Old Fashioned Tune Up

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6,367
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Midwest
I noticed my snow plow, a 1947 Ford 2N, was running a bit sloppy last winter. The last time I did any maintenance other than oil changes on this tractor was in 2001 or 2002 so I put it on my to-do list for this summer. Older N's have a front mount distributor that simply gets removed to work on it. The timing is set on the distributor and everything is self contained. I keep an extra distributor on hand-when I remove one I replace it with my refurbished distributor. I then refurbish the distributor that I removed and have it ready for the next time I need it. The old distributor-it's been 13 years or so since it's been touched, and this is a working tractor so it isn't pretty. The rebuilt distributor is ready to go in. A couple years ago this came off my 8N that I use to bush hog and looked almost as dirty. I double checked the timing and the point gap, turned the rear tang to the correct position, and it's ready to go in. When I refurbish them I pull them completely apart, clean and polish out the body, installed all new parts including the bushings, and set the points and timing. Installed with a new coil and ready to go to work. The old spark plugs. Not bad for 13 years of use in a 67 year old carbureted engine. The new plugs are in and ready to go. Old N's do best on Autolite plugs so I keep a couple sets on hand. The plug wires all tested good so I won't replace them. The old N is ready for anything winter can throw at us.
 
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4,951
Location
Kansas
I've worked on dozens of those Ford front-mounted distributors. I have big hands and they are not fun.
 

Pop_Rivit

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6,367
Location
Midwest
Originally Posted By: Kruse
I've worked on dozens of those Ford front-mounted distributors. I have big hands and they are not fun.
I actually find them easy to work on. Pop off the coil, remove two bolts and it comes right out. I remove the generator belt to make it easy to get to one of the bolts, but that only takes an extra minute or so. The distributor itself comes apart fairly easy and (I've found) is simple to work on.
 
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4,951
Location
Kansas
Originally Posted By: Pop_Rivit
I actually find them easy to work on.
Yes, many people found them easy to work on. Their customers loved them in that spot so much that they kept them there forever.....
 
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9,122
Location
Marshfield , MA
It is a ringer for the Ford my great Uncle Preston farmed with. Peck had a wooden box that he kept 2 single barrel shot guns in mounted on the hood. Thanks for the pictures.
 
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Pop_Rivit

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Originally Posted By: spasm3
Nice job of polishing! Did you use a dremel?
No, once I tear down the distributor I put the housing in the parts washer and let it soak for a couple days. Then I'll pull it out, clean it up as much as I can. Then once it's dry I'll put it in my tumbler for a few hours, then buff it on the buffing wheel with some polishing compound. Then I rebuild it, wrap it up, and put it on the shelf for next time.
Originally Posted By: Bottom_Feeder
Could you put an electronic ignition upgrade kit in that? Just curious. Might be worth it.
I could, and as it turns out I have a Petronix kit that I bought for a couple bucks at an auction a few years ago. But quite frankly I've never really had a reason to install it. I've never had an issue starting any of my N's. Each time I pull a distributor off I think about installing it, but never seem to do it.
Originally Posted By: Kruse
Originally Posted By: Pop_Rivit
I actually find them easy to work on.
Yes, many people found them easy to work on. Their customers loved them in that spot so much that they kept them there forever.....
I'm pretty sure you know that the distributor wasn't in that spot forever. However it was in that spot for more than a decade, and the same design was used during that time for many other applications that used the same engine. Having been around these tractors most of my life I've never had an issue with it, I've never known a farmer that used on to have an issue with it, but I can see where an amature might.
 
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7,485
Location
S California
I talked with the lead certified Honda tech at a dealership that had no idea what "setting the dwell" during a tuneup on an older car was all about. He wanted to know where you would find the "gap" after reading an old Honda service manual for a 1971 Honda 600 sedan, and why did it have to be "set".
 

Pop_Rivit

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Originally Posted By: tomcat27
beautiful! thanks for sharing! how many hours are on it?
The proof meter didn't come out for a couple more years after this one was built (proof meters recorded hours). I can't begin to guess the number of hours on it. When I bought it it was in rough shape. This one is a very late 2N (one of the last 5,000 according to the serial number). The factory color would have been a solid, darker gray. Late 2Ns were often painted redbelly colors by dealers to match the new 8Ns, and I think that is what happened with this one. When I took the paint down there was gray under it, but according to the farmer I bought it from (owned it since new) said it was red and gray when he bought it. I would not be surprised if it had 20,000 hours or more on it, although just about everything that can be rebuilt has been rebuilt. I didn't restore this one, but rather refurbished it. I planned for it to be a working tractor, and I wanted the redbelly colors.
Originally Posted By: OneEyeJack
I talked with the lead certified Honda tech at a dealership that had no idea what "setting the dwell" during a tuneup on an older car was all about. He wanted to know where you would find the "gap" after reading an old Honda service manual for a 1971 Honda 600 sedan, and why did it have to be "set".
That's funny, but not surprising. Imagine his surprise if he had to time one of these distributors. It's done with a metal ruler and a bolt.
Originally Posted By: splinter
Nice! And to think some car & tractor guys these days never experience the joys of fiddling with points and carburetors.
It's surprisingly therapeutic. I can sit at the workbench for an hour cleaning and rebuilding a carb or distributor and not realize the time has passed.
 
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