I was recently given a "master vibrator" from KW ignition. What the heck is it? Any use on my 1919 touring?
The master vibrators were a popular accessory to help improve the performance of the early coils (1906-1913 or so). But they are not normally used or needed on Model T’s that have the better 1914-1927 style KW coils. In your case your 1919 Model T already has the more reliable coils so you would not normally want to install a master vibrator. For the earlier cars with the original coils – they sometimes can be helpful.
They are neat accessories and discussion items. Also the switches are sometimes the same as the switches used on the standard Ford coil boxes and if so they can be used to repair a standard coil box.
See the excellent discussion at:
http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/29/30648.html that includes how they are wired and why the early pre 1914 non-KW coils can also be adjusted to perform ok without a master vibrator also.
http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/29/43458.html Link to another discussion that has a link to the Vintage Ford Volume 34 Issue 4 which covers coils in depth and the master vibrator starting on page 11 as shown [or page 25 using the original page numbers] you can go direct to the link above or use this links to go direct to it: Ford & KW Coil Story
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Another idea is to use the empty MV box as a small glove box, and the switch as your blinker switch as was done on this car.
Thanks for the references on master vibrators. I've heard of them but never knew how the system worked. I guess aligning and maintaining 1 set of points was easier than aligning and maintaining 4 sets of coil points.
Folks have told me the E-Timer ( www.modeltetimer.com ) functioned like a master vibrator and now I know why.
The E-Timer is essentially a modern day master vibrator that performs the same function but eliminates alignment and maintenance of all mechanical contacts including master vibrator points, timer contacts and of course, provides the added benefit of Automatic Timing Advance if so desired. Performance improvement was also the same motivation for its development; often described as "incredible!" by users so the concept still has merit today.
Mike, the problem with the master vibrator and one set of points is, if that set quits, you have lost all ignition.
I had a master vibrator on a 1912 touring for a while. After about two complete ignition failures on a mini tour, I went back to the normal 4 coils. Much more reliable.
Willie, I agree the master vibrator method does add another single point failure that can cause complete ignition failure and contact points failure are more likely to fail than the other single point ignition system failures; timer, ignition switch or ignition power connection.
I'm not sure if operation using 4 coils is truly more reliable considering there are 4 times as many chances for a mechanical contact points failure to occur using 4 coils causing a degradation in performance although not a complete ignition system failure.
My comment that the master vibrator concept still has merit today referred to the E-Timer implementation where ALL problematic mechanical contacts points subject to proper alignment, maintenance and ware including the master vibrator points are replaced with modern solid state switching devices which have proven reliability in modern iron.
Another detail effecting reliability not mentioned is the way the master vibrator function is implemented. The original master vibrator system places it in series with the ignition power changing the original wiring and creating a single point failure. The E-Timer master vibrator function is placed in series with each individual coil within the timer housing. It does not change the original ignition system wiring and operation will continue even in the event contact with or failure of up to 2 coils occurs; a definite degradation in performance will occur under such conditions but not complete ignition system failure.
Using it as a glove box... is an interesting concept. Right now it is just sitting on my coffee table : )