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Hi Keith
Which way round was the L shape? Half of the height touching the comm or half the width touching.

Half of the height touching the comm will change the timing. For this sort of motor, it's much more likely a tuner would want to advance rather than retard the timing.
The left and right side brushes need to be the opposite way up.
Looking from the endbell end, the left brush touching the top half and the right brush touching the bottom half will advance the timing if the motor is rotating the normal way round. (And retard the timing if the motor is rotating in the opposite direction).

Half of the width touching will make no differance to the timing, just reduce the contact area.

Timing is one of the things tuners can use to improve performance. An L shaped brush is a simple way of doing it if you don't want to change anything else, although rotating the comm relative to the stack is the normal way of changing the timing.
Not obvious why you'd want to halve the width.
 
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