1940 Ford Deluxe coupe flathead - Hot Rod Forum : Hotrodders Bulletin Board
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Old 08-13-2012, 04:15 PM
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1940 Ford Deluxe coupe flathead

Hello gentleman, this is my first post so I'll introduce myself. Names Justin, I work in a Euro shop in MN, been wrenchin since I can remember. Occasionally at our shop our customers will bring in their vintage vehicles and get basic maintenance taken care of. Today we got a '40 Ford coupe convertible in with a very loud ticking noise coming from the dash/firewall right behind the steering wheel. Open the hood and hear that the noise is coming from underneath an electrical cover. Now, I don't know much about these electrical systems, but under the cover are three coils (I believe they are voltage regulators?) and the one on the farthest driver side was ticking away with a green spark accompanying every click. So we shut her down and started testing voltages and such and didn't find anything out of the ordinary. We come to find out the owner had jump started the battery backwards and fried the old battery, he put a new one in and the ticking/sparking started. We pulled the car out to pull another car in, when we tried to pull it back in the car fired up, made it half way to the service door and died. Thought she was out of gas (only thing that doesnt work is the gauge) put a couple gallons in and she never fired up. Found out we had no spark once we got it in the shop. Any ideas? Does he need a new voltage regulator assembly? Why did it lose spark? Sorry for the long write up, didn't wanna miss any details. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

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Old 08-13-2012, 05:25 PM
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Welcome to the board

Back in the day we used to have to either field or polarize the early voltage regulators, my '49 Ford for one, along with cleaning up the contacts inside. It entailed touching one of the three wires to the field terminal I think, I don't recall the exact procedure, but it can be found in old motor manuals or some of the vintage guys here might remember. Try Googling it...
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Old 08-13-2012, 05:29 PM
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Ok, you disconnect the Field wire and just touch it to the Bat terminal on the voltgage regulator, motor off, battery connected, you'll get a blue spark. That will polarize the system. Is that a 6 volt positive ground system?
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Old 08-13-2012, 10:03 PM
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Its been converted to a 12 volt system, I'll give that a try tomorrow morning right away. Thanks for the quick replies! Hope it works, I'll let you guys know.
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Old 08-14-2012, 06:41 AM
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That polarizing has been taken care of, but if indeed it did run out of gas, most Ford flatheads need to be primed with a few drops of gas down the carb.

As far as spark, the voltage regulator wont be the problem.

First of all, make sure there is power to the coil. If there is, take a look at the points - gap at ~.016 and they should be smooth ("file the points" is the old term). Next, replace the condenser - that condenser will weaken, then soon fail if the battery polarity is reversed.

I hope when the owner swapped out from 6 to 12 volts, he replaced the coil. That coil will work just fine for a while, then fail.

If this is a pre '49 and front of the engine mounted ignition - things just get a bit more complicated as there are two sets of points, a make and a break set. The later '46-'48 version is fairly easy while that even older one (and standard in a '40) has an integral case mounted coil - and 'interesting' to work on. All of the pre '49's need to be pulled to check gaps and replace parts, though not difficult - the drive key is offset so you can't 'lose' your timing. The '40-'53 will not need to be pulled and any condenser that fits will work.
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Old 08-14-2012, 09:04 AM
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Alright, so I've re-polarized the system (thanks 68nova) and I have battery voltage at the coil, point gap is about .020, not sure how you adjust this system, I included a picture of the set up this car has and of the points and rotor. The black case held in with two flathead screws on top of the assembly, is that the condenser and coil in one?
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Old 08-15-2012, 06:28 AM
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The black case is the coil. The condenser is that silver tubular device in back/alongside of it.

Use this link - and you will get a better understanding of what I'm saying as well as some better idea of what you are seeing. These distributors were updated after 1940, and are a much better assembly, but not original which is what your customer wants:

Flathead Parts Drawings-Engines

These guys also have parts, which are really difficult to find now.

Dave W
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