Distributor Question

I recently replaced the distributor in my Ford F-150 400eng. with a rebuilt from the local parts store. I have poor eyesight, and could not read the timing marks real well, so I timed it "by ear". The
other day a friend came to visit from out of town. He's a retired mechanic. I told him the old truck still had a miss. He said he would set the timing for me using the timing light. He took off the distributor cap and immediately said there is supposed to be a felt thing in the center of the shaft, under the rotor. He said it's not there.
I know what he means, I have seen them in other distributors. I always thought they were there for lubrication of the shaft, but he said the real reason they are there is to prevent a spark from popping thru the rotor and shooting down the shaft hole. I thought he was "pulling my leg", and laughed. He said he is serious....
I trust this guy, and he was a very good mechanic. But this sounds real weird. Is this for real, or is he really pulling my leg?
In the meantime, the parts store said they dont sell them separately, and do not know how to get them.....
Anyone?
Thanks
5000HP
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snipped-for-privacy@coldmail.com wrote:

Back in the "old days" plastics (bakelite) weren't all that resistant to "burn through". There was a piece of felt in the top center of Ford distributor shafts to help prevent "burn through" of the rotor. It effectively increased the resistance through the rotor. With modern "plastics" it is unecessary. It plays no part in lubrication.
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Tom Adkins wrote:

well according to the shop manual for mu dads 51 dodge it was for lube ..... it was a scheduled manintenance item
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snipped-for-privacy@coldmail.com wrote:

its for lube of the mechanical advance ONLY ... newer distributers usually have eliminated it
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Fireater is correct-it's a lubrication wick...
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Except that it lubes the lobes that cause the points to open and not the mechanical advance. Bob
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Nope, it's for lubricating the lobe assembly where it slips on the distributor shaft....
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WHOA!!! Sea Bisquit!!! That little dab of breaker point grease that we apply to the rubbing block lubricates the lobes (don't put too much.... it will find the points). The felt wick is for the mechanical advance (more exactly, where the cam fits over the shaft) only.
F*ck... all we need to do is look at the thing and think "Why??" to figure it out.
What next... we going to wonder why there used to be felt washers under the battery connections and we don't see them now??? Oh, shit... I dun it now...

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The way I remember it the felt rubbed directly on the cam lobes, but I'll admit it's been a long damn time since I've worked on anything with points or a mechanical advance. I do have one customer that still drives a 69 Ford PU, I guess I'll have to take a peek under the cap next time she brings it in. Bob
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Bob wrote:

I stand corrected. My comment about rotor burn through came from a long ago ignition class and at the time didn't sound quite right. The lubrication wick explanation makes much more sense. The felt oiler for the cam lobes was IIRC usually part of the point set. The felt in question is is the one stuffed into the top of the distributor shaft.
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