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Old 03-26-2020, 10:56 AM   #1
tubman
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Default Need for early condensers?

I have been working off and on with "Karl" in New Zealand on a replacement condenser for his 1934 Ford. As we all know, he has gotten extremely busy lately, and I don't want to interrupt him or his very important work. (Dealing with the problem of sending parts around the world didn't help either.) I am already working with a member here on a '37-'41 replacement, so this mainly concerns the '32-'36 version.

With the experience my partner and I have gotten with our "trash can" condensers, we figure we can come up with an extremely reliable replacement if the demand is there. I would like to get feedback on several things from the members of the board. First, is there a need for good quality replacement condensers for these cars? Second, at the quantities we produce, we have to get about $50 to justify the labor involved; is this a reasonable price point? Third, when we get into this, it would be nice to have someone close to Minnesota (or at least in the U.S.) to field test these. Lastly, I wonder if someone has a scrap '32-'36 coil they would be able to donate so that we can test for proper fitment. I am an 8BA guy and my partner is not an old car guy, so we are kind of flying blind at this point. A mock-up sure would help.

Thanks in advance for hearing me out. It will be interesting get your responses.
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Old 03-26-2020, 11:13 AM   #2
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Default Re: Need for early condensers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tubman View Post
I have been working off and on with "Karl" in New Zealand on a replacement condenser for his 1934 Ford. As we all know, he has gotten extremely busy lately, and I don't want to interrupt him or his very important work. (Dealing with the problem of sending parts around the world didn't help either.) I am already working with a member here on a '37-'41 replacement, so this mainly concerns the '32-'36 version.

With the experience my partner and I have gotten with our "trash can" condensers, we figure we can come up with an extremely reliable replacement if the demand is there. I would like to get feedback on several things from the members of the board. First, is there a need for good quality replacement condensers for these cars? Second, at the quantities we produce, we have to get about $50 to justify the labor involved; is this a reasonable price point? Third, when we get into this, it would be nice to have someone close to Minnesota (or at least in the U.S.) to field test these. Lastly, I wonder if someone has a scrap '32-'36 coil they would be able to donate so that we can test for proper fitment. I am an 8BA guy and my partner is not an old car guy, so we are kind of flying blind at this point. A mock-up sure would help.

Thanks in advance for hearing me out. It will be interesting get your responses.
I'd gladly donate a coil.. I have a solution for the 32-36 condenser for the last few months that has been serving me well. The 37-41's are of no issue for me to get. However I'd gladly buy yours if you come up with a solution for the 32-36's

What I have been doing for the 32-36's is taking our reproduction Model A condenser (made by standard and high quality), removing the bracket and soldering on a bracket from a original 32-36 condenser
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Old 03-26-2020, 11:23 AM   #3
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Default Re: Need for early condensers?

Tubman if you come up short send me an email.
I found another box of "cores" if you need more...
$50 for a product that looks right works right and comes with a solid warranty is good...if you have to go buy 5 dodgy condensors to find one good...but you donīt know when it fails...thatīs gonna cost more in the long run.
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Old 03-26-2020, 11:43 AM   #4
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Default Re: Need for early condensers?

What I have been doing for the 32-36's is taking our reproduction Model A condenser (made by standard and high quality), removing the bracket and soldering on a bracket from a original 32-36 condenser[/QUOTE]

Would the MFD of the Model A condenser be equal to that of the original 32-36?
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Old 03-26-2020, 11:54 AM   #5
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Default Re: Need for early condensers?

Michael,

Thanks for your feedback. It's exactly what I was looking for. Since I am not involved with the earlier cars, I really didn't have any idea what was available. It sounds like there is a viable solution, and I don't want to waste anyone's time "re-inventing the wheel". We were originally going to "rebuild" existing condensers by removing the "guts" and replacing them with a better capacitor, but there seems to be a limit on the number of cores available and the old cases are delicate (not to say at least 75 years old) and sometimes disintegrate when we try to disassemble them. There is also a "size vs. capacity" problem; the modern capacitors with the specifications we want are too big to fit in the old cases. The heat from re-soldering them can also pose problems. I will take you up on your offer of a coil as we are flying blind on fitment issues. I'll PM you with the details.

Murre, thanks for the offer; I knew I could count on you, but there's still the cost of shipping. I'll keep you apprised of the situation and will probably take you up on the offer of cores.
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Old 03-26-2020, 12:31 PM   #6
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Default Re: Need for early condensers?

Tubman what you got from me was NOS ford script condensors...so if you can rebuild them you got a points restauration product to sell...not a replacement that just works fine...but also looks perfect...i think there will be a market for it.
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Old 03-26-2020, 12:40 PM   #7
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Default Re: Need for early condensers?

Tubman,
The model a condenser conversion I am discussing , when installed looks identical to a original the diameter of the condenser is slightly smaller but otherwise looks spot on... However I would buy yours if you had a solution.. The NEW Model A's are .29 Mfd and the originals are .34-.39. For reference the condenser Bubba's myself and everyone uses on the 42-48's are .31 Mfd. Long story short the capacitance of the Model A's is not spot on but they work just fine.

If you are able to rebuild or replicate originals I would love to stock them. If you plan to rebuild originals, cores are plentiful and I likely have at minimum a hundred of them.
PM me your address and I'll send you a little care package.

PS if you are going to get into this, the V-12 condensers would be a need as well, now those cores are hard to find.
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Old 03-26-2020, 01:00 PM   #8
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Default Re: Need for early condensers?

If it helps Tubman
I would be in the market for two to three right off the bat and two more at some point when those restorations hit the shop. The main thing for the first one is that it last "sitting" as it will be on a strictly show car and be sitting a good bit BUT would want to have confidence that when it was "show time" that the condenser was going to be a NON issue and the car NOT show its ass when its time to run!!!!
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Old 03-26-2020, 02:34 PM   #9
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Default Re: Need for early condensers?

Ford list all of the V8 era 4Cyl ignition condenser as 0.20 to 0.25 mfd. All the V8, I can find a rating for, are listed as 0.33 to 0.36 mfd. Will the 4 Cyl. work yes for a while but there is about a 30% difference in rating. expect distributor point arcing and shorter life.
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Old 03-26-2020, 07:49 PM   #10
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Default Re: Need for early condensers?

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Ford list all of the V8 era 4Cyl ignition condenser as 0.20 to 0.25 mfd. All the V8, I can find a rating for, are listed as 0.33 to 0.36 mfd. Will the 4 Cyl. work yes for a while but there is about a 30% difference in rating. expect distributor point arcing and shorter life.
I agree. You shouldn’t replace. .33-.36mfd unit with a .24mfd Pretty big difference . The issue becomes more of looks rather than actual performance.!!!!
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Old 03-26-2020, 08:04 PM   #11
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Default Re: Need for early condensers?

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Originally Posted by BUBBAS IGNITION View Post
I agree. You shouldn’t replace. .33-.36mfd unit with a .24mfd Pretty big difference . The issue becomes more of looks rather than actual performance.!!!!
If you have Skip Haney rebuild your coil, would the mfd requirement stay the same? Or would it just be a crap shoot until you figured out which side of the points was losing or gaining material?
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Old 03-26-2020, 08:23 PM   #12
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Default Re: Need for early condensers?

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Originally Posted by BUBBAS IGNITION View Post
I agree. You shouldn’t replace. .33-.36mfd unit with a .24mfd Pretty big difference . The issue becomes more of looks rather than actual performance.!!!!
Jim,
I presume you use the modern Echlin condensers for the 42-48's. The test nearly identical (.02MFD difference) compared to the NEW Model A's

I've used .31 Mfd condensers on all my 42-48 distributors with zero issues after many thousand miles. I would prefer a .35ish Mfd condenser but until Tubmans involvement that hasn't happened.
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Old 03-26-2020, 08:30 PM   #13
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Default Re: Need for early condensers?

Bubba,

I have been pretty seriously into this for the last 4 or 5 years, and haven't see any discernible difference between a low .20's and mid .30's micro-farad condenser on a points ignition. I have never seen any difference in performance and I haven't run any for enough miles( >20,000) to see any difference in point wear. What do you base your statement on? My first prototype had a .047 micro-farad capacitor (it was all I had at the time) and the engine ran perfect. From everything I've experienced, the rating of the condenser (withing reason) has very little effect on the system. It is more important that it is stable and is built robust enough (a high DV/DT rating) to withstand the continuous rapid recycling occurring in an automotive ignition system. I would expect that there is enough variation in coils (caused by age and differences in construction) to make a minor difference in condenser capacitance moot.

Perhaps down the line, I will get a complaint from someone that their points were shot at 25,000 miles, but I haven't seen it yet.
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Old 03-27-2020, 10:59 AM   #14
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Default Re: Need for early condensers?

[QUOTE=tubman;1866569]Bubba,

I have been pretty seriously into this for the last 4 or 5 years, and haven't see any discernible difference between a low .20's and mid .30's micro-farad condenser on a points ignition. I have never seen any difference in performance and I haven't run any for enough miles( >20,000) to see any difference in point wear. What do you base your statement on? My first prototype had a .047 micro-farad capacitor (it was all I had at the time) and the engine ran perfect. From everything I've experienced, the rating of the condenser (withing reason) has very little effect on the system. It is more important that it is stable and is built robust enough (a high DV/DT rating) to withstand the continuous rapid recycling occurring in an automotive ignition system. I would expect that there is enough variation in coils (caused by age and differences in construction) to make a minor difference in condenser capacitance moot.

I agree your condensors have been very good . However we need to be a little more exact in our testing, i bought and built my 60 engine stand to do exactly that then got sick , i am getting better every day and will get some running engine scope dsiplays showing the effects of a good versus marginal or under over condensor .....
This waveform shows the exact coil action from build up to discharge , this is just a example from my software .......
By the way you can go to www.picotech.com and download their software with out having the scope , select automotive and they have example waveform tech notes etc >>>>
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File Type: jpg x1_primary_current.jpg (19.5 KB, 30 views)
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Old 03-27-2020, 11:16 AM   #15
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Default Re: Need for early condensers?

Itīs not like that less cylinders need less capacitance...or something like that...
Itīs about rpm and dwell mostly.
Low rpm single cylinder engines have condensors in the .5mF range.
Look at the condensor as a catch tank and the points leaking out spark as they open...lower rpm more time for leakage and you need a bigger condensor to not have it overflow causing points to arc...then you have to drain it back and if you have to much to poor in a to short time...not good either.
dual points depending on if 4 or 8 lobe gives you a better dwell (timespan to charge coil) and then that is also affecting value of condensor.
My guess is that ford on the early engines aimed more for good starting conditions since the coils donīt have a huge reserve then high rpm performance.
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Old 03-27-2020, 11:46 AM   #16
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Default Re: Need for early condensers?

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Bubba,

I have been pretty seriously into this for the last 4 or 5 years, and haven't see any discernible difference between a low .20's and mid .30's micro-farad condenser on a points ignition. I have never seen any difference in performance and I haven't run any for enough miles( >20,000) to see any difference in point wear. What do you base your statement on? My first prototype had a .047 micro-farad capacitor (it was all I had at the time) and the engine ran perfect. From everything I've experienced, the rating of the condenser (withing reason) has very little effect on the system. It is more important that it is stable and is built robust enough (a high DV/DT rating) to withstand the continuous rapid recycling occurring in an automotive ignition system. I would expect that there is enough variation in coils (caused by age and differences in construction) to make a minor difference in condenser capacitance moot.

Perhaps down the line, I will get a complaint from someone that their points were shot at 25,000 miles, but I haven't seen it yet.

I just had a distributor in here last week. It was built by bubba's. There were no issues, the customer just wanted me to check and reset the dwell and timing and check the condenser, etc as he had put 18,000 miles on it. All was well with the distributor and it tested well. The LH points had only a small burn mark that I was able to clean and reuse. The condenser tested at .30 Mfd. While Ford may have used a .38 ish condenser, if points are lasting 18,000 miles at .30 with no serious craters then I would have no concerns.

I would be more concerned in a coil. If tubman sent me a .25 condenser I would run it with ZERO worries.

Also I may be thinking wrong, but I would only be concerned with these condensers if a person were not using the proper primary resistance as in too low...
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Old 03-27-2020, 12:31 PM   #17
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Default Re: Need for early condensers?

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Originally Posted by flatheadmurre View Post
Itīs not like that less cylinders need less capacitance...or something like that...
Itīs about rpm and dwell mostly.
Low rpm single cylinder engines have condensers in the .5mF range.

Look at the condenser as a catch tank and the points leaking out spark as they open...lower rpm more time for leakage and you need a bigger condenser to not have it overflow causing points to arc...then you have to drain it back and if you have to much to poor in a to short time...not good either.
dual points depending on if 4 or 8 lobe gives you a better dwell (timespan to charge coil) and then that is also affecting value of condenser.
My guess is that ford on the early engines aimed more for good starting conditions since the coils donīt have a huge reserve then high rpm performance.
Murre,

This makes sense to me. In my "travels" I have been able to obtain a few larger "Trash Can" condensers. They are very similar to the regular Mallory units, but are about 30% larger and have what appears to be stainless steel cases. The top insulated "cap" looks like reddish fibre-board rather than the black plastic (bakelite) used in the regular Mallory's. When I asked on the H.A.M.B., I was told that they were also made by Mallory and were intended for use in trucks and buses. They all tested in the .45-.47 range. Truck and bus engines tend to rev lower than contemporary automobile engines, so this seems to be in line with your statement.

Determining proper condenser capacitance is kind of a "black art". Several things, however, lead me to the conclusion that the exact value is unimportant. First is the fact that over the years I have seen all kinds of odd combinations of condensers hanging off the side of all kinds of distributors on cars that ran just fine. Second, Mallory supplied the same condenser (.36 micro-farads) for years on all of their performance ignition systems; 4, 6, or 8 cylinder, 4 or 8 lobe cam, and conversion plates for stock distributors, and designed to run in all kinds of RPM ranges. Third The fact that I have never heard of anyone having to "tune" a condenser to an ignition system, not even during the "Super Stock Wars". Fourth, my own experience in developing my units.

If anyone as any concrete information pertaining to this, I would sure like to know about it. We are looking for a suitable capacitor in the mid-thirties range that will fit our packaging and have the suitable characteristics required to survive under hard use and bad conditions, but so far no luck.
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Old 03-27-2020, 02:25 PM   #18
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Default Re: Need for early condensers?

There is more to this than protecting the points. The condenser and the coil form an LC circuit.

"The LC circuit produces a damped, oscillating current which bounces energy between the capacitor’s electric field and the ignition coil’s magnetic field. The oscillating current in the coil’s primary produces an oscillating magnetic field in the coil. This extends the high voltage pulse at the output of the secondary windings. This continues beyond the time of the initial field collapse pulse. The oscillation continues until the circuit’s energy is consumed."

These systems (circuits) are designed to meet specific criteria. You can get an ignition system to work with odds and ends components, but that doesn't make it a well designed system. Is it a major concern on an early Ford car? Guess everyone needs to decide where the trade off is between good enough and better. But, these ignitions were originally designed with the better in mind.
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Old 03-27-2020, 02:57 PM   #19
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Default Re: Need for early condensers?

That's all well and good Mr. Seery, but I am not aware of any way to quantify it and make judgements on what is good and bad short of analyzing the deposition pattern on the points. The stuff "Bubba" posted is interesting as well, but what's good and what's bad? A quicker rise on the graph? A slower one? A higher peak value. A lower one? There was a discussion on the H.A.M.B. about a year ago about increasing engine performance by making condenser changes. It slowly ground to a halt, because no one seemed to have any definitive knowledge and the general consensus ended up where I am now.

I will still maintain that all other things being equal, and engine will run fine over a large range of capacitances. You may end of paying for it in point life. Or maybe not. I know I'd rather change points every 10,000 miles as they slowly deteriorate rather than have a condenser expire quickly any old time it feels like it.

If any of you electronical geniuses out there can set me straight, I sure would like to know more about it, but as of now, I'm stickin' to my guns.
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Old 03-27-2020, 03:18 PM   #20
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Default Re: Need for early condensers?

That's what engineers are for, if it was simple anyone could and would be doing it! The best reference point is to look at what the factory engineers did. They spent a lot of time, money, effort and smarts developing the original systems. The point was IMO just arbitrarily changing components is not always the best approach.
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