We picked up our í27 T on Good Friday and since then have done just about 200 miles - the most we did in one day was a little less than 35 - and over the last 30 or so miles Iíve had a problem with a lumpy, choppy engine.
Initially I suspected a misfire. Thereís a small amount of oil leaking out from a couple of the spark plugs which Iíve never seen before, but I spoke to the dealer I got it from and he suggests this is not uncommon and nothing to much to worry about. I pulled a couple of the plugs and they are very sooty, so Iím now suspecting the mixture is too rich (it does smell very rich, but having driven mostly new cars for the last 10 years or so I didnít think too much of it, but now I think it needs adjusting). So now Iím thinking pull all the plugs, give Ďem a good clean up and hope she runs better, then address the mixture issue, but then today I got to thinking about the electrical system as a wholeÖ
The car has been converted to run on a distributor and modern type coil (unknown type and year). The dealer I bought it from said due to the conversion there is no need to switch between magneto and battery, either position would be fine. Iíve always turned it to the left for battery. Just out of interest yesterday I switched it to magneto while it was running and it stopped cold - would only restart in battery position. Today the battery is flat for the 2nd time during our ownership. Which got me wondering whether the mag is working, whether itís charging the battery, whether itís even hooked up, etc. If the mag isnít working and the battery is providing all the juice for the spark itís inevitably going to go flat and cause it to run rough and then not at all, right? Or am I barking up the wrong tree?
Finally, whatís the big lump under the distributor that looks like a starter motor? Is this a generator? Does this mean I donít have a magneto? There is a little knurled brass thingy on the end of it that looks like it should be held on with a spring washer, but the spring was very corroded and it came off in my hand. Iíve put the brass part somewhere safe as I know itíll drop off and get lost if I put it back on, it this a key part to making it run?
Sorry if some of these are dumb newbie questions, but I am a dumb newbieÖ:-)
If it smells rich and burns your eyes, it's WAY too rich. Try going leaner in 1/8 turn steps until it starts to occasionally miss, then go back rich 1/16 turn and see if the miss goes away. If the miss is better but still there, go rich another 1/16 turn.
I'll let others comment on your ignition switch, battery, and distributor issues.
Usually, model Ts are converted to a distributor when the magneto fails. It's easier to install the distributor system then to pull the engine and repair the magneto. The magneto plays no part in the operation of the distributor system. The lump that looks like a starter is the generator. If the ammeter indicates a charge when the engine is running, the generator is working.
I don't mean this as an insult, but you do know that your T has a mixture control don't you?
The distributor on your T is replacing the works of the Ford flywheel magneto. Chances could be the flywheel is empty of the 16 horse shoe magnets, and the field coil assembly that faces the flywheel. So likely no magneto output, which is approx. 8-30v AC in normal shape.
Likely the "MAG" position of the switch lever is doing nothing, as no magneto, and not wired to the coil box.
Switching to MAG just turned off the distributor ignition, which is battery fed, you may have a 6v storage battery in the chassis battery tray, or it might be a 12v battery.
Your distributor is running off storage battery, and that battery should be re-charging by the Ford generator. If you don't have a working generator, then that needs attention.
I do, yes. Again, advice was to leave it where it is, but the rich smell and besooted plugs tells me it needs adjusting.
I've not noted whether the ammeter is providing a healthy reading during running, I'll check that when I start her up later. I guess if the generator is working but the battery keeps coming up dead I'm looking at a new battery...
Forgot about the 'brass thingy', on the rear of the generator is a brass twist type oiler, where you place drops of oil for the bearing. Newer rebuilt generators used a sealed bearing and no oil is needed there.
Thanks Dan, I was responding to John as you were typing. It's a 6v chassis battery, but looks pretty old, it may just not be holding a charge.
Will it suffer by not having the twist top on it? It won't stay on there without the corroded spring and I don't want to lose it.
Adjusting the carb control is sometimes needed, but use caution. If you crank it clockwise to stop, you can gall the needle valve. Most times the control needs a 1/2 turn counter clockwise to open the fuel flow some, even with choke.
When running at warmed up engine temp, then turn closed some til the engine sputters (too lean), and back to where it sputters again (too rich)and strive to keep it right between those points.
Also, the needle valve can get too loose in the fitting and the control knob can work open or closed as you ride down the bumpy roads. Just check the 'fingers' (6213B) that are squeezed around the needle body to have enough resistance to allow the control knob to turn with enough friction to prevent that.
My 26 has a distributor, it has gotten bucky and jumpy on me a couple of times...each time it was my points that when either gapped incorrectly or gummed up. I am new to Ts as well, but I've learned off of my 65 jeep Willy's to check the points, wires, plugs and distributor cap as a first investigation when running gets rough. The little brass thing on the back of the lump is actually a little oiler for the generator (which is the lump). With a distributor you will run your car on battery. If the generator is not charging your battery or producing juice, you'll have ignition issues once the charge remaining in the battery gets run down. John had mentioned to look at the amp gauge, if the needle points to the negative sign, you're using more juice than your producing (assuming your generator is actually producing). If the little needle goes to the right, then you're charging ( hopefully it's not going over 10-12 amps or the generator will over heat). When I first got my T, it ran great...then started running like crap...same set up as yours and new points, wires, plugs and adjusting the generator has fixed the issue. Oh, back to the oiler...there is a little bearing in the back of the generator that gets thirsty and needs occasional lube. Rebuilt generators often have sealed bearings that don't need that little brass do dab...but yours (and mine) still do. Good luck!
Whoops, a bunch of us were typing at the same time! Sorry for my duplication!
Thanks all, I'll certainly be checking those bits. I'll go and fire her up in a bit and check the output current. Also, a buddy is lending me a gas meter tomorrow to check the exhaust output so this will help me get a ball park position for the mixture control.
Still uncertain about this brass piece that's come off the generator oiler, it's the knurled bit that spins round. It's no longer on there, will this be a problem?
No, don't worry too much, just squirt a tiny hit of 3-1 oil into the opening. The spring and cap are likely busted off. Just put a seal over, or a piece of tape, to keep out serious dirt or water.
You can buy new ones. But they sure are high!
The little guy is just threaded in place, remove it counter clock wise with pliers now.
OK, I just shot some video (sorry, it's not very hi res). Here's the motor running and getting up to driving speed. Even up there it's only putting out about 5 amps or so:
Then I noticed a funny irregular popping noise from the back. Backfiring? Bad timing?
Wow! Very nice '26, like the color, and you have a Ruckstell too, alright!
Amps seem OK, if when you turn on the lights the meter dips to -15 or so, then may need generator third bush reset. And I take it the battery is still the old one. Your cutout may also be a 'voltage regulator' type, and they control the amps going to the battery depending on battery charge.
Would take the time to re-look the battery contacts at frame ground, battery (-) post, and cables and contact points of (=) too to be sure contact is good for generator return path.
Sometimes the generator wire from the cutout to the terminal block on the dash can have poor
contact, tighten the attachment screws to be sure.
As for the popping, might be plugs are fouled, and one or more cylinders are missing. The exhaust pipe seems real dark soot.
My take is the carb control knob is too rich, and should be leaned up once the T is warm and on the road.
Here is Ford info on that:
Best to have the manual for your year.
Dan, that is really helpful, thanks!
If you'd like a digital owner's manual and don't have one, try this.
I'm about 100% sure your distributor is a Texas T Parts setup. I have a twenty year old setup on one of my engines.
The replacement condensers even have that same green wire. :-)
If you need this info for the future, the distributor on top should be a Bosch JF4.
The points are CS3135 and the condenser is a EP466 at a NAPA store.
It runs pretty good! Don't be afraid of your mixture control. :-)
Those video clips are great!
Well, today I went out and scrubbed the plugs clean with a wire brush and brake cleaner and she's running sweet and smooth again. I've leaned up the mixture a little, but when I get more time I'm going to poke the sensor in and tune her up properly.
Thanks all for the input, very helpful indeed.
Deke - If you're seeing oil seep out around the base of the plugs, that's an indication that oil is blowing past the piston rings in the cylinders and into the combustion chambers in the head, meaning you probably need new piston rings, and no matter how much or how often you clean the plugs, they'll continue to foul. If that's the case, you may be in for new rings, new pistons, a valve job, and on and on. You can't tell until you take the head off and have a real good look at those components.
You MAY be in for new rings...figure everything else out first. My '19 blows/sizzles oil out of #3 and 4 plugs and the car runs like a top. I run ancient "X" plugs and they remain perfectly clean. Car is run periodically through the week for years. The correct plugs with the correctly formed electrodes will run through mild oil pumping. There are no oil control rings like on modern cars, so some oil will come up. The total volume pushed past the rings and out the plug threads is pretty low on my car and hopefully will be for you, too.