Modern advances in the lubrication of the original roller type timer

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Modern advances in the lubrication of the original roller type timer

Post by jiminbartow » Mon Dec 30, 2019 11:54 am

In my 49 years of owning my 1926 Model T Coupe, I have tried many Model T timers and in all that time, I have come to the conclusion that I have had the best, most reliable results with the original roller type timer and have purchased one that I will be putting back on my T. What is the best way to lubricate the roller and contacts of the timer so that the roller makes the best contact and it runs at its maximum efficiency.

I have read what Ford recommended back in the day, but in the 100 years since then, we have made big advances in lubricants, as well as the personal experiences of our MTFCA members in what they have discovered works best on the roller type timer. What lubricant do I use on the roller type timer and how often should it be lubricated? Valvoline red bearing grease? White Lithium Grease? 30wt Motor Oil? 3 in 1 oil? Gun Oil? Etc. Thank you. Jim Patrick

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Re: Modern advances in the lubrication of the original roller type timer

Post by George Mills » Mon Dec 30, 2019 2:10 pm

This is sort of like oil for the tranny, or fuel filters....🥴

FWIW...The last car I made road-right I used one of the alpha generation S Type roller timers and was one of the first to experience what generally became general knowledge that they were prone to swallow themselves. That timer was only in the car for about 50-100 mi...but it had about 5000 or so frequent flier miles on it by the time it got circulated to those curious as to failure mode.

I carry spare Anderson’s but on this one I was OC worrying if the cam ran true...so I dug deep and installed a NOS Tiger that was probably as old as me 😊 and felt if it bounced....then I’d know...

Royce was part of the guys curious as to the S failure...and he mentioned he packed timers 1/2 full of grease and then pretty much ignored them! In for a nickel...in for a dime so I slathered it up and plopped it on! Been YEARS now and that roller looks good as new, no pits, no dark spots.

I will say that the car was tuned to fire on mag to start and there was one hiccup. It wouldn’t start on a quarter pull anymore! Have to pull it thru 3-4 quarter turns before turning the switch now, but that’s OK...asked Royce about it, he said never happened to him so ... whatever.

On my other T’s, they have Anderson’s so they get oiled...use 3 in 1 and no issues over the years.


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Re: Modern advances in the lubrication of the original roller type timer

Post by jiminbartow » Mon Dec 30, 2019 2:26 pm

Thank you George. Are you saying to thickly slather grease on the inside contacts and on the roller of the old roller type timer and forget it? If so, what type of grease? White lithium or the thicker red or amber bearing grease? Jim Patrick

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Re: Modern advances in the lubrication of the original roller type timer

Post by aDave » Mon Dec 30, 2019 2:42 pm

Hi Jim,
Good to read your posts again... I trust the RR cars are OK.

Cold, sleety, nasty day up here, and the garage is cold, so I looked back at what Royce had to say... I think that this is what George was mentioning...

http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/257047/267441.html


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Re: Modern advances in the lubrication of the original roller type timer

Post by Original Smith » Mon Dec 30, 2019 2:54 pm

I'm wondering how you propose to put grease through the oil cap on the timer? Since it is an oil cap, it seems obvious to me. Read the Ford Service book, and your instruction manual for the answer.

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Re: Modern advances in the lubrication of the original roller type timer

Post by George Mills » Mon Dec 30, 2019 3:03 pm

Jim, I used whatever I had and it was Red Grease...just the cheap stuff...


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Re: Modern advances in the lubrication of the original roller type timer

Post by jiminbartow » Mon Dec 30, 2019 3:41 pm

Thank you George. That helps. “Original Smith”, the timer would have to be removed to apply grease to the inside. Grease could not be applied through the oil hole. Thank you Dave. After working there for 37 years, we sold the family Railcar repair business in 2014, so I have been retired since then, sleeping late and doing what I enjoy. LOL!

I like lithium grease because it is thin and refined but after thinking about it (and it could be my imagination), I seem to recall reading somewhere in the forum that lithium grease should not be used in electrical components, such as the timer, because it conducts electricity. Again, I may be wrong, but it makes sense because lithium is used in batteries. Can someone clear this up for me? Jim Patrick


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Re: Modern advances in the lubrication of the original roller type timer

Post by tdump » Mon Dec 30, 2019 6:28 pm

It has been a long time since I held a roller timer in my hand as I run the brush type "new" days I think they are.
Anyhow,just off the cuff,I am wondering if the "roller" could be replaced by a sealed bearing? The bearing would be hard enough not to wear out,the bearing would be lubed where it turns?
Or maby use something like the connecting rod bearing in a Mantis tiller engine.Yes you can change them,but you have to get the crankshaft pressed back together EXACTly where it is supposed be or the engine will crap can it's self shortly after start up.
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Re: Modern advances in the lubrication of the original roller type timer

Post by John kuehn » Mon Dec 30, 2019 6:50 pm

There has been all kinds of timer lubrication concoctions used over the years. Years ago a T friend of mine recommended a mixture of STP and grease which worked well with roller timers. You could thin the light grease enough with the STP and use a squirt can to put the mixture through the oil hole in the timer case. When I started using the New Days I use light grade oil and just a little STP. Yes I know some don’t use any kind of lube in a new day but occasionally using some ever so often can’t hurt a bit.


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Re: Modern advances in the lubrication of the original roller type timer

Post by jiminbartow » Mon Dec 30, 2019 7:01 pm

When the camshaft was built, the roller hole was not drilled all the way through so there is only one position on which to install the roller, however, I recall reading awhile back on the forum that, if in the past, an owner drilled the camshaft roller hole all the way through, there were two ways to install the roller on the camshaft so that one could install the roller 180 degrees off and thus throw the timing off 180 degrees, making it impossible to start the car, so care must be taken to take precautions against this if the hole has been drilled through. Jim Patrick


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Re: Modern advances in the lubrication of the original roller type timer

Post by jiminbartow » Mon Dec 30, 2019 7:10 pm

John are you talking about the STP lubricant with the consistency of honey? Back in the mid 1960’s I remember a TV commercial where a screwdriver tip was dipped into the thick STP honey like liquid and a guy with a big burly hand tried to hold onto the STP coated screwdriver tip with his thumb and forefinger, but it was impossible. Me and all my elementary school classmates re-enacted the commercial and, sure enough, none of us could hold onto the screwdriver either. Jim Patrick


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Re: Modern advances in the lubrication of the original roller type timer

Post by John kuehn » Mon Dec 30, 2019 8:31 pm

Yes I remember the commercial. There also was a similar type of lube called Motor Honey that was pretty slick like STP.
STP is also good to use when putting engines together for a prelube. Use to be the thing to do when I was growing up. The Hot Rodders around here any way would use it for that purpose.

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Re: Modern advances in the lubrication of the original roller type timer

Post by Mark Gregush » Tue Dec 31, 2019 1:07 am

You don't want to use something as sticky as(just :) ) STP. It has to move out of the way as the roller passes over the contact. Most oils and dialectic are non conductive and are good insulators. I just use motor oil, but have used grease in the past. Re the roller bearings, I think there was talk in the past that it was not a good plan. Something to do with the electrical current jumping from center to balls to outer casing causing the balls etc getting pitted or something along those lines.
Last edited by Mark Gregush on Tue Dec 31, 2019 12:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Modern advances in the lubrication of the original roller type timer

Post by dykker5502 » Tue Dec 31, 2019 3:04 am

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Re: Modern advances in the lubrication of the original roller type timer

Post by John kuehn » Tue Dec 31, 2019 9:13 am

STP thinned down with oil works great in a roller timer! No, you don’t use STP without thinning it down. Best to read the post to understand it. It makes the oil super slick and lessen friction. Pretty simple to understand. Never say never about anything until you try it. You might actually like it. And again to each his own.

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Re: Modern advances in the lubrication of the original roller type timer

Post by TRDxB2 » Tue Dec 31, 2019 10:42 am

Wouldn't Distributor Cam Lube directly on the surfaces needing lubrication work? Remember getting small capsule with the points back in the '60s-' 70s. A dab kept the cam lubricated for couple of thousand miles.

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Re: Modern advances in the lubrication of the original roller type timer

Post by RajoRacer » Tue Dec 31, 2019 10:49 am

I remember those little "capsules" - I thought is was Vaseline.


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Re: Modern advances in the lubrication of the original roller type timer

Post by jiminbartow » Tue Dec 31, 2019 1:55 pm

John. Your idea sounds good. In your experience, what would you estimate the STP to Oil to Grease mixture ratios? Jim Patrick


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Re: Modern advances in the lubrication of the original roller type timer

Post by John kuehn » Tue Dec 31, 2019 2:21 pm

I would use some light grease or.some heavy oil and then add the STP till you get a fairly thin consistency. If you don’t want to use grease then pour out some 20 or 30 weight oil in a cup and then mix the STP into it at your own discretion.
Remember it’s the STP that gives the extra “slickness” to the oil and that’s what helps to cut down the wear.
Since STP came out years ago there have been other additives that have been developed to decrease engine wear. They would probably work also.

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Re: Modern advances in the lubrication of the original roller type timer

Post by TRDxB2 » Wed Jan 01, 2020 1:54 am

Why wouldn't you use this?
lube it.png
Not sure which STP formula you are referring to but the original contains Zinc which is a relatively good conductor.
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Re: Modern advances in the lubrication of the original roller type timer

Post by Original Smith » Wed Jan 01, 2020 10:57 am

I've been using New Day timers for over fifty years. For me they are the most reliable. I only need to remove them occasionally to rough up the surface, and blow out the dust. You must use a modern camshaft seal to use one however.


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Re: Modern advances in the lubrication of the original roller type timer

Post by YellowTRacer » Thu Jan 02, 2020 7:10 pm

I've been using lubriplate white grease, non conductor. for years. Roller type timer, pack it full and run it without any maintenance until the engine fails (many thousand miles) then replace the timer and repeat.

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Re: Modern advances in the lubrication of the original roller type timer

Post by jiminbartow » Thu Jan 02, 2020 11:31 pm

Thank you everyone for your input. I am still concerned about the modern metal and mineral additive laden lubricants and the harmful effects using the wrong one can have on the electrical system of my Model T. Certain sources of the internet tell me that the additives used, such as lithium, molybdenum, zinc, silica and graphite are electrically conductive, while I am told by many members that they are not conductive, to the point, I don’t know what to believe or what is safe to use, so, after having visited all of the auto supply stores and reading the ingredients of all of the various greases and discovering they all have one or more conductive additives, I have decided to be cautious and follow the advice of Ford in lubricating the timer with “Vaseline”, only I have decided to add my own additive by stirring “3 in 1” oil into “Vaseline”. I used about 1/8 of a can of “3 in 1” oil into a golf ball sized amount of Vaseline. It attained the consistency of white lithium grease and I am anxious to try it and see how it works. Thanks again for your input in helping me to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion. Have a very Happy, safe, productive, healthy and successful 2020. Jim Patrick


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Re: Modern advances in the lubrication of the original roller type timer

Post by Scott_Conger » Fri Jan 03, 2020 12:19 pm

Jim, I am glad you've settled on a combination of stuff that you're happy with. The reality is, you'll have to haunt auto flea markets for a looooooong time to find a 50 year old can of oil with enough "stuff" in it to cause electrical trouble in a T.

With respect to grease, you'd have to specifically shop for, and look for, electrically conductive grease to find anything that will hurt your timer. They are certainly out there, but not so common in an automotive store as to confuse you.

As far as research into mineral additives being in conflict with advice given here, at least for my post, I provided vendor information stating that lithium grease was non-conductive. The lithium in it is lithium soap. Pure lithium is conductive, but is NOT in the grease. I am guessing this is why you doubt the safety of it's use, because you have read that lithium is conductive as a pure element. It's always good practice to check/double-check advice found here, but I can state from knowledge and experience, that what I've read so far on this post, of folks advocating for their own material, I haven't found advice that I would consider harmful.

One thing I'll add is that I thought STP friction modifier was a good idea for awhile and when I was new to the hobby, I knew far better than anyone as to what MY car needed. I put a doped mixture of gear oil and some STP in the rear end. Drove it and then checked it. The STP-laden mixture had whipped into a foam akin to whipped cream and took about a week to return to anything that resembled lubricant, and with all that air in it, it wasn't a lubricant. I flushed for days to get that crap out. NEVER AGAIN! If you will put some between two fingers and pull them apart and together quickly many times you'll see a spiderweb of stringy tacky goop. STP is intended to be a VERY low % of the total lubricant and 2:1, 3:1, 4:1 mixtures will not have the lubricating qualities one may want or think they're getting. Just some additional info. Not meant to push you one way or another or impune or condemn anyone's personal choices.
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Re: Modern advances in the lubrication of the original roller type timer

Post by Steve Jelf » Fri Jan 03, 2020 12:39 pm

If I remember Royce's comment correctly, I believe he said he uses Mobil red grease. I use New Day timers, so I have no advice on timer lubricants. :)
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Re: Modern advances in the lubrication of the original roller type timer

Post by John kuehn » Fri Jan 03, 2020 1:04 pm

Well, it looks like this thread is going the way of other threads concerning types of band material to use, types of oil, lubricants and who knows what else. And oh yes I forgot about adding spark plugs to the list. Now timer lubricants can be added also.
From the horrors of one type to the wonders of another and everything in between are usually the answers as it was on this thread.

So what’s the answer? Thinking back to Jims answer using Vaseline might be good to use reminds me of what my Father said he used in the 20’s and 30’s when he drove his Model T’s.
He and others used Vaseline (also called petroleum jelly). It seemed to work well he said.
Sort of Back To The Future I guess.


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Re: Modern advances in the lubrication of the original roller type timer

Post by Scott_Conger » Fri Jan 03, 2020 1:13 pm

Steve

I too, have swapped over to Mobile, having read Royce's words. Was working on a pristine early two piece timer for a friend and used it on his timer and have put 1 season on one of my ANCO timers with it. Used to use White (lithium) grease which worked fine for years (so what the heck am I doing switching???). Anyway, I'm on the Mobile bandwagon only because after buying a tube of the stuff, I have a 400 year supply of it. :D
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Re: Modern advances in the lubrication of the original roller type timer

Post by TRDxB2 » Fri Jan 03, 2020 1:21 pm

Back to the future or reinventing the wheel. Given the technology of the time Vaseline may have been the best and only choice. In any case you should read this article https://modeltfordfix.com/repairing-a-m ... ler-timer/ has many good tips to preserve your timers and recommendations
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