Series 33 Overheating/Timing

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    Having trouble with heating on the ’23 Series 33 (twin distributor) since rebuilding. The flywheel was put on wrong many years ago and we naturally put it on the same way without thinking, so the timing marks are useless. Approximated by using an Apollo gauge to “feel” TDC, but then the question of how to set the dual ignition. All refs (National, Reed) say that the exhaust side points should open slightly (3-5 degrees – presumably engine & not distributor, which would be 1/2) ahead of the intake, and then to set timing when retarded with the left (intake?) points ~ 1.5 flywheel inches after TDC. Wiring diagrams all show right points feeding right coil, and rear distributor to right side plugs. My spare distributor, however, has the left set of points opening first thanks to factory or some ancient mechanic, and some dim memory says that was how my distributor was set before takeing it apart, which would have the intake side firing first. Presumably the same rules would apply to any of the “T” head engines, not just the Series 33. Anyone have any better luck with intake first, or with just how far to advance? I’ve pushed it up to where it kicks back on starting with full retard, and then backed off a little, such that at a fast idle the engine slows slightly when I push full advance. With the low compression I’ve not had any luck with the old approach of advancing until I get a knock on full throttle. Suggestions?



    I suggest that you use the Appollo gauge to find top dead center. Then make a new mark on the flywheel that aligns with the indicator and mark it with “white out”” or something similar.

    Then slowly turn the engine until the old marks come up and determine (if possible) the distance for three degrees either side of TDC. Then you can make a second set of marks to either side of your first “”New”” mark and you now have a new TDC mark plus a little “”Kentucky windage”” to either side.

    With this in place and a timing light you can now bring your timing to within a few degrees of spec.

    I’m speculating that right now your timing is too advanced.

    Sorry that I can’t help on staggering the two sets of points.

    See you at Gilmore.



    Hi Dave,

    It’s been about 4 years since I set up the timing on my 1922 Series 33, but as I recall, I ignored the flywheel and worked off of #1 Top Dead Center.I set the left side first, to have the points open just after TDC (maybe just 1 degree). I then set the right side (rear) points to open at exactly the same time as the left. I start the car on full retard and then get a nice pick up in power and idle speed with an immediate move to full spark advance, where I run most of the time. Under load climbing a big hill, I sometimes get a slight knock at full advance, so I back off just a tick under that condition. The power difference is quite noticeable when I run both sides simultaneously (which I do most of the time), but the car can perform on either side alone, too. As I recall, I had to play with it a little at first, but the #1 TDC method got me in the ball park right away. Now, the more I drive it , the better it runs. We just completed the Modoc Tour last Saturday, and it pulled all the big hills in 3rd gear easily.


    I concur with Bill and Tony’s recommendations. The timing on my Series 33 is quite critical to the temperature behavior.

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