Choosing a Magneto
When choosing a magneto ignition, it might be a good idea to select a unit, which will meet the needs of your application without sacrificing reliability. You should consider that a unit, which is more powerful or exotic than your engine actually requires will also be less reliable and may require nearly constant maintenance. Before you go "overboard", take a minute to think it over and just be aware that the generating capacity of the magneto is directly proportional to the frequency of the service that will be required to keep it functioning at it's optimum. The extremely large and powerful magnetos in blown alcohol and nitromethane fueled funny cars and dragsters are pulled from the engine and checked after nearly every run. Is that what you want to have to do? Do you really want to live with the demands that the most powerful magneto available will place on you?
Our goal at Don Zig Magnetos is to provide information and guidance, based on our years of experience, that will help customers make choices that make them happy and satisfied with the magneto they choose. Because even the simplest magnetos we sell are very powerful, our basic position is that the magneto that will do the job without adding any complications is the best choice.
However, if you have always desired having the most amazing and powerful magneto money can buy; we will be happy to sell it to you and service it for you when required.
Will I harm my engine by using a magneto?
Absolutely Not. No matter which Don Zig magneto you choose to buy for your engine, no matter how high the amperage rating of that magneto is, the fact that the ignition is now supplied by a magneto will not harm your engine in any way.
Magnetos do not cause your engine to run hot, lean out or burn up parts. Magnetos are in fact the most consistent, durable and reliable ignition system ever devised for the internal combustion engine.
Consider this fact for a moment. Every conventional piston engine aircraft that you have ever seen flying, in your entire life, no matter who manufactured the aircraft or the engine, no matter where you were at the time, had a magneto ignition.
Out of all the possibilities for ignition systems available to them, no engineer has ever used any other type of ignition system on a piston engine airplane. Would they do that if magnetos caused premature failure of engine parts or weren't the most reliable and powerful ignition system available?
No ignition system makes a more powerful [higher amperage, longer lasting] spark than a magneto and the faster you spin them the more powerful the spark becomes. This characteristic does not harm your engine; it makes it more powerful and reliable.
If you have seen magneto-equipped engines that have had engine failures, it was do to the fuel air mixture or the ignition timing be incorrectly adjusted or to various engine components being stressed beyond their performance limits, not because the spark that set off the combustion process was "too hot".
What kind of spark plug wires should I use with my magneto?
The goal is to deliver a spark to the plugs, which is the most powerful, and of the longest duration that we can. If we route the spark to the plugs utilizing wires, which deteriorate the spark because of resistance or impedance, we are defeating our goal. For this reason, we must use wires of the highest conductivity. The type of wire that features this characteristic is silver plated copper core wire. If we have a magneto, which uses an external coil, we use this same type of wire as the coil wire lead from the coil to the cap.
Don Zig Magnetos is a factory authorized Mallory dealer and we sell the finest quality solid core spark plug wires and insulated sleeving. You will find them listed on our Mallory page.
Data Retrieval and Acquisition: Shielding
When using data recorders or memory tachs it is essential to "shield" all of their associated wires from the magneto and ignition (spark plug) wires. The powerful radiation & electro magnetic forces emitted by the magneto and ignition wires will interfere with the proper functioning of a data recorder. The user, when encountering trouble, may call the data recorder manufacturer and their standard answer to cure all woes is " change to suppression type ignition wires".
This is really not a satisfactory solution and you shouldn't do it. Performance will be adversely affected by suppression wire. Suppression wires runs 30 to 50 ohms resistance per foot. A standard wire runs about 1 to 2 ohms resistance. The goal is to achieve the most powerful spark possible at the plug gap. Using suppression wires defeats this goal.
The answer is in shielding the data recorder from the electronic field emitted by the ignition wires and the magneto.
Commercial braided shielding is available at good electronic stores and can be used to shroud the data recorder and its wires. Even a simple aluminum foil shield will help suppress the radiation & noise. Shrouding the ignition wires in braiding will also help to eliminate the magnetic noise radiated by the ignition system.
For a complete technical discussion of electrostatic interference and how to shield against it: visit the Alpha Wire web site.