Q&A with Kit Foster: February 5, 2015

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Q. I have had this magneto for many, many years. It may have been for one of my father’s cars (1925-’26). It is stamped “Bosch 2616410 eD4-V, Made in USA.” Any value? Can someone use it?

— Harvey Waltersdorf, Rehoboth Beach, Del.

A. It will probably have value to someone who can use it. I haven’t been able to determine the exact application for it. Google searching on “Bosch ED4” wasn’t very productive. Your magneto is all but identical to a Bosch DU magneto pictured in my Dyke’s Automobile and Gasoline Engine Encyclopedia (Sixteenth Edition, 1931), but Dyke’s gives no indication of which cars used it. There were versions for single-, twin-, four- and six-cylinder engines. I count six high-tension terminals on yours, making it a six-cylinder unit. I believe the DU series comes from the World War I era or earlier.
Motor magazine data, as reprinted in the Lester-Steele Handbook (1985), shows that in 1915, six-cylinder models of Herff-Brooks, Paige-Detroit, Overland, Chandler, Jeffery, Crawford, Auburn, Velie, Davis, Abbott-Detroit, Winton, Chalmers, Kissel, Marmon, Packard, Pierce-Arrow, Locomobile, Stevens-Duryea, Stearns, Peerless, Fiat and White all used Bosch ignition. It may be of value to owners of one of those cars.

Q. I have a thought about the Model T Ford worm gear rear end (Dec. 11). This may be a Model T Snowmobile rear end. The rear ends were designed shorter and more information can be found at the Model T Ford Snowmobile Club’s website, modeltfordsnowmobile.com.

— Paul Baresel, via e-mail

A. I think you’ve nailed it. The Snowmobile Club’s website clears it up. The birth of the Snowmobile is credited to Virgil White, a Ford dealer in Ossipee, N.H. He built his first in 1913 and patented the design in 1917. He began marketing conversion kits, trademarked with the Snowmobile name, in 1922. The Model T’s front wheels were removed and replaced with skis; the rear axle was a worm-gear 7-to-1 unit as used on Ford heavy trucks, driving “Caterpillar” tracks that revolved around tandem wheels, one set using a bogey axle. The rear suspension used cantilever semi-elliptic leaf springs mounted longitudinally, and three track widths were offered: standard 56 inches for roads in developed areas, 44 inches to match the tracks of horse-drawn bobsleds, and 38 inches for narrower sleigh tracks, common in much of Canada. Bob Farrell, who sent the original question, lives in Vermont, which is definitely Snowmobile country. Estimating the track from the photo and Mr. Farrell’s measurement of 53 inches, axle end-to-axle end, I would say his axle is from the 44-inch model.

Q. In regard to Bob Dollenmeyer’s question regarding a two-battery set-up (Dec. 18), both the marine and RV industries offer battery isolators for multiple battery set-ups. These work automatically to charge both batteries while the engine is running, but allow the second battery to drain to zero and the first battery to maintain full charge for starting. I would use a heavier gauge wire; when the second battery is dead the full current of the alternator is directed to it. The marine isolators have an additional feature to allow both batteries to connect in series for additional starting current, a feature not needed for Bob’s set-up. One can Google “battery isolators” and lots of options appear. An example I found was Cole Hersee Model 48090 for about $56 at finditparts.com. This type of set-up would require no switching, but would work automatically. A deep-cycle battery would work best as the second battery. I would caution against leaving two batteries connected in parallel for long periods, as one can discharge into the other and create heat. My wife and I traveled and lived for a year in a van so equipped. The second battery ran the refrigerator. How did we know it was time to travel on? When the refrigerator battery ran down.

— Joel Parliment, Fort Collins, Colo.

A. Thanks. The solution is simpler than I thought. Tim Middough, from Maple Grove, Minn., adds that J.C. Whitney sells an isolator made by Painless Wiring, and that similar items can be found at AutoZone and O’Reilly Auto Parts. Bob Arper wrote in to point out several potential problems with my home-made approach, so best to disregard it entirely and buy one of these proven isolators.

To submit questions to this column: E-mail angelo.vanbogart@fwmedia.com or mail to: Q&A, c/o Angelo Van Bogart, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990-0001.

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