Points or solid state/magnetron conversion?

actionclawJuly 1, 2011

When one must replace the coil on an older machine (that uses points and condenser system) rather than the original style coil, sometimes one has the option of upgrading it with magnetron conversion. What are the advantages/disadvantages of each?

I can see possible advantages like that you no longer have to mess with points. I understand the magnetron might have more perfect timing, be more efficient and I've read it creates a hotter spark.

On the other hand...

..this is not what the engines were originally designed for

..I generally don't care much for "integrated designs" that require you to, essentially, when one part fails, replace several good ones. I can easily imagine this to be the case here where fragile solid state elements go made and have you replace a good coil.

..I've sometimes seen the new coil itself for sale for less than the original, making the conversion cheaper but if other new parts, changes are required then it may turn out to be more expensive.

..I've read..

.. that others, after converting, eventually converted back.

.. it requires that the flywheel magnets be repolarized or remagnetized?

..that being a few degrees different a different key is required?

(Whether or not any of this is true or correct, I dont know ----which is why I'm askin here.)

In short, whether for improved performance, convenience, less maintenance requirements, economic reasons, etc. do you feel it is or is not worth converting?

(Also, I might be jumping the gun on this, instructions may be included with the new part but, if converting, to where does one run the kill wire?)

Looking forward to your input. Thanks.

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I also detest "integrated" designs that require you to replace perfectly good working parts simply because they are "part of the assembly". This link may help steer you in the right direction toward converting points to electronic triggered spark;


The advantages of are few but worth it IMO - accuracy, consistancy and (arguably) reliability.

The big problem with many of todays small engine coils is they have their electronic spark triggering diodes (vs. yesteryear's spark triggering mechanical points) epoxied directly into the surface of the coils themselves. This is that little 1 inch square "bump" visible on the outside of the otherwise cylindrically shaped coil consisting of copper windings. This little "integrated" diode takes a lot of abuse by constant engine heat and vibration and eventually gives out ..at which time the owner finds out he must replace the entire coil assembly (even though technically the coil itself is just fine), to the tune of $200+ in some cases.

The coil on the famously popular Suzuki 2 stroke 47P engine on the older Toro commercials is notorious for crapping out like this and folks get a few more miles out of those coils by cooking them in their kitchen oven for 20 minutes at 220*f. Its not exactly clear how this works to temporarily "fix" the coil internals, but its often successful. If someone were to open up the epoxy & paper covering from one of these coils and replace just the bad OEM diode by wiring in one of these aftermarket diodes, there would be many grateful Suzuki 47P owners. Alternatively, bypassing the diode and going back to mechanical points trigger (such as found only in the 47P's first year of production 1983) would also be a solution.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 3:31PM
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If the old one ran fine until the coil crapped out I would just replace the same parts and not upgrade. I see nothing to be gained by switching to what is essentially an add-on or aftermarket conversion. And I see the potential for problems since the engine was not originally designed with that module.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2011 at 1:04PM
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Well, if some of you doubters have ever had to change the points and condenser on a B&S early engine, you would know why folks changed to the electronic ignition module.
The points kit had a little spring, and a plastic cup-shaped thing, and two tiny wires had to be inserted into the shaft of the condenser while you held the tiny spring down with the cup. And, just about the time you thought you had it ready, something would slip, and the cup would fly off, the spring would roll off and hide under the work bench, and you'd spend two hours searching for the spring and cup! $15 for the electronic replacement kit was lots easier! And, the engine ran better, and never noticed it had a new lease on life!
Geez, i suspect you nay-sayers are still driving Model T Fords, or 1928 Packards!

    Bookmark   July 2, 2011 at 10:21PM
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Naw, driving a 2004 Volvo V70. But that's beside the point(s). I've changed them on a Tecumseh and Briggs and the hardest part was getting the flywheel off. And in my experience the ignition system on those older mowers really required very little maintenance unless it was left outside.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2011 at 12:23PM
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If this is a Briggs w/ the points under the flywheel, you install the new coil w/ the "Magnetron" in the coil. The spark will be better, more accurate and you'll never look back. No need to pull the flywheel, just nip the old wire going to the points. The new coil will have a double pigtail, just use 1 kill wire and and nip the other. (they have two- one for the stud style and one for the slip clip style) I don't know if you can even buy a point type coil anymore for these.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2011 at 11:12AM
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All of the engines i junk have had their electronic ignition coils removed and saved. Then when i get an older points type ignition engine, i just change the coil/magneto, and away we go! Points/ condenser problem solved! RJ

    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 9:18AM
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