Johnson 5hp TD20 ignition timing facts & figures?

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    legendre

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    #1260

    Howdy friends, glad to see the forum is back in the life!

    Does anyone here have the correct ignition timing data for a late 40’s TD20? I’d prefer to know in inches / mm BTDC, but degrees would be fine too. Would at least need data for full advance, and full retard would be nice as well.. but really, any point of reference would be very welcome.

    Here’s what’s cooking..

    So I’m trying to straighten out this ’49 Johnson TD20 that came to me in genuine basket-case form.. just a pile of shrapnel. I’ve gotten it all re-assembled and compression is reading 65 psi. on both cylinders. My reliable ‘good runner’ TD20 reads 68 psi. (both) so I know that must be OK, at least for average running quality.

    Trouble is, this second motor simply will NOT run below about half throttle – and I’m pretty confident that all of the other areas are in good order. Carb(s) are clean and working, spark is nice and hot, etc. So I’ve turned my attention to ignition timing.. and have come up empty-handed. Despite having the factory service manual, there is zero info on ignition timing.. nada! Is there another manual / document that has this info in it?

    Any help sincerely appreciated.

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    jim-moffatt
    US Member - 1 Year
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    #14310

    Test the carb check valve. It should allow air to pass through one way but not the other,

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    legendre

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    #14319
    quote Jim Moffatt:

    Test the carb check valve. It should allow air to pass through one way but not the other,

    Check valve seems fine, in that I’ve tried two different parts – one from the carb of my good runner. In fact, I tried the complete carb from the runner as well – same issue, all around.

    Primer also works great – and it wouldn’t, with a poor check valve. Likewise, the slow-speed mixture needle has significant influence over the motor, when I’m running it at the lowest speeds possible. That’s the odd part – it displays almost what you’d expect for a ‘low’ idle, when the lever is just slightly below half-setting.. but it gets very rough, very fast, below those settings. Motor reliably dies 1-2 clicks below half-throttle..

    frankr
    frankr
    US Member - 1 Year
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    #14323

    The timing is fixed by design, and cannot be changed. At least not if you have all the right parts and assembled correctly. So think of something else being your problem.

    Now that I’ve said that, there is another look-alike magnet that may have gotten put in there. Or maybe the magnet is upside down?

    Have you got the slow speed needle set at 5/8 turn open? Perhaps the Y fitting is destroyed? Perhaps the piston skirts are scored? That is a third port engine with a rotary valve, and everything has to be in good condition if you expect it to run properly. Compression is only half the story.

    Also: It has to be cooling properly. Because the carburetor is part of the exhaust manifold, it gets hot as the motor heats up. Too hot and the gas vaporizes inside the carburetor and it won’t run good at all.

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    jim-moffatt
    US Member - 1 Year
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    #14324

    I had forgotten this. If the throttle butterfly doesnt close properly and completely it will do just what you have experienced.
    Sometimes the butterfly will create a lip in the air tube where it seats. The extra air causes it to die.
    I dont think this is an ignition problem.

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    legendre

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    #14333

    Howdy Frank,

    quote FrankR:

    The timing is fixed by design, and cannot be changed. At least not if you have all the right parts and assembled correctly. So think of something else being your problem.

    Now that I’ve said that, there is another look-alike magnet that may have gotten put in there. Or maybe the magnet is upside down?

    A magnet issue wouldn’t alter the timing, it would only impact the quality of the spark. On this motor, the spark timing cam is an integral part of the parent metal of the crankshaft; or at least it seems to be. And as I said, spark quality seems excellent – and if it can be easily pull-started (it can) then there’s plenty of spark at very low RPM.

    quote :

    Have you got the slow speed needle set at 5/8 turn open?

    Yes, very close to that for best running.

    quote :

    Perhaps the Y fitting is destroyed?

    Externally, it shows no evidence of abuse or damage, and the valve action works just as expected. Likewise the jet of fuel from the primer can be shut off or made quite fat by changing the needle setting. I’ve been all through the insides, and there are no blockages in the crank passages or the case that I could find..

    quote :

    Perhaps the piston skirts are scored? That is a third port engine with a rotary valve, and everything has to be in good condition if you expect it to run properly. Compression is only half the story.

    The pistons were in reasonable shape, not perfect but not ruined by any stretch.

    But now I’m curious – assuming compression is OK, how would scored pistons prevent this motor running at low throttle settings? Below half-throttle, the ‘main’ carb is completely shut-off, and all fuel & air are delivered via the rotary valve / low-speed carb system. Which does raise a question.. if the air / fuel settings are fixed at these low speeds, is engine speed controlled entirely by spark timing?

    Think about it – you have no control over throttle position, the low-speed system is always ‘full open’ – so there’s nothing except spark timing to control speed, right? This is why I’m looking to verify ignition timing, as I don’t know what else can be so strongly influencing speed at these low throttle settings.

    quote :

    Also: It has to be cooling properly. Because the carburetor is part of the exhaust manifold, it gets hot as the motor heats up. Too hot and the gas vaporizes inside the carburetor and it won’t run good at all.

    Sure – but it behaves as it does from cold start.. it’s not like it’s faltering once things get hot. Also the manifold has a new gasket + sealer, and the water pump works great.

    So.. what about a head gasket? It’s not leaking externally, but it could be leaking internally.. how would that affect this?

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    legendre

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    #14334
    quote Jim Moffatt:

    I had forgotten this. If the throttle butterfly doesnt close properly and completely it will do just what you have experienced.
    Sometimes the butterfly will create a lip in the air tube where it seats. The extra air causes it to die.
    I dont think this is an ignition problem.

    The throttle linkage on this motor was broken, the longer of the two shafts snapped-off near the middle drilling. I made a dang-near perfect copy using 1/8" brass rod and the throttle rod from my good runner as a pattern. As far as I can tell, the main butterfly opens & closes when it should – and no, there’s no notch worn in the carb bore.

    I did have some major air leaks between the manifold & block, and also between carb & manifold. But I believe I’ve corrected these – we milled / lapped-flat the manifold and carb flange surfaces. Also, both got brand new gaskets (made them myself from 1/32" Fel-Pro black rubber-fiber material).

    Correcting these leaks did make a notable improvement in overall running, but the low-throttle setting issue was almost totally unaffected.

    Candidly, I don’t think it’s ignition either, but I want to rule that out for sure before I chase more exotic things..

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    legendre

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    #14335

    The reason I’m keen to learn the correct timing figures, is that when I measured the ‘problem’ motor, it seems to be firing at about 30′ ATDC at the lowest throttle setting. My main experience with 2-stroke motors is in motorbikres, and in most cases, older 2-stroke bikes are spec’d to fire at TDC, or with some advance.

    Most 2-stroke bikes have no advance mechanism, though, and this outboard does – albeit manual via the speed control lever. But that said, I have never in my life encountered any engine that timed at 30′ ATDC at any speed.. the most retard I’ve ever seen was a very old 4-stroke engine that timed 2-4′ ATDC at full retard.

    frankr
    frankr
    US Member - 1 Year
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    #14343

    First, it seems like you are pretty wise concerning this stuff, but I’ll attempt to address a couple of the things anyway. Yes, it is true that the magnet does not affect timing. That is controlled by when the points open and cannot be changed except by points’ gap, to some extent. And certainly not what you are looking for here.

    Piston and cylinder condition affects the crankcase compression. Especially important on a 3rd port engine. Doubly important on these touchy little HD’s

    Yes, on virtually all outboards, idle speed is controlled by spark advance/retard, and on most, the carburetor butterfly is closed at idle speeds. You probably are familiar with other motors where the carb has to be synchronized to start opening at a mark on the cam that opens it. I don’t remember exactly when it opens on a HD.

    I tossed in the bit about cooling because that was a lesson I learned the hard way….after spending days trying to get one to run properly when I was doing this for a living. Lost my shirt on that job.

    Head gasket?? I don’t know. Possibly. Like I commented, "touchy" motors.

    30 degrees ATDC? Well, that does seem unreasonable. I don’t have any input on that.

    EDIT: Sorry, I got my motors mixed up and was thinking HD instead of TD. But most of what I said still applies. The rest, you can store somewhere.

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    legendre

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    #14372

    Howdy Frank,

    I figured you were referring to the TD, but as you point out, virtually everything you said would apply to the HD line as well. The present service manual covers numerous older models, and isn’t all that well organized – so over the last few weeks I’ve become better acquainted with the TD’s friends & relatives than I’d initially intended.

    The bulk of my work experience is with 2- and 4-stroke motorcycles, mostly the latter, though I’ve had my hands on and in lots of other stuff over the years. But outside of these two TD20s and a Mercury 4.5 (CDI model), I’ve never had much call (or desire) to work on an outboard motor. As you note, they are a bit touchy – but not any more so than a lot of the items I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with.

    Speaking of losing your shirt on a job.. if you were an obm / small engine tech, I’m sure you’ve known the deep desperation that is the good-as-gold but thoroughly dispirited teenage kid who shows up with their French or Czechoslovak-made moped? Talk to me about touchy machinery.. 😉

    Thanks for all of your input on this, it’s sincerely appreciated. I’ll get back after I’ve had a chance to measure the timing on the ‘good’ TD and compare the two – need to satisfy my mind. Weather went to heck again, and I’ve got these set-up outdoors.. so set it aside for a day.

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    legendre

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    #14395

    Alright, it seems that both of my TDs have the same timing geometry.. that is, they both fire significantly ATDC when at lower speeds. Full speed looks to possibly have some amount of advance BTDC but it’s not been measured. Someone apparently ‘borrowed’ my good degree wheel.. so all I can do is approximate.

    And I’ll have to admit.. at the moment, I really don’t know what might be the trouble with this one. So here’s a thought, let’s try to rule-out the head gasket without throwing $20+ at it.

    If the gasket is bad, it’s going to be having an effect on compression, among other things. What if I pull the head & gasket, goop it up with some decent sealer, and then re-install. Once it’s dry, I can take some compression readings and compare – if the readings come up, that tells me something, eh?

    Re: Use of sealer on head gaskets – I generally would never suggest it, but in this case it will never have to hold more than about 80-100 psi so it should be fine (I don’t plan to run it that way). Sound like a reasonable diagnostic?

    BTW – Do you or anyone else know of any sources for reasonably-priced head gaskets for these models? It’s not too intense.. really seems to be plain rubber / fiber about 1/8" thick or so. Not a composite design, no seals ’round the holes, just die-struck from plain sheet material.

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    aquasonic
    US Member - 2 Years
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    #14421

    I read that you fabricated a replacement for the long vertical linkage rod. Are you sure that the linkage is all assembled correctly. I had one TD-20 with two different linkage rod issues. The short rod had broken, and the PO brazed it back together in the wrong orientation by 180 degrees. The long rod had been disassembled and put back together with the spring on the wrong side of the stop. Having said that, you mentioned that you had a good runner as an example to go by, so that is a great help.

    Going back to your original post, you mentioned that the compression is at about 65 PSI. That reading is on the low side and that motor may never idle well. I have a small collection of these TD-20’s, and the lowest compression of the really good runners is in the 72-73 PSI range cold and dry. When all is right with these motors, they will be able to idle just ‘two clicks’ up from all the way off with the ignition advance lever.

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    legendre

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    #14483

    Howdy aquasonic,

    I sure can’t find any issue with the new carb linkage – the main carb’s butterfly valve appears to be opening & closing just as it ought to.

    And yes, the various springs & keepers in the linkage are exactly where they ought to be. My only changes are substituting proper hairpin (aka ‘R’) -type spring clips for the factory ‘bent up chunks of wire’ in the linkage – and no, none of the clips are snagging or hanging up on anything else.

    We can agree – the 65 psi compression readings aren’t exactly ideal, yet they’re not below the generally accepted figures for a motor of this type and age. And my ‘good’ motor is in about the same psi range as well.

    And just as you note, my ‘good’ motor will idle very reliably at around 2 or 3 clicks ‘up’ from the full low-speed setting. Something is hobbling the present motor, and I’ve still not nailed it down..

    frankr
    frankr
    US Member - 1 Year
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    #14493

    The last TN I owned had 60-ish compression, and would idle, but not like it should. We have to remember here, compression is only half the story, controlled mainly by piston rings & cylinder. Crankcase compression is the other half of the story, controlled mainly by piston skirts & fit as well as crankcase sealing.

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    legendre

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    #14537

    Hey Frank & All,

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but this model lacks any type of conventional crank seals – yes? It must accomplish sealing by virtue of the plain-bearing bottom end & crank – only 0.0005"-0.001" clearance in the journals – which, in theory, is fairly well-stopped by oil in those tight spaces.

    So unless the main bearings are loose (they are not) we need not worry about leaks between the two crankcases, or between the outer mains and atmosphere. So that leaves us with leaks to atmosphere between the joined case halves.. which I suppose might be a possibility. The POs did do some damage near the case parting lines (chisel / screwdriver) but I couldn’t detect any warping. For the record, I sealed the cases together with the Permatex "Ultra Gray" product, which is automotive OEM approved for gasket-less joints (Nissan / Honda / Subaru / Chrysler) and seems to be well up to the job – but I’ll take advice on that.

    I did find a promising lead two days ago, but chased it down and got nothing. However, I’m using a new diagnostic tool for the ignition, and it seems that I just might have some spark issues with the lower cylinder. Changed the wire & condenser for that one, to no effect. Next I’ll change the coil and take a very good second look at the points.

    And having spent time carefully listening to it run, I +swear+ this motor is dropping a cylinder when I try to take it below 1/2 throttle.. and that’s what’s killing the low-idle range. It starts to shake, sound and feel very rough, the exhaust note sounds off too..

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