Tag Archives: condenser

The Pony Lives!

So, when I left you last it was with a plea for a solution to the Pony’s starting difficulty.  I thank all who took a shot at solving my perplexing problem.  You’ll recall that in my lame effort to fix the problem I removed the carb, took it all apart, cleaned it, checked the float, reassembled it and then reinstalled it.  All this went for nothing, however, as the Pony continued to sputter at best, and then finally I was left with the starter motor grinding away and no ignition at all.

Well, I designated Saturday as Pony day, went down to the garage and brought the Idiotic Brother up on the “horn.”  “All right,” I said, “What do I do first?”  He said that I should start at the spark plugs, checking for spark and if there is spark there, to keep working my way back from there to a point where there is no spark.  “Ok,” I said, “Now, you understand you are working with a total idiot here, right?”  He laughed, and explained that I needed to remove a spark plug wire from one of the plugs and touch it to ground, like one of the head bolts or to the manifold.  I tried this and I saw maybe one spark, but not much activity at all.  He then said to remove all the plugs and do the test again, explaining that this would remove compression, allow the engine to turnover faster and, if there was spark, I’d see a lot of it.  I’m telling you, when we were kids, there was no way I would have taken orders from my brother like this.  But in this case I had to recognize his vastly superior knowledge, but most of all I was just plain desperate.

Anyway, I followed orders, touched the plug wire to ground and I saw absolutely nothing.  “Alright,” he said, “The next step back from the plugs is the distributor.  If the points don’t visibly look damaged, remove the condenser and replace it.”  I can’t tell you how skeptical about this I was, because the the condenser I had in there had maybe a total of 25 hours of operation on it.  But as luck would have it, because Maggie Simpson (Parts Detective) had sent me a replacement distributor kit a while back, I had right there in the garage a condenser to slip in.  So, without too much trouble I was able to make the change.  I then did the spark test again holding the plug wire to a head bolt, and Holy Crap!  There was spark!  I hastily put everything back together, turned on the ignition, pulled out the choke and hit the starter.  I mean just bang, on the first try, the old Pony fired right up.  Hallelujah!  I called Jim back, let him hear the Pony’s little engine putt, putt, putting away, thanked him and then immediately went out for a spin around the block.

Alright,  there was one person, my friend Joe Strain, who mentioned the word “condenser” in his email to me following the last post.  But I don’t know, Joe, you mentioned so much stuff that I felt like you were just kind of throwing mud up against the wall and hoping something would stick.  I’m afraid I’m going to have to (grudgingly) admit that my brother “nailed it,” and in light of that I am hereby declaring him “HORSE WHISPERER TO THE BLOG.”  Regrettably, family members are not eligible for the jam, so Joe, you get the jam.  There may be a supply issue on that jam, Joe, so if I can’t scrounge some up, you’ll get a jar from next spring’s batch.

There’s more good news too.  In extended operation on Saturday, neither the radiator, nor any of it’s fittings leaked a drop, so the Pony now has another of its issues behind it.

When I explained to both The Princess and then Andy how replacement of the condenser had solved the Pony’s problem, both those idiots had the nerve to ask me what a condenser does.  Its always kind of fun to go to the tractor guys discussion board for an answer, and this condenser explanation was no exception.  Here’s a “condensed” version of the various answers:

What does a Condenser do?

1. They debounce the points.

2. A condenser or capacitor is used to promote a faster collapse of the magnetic field. Neither component will allow direct current to pass through it to ground; however, alternating current is able to pass through. A direct current that pulses very fast becomes alternating current and can pass through the condenser or capacitor. This allows the current in the primary coil circuit to pass through either of these components to ground.

3. The condenser is connected to the primary winding . Once the current stops, the magnetic field falls back into the primary winding to stabilize the current within the winding. The faster the current in the primary winding dissipates through the condenser, the faster the magnetic field will collapse. The rapid movement of the magnetic field increases the induction within the secondary winding and the current, being pushed by a high voltage of up to 50kV, will look for a pathway or circuit.  I think Dell has the best answer at least its simple enoufh fer me to understand

4. Condensers “absorb” the inductive coil magnetic field induced flow of electrons when the points OPEN. This is a normal natural coil phenomon and is actually what causes “sparkies” that make yer sparkles spark.
Without a condenser, that 0.015″ points gap will burn-out. When you really OPEN a switch (and points are a special switch) there is little/NO spark strong enuff to jump a WIDE-GAPP, but that itty-bitty 0.015 points gap ain’t wide enuff, so the electrons will JUMP the gap unless they are absorbed by the condenser.

5. NOTE: condensers are 2-metal foil conductors seperated by an insulative film. When the points close, the points actually short-out the 2-foils and DISCHARGE the condenser so there is a place ready the next time to absorb the extra electrons when the points OPEN. I went to college 4-yrs to learn that simplistic explanation.

6. I always use:  A condensor is a road block for dc current and a highway for AC current 🙂

7.  Right on Dell. That is what I learned also. I learned in addition as a side benefit that the discharge of the condenser when the points close aids in rebuilding the magnetic field in the coil.

8. Yes it prevents/minimizes the sparking at the points. How it does that is a mystery to me, I am electrically challenged as Dell puts it.

9. The condenser prevents points from burning out in a very short time.

Of course my favorite part, “This is a normal natural coil phenomenon and is actually what causes ‘sparkies’ that make yer sparkles spark.” And I like number 6 too.

I believe the stage is now set for “A very Pony holiday season.”  I’ll stay in touch as it unfolds, and as usual, thanks for reading.