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Im getting alot of mixed reviews on magneto's on Ironhead. Im hearing they make the bike run like crap, harder to tune, harder to start, etc. On the other hand Im hearing there great, bike starts better, easier to tune, etc.

So Im not sure what the hell to believe! LOL So I figure I get some insight from all you experts and to the ones who had, or have them on a Ironhead.

Thanks,
J5
 

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It's not for everybody. A fixed advance mag is a bitch to start. An adjustable advance mag takes a bit of acclimation before you get it down. Once you figure it out it's a one or two kick affair.
 

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i won't for a moment say a magneto is easier starting or easier to tune than a nice electronic ignition...

but i'll take a magneto any day for all the other reasons;

they can work very well
they're dirt simple
they can usually be fixed on the side of the road (if anything were to go wrong)
they don't need a battery to run

i've got a magneto on my '67 XLH that's kick only, that i ride all the time in all weather (ok, not the snow).

the magneto needs no more maintenance than a points distributor... i check the points once every month or two. takes 5 minutes, tops. i replace the points and condenser once/year.

the bike kicks over very easily, particularly with the adjustable retard (turn the mag clockwise by hand, kick, when it starts the mag shakes it's way back to advanced).

mags aren't for everyone... and for any of those people: i will gladly take the magneto off your hands for you :)

edit:
most complaints about mags come from those with them that are not timed properly... or have bad/dirty points... or they used resistor wires or plugs (non resistor is the only way to go, to get 'em to start)
 

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So Im not sure what the hell to believe! LOL So I figure I get some insight from all you experts and to the ones who had, or have them on a Ironhead.

Thanks,
J5
There's no definitive answer because it depends on what you want in an ignition system. Want to run without a battery? Magneto. Want cool factor? Magneto. I can't think of any other reason to run one. While some guys may tell you their bike isn't hard to start with a magneto, it certainly won't be any easier than with a battery/coil ignition. I'd give points (pun intended) to the battery/coil ignition for reliability and ease of repair. Just make sure you have a reliable charging system. Maybe this doesn't answer your question, but it's the insight you asked for so you can make your own decision.

Bob
 

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I had a mag on my '68 XLCH chop. I will chime in with the same comments as others have made. When it worked, it worked fine; nice hot spark, ran strong.
Starting could be an issue, and I took to carrying a small Crescent wrench on my keychain to loosen the mag fixing bolt to retard timing for starting. An absolute pain. It was high-compression and at best a bitch to kick over, the mag didn't help! I would highly recommend an advance/retard base to the mag for starting.
I started to lose spark after a couple of years and took it to an old codger who re-magnetized the mag body/magnet by placing it up against a huge magnet mounted to his garage bench. Charged me a six-pack of Bud.
Good luck, Bruno
 

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If mag is in proper working condition, it all comes down to correct timing, pushrod adjustment and carb setup.
I have had little issue w/ either of my fixed advance 60's XLCH's.
 

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A properly tuned bike is a MUST for any kickstart bike. No matter what ignition you choose.

Sixball
Got that right.
This all sounds like your very first time messing with old iron; and let me tell you first hand that prior experience gets you a long way with this stuff and as of now you have none. This is going to be enough of an adventure as it is.

You will need experience with carb tuning, what sort of ignition timing the bike likes, it's kickstart ritual, and other things.

For the time being, don't stack the odds against yourself. Get a simple ignition, ride the bike for a while, get to know it then put a mag on. If you try to do all the cool kid upgrades right out of the gates, you will be one sorry chimp.
 

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A mag won't cause or cure a problem. If your bike runs well now, it'll run well after you install a mag. If it runs like shit now, a mag won't fix it.

A mag will however cure the "buying a battery" problem and the associated battery problems everyone experiences. You can park the bike and come back to it 6 months later in the dead nuts of winter and start it without a trickle charge or a battery jump. That alone is worth it to me and I've been running them for decades.
 

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Hey Doc. Can't see anyone being in this for a hobby to save money. You?

And the fact that the mag is still available says volumes.
 

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Nope, I've run mags, electronic, points like a lot of guys.
Been thankful for the mag when a regulator takes a dump hundreds of miles form home too.

But when someone comes to this brand new, sometimes being honest about this is going to be more help.
 

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....... Want to run without a battery? Magneto. Want cool factor? Magneto. I can't think of any other reason to run one. ......

Bob
I can think of a few:

1. when your generater stops generating and system voltage drops to zilch, you still ride home smiling, not pushing.

2. when your regulator shits out on you and system voltage drops to zilch, you still ride home smiling, not pushing.

3. when your battery boils out or cracks a plate or melts a terminal and system voltage drops to zilch, you still ride home smiling, not pushing.

4. When your wiring and or cables come loose/melt etc and system voltage drops to zilch, you still ride home smiling, not pushing.

Get the idea?
 

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Battery Tender - $47.00
New Hunt mag for '57 - '70 - $814.00

:D
You can find a used one in good condition for about half...that's only 3 batteries. Plus you don't have to buy or even think about a battery tender.

I've never had to buy a battery for my mag bikes. :D I bought a display model directly from Morris Mags years ago for half price.
 

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I can think of a few:

1. when your generater stops generating and system voltage drops to zilch, you still ride home smiling, not pushing.

2. when your regulator shits out on you and system voltage drops to zilch, you still ride home smiling, not pushing.

3. when your battery boils out or cracks a plate or melts a terminal and system voltage drops to zilch, you still ride home smiling, not pushing.

4. When your wiring and or cables come loose/melt etc and system voltage drops to zilch, you still ride home smiling, not pushing.

Get the idea?
Sure I get it. You neglected the part of my post that said you must have a reliable charging system. If your maintenance skills are such that your running with a marginal, crappy charging system, you're not going to play well with a magneto anyway. I'll gamble that a properly designed and maintained charging system would get you home more times than a magneto will before requiring maintenance.

Bob
 

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That's not my experience. My 1968 XLCH served as my only transport for years. Including two round trips from Maryland to Sturgis SD. I had more problems with that fookin' generator than I ever did with the mag. Great big domed Venolia 10:1 pistons,ported heads,balanced crank w/S&S rods,Sifton Barracuda cams with OEM XLR pipes that bitch would sing. Wish I still had it.
 

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i enjoy what i've come to call the mechanical romanticism of some machines... those machines have a carburetor and a magneto, kick start and put a smile on my face.

i enjoy starting my sportster. turn the fuel on, gently turn the mag to retard, four pumps of the accelerator to prime, bring to TDC, kick. If it didn't start, do it again. it'll fire on the first, at worst third time.

i also enjoy keeping my machine tuned. i'm a tinkerer, i suppose. not a lot of work by any means... maybe 30 minutes a month. check/adjust points. check/adjust valves. change oil. start it up and go for a ride.

if i didn't enjoy all of that... i'd buy something new.
with a fancy button i push to start it.
and maybe a fancy warranty to fix it when it breaks.

what's rad about all of this: no one thing is right for any one person. ya get to decide!
me, i enjoy my old simple mag/carb bikes so much i've let near new bikes sit neglected. when i did think "i should take that out", the damned battery was dead. i end up taking one of the old bikes instead. now all i have is old bikes.

i'm building a new bike. it's older than my sportster. keep going back in age. eventually i'll just be pushing a round rock down the road grunting something about "wheel", and be happy.

doesn't totally work like that for me with cars...
i have old cars that are all mechanical and require tinkering, which i dig.
i have an old fast car that's way too high tech for me half the time, but i still dig it.
and a new car that i do nothing but turn the key and drive away.
i enjoy having all of those :)
 
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