Stationary Engine List

Magneto Mysteries

| August/September 2002

Stationary Engine

I 've been compiling these articles for almost three years now, and so far I've carefully avoided one particular subject: Magnetos.

That's because all the firsthand knowledge I have about this harmless-looking component was gained long ago when I witnessed an incident involving my husband and his brother while restoring their first engine. As they examined the magneto closely and tested it out, our dog had the misfortune to be standing a little too close. There was a small blue flash, followed by a shout of surprise from the human members of the group while the canine one yelped and shot to the far end of the garden - where he remained shivering with fear for some time. He's a very intelligent dog, and I decided to take his advice on this one.

Thanks to his wise counsel, I've never fallen for the 'just hold this wire while I make a test' trick, but when it came to choosing a subject for this month's article, he was more interested in his biscuit box than offering constructive suggestions. But, given that the advice on the Stationary Engine List came from two of the most respected sources we have in our group on the subject of igniters and magnetos, namely Ted Brookover and Bill Lopoulos, I decided I would be safe in pursuing this subject.

With something of the same feeling of trepidation I had beginning this article, the question that started this all came from someone taking his first serious look inside a magneto.

I've decided to venture into the world of electromagnetic flux and disassemble an igniter and Webster magneto. This one got real wet, and the igniter was puffing around the rotating shaft, too, so it seems like a good thing to jump into it.

I successfully fixed the leaking shaft with a dab of valve lapping compound and some oil on the tapered fit. Next, I thought I would take one of the end plates off the Webster to see what makes it tick and to check for a damp coil(s).