How to Set the Points in a Ford 8N

by David Machado
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spark plug image by Yali Shi from

Setting the points of an 8N tractor is the process of adjusting the gap between two parts in the distributor. Understanding the function of a feeler gauge, and knowing how to use a feeler gauge to set a gap can be learned during the process. Familiarity with spark plugs and their wiring will be helpful. Other than the feeler gauge, just a few basic mechanics tools are needed. The average weekend mechanic should be able to complete this task in about an hour.

Step 1

Place a chock in front of each rear wheel. Get on the tractor and put the transmission in neutral. Double check the transmission to make sure it is in neutral by attempting to start the engine. Get off the tractor and stand on the left side in front of the rear wheel and face the engine.

Step 2

Look at the engine and find the four spark plugs. Trace any spark plug wire from the top of the spark plug to its source, which will be the distributor. Look at the distributor, which resembles an upside-down cup, with five wires coming out of it. Find the two flat metal springs on its sides holding it to the base.

Step 3

Put on the safety glasses. Place the blade of a straight blade screwdriver between the distributor housing and the spring. Rotate the screwdriver either direction and the spring will pop loose. Repeat the process on the other spring.

Step 4

Lift the distributor cap off its base without disconnecting any of the wires. Place it to the side, allowing full access to the distributor base.

Step 5

Find the rotor in the middle of the distributor. The rotor looks like a black pointer with a brass-colored metal piece on the end. Grasp the rotor firmly using your thumb and forefinger. Pull straight up, removing the rotor from the distributor.

Step 6

Reach up to the floor of the tractor. Push and hold down the foot-starter button. Look at the distributor as the starter turns. Watch for a small chrome armature that is opening and closing a small gap. Stop pushing the starter button when the gap created by the armature is fully open.

Step 7

Push the starter button again to be ensure that the gap is fully open. Stop when the gap is at its widest point. Use the feeler gauge to measure its spacing. Check the 8N service manual for the proper spacing.

Step 8

Look at the side of the gap arm that does not move. Find the small screw holding it in place if the gap needs adjusting. Loosen the screw, but do not take it out Place a straight blade of a screwdriver against the side of the gap arm that does not move and turn it either direction until the gap gets larger or smaller. Adjust and measure the gap as needed until it has the correct spacing.

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