Replacing the Timer Wiring Harness

The East Side Service Station in Breckenridge, Texas had a very easy to remember phone number. Just dial 444!

Our 1917 runabout had a problem. It just wasn’t puttering properly. We looked things over and eventually found out what the problem was. The wiring harness was the original one. It was badly frayed at the connections around the coil box. One of the wires from the timer to the coil, #4 cylinder to be precise, was broken at the terminal. The only reason that #4 fired intermittently was that the insulation was holding the wire close enough that it occasionally touched the terminal! We put in the order to get a new harness from Langs.

About two days later our new wiring harness arrived. We cleared off the work bench and took the hood off the car.
At 102 years old, our wiring harness was ready for retirement.
We think the original support clip shown here is where it was when the car left the factory in 1917.
To begin removing the old harness the little nail securing the cable support to the firewall was removed, likely for the first time since the car was new.
The thumb nuts were removed from the coil box terminals, and the screw retaining the headlight wire to the switch came out.
The headlight wire was removed from its conduit after loosening the screw securing it to the thimble connector.
We removed the cotter pin from the timer rod, then loosened the bolt on the timer retaining spring so that the timer and the wiring harness could be removed to the workbench.
This drawing from my copy of the 1926 Dykes Manual is a handy reference for installing the wires on the timer.
The grease in our timer was several years old. We cleaned it out with an old rag, then used some Brakleen to wipe it out. Then packed it again with fresh Mobil #28 grease.
The wires, if properly installed, look like this when you get done. Notice the terminals are arranged so that they are away from the engine front cover. The blue wire goes beneath the timer rod.
One more look at our timer before it goes back on.
As mentioned in the Dykes drawing, the wiring is routed below the choke wire.
Notice how the cotter pin is bent. This is important, the cotter pin can ruin your fan belt if it is not bent like this.
We had to take the nuts off the 1/4″ carriage bolts that hold the hood shelves in place in order to route the new headlight wire through the original hard rubber grommet (arrow) and the original cloth conduit.
Not shown, we stripped and tinned the last 1/2″ of the headlight wire with rosin core solder to make it more durable.
With all the wires hooked up we started the car up to check our work. The Model T is now puttering properly!
Breckenridge Texas was once the home of legendary gambler and OK Corral shootist “Doc” Holliday. Here we see it in the midst of the oil boom of 1920. Oil was even found in the middle of main street! The town went from a population of 1000 residents to 50,000 residents within a 5 year period following the discovery of oil.