New T Help Needed

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Belliott3
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New T Help Needed

Post by Belliott3 » Mon Apr 13, 2020 4:00 pm

First, allow me to say how proud I am that my eldest son has caught the bug and has bought his first T! He's 20 and saved up the money to purchase this original finish, original interior 1926 Tudor form an elderly gent here in Michigan. Unfortunately, the old fellow had someone remove the mag coil and installed a VW distributor. Now my son is going to school to be a mechanic and already has several state certifications so he knows a thing or two about engines, and he's pretty familiar with T motos thanks to my addiction. But neither of us are familiar with timing or adjusting distributors. Now I know how you all feel about distributors; half of you think they are the devil's own and the other half think the opposite. Now my son is planning on taking the engine out in the fall and taking it to one of his classes as a work project, and at that time he's planning on re-building the mag from the car and installing it. However, until then he wants to drive this cool car around. He's tinkered with the distributor a bit, and he and I went through most of the basic things but it still isn't running as smooth as I think it should. Can anyone with experience in VW distributors please give us some help on how to time/adjust/maintain/use these things? Also, is there any kind of literature on them? I'm really not interested in opening a big debate/argument on distributors vs magnetos so please keep your comments civil and directed only to the topic - getting my son's T running as best as it can on this type of distributor - thanks!
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jiminbartow
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Re: New T Help Needed

Post by jiminbartow » Mon Apr 13, 2020 4:26 pm

I would absolutely vote for returning it to the original 6V Model T electrical system, but it’s your T and your choice. Have you asked the former owner if he has the parts that were taken out, or if he doesn’t have them, does he know where the parts are? Having the original parts that were taken out would really help.

As for adjusting the VW distributor, perhaps using the parts number, you can determine the year of the VW the parts and obtain a Chilton’s VW repair Manual for that VW year on eBay. I recall having a Chilton’s repair Manual for my 1974 pre-computer Camaro 350 4 bbl and it was very helpful in making the necessary adjustments to the distributor, the carburetor and the timing. Of course I had a tuneup meter (tach and dwell), timing light and compression gauge that were necessary back then, for working on pre-computer era cars. Jim Patrick


Scott_Conger
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Re: New T Help Needed

Post by Scott_Conger » Mon Apr 13, 2020 4:34 pm

Bill

timing the distributor is just the same as with a timer but for one thing. At 15 degrees ATDC with a timer, you want an electrical connection to "make contact" and start the coils buzzing.

With the distributor, at 15 degrees ATDC you want the distributor to "break contact", which would cause the coil to make it's one and only spark.

Timing is exactly the same exercise, just looking for contact point on the original system, and a disconnect on the other (distributor). As for gap at the points, I think .016 would give correct dwell time, but since it is such a slow reving engine, an even wider gap will probably not hurt. You will want to figure out if the distributor has weights which will automatically advance the timing and thus leave the spark lever alone, or if it is one that will require advancing with the spark lever like with an original timer. That's the one big difference in operation once you're timed correctly.

If the engine ends up running halfway decent, a wiser plan might be to pull the rear end out for a class project and replace thrust washers. It may be the only time his classmates see miter gears in a rear axle in their entire career, and will ensure safe operation for your son once put back together.

Wonderful that you and your boy can enjoy the hobby together. My dad and I have spent many happy hours together in the hobby.
Scott Conger

Full Flow Float Valves - deliver fuel like Henry intended!


DHort
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Re: New T Help Needed

Post by DHort » Mon Apr 13, 2020 4:53 pm

I would suggest you look on the distributor for a model number. There has to be one somewhere. Then I suggest you purchase a new cap, new rotor, new points, and a new capacitor from NAPA. Scott is correct with the 0.016 gap. Once those are installed you have probably eliminated most of your problem. The next step would be to get a new coil. Those are not cheap. If there is an old mechanic anywhere near your house he can probably assist you in getting the distributor adjusted correctly.

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Belliott3
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Re: New T Help Needed

Post by Belliott3 » Mon Apr 13, 2020 6:17 pm

Great advice everyone, thanks! Yes, he has the original mag coil but it's in pieces and will need a lot of work. The car does run ok, but it lacks a lot of power especially when going from low to high gear. He went through the clutch linkage and adjusted the clutch but it only helped a little. Top speed is 26, and at that it really just slugs along. He's also going to rebuild the front axle this summer; it definitely needs new kingpins and bushings. You're absolutely correct in that the rear axle will also need going thru, but there's no in and out play on the axle and the seals seem to be in good condition as there is no grease/gear oil inside the hubs. And I believe those later cars had bronze and not babbit thrust washers, right?


Scott_Conger
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Re: New T Help Needed

Post by Scott_Conger » Mon Apr 13, 2020 6:42 pm

Bill, you got me! You may be right as I forgot about later cars having bronze on parts lists. I am hoping someone with lots of experience with later cars will chime in to verify that all later cars had them or not. Dan Treace seems to be on top of this sort of thing, so maybe he'll chime in.

anyway, if the car hasn't run in ages, it may get peppier with some running and the rings un-gunk. No telling.

Have fun.
Scott Conger

Full Flow Float Valves - deliver fuel like Henry intended!

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Oldav8tor
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Re: New T Help Needed

Post by Oldav8tor » Mon Apr 13, 2020 7:04 pm

To be clear, does the engine sound rough or simply lack power? If the latter, another place to look would be the carb, intakes, fuel lines, etc.

All bets are off when you get a "new" model T. When I got mine in 2018 I went thru every system and every moving part on the car to make sure everything was up to par. I'm not a believer in "Aw, just drive it until it breaks...."

I had a friend just install a rebuilt engine in his '19 Touring. While towing it to try to get it to start, one of the rear wheels fell off. A crack in the axle had gone unnoticed until a little extra strain did it in. Opening up the differential, he found babbit thrust washers so needless to say, the rear end is getting a total inspection and rebuild.

It's a good thing your son has you to help him work on his Model T. I doubt very much of a modern mechanic's training applies to Model T's. It's just like the training that Airplane and Powerplant mechanics get...next to nothing on wood and fabric airplanes.
1917 Touring
1946 Aeronca Champ
1952 Willys M38a1 Jeep
1953 Ford Jubilee Tractor

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Re: New T Help Needed

Post by Bob McDaniel » Tue Apr 14, 2020 12:22 am

My 26 rear end did not have bronze washers in it. It did have them when I sold the car last year.
Give an old car guy a barn and he won't throw anything away.


Art Wilson
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Re: New T Help Needed

Post by Art Wilson » Tue Apr 14, 2020 1:29 am

The VW distributors need an external ground from the distributor head to the engine to insure electrical continuity while the engine is running. Otherwise the vibrations from the running engine can cause an intermittent connection between the distributor and the ground path and cause rough running.


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Re: New T Help Needed

Post by gldavis » Tue Apr 14, 2020 8:13 am

I too have a 26 Tudor (and live in Michigan but that is not really relevant, but a fun fact nonetheless). When I got my Tudor 3 years ago it had a dizzy and a rebuilt motor. The mag was not reinstalled during the rebuild. Two weeks ago I removed the dizzy and went back to (rebuilt coils) and timer. My timer is an etimer (which is still sinful to some folks), but without a mag I choose that route. Anyway my car runs better than it ever has and, in opinion well worth the money. I didn't have time to pull the engine for a mag install...as a nurse I'm a little busy these days (thank you Covid 19).

My Dizzy gave me fits for 3 years. Condenser issues, point issues, several coil issues. I was stranded numerous times and had to call for help, tow trucks or my own trailer. That gets expensive quick. I'm not anti dizzy, but I certainly have bad feelings for the one I had!

The swap over was easy.

Have a great day!!!
George Davis-Williams
Lake City, MI


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Re: New T Help Needed

Post by gldavis » Tue Apr 14, 2020 8:18 am

Also, if your son wants a Texas T (still VW) dizzy to try let me know. It even has an electronic ignition. He can have it, as long as he doesn't sell it. If he doesn't want it, just pass it on.

Two three one four nine nine six two five eight

Thanks,
George
George Davis-Williams
Lake City, MI


Jerry VanOoteghem
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Re: New T Help Needed

Post by Jerry VanOoteghem » Tue Apr 14, 2020 8:40 am

Congratulations Bill & son!

Did that T happen to come from Avoca, MI? Jim M.?

All good advice here. Also do a compression test!


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Re: New T Help Needed

Post by Moxie26 » Tue Apr 14, 2020 9:37 am

Well congratulations also to Bill and son on the acquisition of your new model T. I agree with GL Davis at this point I would also recommend the e-timer. I have used the E- timer for several years, since volunteering to be a beta- tester for it's inventor . ...... And also had the benefit of all the upgrades since it's inception to what it is today... damn reliable !!


Moxie26
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Re: New T Help Needed

Post by Moxie26 » Tue Apr 14, 2020 10:49 am

To Bill & son... With the assumption of a otherwise good running engine switching over to a e-timer in my opinion gives just as much performance as a stock well-tuned Ford ignition operating on magneto, with none of the usual maintenance problems with a worn or dirty timer or maladjusted coils. .. ..The problems that you do have with your engine may be caused by worn piston rings , and/or worn valves


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Re: New T Help Needed

Post by Norman Kling » Tue Apr 14, 2020 11:32 am

I agree with the above suggestions. I would also add this, before you do a lot of work on the distributor, that you do a compression test on the engine. The compression would be somewhere around 50 psi on all cylinders (at sea level) Would be a bit less at higher altitudes, but all cylinders should be approximately the same compression. If you have low compression on two adjacent cylinders, it could be caused by a bad head gasket. If it varies on one or more it could be caused by burnt valves or very worn piston rings. and if very low, almost zero, on any cylinder, it could be caused by a sticky valve. Quite often if a car has been parked for a long time, one or more valves which were open when the engine was turned off, will be stuck in the open position.
If you find a big difference in compression, all the work on the ignition system or the fuel system won't fix the problem until the cause of compression loss is addressed.
Another thing which you could do concerning the ignition system, if you have the coil box and coils, would be to install them and a timer and run on 6 volts. On relatively level surfaces, you will find it runs fine on 6 volts, however, if you are in a hilly area, 12 volts would be better. If you don't want to change the generator and other electrical parts to 12 volts, you could run a separate 12 volt battery for just the distributor. It doesn't take a lot of charge to run a distributor, so you could use a smaller 12 volt battery and charge at home when parked.
Anyway, just suggestions. I would recommend the compression check first before you spend a lot of time on fixing something which is not the cause of the problem.
Norm


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Re: New T Help Needed

Post by John kuehn » Tue Apr 14, 2020 11:54 am

Wondering if it still has a 26-7 engine. If it does It may be the original that’s just worn out. Like others have said a compression test may tell you a few things. Since Pop has been around T’s he probably knows that the improved car engines have the 2 bolt boss on the back and the transmission cover bolts to it. Since it has a distributor the coil box inside the engine compartment may also have been removed. If it’s not smoking it may just be the distributor is not advancing as it should. Hope it’s something that’s simple that can be repaired for now to give it a little more ‘go’.
Last edited by John kuehn on Tue Apr 14, 2020 11:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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TRDxB2
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Re: New T Help Needed

Post by TRDxB2 » Tue Apr 14, 2020 11:54 am

You first need to properly identify the distributor in case you need parts. Pre 1976 VW's were 6volts. You didn't identify if you have a clip-on or plate distributor set-up with the distributor (no assumptions). Anyway here is a link to the Texas T distributor instructions that are available on Snyder's web site https://www.snydersantiqueauto.com/Reso ... T-5858.pdf

Also while original VW distributors were made by BOSCH - they are not the same as what is being used in the Texas T. Also if it says American Bosch it is not a VW or (Robert) Bosch distributor. A picture of what you have would help

Lastly, learn from what you have and get it running to your satisfaction before you start changing anything and spending lots of cash.
Last edited by TRDxB2 on Tue Apr 14, 2020 12:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Belliott3
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Re: New T Help Needed

Post by Belliott3 » Tue Apr 14, 2020 12:07 pm

Once again I am grateful for all the suggestions and comments; you all are a trove of experience that many appreciate - thank you! Jerry Van, the car came from St. Claire from an elderly gent named Bill Walters; he claimed that Bill Barth did the mag replacement but his son really didn't think so. The T does have the original engine but the previous owner really couldn't remember if it was rebuilt or not. We will definitely do a compression test this week; sounds like the next logical step. We'll also look into the distributor and check it more thoroughly. George, I appreciate the offer of your Dizzy but for now, I think we'll see how this VW distributor works out; I'll keep you all posted!

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