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Magneto and points ignition set-ups


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#1 cosworth bdg

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Posted 09 October 2006 - 02:10

Has any person ever wondered around the pits at race meeting for historics and noticed how many cars don't have period ignition or period ignition systems???????

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#2 David Birchall

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Posted 09 October 2006 - 05:55

Having installed electronic ignition in my DB2 I'm saying nothing.... :blush:

#3 dbw

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Posted 09 October 2006 - 07:22

maybe they want to win...or perhaps finish the race. in my bug i have a period scintilla mn3 that the local aircraft mag guys rebuilt with no issues....i run the flywheel mag with coil boxes and a factory "timer" on my ford t track car..you can even get champion two-piece plugs with tapered pipe threads for the t..[i did] i can't imagine any ignition so obscure or complex that it can't be duplicated somehow.

how is it the ferrari 12s run original stuff and the crossflow foed lads have the latest technology available? go figure.

#4 HistoricMustang

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Posted 09 October 2006 - 09:07

Originally posted by David Birchall
Having installed electronic ignition in my DB2 I'm saying nothing.... :blush:


Yes, I am also keeping my mouth shut! :eek:

Henry

#5 Peter Morley

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Posted 09 October 2006 - 13:20

Originally posted by cosworth bdg
Has any person ever wondered around the pits at race meeting for historics and noticed how many cars don't have period ignition or period ignition systems???????


With some it is a reliability issue - at the time early electronic ignition systems were unreliable (they had to mount them in the airflow to keep the temperature down), 40 years later they are even less reliable - if they work at all.
Given it is hard to find replacement electronic components (my brother works on early synths and I know what it is like trying to find early electronic components - unless you order 10s of 1,000s no one will make them for you) it is rather hard to rebuild early electronic systems.

So it is accepted that you can replace them with modern equivalents (but they are meant to be similar - e.g. if it was a points based system you shouldn't replace it with a crankshaft sensor driven system).
Of course once you can replace with modern components then it is possible that the system you end up fitting is an improvement - but if Max has his way you won't be allowed to run it.

With things like magnetos they can be difficult to rebuild, but we've never had problems with the Scintillas on our Rileys or the Bosch one in the Bugatti (apart from the cost of the Bugatti one!!).
Of course magnetos don't like high revs, if a historic car was doing more revs than in period, then the mag could become un-reliable and end up being replaced by a distributor.

But our Connaught has distributors fitted - that is for practical reasons, it had mags fitted at the rear of the engine under the bodywork and need removing when you take the rocker cover off (which happens rather often), re-timing them is really difficult - you need a mirror and very long flexible arms to do it.

A couple of distributors (magnetos wouldn't fit) on top of the water/oil pump are a lot more manageable - and Connaught did at least bench test a distributor based system.
But this is a performance downgrade - methanol prefers magneto sparks.

What I don't understand is why more people don't hide their new electronic boxes inside the old ones, so it at least looks right?

But, does the ignition system really matter - there are far more visible items that can be totally out of period, a lot of people use modern instruments even though period style ones are available, modern mirrors, brightly coloured seat belts and racing seats (not to mention roll over bars) all of which are clearly visible and more appropriate period style ones are available.

#6 Peter Morley

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Posted 09 October 2006 - 13:43

Just read the prelude to this in another thread.

You are addressing cars running electronic ignition when they didn't originally, or had their magnetos replaced by distributors.

Take Formula Juniors for an example, when the formula started electronic ignition wasn't widely used, by the end of the formula it was available and some people used it.
Since a lot of cars were upgraded during the formula's life they could have had electronic ignition, like they could have had disc brakes etc.
The organisers accept cars that have been upgraded to the best period specification (even if very few used it in period).

Early FPFs had Lucas racing magnetos, which weren't terribly reliable, and when they turned to pump petrol a lot of people switched to distributors since you didn't need the big magneto spark - later on Climax supplied them with distributors anyway (which had a cost & weight advantage).

I don't know anything about saloon cars but expect you will find that there is some precedent, probably works teams who had the best of everything and tried electronic ignition at some time.

Most cars tend to run to the most recent specification that the class allows them (for performance and reliability reasons), so they can be acceptable even if they weren't initially built to their current spec.

#7 zac510

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Posted 09 October 2006 - 13:55

Originally posted by cosworth bdg
Has any person ever wondered around the pits at race meeting for historics and noticed how many cars don't have period ignition or period ignition systems???????


They should use old oil too. and don't even think about changing that filter ;)

#8 Sideways Dave

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Posted 09 October 2006 - 15:52

It is much the same in bike classic racing too, very few people have the 'real thing' out on track, most of it would be just too damned unreliable. It is nice to see genuine machinery on display but it is too rare to go racing with. My friend's Triumph sidecar outfit has one genuine Triumph part in the engine, the timing case!

#9 Roger Clark

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 18:40

As far as I know the magneto is unique among components in being explicitly mentioned in a Grand Prix formula. In 1906, cars had to have a maximum weight of 1,000 kgs or 1,007 if a magneto was fitted. There may be other examples in recent years, but not I think in times when the Grand Prix formula was comprehensible.

I believe that magnetos were pretty well universal in Grand Prix cars until 1961 when self-starters became mandatory. this required a battery, and the magneto's great advantage, of not requiring a separate source of electricity became irrelevant. Sports cars had had batteries, coils and distributors for many years before that. Electronic ignition first appeared on the BRM and Climax V8s in 1962.

Of course, I could be wrong about that.