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Old 04-09-2020, 09:39 PM   #1
Conaway2
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Default Spark advance question

Iíve owned Model Aís since I was 15 (so have been driving them for over 50 years) and have always retarded the spark to start the car, kept the spark at about 10 AM for driving 35 and under, and only fully advanced the spark over 40-45. What do the rest of you Model A drivers do ?

Many thanks - JIM
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Old 04-09-2020, 10:22 PM   #2
Pmsqrd
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Default Re: Spark advance question

Up to start. 9 o'clock to run. all the way down over 50.
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Old 04-09-2020, 10:23 PM   #3
Aok
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Default Re: Spark advance question

I do retard spark on starting, most of the time .
Then I usually run with it about 1/2 down for local driving.
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Old 04-10-2020, 06:25 AM   #4
daren007
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Default Re: Spark advance question

My A does not like anything more then about ten o’clock for most driving 40-45.. even at. 50+ I do not exceed 9 o’clock.
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Old 04-10-2020, 06:35 AM   #5
Patrick L.
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Default Re: Spark advance question

Up fully for starting [ 10:00-11:00]
Down for running [ 9:00-9:30] hardly ever use full advance [7:30-8:00]
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Old 04-10-2020, 07:27 AM   #6
marty in Ohio
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Default Re: Spark advance question

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Conaway2,
Jim, after 50 years you should be telling all of us how to drive an "A" I adjust the spark in my car exactly the same way you do. I just do what the car seems comfortable with. Been driving mine for 27 years.
Marty
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Old 04-10-2020, 08:02 AM   #7
Sunnybrook Farm
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Default Re: Spark advance question

I would think it comes down to how one drives and also how the car is timed. If you read the Ford manual they are talking about normal speed driving at lever half down and only at high speed is it fully advanced. People drove differently 90 years ago and the manual says to shift to second at 8 mph and high at 15 and they never talk specific speeds when giving spark adjustment instructions. At that time the state wide speed limit in Virginia was 35mph. I have been driving A's since the early 70s and back then a lot of the old guys didn't wind out the first two gears, just got the car moving and got into high. Driving this way fits running with the spark 1/2 or so down then once in high advancing the spark. If you watch youtube videos of people driving, they really wind the lower gears out and are turning lots of RPMs so they probably need to be at advanced spark. I would retard the spark when going around a corner and not shift into 2nd then advance it once speed picked up again. So I say if you drive like 90 years ago then follow the manual but if you wind out the gears then advance the spark sooner. Keep in mind that Ford didn't use this system after the Model A and speeds increased, it is a hold over from driving Model T's in a way.
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Old 04-10-2020, 10:52 AM   #8
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Default Re: Spark advance question

Definately full retard for starting.
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Old 04-10-2020, 11:02 AM   #9
Purdy Swoft
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Default Re: Spark advance question

I use full retard for starting and full advance at speed like Ford suggested . I have ran my model A's in this manner for sixty years with good results . The more retarded the engine is run , the hotter it will run . A lot of overheating is caused by incorrect initial timing or miss use of the spark lever .
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Old 04-10-2020, 11:23 AM   #10
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Default Re: Spark advance question

There are too many variables to say definitively where you need the lever position. Every car will vary, and quite a lot too. Advance the spark until you just start to hear pinging at full acceleration, then retard it just enough to make it go away. If you can't hear good enough to detect pinging, teach a kid what pinging sounds like and have him/her ride with you for a while and have them listen. If you don't know what ping sounds like, go on YouTube and educate yourself.
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Old 04-10-2020, 11:30 AM   #11
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Default Re: Spark advance question

Both of my Model "A" cars have high-compression cylinder heads. I fully retard the lever to start them, pull it halfway down to warm them up in the winter and go to full advance for all driving except on hills. When approaching a significant hill, I retard the spark 2 to 3 notches.

With today's 87 Octane gasoline, the Model "A" and Model "B" engines can run with more advance than the 20-degree limit. All of the stuff in vintage publications re spark advance was for 40 to 60 Octane gasoline without any anti-knock additives.
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Old 04-10-2020, 12:26 PM   #12
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Default Re: Spark advance question

"Henry" my truck tells me what he wants...............
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Old 04-10-2020, 02:16 PM   #13
Conaway2
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Default Re: Spark advance question

Quote:
Originally Posted by marty in Ohio View Post
Conaway2,
Jim, after 50 years you should be telling all of us how to drive an "A" I adjust the spark in my car exactly the same way you do. I just do what the car seems comfortable with. Been driving mine for 27 years.
Marty
Marty - even though Iíve had the car a long time and have had it completely disassembled at one point, Iím still learning things about it !


Thanks - Jim
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Old 04-10-2020, 02:28 PM   #14
Conaway2
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Default Re: Spark advance question

All - thanks for your replies ! I should have mentioned that the engine has a stock head.

Jim
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Old 04-10-2020, 11:17 PM   #15
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Default Re: Spark advance question

Driving the same full stock A for 60 years... full up to start, full down for normal driving. I only retard ( 9 oclock) if going up a significant hill or otherwise lugging the engine. Never had a problem. Understand that most of the driving around these parts are pretty flat. (Except for Mount Elliot and Mount Clemens)

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Old 04-11-2020, 08:26 AM   #16
Big hammer
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Default Re: Spark advance question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Conaway2 View Post
Iíve owned Model Aís since I was 15 (so have been driving them for over 50 years) and have always retarded the spark to start the car, kept the spark at about 10 AM for driving 35 and under, and only fully advanced the spark over 40-45. What do the rest of you Model A drivers do ?

Many thanks - JIM
Same here with me, except yesterday went for a ride and something was different ! At idle each cylinder fired hard, not a miss just harder. After about 60 miles it wouldn't stay running at idle, pulling some hills was difficult. So I stopped and checked the points gap, it had closed up. Reset to .022 and all is fine now, new points a coupe hundred miles ago and the points follower had worn down. Happy Easter be save !
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Old 04-11-2020, 08:38 AM   #17
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Default Re: Spark advance question

Remember, starting without retarding the spark will sometimes kick back on the starter and bend the shaft. Just for newbies that don't know yet.
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Old 04-12-2020, 09:43 AM   #18
katy
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Default Re: Spark advance question

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Originally Posted by Big hammer View Post
Same here with me, except yesterday went for a ride and something was different ! At idle each cylinder fired hard, not a miss just harder. After about 60 miles it wouldn't stay running at idle, pulling some hills was difficult. So I stopped and checked the points gap, it had closed up. Reset to .022 and all is fine now, new points a coupe hundred miles ago and the points follower had worn down. Happy Easter be save !
Suggest that you check the surface of the points cam. I had one that was not as smooth as it should have been and wore the points rubbing block down quite rapidly.
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Last edited by katy; 04-12-2020 at 09:44 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 04-12-2020, 01:41 PM   #19
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Default Re: Spark advance question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Purdy Swoft View Post
I use full retard for starting and full advance at speed like Ford suggested . I have ran my model A's in this manner for sixty years with good results . The more retarded the engine is run , the hotter it will run . A lot of overheating is caused by incorrect initial timing or miss use of the spark lever .
The master has spoken! I Couldn't agree more!
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Old 04-12-2020, 03:26 PM   #20
Jim M
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Default Re: Spark advance question

I do what Purdy does - all the way up to start, and all the way down to drive. Most of my driving is 35-45 MPH on secondary FLAT roads. Have not had a problem.....oops maybe shouldnt have said that!!
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