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Ford 9N, 2N & 8N Discussion Forum
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why is ballast resistor not needed?

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Author  [Modern View]
Steve Andress

01-18-2013 07:17:45

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Why is ballast resistor not needed when switching from the 6v square coil to a 6v round coil?

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Dell (WA)

01-18-2013 10:04:12

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 Re: why is ballast resistor not needed? in reply to Steve Andress, 01-18-2013 07:17:45  
Steve.........ya gotta understand what the "infamous ballast resistor" does. It is an "auto-magic" electronic trick that changes resistance with temperature. Heres the deal, in 1939 when the 9N tractor was designed, batterys were NOT DIE-HARDS, they were die-eazy when the starter motor sucked 150-amps of power outta the battery. So Ford designed the weird 4-nipple squarecan coil to run on 3-volts (+) the ballast resistor. The ballast resistor cuts the 6-volts down to 3-volts AFTER the tractor starts. But because of the COLD temperature, the ballast resistor acts like it is not even there and supplies 6-volts to the 3-volt coil for HOTTER sparkies and quicker starting. Once you let up on the safety interlocked tranny starter switch, the ballast resistor changes resistance value in about 2-mins and now the squarecan coil gitts its designed value of 3-volts. Modern 6-volt roundcan coils are built differently and do NOT need the "infamous ballast resistor". Isn't that amazing??? ........respectfully, Dell, yer self-appointed sparkie-meister

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01-18-2013 08:19:09

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 Re: why is ballast resistor not needed? in reply to Steve Andress, 01-18-2013 07:17:45  
Quoting Removed, click Modern View to seeThe association should not be 'round' or 'square', but rather the coil's primary resistance. Primary resistance (added to ballast resistor if such is used) determines the coil primary current. The general intent & end result is to have that current be about 3.5 to 4 amperes. Voltage divided by primary resistance equals the primary current. For example, let us say that running/charging voltage is 7.5 volts & typical square coil is 1 Ohm & ballast is 1 ohm (warm), then primary current is 7.5/(1+1)=3.75 amperes=good.

Then do same for 1.6 Ohm round coil and we see 7.5/1.6=4.68 Amperes= a little high, but within reason and just about where the 8N side distributor models run.

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02-03-2013 07:20:02

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 Re: why is ballast resistor not needed? in reply to JMOR, 01-18-2013 08:19:09  
Spark coils don't like too much voltage, so most 12V or ballast-
less 6V coils do have the extra resistance, but it's built into the coil. There is no advantage to running a 12V coil rather than a 6V with a ballast. Some cars use a resistance wire that acts as a ballast resistor woven into the wiring harness, which can be real confusing if you are doing an engine or harness transplant and leave it out.

BTW the fact that a ballast changes resistance as it heats explains why some tractors will start immediately or not at all - the heating of the ballast resistor combined with the drop in battery voltage can quickly degrade the voltage to the coil down to the point where it can't produce an adequate spark. This can be a special problem when for some reason the coil is overballasted so it is putting out a marginal spark in the first place. So, if one is playing with non-standard coils or ballasts it can really pay to make the extra effort to get the ballast resistance just right.

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