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Old 12-20-2013, 10:24 PM   #1
BillM
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Default Timing 32 - 48 Distributors; Two Ruler method

The two ruler method for 42 - 48 distributors is well known; it can be found on the Van Pelt website here: http://www.vanpeltsales.com/FH_web/f...str-timing.htm

But the same method for 32 - 36 and 37 - 41 appears not to exist. So using a Harmon Collins adapter I made some measurements and drawings to generate instructions for these earlier distributors. I should note here that this assumes that the above instructions are accurate and that my measurements of the adapter are also accurate. And that the timing of the distributors over the years is basically the same if you take into account the the different spacing of the bolt holes. The only way to verify this would be to set up an engine with a degree wheel etc. That said, this method should be "in the ball park".
Here are pictures of the H&C adapter; front and back:

And for reference, the 42 - 48 method:
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Adapter Front.jpg (30.1 KB, 126 views)
File Type: jpg Adapter Rear.jpg (29.8 KB, 101 views)
File Type: jpg Ruler timing 42-48.jpg (16.2 KB, 194 views)
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Old 12-20-2013, 10:29 PM   #2
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Default Re: Timing 32 - 48 Distributors; Two Ruler method

To continue here are the drawings I made for the 32 - 36 and the 37 - 41 distributors: The views are of the rear of the adapter or distributor. Note that the .375 dimension on the second drawing refers to the two bolt 42 - 48 distributor.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg RulerTiming 3 bolt.jpg (31.6 KB, 199 views)
File Type: jpg RulerTiming 2&4 bolt.jpg (34.8 KB, 182 views)
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Last edited by BillM; 12-20-2013 at 10:31 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 12-21-2013, 06:54 AM   #3
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Default Re: Timing 32 - 48 Distributors; Two Ruler method

Pretty neat.
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Old 12-22-2013, 12:45 PM   #4
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Default Re: Timing 32 - 48 Distributors; Two Ruler method

Here are some pictures I took of a simple timing jig I made.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg timingjig.JPG (122.6 KB, 206 views)
File Type: jpg timingjig1.JPG (124.6 KB, 187 views)
File Type: jpg timingjig2.JPG (123.4 KB, 176 views)
File Type: jpg timingjig3.JPG (126.2 KB, 164 views)
File Type: jpg DSC00247.JPG (127.6 KB, 168 views)
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Old 12-22-2013, 12:58 PM   #5
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Default Re: Timing 32 - 48 Distributors; Two Ruler method

You can get just as close and in the ball park if you properly gap points and set timeing index plate in the middle graduation with out all the rulers and straight edges and measurements. ken ct.
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Old 12-22-2013, 01:04 PM   #6
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Default Re: Timing 32 - 48 Distributors; Two Ruler method

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Originally Posted by ken ct View Post
You can get just as close and in the ball park if you properly gap points and set timeing index plate in the middle graduation with out all the rulers and straight edges and measurements. ken ct.
Merry Christmas, Ken! DD
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Old 12-22-2013, 06:37 PM   #7
Jack E/NJ
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Default Re: Timing 32 - 48 Distributors; Two Ruler method

DD>>>Originally Posted by ken ct>>>You can get just as close and in the ball park if you properly gap points and set timeing index plate in the middle graduation with out all the rulers and straight edges and measurements. ken ct.>>>Merry Christmas, Ken! DD>>>

Yeah, ever since I was a little boy, I was always a bit overwhelmed by all the complexity in these precision methods of getting initial timing in the ballpark so the engine starts. So I've always done it like Ken says.

Then I pick a cylinder---any cylinder---and turn the crank so its at TDC compression stroke. The I turn the distributor's tongue till a rotor tip is aimed at that cylinder on the cap. Then I gingerly insert off-center tongue into the equally off-center cam slot. And then I start it up. And go from there to get things inside the ball diamond.

Now do I get a Merry Christmas too! 8^)

Happy Holidays All

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Old 12-22-2013, 07:31 PM   #8
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Default Re: Timing 32 - 48 Distributors; Two Ruler method

Yea,Merry Xmas Jack to you and your family and a safe new year. ken + Peg Isidor Ct.
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Old 01-02-2014, 11:28 AM   #9
Bruce Lancaster
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Default Re: Timing 32 - 48 Distributors; Two Ruler method

I think the first publication of the ruler method for the '42-46 was in the 1946 Service book...I suspect it came out of some WWII military manual I haven't found yet as a field expedient.
Ford DID have what amounts to a ruler method for the 3-bolt distributors, easily derived from their patent number 1963657. Bring it up on Google advanced patent and open up the PDF to get decent sized pictures. Note that you will have to rotate the key picture in your head to figure it all out...
The result is essentially identical to the common aftermarket timing plate that has a fixed slot and a shape like a ping-pong paddle, and that your ruler will bisect the bolt hole at firing position. Be sure to work from the correct wide side of the drive lug.
The whole thing is ingenious, right down to the wire and cotter provided.
Ford actually seems to have considered making the timing plate a permanent fixture on the cars, a plot presumably ended by the arrival of the KRW fixture and the distributor machine for dealers and the distributor exchange program for the customers.
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Old 01-02-2014, 12:33 PM   #10
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Default Re: Timing 32 - 48 Distributors; Two Ruler method

Thanks for the patent info, Bruce that makes an interesting read.

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Old 01-02-2014, 12:49 PM   #11
Bruce Lancaster
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Default Re: Timing 32 - 48 Distributors; Two Ruler method

Ford patents may be the last frontier...LOTS of cool stuff with great illustrations. I've posted a couple of lists of A, B, and early V8 patents.
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Old 01-06-2014, 07:54 PM   #12
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Default Re: Timing 32 - 48 Distributors; Two Ruler method

I was able to verify the angle of the distributor tang as shown in the patent drawing by rotating the tang in my drawing 90, so that gives me some confidence that my drawings are also correct. Here is a cleaned up version of the three hole distributor rear view with the tang pointing to the upper bolt hole: This should also work with the four hole distributors.
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File Type: jpg Ruler Timing 3 bolt.jpg (20.7 KB, 108 views)
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Old 01-07-2014, 09:54 AM   #13
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Default Re: Timing 32 - 48 Distributors; Two Ruler method

When I discovered the Ford drawing, I timed a Model 40 type distributor as it shows (just like your drawing) and then verified that as same result obtained with KRW fixture. Then I got out one of the aftermarket fixed slot timers, the paddle shaped type, and noted that it achieved exactly the same alignment as the Ford patent one...and, of course, you really need only one ruler, great for those of us on a budget...
The Four hole distributor aligns same way and has the same pattern of three as the earlier...the extra hole is for 60 and does not affect the pattern used on 85.
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Old 01-07-2014, 11:44 AM   #14
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Default Re: Timing 32 - 48 Distributors; Two Ruler method

Reading the patent it looks as if the slot and dimples were intended to be punched into the firewall or other handy vertical panel. Additional cost would have been negligible.

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Old 01-07-2014, 12:02 PM   #15
Bruce Lancaster
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Default Re: Timing 32 - 48 Distributors; Two Ruler method

I suspect that the whole thing was dropped as Ford released the KRW fixture, the big distributor machine, and the rebuilding program (I think the last was launched about 1933).
The idea was that distributors would simply be exchanged for rebuilds full set up and that even dealers wouldn't mess with them...that never fully worked, of course.
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Old 11-14-2014, 08:52 PM   #16
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Default Re: Timing 32 - 48 Distributors; Two Ruler method

Great info but a little confused guys....

Can someone post up a brief step by step sequence from initial assembly with new points etc to the actual timing of the dist? I have a 40B in super nice shape which I have cleaned, lubed, weights are nice/free/lubed, added heat shrink to shaft and added a new rotor, and have added a 12V plate to it. Been running as a 12V unit for 3 years now but its freshen up time.

Some Im kinda confused as to the correct sequence of the process; install points, reassemble, lock down timing plate, adjust PRI and SEC points with feelers, timing procedure outlined above etc.... For example, I believe that locking down the timing tab/adjuster changes the point gap; this would then alter the sequence with which the dist is reassembled/adjusted/timed.

Guess I just need a little "guidance" ?
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Old 11-14-2014, 10:59 PM   #17
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Default Re: Timing 32 - 48 Distributors; Two Ruler method

The basic idea from Ford was to make timing as foolproof as possible. Thus the offset tang, and a simple slider adjustment on the side of the distributor. If the point gap is close to the requirement, the timing is usually close enough for acceptable operation. The advantage of the distributor machine is, that in addition to getting the dwell set, the strobe shows whether the points bounce, probably more common now with poor quality parts with weak springs, but also reveals any problems with worn shaft and bushings. Then"two rulers" and KRW methods don't rival the Sun or Heyer machines ability to set up a distributor for years of troublefree operation.
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Old 11-15-2014, 01:49 AM   #18
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Default Re: Timing 32 - 48 Distributors; Two Ruler method

What does the heat shrink do to the shaft ( I assume that is the shaft the rotor slides on)
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Old 11-15-2014, 02:56 AM   #19
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Default Re: Timing 32 - 48 Distributors; Two Ruler method

This is the Ford distributor stroboscope I set my V8 distributors up on, I can even set the vacuum brake up with the mercury reading. I have found the vacuum brake on the crab type aluminium housings wears out quicker than the cast iron housings as most of the cast iron housings, have a bush in them and work better.
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File Type: jpg Mercury reading.jpg (33.2 KB, 47 views)
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Old 11-15-2014, 09:32 AM   #20
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Default Re: Timing 32 - 48 Distributors; Two Ruler method

"The advantage of the distributor machine is, that in addition to getting the dwell set, the strobe shows whether the points bounce, probably more common now with poor quality parts with weak springs, but also reveals any problems with worn shaft and bushings. Then"two rulers" and KRW methods don't rival the Sun or Heyer machines ability to set up a distributor for years of troublefree operation."

Let's think about this.

1. " ... years of trouble-free operation." This depends on how long the settings remain as set by the machine. A number of factors can affect how long the points last and how their gap changes. The rubbing block also wears and will affect point gap. Not sure I'd say "years."

2. Sun and Heyer machines require calibration. Aging wires and electrical components deteriorate and affect readings. Those whose hobby is working on the old machines understand this. Any time I ask those who are promoting businesses that perform distributor set up how they calibrate their equipment, there is silence or incorrect information. Yes, the machine will strobe and may show point bounce, but how about the dwell and rpm's? The calibration can be done ... but, is it?

3. If I had a repair shop and could buy a piece of equipment that could make me more profit and better compete with other shops ... like a Sun machine ... I'd do it. Without doubt KRW fixtures do not rival Sun strobers for pure razzle-dazzle.

4. This is a hobby that relies on knowledge to be passed on. Advising everyone that they have to send their distributors off to be rebuilt and set-up is not going to promote the skills to forward the hobby. There are plenty of guys who are never going to get into any serious distributor work, and there will always be plenty of business for the shops ... but, nothing demonstrates how a flathead distributor works to a curious beginner like the KRW fixture. It is the ideal starting place for the hobbyist who can be confident that millions of flathead distributors have been successfully set-up on a KRW. A couple of the most out-spoken members who insist that "only" a Sun or a Heyer should be used have not spent enough time with the KRW to learn its complete capabilities.

5. Exploring the "ruler method" and trying to fabricate homemade, "Bruce Lancaster-type" gadgets is where it all starts. A lot of us began with just tinkering and support it ... but we're not promoting our businesses.

6. To be clear, Bubba does a great job of helping out with information and is very generous with his advice. He is an example of a good guy who "puts his mouth where his money is" and remains open to any technical discussion.

7. I have a bunch of Sun machines, so .... don't assume I'm against using them.
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Last edited by Hoop; 11-15-2014 at 09:51 AM. Reason: typo
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