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K-W Ignition Company Magnetos

K-W is well known by Model T Ford owners for their ignition Buzz coils. For some years they were a manufacturer of ignition and lighting equipment.Here is a catalog of their product line from 1909.
































Their K-W model HK AKA the Highbar was used on early Holt crawlers and combines. When in repair they are very hot and reliable.The condensers were insulated with mica and seldom failed.





The coils were very hot and occasionally had issues with the primary lead wires.  The leadwires or pigtails were spliced and soldered to the magnet wire of the  primary windings and insulated with a rubber sleeve over the connection.  Over time the connection may corrode apart inside the sleeve, possibly due to the sulfur in the rubber sleeve. The coils are usually intact and sound. The resolve is to splice on new lead wires to the primary windings and all will be well. This to say the least is easier said than done.   The coil is a doughnut shaped device with the armature shaft going through it with two pole pieces on either side of it on the shaft held on by two stubborn tapered pins. The coil itself is a riveted assembly that must come apart to get access to the primary wires under the brass sides in a groove.  Reassembly of the coil assembly is a challenge. One can make new rivets out of annealed brass and make a spacer to maintain the original width while peening the rivets or can use small flat headed machine screws and make threaded  spacers in place of the rivets. Been there done that a few times. It is annoying.




Here is how the timing gear witness marks line up. Sometimes there are no such marks present. if that is the case, note the position of the eotating pole piece, the rotor, and keyway in the cam which also can be found without witness marks.



The K-W model  T  is an enclosed  device known as the Loaf of bread model. It was used on some early International tractors. It is a potmetal monster and must be handled with care.  It uses a similar coil and pole piece arrangement to the highbar. Magnets are under a brass cover and must be removed to get at the condenser.




  The condenser is a paper and wax contraption held in place by a clamp and is nearly always bad. Replace with a modern distributor condenser and end all of your condenser woes.  If the bearings get loose in the potmetal end castings, some green Loctite will help.  If the potmetal ends decide to get cracking or break off one can use a low temp soldering/brazing alloy or simply use some thin Super Glue to hold things together. Not as many problems with the coil primary lead wires as the highbar but if so the same process to service.  When reassembling, the magnets should go back the way they came out. The North poles of each magnet in one side and the south poles on the other. It helps to remagnetize the magnets in place if they have been removed. Some of these have a built in spark safety gap in the rotor




  Here is some factory literature to help identify and keep your K-W equipment in fighting spirit.