I know the earliest engines used low voltage direct/jump(?) spark ignition.
What came next, and when: buzz coil, or HT (High Tension) magneto?
What brought this to mind was the possibility of igniting an ideal concentration of diesel vapor with just 5 volts. Yes, that thought is really OT.
The Model A used Schug vibrator (buzz) coils. The Quadricycle used a make and break, to my knowledge.
The earliest engines used "hot tube" ignition.
- "make & break"
- buzz coil
- magneto (low tension)
- magneto (high tension)
That's really over simplifying it and use of several systems overlapped greatly but, to my thinking, that's roughly the order of progression.
Also, does not include diesel ignition.
With regard to your diesel project, I would wonder if you can even ignite diesel with a spark. Maybe at very high compression, just before it might ignite anyway?
Jerry,Yup several old tractors used spark plugs but they started on gas and switched to fuel when hot by using two tanks.Did it myself in maybe 61 or 62.Bud.
I have run a gas car on diesel before. It will run, but not very good.
In my research for my early gasoline carriage, I was surprised to find that battery, coil and spark plug ignition was being imported from Germany as early as 1897. I also found that small magnetos similar to telephone magnetos were used to power coil and plug ignition. I had been under the impression that hot-tube and make-and-break were mostly used until Henry Ford's spark plug development in about 1903. I have a few very early spark plugs and they happen to fit the early engine that came with my gasoline carriage. The car appears to be from about 1899, and apparently had a spark plug ignition. It may also be interesting to note that the engine was apparently from Canada and had Scottish influence.
This, of course, has little to do with the Ford alphabet cars specifically. Just serves to clarify some of the timeline of the developments involved.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Great info, Wayne! Just to clarify: by spark plug ignition, you mean high voltage, yes? Do you have any idea of the original gap, which would indicate voltage?
Sounds like a field ripe for research.
I wish you could stop by, it would be so easy to show you one of my early plugs. My camera doesn't work for that close up, and the plug is so different even from most plugs around 1910, that it is difficult to explain. The threaded base has a sort-of scalloped center-piece with an electrode in the very center. All four gaps appear to be about .012 and hardly adjustable (I just measured it for the first time). We have discussed multiple gaps on this forum before and know that it is an idea that doesn't really work. I believe the insulator is a stack of mica. Many plugs were mica up until at least 1910. It was the porcelain insulator that Henry is credited with creating that made spark plugs more reliable.
This gasoline carriage is interesting to me. It has been interesting to research it. It has a number of features that were being debated in the pages of Horseless Age and other scientific magazines of the time, and later found not adequate compared to other ideas. This engine has a thin-wall steel cylinder threaded into a combustion-chamber-only water jacket. Just looking at it, you know it is an early design. But then to read through about five years of publications and see learned engineers debating cooling and lubrication theory and publishing the math to support their suppositions as to why cast iron or steel is better than the other. That debate went on for a few years. I do hope I can get this thing together and hear it run before I am too old to enjoy it. But I have a couple projects ahead of its priority yet.
By the way. Anybody have a vintage four inch bore cast iron piston they are willing to let go of?
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
I always thought a Diesel engine worked by squirting atomized fuel under extremely high pressure, into a cylinder when the piston is at or near the top of the compression stroke and the air inside is extremely hot because it's been compressed to a fraction of its normal volume.
If you were to try to use Diesel fuel in an engine designed for gasoline, it seems to me you would want to replace the spark plugs with some kind of atomizing injector.
Otherwise, how would the fuel ignite? I mean, Diesel fuel won't atomize particularly well in a carburetor, unless it's pre-heated, and then not nearly as well as gasoline. So you'd be trying to ignite not-very-well-atomized fuel with a spark, and that sounds dicey.
I'm curious -- what's the point? It can't be cost savings, because Diesel fuel nowadays sells at most outlets for more than gasoline.
Of course I realize the original question was about the different methods used to produce the spark. It's just that, as usually happens, the thread wandered a bit. I'm responding to the wandering, not the question. But that's how we learn!
Yes, that is how we learn.
My understanding is that Diesel fuel will ignite and burn in a gasoline engine about as well as kerosene does. If the engine is warm, dicey as you say. You are correct in how you say a Diesel engine ignites its fuel. The compression is so high in order to accomplish that, that most gasoline engines, if somehow forced to that high a pressure would blow the head off of the block. It has been done using a supercharger.
Many years ago, Diesel and kerosene were a lot cheaper than gasoline. I knew of some people that rigged a fuel switch and tank so that they would start on gasoline, warm the engine up, then switch to the alternate cheaper (then) fuel. Fifty years ago, diesel or kerosene cost about half what gasoline did. With a warmed engine, mileage was about three quarters. Not a great savings. But for some, maybe it was worth it.
Some people also did that during WWII to get around gasoline rationing. Not many did. Most people truly supported the war effort.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Yup,At 11 cents per gallon is why we did it so long ago.Most of the older kero burning tractors had 3 tanks/one for gas to start on kero to use for fuel,and water to add when pulling hard to help cool the engine.The Farmall F-20 had 2 tanks one for starting on gas and the big tank for whatever fuel you you were using at the time.Most of the All Fuel engines had [Hot] manifolds and usually [shutters] on the radiator.I don't know when the changes were made by International Harvester but our 1937 F-20 had shimed insert rod bearings which could be changed in the field. Ball bearing main bearings one on each end and nothing in the middle! Sorry about the long post but just because we have not seen it does not mean it was not done.If Jay i think had not posted a picture of the monsterious V-4 6 or 8 front wheel drive race car we still Cord was the first?? Bud.
No one else used or invented a low tension magneto other than the Model T. The high tension magneto came before the Model T. The Model T ignition system was far more reliable and cheaper to service than the old high tension magneto.
No car other than the T used a low tension magneto. Cheaper to service? Almost any repair requires engine teardown. It was an expensive way to avoid paying patent royalties for a disturbutor.
Forgot a couple in the timeline for ignition process:
- "make & break"
- buzz coil
- magneto (low tension)
- magneto (high tension)
- True-Fire (Electronic)
- E-Timer (Electronic)
I believe when new the T mag was cheap to service. I'm guessing the rotten cotton wrap wasn't problematic until the 1950's or 1960's and even then probably not a widespread issue. Even the capacitors were likely not an issue as today many original coils still don't leak. The timer was one of the weak points and easily and cheaply replaced even today. One of the other issues is point wear but if they were replaced and calibrated on a machine would run many a mile without issue.
RD is looking at the cost of a field coil plus installation. Most hobbiest can replace it themselves so the labor isn't an issue. A new field coil is about $200. What does a high tension mag cost?
I agree with Royce that when new (or recently rebuilt) a T mag is cheap to maintain.
I used to have a hit and miss engine that was called a flame licker, It sucked in an open flame to fire the fuel.
From post above:
"No one else used or invented a low tension magneto other than the Model T. The high tension magneto came before the Model T. The Model T ignition system was far more reliable and cheaper to service than the old high tension magneto"
This article appeared in the "Horseless Age", December 1904. According to the 1904 article, of the 121 autos at the Paris Auto show, 44 percent used low tension magnetos, the most used system of the cars shown.
Many manufacturers built low tension magnetos prior to the advent of the Model T, including Remy and General Electric. This Remy article appeared in November 1905:
And a description of a General Electric low tension magneto in November 1907:
Interesting - looks like a high tension mag but the description is precisely (or at least very, very close) to the way the Model T system operates.
Excellent information on the pre-T use of low tension magneto for automotive ignition. Thanks for sharing and setting the record straight.
Myth, misconception and misinformation is spewed all too frequently here and accepted as gospel fact. I'm sure your historical research will earn the standard reply: Everything previously stated about the low tension magneto was 100% truthful and accurate....
I don't think there is any myth concerning how reliable and cheap to maintain a Model T ignition can be. For example there are several outstanding timers on the market right now.
Crystal timer - $55 including postage.
Anderson Timer - $62.95 plus postage
TW Components - $75 plus postage
Any of these timers function properly on magneto. No battery is required for operation. If your magneto is crippled or missing, of course any of these timers can operate on battery too.
$ 55.00, $ 62.95, $75.00 ....... damn expensive for a simple switch.
Yeah, plus shipping too !!!!!
I switched (pun?) from a worn out roller timer to an Anderson on our 1913. I would routinely get "free starts" with the roller timer, and now get absolutely nothing close to a free start with an Anderson. Is this typical?
I switched from the worn roller timer to Tony Wilshires Carbon brush timer and am amazed by the difference in smoothness of running I get with it. I guess if you can build bits for Indy Race Cars you can build bits that work for a model T . Its early days yet but I can't see me going back to a roller timer any time soon -and thats coming from some one who has learnt the hard way that good original parts often work the best -Karl
So when is someone going to make laser ignition for a T as an experiment? i would but the gubbamint banned importing any laser stronger than the weak 0.1 MW pointer things.
The low tension system shown above does not show the step up at the plug (which they need to operate). You can't jump the spark plug gap with 30 volts. That gives you four coils triggered by one set of points. That bolt on system is nothing like the T had other than it creates low voltage A/C. The point adjustment was subject to mechanical wear however, they were easier to set than T points and no special equipment needed. The novice could get a smooth engine rather easily.
The T mag is actually very simplistic and it developed much more power than it required for ignition alone. The point actuation was electromagnetic rather than mechanical but required special equipment to get them the same to get a smooth engine. Once it is set up correctly it will run cheaply and reliably as Royce has stated.
As far as the "expensive switch", all one needs to do is pick up roller timers at swap meets and true them up. I paid $2 for the last one I bought and replaced the roller with a pair of ball bearings. I run them dry and they last and last.
Anderson timers are arranged internally a bit off from the contact area of a Ford roller timer. You have to bend the timer rod to a new position to have the timing set properly. You can't just swap one for the other - the timing will be way off.
Free starts are typical in a Model T that has the timing and fuel mixture close to being right. Anderson timers give free starts just like a roller timer if they are set properly by the installer.
Either the timing is on, or off. Obviously, since I hand crank, the timing is set up correctly, or I would have a car that wouldn't start (when retarded), or an arm in a sling. It just won't free start. I suspect the timing surface is narrower, so I have less opportunity to generate a spark when the car is stopped.
Has anyone else had a similar experience with an Anderson?
Rob,I know the model K had both mag and batt ign,but were the K's ever equiped with shower of sparks?? Bud.
The Model K used a Holley High Tension Magneto. Below is an ad Holley placed in several journals following the Model K world record for miles travelled in a 24 hour race (June 1907). At the bottom of the ad Holley mentions that several of the other cars in the contest used foreign made magnetos (the other cars included American Tourist, Thomas Flyer, Pope-Toledo, Stevens-Duryea and Buick).
Interestingly, the Model K is the only pre 1930s stock Ford I'm aware of that established a world record in any competition.
When you install the Anco timer the timing is a bit off so you won't have the spark as far advanced as it would and should normally be. So no, it won't kick back, and it won't free start either until you set the timing properly.
You have to follow the instructions that come with the Anco timer - they are in the box for a reason.
Any non-Ford made timer should have the initial timing set according to the manufacturer's instructions.
One should not compare another timer in relation to a Ford timer. .... apples and oranges.
I have "re set" the timing (bent the rod). It will not free start. Has anyone else WHO USES AN ANDERSON TIMER had the same problem? Don't tell me to set the damn timing.
I run an Anderson on my 1927 and it will free start easily. I do cheat and open the throttle just a little before shutting it off, just to make sure I have plenty of gas in the cylinder when I go to throw the switch.
I picked up a crystal timer in its original box, but since I am not done rebuilding my transmission yet, I have not had a chance to test it out and see if I like it better or not. I will say, the Anderson was such a great upgrade from the roller that was on the car when I got it.
Rob - Being just the "shade tree mechanic" that I am, take anything I say very "lightly", however, I think there are a couple other factors to consider with the Anderson, and perhaps they are covered in the mfgr's instructions; I don't know.
However, those four contacts are not absolutely "fixed" in position in the timer cover like most other timers. Because they are sheet metal "tabs" (for lack of a better term) that are welded into the cover, it is possible that one or more of them could be bent slightly one way or the other just a bit out of proper position, which would certainly have an effect on timing (at least for that one tab/cylinder). I actually had a brand new Anco with one tab bent out of position. I think there might be any number of reasons for this since the timer was manufactured; up to and including that I might have accidently bent it myself while installing.... (???) Not sure how to check to be certain that your timer cover has one or more "tabs" slightly bent out of position, but might be something to think about. The other thing, and I'm not quite sure about this, but something in back of my feeble mind tells me that the Anderson is more susceptible to timing error due to the timing gear cover not being perfectly centered with the tool made for such perfect positioning when the timing gear cover is installed. Just one other "possibility" to perhaps consider. Just kinda' thinking out loud Rob; sounds like you're a bit frustrated but there's and answer and you'll find it,........harold
Harold said it right. The Anco timer's weaknesses include the problem of cylinder to cylinder variations being caused by any number of factors. If the timer is not perfectly centered on the timing cover, or one of the internal contacts becomes worn more than the others, or bent, then you can have problems.
The Crystal, Ford Roller timers, or the TW timer don't have this problem and are thus much more forgiving to install, maintain and operate.
Royce - Thanx for corroborating my much too wordy explanation. One thing though Royce, I know what you meant in your post about..."If the timer is not perfectly centered on the timing cover...." however, there's not too much danger of the timer not being perfectly centered on the timing cover; it's more like the timing cover not being perfectly positioned when bolted on so as to be sure that the exact center of the timer is concentric with the exact center of the camshaft so that the circle described by the contact roller is concentric with the four metal "tab" contacts. And that perfect positioning of the timing cover when it's installed is what the centering tool does when you install the timing gear cover.
Sheeesh! It's one of those things that,...."I know what I mean, I just have trouble knowing how to say it". I think we both have that problem Royce, 'cause as I said, I knew what you meant, you just might have said it a different way,..and probably much more briefly than I did! ..........harold
Back to the Make & Break: what voltage and source of power was used in early cars?
Diesel/kero/Jet vapor supposedly ignites with just a spark if in the ideal mixture with air.
Royce & all: If the front plate is not centered on the camshaft circle, all timers installed on that engine will show irregular engine ignition.
Harold has correctly answered the problem.
Actually, no, the New Day and Ford roller timers are very tolerant of off center position. There won't be any variation on "Mag", which is the only thing that matters anyway. If you have a broken or malfunctioning magneto then you have a poor running Model T, and it might matter at higher speeds.
Model T's are not intended to be driven full time on Battery. On "Mag" the spark event is controlled by flywheel position. With a roller timer or New Day timer you can't get the timer position off center enough to matter.
Really Royce ???
Ford Service Bulletins "in the day" stressed the front plate centering accuracy to correct ignition timing variables .......... early or late cylinder firing....... along with using the Ford commutator.
Go back and do your homework
Murray Fahnestock wrote articles on this very subject
Here's the link from Fun Projects on the Murray Fahnestock article
OOPS ! CORRECT LINK
I don't disagree that best practice is to make sure the timer is perfectly centered on the camshaft. However the fact is that the Anco design is hyper sensitive to this problem, while the Ford roller timer, New Day, Crystal Timer, and others are far less affected by it, particularly when running on magneto.
Additionally the Anco timer contacts all must be identically located and bent properly during manufacture or the same problem results, even with the timer perfectly centered on the camshaft. It could be that Rob might find another Anco timer works better than the current one.
Neil Tuckett made a tool using the front of a Model T engine block with a front cover and a camshaft stub in order to be able to measure cylinder - to - cylinder timing variations on a degree wheel. He found that all the Anco timers he had in stock were so inaccurate that none would allow his 1911 touring to run well. I recommend anyone who has the chance to visit Neil at his shop take a look. It is a really nice tool for weeding out defective timers.
Sorry, can't visit Neil's shop , as he's on the other side of the pond from New Jersey.
Neil's Anco results ? How old is his study ? Did he use the 2013 current manufactured Anco style timers ??
I have a NOS Anco timer and it does run better compared to the older repro ( 2000 ) unit it replaced..... same coils, same wiring, same engine.... although the initial timing had to be slightly retarded using the NOS unit.
I was at Neil's shop in 2010. At the time Frank Fenton was manufacturing the Anco timers. I believe they are now made by someone else.
Used Anco style timers , no matter where they are purchased, may pass on the sins of the previous owners. I've seen these timers abused with heavy screwdrivers in owner/driver attempts to adjust for whatever reason. The only way to insure proper terminal alignment on an Anco style timer is to have the current manufacturer replace defective/worn parts, set that timer on his equipment to insure alignment..... and also check the flapper shaft, flapper, and spring for proper movement.
I experienced none of these problems with the NOS ANCO on my engine..... in fact the engine ran better than on the year 2000 repro Anco it replaced.
Ford, New Day, Crystal timers do not share this alignment problem..... but I'm betting there are timing variations with those units also.
Neil's problem was with brand new Anco timers right out of the box. The only previous owner was the manufacturer.
Have him check the current manufacture unit
I doubt Neal wants to pay to ship more of them to Great Britain. The accuracy of a TW timer, Ford roller timer, or old stock New Day, or Crystal timer is so superior to an Anco that I doubt Neal would ever use or sell anything else.
I for one, find it refreshing that not every last person in the universe raves about how good the Anderson Timer is. I've never liked them personally.
Nice of you to make a decision for someone else..... maybe Neil will respond himself... looking forward.
I don't claim to represent Neil. I am stating my own observations.
I stood there and watched Neil demonstrate how inaccurate a new Anco timer is compared to a 100 year old Ford roller timer. I was convinced beyond any doubt.
I get free starts with my repro Anderson all the time. However, sometimes when shutting off, the spark rod will advance itself....I just hit the starter with the ignition off and it settles itself.
RD Ricks.... sorry for the OT comments..
Now : "Back to the Make & Break: what voltage and source of power was used in early cars? "
Oh, I don't mind the drift, Bob; I do it all the time. I guess a lot of us here are a little drifty.
I have run anderson timers before and they do run well but, I prefer crystal timers
Joe, I haven't seen you for a a while. Will you be at the GAPS meeting next Friday? I am working on my coupe's transmission right now too.