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Blow Your Minds Coil Questions! It Blew My Mind Totally!


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#1 maxedout OFFLINE  

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Posted May 18, 2012 - 12:46 PM

OK boy's I need input and this is a good question or at least it was to me when presented!

Example engine, Kohler 321 used in a many of garden tractors!

Here's the question OK we have a Coil and condenser and points right? Yes we all know that!

IS it Possible to use say for Example an MSD automotive type coil using a resistor? Is that possible?

I'd say use a Kohler coil but after I saw an MSD coil, just a standard oil filled coil or so it appears and a resistor on a tractor today it just blew me away. I asked why not use an original coil and of course answer was Price!


This guy races lawn mowers and he claims the MSD coil works better and gives better fire he claims.

He says it's just a standard coil used for 70's model Dodge Truck, he claims his original coil on the tractor went bad and he had a couple of the MSD Coils laying about and tried it and it work. He used the resistor just like on his truck and mounted it back near the battery compartment off the engine and moved the condenser off the engine as well. He claimed to much heat and he claimed the engine had more air space and it supposedly helps run cooler because now he has all that space opened up.


I'm not sure of the model of the engine, I didn't see the model on the engine it just looks like my engines in the Deere's.
I just got to know has anyone here ever switched out a coil for an automotive type coil? I mean if it's possible it sure would be a good thing because of the price factor, you can pick up a coil at the auto parts store pretty cheap. MSD makes some nice old universal coils that fit on a wide range of cars and trucks.

Just seems something worth investigating further, So boys who's tried it or does anyone here even think it's possible!

I never heard the engine run so I can't tell you it works but I did see the coil and it plugged up and wired up.

OK boys let's hear your thoughts and gosh hey if you've tried it please do tell, I sure would like to just try it just because! You know one of them just because kind of things! No reasons needed but a just because it looked cool and I got to say that arrangement was really neatly done and it did look damned good.

#2 Amigatec OFFLINE  

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Posted May 18, 2012 - 06:46 PM

You can buy an adapter and use Chev points in them. There are some conversion kits that will change to electronic ignition.
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#3 Utah Smitty OFFLINE  

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Posted May 18, 2012 - 07:15 PM

I used a standard automotive coil on my Cub Cadet 102. It worked fine. You do have to make sure the coil has a resistor though, if I remember right.
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#4 olcowhand ONLINE  

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Posted May 18, 2012 - 07:28 PM

If the automotive coil doesn't have an internal resistor, then yes, you can use that coil WITH a ballast resistor on your Kohler.
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#5 ckjakline OFFLINE  

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Posted May 18, 2012 - 07:51 PM

A coil is a coil you're only firing one cylinder at a time on an automotive engine.Your msd and accel coils put out more voltage for added power.I havn't had to yet but when i do i'm going to put an automotive coil on.I have a couple laying around.
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#6 JDBrian OFFLINE  

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Posted May 18, 2012 - 07:53 PM

Ahhh ballast resistors. Anyone who had a 70's chrysler product will remember those. You had to keep a spare in the glove box because they would burn out on a regular basis and the car would not run without it.
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#7 jpackard56 OFFLINE  

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Posted May 18, 2012 - 08:21 PM

Ahhh ballast resistors. Anyone who had a 70's chrysler product will remember those. You had to keep a spare in the glove box because they would burn out on a regular basis and the car would not run without it.

Yep, some in the tool box and a couple in every glove box (even on the non-Chrysler cars) it was a great way to help stranded "damsels in distress" that had Chryslers :laughingteeth:
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#8 caseguy OFFLINE  

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Posted May 18, 2012 - 09:34 PM

Ahhh ballast resistors. Anyone who had a 70's chrysler product will remember those. You had to keep a spare in the glove box because they would burn out on a regular basis and the car would not run without it.


Boy do I ever! I thought that my Uncle was a genius! I talked to him on the phone for 30 seconds, described my car's symptoms and he said. "You burned out the ballast resistor. should be about $3." He was right. (he was always right when it came to cars though LOL) He also said to get 2 of them and keep one in the glove box. I did as he said...very cheap insurance! Thanks for the memories Brian!
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#9 gbrown OFFLINE  

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Posted May 18, 2012 - 10:04 PM

I too have experienced the burnt ballast resistor on an old plymouth fury. Such a pain!
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#10 HowardsMF155 OFFLINE  

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Posted May 18, 2012 - 10:24 PM

I had a Kohler K301 pull start with a magneto ignition coil under the flywheel. The engine would start OK cold, but after it warmed up it would run poorly then die. When the local lawnmower service co. couldn't even be certain which (expensive) coil to order, I bought an ACCEL coil and put in a ballast and wired everything up including putting in a battery. Engine ran great after that. And that told me for sure that all my issues were with the coil under the flywheel.
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#11 maxedout OFFLINE  

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Posted May 19, 2012 - 12:30 AM

I have an Onan 14hp Elite on my Cub and it has a coil at the fly wheel. Ever buy a coil for an Onan? Trust me, them things are totally expensive. If I could have figured out how to put an automotive coil on that motor I sure would have. It had electronic ignition and of course the coil had to go bad..

When this engine started it's coil issue it ran fine, sometimes I could mow for an hour or more, it would start sputtering and acting like it was running out of gas. Then it would die, let it set around with the hood up for 30 or 40 minutes, start it back and it would run perfectly sometimes for 5 minutes sometimes for days. One day, I mowed with it and parked it to change the oil and filter, it had ran fine for hours so I did the oil change and it wouldn't start. I checked everything it would show to be getting fire.

Next I replaced, the fuel line, filters, gas cap and the danged thing ran fine and I mowed my yard so I thought it was fixed. Well, it sit a day or so and I needed it to haul up some fire wood and it wouldn't start. So, It set for days and I worked and worked on it, called several shops but none would give me any advice they would say bring it in or we can pick it up.

A buddy of mine called and we talked, I told him about the mower, he said oh dude it's the coil or the voltage regulator. It sit for all winter and into spring, I happened to be looking on Ebay and a guy up in West Virginia was offering up a fly wheel, wiring harness, voltage regulator and coil for $35 bucks and I bought it right then.

Replaced each part one at a time to see what the deal was and turned out Both the coil and voltage regulator was bad.

On that engine, the fly wheel cools the voltage regulator and mine had about an inch of crap on it and no doubt that helped kill it.

Then I started reading about small engines and heat is one of the biggest killers to them because people neglect to keep the fly wheels cleaned and remove the shrouds and clean out the dust and crap that gets inside them.

I took all the covers off that engine and clean it top to bottom and it runs so much cooler it surprised me. Now I check it to see if it's cooling. The way it's designed the covers provided cooling for the spark plug, the voltage regulator and the coil and of course the engine itself.

Reading several things about that engine and several seals will go bad when the engine is running to hot and that's the first clue before you start having other issues with electronics.

After I cleaned mine and now I keep it clean and it takes a couple of hours to tare it down and clean it. It really has surprised me cooling now you can raise the hood and get a hair dry just by the air flow!

Keep them engine covers cleaned! Especially on the Onan Elite Series!
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#12 MH81 ONLINE  

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Posted May 19, 2012 - 05:25 AM

Ahh, Ballast resistors. Our local store sold the siameese (twin) version for a dollar more than the regular one. Always used those as when one side burned, 2 wires and down the road you go.
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#13 JDBrian OFFLINE  

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Posted May 19, 2012 - 05:41 AM

The good old, bad old days of cars. LOL! Dad had a couple of Dodge darts with the slant 6 in the 70's and the glove box always had a couple of those ballasts in it. Pretty bad design and not redesigned to fix the issue. You couldn't get away with that sort of customer service now. It would have been easy to fix that by getting the same value resistor in a higher wattage.
A coil should last a long time but when I think about it heat is a killer for those just like most electrical components. Maxedout you're right most people don't clean out the cooling fins on the engines. The 314 I got last year with a K321 was plugged up bad from grass clippings and oil. Among other work on the engine I replaced the coil because i was getting inconsistent resistance readings. It seems to run really cool now. I used it for 3 hrs last night and it never seems to get very hot.
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#14 maxedout OFFLINE  

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Posted May 19, 2012 - 10:20 AM

I worked in electronic repair at the textile mill and I worked in R&D and one huge advantage of working there someone was always wanting something fixed like spindles for tractors. We had a press and could pack a spindle in no time flat, dang sure miss all those tools we had back then and I danged sure miss working for a privately owned company that let employees do odd jobs like that.

​At any rate, heat is a killer of electronic components and a couple of tips that might save you guys some money is Go to Radio Shack and buy yourself some dielectric grease and make sure you use it accordingly on all your connections. Even your head lamp connections could use a little dab, on the Kohler point box where the wire goes into the cover, dab a little inside that around the wire. It helps keep moister from entering in and corroding your point contacts. On your solenoids use it on each connection and your starter switches, clean with plastic safe contact cleaner then apply some good tuner cleaner to lubricate the contacts and on the wire terminal use the dielectric grease. On your starters of course inside and out on your contacts, brush screws and such use it and see a difference.

On your electronic voltage regulators, those that are in direct contact with the motor cover with no venting should be moved off the motor and check this, go to Rat Shack and get what's called HEAT SINK COMPOUND and apply it to the underside of the voltage regulator and mount it down. What that does is allow the heat to transfer off the regulator. IF you notice most electronic voltage regulators have FINS on them, those fins help to cool off the electronics so make sure those fins stay clean and free of crap. Even grease on those fins will cause heat to build up, in fact I would say take some steal wool and clean that often.

It might be pennies for some folks and they don't care to buy a replacement and some will say they last long enough anyway but you can sure save yourself a lot of money for hard to get replacement parts like an Onan coil.

Another thing, At least two times per season a person should take a day just to sit down and remove all the covers off the engine and clean each cover inside and out. Clean the engine and I have found Greased Lightening or Mean Green works about as good as any engine cleaner. Stay away from power washing your engines and take time to let the cleaner do it's job by soaking in.

Engine cleaners have a lot of junk in them and some of it will collect more dust and do more harm than good like swell rubber parts up causing them to go bad. WD40 on Rubber is BAD BAD BAD and for years I would have argued it was safe on Rubber or PVC products but truthfully it will swell the rubber and cause it to crack over time. You put engine cleaner on a wiring harness and you watch and see if the plastic doesn't start to harden over time!

Mineral Oil is something else that I've heard was safe on rubber and I am not so sure it is. I do know it sure will prevent rust on metal and it collects dust too. But food grade mineral oil might be safe for rubber, I would need to research that more but I do know for a fact it works very well to prevent rust and sure will help stop rust. It works wonders on stainless steal and believe it or not it works danged good on cast iron skillets! You've seen people do what's called curing a skillet well hey Mineral Oil will sure turn a sticky pan into a non stick pan right fast. I had wondered about using it on an engine head, those old Kohlers with the cast iron heads and the paint always burns off. I wonder what that would do? We heat with wood heat and dudes over time you can make an old cast iron wood stove look almost brand new with a coating of mineral oil.

I do know too mineral spirits works well as a cleaner so for tuff grease I wonder how that would work out?



Lots of people recommend a silicon based lubrication for rubber and PVC but from my experience it causes it to become hard and brittle over time.

Good old soap and water will clean most rubber and that again is something just about everyone over looks is those little rubber gadgets all over your garden tractors. Soap and water and a good cleaning and then dry it off.

You see a lot of products marketed for the purpose of protecting rubber and plastic parts but honestly I've never been so impressed with any of them. Most have more added problems than they are worth. Most will attract more dirt and dust than they are worth putting on them...About the best one I have ever used was Mothers Plastic and Rubber cleaner and protection.

Grease and Rubber just do not do well together or so it seems to me over a period of time the grease gets into the the rubber and causes grief.

Just the main thing is keeping the tractor clean and free of dust and build up of grease and oil. Each time you use it wash it off, or just spray it off with some good water and then spot dry it. Yea it takes some time but the end results are your tractor will give you longer service and your engines will thank you.

Remember that dielectric grease and heat sink compound is worth the dollars and will save you lots of headaches! Especially when you are dealing with a 30 or 40 year old GT that parts are hard to get or totally over priced. Make the ones you have last and keep them clean and free of Paint! Never paint a voltage regulator if it's free of paint from the factory then you should never paint them because you just killed it's way of keeping itself cool. Those fins need to be clean!

One last tip is Never paint wires or rubber parts! Never ever paint wires or cables or anything rubber! Dudes it's just causing yourself a headache in time.

Edited by maxedout, May 19, 2012 - 10:33 AM.

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#15 maxedout OFFLINE  

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Posted May 19, 2012 - 11:16 AM

You can buy an adapter and use Chev points in them. There are some conversion kits that will change to electronic ignition.


Dang I would love to change my K321AQS over to electronic ignition! I saw a doohicky on Ebay for about $20 bucks supposedly would work on almost any point ignition system and this thing could be put any where on the engine. Dang I would love to know if that puppy worked cause I would love to do away with the points...




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