Video clip demonstration of contact breaker arcing
On this page, we'd like to demonstrate, with the aid of some video clips, the effect of the
capacitance of the condenser on the amount of arcing at the contact breaker.
In each case, a Lucas K1F magneto was run up from a standstill to 3400 rpm (6800 rpm at the
crankshaft for a four-stroke engine) and then back to a standstill. The contact
breaker was set with a 0.35 mm (14 thou) gap. The points open at just before 9 o'clock, as
can be clearly seen in the first few clips. A three-point spark gap was used,
set to 5.5 mm and sparking in fresh air. You can view any two clips for
different capacitances simultaneously
in the upper and lower screens to compare them.
The conclusion we have reached is that a capacitance of less than 100 nF will
produce unacceptable arcing at, and erosion of, the contact breaker points. A
capacitance of 150 nF and above is perfectly acceptable from this point of view.
Between those two ranges, the contact breaker points may require more
maintenance and have a shorter life than is desirable.