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Ford Tractors Discussion Forum

Ignition timing - D'oh!

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Charlie in NY

06-10-2016 07:23:36

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I decided it was time my Ford 640 had a fresh set of points & plugs & condenser. Even installed all new plug wires. It has been all of 35 years since I changed points on a vehicle . .. but I was prepared and had in my youth.

Thinking ahead I waited until AFTER I had done my first brush-hogging for the season. I know sometimes little jobs become LONG delays.

The change-out went very well. The spark plugs looked to have some age on them so the night before I took a shot of PB Blast around them. All came out nicely. Did one at a time and set the new plug wire on them.
The points and condenser were in pretty ratty shape. I jogged the engine until I was able to stop it on a high point of the points cam and out with the old, in with the new. Gapped to 0.025" (kit even came with the gauge). No lost screws, no extra parts. Used the electrolytic grease to hit the rotor top and contacts and all back together. The engine even started!

Feeling pretty good about the project thus far!

So, preparing for all this I had previously been waiting and watching on that large e-auction site and had a timing light ordered and delivered. Managed a vintage (chromed metal housing!) KAL Inductiive light shipped for $30. Even thought to test it for function BEFORE I waded in.

So I loosen the bell bolt that has the little toggle cover for the flywheel window, clean up the grease for a clear view. Start up the engine. Clip the 12v leads for the timing light and clip the ferrite pick-up on the #1 plug wire. Throttle down to low idle and point the gun at the window, pull the "trigger" and flash-flash-flash, etc. Don't see nuttin!

Flywheel is bare. Huh? Rolled up a piece of cotton rag and held it against the flywheel (carefully) and looked again with the light. Nuttin. I wear varilux lenses and sometimes have to get my nose to the right elevation so I'm shifting y head every which way. Nuttin.
I will say the one bit of chassis my tractor lacks is a fan guard, and the last time I got a body part too close I had to wrap it up in ice and take it to town to be reattached, so I was a bit leery of getting my ear up against the running engine.
I went into the house and got a piece of chalk and held that up against the flywheel. Checked again. Nuttin.


Than a thought finally seeped into my head.
I backed off the two distributor clamp bolts and turned the distributor while listening to the engine. It started to really knock at one point so I backed off and checked the flywheel with the timing light again. "28" AH HAH! Turned it to "8" and reved it up to 2200 rpm and watched the numbers climb. So I went back to low idle, verified "8" again and clamped her down.

It was so far out of "advance" that the calibration marks weren't even showing! Poor thing ran even then.
Final task was to tweak the idle screws for the carb. Sweet little low idle that just percolates and nice transition to speed.
I love it when it's all back together and running! ESPECIALLY when it's running better.

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JF in MI

06-10-2016 10:45:30

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 Re: Ignition timing - D'oh! in reply to Charlie in NY, 06-10-2016 07:23:36  
Well, as Homer would say; 'If something's hard to do, then it's not worth doing'.

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Jim in New Mexico

06-10-2016 10:32:01

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 Re: Ignition timing - D'oh! in reply to Charlie in NY, 06-10-2016 07:23:36  
Sounds like you did it by the "Book". Great explanation too......Jim in N.M.

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