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

  1. #1
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    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
    Allegheny Mountain Chapter http://amcaamc.com/

  2. #2

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    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
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    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
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    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

  5. #5
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    There was some discussion on these a few years back over on the CAIMAG Forum.

    http://thorcap.com/index.htm

  6. #6
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    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.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by pisten-bully View Post
    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!
    I knew you were going to bust my chops on this Harry as I remembered that story from a past post and that you were a dedicated points fan like me.


    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Cooke View Post
    There was some discussion on these a few years back over on the CAIMAG Forum.

    http://thorcap.com/index.htm
    Interesting - I hadn't seen that one. Thanks. Anyone know someone who is using this style? It would require a little ingenuity to mount but if bulletproof looks like a possible option.


    Quote Originally Posted by BoschZEV View Post
    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.
    Very good reading there BoschZEV! Thank You. Going with the 2 Vishays BFC238320823 might be an option. Making a suitable package to hold them shouldn't be too difficult. Certainly a fraction of cost of an EI system.

    Lastly anyone know of factual evidence that an Electronic Ignition improves seat-of-the-pants performance on and old bike VS a properly tuned point system? I know theoretically it should improve it but enough to be noticeable?
    Jason Z
    AMCA #21594
    Near Pittsburgh PA
    Allegheny Mountain Chapter http://amcaamc.com/

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by BoschZEV View Post
    A few years ago I conducted a series of experiments to identify a suitable replacement capacitor for rotating armature magnetos...

    ...

    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.
    Thanks Charles. That’s what I was hoping you would say.




    Kevin

    .
    Last edited by Shaky Jake; 08-07-2019 at 12:42 PM.
    1916 Indian Powerplus - Cannonball Bike
    1941 Indian Chief - Sonny
    1964 Triumph TR6 - 50 year ISDT Tribute
    1969 BMW R60US
    1973 Moto Guzzi Eldorado
    Etcetera

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skirted View Post
    Going with the 2 Vishays BFC238320823 might be an option.
    The reason for using two 0.082 uF capacitors instead of one 0.16 uF (or 0.18 uF) in the cramped space of a rotating armature magneto is simply because the latter is too fat to fit. For external use this isn't a problem so I also have a drawer full of the larger ones as well.

    The only thing that matters is that the larger ones are from the same series as the ones I tested. What manufacturers do is wind ever-increasing numbers of turns of the internal plates on a given form to create capacitors of different values. Once they can't fit any more turns on a form, they move to the next larger form and do it all over again. As a result the physical sizes vary in increments, but the basic electrical properties (other than actual capacitance) stay the same. The photograph shows the difference in size of a 0.082 uF Panasonic capacitor that would be used in a pair inside a magneto, next to a 0.18 uF capacitor that I would use externally on a battery/coil system. What isn't obvious from the photograph is the 0.18 uF capacitor is fatter as well as longer and wider.

    Anyway, check the Vishay site for a ~0.2 uF capacitor in the same series. The precise value of capacitance isn't critical, but you do want something in the general vicinity of this value.

    capacitors.jpg

  10. #10
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    "Lastly anyone know of factual evidence that an Electronic Ignition improves seat-of-the-pants performance on and old bike VS a properly tuned point system? I know theoretically it should improve it but enough to be noticeable?"

    You will not feel any difference in the performance.

    Here are some other things you should consider when making the change.

    On the plus side, your timing is pretty much locked in place. It doesn't change and require readjustment because there is no fiber block wearing down. And you can get rid of your inline fuse! because...

    The negative, and this is a big one for me, ANY small short or accidental grounding will kill the module. It is super sensitive. And when it fries you wont get fixed by going to Napa.

    I learned this the hard way twice and then went back to points.
    A. Bernhardt
    AMCA# 9726

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