Author Topic: Condenser  (Read 4366 times)

Offline Goldy

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Condenser
« on: 01.04. 2009 18:11 »
The A10 build is progressing, I have fitted new pick ups to the magneto and it is sparking nicely. I expected to see a condenser fitted to the points, but there is not one. The Haynes manual Sec 6   2 says
" The condenser is located within the armature. If the condenser is at fault it is beyond the means of the average rider to effect repair....." Is this correct.
56 A10 Golden Flash - Restore, ride, relive.                                          
56 C12 BSA project ongoing

Offline LJ.

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Re: Condenser
« Reply #1 on: 01.04. 2009 19:20 »
Yep fraid so, usually the condenser is replaced when the armature windings are rewound, after that you should get years of reliable use before needing to replace condenser again. What were your windings like? If they had an original Lucas stamp on them then they'll need doing. With the magneto being cold it is often easy to start bike but problems are when you need to restart after a good run when the engine is hot. You'll soon find out though, here's keeping my fingers crossed for you.  *smile*
Ride Safely Lads! LJ.
**********************
1940 BSA M20 500cc Girder/Rigid- (SOLD)
1947 BSA M21 600cc Girder/Rigid-Green
1949 BSA A7   500cc Girder/Plunger Star Twin-(SOLD)
1953 BSA B33  500cc Teles/Plunger-Maroon
1961 BSA A10  650cc Golden Flash-Blue
1961 BSA A10  650cc Golden Flash-Red

Online groily

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Re: Condenser
« Reply #2 on: 01.04. 2009 20:22 »
Depends what 'average' is I suppose.
The condenser nestles within the drive end of the magneto armature. To get at it, you have to take the magneto apart - ie armature out as a starter. And get the contact-breaker-end bearing and the slip ring off - not all that easy. Then you have to undo the two through-screws that attach the brass armature end pieces to the coil. When that's done, you have to prise the brass ends off the thing (they are mounted by small steel pins that go from the brass bits to the iron pole pieces outboard of the HT windings). . . at the drive end, the wires that go to the condenser can then be seen . . . they have to be unsoldered before the drive-end piece can be fully detached. It's a fiddle, and probably cheaper and easier to send it to someone who does it for a living. The condenser is attached by 2 small screws and a bit of steel strip.
A rewind and new condenser made from modern materials will last donkeys' years.
However, there may be nothing wrong with it .. . in which case suck it and see. If, per LJ's comment, it doesn't run/start hot, then either the windings or the condenser may be faulty. In which case, luckily, loads of help is at hand. From Sean Hawker through Tony Cooper to SRM and Dave Lindsley, cures are out there. If the 'only' thing wrong is the armature/condenser, think £80-100 and VAT exchange. If you need the whole thing sorting, with bearings, slip ring, cam ring, cb plate/points etc etc, think twice that, or more if you want 'them' to do it for you. The good news is that all parts are available and their service is good.
My fingers are crossed for you too - it could well be fine.
Bill

Offline Lannis

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Re: Condenser
« Reply #3 on: 01.04. 2009 20:33 »
I take a little bit different tack on the magneto issue, although "try it and hope" or "suck it and see" may suit your philosophy better.

A 40, 50, or 60 year-old paper condenser is very likely to go bad soon.  It's like hoping that a person will never die - you put ALL your eggs in the basket that a person who is 80, or 90, or 100, or 110 will just keep on living forever.  That's what your condenser is doing.

If I had a mag that came on a bike I bought, and it looked to me to be the original mag and armature - I wouldn't even lay my foot on the kickstarter.  I'd roll the bike into the shop, pull the mag, mail it to an expert, wait for it to come back, send the man his $300 or so (just considered as part of the price of the bike), put the mag back on, time it carefully, and then ride on with no worries.

Matter of fact, I've already done that, and I don't have worrisome mag problems, nor do I get left on the side of the road with a sore leg kicking and kicking because the mag FINALLY died - but hey, I got that extra six months of service out of that 50-year old paper condenser, I put off spending that $300 for six months! 

Why, the interest value of $300 for six months these days is almost $5!   Wow, calling the breakdown service, losing a day of riding, it was worth that $5 ....

Not me!!   ;)
1961 A10 Golden Flash
1969 A65 Firebird Scrambler
1955 M21 Commodore
1935 Matchless Model X Project
1990 Moto Guzzi California III
1983 Moto Guzzi 1000SP
1986 Yamaha TT225 trail bike
1966 Morgan 4/4

Online groily

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Re: Condenser
« Reply #4 on: 01.04. 2009 22:04 »
We're pretty much on the same page actually Lannis. I'm a believer in rewound coils and new condensers. As you say, nothing worse than a spluttering halt and sore leg at the side of the road.
However, there are ways of sorting mags and ways of sorting mags . . . a year or two back I paid a lot of good money for a full recon of a K2FC. A good result, no doubt about it (SRM). But for a third of the money, I've done 2 subsequently myself (like I used to when I was young and even poorer), using exchange armatures as a matter of course, and other bits as necessary. Mainly just bearings. Still have one brand new armature awaiting a home, and a couple in exchangeable state to send off when needed. Call me an anorak, but I carry the new one around with me a lot of the time  . . . . the pain of roadside repairs beats calling Herself for the trailer every time.
I'd always recommend a rewind because then it's 'job done'; but sometimes one is in luck and the beast in question has a mag which actually works perfectly well. And may have modern guts even?  In which case, the old adage of 'If it Ain't Broke, Don't Fix it'' applies surely?
Bill

Online RichardL

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Re: Condenser
« Reply #5 on: 02.04. 2009 01:46 »
Hello,

In my rebuild, I basically did a cleanup of the magneto, including bearing, insulating star, refinish stator and slip ring, etc., which had last worked 25 years hence. In the six years I owned the bike before that ('73-'79), four were spent diassembled or being reassembled by a shop. Who knows how much running time the bike experienced in it's 18 years between '55 and '73.  So, if you think of time spent charging and discharging, it really is a small fraction of the time since new. Honestly, I'm not sure what this means for dilectric breakdown with time, but it seems to be working well right now. Considiering my history, now that I've said this, I have probabaly doomed myself to soon expereince a condenser failure and wishing I had Groily's armature handy.

Regarding having the work done by a shop or doing it myself, aside from the savings in money, which is not necessarily minor, I think that the more work I've done myself, the more connected I feel to the bike. This goes to our other topic wherein I said I can't comfortably leave it exposed to malice or accident. Soon or later I may have to face such realities but, for now, paranoia is the ruling force. I hope this is not taken as discounting anyone else's love of his (her?)  machine, regardless of who built it or maintains it. Pardon the weak attempt at poetic philosophy, but "love comes in many forms" (with due deference to She Who Rules and has the form of first choice).

Richard L. 
Plan on signing up for the world-wide 2020 DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN'S RIDEon September 27, 2020. This year it's a solo or pillion ride in dapper attire. Watch website at https://www.gentlemansride.com for details.


Offline BSA_54A10

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Re: Condenser
« Reply #6 on: 02.04. 2009 01:54 »
I have said this before nut it is worth repeating.
With long life parts ( or the whole bike for that matter ) you really need to look at it on a $ / mile aspect to get a proper handle of the actual cost.
While  a mag rebuild will set you back $ 300 to $ 500 you would expect it to travel another 100,000 miles before requireing attention which works out at 0.5 ¢ /mile,  peanuts !

This is particularly so when compared to things like tyres , oil or chains.

OTOH according Bob Keiser the old caps in the armatures have a mtbf of 16 years, even if they are sitting on the shelf so if your mag is over 16 years old and still working then you are running on bonus time to start with while the new solid state ones will probably last forever
Bike Beesa
Trevor

Online RichardL

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Re: Condenser
« Reply #7 on: 02.04. 2009 06:09 »
Would the ultimate extension of "don't buy cheap parts" or "don't do something yourself that you could pay someone else to do better" result in having to buy the motorcycle pictured below (which I could not afford, anyway), which sold for $15,000 at this year's Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction?  The followup question is, "would I be happier riding this than the bike resurrected with my own hands, and while watching the budget?" I think the answers must be "yes" to the first question and "no" to the second.

Richard L.
Plan on signing up for the world-wide 2020 DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN'S RIDEon September 27, 2020. This year it's a solo or pillion ride in dapper attire. Watch website at https://www.gentlemansride.com for details.


Offline Lannis

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Re: Condenser
« Reply #8 on: 02.04. 2009 14:55 »
Everything in moderation, as they say.

I can't relate to a mint $15,000 A10 anyhow.  NOT because I wouldn't pay $15,000 for a motorcycle - I would if it were the right one.

But because I wouldn't like paying for something that I wouldn't get my money out of.   When I bought my A10, I immediately strapped 100 pounds of gear to it with bungee cords, stuffed the panniers, and took off on it for 3 weeks, half of it in the rain - and in the end, had gravel chips, mud, scratch marks, bits of rust, and a WONDERFUL time out of it.  I couldn't do that with that one in the picture, not if I'd paid the money for it.

Now a rebuilt magneto, I KNOW I will get my money's worth out of that.  So I don't have any little bit of a problem putting some money into it.

Jobs I don't mind doing myself, and can do well enough to suit me:

Changing tires
Setting ignition timing
Re-wiring a bike with relays, etc
Changing a clutch
Assembling a transmission
Shimming a crank
Rebuilding a carburetor

Jobs I'm perfectly happy to pay someone else to do:

Welding
Rewinding a magneto
Rebuilding a dynamo
Grinding crank journals
Painting


Other people love the challenge of doing these last things and have the temperament and skills to do it.  I'll work at my regular job and earn the money the "easy" way and pay 'em!!

Lannis
1961 A10 Golden Flash
1969 A65 Firebird Scrambler
1955 M21 Commodore
1935 Matchless Model X Project
1990 Moto Guzzi California III
1983 Moto Guzzi 1000SP
1986 Yamaha TT225 trail bike
1966 Morgan 4/4

Online RichardL

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Re: Condenser
« Reply #9 on: 02.04. 2009 16:07 »
Lannis,

Fair enough and a good answer to my devil's advocate questions. I might add wheel lacing to my  own list of "done by others" , though, I tried it and basically enjoyed it until destroying one QD hub by overtightening the spokes. Rebuilding the magneto and dynamo is hard for me to let go of, being schooled as an electrical engineer. As for welding, I'm the son of a refrigeration piping contractor, so you can guess the rest.

Richard L.
Plan on signing up for the world-wide 2020 DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN'S RIDEon September 27, 2020. This year it's a solo or pillion ride in dapper attire. Watch website at https://www.gentlemansride.com for details.


Offline Lannis

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Re: Condenser
« Reply #10 on: 02.04. 2009 17:12 »
Welding is a skill I've always wanted to learn, and which would be VERY useful in this sport/hobby/lifestyle of mine that includes a large dose of Classic Motorcycles .... but I've never prioritized it as something to be trained on, I mainly just moan about it.

Before I built my house, I went to a 60-hour Masonry Apprentice class (20 3-hour evening sessions) where I learned how to mix mortar, handle a trowel (it's not as easy as it looks), level-plumb-and-straightedge (always in that order or you'll never get it right), lay a lead, lay to a line, and how to measure for different size brick and block.  When I was done, I could lay a good, straight, solid wall or column - although, as the master mason who was teaching the course correctly pointed out, it would take years of practice before I would be fast enough and smooth enough to make a living at it.  BUT I could lay brick and block on my own time and be happy with it, and do a job that would pass the building inspector's oversight.

I really need to do the same for welding.  When I built my shop, I wired it with 230volt 50amp wire and breakers, anticipating a MIG or TIG welder in my future ....

Lannis
1961 A10 Golden Flash
1969 A65 Firebird Scrambler
1955 M21 Commodore
1935 Matchless Model X Project
1990 Moto Guzzi California III
1983 Moto Guzzi 1000SP
1986 Yamaha TT225 trail bike
1966 Morgan 4/4

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Re: Condenser
« Reply #11 on: 02.04. 2009 17:42 »
Well, there's welding and welding. As in proper welding and farmyard welding like mine! Brazing I like and can get decent results with, gas welding I dislike although it ought to be reasonably straightforward using basically the same kit, stick I hate unless we're talking chunky stuff like farm gates. MIG is quite fun as the bacon and eggs sizzle along but really you need a decent box of tricks and shielding gas. I use a Hobart acquired in the US, with a 110v 8KW generator as I doubt the transformer exists to cope with up to 25A, now I live in 220v territory. But for anything that actually matters - as in it'll kill you if it breaks, I wouldn't go near it. And the same goes for aluminium, which doesn't tell you in plain language when it's going to disappear in front of your eyes. Although those Lumiweld kits aren't all that bad for minor repairs.  I guess the trick is accepting what you can't do. Ditto rewinding coils . . . although in theory (managed a starter solenoid once) . . .  let alone grinding journals . . . no way! But I would like a hardening oven and magic potions or whatever, to be able to make shafts and other gizmos properly . . .
Bill

Offline Lannis

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Re: Condenser
« Reply #12 on: 02.04. 2009 20:40 »
I've got a project coming up that's going to mean that I need to establish a good working relationship with a machinist that can read a spec or measure a mating part, and then machine a matching spline onto a shaft and properly case-harden the part in a carburizing furnace.   Or fabricate a pair of matching gears, again with the right hardness.

If I was retired already (and it'll be a few years) I think I would take a couple years to do the training, buy a mill and a lathe and a furnace, and start doing that sort of thing myself, sounds like a fun retirement job and the typical guy who does it is always booked solid with work ....

Lannis
1961 A10 Golden Flash
1969 A65 Firebird Scrambler
1955 M21 Commodore
1935 Matchless Model X Project
1990 Moto Guzzi California III
1983 Moto Guzzi 1000SP
1986 Yamaha TT225 trail bike
1966 Morgan 4/4

Offline beezalex

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Re: Condenser
« Reply #13 on: 02.04. 2009 22:21 »
You guys have no sense of adventure.  The real fun is in milking every component for all its got...and you meet the nicest people while hangin' out on the side of the road.
Alex

Too many BSA's


Online RichardL

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Re: Condenser
« Reply #14 on: 02.04. 2009 22:54 »
Alex,

Exactly. I agree completely. Otherwise how would we ever know how we fit into society.

Richard L.
Plan on signing up for the world-wide 2020 DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN'S RIDEon September 27, 2020. This year it's a solo or pillion ride in dapper attire. Watch website at https://www.gentlemansride.com for details.