641 Park Avenue, N. Mankato, Minnesota 56601
I am a partner with John P. Hiniker in restoring and saving old tractors and gas engines. John sells decals for some tractors and engines. 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 Cross mount weighing 12 tons. The biggest engine is a 16 HP Eagle single cylinder. John can take a piece of pure junk and make it look and run like it had never been used!
My wife, Lorraine, boys, Nick and Chris, and girls, Cathy and Liz, also take a great interest in these old machines. We all have been reading G.E.M. from the start.
A few years ago Glenn Karch, R.R. 2, Haulstadt, Indiana, wanted information on auto sparkers. I have a book called 'The Practical Gas Engineer' that shows 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 winding. 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.
Another thing that might be of interest to readers 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 igniter is tested, while the dynamo is running at its rated speed by taking a piece of wire about 2 feet long with insulation stripped off both ends. Place one end onto one of the binding posts of the machine and snap the other end off the other binding post. This will produce a faint spark if a current is generating. 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 post - 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.