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TO35 distributor rebuild

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William Fissell
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 4:02 pm    Post subject: TO35 distributor rebuild Reply to specific post Reply with quote


still working on my dead 35. Having too much trouble wiht the timing. It started and ran briefly, then quit. I think part of the problem is oil fouling- PO had anti foulers on it.

compression is 95 all 4 didnt compare wet vs dry; just happy it was enough that it ought to start
yes spark; new points rotor cap plugs
Carb cleaned, all passages chased with monofilament. idle 7/8 and main 1 1/4. Gas getting to plugs. Running with air cleaner off for starts. havent de-moused that yet.

No run, lots of backfiring out the carb. Brief run with timing all the way retarded.

Pulled the distributor as I suspect it was put in one gear tooth off as the most retarded I could get the timing was 10 BTDC

The advance weights are free and flopping around but the top of the shaft seems fixed to the bottom of the shaft and the advance weights dont advance anything. Its all the way advanced already.

Whats the safest way to disassemble and lubricate?


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 6:24 pm    Post subject: Re: TO35 distributor rebuild Reply to specific post Reply with quote

The hollow rotor shaft MUST be free on the shaft it slips over, remove the felt disc in the center and use penetrating oil inside. After is soaks awhile use a small adjustable wrench on the rotor cam area and carefully work it back and forth to free it up, should move about 1/4 inch total. When it moves freely the weights will move it toward advance as the engine speed increases. When it's free reset the timing to 6 degrees BTDC WITH the engine about 400-450 RPM. Recheck the full advance at 2000 RPM, should be 25-26 degrees BTDC if advance is working correctly.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 6:25 pm    Post subject: Re: TO35 distributor rebuild Reply to specific post Reply with quote

Anti=foulers can sometime be eliminated by simply running a hotter spark plug in the cylinder to burn off the oil. If a hotter plug still fouls, an engine rebuild is in the very near future. Comp check was 95 PSI, "it was enough that it ought to start",
That tells me it was done on a cold engine and wet might bring it up, but 95 is good enough for a 6:1 engine.
"lots of backfiring out the carb." Tells me the intake valve is open when it fires. Some people say the timing is advanced, some call it retarded. I say it's just messed up. Pull that dist cap. A dab of paint on the dist housing that aligns with the #1 plug wire will do. Pull the #1 plug and get your compression gauge back in the hole. Bump the engine so the compression just starts to come up. Pull out the comp gauge and rotate the engine by hand so the timing pointer is set at, What? 6 degrees before TDC?
Then drop the distributor in with the rotor pointed at the mark on the distributor housing indicating #1 cylinder. The points should just be starting to open. Those points open, and it fires. So you need those points just barely opening. About the thickness of your hair. Your base timing should now be set.
Happy New Year!! Great way to start it off.

Disassembly of the typical distributor is removal of a roll pin at the bottom gear and pull the gear off. Slide the shaft out the top of the dist housing. You can also check it before removal by twisting the rotor. It should spring back when released. If it does not spring back, then you should have a good case for dis-assembly.

Happy New Year!!
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 8:01 pm    Post subject: Re: TO35 distributor rebuild Reply to specific post Reply with quote

Oil fouling is usually a gradual, one plug at a time thing, not something that suddenly shuts one down.

But do look at the plugs, an oil fouled plug will be drippy wet with black oil to the point the gap is bridged with carbon. If it has a history of burning oil, go with a hotter plug. If the tractor only sees light duty, you can get by with a couple steps hotter plug.

It does sound like the advance is stuck, possibly the springs are broken or missing. You can drive out the roll pin that holds the gear on, pull the shaft, remove the point cam, clean and lube everything. Pay close attention to how everything comes apart. You may have to soak the point cam to get it loose if rusted badly. The advance gets light oil, the bushing gets high temp grease.

But before taking the distributor apart, look at the side play in the shaft. It needs to have very little side play. If the bushing is worn, the points will not stay set. You may be looking at buying a rebuilt distributor if the shaft and bushing are worn.

Or, install an electronic conversion kit. They are very dependable, don't mind a little shaft wear, and are a way around today's poor quality ignition points and condensers.

When timing the engine, there is a timing mark stamped into the flywheel. It is visible through a round hole below the starter, usually covered with a snap in plug. You will need to get #1 cylinder near TDC to find the marks. They can be very difficult to see, best to clean them off, mark with a white paint pen.

Once the distributor is back in, double check the firing order, check the spark at the plug end of the plug wires. Should get a 1/4" blue hot spark. If any doubt about the plug wires, replace them with spiral core or solid wire wires.

The intake backfiring can have several causes. Retarded ignition timing, and lean fuel mix are the most common causes. Crossed plug wires, bad plug wires, or moisture under the cap can also cause backfire. An exhaust valve not opening will cause rhythmic backfire under load. Look for a bent push rod, or flat cam.
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William Fissell
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 8:43 pm    Post subject: Re: TO35 distributor rebuild Reply to specific post Reply with quote

Hi, All,

thank you for the comments; long before I did anything else I had identified TDC and firing order. That is what I meant by the timing is taking way too much, well.. time.

I will soak the distributor and free up the frozen advance and re-try the timing. I think the backfiring is because the timing was so advanced the intake hadnt even closed.

I will follow up.

thanks again and happy new year.
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