| August/September 1986

On May 24, the Reflector made the annual pilgrimage to the Central Hawkeye Swap Meet at Waukee, Iowa. Over the past few years this event has grown substantially, but we believe this year's event to be by far the largest swap meet we have ever seen. Even after a full day of walking the grounds, we missed a lot of the items offered for sale or trade. Despite every effort to the contrary, the Reflector still managed to return home with the pickup half full of engine parts, books, and miscellaneous other items.

The Reflector was overwhelmed with letters and phone calls concerning the 'crankshaft deflection gauge' mentioned in 21/6/20. If you recall, this writer was looking for where to obtain one of these gauges to help in aligning the crankshaft on a Fairbanks-Morse Model 32, six-cylinder diesel engine. Although we won't set our engine on its new concrete foundation until this Fall, getting the necessary equipment sometimes takes several months, so it seemed a good idea to start looking ahead of the time such an instrument is required.

A large number of letters pointed us to L. S. Starrett Company, and in fact, Mr. Ed Berquist of Starrett sent us their current catalog, price book, and several other brochures concerning Starrett products. For your further information, Starrett is located at 121 Crescent Street, Athol, MA 01331.

Several people wrote us, offering to loan us their own gauge, and a collector in Calais, Maine offered us a complete set. All in all, the response was very gratifying. Now we know firsthand the kind of response that one can get from an inquiry in GEM. So, if we can help any of you in your quest for information on an engine, tractor, or other vintage farm equipment, we'll be happy to include your query in the Reflections column. Our hobby seems to be blessed with an awful lot of generous and helpful people, so send your letters in whenever the need arises!

From the comments we have received, perhaps we should clarify that the Fairbanks Diesel mentioned above and in 21/6/20 is owned by the Reflector, C. H. Wendel. We fully intend to restore the engine and the 2300 volt generator unit. By the way, our request for any information on the Fairbanks-Morse Type D, 2300 volt, 300 kva, 3 phase alternator brought not one single response!

Having done a lot of magneto repair work over the years, and still at it, the Reflector has noticed that a lot of the ignition problems we see are involved with the trip mechanism rather than with the magneto itself. The Wico EK magneto was built and sold by the hundreds of thousands. This fine little unit is an excellent magneto, but has its own idiosyncrasies. The design permits only a very low primary voltage, consequently all internal connections must have virtually no resistance. Fortunately, reproduction parts are available from several GEM advertisers, including coils, condenser, and points. Certain drive types have a tendency to crowd the movable armature on its stem, and after many years of running the steel stem becomes worn, as does the hole in the armature. This allows one magnet pole to break slightly ahead of the other, and in this situation, getting a good spark is difficult, if not impossible. Boring out and bushing the armature is one approach to restoring this portion of the mechanism. Usually two separate springs are required for the successful operation of the Wico EK magneto. The heavy drive spring works against the magnetic pull between the armature and the magnet poles. As the trip shaft moves tighter and tighter onto the drive spring, this force is overcome, and the drive spring is ready to pop the armature and points open very quickly this gives a good spark. A somewhat weaker return spring then snaps the armature firmly back into place against the magneto poles for the next sequence. If either of these springs is lost, broken, or just plain weak, then it is time to start experimenting until the proper combination is found. Perhaps in some future issues we can delve into some details of magneto ignition.