Bat or Mag start?

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FieldMarshalRed
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Bat or Mag start?

Post by FieldMarshalRed » Sun Oct 25, 2020 8:04 pm

Would it be better to start the Model T with the key (or switch if 1916 model year or earlier)? Or would it be better to start the car with the key/switch on magneto?


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Re: Bat or Mag start?

Post by Darin Hull » Sun Oct 25, 2020 8:11 pm

I have a 6 volt system and hand crank start the 13T on battery.

I’m sure you’ll get a variety of answers since you can start on magneto... but it seems I’ve read most folks saying they start on battery then switch to magneto.

The battery’s voltage is constant so it’s simply a matter of getting the engine in the right position, which doesn’t take much effort. I love videos of folks hand cranking a T to see their approach as it doesn’t take much on battery. Some folks approach hand cranking a T with tenacity where as others have a lackadaisical approach which works just as well.

But the magneto’s voltage varies based off the speed the magnets pass the windings, so it takes more effort if you’re hand cranking on magneto to generate sufficient voltage for a spark.

As for starting with a starter, I don’t have one so someone who does can share what they do.
Darin

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Mark Gregush
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Re: Bat or Mag start?

Post by Mark Gregush » Sun Oct 25, 2020 8:46 pm

Even with the electric starter, the Ford manual suggested starting on magneto. Mine will start fine even without advancing the lever 4 notches on magneto.
I know the voices aren't real but damn they have some good ideas! :shock:

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Re: Bat or Mag start?

Post by Norman Kling » Sun Oct 25, 2020 8:52 pm

If your magneto is in good condition and provides at least 6 volts AC at idle, you can start it on mag. You will need to pull the crank very fast to get up the speed of revolution to produce a peak voltage because the magneto only works when the magnets are moving past the coils. If your magneto is not up to it, you can install a battery and switch to battery to start. You can even run on battery but it will not develop quite as much pulling power on battery as it would on magneto.
So the choice is yours to make. It will start if you pull up slowly on battery if the spark lever is set correctly, in fact it can even give a "free start" on battery if it happened to stop at the right place the last time it was run.
Anyway, with a good mag it will start on either magneto or battery, but easier on battery and that's why we start on battery and switch to magneto to drive. When you make the switch, do it quickly at idle. If you try to make the switch as you are driving along it will backfire out the exhaust and could even blow off the muffler.
Norm

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Re: Bat or Mag start?

Post by John kuehn » Sun Oct 25, 2020 9:01 pm

Lots of T’s in the brass era have been converted to use a starter. It’s done for the same reason Ford started using them in 1919. It makes thing a little easier for the T owner. It’s OK for me if you want to hand crank your car but remember what can happen if you forget to retard the spark lever. My 72 year old shoulder likes a starter pretty well.


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Re: Bat or Mag start?

Post by Altair » Mon Oct 26, 2020 11:12 am

There is a little more risk to injury starting on battery where as on magneto it will not kick back. If you leave too much advance it can bite on battery but not on mag. The final procedure of pulling over center is the same for both power sources. Some people chose to "spin" the crank on mag but it should start by just pulling over center if the mag is in good condition and timing is set correctly. There should be minimal to no risk of a kick back. A slight error on battery can break your arm or wrist.

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Re: Bat or Mag start?

Post by Steve Jelf » Mon Oct 26, 2020 11:52 am

Before the addition of the electric starter in 1919, every new Ford was sold without a battery. It came from the factory ready to start easily on magneto. But the coil box had a battery post, and the switch had a BAT position. How come? Because Ford was realistic enough to know that not every car would remain in like-new condition, or that not every owner would be in physical shape to turn the magneto fast enough for sufficient starting voltage. So the provision was made for the coils to get their current from a battery.

So is it better to start on MAG, or BAT? I don't think it matters. But in many cases BAT is easier.

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Re: Bat or Mag start?

Post by SurfCityGene » Mon Oct 26, 2020 1:15 pm

Randy, I see you live next door in Westminster. Feel free to contact me anytime or check out the two local T clubs here.
Orange County and Long Beach each are very active with garage days to work on members cars or telling stories and touring events. my # is 71four-488-60One3.
Hope to meet you and see your car!
Gene
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Re: Bat or Mag start?

Post by Stephen_heatherly » Mon Oct 26, 2020 1:25 pm

A T with a stock ignition system in good shape should easily on the magneto, but you do have to give the crank a good sharp pull to get it to start on mag. On battery you don't have to crank it over as quickly. I usually crank on battery then switch to mag. No matter how you start the engine always run it on magneto.

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Re: Bat or Mag start?

Post by bud delong » Tue Oct 27, 2020 2:05 pm

Because the mag is making current as ac the timer needs to be in the right place to mag start with the crank. I have two model T's i could not crank start on mag until i was tought how. Usually about 4 notches spark advance are needed to crank start on mag. :D Bud.

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Re: Bat or Mag start?

Post by Fordwright » Tue Oct 27, 2020 2:19 pm

The Model T magneto was unregulated and provided AC voltages from 0-30V. The addition of dry cells did make starting easier, particularly if wired in series to provide over 6 volts DC. This was particularly useful in cold weather, but without a battery, a burly man could still crank the engine hard enough to provide sufficient spark.

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Re: Bat or Mag start?

Post by Dan B » Tue Oct 27, 2020 2:53 pm

My T performs great on magneto but I have a very hard time starting it on magneto even if I have the spark lever set right. I thought maybe it was my hand cranking technique but I can’t even start it using the starter to crank the engine with the switch set on mag.

I wish it wasn’t the case but I decided eventually to stop losing sleep over it.
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Re: Bat or Mag start?

Post by Steve Jelf » Tue Oct 27, 2020 3:27 pm

I can’t even start it using the starter to crank the engine with the switch set on mag.

I suspect because the starter isn't turning it fast enough. On BAT it doesn't have to turn fast, but on MAG it does.
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Re: Bat or Mag start?

Post by Susanne » Wed Oct 28, 2020 3:49 pm

Even worse, I will pull the car over slowly, letting each spark plug buzz merrily in it's respective cylinder for a few seconds each, THEN go through the whole starting regimen. Not sure why it helps (burns carbon off the plugs? warms up the cylinder?) but it makes a difference in cold weather.


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Re: Bat or Mag start?

Post by Altair » Wed Oct 28, 2020 4:11 pm

In the early days in one of the local fire halls they had an engine that had to be cranked and to assist they would park it on a ramp in the fire hall and roll it down for starting and it worked well, it still had a crank if that failed. Some of the engine had pulse mags that gave a large spark even when turned slowly, just over center was all it needed.


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Re: Bat or Mag start?

Post by Norman Kling » Wed Oct 28, 2020 4:57 pm

I suspect the reason for the battery terminal on the switch of the early cars is for setting the timing and checking that each coil vibrates in proper order, because you can turn on the battery and slowly crank over the engine and tell exactly where the spark is in relation to the piston position. It may or may not have been for running the car on battery.
Norm

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