Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 22

Thread: Best Electronic Ignition for Chief? - Had it With Condensers

Hybrid View

Previous Post Previous Post   Next Post Next Post
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Saltsburg PA
    Posts
    354

    Default Best Electronic Ignition for Chief? - Had it With Condensers

    I like the simplicity of the points ignition but have had it with poor quality condensers that have inconsistent life spans. Yea I can change it along the road easy enough but you can't pick where or when its going to fail. The only time the Chief has let me down in 7 years is because of condensers going bad.

    Is there a consensus who makes the best electronic ignition for the Chief?
    In past I've seen good reviews here and on CAI about Clyde Crouches unit. Who distributes those? Also saw one made by IPE - Indian Parts Europe that's been around awhile which has an LED to simplify timing setting.

    Thanks
    Jason Z
    AMCA #21594
    Near Pittsburgh PA (Farm Country)
    Allegheny Mountain Chapter http://amcaamc.com/

  2. #2

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Skirted View Post
    I like the simplicity of the points ignition but have had it with poor quality condensers that have inconsistent life spans. Yea I can change it along the road easy enough but you can't pick where or when its going to fail. The only time the Chief has let me down in 7 years is because of condensers going bad.
    ...
    I was just thinking about condensers myself Jason. Not just for my ‘41 Chief, but my ‘59 Jeep, my ‘68 Dodge, my ‘73 Guzzi, etc. They’re all crap. But my thought was, they’re just capacitors, right? When I was working on magnetos for my PowerPlus, BoschZEV sent me some modern capacitors that were properly spec’d to replace the old condenser in the magnetos. Couldn’t the same thing be done with battery ignitions?

    BoschZEV, are you out there? We need you man! What do you think?


    Kevin

    .
    1916 Indian Powerplus - Cannonball Bike
    1941 Indian Chief - Sonny
    1964 Triumph TR6 - 50 year ISDT Tribute
    1969 BMW R60US
    1973 Moto Guzzi Eldorado
    Etcetera

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Vermont
    Posts
    753

    Default

    Traitor! But seriously Jason, that would be a bummer to keep having them fail, especially if that's all that's ever happened. A good friend of mine converted his '41 Chief to electronic, and sure enough it failed one time when we were riding... and there was nothing we could do to fix it except send me back to my place to pick up some parts and put the points back in so he could ride home. He wound up getting a replacement unit and re-installed the electronics and has had many happy miles since, probably just a freak occurrence! ...of course I don't recall the type of electronic ignition he went with (I could find out) but it doesn't matter since I think that failure was pretty much an anomaly and it shouldn't keep you from considering that brand.

    Only problem I've had with my points ignition is dirty points, clean and go... but you're right, there's no control over when they let you down!
    Pisten Bulley is Harry Roberts in Vermont.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Illinois
    Posts
    273

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by pisten-bully View Post

    Only problem I've had with my points ignition is dirty points, clean and go... but you're right, there's no control over when they let you down!
    Here is another weak spot with points: I forgot to lube the cam, and the dry cam wore down the follower so much that the points would not open. This was an A.B.A.T.E. party weekend, and my '48 Chief was just about the coolest bike there. Well, it was cool until I got ~1/2 way home. Fortunately, a biker buddy with an empty trailer came along and hauled me and the Chief home. With my new electronic ignition, that particular problem will never happen again!
    George Tinkham
    Springfield, IL
    www.virmc.com

    1941 Indian 841
    1948 Indian Chief
    1956 H-D KHK
    1960 CH
    1964 BMW R69S
    1966 Honda Touring Benly (aka "150 Dream")
    1984 Moto Guzzi V65Sp

  5. #5

    Default

    Howdy chaps,

    If you search electronic ignition here or at Caimag, I covered this one before. Modern point applications assume much higher rpm, multiple points cams and assumption the points block will be running on mirror hard chromed finish on said points cam, therefore spring tensions are set high and rapid wear can be an issue.

    Hall sensor like as units as in Clyde Crouch’s are nearly bullet proof with minimal accommodation. Their longevity can be ensured for a fastidious owner only by fusing them. The primitive thermally activated HD sourced circuit breakers commonly seen at the battery ground strap connection to the back of the trans case flange on Indians are unacceptable for electronics, and I would even say for a now fragile 75 year old auto lite generator. If one isn’t inclined to fuse the whole system at 10-15 amps then at least install an inline 10 amp mini fuse under the full tank where the power source for the sensor exits the ignition wire tube.

    Nothing lasts forever, after 20 plus years in four different machines without a hint of problems when inquiring with Clyde at the donkey barn in March about whether I might just replace the more often used ones as a precaution he mentioned potential failure would be linked to heat. That is a valid concern with my Knuckle with its timer tucked in by the exhaust header but Chiefs, running theirs out in the wind, operate far cooler.

  6. #6

    Default

    For my use, I won’t be putting a ton of miles on the Chief so the points should be fine. I’ll keep a spare set and a condenser with me. Btw, one of my cars has an MSD electronic ignition and it has failed. But the points on my old Vette never left me stranded. The aftermarket electronic ignitions aren’t as reliable as the integrated system on a modern car.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Saltsburg PA
    Posts
    354

    Default

    Here is what I ended up doing. Started with original Indian condenser as I like the curved mounting bracket that hugs the distributor and the cans are cad plated brass. Cut open can with Dremel and removed contents. After cutting open a modern NAPA Echlin and making the internal comparison, the original is superior in every way. Easy to see why new ones don't last likely succumbing to vibration as they are not packed tight and use very cheap materials.
    Drilled hole in the side of the can and stuck one lead of condenser through from inside out and soldered. Reused the original black cap and ran the other lead through it. Filled can with RTV, let dry and then crimped edges over to hold cap in place. Reused the original ring terminal because they are heaver gauge than modern terminals. Only time will tell on this but am optimistic.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Skirted; 09-06-2019 at 08:54 AM.
    Jason Z
    AMCA #21594
    Near Pittsburgh PA (Farm Country)
    Allegheny Mountain Chapter http://amcaamc.com/

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2018
    Location
    Reno NV
    Posts
    205

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Skirted View Post
    I like the simplicity of the points ignition but have had it with poor quality condensers that have inconsistent life spans. Yea I can change it along the road easy enough but you can't pick where or when its going to fail. The only time the Chief has let me down in 7 years is because of condensers going bad.

    Is there a consensus who makes the best electronic ignition for the Chief?
    In past I've seen good reviews here and on CAI about Clyde Crouches unit. Who distributes those? Also saw one made by IPE - Indian Parts Europe that's been around awhile which has an LED to simplify timing setting.

    Thanks
    I am surprised that you have gone through so many condensers over the years.
    When the points open, a back EMF is generated across the points. This will be in the hundreds of volts. (450v DC?) The purpose of the condensers is to absorb this voltage so it doesn't arc across the points, increasing point life.

    You may need to get a higher voltage capacitor to increase it's life.
    A typical condenser value is 0.25-0.29 uF @ 450v.

    Almost any automotive condensers will work.
    If you go this way, I suggest you look for a 0.25uF 600v DC (880vAC) condenser that looks like it will fit.
    I suspect this is what was supplied for a magneto in another post on this thread.
    Cheers
    Mick

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Victoria, Australia
    Posts
    182

    Default

    There was some discussion on these a few years back over on the CAIMAG Forum.

    http://thorcap.com/index.htm

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    389

    Default

    A few years ago I conducted a series of experiments to identify a suitable replacement capacitor for rotating armature magnetos. These experiments are described here:

    http://www.britbike.com/forums/ubbth...eto#Post467734

    As described there, this modern condenser basically will last "forever." Unfortunately, the capacitors I originally studied went out of production, but I describe an equivalent alternative here:

    http://www.britbike.com/forums/ubbth...eto#Post467734

    The capacitor on a battery/points system does the identical job as one on a magneto, so the same type of capacitor works on those as well. Most of my old bikes use magnetos but I have these modern capacitors on two battery/points machines where they work fine. The only issue with using them as a replacement is they don't have the same form factor as old condensers -- typically a 'can' with slot for a screw -- so you have to devise your own mounting system.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •