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A guy at the local tractor place tried to sell me a battery ignition to replace my magneto. I decided against it mainly because I want it the way it came off the line, but I'm wondering what your opinion is since you (or someone before you) ditched the magneto. Other than fewer moving parts, is there an advantage? Probably not fair to ask you since you're having trouble...
A lot of folks have the Battery Ignition Package. It was an option available sometime in 1950 IIRC. I do not believe that there is an advantage at all, in fact I convert mine back to magnetos. If the Cub should come with a battery ignition/distributor and isn't 12 volt - it goes back, if it is 12 volt from the factory then it would stay. This is just my preference - mostly because magnetos have an advantage over distributors - they generate their own spark and do not need a battery to start the tractor - just a hand crank. Of course the magneto must be working correctly just as a distributor must.
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The only reason for changing out to a battery ignition is, the magneto is broken and can't be fixed. That's my opinion on it.
Back in the day when these tractors were the main breadwinners on farms, and were used several hundred hours a year, the distributor ignition was a simpler, more reliable option. Battery ignitions are more tolerant of neglect than magnetos, which was a problem on farms where more important tasks took precedence over proper equipment maintenance (i.e. caring for livestock, planting/harvesting crops, gathering firewood).
Due to how little we really use our Cubs these days I would put magnetos and battery ignitions about on par with each other as far as reliability. If you've got a good mag, keep it. If it's flakey, get it fixed.
Big advantage of a battery powered ignition. $20- or less for a spare set of points and condenser. An hour to repair and any open auto parts store will have a replacement coil if needed. Magneto, if you have anything other than a minor problem, gonna take quite a bit of time and money to repair.
Kinda like the other guys. If it works don't fix it.
I have an excuse. CRS.
Magneto is also $20 or less for points and condenser, just to clarify. But if you need something beyond that, Eugene is right; coils are much higher, plastic parts are unreasonable, and there is still a bit of mystery in knowing if you have a "good" magneto or not. On the J4's several parts are no longer available, so it takes a donor.
Thankfully, a fair number of people on this board prefer battery ignition, so donors are available. Me , I own 3 cubs that all have a good rebuilt magneto on them, anywhere from 3-5 years old since rebuild. Each cub will start with hand crank on 3-5 tries, no matter what. I know this because I don't have a good 6 volt battery in a single one, just a 5 year old battery that won't charge up enough to turn the starter. I won't give up my magnetos until there are no parts left to be found.
The rest of my opinion is, if you're going to distributor, then go ahead with the electronic conversion, and get rid of points/condenser. The reliability and performance will approach that of a good mag!
'52 Cub ("Great Personality") 148xxx
'48 Cub with FH ("Gunny Cub") 38xxx
'57 Lambretta (a slow work in progress)
'74 Triumph TR6 (Mama's toy)
I have an H with a mag. About 2 pulls on the hand crank is all it takes. I would only use the crank if I had ole Billy Ray to twist it over for me when I wanted to crank it up.
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February 14 & 15, 2014
A good working Magneto is hard to beat. My 49 Cub starts on the 2nd crack everytime. Living on these country roads here in Missouri, I ride mine to church, about 1/2 mile away, and the kids think is pretty neat to watch me hand crank it. I have a battery in it but its just for looks, dead as a door nail. A good tune up and get the timing right, they're hard to beat.
If there is a wrong way to do it, I'll find it.
Back in the early 70's our mag quit. Dad needed the tractor going,the dealer sold him a distributor,I'm guessing they had a kit? And I'd bet price was an issue too,a distributor must have been cheaper.For some reason the dealer wanted the mag back too. Never could tell the difference. I'm 57 now have not used the crank since I was 12,so a bad battery has never been an issue
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