By Staff
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Figure 2B Condenser on Magneto or Distributor
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Figure 3 Bench Test Setup for Vibrator Coils (Ford 'T' as example)
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Figure 4 Internal Construction of Typical Coil Box (Fixed or Vibrating)
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Figure 5 model 'T' Ford coil Internal Connections
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Figure 6 Connections 'or Two Series Coils in Maxwell-Splitdorf Coil Box.
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Figure 1:(1) Battery and Vibrating Coil (2) Battery/Magneto and Vibrating Coil (3) Battery/Magneto and Fixed Coil (with High Voltage Distributor.
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Figure 2A Condenser Inside Coil Box

This issue presents some unusual logistical problems-it is being
compiled just prior to the annual Midwest Old Threshers Reunion and
the World Plowing Matches which follow immediately after. By the
time this copy is in your hands, both events will be history, as
will be the annual shows for hundreds of other groups around the

Living here in east central Iowa and operating our bookstore in
the Amana Colonies provides this writer with an unusual opportunity
this fall to meet many, many people from a great many different
states and countries. For the writer, meeting people of such
diverse talents and interests makes it a truly rewarding experience
to operate our bookstore here at Amana. A case in point:

Earlier this summer a middle-aged couple came into the store.
From their accent we assumed them to be from outside our country.
The assumption was correct-this couple was from New Zealand! Since
they were obviously interested in books relating to early farm
equipment and engines, we struck up a conversation-a conversation
that resulted in an invitation to New Zealand! A great many engines
and tractors still exist in Australia and New Zealand, thus a trip
to these faraway countries would undoubtedly be most interesting.
Meanwhile, many other travelers stop by our Amana store, and
it’s always interesting and enjoyable for us.

As previously noted, this particular column is being completed
in late August to avoid scheduling conflicts. Because of this, and
also since our volume of mail is usually down this time of year,
this month’s column will be somewhat shorter than usual. We
begin with:

23/11/1 Q. John Hamilton, 461 Algonquin Place,
Webster Groves, Missouri 63119 writes: I need some help on an
Associated ? hp From the enclosed photos, what is the make and
model of the magneto? Has something been broken off the mag? Can
someone help me with the wiring? It looks like the magneto was
hooked to the governor. I presume the colors are red and silver.
When was it made? Will appreciate hearing from anyone with
information on this engine.

A. This is an Associated Colt engine built for
awhile in the 1920’s. The basic engine is shown on page 37 of
American Gas Engines. The one you illustrate is equipped with a
magneto. We have no specific data, but if memory serves, this
magneto was built by Associated, perhaps with the aid of some OEM
parts. We also recall the Colt being blue rather than red.

23/11/2 Q. My father and I recently purchased
an early horseless carriage made by Charles H. Black in
Indianapolis. We believe that this car was made in the early
1890’s and would like any information your readers might have
on this car. Obviously we are particularly looking for information
on the engine. We have seen that it takes a one-cylinder or a
two-cylinder horizontal stroke engine. The original was water
cooled. It may have been an adaptation of an air cooled engine. I
do not know if this was possible, however, we have seen one with a
water jacket on it. Any information will be appreciated. Brent D.
Jones, 1219 Circle Tower Building, Indianapolis, Indiana 46204.

A. Your horseless carriage and its engine draw
a blank for the Reflector, but perhaps one of our readers might be
of help to you.

23/11/3 Q. Where can I get an ignitor for a 2
hp Bull Dog engine? Alton Wrisley, Willsboro, New York 12996

A. We would suggest a ‘Wanted’ ad in
the next issue of this magazine, or perhaps you might find one at
one of the engine shows around the country.

23/11/4Dennis R. Lewis, 224 Miller, Pratt,
Kansas 67124 needs information on an Earthmaster tractor, s/n
C1871. It was built at Bur bank, California. Any and all
information will be appreciated.

23/11/5The following letter is submitted by
Gary Robinson, 1805 Washington Street, Omaha, Nebraska 68107:

My wife is writing this for me in hopes you will print it. I
have five 1? hp engines, two of which are Model E John Deere. I
have started these two John Deere’s at least a thousand

July 29, I went to start one of the John Deere’s-somehow the
way I took a hold of the crank-my right thumb got caught between
the spoke of the flywheel and the magneto. You can imagine what
happened to the thumb. Time will tell on how the thumb will come
out. I only hope this will help someone else, because it can happen
to anyone.

23/11/6 Q. I have a motor attachment for a
reel-type lawnmower, as illustrated in the photo. It is a cast
aluminum base plate with a two-cylinder Maytag engine. The
nameplate reads: Le Claire Manufacturing Company, Le Claire, Iowa.
I need information on how the chain drive connects to the mower
reel, also mounting and operating instructions for this attachment
or any available information or literature. Jerry Nance, 609 South
First, Odessa, Missouri 64076.

23/11/7 Q. I just bought my first engine, an
IHC LA, s/n AA1868. When was it built, and where can I find an
instruction manual? Steve Smith, Box 101, Hallam, Nebraska

A. Your engine was built in 1935. A reprinted
instruction manual should be available from any one of several
regular GEM advertisers.

23/11/8 Q. Can someone supply the correct
ignition wiring scheme and the proper oil/fuel mixture for a
Fairmont engine? L. T. Odland, 225 Oak Street, Hillsboro, Ohio

A. The Gas Engine Guide published by GEM is one
of several booklets describing various wiring diagrams. We would
think the oil/fuel mixture to be largely dependent on the type of
two-cycle oil being used-some of the new products require far less
oil than was needed in days gone by. Obviously, to under-lubricate
will cause serious problems, but over-lubricating creates billows
of needless smoke, wastes your money, and accumulates all kinds of
junk in the engine that doesn’t need to be there.

23/11/9Ralph Leid, 33 N. 5th St., Coplay, PA
18037 needs the proper color scheme for a 2 hp New Holland

23/11/10 Q. I recently acquired this 5 hp
vertical engine sold by Fairbanks Company under their
‘junior’ trademark. The s/n is 4738. It was apparently used
as a pump engine in an eastern Massachusetts cranberry bog. The
engine is identical to the Blakeslee on page 590 of American Gas
Engines. The carburetor is identical, and this engine uses a
pull-type valve rod as did the Blakeslee. Did anyone else use this
style of valve mechanism? Any information will be appreciated.
James P. Paquette, 60 A High Street, Uxbridge, Massachusetts

A.The Bulldog of Bates & Edmonds is one
engine using the pull-type valve mechanism, but beyond this
similarity, we honestly doubt there is any connection between the
two companies.

23/11/11V. C. Puckett, Gainesville Iron Works,
P.O. Box 1889, Gainesville, Georgia 30503 writes: We need some help
in establishing a history of the General (s/n 1 FA 1198) built by
Cleveland Tractor Co.

Also, on page 191 of Encyclopedia of American Farm Tractors you
list the McKinney Traction Cultivator Co. as being at Gainesville,
Georgia. Our company has been in Gainesville since 1889 and was a
foundry for more than 75 years-this would include the years that
McKinney was in Gainesville. Any information on the McKinney would
be greatly appreciated.

Also see the photos given below of an engine which we have had
trouble identifying. Again, any information will be

23/11/12J. D. Franzen, 11501 Shirley St.,
Omaha, Nebraska 68144 sends us some photos of his very first
restoration project, an Associated Hired Man, 2? hp model. Mr.
Franzen asks several questions:

1) Can this engine be dated from the serial number?
2)  In the September 1988 GEM you list the recommended color,
but is there an accent color?
3) The various return springs seem to be located incorrectly.
Can anyone tell me how they are to be placed?
4)  The back set of trucks have been modified. What is their
original appearance?
5)  The fuel tank has been poorly repaired. Where can I get
it rebuilt so as to look like the original?

A. In answer to 1) No. 2) Associated used a
silver color on the cylinder. 3) Hopefully you’ll hear from
another owner who can advise about the springs. The same holds true
for 4) and 5). Unfortunately, there are some things that are almost
impossible to convey within a magazine column-it virtually takes an
up-close look at another engine sometimes.

23/11/13John B. Mulford, Jr., Upper Lake Road,
Lodi, New York 14860 sends along some very interesting data on
spark coils from the July 1962 issue of Antique Automobile
Magazine, official publication of the Antique Automobile Club of
America, entitled:


By Conrad H. Zierdt, jr.

At 11:30 P.M., Don Chapman and I had finished reassembling my
1911 EMF engine, and were ready for the first start since 1928. It
went on the second crank pull; a delightful moment which we
terminated to put water in the radiator. Back to the crank, and a
complete blank. No start, traced to no spark, and soon solved by
substituting the coil and condenser borrowed from my wife’s
modern Lincoln.

The lovely old mahogany-boxed coil, of Splitdorf manufacture,
had an open secondary winding. The reason was simply 40-odd years
of moisture and corrosion, penetrating the wax impregnation of the
coil and eating off the wire. The wire insulation inside the box
was also badly deteriorated. The coil had been sparking internally
during our brief initial run, burning the wire ends until they were
too far apart to spark at cranking speed.

I considered rewinding the old coil (the inner end had parted)
but hesitated to tackle the job with hand tools. Another coil box
might be found, but the chance of its being in better shape was
small. As a simpler solution, I decided to try a modern coil
mounted in the old box. The combination works very well, idling
down to 150 RPM on either battery or magneto (after recharging
magnets on the mag), which is better than a substitute old coil
would do. The modern coil is better designed and is made with
modern core iron and insulation; it is also hermetically sealed to
prevent moisture deterioration and is thus, overall, a better
replacement. Since my ‘operation’ on the EMF coil, several
people have asked me to do likewise for theirs (Maxwell owners seem
to be particularly unfortunate, for a good reason) and it seems
that our experience may be of use to other car owners.

Of the many ignition forms which have been used, the
high-tension magneto and the low-tension coil (with low-tension
magneto and/or battery) are the most widely applied. The high
tension mag uses no external coil, and its repair is outside the
scope of this article. The (1) battery and vibrating coil, (2)
battery or magneto and vibrating coil (Model ‘T’ Ford), and
(3) battery or magneto with fixed coil and distributor (EMF,
Maxwell, and many others including modern cars) systems may have
their defective coils replaced by substituting later ones. In any
of these systems, the spark is generated by interrupting the flow
of current in the coil primary by opening a pair of contact
‘points’ in series with the coil. A condenser connected
across these ‘points’ absorbs the spark generated by the
opening, slowing ‘point’ erosion and giving a hotter
secondary spark to the plugs. (See Fig 1). In the vibrating coil
systems (1) and (2) the points are opened by the magnetic pull of
the coil core, break their own circuit, and then vibrate rapidly as
long as electric current is supplied to them; these coils generate
a continuous ‘shower’ of sparks. In the usual vibrating
system, one coil (with vibrator) is used for each cylinder,
connected directly to its spark plug. In the fixed coil system (3)
the ‘points’ are opened and closed by a cam on the magneto
or contact breaker shaft, and generate only one spark for each cam
lobe as it briefly opens the ‘points’, just as on modern
cars. In these fixed systems, one coil is used for all cylinders
and the successive sparks are fed to the proper cylinders by a
‘distributor’ geared to the same shaft as the cam which
breaks the ‘points’.

One common special case is the ‘master vibrator’ system
sold as a replacement for ‘T’ Fords, in which one set of
vibrating points served all 4 coils, with the cylinder to be
sparked selected by the ‘timer’; this system risked all on
the continued good performance of one set of vibrating
‘points’, but saved having to adjust several coils. Another
‘special’ is the 2-cylinder Splitdorf system used on
Maxwell cars, which used a fixed coil with ‘points’ on the
magneto, but no spark ‘distributor’ on the mag; the coil
box contained effectively 2 coils, both sparking simultaneously at
each ‘point’ opening, with one spark firing the cylinder on
its power stroke and the other spark ‘wasted’ by occurring
the other cylinder between the exhaust and intake strokes. Both
spark plugs connected to the coil box, in this case.

The ‘fixed’ and ‘vibrating’ systems used
different types of coil primary windings, with the vibrating system
having a considerably lower coil resistance, and thus drawing a
larger current if the points remain closed. This fact should be
considered when choosing a substitute coil.

Before beginning substitution work, it is well to make sure that
the coil is at fault. I prefer to do this on the bench, first with
a battery and then with the mag rotated by hand. Connect a piece of
wire to the high voltage (spark plug) terminal and bend it so that
it comes within ?’ of the ground or negative battery terminal
on the coil box (See Fig. 2). Then connect a good battery to the
proper terminals, leaving one of the 2 wires loose so that it may
be ‘tapped’ on the terminal to make and break the circuit.
If no spark jumps the ?’ gap when the battery circuit is
‘tapped’, remove the switch cover (if there is one) and
short-circuit the switch with another wire; then ‘tap’ the
battery connection again-if you get sparks this time, the switch is
at fault and should be repaired. The condenser may also be at
fault; this is more difficult to diagnose without measuring
instruments. If you can get a spark across a l/16′ air gap, but
not ?’, try connecting a modern-car ignition condenser across
the ‘tapping’ connection (See Fig. 2). If this gives a good
spark, the condenser is at fault and must be replaced (it can
sometimes be put under the coil box top cover, and connected
inconspicuously). If the added condenser makes a good spark, the
old one need not be removed or disconnected, as it is
‘open’ and will do no harm by remaining connected. A leaky
or shorted condenser is more difficult to diagnose; the only
effective test method (without instruments) is cutting one
connection to the old condenser and trying a substitute as above.
This may be difficult, as the old condenser will usually be bedded
in wax with the coil, and will require a major operation to
disconnect. In this case, I would proceed to substitute a modern
coil/condenser anyway.

The above discussion applies to ‘fixed’ coils; for
‘vibrating’ coils the test method is the same, except that
the battery connections are made solidly, rather than leaving one
free for ‘tapping’. If the vibrator buzzes and sparks at
the points, but the secondary spark will not jump a ?’ gap, try
connecting a modern-car ignition condenser across the vibrating
points; if this makes a good spark, the old condenser is defective.
(See Fig. 3). If the vibrator does not buzz, file the points
lightly with an ignition point file and then try adjusting them
over the full range; if still no buzz, the coil is probably

If the coil checks OK on battery, it may be tried next on the
magneto, either on the bench or the car (Model ‘T’ must be
on the car). Should it not work on mag (try minor adjustment of
‘vibrator’ points before deciding) the mag probably needs

Should you find the old coil defective, the next step is
removing the ‘insides’ from the box. Chipping or gouging
them out may ‘lose’ the connection pattern for you and may
split the box; I prefer to take off enough of the box to permit the
wax or tar to drain out and then heat the box in an oven (or
electric roaster), gradually increasing the temperature until the
wax or tar melts and drains, leaving the coil exposed. This method
destroys the finish but not the box. Most waxes and tars will melt
at 200-300 degrees F. The coil is usually blocked in place with
wooden blocks; these can be knocked out and the internal wire
connections in the box carefully sketched before cutting (or
unsoldering) the connecting wires to remove the coil from the box.
The condenser will usually be taped to the coil; it may be
separate, however, and its connections should also be sketched (see
Fig. 4).

Choose a modern car replacement coil to fit inside the coil box,
for ‘fixed’ coil replacement. A 6-volt coil of Model
‘A’ Ford size will usually fill the bill; it will do no
harm to crack off insulation from the high-voltage terminal in the
top center, down to the brass insert, to reduce the height. Cut off
the mounting bracket, if it doesn’t unscrew, as it usually gets
in the way of connections. The dome-shaped early V-8 Ford coils
also fit some places where others won’t; their mounting
‘ears’ may be cut off to make them fit, if necessary. Then
make the necessary electrical connections, using new wire (spark
plug wire for the high-voltage connections) and soldering where
required. Don’t forget to connect the modern condenser,
matching the coil you use, in place also. Then put the coil into
the box and pack it in place with wooden blocks and strip rubber
(from old inner tubes) so it won’t rattle. Keep the
high-voltage wire and terminals well clear (at least Vi’) of
other wires and terminals. If a ‘safety spark gap’ (usually
a porcelain block with 2 metal points, about Vi’ apart, mounted
on it) was used, connect it inside the box, with high-voltage wire,
to the coil ‘hot’ or center terminal and the ground
terminal (it is thus in parallel with the spark plug, and saves the
coil insulation if a spark plug wire breaks or is left
disconnected). The terminal of the ‘modern’ coil marked
‘Gnd’ or ‘-‘ should go to the points, and the
‘+’or unmarked terminal to the switch or battery. The
condenser should go from the coil ‘Gnd’ or ‘-‘
terminal to chassis ground, so that it is in parallel with the
points. Some very good connection references, for a special case,
may be found in Dyke’s Manuals.

For vibrating coils, I know of no better replacement than
the” insides’ of Model ‘T’ coils, which are
readily available and cheap. If these are too large, I can only
suggest having your old coil rewound (an expensive operation) or
finding another. In most cases, however, ‘T’ coils can be
fitted, possibly by grinding or cutting off the excess iron core
wires or strips which protrude beyond the ends of the coil winding.
The ‘T’ coil connections (see Fig. 5) will have to be wired
to match the original coil box. In most cases, worn points on other
vibrating coils may be replaced with readily available ‘T’
points, either by grinding the spring steel blades to match the old
ones or by removing the points from the ‘T’ blades, using
an acetylene torch to melt the brazed connections, and rebrazing
these new points into the original blades. In this latter case, the
blades must be retempered after the brazing.

The ‘double-secondary’ Maxwell-Splitdorf fixed-type
coils are a special case, which I have solved partially
satisfactorily by using two Model ‘T’ coils without their
vibrating points. With the wood split off, two ‘T’ coil
‘insides’ will fit inside the Splitdorf box, and are
connected as shown in Fig. 6. Note that an extra condenser is
required, connected as shown, to give complete spark absorption at
the points and a good secondary spark. I have converted a couple of
Maxwell coils this way and the owner reports they work well on
battery but not on mag. The mag may be weak or the coils may draw
too much current; I have not checked this. It should be possible to
mount two early Ford V-8 ‘dome’ coils in this box; they
might be connected either in series or parallel for best effect,
depending on the magneto characteristics. If in parallel, the
original condensers will be O.K., if in series, a condenser should
be added as in Fig. 6. I have not tried this setup, but believe it
will work.

The replacement coil setup should be bench tested before
installation (and before refinishing the box); if possible, it
should also be tried with the magneto, on the car. If it is O.K. on
battery, but not on mag, it will probably be worthwhile to have the
magneto repaired, or at least the magnets recharged. Refinishing of
the coil box is the last step; since these are usually veneered, it
is well to examine closely for moisture-loosened veneer and to
reglue it with water-resistant glue (which may be applied by
slitting the veneer with the grain, if blistered, and forcing glue
into the slit) before final finishing.

You may contact John Mulford for further advice in this


German Engine Developments

In the July GEM it was mentioned by the Reflector that he has
acquired some information in German about the development of German
engines. Would it be possible to send some copies of pictures and
captions regarding this information?

It is indeed possible, but first we would prefer to get the
material organized, a task that will be completed this winter. In
fact, a coming issue will illustrate Otto’s Atmospheric engine
as it appeared in an Otto catalog. It is of course printed in the
German language.

23/7/29This engine is a Coldwell lawn-mower
engine. It is missing lots of parts. I have a complete one with
some of the original decal on the gas tank, and would be glad to
send a color photo if needed. Dennis Shim-min, PO Box A, Lewellen,
Nebraska 69147.


Since there were no models in the August GEM, I am sending a
couple of photos of an opposed piston freelance model I built. It
has a 13/8 inch bore and 1? inch stroke. Of hit-and-miss design, it
uses 8 inch flywheels. It runs real nice, and surprisingly smooth.
J.T. Hanson, 111 Fairway Dr., Grenelefe, Haines City, Florida

The purpose of the Reflections column is to provide a forum for
the exchange of all useful information among subscribers to GEM.
Inquiries or responses should be addressed to: REFLECTIONS, Gas
Engine Magazine, P.O. Box 328, Lancaster, PA 17603.

Gas Engine Magazine
Gas Engine Magazine
Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines