How to Set the Timing on

Your Ford Model T

Here's a simple procedure for checking your ignition timing. It applies to the Ford roller timer, the New Day timer, and most other popular Model T timers. Maintenance and repair are not included here. This is simply for setting the timing.

  1. With the spark lever all the way up, disconnect the timer linkage (commutator pull rod) from the timer.

  2. Rotate the timer (commutator) counter clockwise as far as it will go.

  3. Remove the #1 (front) spark plug.

  4. Place a thumb over the spark plug hole.

  5. Pull up on the crank until you feel compression building in the cylinder. Stop pulling.

  6. Watch the pulley crank pin as you slowly move the crank until the pin is horizontal. On a clock face this would be at 3 and The #1 cylinder is now at TDC (top dead center). Now turn the crank just a little more until the pin is halfway between 3 and 4 on the clock. This is 15 past TDC.

  7. Turn the ignition switch to BAT.

  8. Slowly turn the timer clockwise until the #1 coil starts to buzz, then back off just a hair until it stops.

  9. Your timing is now set. Being careful not to move the timer, reconnect the pull rod. If the rod is too long or too short to fit, bend it until it does.

  10. With the rod reconnected, check to be sure it doesn't contact any of the timer terminals when you move the lever. If it does, disconnect the rod. Be sure the timer doesn't move. Bend the rod so it will miss the terminals but still connect to the unmoved timer.