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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

1955 Allis-Chalmers WD-45 Magneto


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  #1  
Old 12-06-2012, 08:51:30 AM
danielb59 danielb59 is offline
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Default 1955 Allis-Chalmers WD-45 Magneto

I am a complete novice at this sort of thing so here goes. I only recently found out that my old tractor is fired by a magneto. The tractor has been previously converted to 12 volt, but that shouldn't make a difference to the magneto, I think. Anyway, the tractor has suddenly decided to not run. In my inspection, I found that all the wiring insulation is rotting and falling apart. I have ordered a new wiring harness.
I took the magneto (Fairbanks Morse FMX-4B) apart and detected a burned wiring smell. I removed all the components and filed the points and then reassembled everything. Miraculously, the tractor cranked.........twice. Now, it will not hit at all even though the starter is functioning properly. Everything has been taken loose except the magneto, the battery and starter. there is no other wiring on the tractor presently.
Where do I start troubleshooting the magneto? I have looked at a couple of diagrams and can now name the parts, but I'm not sure which parts may be the culprits. My uneducated guess is that the coil has gone bad, particularly based on the burning wiring smell that I mentioned earlier.

Anyway, looking for advice from folks smarter than me in these matters.
Thanks in advance.
Dan
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  #2  
Old 12-06-2012, 11:45:31 AM
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Elden DuRand Elden DuRand is offline
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Default Re: 1955 Allis-Chalmers WD-45 Magneto

Dan:

Mags are finicky about cleanliness of the points. After pulling very fine -sand-paper through them, pull some quality paper card stock through them to remove all the remaining grit. You can actually get a little polish on them if you do it right.

Now, replace the condenser! This could be your problem and is a cheap fix. If these two things don't get it right, only then consider replacing the coil.

Good luck!
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Old 12-06-2012, 01:44:54 PM
Jerry Sweet Jerry Sweet is offline
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Default Re: 1955 Allis-Chalmers WD-45 Magneto

Is there a chance, that with all the bad wiring,the magneto kill wire("P" lead),could have come in contact with a "hot" 12 volt wire and fried the magneto coil?
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Old 12-06-2012, 02:23:53 PM
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Default Re: 1955 Allis-Chalmers WD-45 Magneto

Or that they were using the mag. points as a Distributer & running juice through them?
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Old 12-06-2012, 06:43:44 PM
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Default Re: 1955 Allis-Chalmers WD-45 Magneto

If the magneto wasn't being used only as a battery ignition distributor with external battery type ignition coil and you hooked 12V onto it with the original magneto coil hooked then CONGRATULATIONS you fried your magneto coil !
Magnetos make their own power never needing external battery power ! Connecting battery voltage to a magneto will fry the coil, burn the points off and can even ruin the magnet !
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Old 12-06-2012, 08:18:10 PM
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Default Re: 1955 Allis-Chalmers WD-45 Magneto

A lot of conjecture and finger pointing going on, what is needed is a few pictures of the componets. BTW if it has a mag it's not a WD45, probably a WD as the 45 wasn't equiped with a mag, only the factory distributor, the mag dosen't bolt up to the 45 mount. F.J.W.
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Old 12-06-2012, 08:53:07 PM
danielb59 danielb59 is offline
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Default Re: 1955 Allis-Chalmers WD-45 Magneto

All good to know, especially the part about the tractor not be a WD-45. It was sold to me as a 45, but the paint was in such bad shape that I couldn't tell.

Anyway, just got back in and it is dark. Tomorrow, I will take the magneto apart and take a few photos and submit for your reviews.

Also, it is very possible that 12 volts from the battery shorted through the magneto prior to all these issues. A few days ago I found the battery stone cold dead and couldn't figure out the reason. Later, I realized that the wiring was all rotted and had likely shorted. The proximity of the kill switch and other wiring lends credence to the possibility of shorting through the magneto. The plot is thickening.

BTW, if the tractor is a WD and not a WD-45, can the wiring harness that I have ordered work or should I just plan on returning it when it arrives and ordering another?

Thanks
Dan
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Old 12-06-2012, 10:03:33 PM
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Default Re: 1955 Allis-Chalmers WD-45 Magneto

The wiring is very similar, the difference would be the hot feed for the distributor as opposed to the ground for the mag. Another teletale for the 45 is the gear shift handle should curve towards the driver on top as opposed to a straight stick on the WD. It's possible that someone replaced the motor with an earlier one but they usually did the opposite and replaced the older ones with the newer version to improve things. F.J.W.
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Old 12-06-2012, 10:12:23 PM
danielb59 danielb59 is offline
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Default Re: 1955 Allis-Chalmers WD-45 Magneto

I just checked a few things. The serial number is WD 127026. The gear shift lever curves rearward. There is a 6 bolt plate on the right side of the engine block. Plus the magneto. I think that I have a WD, not a 45. It probably wouldn't have made any difference at the time of purchase, but I would like to have known. The gentleman who sold it to me probably didn't know the difference, either. He likely told me what he was told and never questioned the original seller. I still love my tractor, though, regardless of its ancestry......can't wait to get it running again.
Thanks
Dan
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Old 12-07-2012, 12:39:11 AM
Jerry Sweet Jerry Sweet is offline
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Default Re: 1955 Allis-Chalmers WD-45 Magneto

My Allis-Chalmers book shows that the 1953 "WD" S.N. started with 127007 and ended with #131242.The first year for the "WD-45" was 1953 and the numbers started with #146607 and ended with #160385.The numbers are located on top of the left differential brake housing.

---------- Post added at 11:39 PM ---------- Previous post was at 11:31 PM ----------

Your tractor must have been the 19th tractor built in 1953.they built th "WD" through 1954 (#131243 to #160384).
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Old 12-07-2012, 12:54:36 AM
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Default Re: 1955 Allis-Chalmers WD-45 Magneto

The very late WD's did have the helical cut trans. gears & the curved shifter.
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Old 12-07-2012, 01:29:08 AM
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Default Re: 1955 Allis-Chalmers WD-45 Magneto

It looks like they intermingled the numbers of the "WD" and "WD-45" in 1954(the last year of the "WD" and second year of the "WD-45")

---------- Post added at 12:16 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:07 AM ----------

In those transition years they must have just used one set of numbers and if you had one engine it was called a 'WD'and if you had the other engine,it was called a "WD-45).

---------- Post added at 12:29 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:16 AM ----------

Dan:If they used a alternator instead of a generator when they made the 12 volt conversion you may have to modify your wiring harness anyway.It may have to have an extra wire to excite the alternator.
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Old 12-07-2012, 07:42:34 AM
danielb59 danielb59 is offline
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Default Re: 1955 Allis-Chalmers WD-45 Magneto

Man, you guys are smart. I'm just sorry that it has taken me a while to find this forum.
Based on your responses I believe that I do indeed have a WD, not a 45. Also, when the wiring harness arrives, I will try to adjust it for the 45 which, based on your responses, I believe will work.
The points spring in the magneto appears to have been significantly heated due to discoloration. Therefore, the coil was likely fried, too. I intend to order a set of points and a condenser first. If that doesn't fix it, then I will order a new coil.

That's the plan. I am going to have spinal surgery on Monday and will out of pocket for a while, and will likely have to postpone some of the installations until I am significantly healed.
Thanks to everyone who posted. You have been a big help.
Dan
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Old 12-20-2012, 02:33:02 PM
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Default Re: 1955 Allis-Chalmers WD-45 Magneto

Yep, you most certainly have a very, very late WD. My '50 WD has a straight shift lever, and straight cut gears... and the sound is unmistakeable. Mine has a distributor, but many had magnetos, and in many ways, I prefer the magneto... I've seen WD-45's with magnetos, and the swap between magneto and distributor ignition systems is not difficult, so it wouldnt' suprise me to see either, and in the case of a failed magneto coil, wouldn't surprise me to see someone using the mag's points and rotor, but with a distributor system's ignition coil to provide fire. Cool thing about that concept, is you'd get the impulser's timing-retard when hand starting!

Rotting wiring harnesses are prevalent for these gals... and I can't fault 'em... they're what... over half-a-century old now.

If you've got blue'd contact points on the mag, the coil's also been put to a world of hurt. It's at that point when I take my magnetos over to a local guy who's got an excellent cleaning, rebuilding, and testing process to give it a thorough going-through. The key being, he can accurately measure the amount of advance (the impulser) as well as spark energy, condenser value (regardless of how they're marked, they're always questionable 'till you test 'em), and finally, he can set 'em on his machine and let 'em spin for a half hour to make sure that not only are they working, but they continue working after many, many cycles.

Someday, I'll build myself a test-bench setup for magnetos... but at the moment, I need to get some concrete down in the tractor shop floor!
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