ANCO timing set with 2 1/2" gauge

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ANCO timing set with 2 1/2" gauge

Post by NealW » Mon Apr 06, 2020 8:28 pm

Not as controversial as what type of oil to use or whether a T needs a water pump or or not, but how to set the timing on a T has certainly generated a lot of discussion on the forum site over the years. I had purchased an ANCO flapper timer to use on my 15 runabout restoration project. I had also purchased one of those 2 1/2" gauges that Lang's sells to set the timing in the fully retarded position. There has been much written about using this gauge or not, and that it is only meant for use with a Ford roller timer. Someone in the past did the trig work and figured out that the gauge dimension gives about 15.5 degrees of timing ATDC. I decided to use the gauge for adjusting the timer rod for initial timing, and then use the method suggested by Steve Jelf on his website:

This method will basically set the timing at 15 degrees ATDC. Both the ANCO timer instructions and Tinkerin Tips are more vague; basically set the timing for the coils to buzz when on the downward stroke. The main emphasis of those two methods, for understandable reasons, is to have the ignition occur on the downward stroke with the timing fully retarded.

Well, today I installed my coils, and since the radiator hasn't been installed yet, it gave me easy access to measure the fully retarded crank pin angle for when the coils started buzzing for each of the cylinders. I found that two of the cylinders buzzed when the crank pin measured 15 degrees ATDC, with the other two about 2 degrees to either side of 15 degrees. So it appears that the 2 1/2" gauge works for setting an ANCO timer too. I can't speak to the other types of timer and of course, your mileage may vary.


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Re: ANCO timing set with 2 1/2" gauge

Post by ABoer » Tue Apr 07, 2020 9:03 am

Neal ; It is normal that the ANCO Timer has NOT the SAME timing for all the plugs !!


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Re: ANCO timing set with 2 1/2" gauge

Post by MKossor » Tue Apr 07, 2020 10:35 am

A unique feature of the Anco (aka Anderson) timer is the ability to adjust the activation timing of the individual coils by bending the internal prongs. This is typical done statically.

All this effort is of course moot if the individual coils are not all adjusted for equal and consistent firing Time using the appropriate tool such as the ECCT.
I-Timer + ECCT Adjusted Coils = Best Model T Engine Performance Possible!

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Mark Gregush
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Re: ANCO timing set with 2 1/2" gauge

Post by Mark Gregush » Tue Apr 07, 2020 11:16 am

My OP is and will be; why would someone make a "better timer" that you would need to retime the car to put on. You would want your buyer to buy your timer and be able to install without much fuss and be able to tell their friends/family how easy it was to install and how great it runs. ;) I would think that the makers of aftermarket timers would have taken the measurements used for Ford timers into consideration when designing their timer.
I know the voices aren't real but damn they have some good ideas! :shock:

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Re: ANCO timing set with 2 1/2" gauge

Post by Ron Patterson » Tue Apr 07, 2020 12:59 pm

Perhaps it is because Steve Coniff and I spent so much time years ago investigating and writing articles about the much misunderstood "Model T Ford Ignition System and Spark Timing" was designed and actually worked that I harp on you understanding this subject getting this correct. Frankly, we both got weary of verbally explaining how it was intended to work, so we wrote this article: ... iticle.pdf
It may take some time to fully understand, but if you do it will become clear why it is important to a properly operating Model T. Ford used 15 degrees ATDC for reasons of safety and easy magneto starting. Please read the attached Circa 1917 owners manual engine starting procedure, study Figure 8 in the article and it should all become clear.
(Mark) I have debated your last sentence with people many times over the years and your argument, though seemingly intuitive, is not!
The Anderson timer is particularly prone to timing errors because of the shape and possibility of misalignment of the case contacts. The manufacturer claims they are set correctly when new. There are many variations of these problem in many of the hundreds of different aftermarket timers.
In my experience replacing timers and checking the outcome with Tony Wiltshire's slick tool to verify the results it is necessary to first remove all the slop in the spark rod pull lever (at the end of the steering column) and attendant linkage, check the alignment of the engine front plate (some of Neal's initial reporting suggest that his front plate may be misaligned?) are first required when setting initial timing on a Model T, then finally adjusting the spark rod length....even than you may find that many reproduction timers that will not be set at 15 degrees ATDC. When replacing your timer, always take these preliminary steps and then check your work using Tony Wiltshire's tool to be sure.
Yes, I understand many new Model T owners are about to wet their pants wanting to start and get in and drive their new toy and it is possible to set the initial timing in a wide range and the engine will still run, but if you take the time to set it right, you will find a properly running model T is a pleasure to drive, not a chore.
1917 Model T Magneto Starting Procedure.jpg

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Re: ANCO timing set with 2 1/2" gauge

Post by Moxie26 » Sat Apr 11, 2020 10:36 am

Ford's timing setting tool with two and a half inch centers is only for the Ford manufactured timer case. All accessory timers should be set according to the instructions given with them because they're all different.

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