The rawhide gear issue is behind us (I think). I was curious, how many cars had magnetos in 1906?
We know Henry Ford wanted a magneto in the Model T so one wouldn't have to rely on batteries. Many may not be aware the Model K was the only Ford model before the T to have a magneto.
I did some checking to determine how many cars in 1906 came equipped with a magneto, and what those cars cost along with their horse power. This is what I found.
Using a 1906 newspaper guide, along with the January 11, 1906 "Automobile" car guide I came up with the following. There were many cars and models sold in 1906, so the information was a little conflicted (sometimes one guide listed different horsepower or different prices, etc), but this is the best I could do. There may be a few mistakes, but you'll see the trend.
For cars costing $2500 or less, of 116 gasoline cars reported in "Automobile", two came with magnetos. The $1750 25hp Duryea (not Stevens Duryea), and the $2500 40hp Ford Model K.
Cars costing $2501 to $5000:
Of 55 gasoline cars listed, 14 reported magnetos as standard equipment. The list, including price and horsepower:
Rainier $4000 33hp
Packard $4000 24hp
Welch $4000 50hp
Knox $4000 38hp
Stearns $4250 42hp
Austin $4500 60hp
Rainier $5000 35hp
Spyker $5000 22hp
Knox $5000 38hp
Chadwick $5000 43hp
Locomobile $5000 33hp
Of these 55, four other makes and models listed magnetos as optional:
Berkshire $2500 25hp mag optional
Frayer-Miller $3000 24hp mag optional
Thomas $3500 50hp mag optional
Berkshire $4500 40hp mag optional
And a few of the many well known expensive brands that didn't offer magnetos:
I should have added, the most expensive cars listed that did not offer a magneto? At $6,000 the Tincher and National. At $8,000 the English Diamler listed the magneto as optional. The highest priced car listed was a 50hp Panhard for $12,300.
Hi Rob ,
You may find in some early FORD documentation that the very early ''K'' DID NOT HAVE A MAGNETO.
What it did have was an alternator [which looked very much like a magneto] and fed current to the coils to convert to DIRECT CURRENT like a ''T''.
I do not know when this alternator was replaced with a magneto ? . Possible at the same time as the commutator was removed from the rear of the camshaft up to the shaft that feeds the magneto.
I removed the alternator from my car and fitted a magneto as i found the car performed much better with a magneto --especially when it was run with both electrical system switched on together.
I believe I read the Holley mag used on the K was initially a low tension mag. Could they have meant the system your referring to? I have a letter from one of the Holly brothers to Henry Ford telling him (HF) he should use their magneto instead of a Lacoste because another car maker (Thomas?) had a lot of trouble with that brand mag. I'll try to find it.
Also a few car makers listed dynamos, so they were battery independent, but odd not have a mag. Another listed a Lacoste coil, but I assume that was not a mag type ignition.
Rob Re low tension mag, Without looking up the terminology i think it so.
COULD BE ENGLISH OR A USA WORD VERSIONS ?
Interesting, Rob. Magnetos were the wave of the future until Atwater-Kent developed the distributor.
I should have said, "High tension magneto."
The uni-sparker saves energy compared to buzz coils because the points are closed only momentarily at any speed.
Henry could have built the T cheaper, lighter and more reliable if he had only paid A-K patent royalties.
From The Henry Ford, a letter from George Holley in which he (Holley) talks about his mag vs. the Lacoste and Bosch magnetos. He also says Thomas and Pierce have tried the Lacoste and are putting the Holley back on. He also mentions carbs at the end of the letter.
Note: the guide in the review did not report a mag on the Pierce car and said it was optional with Thomas. I think both offered mags for 1907.
You are up early (or late). I would like to find a dynamo for our Model N. it seems like a simple way to have an alternate electrical source that is period correct instead of the battery. I wonder if they would be "hotter" than the battery (for coils)?
I don't know if Pierce used a magneto on the 1906 Great Arrow or not. Seen several of the cars, just never stopped drooling long enough to notice whether it had a mag or not. I can't recall ever seeing a 1906 Model K in person.
I have a friend with a 1907 Pierce and it came standard with an HT Mag.
Those letters from Holley are pretty cool!
Here is a 1906 Model K, owned by the same "mate" who posted a bit earlier on this thread.
Bob has made a few modifications to overcome the problems with the early Model K. By late October 1906 Ford Motor Company corrected many of these deficiencies, including a much heavier frame:
I should have mentioned, the "Automobile" magazine came out in January just before the New York auto show. It's always possible automakers did not have plans finalized by the time they reported to the magazine, I suppose by mid December to make the print date. An example is the 1906 Model K photo is used on several 1907 guides and reviews.
The dynamo would have to feed a battery, Rob. It shouldn't take much to make a small 6v generator or motor look like an early dynamo. I'm surprised somebody hasn't been converting obsolete dynamotors.
Up early, I guess. The bi-pap sure makes for restful sleep. I fall asleep almost instantly after putting the full face mask on.
I wonder if everyone was using the same terminology for the same things? I use the word "Magneto" to describe what is on the Model T as well as what is on a lawn mower. I guess more correctly, the Model T mag should be called a low tension magneto, while a lawn mower has a high tension magneto. I consider anything that generates electricity using a permanent magnet a "Magneto". Then there are those who say the T doesn't have a magneto. It has an alternator. True, the current being produced is AC, but it is being produced by a permanent magnet rather than an electromagnetic field, so in that sense, it is different than what we call an alternator today. Then of course, there is the dynamo. Without looking it up, I'm not sure I know exactly what a dynamo is and whether what it means today is the same as what it meant over 100 years ago. I have heard the term used for what is turned by the turbines of a hydroelectric dam, but then others call them generators, but they make AC, so does that make them Alternators? I'm confused.
So in the original post, are we talking high tension mags or low tension mags, or both? I know what was in the T. Was the K similar or did it have a high tension mag? What about the higher end cars mentioned above?
Our 1910 2-cyl Buick has a low-tension mag that was, I've been told, and accessory for the car. It is a Remy. The 1912 & '13 small 4-cyl Buicks had low tension mags. I would assume that the earlier ones did too. Many people have converted them to high-tension.
I think I've read the very first K magnetos were low tension. The George Holley letter, dated December 1905 doesn't make a distinction. When I read the review guides for this thread one or two cars with mags said "low tension".
This attachment may help create another "mystery". Along with the October 1905 year end fiscal year audit for Ford Motor Company is this page. I was interested primarily because of expenses for models G and H. However, just below them, is a substantial expense for......."Magneto".
Was Ford working on making their own magneto? Did any of this work then sit on the shelf until beginning work on the Model T mag? Compared with other expenses, this is a fairly substantial one. Or, as mentioned above, just a question of semantics, was this a name for a plant generator? But, it's in the suspense category, along with Model G and H?
Another "addition." There were 36 gasoline cars listed in the $5001 to $12,300 category. This means 91 cars (gas) were listed above $2500. 25 gasoline cars were listed, as was Ford's Model K, at $2500, and 91 cars listed below $2500. Ford's K really was a median priced car!
Almost all the cars in the greater than $5000 category had magnetos.
Sometimes, the use of words confuses me when how we use them has changed over the past 100 plus years.
What is the difference between a Magneto ignition, a Jump Spark ignition and a Distributor ignition?
Were there more ways to time the sparks at the cylinders than timers and distributors?
Did some of the magnetos double as timers / distributors?
I guess I'm never to old to learn, so it's time I get better educated. What exactly is a jump ignition? I have heard the term, but am clueless to its meaning.
The difference in the low and high tension mag has got me baffled also. The best I can figure is the low tension unit simply passes the magnets pass the field coils, where the high tension has a mechanism that snaps the magnets pass the field coils. Have I got it right or am I still roaming in "deep left"?
Dave, While waiting for a more detailed explanation, I always understood "tension" referred to the voltage. Low tension magnetos, like the Model T, produced relatively low voltages 5 to 40 volts AC. They fed that to a spark coil to boost the "tension" to produce the spark in the cylinders. High tension magnetos, like a lawn mower, produced the 25,000 volts (or whatever) to fire the spark plug directly. As a kid, I was playing with our old Briggs & Stratton engine and idly turned the flywheel while touching the spark lead. Wow, do you get a poke from that! Still remember after 50 years.
Nowadays you hear this mostly when people talk about the "high-tension electric lines" carrying electric power from the generators to the community.
Yes, tension and voltage are the same thing. I'm not sure where the terminology came from. The only time I ever use the word 'tension' to mean voltage is when I talk about magnetos, and it is just because that's what I've I've always heard them called. I really am not sure why.
What I am about to say is based more on my experience with stationary engines than on automobiles, but there were some exceptions. On stationary engines (Hit and miss engines....), some were run by battery and coil and were called 'make and break' ignition. Some were low tension magneto. Some were high tension magneto.
Battery and coil could be broken into two categories. Some used a buzz coil like a T with a timing device to make the primary circuit. The secondary (High tension) circuit firing a spark plug.
The make and break ignition had a coil that had a single winding. These did not have a spark plug. They had an ignitor inside the cylinder. The ignitor was a set of contacts, one movable and grounded, the other stationary and insulated. Current flowed from the battery, through the coil to the stationary insulated contact in the cylinder. When the contacts were closed (Touching), current flowed through them to ground and back to the battery. When the movable contact was suddenly opened by a mechanical linkage, a spark would 'draw' out between the two contacts and ignite the mixture. When the contacts closed, the current began flowing again. This system works on very low voltage. The voltage is so low, the current would never jump a fixed gap, but will create a spark as the gap opens.
Low tension magnetos worked very much the same way. The current was just produced by the magneto rather than a battery.
High tension magnetos produce thousands, even 10's of thousands of volts and fire a spark plug directly.
Back to the make and break....Some had the ignitor built into the piston itself. The circuit was made when a contact mounted to the upper surface of the piston came up and touched a contact inside the cylinder. Current would begin to flow and when the piston passed by that point, the circuit was broken resulting in a spark just like on the ignitor mentioned above.
I'm not sure how many early automobiles used these type of systems, but I think there were some. The Wright Brothers' first plane used a make and break ignition system.
Rob, Sorry for the hi-jack. Just trying to answer Thomas's question.
Hi Hal, I've been trying to reach you concerning some coils I have that need to be adjusted and tested on your test machine. Can you contact me please?
Hal and Tom, thanks for the great explanations. Once Tom mentioned high tension power lines, it dawned on me that I should have put two and two together and come up with that.
Would the make and break ignition be the same as the jump ignition?
I'm not positive, but I don't think so. I'm thinking jump spark means the spark jumps a fixed gap which would require high voltage (tension). But I could be wrong.
Maybe if you GOOGLE ignition impulse magneto may explain JUMP START ?
I'm not sure of the difference, but these two 1906 high end cars, with magneto had one of each. the Lozier had "high tension jump spark" and Berliet "low tension make and break."
I took Bob Trevan's advice and Googled jump spark and it appears the term is in reference to the use of a spark plug for ignition purposes. Imagine that.
I tell myself that once I learn something new in a day, my work is done and it is time to play. It's a shame I didn't do this earlier in the day.
Dave, since your done for the day, what's next
I'll take this one step further. For 1907, magneto use increased quite a lot.
Of 81 cars costing $3,000 or less, 7 including Ford's Model K had magnetos.
Duryea $1500 17hp mag
Renault $2100 8hp mag
French Mors $2500 20hpmag
Duryea $2500 28hp mag
Renault $2700 12hp mag
Triumph $2800 30 hp mag
Ford Model K $2800 40hp mag
There were 24 cars listed costing $3000 to $4000, 10 with Magnetos.
Am. Mors $3000 16hp mag
Renault $3200 12hp mag
American $3250 40 hp mag
B.L.M. $3500 24hp mag
Cleveland $3500 33hp mag
Berkshire $3500 35hp mag
Wayne $3500 50hp mag
National $3500 50hp mag
Triumph $3500 45hp mag
French Mors $3550 15hp
Cleveland $4000 33hp
Most cars costing over $4000 had magnetos as standard equipment.
Low tension "magneto" is an alternator running coils. Similar in concept to a Model T except that the alternator in those cars does not control timing, which is a feature unique to the Model T ignition system.
In these types of cars a high tension magneto would be preferred over low tension because it would give more accurate cylinder - to - cylinder timing than any of the devices that used a spark coil either with battery or with an alternator (aka low tension magneto).
Not arguing the point but sharing how it was explained to me. The distribution of a low tension mags output is controlled through the primary side (like the T). On a high tension system the distribution is after the secondary. A typical high tension mag will only have one coil and the output (secondary) is run through the distributor. If that one coil fails, it parks.
That's what makes the T system great (even though RD hates it and reasons Fords using the low tension system only with not wanting to pay a royalty).
In reality, I believe Ford's car for the common man was made the way it was so the owner could service it. It took a lot less talent to swap a coil than to change a mag and get it timed.
I believe the primary side on all magnetos (high or low tension) is AC. The rotating magnet swapping poles with each rotation past a fixed conductor sees to it.
Gary and Royce (along with others), thanks for trying to explain the difference between the two mag systems.
If my recollection is correct, the Model K began with a low tension magneto, that was changed to high tension (both Holley, as far as I know). I wonder why the change (if I'm correct, not a given)?
Somewhat related (I started the thread, I guess I can drift ), a "study" by "Automobile" magazine on free starts, 1910. I thought it interesting that of all these cars, with all the ignition systems, with professional drivers (all chauffeur driven) that none of the cars gave a "free start". I bet a Model T or two would have given a better performance.
Back on topic, Ford's 1911-1913 Model T (appearing) special racer had a dual ignition external magneto ( believe a Bosch high tension). I thought it interesting Ford would choose an external mag for the record setting racer (410 cubic inch four cylinder T appearing engine, 2:1 gearing).
mag to the right rear of the firewall:
How would you like to slip this engine in your T?
Three things come to mind why they used an external mag on the racer.
Reduced weight and inertia with lighter flywheel.
Weighed less than 8 coils and less complex for firing all 8 plugs.
More accurate firing of the plugs and better control of the timing to maximize power.
Rob,ARE you looking at the right term? I have been told many expensive cars had [Shower of sparks]for easy starting. I sure miss seeing Old 16 start that way! Bud.
Is that the button some cars had that fired all plugs at the same time, for a "free start"? Our Buick and Oakland (now gone) had it, but I didn't know the name?
Rob,Yes that is what i have heard it called but how many used it ?? Has your quest shown how many of the expensive cars had built on air compressers?? Bud.
Yes, I have seen a few air compressors listed. And, I think Winton had a self starter that was possibly air driven by 1907 or 08?
Not sure of the shower of sparks system on very old cars but on airplanes it sends a continuous spark (much like T coil on battery). This is often they system employed when an impulse coupling isn't used. It also retards the timing to make starting easier. It only sparks the cylinder in line to fire. Sparking every plug at the same time could cause damage to the engine.
Like I said, not sure if the very early cars were the same but I suspect they were. You should be able to look up how the Bendix "shower of sparks" works but I think I understand it correctly.
Winton had a compressed air starter, and I believe began making it standard equipment in 1907. This 1907 ad previewing the 1908 model lists the self starter.
I also like the ad because it says Winton will only make 500 cars for 1908. This gets back to the point I've been making that sales over a few hundred per year of high end cars was a viable number in auto making (Ford sold 457 Model K in 1907).
"Motor World" October, 1907