or the E Timer will end up costing about the same if you don't have anything laying around to facilitate the change over and are flat out buying parts. On the up side there is a definite gain in performance with the E Timer. You won't get that by changing from a coil system to a distributor. There's virtually no difference in performance between those 2 systems. The coils are jumped out with the E Timer. Their still there in the box but there is no point wear involved plus no one, at least no one that posts here, has ever reported an E Timer failure. Dropping dead from a distributor system means only 2 things. 1: you're carrying no spare parts or 2: you don't understand the system enough to repair it. Have a coil system? Sure your carrying a spare coil or 2 so why wouldn't you be carrying a spare set of points, condenser and an appropriate ign coil too? $ wise it's your choice but if was me it'd be the E Timer.
OK. I will read all of the info. that John Saylor provided, then I will have more questions.
If the appearance of originality is a factor, then the E Timer is the obvious choice. I don't care for the appearance of a distributor on a T but to each his own! In addition, I find performance with the E Timer to be a marked improvement over what I felt was a well functioning original system.
Personally, if a person wishes to remain "period correct," a Bosch or other period high tension magneto is an alternative. Even Ford used a Bosch magneto on their Model T based racers, 1910-1912. Otherwise, as mentioned above, the E-timer allows the car to look, and sound the same as one running on mag, with equal to better performance.
I use distributors on my T's. All of them are original 1920's Bosch front plate distributors. Period accessories. I hate the look of a modern distributor on a T.
The E-Timer sounds great. I just like to keep things in the T era.
What is a Dizy's.
Dizzy is slang for distributor.
Are ANCO (Anderson) timers similar to the E timer.my car came to me with a ANCO timer. Gene has a good point that is when on tour repair is made easier.
Completely different. The ANCO is a timer that fires the coils in a traditional manner while the E-Timer is an electronic device that the constantly adjusts engine timing based on a computer algorithm.
The E-timer is a modern electronic device that fits in a standard timer style casing. Costs a lot, but gives modern performance and reliability to the ignition. All other timer alternatives are variations of the standard function that distributes low voltage to the four vibrator coils. All have their positives and negatives, needs some maintenance and will eventually wear out, but if you like to drive a Model T, then you must also like to do some maintenance on the car
(I'm in the high tension magneto camp)
The simplest easiest ignition system for a T is the original type with coils and magneto. The early New Day was the best most foolproof timer, but the later ones not so good. The Anderson timer is a good one. But any T timer in good condition will work fine.
However, if you don't have a working magneto, it is quite difficult to replace the magneto coils which involves pulling out the engine and transmission and separating the two in order to install the magneto coils.
If your magneto is not working, then either the e-timer or the distributor would be a good substitute.
Is the E-timer efficient and easy to use? Yes. Is the original Ford system adequate for Model T driving? Yes. Is a dizzy "better" than the stock system? Depends on what you mean by better. I'd call the distributor just another version of the timer, with one coil instead of four. Some folks consider the four-coil setup the heart and soul of the real Model T experience. When they cheat and start on BAT, they want to hear that unique buzz. I sort of lean in that direction myself. My only radical departure from ignition orthodoxy is a New Day timer. Does my Model T's stock ignition start the car easily and get me where I'm going? It does.
Here are two starts with the stock system: first on BAT, then on MAG.
Since my 1923 Touring came to me without any ignition components (coil, coil box, wires etc.) and my 1919 engine also had no ignition components (nothing attached to the front end of the cam), I will need everything required, no matter which direction I go.
Keep the info. coming. I should be able to make my decision soon.
IF your stock T magneto works, then I recommend going with the stock T buzz coil ignition. If you are unable to test it (which seems likely), then I would buy one set of properly rebuilt coils and a timer etc. Try that on each engine and test the functioning ignition carefully on both battery and magneto. If both magnetos work then just duplicate the system. If neither works, then buy one E timer and try it out (it works best on 12 volts, but will work on 6). Second car then becomes a new decision of E timer (which you will have tried and looks "right"), or a distributor (which I'm totally OK with)!!!
Paul, one great way to decide, if you somehow had the opportunity, would be to drive a T with a good conventional system and one with the E Timer, or at least ride in them. While everything Steve said is entirely correct, I think the actual experience of the E Timer will convince you of its far superior performance. My original system was indeed "adequate", to use Steve's description, but the improvement with the E Timer was remarkable.
To possibly narrow the choices, remove the mag plug on the top of the hogshead and see if you have a mag ring in there. If there is no mag ring (or if it doesn't work) the best choices are E Timer or distributor. I've run all three at various times and in different cars. Of the three, the E Timer worked the best for me in a stock T but the margin of performance is not real great. Probably the largest advantages to the E Timer are the original appearance and sound as well as the automatic advance so you don't need to fret with finding the sweet spot if that's not intuitive for you.
I ran my 14 on mag for years with satisfactory performance. But...then the mag voltage fell to 18V at speed which resulted in a marginal performance. So, with my son/grandson becoming and getting more involved in T's my decision was ....what next, E Timer, or distributor or re charge the mag and carry on. The distributor won. We used the Texas One. The performance was/is great. Don't regret for one moment the decision to go distributor. I'm not really sure if the Texas model was the best but it works. I'm sure the E Timer is a wonder but my grandson is quite familiar with distributors so going that was was a real plus.
Dist. On a T heck my newest T came with one since the internal mag is gone i opted for cross drive mag
Well once the swap done the whole dit. Setup will be posted for sale
That should tell you my point of view
Coils and timer worked well for me past 27 years i been messing around with Lizzy
E-Timer. I'd never run either, but at least an E-Timer looks original. Distributors are for Model A's.
With the e-timer you get the unique Model T buzz that Steve likes.
Distributor... if you must, When broken down a distributor is a continuously operating rotary switch. Is it more reliable or better than the original set up? NO! Points and condensers for any distributor are getting harder to find and in some cases very expensive, most distributors are not new and some are in dire need of a complete rebuild I was helping a friend with a late model Desoto and after a couple of minutes I traced it down to bad bushings 30 minutes later it now works like it should but now I am trying to modify an electronic pick-up system for it the new points were $32.00 plus shipping. Could have probably found them cheaper but he refuses to use E-Bay.
Paul, I got to thinking about your dilemma and thought I'd offer a couple of other thoughts.
It may have been on another thread where the poster commented about his son that was also familiar with a dist and not the T timer.
Since you have no coil box or coils this might be a deciding factor for you But one thing to think of is that a dist requires adjusting and replacement. This is why all modern cars now have electronic ignition systems. They are much more dependable and maintenance free. The other point to consider is that the electronic system has a much better delivery of the spark at the perfect time for each cylinder. The factor of no moving parts and perfect timing with the originality of the Etimer was a deciding factor for me. Not to mention the dependability that the Etimer's have proven over the '000's of miles so far.
There is a reason why guys are converting their dist systems to electronic. Your lack of any wiring should not make any difference which ever way you choose.
Good luck and let know what you decide!