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Old 07-17-2014, 10:36 AM
Hummer Male Hummer is offline
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Springfield, SC
Posts: 26
Default Electronic ignition conversation military gens?

In looking at military generators the older gas ones seem to be magneto equipped and I haven't found a source for magneto replacements.

There are thousands if not tens of thousands of gas driven military surplus generators out here and it seems the only shortcoming to most of them is magneto failure and ethenol fuel. The fuel we can do something about now that we know how bad ethenol is.

I have a MEP017A and it runs like a champ but Murphy's Laws are in effect and I would like to convert to electronic ignition.

I have a good friend who was electronic instructor for the signal corps, a real sharp guy and he tells me the MEP017As were run 24 hours a day and hold up forever if oil is changed thusly I am going to baby mine, keep it stored indoors when not in use and keep it on a trickle charger but points can and do wear in time.

It is interesting in that there is a data plate that shows how to hook it up to a 55 gal drum of gas. You sure don't see that on any of the ones you buy commercially.

Thusly if someone finds out a electronic ignition conversion for a military unit please pass it on here.
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Old 05-27-2015, 05:02 PM
ironmonger Male ironmonger is offline
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Waukesha,WI
Posts: 18

Hummer, did you ever find an alternative ignition sustem? I can't help there, but I have a MEP026A, which is similar but rated at 26 volts. I was more worried about the fuel, and wold like to convert it to propane.

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Old 05-28-2015, 12:23 AM
Bones Bones is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 2,633

Not sure if this will help but if it has been done this site has somebody who has done it.

Maybe spare magneto.

Saturn used to have a Electronic Ignition for them you might call them and ask them.

And this one was converted to propane but had some other issues with it later on.
" I void warranties"
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Old 05-28-2015, 12:36 AM
Bones Bones is offline
Grand Master Pontificator
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 2,633

I think you will find it here

NSN 2920-01-178-4979

The C model of the MEP 16 should be electronic ignition the A has points

Some Mep16 were refitted to Yanmar diesel engines

This link has the manual for the 16C.
" I void warranties"
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Old 05-28-2015, 12:46 AM
Bones Bones is offline
Grand Master Pontificator
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 2,633

Helpful hint if you get one without instructions. Seems top does not always mean on top.

Do not idle your generators for more than a few seconds
This link has a manual for the 28v model.
" I void warranties"
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Old 05-28-2015, 02:44 PM
J R Adams J R Adams is offline
Grand Master Pontificator
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 1,553

Check this thread / post
I made a conversion to propane about 3 years ago.
Works great.

Last edited by J R Adams; 05-30-2015 at 10:42 AM.
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Old 10-23-2015, 06:25 PM
JeepHammer Male JeepHammer is offline
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 39

New to the forum, but might be able to help.
I've worked as an automotive engineer, particularly ignition & fuel systems.

There are some conflicting terms being used, so I'm a little confused,
If you have time, please clarify if you can,
And pictures or simple wiring diagrams would help.

The Military did things entirely different than most civilian producers,
So there might be some 'Screwy' things to deal with.

Single cylinder or multi cylinder?

There are two basic 'Magneto' ignitions,
Single cylinder engines usually have a magnet mounted in the flywheel,
That magnet comes very close to a coil of wire, which 'Induces' (Electro-Magnetic link in action), 'Inducing' a spark pulse in that coil, which will be delivered directly to the spark plug.

This is the most common type of 'Magneto', found on every small LAN mower engine.

*IF* you have an 'Ignition Coil', looks like the old round tube coils on every car before fuel injection,
Then you probably don't have a 'Magneto',
Its possible, but a magneto/distributor is REALLY old school,
And you just don't see them very often.

If its got a coil, its usually battery powered ignition through breaker points.
If its got a 'Distributor', instead of a coil with two spark plug wire outlets,
Then it can be EASILY converted to electronic ignition.

Distributors, and magnetos with distributor caps, are stupid simple to convert to electronic ignition...
Common 'Of The Shelf' components at the parts store,
A little work with a file, and you are off to the races.
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Old 10-24-2015, 12:10 AM
JeepHammer Male JeepHammer is offline
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 39

Actual MAGNETOS, looks like a distributor...
Those can be re-magnetized when they get weak.
It's actually a side business for me, rebuilding old tractor mags pays a pretty good fee.

If it's a mag, it's got a trigger, usually breaker points.

You will need a power source, a battery.
Mags were used in the days when batteries weren't reliable and expensive.
Not so much any more.

The second benefit is a MUCH more powerful ignition.
An electronic ignition will produce a much more useable spark energy than a magneto.
And electronic ignition will produce much more spark energy than a breaker point system.

To save the breaker points from damage,
The systems use an electrical resistor, reducing the current to the breaker points, even from battery voltage.

With an electronic system, there are no breaker points, so the ignition can receive and utilize full battery voltage...
Effectively doubling, sometimes tripling the spark energy to the spark plugs...

Now remember, this isn't without issues,
You will usually need to UPGRADE the spark plug wires to handle the added spark energy...
That's not a huge deal, but a lot of people overlook something so basic.

You will also have to MAKE SURE your spark plugs are in solid contact with the engine head...
This is the NEGATIVE side of the circuit, and often overlooked.

If the POSITIVE spark energy gets to the plugs, it does you no good at all if it can't reach NEGATIVE,
So a NEGATIVE wire should be attached to the head near the spark plug,
And you should probably use a copper based 'Never-Seize' on the spark plug threads to help promote completion of the circuit.

Most electronic trigger Stators (Winding of wire in the distributor) are interchangeable with most ignition modules.

Some modules hold up better than others, some work on full battery power, while some require a resistor...
This stuff is pretty well 'Mix & Match' from about '74 to '85 and sometimes beyond...
The GM style HEI module is full battery voltage without a resistor, Runs about $25 at any parts store.
I say GM STYLE because GM no longer produces the HEI module, it's aftermarket only, but since there are Millions upon millions of vehicles still using them, they are cheap and available.

If it were me, I would use a GM or Ford style ignition coil.
The later 'E-core' coil rather than the earlier oil filled resistor coil that looks like a canister.
More power, gets along better with the HEI style module and are all over the parts stores & salvage yards...

Depending on the distributor/magneto, most times a little work will install the Chrysler trigger (VERY accurate, very reliable, moderately powerful signal strength) which runs about $15.

The GM HEI style trigger, and the Ford style trigger will also work.
Just depends on how much room you have around, and under the breaker points you have now.


There are also aftermarket ignition modules than can be triggered right off your breaker points,
In the event you are unlucky enough to have one of the few engines with points, but no distributor...

These particular little units use your breaker points with VERY LITTLE current going through them, so they last an incredibly long time,
And use that signal to trigger an electronic module that drives an electronic ignition coil.

I found this out working on an old Cub lawn mower,
Breaker points, but no distributor, and an external coil.
It worked GREAT! Cost about $100, but worked great and the points lasted well over 10 years...
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