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Setting the points with a matchbook cover


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I remember that I was told as a youth that, in an emergency, you could set the distributor points gap using a matchbook cover as a thickness gauge.  It occurred to me today that I don't know where I would find a matchbook now, as the number of smokers has decreased, restaurants and bars don't hand out matches anymore, and smokers now carry little butane lighters.  Besides, modern cars don't have points.

 

My wife has a container of matches for lighting the fireplace and tossed a few old matchbooks in there that came from her father's collection he acquired on a cross-country trip about 1955.  I checked one with the micrometer and it came out 0.013", somewhat less than the 0.020" recommended for a couple of my old cars, but would probably work well enough to let the engine run until I got home.  I don't think I'll put a matchbook in the glovebox, though. 

 

Some of those old matchbooks wound up with my brother-in-law, who has been selling them on Ebay for $5-$25 each, especially the ones from long-gone Las Vegas casinos and the ones where the individual matches were shaped like beer bottle or something.

 

I checked a couple of my credit cards and driver's license and they were all 0.030"-0.032", OK for gapping plugs but maybe too thick for the distributor.  I wonder what the modern day equivalent of the matchbook cover would be?   

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Ziptie is about .022". With duct tape, zipties and paper clips can fix anything.

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When I was in school and had a Suzuki x6 250 motorcycle I used the cellophane from a pack of cigarettes to set the points on the bike. Worked great. 

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Worn dime was for setting the points!

 

This was in the day of the silver standing Liberty dimes, so they wore thin in everyone's pockets.

 

I can just set points by eye. Not correct, but enough to get the engine to run.😉

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Many years ago when I was in my infancy of Model A ownership (early 80’s) a club member set my points with a matchbook. I then kept some of these, pictured below, in the car. These were my fathers, from 1958. As I state in my profile, he was a car salesman at this dealership. Unfortunately he passed away in a single car accident in October 1958, coming home from work in a Volkswagen Beetle.

B4C116BD-6583-4944-9C26-084CF05CA4B6.jpeg

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19 hours ago, SC38DLS said:

When I was in school and had a Suzuki x6 250 motorcycle I used the cellophane from a pack of cigarettes to set the points on the bike. Worked great. 

The cellophane trick is for quick and dirty timing adjustment. Set the timing mark on the pointer. Loosen the distributor or points plate and turn it opposite rotation. Slip the cellophane between the points and turn the plate or distributor against rotation. At the point that the cellophane will pull out with a very slight drag. tighten everything down and you're good

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Yes that was what we did. It’s been 52 years and I couldn’t remember the exact process. The grey hair keeps pulling the memory cells out of my brain, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. 
dave s 

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56 minutes ago, CHuDWah said:

One of these was among the tools I inherited from my Dad - never tried it on points but works great for plugs.

10075900_ptl_w80540_pri_larg.jpg

I have several of these and use then all the time.  Never tried points as the distributor on my Plymouth is too low on the engine 

 

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Here is a photo taken in the Cotswolds of England, just after crossing over into Whales, on a dirt road with no cell service, and no signs of civilization for miles. Why does  this apply to a match book conversation? Less than a minute after this photo was taken, from the back seat of a Pebble Beach Best of Show winning car.......the points broke into pieces and the car dumped down to four cylinders. I had spare points and some tools, so I was able to make a roadside  repair And get the car running up on eight again. No matchbook to set the points.......so we used the Boss’s business card. Worked great, and we got to lunch on time.........the car? Come to Pebble Beach nest year for the reunion of all the Best of Show Winners..........if you buy me a drink, I’ll give you a ride. 👍

BF66764F-C732-4680-BAF2-780ABA217F95.png

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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Got me thinking that I need to buy a set of feeler gauges. Then I can't remember how to set points anymore!  Last time I had to do it was around 2002 on my 63 Acadian. My Karmann Ghia still has points, but just had a new distributor put in and set up at the Bug Stop, my Chevelle has been changed to HEI, sold my 67 Pontiac so maybe I'll be okay without a set for the near future.

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Remnants from the golden age of point ignitions.  The feeler gage blades are .016 and .020. The tool with the points stone is .023.  My early motorcycles had points too so the tools were a necessity.

 

34551F85-D989-42DB-AB4D-FC556BFD6616.jpeg

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Fifty odd years ago Delco-Remy added a window to the cap and you set points while idling. (Really need to mount a dig).

 

dwell.jpg

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7 hours ago, Restorer32 said:

And why did you have cigarette papers?

 

Because all the cowboys in the movies when we were kids rolled their own from pouch tobacco. None of them expensive pre-mades on the range.....

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On 10/4/2020 at 12:18 PM, edinmass said:

Here is a photo taken in the Cotswolds of England, just after crossing over into Whales, on a dirt road with no cell service, and no signs of civilization for miles. Why does  this apply to a match book conversation? Less than a minute after this photo was taken, from the back seat of a Pebble Beach Best of Show winning car.......the points broke into pieces and the car dumped down to four cylinders. I had spare points and some tools, so I was able to make a roadside  repair And get the car running up on eight again. No matchbook to set the points.......so we used the Boss’s business card. Worked great, and we got to lunch on time.........the car? Come to Pebble Beach nest year for the reunion of all the Best of Show Winners..........if you buy me a drink, I’ll give you a ride. 👍

BF66764F-C732-4680-BAF2-780ABA217F95.png

I hope you got to visit the Venice of the Cotswolds. These guys could have helped you out;

File:Cotswold Motoring Museum.jpg

10 Things to do Bourton on the Water, The Cotswolds, England

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I was there! Driving a very cool car. Unfortunately I can’t post a photo of the car that had the points break. Here are some J photos the next year. Great museum. Wonderful restaurants, and just a fantastic place to visit. We walked the old Roman trails for six days. One of my best non car vacations. 

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Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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Driving a Model J on the wrong side of the road.....lots of fun. Cotswolds three years ago. Driving the car through London in rush hour traffic was interesting. 👍

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25 minutes ago, edinmass said:

Driving a Model J on the wrong side of the road.....lots of fun. Cotswolds three years ago. Driving the car through London in rush hour traffic was interesting. 👍

FB1F9AD1-959B-4B83-A25C-C28BDD9372F0.jpeg

C208105E-8DBC-406E-8007-A94BBF9545FE.jpeg

1D6EC595-64F2-4EF8-866C-A356D6DFEE97.jpeg

As Pop Larkin would say Perfick !!

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Hard thing to remember is give right of way when making a right turn. Did you have to pay the "congestion charge" ?

 

What is this gauge, looks like cyrillic.

 

guage.jpg

Edited by padgett (see edit history)
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It’s hydraulic pressure in the braking system, you can see the pressure increase as you press harder. I use it to check for brakes dragging........had it happen once. Could tell we had a problem, as the guage red 25 and the pedal was free.........didn’t take long for them to overheat and lock up. J brakes can be a challenge.

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5 minutes ago, edinmass said:

It’s hydraulic pressure in the braking system, you can see the pressure increase as you press harder. I use it to check for brakes dragging........had it happen once. Could tell we had a problem, as the guage red 25 and the pedal was free.........didn’t take long for them to overheat and lock up. J brakes can be a challenge.


Here you can see the pressure on the guage at a stop light with light pedal pressure before actually coming to a stop. Speed is just under 20 mph, engine is at idle....525 rpm’s. It’s reading about 100 psi. It’s easy to max out the guage in a panic stop.......so they tell me.🤔


It was 11pm, so the dash lights were on. A few seconds later we were doing 70mph with the top down and 48 degrees.......a chilly ride.....but lots of fun. It was the ACD meet in Auburn in 2019.

 

41731284-06D1-4F2A-A09C-EBD731354889.jpeg

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  • 1 month later...

I read two different articles recently about dwell time. One stated that for every degree dwell was out of spec, so was your timing. 1:1 ratio.  If your shop manual calls for 46 degree dwell, if it's set at 40 degree, your ignition timing is out 6 degrees....Then in another article it claims that adjustments in dwell time effect ignition time 1:2 ratio. As 50% accounts for the points ramp up the distributor cam, the other 50% is back down the other side of the cam lobe. 

 

Either way, the effect on your spark timing is considerable. A feeler gauge is a simple method to start setting the points. When you adjust the points you are affecting the dwell. The matchbook cover will get the engine running and get you home. When you get home and have a dwell meter, then it's time to take it out. Set the dwell properly within spec. Then a vacuum gauge helps to set the A/F idle mixture screw. Next reset your idle RPM....Then get the timing light out and check/set the timing referencing the front pulley timing marks.

 

Just my .02 cents.

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On 10/8/2020 at 5:22 PM, edinmass said:

Driving a Model J on the wrong side of the road.....lots of fun. Cotswolds three years ago. Driving the car through London in rush hour traffic was interesting. 👍

FB1F9AD1-959B-4B83-A25C-C28BDD9372F0.jpeg

C208105E-8DBC-406E-8007-A94BBF9545FE.jpeg

1D6EC595-64F2-4EF8-866C-A356D6DFEE97.jpeg

 

I know that area well - probably better than any part of the US outside New England.

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Broadway, Chipping Campten, Moreton-in-Marsh.........fantastic places.......we hike the old Roman trails with a back pack................ Barfed up a couple of lungs climbing the hills........watching steam trains in the distance......climbing over the kissing gates............Love the UK.

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18 minutes ago, edinmass said:

Broadway, Chipping Campten, Moreton-in-Marsh.........fantastic places.......we hike the old Roman trails with a back pack................ Barfed up a couple of lungs climbing the hills........watching steam trains in the distance......climbing over the kissing gates............Love the UK.

 

If you are into loco's, it's the place to be!  I'll take a Princess Coronation any day.

 Duchess of Hamilton - 2006-05-06.jpgOnce you've been over the top in a Duchess there is nothing like it.  

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