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Magnetos, Ignition Coils and Spark Plugs Discussion about magnetos, buzz coils, spark plugs, ignitors and low tension coils.

Magnetos, Ignition Coils and Spark Plugs

Wico EK.....what have I missed?


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  #1  
Old 10-08-2015, 06:39:44 PM
George Andreasen George Andreasen is offline
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Default Wico EK.....what have I missed?

I rebuilt the Wico EK for my Alpha Delaval.........and I mean rebuilt.

Verified coil continuity.
Installed a new guide rod.
Installed a new armature bushing.
Installed new points/condenser. Set points BY EYE to break with armature at 3/32" (type 3 drive).
Recharged the magnets
Verified the armature pulls uniformly off the magnets.


All testing before mounting on the engine was done on a fixture in my vise. Using an end wrench, I pop the armature down quickly and the spark seems "ho hum". It's there, but kind of weak or puny. It is blue but sometimes hints of red. Still better than before, when it didn't work at all!

I mounted the EK on the engine and, with the spark plug out, spun the flywheels at a fair rate. The spark is consistent but if I turn the flywheels at a slow rate the armature doesn't seem all that energetic and I actually lose spark. Most of the drives I've worked on really snap the armature down quickly even at slow speeds, so I may have a drive spring issue too.


Besides replacing the drive spring, is there anything I might have missed? I'm thinking of checking the points again, this time using a meter to verify that they separate at exactly the right time.

Last edited by George Andreasen; 10-08-2015 at 07:00:01 PM.
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Old 10-08-2015, 07:54:41 PM
Tom G Tom G is offline
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Default Re: Wico EK.....what have I missed?

The mag needs to snap quickly to produce a good spark. Sometimes it can take some fine tuning on the trip mechanism to get the desired result.
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Old 10-08-2015, 08:25:11 PM
George Andreasen George Andreasen is offline
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Default Re: Wico EK.....what have I missed?

Thanks Tom......I just disassembled the drive and pulled the spring off. It has a "factory" end and a "modified" end. plus the wire gauge looks a little small to me. Obviously someone put on a "quicky" replacement years ago, so I'll make a trip to the hardware store tomorrow and find a better match...something with some beef to it.

When I snap the armature with a screwdriver the spark does seem better, but not anywhere close to the "jump a 1/4" gap" that I keep hearing about. I'll keep fooling with it and report back.
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Old 10-08-2015, 09:32:33 PM
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Dick Graybill Dick Graybill is offline
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Default Re: Wico EK.....what have I missed?

They work with a whole lot less than 1/4 inch gap.
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Old 10-08-2015, 10:52:48 PM
George Andreasen George Andreasen is offline
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Default Re: Wico EK.....what have I missed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Graybill View Post
They work with a whole lot less than 1/4 inch gap.
Oh, I know Dick. It was just an off the cuff comment. I've had several EK's and they're good magnetos, but I've never had one you could weld with!
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Old 10-09-2015, 10:08:25 AM
Andrew Mackey Andrew Mackey is offline
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Exclamation Re: Wico EK.....what have I missed?

The EK should produce a 1/4" spark, even at slow crank speed. Spark should be a bright blue and be fairly 'thick' A thin faint whitish or slightly purpleish spark may be weak coils. Latch off must be crisp (SNAP!), and open the armature by at least 1/4". The points must be clean and free of oil, and should just break when the armature is separated by about the width of a popsicle stick on both sides of the armature poles (3/32". A good test is to lay the mag on its back, on a wood table. Using a wide flat blade screw driver, quickly break the mag armature from the mag poles, while holding the spark plug wire off the case about 1/4" You may have to have a friend hold the mag case while you do this. If you don't get a good blue 1/4" spark, then further attention to the coils may be nescessary. It should also break evenly, not cocked to one side. On retard position, the mag should break right at TDC Compression. The return spring on the trip assembly should not interfere with the latch off. It only is meant to return the armature to the closed position. The trip mechanism should not bind on the mag armature, and there should be no paint on any of the rubbing surfaces. All metal to metal contact points should be free of paint. Make sure the roller inside the armature, where the trip arm meets the armature),turns freely. The mount screw is a shouldered screw. The roller must be able to turn. On some engines (Cushman for example), the roller is squared, to fit in the trip arm. It too must be able to turn within the mount. Binding will slow or even stop the mag from tripping quickly.

If you are not getting a 1/4" spark at low crank speed, then you won't get enough voltage to fire a plug under compression. A plug under compression, with fuel and air in the combustion chamber, needs a lot more pressure on the volt/amp side to jump the gap, than is needed to fire the plug out of the engine. Another thing to consider - a plug will NOT fire under compression, if wet with fuel! The new crap gas will short a plug under compression.. Sometimes, even a new plug will fail to spark under compression. recently, Champion had an issue with their insulators, and had many complaints of non-firing plugs, new out of the box.

Make sure that there is no paint on the latch off and return springs. Paint is a NO-NO! Lube the mag once a year with ! drop of electric motor oil. DO NOT OVER OIL THE MAG! 90% of spark failure in EKs is the result of over oiling. Make sure the back of the mag, where it meets the mounting bracket, is bare metal. The mag bracket where it meets the mag should also be bare metal. A light coat of grease when mounting will prevent corrosion at the mating surfaces. Make sure the ground tab inside the mag cover meets the coil button and is clean. Look for corrosion where the copper tab meets the mag case. be sure the spring on the lead out tower meets the coil button squarely. The bridge between the coils must also be clean and have no corrosion on the mounting points.

If you took the mag completely apart, did you dis-assemble the magnet pack? If so, did you make sure all poles of the magnets were at the asme end - all south and north poles at the asme end? If assembled N to S, the magnetic forces will cancel, weakening spark. All like poles are supposed to be at the same end on this mag. Did you charge the magnets yourself? If so, did you charge with the armature installed? The magnets should be charged with the armature installed,with a pencil placed between the armature and the coil poles, on both sides. The pencils should be removed immediately after charging. The mag should not sit with the armature removed. If this is done, the magnets can lose up to 80% of their charge within minutes!

EKs are probably one of the most reliable mags made. They were made for more than 15 years without changes.. If you follow the installation and maintainance set up directions, it will last many years without trouble.
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Old 10-09-2015, 08:53:07 PM
George Andreasen George Andreasen is offline
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Default Re: Wico EK.....what have I missed?

Thanks Andrew.........I got it! 50% of the problem was a weak latch off spring, giving a sluggish pull on the armature and 50% was the roller......it was too small and not forcing the armature far enough up to re latch.

I bought a new hardware store spring, matching the diameter and wire size by eye, then cut it slightly longer than the old spring. Suddenly the mag started snapping well and producing a good spark.

The roller was an original, but the space in the latch off arm was much wider. Not wear, just bigger. I machined a new bushing (I'll harden it tomorrow) and installed it. Now things really started to perk, with good latch off, good spark and good return.

I got brave and squirted an eye dropper of gas in the mixer and cranked the engine and it fired three times without missing a beat......which was enough, considering it was only sitting on my bench. No more running tests until the cart is finished!

Thanks again to everyone who replied. I think this EK will give years of service now.
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