Anderson Timer questions

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2009: Anderson Timer questions
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Steve Boothroyd on Sunday, November 29, 2009 - 06:59 pm:

I installed an Anderson Timer to replace my worn out original ford timer.
The misses are now all gone, but I noticed that the spark lever doesn't have to be anywhere near where the original was usually set to for best running. I set the timer according to #1 piston travel as per the instructions. I understand that this is normal for the Anderson timers.
I also noticed that when I shut her off, the spark rod flips down to about the 9:00 o'clock position even if I retard it all the way before I shut off with the key.
I have to then hand crank over a couple of times until the spark rod will stay fully retarded, before I attempt to re start.
Is this normal for the Anderson timer?

Regards,
Steve Boothroyd


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Norman T. Kling on Sunday, November 29, 2009 - 07:25 pm:

That flipping is not normal with an Anderson Timer. Mine doesn't do it. In fact, the direction the engine turns would try to pull it toward retard. I suspect that when you shut off your engine it rocks backward. That would only be possible if you have a very loose clutch or a transmission with a neutral. Are you running the Ford multiple disc clutch or some other type? A Model A does tend to rock back and forth when you turn it off but that is because of the free neutral. The transmission on a Model T is normally too tight to allow it to rock.

The position of the spark lever should be set with the piston just beyond top dead center and the spark lever all the way retarded. When you drive, it would be at least half way down or farther at higher speeds. Any time you change a timer and/or adjust the timing rod, you will find slight differences in the position where the engine runs best. As long as the retard is set according to instructions and that "sweet spot" is within the travel of the spark lever, you are OK. You will just need to learn what position that spot is.
Norm


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Frank Fenton on Sunday, November 29, 2009 - 07:42 pm:

Steve,
Regarding the amount of spark advance, choose the spot where it runs the best. It may be that your old timer was not adjusted properly.
Regarding the spark advancing when the engine shuts down, several things come to mind.
Wnen the engine shuts down, the crankshaft usually 'rocks back' a few degrees. The spring loaded rotary contact has to 'climb up' the ramp of the stationary contact when the engine 'rocks backward' or when you try to move the spark lever upward.
The camshaft may not be properly centered in the cam gear cover so the rotary contact is closer to some stationary contacts (in the case) than others.
The timer may just need a bit of lube on the contacts.
Or, I may have screwed up the calibration.
Try a bit of lube on the contacts first, and if that doesn't help, I'll send a new timer out. Let's try the easy stuff first.
Frank
We just worked on the local fire department's 1913 Chemical Truck. The camshaft was way off center with some contacts not even touching the rotary contact. It was hurry, hurry, hurry for the parade, so I adjusted the timer case contacts for the off center camshaft. Several others have done this also when they could not take the time remove and center the front cover. I told them that since it was a Model T, there were many possibilities for a fix.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Royce Peterson on Sunday, November 29, 2009 - 07:43 pm:

That is the reason I quit using the Anderson timers. If I don"t get the engine to fire on the first pull the lever goes to full advance because the engine always rocks backwards a bit after each pull of the crank.Scary!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Erich Bruckner on Sunday, November 29, 2009 - 07:57 pm:

What about the spring that holds tension on the spark rod against the quaerant? Mine does nothing of the sort. I have had very good results with the anderson timer. It also makes sense that it will be different than the old timer as far as the sweet spot on the quadrant.

Check that spring for proper tension of the rod on the quadrant.

Erich


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Kenneth W DeLong on Sunday, November 29, 2009 - 09:01 pm:

If the Anderson Timer is not the best thing that ever happned to a model T,What is??Bud.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bob Jablonski on Sunday, November 29, 2009 - 10:01 pm:

Bud: Royce seems to be the only T man who doesn't like the ease of the Anderson style timer.

Frank: Keep up the good work, you are appreciated !!!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mike Walker, NW AR. on Sunday, November 29, 2009 - 10:11 pm:

I experienced the same thing Royce did when I first installed an Anderson timer. But after I got everything set correctly, there was none of that. I have been using Frank's timers for many thousands of happy Model T miles.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Gordon Byers on Sunday, November 29, 2009 - 10:14 pm:

I've been running Anderson timers for over 42 years, have never had the spark lever move by itself. My experience is they are a good, dependable item.
Gordon


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Kenneth W DeLong on Sunday, November 29, 2009 - 11:55 pm:

Bob,I had a Anderson i bought from Mister T's Timer Service long ago but because he told me i would loose free starts i kept it on my dresser maby 8 years?? Boy was i mistaken!!! Yesterday i called on the 14 and because of the rain&mud it had been over a week since driven! Setting cold in our on heated garrage in mid 20's to low 40's when i turned the switch to batt away it went!!Nope,changing timers is dirty work and expensive,so im glad im done with that!! ANDERSON!!! Bud.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Steve Boothroyd on Monday, November 30, 2009 - 01:21 am:

Thanks for the info.
When she runs it is very smooth, but like I stated, even when I retard the spark lever all the way and shut her down, it flips and partially advances.
I did put some dielectric grease on the contacts and flippers when I first installed it and it did not do this.
That was about two weeks ago, so I will check to see if the grease is still there;the dielectric grease may not be adequate for this application.
The original timer worked fine for quite a while, then started to run rough and I noticed that the insulator was worn quite a bit.
It is possible that the front cover is out of alignment, but as I am about to have the Provincial safety inspection in two days,and I don't have time available.
I will try another type of grease and report back.

Regards,

Steve Boothroyd


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Royce Peterson on Monday, November 30, 2009 - 08:34 am:

I wish someone would tool up and make the New Day timers in the original brown Bakelite material, they are a more accurate timer than the Anderson with none of the drawbacks. The Anderson is OK if you normally use a starter to fire up your T but the wrong choice for people like me who always crank start.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Kenneth W DeLong on Monday, November 30, 2009 - 10:21 am:

There are NO starters on any model T's in our famly?? Bud.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Seth Harbuck - Shreveport, LA on Monday, November 30, 2009 - 10:31 am:

Bud,

By design, the Anderson timer has the potential to do what Steve is describing above. The New Day does not.

If it does happen when hand-cranking and it goes unnoticed, broken bones can be the result.

Seth


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Seth Harbuck - Shreveport, LA on Monday, November 30, 2009 - 10:50 am:

BTW Bud, to answer your question above, multi-viscosity detergent oil is the best thing that ever happened to the model T. :-)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mike Walker, NW AR. on Monday, November 30, 2009 - 10:54 am:

My T's are pre-starter models, so I always hand-crank them. It took only one "bite" for me to realize I should check the position of the spark lever before EVERY pull on the crank. Anyone who is not in the habit of doing this should get into that habit right away, regardless of which type of timer you have.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Kenneth W DeLong on Monday, November 30, 2009 - 01:42 pm:

Seth,I must be lucky because my Anderson has never moved my spark advance? Shure i have been kicked before but that was before i knew how to stop the Ford? I maintain that to learn how to start the Ford first you must learn to retard the spark and count to at least 5 before shutting off the switch.My model T's cant kick me if i do not need to crank.Your right about the oil,espc where we have warm,cold,and colder!! Bud.PS,Mike is also right about Always checking the advance.Bud


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Eric Hylen on Monday, November 30, 2009 - 02:04 pm:

Seth and Royce,
You are both welcome to come on up a for a free tutorial on how to safely hand-crank start a '14 Model T equipped with one of Frank's Anderson timers. After my nine-year-old daughter gets done with that, I'm sure she'll be happy to demonstrate how easily she can get a dozen free starts in a row.

I understand brand loyalty and the original New Day timers were pretty good. But, liking one product doesn't seem like a good reason bash another. I'd say that anybody who touches the starting crank of any antique car or tractor without assuring that the spark lever is in the proper position is asking for trouble, regardless of timer brand.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Seth Harbuck - Shreveport, LA on Monday, November 30, 2009 - 02:12 pm:

Eric,

I don't think that what I said was "bashing" the Anderson timer. If you like the Anderson, fine.

In my opinion, the best thing about the Anderson is Frank Fenton and the hobby could use plenty more fine folks like him.

Seth


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Paul Vitko on Monday, November 30, 2009 - 06:06 pm:

A little off topic but I have an vintage Anderson Manufacturing timer about 1925, interesting design are they common?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Doug Money on Monday, November 30, 2009 - 06:07 pm:

My rule I developed early on in owning my T is don't touch the key unless you have retarded the spark. Countless stories my Dad told me as a youngster burned it into my brain before I even owned a T.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Royce Peterson on Monday, November 30, 2009 - 07:26 pm:

Eric,

I don't see my statement of fact concerning the Anderson timer pulling the spark lever down when the engine rocks backwards as "bashing". If facts annoy you life must be very frustrating.

I have tried several brands of timers and find the old original New Day to be my favorite because it is virtually maintenance free if your front cover oil seal does not leak.

For my cars with leaky front covers the original Ford roller timer is excellent. The annual cleaning is hardly more than ten minutes and requires the use of a single tool, a wrench to loosen the clamp bolt. Wipe out the grease, polish the contact area of the timer and roller with Scotchbrite, spray with carb cleaner and then fill the timer back up with Mobilgrease 28.

I like Frank Fenton a lot. Frank (if you are reading this) if you started repro 'ing New Day timers correctly I would buy more timers from you!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Scott Hiler on Monday, November 30, 2009 - 08:50 pm:

Steve,
I've adjusted my Anderson Timer to fire on number 1 just after TDC with the spark lever all the way up. The lever never drops on its own. Starts up on three, quarter pulls on the crank consistantly without any hint of kick back.
Runs smooth at about half way down on the spark lever when first started and then at about 1/3 of the way down when warm and cruising. Very reliable. Just got to remember to use Vaseline periodically on the contacts.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Paul Mikeska on Monday, November 30, 2009 - 10:14 pm:

3 of my 4 running T's have Anderson timers on them. I hand crank all of them and have never had one move the spark lever. I can see how it could happen. I could just be lucky but I like them and clean and oil them once a year even if they dont need it! In my experience the reproduction New Day timers are junk. Your mileage may vary.

Paul


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Kenneth W DeLong on Monday, November 30, 2009 - 10:40 pm:

One thing no one has mentioned yet is the fact with the Anderson Timer you need to retard the spark before stopping the engine! If you fail to do this the engine may have to be turned before the spark will move up!Frank is a Stand Up fellow and offers all the help even a klutz like me would ever need!!Bud.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mike Bender on Monday, November 30, 2009 - 10:56 pm:

Royce

I don't find it annoying when facts are presented. I run two cars on Anderson timers and have not found them to be a problem. Like Mike Walker pointed out, set it up right and it works. Both cars are 1913's, hand crank only. I guess I question your facts, most of the guys I know that run the Anderson are very pleased. Sorry but you didn't present the facts but just your opinion. Now before you climb my frame, I had the same problem but was fixed by working through the problem which was my fault.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Royce Peterson on Monday, November 30, 2009 - 11:06 pm:

Paul,

I totally agree. The black New Day timers available now do not work well. I tried one of those too. Worthless.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Paul Mikeska on Monday, November 30, 2009 - 11:49 pm:

For what it is worth have found that the spring clip thing that holds the timer in place gets weak after 80 years or so. I rebend them so that they hold the timer very tight and do not have any problem with the Anderson timers automatically advancing. I think that you also need to use the timer centering tool to locate the front plate when assembling the engine. ANY ONE WHO HAND CRANKS A T NEEDS TO VISUALLY CHECK THE SPARK ADVANCE LEVER EACH, AND EVERY TIME, THEY CRANK THE CAR. Again, your mileage may vary.

Paul


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jerry VanOoteghem on Tuesday, December 01, 2009 - 10:34 am:

I think Paul has hit on the problem. Since, by the nature of its design, the Anderson timer rotor exerts more force on its outer housing than any other of the common timers we know of, it is essential to keep it held firmly in place with a good healthy timer clip. (Obviously, not so firm that you can't move it when you need to.)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ron Patterson on Tuesday, December 01, 2009 - 11:00 am:

Jerry
I also believe the extra strong spring used on the reproduction Anderson timer exacerbates this problem. If the spring had lesser tension it would allow the flapper to compress under the contact and not allow the flapper to push the contact backwards as the cranksahft moves slightly backward when stopping.
This is not meant as a criticism of reproduction Anderson timer it has many good attributes. The increased spring tension was implemented for a reason. I think if Paul's timer case spring clip recommendation is used it will certainly help.
Ron the Coilman


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bob Cascisa in Poulsbo, WA on Tuesday, December 01, 2009 - 11:45 am:

Has anyone considered that the spark rod may be loose? It seems to me that if the timer rotor can move the spark rod, the spark rod to quadrant tension may be to light or the spark rod springs on the steering column at the firewall may have lost their tension. I think these mechanical issues should be checked out before condeming the timer spring.

Be_Zero_Be


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jerry VanOoteghem on Tuesday, December 01, 2009 - 05:10 pm:

Bob,

I don't think Ron was condeming anything. I believe he was just recognizing how the internal workings of the modern Anderson timer make it a bit unusual compared to other timers. Your suggestion of the checking the spark rod springs is also a valid one.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Frank Fenton on Tuesday, December 01, 2009 - 09:30 pm:

Hmmmmm where to start...........
First off, the timer that I make is not a reproduction of the Anderson Timer. Drawings and specs were not available, so Bob Thompson re-engineered the timer using modern tooling and components. We call it an 'Anderson Style' timer.

Next point, the spring used in the Anderson Style Timer is designed to properly return the rotary contact (flapper) into the proper position so that the engine will run properly up to about 1800 RPM or 40-45 mph. The weight of the rotary contact, the 'throw diameter' of the rotor assy, etc are all factors that must be considered in spring selection. Wimpy springs give wimpy speeds due to contact bounce. The standard spring gives optimum life and performance to the timer.
I do offer a heavier spring for those who want to go faster, such as the Montana 500 folks. The timer contacts wear faster, but the car goes faster.
I also offer -to the Montana 500 cars only- a different configuration of the stationary contacts and a counterbalanced rotor version that goes even faster.
I test the speed using two methods:
A 4 channel oscilloscope looks at contact bounce. You can see the setup at: http://www.andersontimer.com/PS%20Scope%20Traces%20For%20Timers.htm
And, I run the high speed timers on a modern engine running on timer & coils.....on 12 volts since Ford quit equipping cars with the magneto. This engine can run much higher RPMs without flying apart. This is the same engine from the 25/85 project at: http://www.andersontimer.com/Ranger.htm

I have thousands of the Anderson Style timers running all over the world. When someone has problems with the timer moving when the engine 'rocks back', I usually find that the camshaft is not centered properly in the housing, causing the rotary contact to hit some stationary contacts harder than others causing more drag.
Second on the list would be rough contacts, where a bit of lube fixes it.
Third on the list is bad calibration of the timer caused by twisted contacts at installation or by my error when calibrating. I fix them all in warranty.
Now, thanks to Paul, number 4 on the list will be weak spring tension on the spring clip holding the timer housing in place.

I use a simple method to see if the camshaft is centered in the housing....
Pull out all the plugs, reconnect them and lay them on the head. Switch to bat, and rotating the crank, measure where the piston is when the plug fires. Start with #1 at TDC, then note the position of the other pistons when the plug fires.
Then rotate the timer housing 90 degrees (don't change the wiring, just rotate the timer). Get a coil firing at TDC on #1 again and measure the others. Rotate the housing another 90 degrees and do it again. All measurements should be the same if the camshaft is centered.
It is rare to find one close to being centered. Luckily, it just needs to be close since the magneto controls the timing.
I'll be pleased to attempt a response to any questions or concerns.
Frank


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Gordon Byers on Tuesday, December 01, 2009 - 09:55 pm:

After reading Frank's post I felt I shuold clarify my previous post. It appears that most of those having problems are with the "Anderson style" timers. I was fortunate enough to have a nearly new original Anderson timer on my T when I got it and have picked up a couple more good ones with good flappers so I'm probably fixed for life with the original ones. I do want to thank Frank and all the other vendors that are making repro parts, some of which would be impossible to secure otherwise. When I got into the hobby 42+ years ago, if you needed parts you tried to find junked out cars (which weren't that hard to find in this area at that time) and take anything off them you needed or thought you might need in the future. In later years these "parts cars" are pretty much non-existant so it's folks like Frank that we are going to have to depend on to keep running in the future. THANKS TO ALL VENDORS!!
Gordon


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ron Patterson on Wednesday, December 02, 2009 - 01:33 pm:

Frank
A few comments about one of your final points.
The magneto controls ignition timing when running on magneto ONLY to the extent the timer case terminals are properly spaced AND the engine front plate timer counterbore is exactly concentric with the camshaft timer contact surface. In the later case close is not good enough. Any timer contacts variance from one another is magnified because if a magneto current pulse is missed will only occur agian 22.5 crankshaft degrees later and create significant inter-cylinder timing differences.
This subject is covered in great detail in the following article. It takes some time to read and digest it, but this point is clearly discussed.
Accurate Spark Timing
Ron the Coilman


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Steve Boothroyd on Wednesday, December 02, 2009 - 04:36 pm:

Problem Solved.
Paul Mikeska hit the nail on the head.
The spring clip that holds the timer in place was too weak, so I bent it to increase tension and now no flipping of the Spark Advance / Retard lever.
Thanks to everyone for the suggestions.
This forum is great for newbies like me!
Bye the way, I got a Temporary Operators Permit and drove the T in traffic this morning.
Wow she steers fast; I stalled her once on the way to the Provincial Safety Inspection garage. I had very slow progress up a small hill until I realized that I did not have the hand brake lever as far forward as it would go, as soon as I pushed it a little more forward, she jumped and took off like a scared cat!
Thanks again everyone.

Regards,

Steve Boothroyd


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Frank Fenton on Wednesday, December 02, 2009 - 04:58 pm:

Ron,
I think the extensive 'dwell' of the timer contact takes care of this problem. If we were dealing with a device that only made a brief contact to catch that magneto pulse, I would agree.
The timer switches on for nearly half the piston travel and so can easily catch the mag pulses except possibly for severely off center cams.
Lever position may be more critical with the cam a bit off center, but one can certainly hear the sweet spot when all are firing on the proper mag pulse compared to 2 cylinders on the proper pulse and 2 cylinders firing 22.5 crankshaft degrees later.
Running on battery is an entirely different matter since the coil firew when the timer makes contact, not when the mag pulse comes around. I think some of the' poor performance on bat' problems are caused by off-center camshafts since some run well and others not so well.
And, yes, I did read your article....good article.
Frank


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ron Patterson on Wednesday, December 02, 2009 - 07:49 pm:

Frank
I do not believe timer dwell will counteract inter cylinder timing differences caused by a different radial contact of the timer rotor and contact. The Ford ignition system intended each cylinder firing at the same crankshaft angle regardless of battery or magneto operation. Angular difference of timer rotor contact for each cylinder is bound to cause trouble depending upon the spark lever position. As you say the difference is much more noticeable when running on magneto than battery.
I think the main take away from this thread is to make sure your timer is firmly held by the clamp, the engine front plate is concentric with the camshaft using the correct tool Front Plate Alignment Fixture and the timer contacts are radially linear in crankshaft degrees for each cylinder particularly at initial contact.
One last comment on the point about poor engine performance on battery operation. I believe this problem was summed up in the following articles and the correct setting of initial timing is important.
More on Model T Spark Timing
The Model T Ignition System and Spark Timing
Ron the Coilman


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