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  1. #1
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    Default Should I run a magneto?

    I have a 1984 shovelhead that Iím in the process of chopping and I want this bike to be different than anything else Iíve owned. So should I make the jump and run a magneto. I figured best thing to do would be to run a Morris but at 2200$ the setup is quite a pretty penny. I just figured Iíd ask for everyoneís pros cons and horror stories.

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    My buddy was riding his when this happened! I would assume a rare case and appears to have been from a loose fastener.
    It bent the shaft and will have to be cut to remove!!!

    I only share because u said horror story’s!


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  3. #3

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    I have a cone shovel with a mag. It’s awesome. Nice and simple. Leads to minimal wiring. I hear people say they have nothing but issues with mags but Ive never had an issue. I feel like the cost leads people to buy clapped out ones used, which I’m sure would lead to problems. If you got a good working mag and it’s set right, there’s not much to go wrong. I bought mine used for $750 and then had Morris clean it up for another couple hundred and it’s good as new.

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    there are some idiots who shouldn't use them,
    I have been running Magnetos on all but one of my Harleys over the last 43 years without any problems, I have never had one leave me at the side of the road,
    they only fuck up when those who don't know how or why they work try to re-invent them,
    I even know one fella who thought raising the mag up out the case hole would allow him better timing as the mag will advance or retard on the helical cut gear,
    He only put a spacer in-between, & as it wasn't fully engaged in the gears, it twisted & bent the mag drive shaft & needed cutting out,
    he then said 'his dad told him to do it !!!... jerk
    a cheaper mag nose cone that's a bit more affordable is the repop 'Burkhardt' cover by V-Twin,
    DONT use anything else from them JUST the cover,!!!
    it isn't too bad a piece but their gears are not to HD spec & do not mate properly so use the gears that Dave at Morris Magneto sells, they are Spot on perfect !!.
    the only thing to watch out for on the V-Twin Burkhardt covers is that on mine, the main oil feed gallery had blow through the casting when made (see picture below)
    I welded it up & it's fine now, but if ya go that route check before you run or you will trash ya motor in minutes,
    Had I known at the time they were made by V-Twin I wouldn't have bought it, but I made it work so am happy with it,..
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 6.25.jpg  

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    If you want to run a less than perfect ignition just to be cool, post on Instagram, and up your street cred at the local bar, coffee shop or cruise in, go ahead. Not to mention the cost $$$$$$$$$$$$$$ There is better ignitions for a lot less.

    I worked in Aviation and for many years longer than necessary small planes ran dual magnetos, Slick Magnetos is the Joe Hunt Maggies of the sky, but there is other brands. Most small airplanes are like Volkswagon air cooled motors. People would be surprised how low tech and simple they are. Flat 4s and 6s mostly. They ran magnetos because they are simple and easy to service and repair.

    Tractors, farm implements and motorcycles did the same because it was the tools of the time back in the 30s up to the 60s.

    But Maggies, while simple also have big drawbacks. Without going to technical here such as coil saturation, rise time and the dark magic of Lektrickery. Mags have a hard time at low speeds and plug gaps. They perform better with RPM. Most street bikes dont have enough RPM to function well with a mag. There is bodges to make them work, narrow the gap on the plugs, run the wrong heat range plug and even on some machinery a impulse coupling to help starting. Getting good timing, starting issues and good performance across RPM ranges is a challenge for many people.

    There is some really good ignitions for a fraction of the money you would spend on a mag setup, But if the cool factor is worth it, go ahead. I am not sayings its wrong. Just saying from a performance standpoint its not a great choice.

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    It's only money and they look awesome. If you couldn't SEE a magneto no one would run them, but choppers are folk art and lavishly ornamenting them (coupled with impassioned rationalization for so doing) is fun.

    Just don't pretend it's for anything but Kool and you'll be fine. Fairbanks-style mags as used on HDs have been firing industrial engines for nearly a century (much longer for their close relatives) and work well enough set up correctly.
    Just saying from a performance standpoint its not a great choice.
    Agreed. I wouldn't add one to my non-generator engines if it were free and I can afford any ignition I want.

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    It’s one of those things like Farmall said it looks cool but does it really matter? I’m being honest when I say that I intend on riding this bike quite a bit around the city Idk if I’ll ever take it cross country. A charging system runs 400 if you use cycle electric part and they’re top notch. When I weigh it out it has a ton of cool factor it’s definitely an aesthetic thing. But I don’t think I’ll reap the reward of the investment. The cool factor is there but it also looks just as slick without a mag.

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    It only matters to you so do what you like. Nobody in the real world much cares about motorcycles they don't own. Motorcycles are TOYS so nothing in them is an "investment", merely an "expense". Buy the toy that makes you smile and adorn it as you like.

    Of course it doesn't "matter" since ignitions of all types are solved problems. If you get bored you can always install one later. Chopping is an extremely conformist hobby with the esthetic goal being conformance to classic two wheeled folk art standards. To that end a mag is seen as the rather nice bit of Art Deco they are. IMO someone should sell a contact breaker body inside a shell identical to Fairbanks magnetos (the patents being long expired) with the option of points and advance or EI so users could have the esthetic option for less money. They'd make bank. Mags were cheap enough for one-lunger ag motors in the 1930s but they're a boutique motorbike accessory today so they cost accordingly.

    For the truly dedicated, these M 274 covers fit HD Fairbanks mags (I have one but didn't scrounge any leads) and with stock or custom aircraft style leads and appropriate spark plugs would be waterproof and even more sexy.

    https://www.easternsurplus.net/PartD...-Cap-M274-Mule

    https://www.easternsurplus.net/PartD...able-M274-Mule

    Autolite 2223 plugs don't fit Shovels so any owner would need to mod their heads for a suitable aircraft style spark plug and find the right heat range, but no one else will have that unique (and extremely reliable) cap and wire setup on their mag.

    I’m being honest when I say that I intend on riding this bike quite a bit around the city Idk if I’ll ever take it cross country.
    I wouldn't either. Looking cool is fine but I rather like my vertebra and don't need to rationalize beating on my spine. You can own as many bikes as you like so why not specialize?

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    When the generator mounting bolts both broke north of Salt Lake I was real proud of that mag. Put the genny in a saddle bag and wired a reflector I stole fo the highway over the hole and off I went.
    Dusty

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    One is good ...







    Two is better .. !!
    Last edited by Dragstews; 05-12-2020 at 12:20 PM.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by farmall View Post
    It only matters to you so do what you like. Nobody in the real world much cares about motorcycles they don't own. Motorcycles are TOYS so nothing in them is an "investment", merely an "expense". Buy the toy that makes you smile and adorn it as you like.

    Of course it doesn't "matter" since ignitions of all types are solved problems. If you get bored you can always install one later. Chopping is an extremely conformist hobby with the esthetic goal being conformance to classic two wheeled folk art standards. To that end a mag is seen as the rather nice bit of Art Deco they are. IMO someone should sell a contact breaker body inside a shell identical to Fairbanks magnetos (the patents being long expired) with the option of points and advance or EI so users could have the esthetic option for less money. They'd make bank. Mags were cheap enough for one-lunger ag motors in the 1930s but they're a boutique motorbike accessory today so they cost accordingly.

    For the truly dedicated, these M 274 covers fit HD Fairbanks mags (I have one but didn't scrounge any leads) and with stock or custom aircraft style leads and appropriate spark plugs would be waterproof and even more sexy.

    https://www.easternsurplus.net/PartD...-Cap-M274-Mule

    https://www.easternsurplus.net/PartD...able-M274-Mule

    Autolite 2223 plugs don't fit Shovels so any owner would need to mod their heads for a suitable aircraft style spark plug and find the right heat range, but no one else will have that unique (and extremely reliable) cap and wire setup on their mag.


    I wouldn't either. Looking cool is fine but I rather like my vertebra and don't need to rationalize beating on my spine. You can own as many bikes as you like so why not specialize?
    You’re right a mag looks cool and it all depends on the look I’m going for. As far as specialty it would be the first Harley I ever owned with a mag. As for my vertebra I’m still young enough to take a beating I may hate myself later. Haha.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DustyDave View Post
    When the generator mounting bolts both broke north of Salt Lake I was real proud of that mag. Put the genny in a saddle bag and wired a reflector I stole fo the highway over the hole and off I went.
    Dusty
    That’s pretty badass Dusty

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragstews View Post
    One is good ...







    Two is better .. !!

    I’d only be running a headlight a taillight and two small turn signals I think one would cut it. But when in doubt deck it out. That’s a neat setup Dragstews

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    Those rocker nuts are nice too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cimino289 View Post

    I’d only be running a headlight a taillight and two small turn signals I think one would cut it.
    Aaaaa ... errrrrrrr .. A Mag is only used for ignition, completely independent of the lights ... That has to do with the Gen, not the Mag ..

    The way those Mags in my photo are wired is one Mag fires one Jug, single fire too .. !!

    Price: $159.95
    Single-Fire; Our Latest Creation – In-line polarizing solid state adapters to convert your magneto to single-fire with both single OR dual-plug applications! Yes, you can run dual plugs from a single mag! (Dual plug operation requires the use of 2 MSF units.) Only the live cylinder fires. Works with all Harley and F-M style magnetos.

    Last edited by Dragstews; 05-12-2020 at 4:47 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragstews View Post
    Aaaaa ... errrrrrrr .. A Mag is only used for ignition, completely independent of the lights ... That has to do with the Gen, not the Mag ..

    The way those Mags in my photo are wired is one Mag fires one Jug, single fire too .. !!

    Price: $159.95
    Single-Fire; Our Latest Creation – In-line polarizing solid state adapters to convert your magneto to single-fire with both single OR dual-plug applications! Yes, you can run dual plugs from a single mag! (Dual plug operation requires the use of 2 MSF units.) Only the live cylinder fires. Works with all Harley and F-M style magnetos.

    Roger that. That’s why I ask I don’t know a ton about them. I’ve seen plenty of them and never really read up on them too much.

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