"Factory" Distributor Position in Housing

Farmall Super A, AV, 100, 130, & 140 1939 - 1973
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AL Farmall Boy
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"Factory" Distributor Position in Housing

Postby AL Farmall Boy » Sat Sep 07, 2019 9:27 pm

Working on a Farmall 130 today and noticed that the ignition distributor is mounted in the distributor housing in such a way that the battery wire terminal post is at the 12 o'clock position (right on top). I've worked on several of these tractors over the years and from the factory (the original setting), that post is typically at the 4-5 o'clock position. Now.....continuing on in my investigation, I traced the spark plug wires and they appear to be in a random order on the distributor cap other than the #1 wire. I would like to mention that the wires have red paint on them and look to be the original wires from the way they are made and the condition they are in. I put the engine at TDC and the rotor wasn't even pointing at the #1 tower on the cap. It wasn't even pointing 180 degrees off either. It was 180 degrees off and almost to the next plug tower towards the engine. The engine will start right up quickly and easily but isn't running smooth like it should. It is missing whether it is the timing or the plug wires or both. I think it is both.

QUESTION: Does it matter where the distributor is positioned in the housing? How does one get 180 degrees off? I would like to remove the distributor and reinstall it back in the "factory" spot ; then time the distributor to the tractor from there. How exactly do I need to do that so I don't mess it up any worse?
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Re: "Factory" Distributor Position in Housing

Postby Super A » Sat Sep 07, 2019 9:53 pm

The distributor (governor) gear is probably out of time. There are timing marks on the governor gear, cam gear, and crankshaft gear, you MIGHT be able to see the timing mark on the cam gear if you pull the governor, The distributor does not care how it sits in the housing as long as the plugs are firing at the right time. Remember it fires 1-3-4-2.

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AL Farmall Boy
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Re: "Factory" Distributor Position in Housing

Postby AL Farmall Boy » Sat Sep 07, 2019 9:59 pm

Yeah Al, I can pull the governor and distributor tomorrow to check it. I am aware of the little timing mark "dots". Just for my personal knowledge, how would I properly fix the distributor though. I prefer things to be as they came or should be.
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Re: "Factory" Distributor Position in Housing

Postby Super A » Sat Sep 07, 2019 11:26 pm

AL Farmall Boy wrote:Yeah Al, I can pull the governor and distributor tomorrow to check it. I am aware of the little timing mark "dots". Just for my personal knowledge, how would I properly fix the distributor though. I prefer things to be as they came or should be.


They way I do it, If you have the governor gear timed right, roll engine over to #1 TDC and then set the distributor so the rotor is pointing to #1. You may have to pull the drive shaft/gear out of the front of the distributor and re-position it to get it lined up with the governor gear. Then once it's running I twist the head of the distributor to advance/retart timing until it's running good. The manual goes through it step-by step and they do some extra stuff but that's the gist of it.

Al
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Re: "Factory" Distributor Position in Housing

Postby Jim Becker » Sun Sep 08, 2019 1:55 am

Don't mess with the governor and all that stuff. Chances are it is right anyway.

Time it from scratch. Turn the engine to #1 TDC. Remove the distributor (at the clamp, leave the distributor drive in place). Turn the shaft until the rotor is pointing at the normal #1 position and reinstall the distributor, Put the four wires in their normal positions. Static set the timing.

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Re: "Factory" Distributor Position in Housing

Postby AL Farmall Boy » Sun Sep 08, 2019 12:18 pm

Got it all straightened out and timed the distributor to the motor twice! Starts and runs real easy but cyls 1 and 3 are not firing at all. Changed the rotor button, dist cap, and plug wires to new ones that were tested on another tractor. Changed out plugs to known good used ones twice. Dry Compression on those cyls are 125 psi. Engine is missing and no fire on those 2 cyls. What would cause that? Distributor ? Maybe valves? I’m gonna check them next
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Re: "Factory" Distributor Position in Housing

Postby lightninbug » Sun Sep 08, 2019 2:23 pm

If the wires test good and you're getting no fire, it almost has to be the distributor problem, doesn't it? I had a similar problem with my 130, but that turned out to be bad wires.

Good luck!

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Re: "Factory" Distributor Position in Housing

Postby AL Farmall Boy » Mon Sep 09, 2019 12:41 am

lightninbug wrote:If the wires test good and you're getting no fire, it almost has to be the distributor problem, doesn't it? I had a similar problem with my 130, but that turned out to be bad wires.

Good luck!


That’s what I thought too but just didn’t understand how it was a faulty distributor. I went ahead and removed the distributor again and spun the drive while looking closely at the breaker points. Two lobes next to each other did not move when turned which made the points not open. The distributor cam shaft was BENT! Now how does that happen!?!? I installed a different distributor and now she runs beautifully.
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Re: "Factory" Distributor Position in Housing

Postby Jim Becker » Mon Sep 09, 2019 9:55 am

AL Farmall Boy wrote:. . . The distributor cam shaft was BENT! Now how does that happen!?!? . . .

Good find and hard to imagine. I can come up with two ideas, each seems equally unlikely.
1. The rotor was stuck in place and somebody pried on it to get it off (probably way out on the end of the rotor arm).
2. Somebody had the distributor off the tractor and dropped it. It landed on the end of the shaft.

It is probably worth pointing out that the upper/rear end of the distributor shaft, where the cam slides over it, has a pretty small diameter. It probably isn't that hard to bend it. I'm guessing that is where yours is bent. If so, a reasonable amount of patience could probably straighten it. It has to be very straight or the point gap/dwell/timing will vary from one cylinder to the next.

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Re: "Factory" Distributor Position in Housing

Postby Gary Dotson » Tue Sep 10, 2019 7:27 am

I've encountered bent dist. shafts, two times in my messing with tractor years. One was on a Continental on a Brockway tractor, luckily, I just happened to have a replacement laying around and swapped it out. (it was in a box of auction junk) The other, I think was on a Ferguson, I straightened it and got it back pretty close. I have no theory as to how they got bent.

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AL Farmall Boy
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Re: "Factory" Distributor Position in Housing

Postby AL Farmall Boy » Wed Sep 11, 2019 2:53 pm

Yeah, this is some good info for someone that might be scratching their head in the future too. I've never rebuilt or looked inside a distributor so I guess that one with the bent shaft is a good candidate for opening it up!
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