I thought Ford Motor Company's first (and only) magneto was the one designed for the Model T in 1908/09. Shows what I know. As it turns out, Ed "Spider" Huff designed a magneto by mid 1905, applying for a patent, with Henry Ford as the assignor, on July 1st, 1905. The patent was approved March 17, 1908:
The Holley magneto diagram and description from the Ford Model K operator manual:
A review of the Model K by "The Motor Way" included the following:
Holley advertising as early as November 1905 described the magneto as the "Holly Magneto (Huff System)" manufactured by the Holley Brothers:
This "Automobile" article describes it as the Holley Magneto, Huff System". It goes on to say
What does this mean (or matter)? In my opinion, this fills in some Ford Motor Company history "blanks." Many of us have heard, possibly read, that one of the reasons Henry Ford chose the Model T low tension magneto was because he didn't want to pay royalties, or patent fees, for an external magneto. If this information is accurate, it seems Ford Motor Company already had a magneto patent in place.
Also, this magneto was tried and tested. It appears to be the same magneto used on all 950 plus Model K, along with a few other car makers Holley Brothers manufactured the magneto for. It was also used on the Ford six cylinder racer, apparently Ford's choice for the high performance racer.
Ford's 1907-08 racer (over 1100 cubic inch six cylinder motor). The Holley magneto is mounted to the rear of the engine:
Don Mates, probably the most knowledgeable Model K owner on the planet, wrote the following about the Holley magneto:
Additional items I'll post later include a few more advertisements for the magneto, along with a couple more descriptions. This seems to have been a high tension mag, but is sometimes referred to as low tension, or semi-high tension. According to a letter we have from George Holley to Henry Ford, Ford was looking for a magneto that would start and run a car at low rpm (sound familiar?). Other advertising and reviews claim the car could be operated without a battery using the "Holley Magneto, Huff System."
I would like to thank those forum members who have helped me understand magnetos in general, and this one in particular. Thanks guys.
I hope this stirs some thoughtful discussion. I "don't have a dog in the hunt" on this one, just interesting that Henry Ford and Ed Huff designed an external magneto and ran it on a model prior to designing the Model T mag.
Fantastic and very informative research, Rob!
There seems to be more to the Ford saga than any of us have ever imagined.
Again, good work, Lad!
That HOLLEY magneto on the 1907 racer looks very much like the alternator that was on my ''K'' [with the distributor section removed ].
Yes, I believe so. A very knowledgeable coil and mag forum member who saw your photos said the upper portion probably went out and the owner retained the generating portion (hope I said that correctly).
The Model K racer mag is the same as our mag (being rebuilt as we speak, I mean write).
Something with cobwebs all over it is trying to
emerge from the eternal great darkness.
I believe Spider Huff was not, in the end, legally credited with the creation of Ford's magneto. If the spiders (pun) have it right, there was a court case - Spider Huff brought action against HF for the promised royalties, and lost as the agreement couldn't be proven.
I don't know anything about the suit, but did see this while looking for other info on Huff. This piece says the statute of limitations had expired and so the case dismissed:
More on the Holley Huff magneto. An interview with George Holley and Ed Huff. They explain "it (magneto) is neither high tension or low".
Does this magneto operate on the same principle as the Model T magneto that will follow in a couple of years?