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‘57 6T magneto #728486
03/13/18 1:45 pm
03/13/18 1:45 pm
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 1,649
Douglasville (Atlanta) Georgia
DPO Offline OP
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Plugs not firing. No clue, Estimate for mag overhaul ruled out ($400+), Magneto removed and placed in vice. common sense applied, rust removed, gap set, nice blue spark now, reinstalled mag, Setting timing next mystery challenge. Just a couple questions: Where does the one wire go to? (Switchable ground I’m guessing), Have already you-tubed it, used my timing wheel, set and re-set to 36 degrees BTDC with contact just opening, no sign of life. Engine back-fired just once, leg and patience expired. Pointers appreciated.....


If you love it, let it go. If it comes back, you've highsided!"

1971 Triumph T120
2005 Triumph "America"
1976 BMW R90/6
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Re: ‘57 6T magneto [Re: DPO] #728493
03/13/18 3:44 pm
03/13/18 3:44 pm
Joined: Nov 2011
Posts: 4,642
U.S.
Magnetoman Offline

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Originally Posted by DPO
Where does the one wire go to? (Switchable ground I’m guessing), ... Engine back-fired just once, leg and patience expired. .
The wire coming from the end cap is to ground/kill the magneto. Best to leave it disconnected from the end cap until you get the engine running.

Testing it on the bench results in a spark at fairly low voltage. This can make a magneto appear that it is fine, but when trying to fire a spark plug under compression it requires considerably more voltage so the voltage might find a better, internal path back to earth. Still, there are a few simple things to try.

Even if you're 100% sure you have the plug wires running to the correct sides of the engine, switch them and try again. To be clear, by "switch them" I mean take the wire that runs from one terminal of the magneto to the, say, right side of the engine and plug it into the left spark plug instead, and vice versa.

Measure the resistance of the plug wires. If they are fabric core instead of metal wire replace with wire-type plug wires. The fabric core wires go bad with time.

If neither of the above works, there are other possibilities short of a complete rebuiild. For example, it might have a dirty slip ring. But, do the above to see if either fixes the problem.

Re: ‘57 6T magneto [Re: DPO] #728494
03/13/18 3:57 pm
03/13/18 3:57 pm
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 1,649
Douglasville (Atlanta) Georgia
DPO Offline OP
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Terminal closest to engine on mag goes to left cylinder according to manual. I’m spinning mag in correct direction with cordless drill, fires very healthy blue spark to both plugs while on bench....suspecting AAU sticky


If you love it, let it go. If it comes back, you've highsided!"

1971 Triumph T120
2005 Triumph "America"
1976 BMW R90/6
Re: ‘57 6T magneto [Re: DPO] #728495
03/13/18 4:49 pm
03/13/18 4:49 pm
Joined: Nov 2011
Posts: 4,642
U.S.
Magnetoman Offline

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Originally Posted by DPO
Terminal closest to engine on mag goes to left cylinder according to manual.
Something is wrong and I'm trying to identify what it is by suggesting the simplest possible tests. You're 100% sure, but as I wrote in my previous post "Even if you're 100% sure you have the plug wires running to the correct sides of the engine, switch them and try again."

Originally Posted by DPO
fires very healthy blue spark to both plugs while on bench....suspecting AAU sticky
Again, sparking at room pressure on the bench does not tell you it will spark a plug when it is at ~150 psi.

In your first post you wrote "set and re-set to 36 degrees BTDC." Did you do that with the AAU forced into the fully advanced position, or with it in its resting position?

Re: ‘57 6T magneto [Re: DPO] #728497
03/13/18 5:01 pm
03/13/18 5:01 pm
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,549
scotland
triton thrasher Offline
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Originally Posted by DPO
Terminal closest to engine on mag goes to left cylinder according to manual.



Not when you (yes you) have timed it to go to the right side cylinder.

Bikes still start, with a sticky ATD. Does it feel sticky, when the points heel is not touching the cam ring?


Amateur Loctite enthusiast.
Re: ‘57 6T magneto [Re: DPO] #728503
03/13/18 7:08 pm
03/13/18 7:08 pm
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 1,649
Douglasville (Atlanta) Georgia
DPO Offline OP
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Sorry I wasn't so clear....I was blessed to discover a download for a manual that actually downloads, and found that fun fact out (tower closest to cylinder goes to left plug), therefore I ruled that out. Should'nt matter anyway seeing as though both cylinders are firing regardless at the same time in the "wasted spark" method, right? I mean, the magneto only has one set of contact points and 2 ramps that are 180 degrees apart that open the points, right? Could be wrong. I set everything based on the left cylinder. With the right side cover off exposing the cam gears, oil pump, and magneto drive, I set the left cylinder at TDC on the compression stroke using a small dowel, attach my dial to the crankshaft oil passage hole to the ZERO mark. then rotate the engine backwards to the 37 degree mark by turning the large exhaust cam nut. I then set the contact points to "just open" at that point and the flyweights held open at that position, then tighten down the gear. Re-installed side cover and plugs left wire disconnected and again seen plugs producing healthy blue spark when kicked over with the kick start. After 3rd time of doing this procedure, it did pop once, which told me the plug was firing inside the cylinder.
I suppose replacing the contact points will help a lot, and setting points with my digital meter will help also, but I have a feeling I'm missing something as far as placing the magneto timing. Grounding the stud where the wire to ground attaches makes no difference, the magneto fires grounded or un grounded.


If you love it, let it go. If it comes back, you've highsided!"

1971 Triumph T120
2005 Triumph "America"
1976 BMW R90/6
Re: ‘57 6T magneto [Re: DPO] #728506
03/13/18 7:32 pm
03/13/18 7:32 pm
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,549
scotland
triton thrasher Offline
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scotland
Originally Posted by DPO
Sorry I wasn't so clear....I was blessed to discover a download for a manual that actually downloads, and found that fun fact out (tower closest to cylinder goes to left plug), therefore I ruled that out.


The front HT pickup does not have to go to the left plug. You decide that, when you set the timing.


Quote
Should'nt matter anyway seeing as though both cylinders are firing regardless at the same time in the "wasted spark" method, right?


Wrong. The mag fires one plug at a time. The rotating slip ring that the HT brushes in the HT pickups bear on, is made of insulating material, with a short brass segment that alternately conducts to one brush, then the other.

Stop being clever and do as you are advised by Magnetoman. He knows what he's talking about.


Quote
I then set the contact points to "just open" at that point and the flyweights held open at that position, then tighten down the gear.


Then you have to check the timing by slowly rotating the crankshaft and finding where the points open. Timing often moves when you tighten the nut.



Quote
I suppose replacing the contact points will help.


You have complete freedom of supposition, but new points probably won't help at all.


Quote
I have a feeling I'm missing something as far as placing the magneto timing.


Deliberately, so far as I can see.


Quote
Grounding the stud where the wire to ground attaches makes no difference, the magneto fires grounded or un grounded.


That is often a symptom of the earth brush losing contact with its brass track. The earth brush is (usually) under a screw cap at the drive end of the magneto.
[Linked Image]


There should also be a carbon brush in the centre of the points cover, making contact with the head of the points plate screw.


Amateur Loctite enthusiast.
Re: ‘57 6T magneto [Re: DPO] #728507
03/13/18 7:59 pm
03/13/18 7:59 pm
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 1,649
Douglasville (Atlanta) Georgia
DPO Offline OP
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You guys are awesome, and I apologize for being so sure of my thinking. I DID think that both plugs fired at the same time, I DID NOT swap plug wires as advised, and the downloaded manual says 6 degrees BTDC on one page, and 35 degrees BTDC on another, so I'm not real sure where to set the thing. My excitement has been renewed!


If you love it, let it go. If it comes back, you've highsided!"

1971 Triumph T120
2005 Triumph "America"
1976 BMW R90/6
Re: ‘57 6T magneto [Re: DPO] #728509
03/13/18 8:15 pm
03/13/18 8:15 pm
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,549
scotland
triton thrasher Offline
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35 degrees sounds realistic for fully advanced: ATD jammed open with a wedge or something. If the engine runs lumpy at over 3,000 rpm, it may need something more like 39 degrees.

6 degrees may be a fully retarded setting, with the ATD weights closed in, but do you know exactly how far the ATD advances? It's the fully advanced figure that's important. That's why people usually set it fully advanced.


Amateur Loctite enthusiast.
Re: ‘57 6T magneto [Re: DPO] #728514
03/13/18 9:20 pm
03/13/18 9:20 pm
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 637
Ewing. NJ
E
edunham Offline
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Ewing. NJ
Two points to add to what Magneto Man told you:

1) Spinning the mag with an electric drill may indicate that the mag will fire at higher rpms, like once the engine is running, but it won't tell you if it will fire at low rpms, like when you are kickstarting it. With the mag on the bench, and the plugs grounded to the mag case, do you get a nice spark when you just give the armature a spin by hand? By the way I put the mag in my vise when I do this and put the gear on the end of the mag, makes it easier. If you don't get a spark this way, it is doubtful you will get one kicking.

2) The spark plug gap should be a whole lot less, like .018-.020. if it still doesn't fire, knock it down to around .012. If it fires, start widening the gap in increments. If it won't fire at less than.015 or so, you have problems with the mag and I would start saving for a rebuild. In fact, might start doing that anyway.

Ed from NJ

Re: ‘57 6T magneto [Re: DPO] #728516
03/13/18 9:29 pm
03/13/18 9:29 pm
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 5,996
Maui Hawaii
HawaiianTiger Offline
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Maui Hawaii
Unless the mag has been rebuilt in recent memory, there are two main things that will get you. The permanent magnets in these contraptions aren't all that permanent and the capacitors located inside the mag certainly are not.

Weak magnets often make it a real bitch to start. Bad caps tend to show up when hot. So, you might get the thing started( by bump starting or something,) only to get stranded halfway to where you're headed. It could take a LONG time to get home if you have to wait until the bike cools off before it can run again.

Ask me how I know? I've had dozens of mag equipped bikes over the years. The first thing I ever do is take it out and send it to "The Man" whoever that currently is.

It used to be old Tony Cirello. That's how long I've been messing with these babies.

Cheers,
Bill


Bikes
1974 Commando
1985 Honda Nighthawk 650
1957 Thunderbird/T110 "Flying Tiger"
Antique Fans: Loads of Emersons (Two six wingers) plus gyros and orbiters.
Re: ‘57 6T magneto [Re: DPO] #728532
03/14/18 12:45 am
03/14/18 12:45 am
Joined: Nov 2012
Posts: 658
Isle of Wight, UK
K
koan58 Offline
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Isle of Wight, UK
In my ancient manual, it gives 35 BTDC fully advanced for magneto equipped 650's up to 1955.
It also gives 6 BTDC retarded for a distributor equipped 6T.

The important figure for you, DPO, is the 35 BTDC, with the AAU wedged fully advanced.

Don't be tempted to remove the armature from the body, there is nothing you can do in there that cannot be done from outside, and you risk losing magnetic strength by doing so.
Sensible, relatively low cost things that you should try first, after making sure there is no obvious slack in the bearings are to clean the slip ring, check/replace the HT brushes, that the brush holders/leads/caps are good, the earth brush is good, the points are clean, flat closing and reasonably parallel. A little grease on the cam.

Then try spinning it, should be able to get a spark at 50 thou easy, try 100, plugs grounded to the mag body.

There is much more to timing a magneto than what you are used to with points on your T120. As TT said, the setting can (usually does) change when you tighten the AAU nut. I used to get the most reliable result if I first gently tapped the unit onto the taper, then tightened the nut.
Whatever, you must check it afterwards, and then also the setting on the other cam ramp for the other cylinder (they can vary by quite a few degrees, in which case you need to balance the discrepancy between the cylinders).

The only wasted spark situation on Triumph twins is with electronic ignition.

Re: ‘57 6T magneto [Re: DPO] #728545
03/14/18 6:34 am
03/14/18 6:34 am
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,549
scotland
triton thrasher Offline
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scotland
Putting grease on the cam is technically wrong, because there is a felt wick for sewing machine oil, poking through a hole in the cam.

The 6 degrees setting in the 1945-55 manual is for a bike with a distributor and coil. They put that in the manual because it's hard to jam the ATD in the distributor fully advanced. There is no reason to think the ATD on a magneto drive has the same range as one in a distributor, so 6 degrees static is not relevant here.


Amateur Loctite enthusiast.
Re: ‘57 6T magneto [Re: edunham] #728556
03/14/18 10:55 am
03/14/18 10:55 am
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 1,649
Douglasville (Atlanta) Georgia
DPO Offline OP
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Originally Posted by edunham
Two points to add to what Magneto Man told you:

1) Spinning the mag with an electric drill may indicate that the mag will fire at higher rpms, like once the engine is running, but it won't tell you if it will fire at low rpms, like when you are kickstarting it. With the mag on the bench, and the plugs grounded to the mag case, do you get a nice spark when you just give the armature a spin by hand? By the way I put the mag in my vise when I do this and put the gear on the end of the mag, makes it easier. If you don't get a spark this way, it is doubtful you will get one kicking.

2) The spark plug gap should be a whole lot less, like .018-.020. if it still doesn't fire, knock it down to around .012. If it fires, start widening the gap in increments. If it won't fire at less than.015 or so, you have problems with the mag and I would start saving for a rebuild. In fact, might start doing that anyway.

Ed from NJ

Originally Posted by edunham
Two points to add to what Magneto Man told you:

1) Spinning the mag with an electric drill may indicate that the mag will fire at higher rpms, like once the engine is running, but it won't tell you if it will fire at low rpms, like when you are kickstarting it. With the mag on the bench, and the plugs grounded to the mag case, do you get a nice spark when you just give the armature a spin by hand? By the way I put the mag in my vise when I do this and put the gear on the end of the mag, makes it easier. If you don't get a spark this way, it is doubtful you will get one kicking.

2) The spark plug gap should be a whole lot less, like .018-.020. if it still doesn't fire, knock it down to around .012. If it fires, start widening the gap in increments. If it won't fire at less than.015 or so, you have problems with the mag and I would start saving for a rebuild. In fact, might start doing that anyway.

Ed from NJ

Well I can assure you the owner will not pay over $400 for a rebuild.....it will just go back in the shed!


If you love it, let it go. If it comes back, you've highsided!"

1971 Triumph T120
2005 Triumph "America"
1976 BMW R90/6
Re: ‘57 6T magneto [Re: DPO] #728577
03/14/18 4:17 pm
03/14/18 4:17 pm
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 250
seattle
T
tiumphdave Offline
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T

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Posts: 250
seattle
Most Lucas mags I've played with have oily insides due to hardened seal, and dry bearings. Also worn slip rings. Assuming the necessary tooling has been gathered, and understanding the important shimming involved, is it not worth servicing bearings, seal, and (maybe) ring- due to the loss of magnetism?

Could a magneto guy recharge the magnet after assembly?

I expect that most would just send it out to be rebuilt, seems a lot of effort to end up with an old, questionable armature (capacitor).

This is all assuming the mag sparks when hand- spun, and replacement parts are already on hand.

I've read all the magneto info I know of and I know the very high quality specialized skills and machinery required for complete rejuvenation, I just wonder if there's any chance at all for the average tinkerer who just wants an old mag to work for a while longer.

Re: ‘57 6T magneto [Re: DPO] #728580
03/14/18 4:25 pm
03/14/18 4:25 pm
Joined: Nov 2011
Posts: 4,642
U.S.
Magnetoman Offline

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Originally Posted by DPO
....it will just go back in the shed!
That's a shame, since nothing you've done has eliminated the possibility of it requiring only a simple fix.

Re: ‘57 6T magneto [Re: DPO] #728640
03/14/18 11:44 pm
03/14/18 11:44 pm
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 5,996
Maui Hawaii
HawaiianTiger Offline
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Maui Hawaii
400$ is a deal. That last one cost me 650$.

This is the price of admission to pre unit ownership. Or not. You could always install a distributor and coil like I did for a fraction of the cost of a magneto. It's a bolt up affair. Get one that comes with the timing gear,though.

Cheers,
Bill


Bikes
1974 Commando
1985 Honda Nighthawk 650
1957 Thunderbird/T110 "Flying Tiger"
Antique Fans: Loads of Emersons (Two six wingers) plus gyros and orbiters.
Re: ‘57 6T magneto [Re: DPO] #728657
03/15/18 6:27 am
03/15/18 6:27 am
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,549
scotland
triton thrasher Offline
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scotland
Ed doesn't need to buy a magneto.


Amateur Loctite enthusiast.
Re: ‘57 6T magneto [Re: DPO] #728670
03/15/18 12:15 pm
03/15/18 12:15 pm
Joined: Oct 2006
Posts: 2,810
Elburn, Ill. USA
I
Irish Swede Offline
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Elburn, Ill. USA
I might be mistaken, but I thought 1957 6T Thunderbirds came from the factory with distributors, NOT magnetos.
If that is truly the case, his bike would be more authentic, as well as more easily fixed, with a distributor.

Re: ‘57 6T magneto [Re: DPO] #728674
03/15/18 12:50 pm
03/15/18 12:50 pm
Joined: Oct 2012
Posts: 3,935
Running from demons in WNY
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Running from demons in WNY
Putting a distributor in place of the magneto means now you have a dimmer headlight grin ...I've done simple maintenance on old magnetos and they functioned fine for my type of riding..But if the engine was troublesome as Bill HT mentioned, I sent it out to for magnetizing etc...I preferred the manual spark advance..Or for 700 bucks you can get an electronic ignition magneto replacement...I have two 12 volt Pazons on my double pre unit engine Triumph race bike, total loss electric system...Again,for a street bike, need a good charging system...

A question for Magnetoman....Are you have experience with the newer Morris magnetos? Are they as good as Morris claims?


I ride dinosaurs....
Re: ‘57 6T magneto [Re: DPO] #728697
03/15/18 6:44 pm
03/15/18 6:44 pm
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 5,996
Maui Hawaii
HawaiianTiger Offline
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Maui Hawaii
Charging system on the 57 6T has to been seen to be believed. What a monstrous concoction of coils and switches. When everything is just right and Jupiter aligns with Mars, I suppose they work OK?

I never bothered with all that and just re-wired them for a modern (relatively speaking) alternator and voltage control system. Then the use of LED lights and such make them actually work fine.

But, there are other considerations. Kick starting a mag equipped bike requires more force and good knees which not all of us have these days. I can manage it, but I can see a day in the future where I just won't want to risk injuring myself kicking the living [censored] out of an old reluctant motorcycle.

So, the distributor really extends the time I can ride a kick start motorcycle. They are MUCH easier to start. They are single point, single fire systems that use very little energy, by the way.

And way cheaper to install and to repair. As far as reliability is concerned? I can find condensers and coils at my local auto parts store that will work. The bearings in them are huge and should last forever. Auto advance units don't wallow out like the later bikes.
And I can change the timing on my bike in a couple of minutes, not a couple of hours like with a mag.
What's not to like?

Cheers,
Bill

Last edited by HawaiianTiger; 03/15/18 6:45 pm.

Bikes
1974 Commando
1985 Honda Nighthawk 650
1957 Thunderbird/T110 "Flying Tiger"
Antique Fans: Loads of Emersons (Two six wingers) plus gyros and orbiters.
Re: ‘57 6T magneto [Re: DPO] #728700
03/15/18 7:06 pm
03/15/18 7:06 pm
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,549
scotland
triton thrasher Offline
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scotland
Don't think you'll find a good distributor.

Converting a magneto equipped Triumph to electronic cost me £138 for a magneto replacement casing and £80 for the Wassell electronic kit. I already had a two-pole coil and a solid drive pinion lying around and the bike was already on 12 volts. It works well, but I may still go back to the magneto. The EI is something of an experiment.

You don't really have to kickstart a good magneto any harder than any other ignition system.

I have to agree that 6 V alternator wiring is a bit awful. If it makes you feel any better, the electrics got worse after the late 1950s, when Lucas introduced some very flimsy switches.


Amateur Loctite enthusiast.
Re: ‘57 6T magneto [Re: DPO] #728711
03/15/18 9:37 pm
03/15/18 9:37 pm
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 5,996
Maui Hawaii
HawaiianTiger Offline
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Maui Hawaii
NOS ones turn up from time to time. I got two DKX types off old QueenG when they were selling on eBay. I think I paid 50$ each for them. From another vendor, well, that would be another story.

And some parts, like, shafts are available new as are the points and condensers as well as caps and rotors. Lucas makes a nice coil in 12v that bolts right up.

I think I prefer the 18d types as I think they are a bit easier to work with when tuning, but otherwise the DKX types are really robust and are used on cars as well, hence the availability of parts.

When it comes to reliability, the distributor wins hands down in my book. Now, those bits which are responsible for giving the power becomes the issue.

And you must really experience the ridiculously easy effort it takes to start my old T-bird. I've had it start with my foot resting on the lever. (I did reduce advance range of the AAU which does account for some of the reason it starts so easily. Of course that means you'll have to book a vacation on Maui first. laugh

Cheers,
Bill

PS I always feel good. I live in Hawaii!
B.


Bikes
1974 Commando
1985 Honda Nighthawk 650
1957 Thunderbird/T110 "Flying Tiger"
Antique Fans: Loads of Emersons (Two six wingers) plus gyros and orbiters.
Re: ‘57 6T magneto [Re: DPO] #728713
03/15/18 10:01 pm
03/15/18 10:01 pm
Joined: Nov 2012
Posts: 658
Isle of Wight, UK
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koan58 Offline
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K

Joined: Nov 2012
Posts: 658
Isle of Wight, UK
There's nothing to say that this magneto wouldn't be serviceable, with a little TLC and properly timed. That it sparks at all makes it a candidate for trying before condemning.
It may already be ok for all we know, there are many other unknowns that may cause starting/running problems with DPO's project, that sounds like it has been laid up for some reason years ago.

Re: ‘57 6T magneto [Re: DPO] #728714
03/15/18 10:01 pm
03/15/18 10:01 pm
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,549
scotland
triton thrasher Offline
BritBike Forum member
triton thrasher  Offline
BritBike Forum member

Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,549
scotland
I'm not saying Kettering ignition isn't simple, reliable, easy to start and tolerant of low voltage.


Amateur Loctite enthusiast.
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