Auto Sparkers

Content Tools

641 Park Ave., North Mankato, Minn. 56001

I am John Klaseus from North Mankato, Minnesota. I am a partner with John P. Hiniker in restoring and saving old tractors and gas engines. John Hiniker sells decals for some tractors and engines and has an ad in GEM. We have 40 tractors and 30 gas engines, plus several separators, binders and equipment of bygone days. Our biggest tractor is a 35-70 Minneapolis Crossmount weighing 12 ton. The biggest engine is a 16 HP Eagle single cylinder. John Hiniker can take a piece of pure junk and make it look and run like it had never been used.

My wife, Lorraine, boys, (Nick, 15 years and Chris, 5 years) and girls, (Cathy, 12 years and Liz, 8 years) also take a great interest in these old machines. We have been reading the GEM since the start. It is great, keep it up.

In your September-October 1976 GEM, on page 18, Glenn Karch, R.R. 2, Haubstadt, Indiana wanted information on an Auto Sparker. I have a book called 'The Practical Gas Engineer' that shows it and tells about them. This was written June 1, 1901.

An Auto Sparker is really a D.C. (direct current) dynamo. Something like a modern day generator with a governor to control the speed. The dynamo depends on its fields from which its current is generated. The rapidly revolving armature between the wound fields of the dynamo excites them and a current is generated.

A magneto that we are familiar with depends on permanent magnets for the generating of its current. The armature revolving rapidly between permanent magnets generates a current.

The dynamo, or Auto Sparker, is a small generator constructed on principles similar to a dynamo or generator used for electric lighting purposes-a miniature machine with current capacity only sufficient to produce a good strong igniting spark at all times. Storage and other batteries are used in connection with some of these dynamos for starting purposes. They require a certain speed before they will generate an igniting current. This speed must not vary to any great extent. If much below the normal, the current will be too weak for igniting purposes. If speed runs above normal, there is danger of burning out the field windings. Therefore, if the dynamo were set at a speed to generate an igniting current, when the engine is turned over by hand, it would quickly burn out its field coils under full speed of engine, unless some governing device were used. Consequently, the engine is started from a battery current, and when the dynamo has gained a generating speed, which is attained at full speed of the engine, its current is switched onto the engine and the battery current is cut out.

This next bit may be of interest too: One particular Auto Sparker was made in Pendleton, Indiana by the 'Motsinger Device Manufacturing Company, No. 313 Main Street, Pendleton, Indiana U.S.A.' They also had an ad that went like this: 'Spark your engine with an Auto-Sparker and save money and trouble. It is reliable first, last and all the time, for the make, and break, and the jump spark. It charges storage batteries for ignition, and smail lights-for automobiles, shops, barns and motor boats. The Auto-Sparker is the only direct current dynamo that is controlled with a governor accurately enough to be serviceable for all systems of ignition. Can be had through all reliable dealers in gas engines and ignition lines. Write for catalog.'

Another thing that might be of interest to the readers of GEM is how to test an Auto-Sparker. All old machines, large or small, should be taken apart, cleaned and checked and overhauled first. Then the current from a dynamo or Auto-Sparker ignitor is tested, while the dynamo is running at its rated speed, by taking a piece of wire about 2 feet long with the insulation stripped off both ends, and placing one end onto one of the binding posts of the machine and snapping the other end off the other binding post. This will produce a faint spark if a current is generating and by placing a spark coil in the circuit (that is, by taking two wires as above described and connecting one end of each to a binding post on the coil and using the other ends to make and break the current on the dynamo binding posts) you get the full benefit of the current and can judge of the igniting qualities by the size and color of the spark. The fields of a dynamo should not become overheated, but should remain cool. The bearings should be oiled properly and the brushes and commutator should have regular attention. It should be kept absolutely clean.