MAGNETO HARNESS NUT SIZE – 5/8 or 3/4? What’s the difference?

MAGNETO HARNESS NUT SIZE – 5/8 or 3/4? What’s the difference?

By Harry Fenton, Director of Business Development and Product Support

When a customer orders a Kelly Aero ignition harness one of the choices is to order a harness with 5/8” or 3/4” nuts.  Why are these seemingly unrelated numbers used to describe an ignition harness?

These fractions represent the dimensions of the internal diameter and thread pitch of the nuts that attach the ignition lead to the spark plug.  These dimensions have no reference to the width of the nut between the “flats” of the nut.

The 5/8-24 nut is 5/8” internal diameter with a 24 thread per inch count, or “pitch” in technical terms.  The 3/4-20 nut, likewise, is 3/4” in diameter with a 20 thread per inch thread count.   A more common reference is simply “small” (5/8”) or “big” (3/4”) for the nuts.  The spark plugs, in a similar description, are referred to as “small barrel” (5/8”) and “big barrel” (3/4”).

Spark plug development began with unshielded spark plugs that had a simple clip-on connector.  The downside to these spark plugs is that the connection was open to the elements.  Water or mist could easily cause the spark plug to ground out, malfunction leading to partial engine failure.  Another issue was that the spark plugs were often exposed directly to airflow around the engine and the simple clip-on connector could shake loose and detach from the spark plug.  Finally, the unshielded spark plugs were totally unsuitable for radio communications as all of the electrical noise produced by the spark plugs were not controlled by an effective shielded connection.

Airline, corporate and military aircraft development in the 1930s led to the development of “shielded” spark plugs.  Shielded spark plugs are defined as the primary ignition lead connections to the spark plug:  A threaded nut tightly secures the ignition lead nut to the spark plug.  Additionally, the contact hardware of the ignition lead terminal was inserted into a protected chamber inside of the spark plug, outside of the elements.  The protected ignition lead solved the problems of weather and vibration compromising the operational reliability of the spark plug lead.

Post-WWII, the aviation spark plug settled into the two distinct types available today, commonly referred to as the 5/8” Small Barrel and 3/4” Big Barrel.  Of note, the 3/4” spark plug is referred to formally as an “All-Weather” spark plug.  The All-Weather Spark Plug is a shielded spark plug specifically designed for high-altitude operation. The ignition lead insulator is recessed into the shell to allow a rubber grommet on the ignition harness to provide a watertight seal.

As a rule, most normally aspirated, parallel valve cylinder Lycoming engines are typically built at the factory with 5/8” spark plugs.  Most Lycoming angle valve, and all turbocharged angle valve engines are typically fitted with 3/4” All-Weather spark plugs.  Most Continental engines, both 4 and 6 cylinders, built prior to about 1980 used the small barrel 5/8” spark plugs.  All current production Continental engines are now fitted with 3/4” All-Weather spark plugs as standard equipment.

HOW TO IDENTIFY NUTS FOR HARNESS SELECTION

Before ordering a harness, identify the spark plug part number installed in the engine.  All spark plugs with REB, REL, REJ, or REM in the part number are 5/8”.  All spark plugs with RHM and RHB in the part number are 3/4”.  Visual identification of the installed spark plug is best as the part number is stamped on the spark plug shell.  Be cautious of invoices or logbook entries with spark plug part numbers as it is not unusual for the aircraft records do not match the installed parts.  

5/8” and 3/4” spark plugs can also be identified by the distinct features of how the ignition lead nut mounting threads are cut into the shell of the spark plug:

The single easiest way to identify ignition lead nuts is to use a wrench as a gauge. The spark plug socket size is not useful to identify the spark plug type.  All currently manufactured aviation spark plugs use the same size socket for the main hex on the plug body:  7/8”.  But, the wrench that fits a 5/8” nut is a 3/4” and the wrench that fits a 3/4” nut is a 7/8”.  Remember, the nuts are not based on wrench size, but on the internal threads and diameter of the nut.  This chart is a handy summary of the wrenches used and their corresponding nut sizes.

I BOUGHT AN IGNITION HARNESS WITH THE WRONG NUT SIZE- HOW DO I FIX THIS PROBLEM?

The single most common mistake is that an owner buys a 3/4 harness instead of a 5/8.  Why?  As detailed previously, a 3/4” wrench fits the 5/8 nut. So…must be a 3/4 harness nut, right?  Unfortunately, no. 

An important step BEFORE installing the ignition harness is to confirm that the spark plugs are the correct match.  But, all too often, customers fully install an ignition harness only to find after all the work that the wrong harness was ordered and the nuts won’t fit the spark plugs.  The problem becomes that once the harness has been installed on the engine, it is considered used.  While returns and exchanges are not impossible, it can be a difficult process after the harness is installed.

Can the ignition lead hardware be changed to match the spark plugs?  The blunt, honest answer is that it is impractical and not cost-effective to change all of the ignition lead hardware.  The process is time-consuming and requires special tools, manuals, and general experience with ignition lead repair.  While repairing a single lead makes sense, changing all the hardware on 8 or 12 leads is just not practical.

There is a solution, which is simple and much less expensive than converting the hardware on a spark plug lead:  Buy new spark plugs!  Superficially, this may sound crazy, but run the math on labor and parts to convert the ignition leads versus a set of new spark plugs.  For the most part, new spark plugs will be much less expensive.  The good news is that virtually all engines approved for 5/8 spark plugs are also approved to use the 3/4 spark plugs, so converting from one spark plug style to another is usually not a problem. However, consult manufacturer data to confirm spark plug applicability for your engine.

Do you have any blog suggestions or want to know about Kelly Aero products?  Send us a note and we will answer your question:  https://kellyaero.com/about/contact-us/

Magneto Noise Filter?

Magneto Noise Filter?

By Harry Fenton, Business Development and Product Support

Lots of older Bendix magnetos are returned to Kelly Aero either as cores or for a custom overhaul with large external capacitors attached to the outside of the magneto.  Much to the surprise of the customer, this big capacitor is not replaced or provided as new as part of a Kelly Aero overhauled magneto.  In fact, this capacitor is not shown in the magneto overhaul manual or parts list, and there is little to no documentation as to how these parts are installed with the magneto.  So…what is this thing?

This big capacitor is called a “Radio Noise Filter”  and its intended purpose is to reduce radio noise generated by the magneto.  It is a relic of a bygone era as an attempt to fix radio static problems experienced in aircraft radios used in general aviation airplanes of the 1950s and 1960s.  While not useful for current aircraft and avionics, these capacitors are still sold by Kelly Aero as a spare part.

NOISE FILTER- WHY IT WAS NEEDED, WHY IT IS NOT NEEDED NOW

When the magneto is operating, the contact points close to allow the magneto to build a charge, and then open to allow the current to discharge which creates the ignition spark.  The result is a pulsating voltage produced at the internal magneto capacitor, and this voltage is carried by the P-Lead and switch.  

For the most part, this voltage has no effect on the engine or magneto and is simply a byproduct of normal operation.  However, the pulsating voltage in the P-Lead can result in a low amplitude radiated signal that has the potential to create a signal that can be picked up by radio.  

Because this signal is not a structured signal in the form of voice or morse code to identify VOR stations, it is termed “noise” and it is interpreted as interference.  Radio noise is a rare occurrence and is as described:  A steady whine, a general static or a staccato clicking sound as the spark plugs fire that is heard while tuned into aviation radio frequencies.

A lot has changed in the world of avionics from the 1950s to now.  One of the serious problems in the 1950s and 1960s as radios became more common to the airplane cockpit, was “radio noise”.   Early radios worked on dozen frequencies for voice and navigation and the radio designs were based on frequency crystals and vacuum tubes. The old radios were very susceptible to radio noise due to the limits of the components and circuit designs available at the time.  On top of that, all of the components like lights, strobes, generators, spark plugs, ignition harnesses, and magnetos generated some sort of radio noise.  From the radio standpoint, it was a noisy environment.  

Noise filters, in the form of capacitors, were attached to all sorts of wires connected to lights, generators, and magnetos.  The idea was that the filter would simply change or diminish the radio frequency of the noise generated by these devices to something outside of the aircraft radio frequency range.

Modern avionics manufactured since the late 1980s onward are digital, microprocessor controlled with much better filtering and much greater capability to reject noise.  Additionally, FAA certification required that airborne emitters of electrical noise- like magneto ignition systems- keep the level of radiated electrical noise within acceptable levels.

 

For the most part, airplanes and engines built from the 1980s onward eliminated the noise filters as an extra part that was subject to maintenance or failure just wasn’t needed.  Radio noise was cured by better shielding of airframe wires, lower noise emissions of magnetos, ignition wire, and spark plugs.  The noise filters just were no longer required as they were Band-Aids to other issues such as unshielded P-Leads.  A subtle issue is that the extra noise filter is in-line with the P-Lead and just another component subject to failure that could have a negative effect on magneto operation.  In short, just another part that is subject to failure, so if it is not needed, it can easily be removed from the ignition system for greater overall system reliability.

NOT REQUIRED, BUT STILL IN DEMAND

Having said that, Kelly Aero still sells a lot of the MF3A Ignition Noise Filters.  Why?  We are not exactly sure, but there is a continuing demand for these parts.  One reason may be that A&P mechanics are conservative and want to reinstall the replacement magneto to match, in every exact detail, the magneto that was removed.  If the magneto was originally fitted with a noise filter, then a new Kelly Aero MF3A noise filter is installed to replace the old, worn-out noise filter.  Admittedly, the noise filter may serve a purpose on some older airframes or experimental airplanes where the wire shielding and ground paths are not as well designed towards reducing the effects of radio noise.  Mechanics and amateur aircraft builders can use the filter as a tool to isolate the root cause of radio noise interference.

P-Lead connections are likely the most practical reason why the noise filter continues on in service.  Most of the older Bendix magnetos used “bayonet connectors” for P-Leads.  The bayonet connector is configured with a large nut, and an insulator, looking much like the spark plug connector on an ignition wire.  The airframe P-Lead is configured with a #8 ring terminal.  If the filter is discarded, then airframe P-Lead needs to be re-configured from the ring terminal to the bayonet-style hardware.  The easiest path is the just re-use the old noise filter on the replacement magneto.  This is discouraged by Kelly Aero as, in effect, an untested, decades-old part of unknown history is attached to a freshly overhauled magneto.  There is a lot of risk to degrading the service life of the magneto with the worn-out and unneeded noise filter.

But, if an installer wants to install a noise filter, then the Kelly Aero MF3A is the best option.  The current Kelly Aero MF3A noise filter is configured with a ring terminal on the wire that connects to the magneto.  This connection works with all current manufacture Bendix short cover 20/200 Series, Bendix 1200 Series, and all Slick 4300/6300 and Kelly ES4300/6300 Series magnetos.  But, long cover Bendix 20/200 Series magnetos will need the ring terminal on the MF3A to be replaced with bayonet hardware as pictured below.

One final note:  Remove the noise filter before returning the core magneto back to the parts supplier or back to Kelly Aero.  While the filter is not required, it is useful to have to get the replacement magneto quickly installed until the airframe P-Leads can be reconfigured or a new manufacture noise filter like the Kelly Aero MF3A is installed. 

WHY ARE MAGNETOS IN AIRCRAFT?

WHY ARE MAGNETOS IN AIRCRAFT?

By Harry Fenton, Director of Business Development and Product Support, Kelly Aero


Today’s world is dominated by modern, high-tech smart electronics that can be found in every device
imaginable from toothbrushes to spacecraft operating billions of miles away from Earth. General
Aviation airplanes are equipped with the latest glass panel, GPS driven avionics that have more
computing capability than any manned space vehicle that was sent to the moon. Aviation has
historically been on the cutting edge of the newest and best technology found in the cockpit, so the
expectation is that there should be an equally new technology applied to the aircraft engine and its
systems. But, cutting-edge engine technology has been stubbornly slow to change piston aircraft
engines.


In particular, why is it that mechanical magnetos- which have been in use on reciprocating engines for
over 125 years- are still being used as the primary ignition systems for piston-engine aircraft? With all of
the modern technology at our fingertips, why isn’t there something better? Auto engines have not used
contact points for a few generations. It is likely that the parents of the high school students learning to
drive today never drove or owned a car with an engine using a mechanical ignition system. Mention
Magneto to these generations and the only reference they will have is a Marvel comic book character.
Yet, magnetos remain the most prevalent ignition system used for aircraft engines. If asked, most
aviation enthusiasts believe that aircraft engines use magnetos because that is the only ignition system
approved by FAA Regulations. It is true that the Civil Aeronautics Authority, the predecessor to the FAA,
defined the standards for piston-engine aircraft ignition systems nearly 85 years ago. The wording in the
current regulations has remained virtually unchanged since then, and reads as follows:
CFR 14, 33.37, PART 33—AIRWORTHINESS STANDARDS: AIRCRAFT ENGINES
33.37 Ignition System
Each spark-ignition engine must have a dual ignition system with at least two spark plugs for each
cylinder and two separate electric circuits with separate sources of electrical energy, or have an ignition
system of equivalent in-flight reliability.
Interesting….where are the words that say, specifically, magnetos must be used on piston-engine aircraft
engines? The truth is there is no specific guidelines set forth by the FAA that piston engines must use
magnetos as the primary ignition source for piston engines.
So, why are magnetos used as the most prevalent ignition system used on aircraft piston engines when
more modern technology for ignition is available?


BLAME IT ON WRIGHTS- AND CHARLES TAYLOR


The discussion of aircraft magnetos needs to begin with some sort of historical context as to how
magnetos were first designed onto aircraft engines. As with virtually all the basics of flight, magnetos
can be directly traced back to the engine used in the very first Wright Flyer of 1903.
Everyone knows that the Wright Brothers built and flew the first successful powered airplane. But, very
few people know that the Wrights also built the very first piston engine specifically designed for
airplanes. The engine used by the Wrights was one of the most important, but overlooked elements
that made their airplane successful.

The Wrights were not the first to fly or developing sophisticated aircraft designs. George Cayley, Otto
Lilienthal, Octave Chanute had flown manned gliders many years ahead of the Wrights and had proven
the concept of heavier than air flight. Samuel Langley made successful flights with an unmanned
airplane powered by a steam engine. Langley unsuccessfully launched a steam engine-powered, man-carrying airplane in October 1903, 3 months prior to the Wright’s historic flight.
The important point is, numerous inventors had developed flight-capable airframes at the time that the
Wrights were experimenting with flight. However, the airframes lacked a suitable powerplant of the
right power and weight that could propel the airplane in powered flight. The engine used by the
Wrights solved the propulsion problem and directly contributed to their accomplishment to
demonstrate controllable, powered flight of a heavier than air machine.
The Wrights were assisted in their aircraft engine development work by their in-house master bicycle
mechanic, Charlie Taylor. Keep in mind that gasoline-fueled piston engines were an emerging science of
the time, and not common at all. The vast majority of people living at the time had never seen nor
heard a piston engine and very likely had no knowledge of how a piston engine worked. In 1903, when
the Wrights completed their first powered flight, Henry Ford was still 5 years away from producing the
very first Model T car, so gasoline-powered engines used in vehicles were a rarity.
Incredibly, with no formal engineering background, using only the skills he had learned as a toolmaker
and bicycle repair mechanic, Charlie Taylor built the first successful airplane engine in only six weeks!
He did follow established engineering concepts for piston engines of the time and used design elements
from existing, successful engines. For the ignition system, he used what all other engine manufacturers
were using- a magneto!
What inspired Charles Taylor to use a magneto? Was there a better solution to be found in the automotive
world? In a word- No. In 1903, the magneto was state of the art for ignition systems, was the very best
solution for a lightweight, simple, self-contained generator of electrical energy. The magneto did not
require any external sources of power to make it generate spark energy. The engine flywheel turned a
magnetic rotor shaft in the magneto, and an electrical charge was generated. That energy fired the
spark plug to ignite engine combustion which made the engine run to turn the propellers.
The only other option available to Taylor was a battery ignition system that supplied power to an
external coil and contact point mechanism to distribute the spark. The dilemma for Taylor was that
batteries and generators of the time were extremely heavy, with all-up weight in the many hundreds of
pounds. The size of the batteries also would have required considerable physical space, extra structure-
and resulting weight- to support the batteries in the Flyer.
The magneto solution used by Taylor was an engineering marvel. The average magneto weight was 20-
25lbs. and made a spark any time that the engine was running. The empty weight of the Wright Flyer
was just over 600 lbs., meaning the magneto system was just under 5% of the total weight of the
airplane. A battery ignition system probably would have added 30% more weight to the Wright Flyer,
which would have clearly prevented it from flying.
Is it a stretch to suggest that the Wrights were successful as the first to fly a controllable airplane due to
the magneto? While that is an interesting idea, it is safe to say that the magneto certainly contributed
to the overall success of the Wright Flyer and the Taylor engine.

THE GOVERNMENT REQUIRES DUAL IGNITION


The current day Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, can find trace its roots through a number of
government agencies that were focused on defining the regulations for aviation safety. The Civil
Aeronautics Authority of the 1930s put into effect more stringent regulations to improve the safety of
aircraft and engines. The early Civil Aviation Regulations became the later Federal Aviation Regulations
and established the basis for rulemaking and safety standards for aircraft and engine design.
Through the 1920s and early 1930s, the aircraft engine continued to rely upon single magnetos as the
primary ignition system. As the CAR’s developed to improve upon aircraft engine design and safety, the
Regulations for a dual, independent ignition system made the spark generating magnetos a perfect
solution to comply with this government requirement. Dual ignition systems became the standard
design, and for good reason. If one ignition system malfunctioned, then the remaining ignition could
keep the engine running so that the flight could continue and be landed normally, under complete
control.

The magneto also made sense as it was uncommon for aircraft of the time to be fitted with electrical
systems or starters. Aircraft electrical systems did not develop as quickly as they did for cars, primarily
due to weight, complexity, and expense. Batteries, starters, and alternators were still very heavy and
not particularly reliable. The added weight of an aircraft electrical system could easily add 200 lbs. to
the aircraft weight or about the weight of a passenger and personal baggage.
For the most part, pilots of the time did not care that there were no electrical systems on
airplanes. With no electric starters, aircraft engines used the “Armstrong Method” to get engines
started: The propeller was swung by a person using their arms, the mags were switched to on, and the
engine started. No worry about dead batteries, no worry about the cost of maintaining starters and
electrical systems, no worry about getting stranded due to a failed electrical system. If the pilot could
swing the propeller, the magneto sparked, and the engine would run. Magnetos provided the perfect
solution to provide simplified system installation, good starting characteristics, and low cost of
operation.

IT IS ALL ABOUT THE TIMING


In the early 30s, aircraft ignitions and automotive ignitions took different paths in terms of
development. Automakers favored battery-driven contact point/coil/distributor systems and aircraft
engines remained steadfast with the magneto. There are numerous technical reasons why each system
worked better in some way for either the automotive or aircraft application.
First, the mission profile of automotive engines and airplane engines became distinctly different. Auto
engines are subject to a frequent change of RPM to speed up and slow down, sometimes driving in stop-and-go traffic, sometimes driving fast for long distances. Because of this, auto engine ignition systems
and timing to the engine were biased to improve starting, idle, and low to mid RPM acceleration.
Magnetos are limited to “fixed” advance ignition timing for all operations other than starting the engine.
The fixed advanced timing works for airplane engines because full power is required at takeoff, and
engine RPM does not vary for all inflight operations after takeoff and landing. The requirement for the
aircraft engine to make full power is critical to flying safety. Airplanes must carry their certified load at
takeoff. Not only that, but they must takeoff within a specific length of the runway and climb at a rate
sufficient to clear obstacles or terrain within the vicinity of the airport.
Auto engines rarely need to run at full power for extended periods, and rarely run at greater than 30%
to 40% power most of the time. Car drivers never worry about having enough power to clear a hill or
the power required to drive with light or heavy loads. Full engine power is rarely if ever, required for a
typical passenger car. Because auto engine RPM varies when driving and the engine accelerates or
decelerates randomly, the fixed timing of the magneto does not provide the best overall performance.
Magnetos were not optimum and automakers devised distributors with “variable advance” mechanisms
that changed timing based on the centrifugal force applied to the advance mechanism as the engine
RPM changed.

The advanced mechanisms had the potential for failure modes which could affect ignition reliability,
though. The advance mechanism itself adds many extra components to the system, all of which are
subject to maintenance, or in the worst case, failure. Auto ignitions were designed to default to an
engine timing point not at full power, but to low power, idle timing position. The automotive failsafe
provided for “limp home” capability, but at the cost of reduced power.
The default timing for the aircraft engine magneto is the maximum power timing point, which provides
for the safest situation should the engine be required to continue running after one of the ignition
systems fails in flight. The lack of the advanced mechanism is a benefit in terms of maintenance and
overall cost due to lower parts count.
The picture comes into focus that aircraft engines and automotive engines have distinctly different
“mission profiles” relative to how the engine develops power relative to ignition timing.
 Automotive engines timing is designed to provide the best starting spark and optimize spark at
less than full power engine loads by varying engine timing
o The limp home default in the event of a component malfunction is for reduced engine
power

 Aircraft engines timing is optimized to perform best at full power engine loads by keeping
ignition system timing at a fixed point with no variability
o The limp home default is normal operation provided by the remaining ignition system
should one system fail


MAGNETOS ARE THE CHOICE


The FAA’s single-minded goal for safety does not necessarily inhibit innovation, but it can encourage
aircraft engine manufacturers to follow conservative, simple design paths of engineering. However, is a
conservative path, wrong, or just as pragmatic as a mindset of “not re-inventing the wheel?”
There have been at least a half dozen electronic ignitions specifically designed to replace magnetos
introduced into the aviation market since 1986. But, none of these ignitions have shown the potential to
be the “perfect” replacement for magnetos. Incredibly, many of the electronic ignitions sold today
require that a magneto be retained as part of the system for failsafe backup. When the electronic
ignition fails, the old technology, tried and true magneto will save the day so that the aircraft engine
continues to run safely

In the final analysis, electronic ignitions are challenged to match the simplicity of installation and repair
support that exists for magnetos. By design, electronic ignitions are more complicated installations with
numerous components and wiring connections that all have to be not only installed correctly but
maintained correctly. Troubleshooting of electronic ignitions requires the ability to think in more
abstract terms of electronics and component interactions. Magnetos are mechanical, maintenance and
troubleshooting do not require any extraordinary troubleshooting skills. The vast majority of aircraft
mechanics in the world know how to install, maintain and repair magnetos. Out of the hundreds of
thousands of aircraft mechanics in the world, only a few hundred may have experience with installing
maintaining, and servicing aircraft electronic ignitions.
Parts and service support for magnetos are unparalleled. Magnetos, parts, and companies that can
service magnetos can be found worldwide. Anywhere in the world where a piston engine airplane can
take off or land, there are magnetos parts or support available within a one-day shipping time. In most
cases, maintenance shops based at airports with higher levels of airplane activity will have parts in stock
and mechanics available immediately to provide service for the magneto. Due to the very low
population of electronic ignitions, virtually no repair parts are easily found in the worldwide market.
Parts are stocked at a handful of locations, or available as a special order from the manufacturer. In some
cases, electronic ignitions sold and installed at some point in the past are simply no longer supported by
the manufacturer. The recommendation from the manufacturer is to replace that electronic ignition
with magnetos should it need service!
So why is it that mechanical magnetos- which have been in use on reciprocating engines for over 125
years- are still being used as the primary ignition systems for piston-engine aircraft? When all of the
advantages and disadvantages are summed up, the very reason that Charlie Taylor selected the
magneto for the first piston aircraft engine remains as true today as it was 125 years ago: The magneto is
a self-contained generator of electricity and ultimately the least complicated, most common sense
the choice for reliability and performance for aircraft engines.

OEM Maintenance Compliance & Kelly Aero Magneto Data Plate

OEM Maintenance Compliance & Kelly Aero Magneto Data Plate


By Harry Fenton, Director of Business Development and Product Support, Kelly Aero
Routine maintenance requirements and all special service actions required by Service Bulletins and
Airworthiness Directives typically require that the magneto serial number or part number be referenced
to verify compliance. The OEM data found on the magneto data plates is always the baseline to establish
the applicability of the compliance of a required maintenance or safety action.
However, what is required when an OEM data plate has been replaced by a company that is not the OEM
for the magneto? What if a serial number is added to the data plate that is different than the OEM serial
number? Do OEM requirements still apply? The bigger question: Is the magneto considered an FAA
legal part if the OEM data plate has been removed and replaced by a non-OEM data plate?
Replacement Data Plates- Is This Legal?
The simple answer is “yes”, Kelly Aero replaces worn and damaged OEM magneto data plates with new
Kelly Aero data plates. But, the “yes” answer is not as simple as it sounds. The FAA considers the
management and disposition of OEM data plates attached to FAA-PMA articles as serious business. The
real world for Kelly Aero is that there is no option: worn data plates must be replaced when magnetos
are inspected or overhauled. In most cases, magnetos returned to Kelly as cores for overhaul, or for the
500-hour inspection, may be legible, but not in a useable condition to continue on in service.

The continued use of the OEM data plate for ongoing service and compliance becomes a safety issue if
the information on the data plate becomes illegible. The only practical and safe solution is to make a
new data plate stamped with the information from the old, worn data plate.
The FAA has strict regulations against the removal and replacement of airframe, engine, propeller, and
life-limited parts, though. They spell out what can, and cannot be done in the Federal Code of
Regulations, Part 45. The FAA states, specifically, that data plates of Type Certificated or Life Limited
items may be removed in the course of maintenance and must be reattached to the item from which
they were removed. Replacement data plates for these items can only be provided by the OEM, but the
FAA must approve and accept that process. This concept has been drilled into mechanics thinking by
the FAA and industry guidance. The general understanding is that all data plates are forbidden to be
replaced.


The data plates of component articles that are FAA-PMA approved, such as magnetos, are not as strictly
controlled and the FAA can approve a repair process that does not require OEM approval for data plate
replacement. Kelly Aero’s process to replace the worn OEM data plate with a new Kelly Aero data plate

is part of our FAA-approved Repair Station Quality Manual. This manual details the process to replace
data plates, but also documents the strict record-keeping and traceability procedure required to
preserve the OEM data plate and magneto model information.
Bendix and Slick magnetos worked on by Kelly Aero for overhaul or 500-hour inspection are completely
disassembled and all parts are cleaned and inspected to make the magneto look and work like new.
During the teardown and inspection process, the OEM data plate is removed from the magneto frame in
order to strip the paint from the magneto and repaint it to a new condition. The OEM serial number and
magneto part number are permanently coded onto the magneto frame to preserve the record of that
part. All of the information on the data plate becomes part of the extensive overhaul record of the
magneto as it progresses through the Kelly Quality system.
When the inspection and re-work steps are completed, a list of parts to overhaul or to complete the 500
hour inspection of the magneto is generated and added to the magneto record. At every step in the
process, from disassembly to completion of the overhaul, the OEM data is part of the documentation
record.


After the magneto assembly is completed, a new Kelly Aero data plate is made for the magneto. The
data plate will show the OEM serial number, the Kelly Aero Overhaul serial number, and the part
number of the magneto. The new Kelly Aero data plate is attached and the inspected magneto looks as good
as new. An FAA Form 8130-3 Authorized Release Certificate is generated to document and release the
500-hour inspection magneto to service.
If the magneto is overhauled, the data plate marking will be slightly different as compared to the 500
hour inspection. Kelly Aero Overhauled magnetos are treated more like new production magnetos and
a unique Kelly Aero serial number is assigned to the magneto. The OEM serial number is also retained
and both the Kelly Aero and OEM serial numbers are engraved on the new magneto data plate.

The Dual Identity of a magneto overhauled by Kelly Aero
After overhaul, an FAA Form 8130-3 Authorized Release Certificate is generated to document
completion of the overhaul process and to authorize the release to service of this part by Kelly Aero. It is
at this point that the magneto develops a dual identity based on the specific requirements that apply to
the OEM serial number or the Kelly assigned a serial number. Both serial numbers become equally
important in terms of ongoing maintenance compliance.
The most common misconception is that the Kelly Aero data plate changes the requirements to comply
with OEM maintenance guidance. This perception is 100% wrong. All OEM Service Bulletins and
Airworthiness Directives continue to apply to the magneto based on the underlying OEM magneto data,
regardless if it was overhauled by Kelly Aero or by any other company.
However, the Kelly Aero overhaul uses Kelly manufactured FAA-PMA parts and additional processes of
inspection and workmanship which are not part of the basic OEM minimum requirements. These
additional features make the Kelly Aero overhaul unique. These unique features may be affected by
inspections or service needs different than, or in addition to, than OEM requirements. To track service
requirements of the content added by Kelly to an overhauled magneto, a unique Kelly Aero assigned
serial number is added to the data plate and is listed on the FAA Form 8130-3 Authorized Release
Certificate supplied with the magneto.

Given the “dual Identity” of the magnetos serviced by Kelly Aero, the replacement Kelly Aero data plate
is clearly more than just a simple cosmetic replacement. The Kelly Aero data plate ensures legibility for
the service cycle of the magneto, which is required for ongoing compliance and safety requirements.
The Kelly Aero data plate also adds the extra layer of traceability of the Kelly added components and
workmanship. Ultimately, ALL applicable OEM and Kelly Aero service requirements must be complied
with after the magneto is released to service, and the new Kelly Aero data plate assures that action can
be accomplished.
Do you have a question about Kelly Aero products or piston engine ignition systems? Contact us at
https://kellyaero.com/about/contact-us/

Do you need assistance? Know before you call.

Do you need assistance? Know before you call.

Kelly Aero receives calls daily from customers in need of product support to select a Kelly product or
technical assistance after the product has been installed. Due to our long industry experience at Kelly
Aero, the vast majority of calls are routine, and we can quickly provide an answer to any question asked
to us. However, calls get a bit complicated when the first several minutes are spent trying to determine
what the topic is when a customer calls.
All too often, customers start their phone call with a vague request of “I have a Lycoming engine and I
need a harness” or “…the magneto on my engine isn’t working…” While all conversations have to start
somewhere, the reality is that some conversations stop as quickly as they start. The information
provided by the customer is missing too many important details or the customer simply does not know
the details. It can be frustrating to a customer who is in a rush or in the middle of working to solve a
problem when the conversation with Kelly becomes a game of 20 Questions. Unfortunately, this game
of 20 Question is particularly frustrating for both sides on a busy Friday afternoon when an airplane
needs to fly on Saturday morning.
Just like how a pilot completes a checklist before the airplane is ready to fly, customers and mechanics
can complete a simple checklist of items prior to calling that will the customer to ask the right questions
quickly, and the Kelly Aero representative to provide an accurate answer.


What is the engine make and model you are working on?
Invariably, the Kelly Aero Product Support person will need the following specific information:

  1. Which company manufactured the engine? Is it Continental, Lycoming, Superior, Franklin,
    etc.?

    As a note to this comment: The name of company who overhauled the engine is not useless,
    but also not particularly useful. Starting the conversation with “I have an engine overhauled by
    Empire Engines” is good to know, but does not really provide any magneto information. What is
    useful is the specific original manufacturer of the engine, such as Continental or Lycoming.
  2. What is the complete engine designation?
    Ok, you know that you have a “four cylinder Lycoming” or a “550 Continental” but specific
    details are critical. For example, the magnetos used on a TSIO-550-K are much different in
    configuration and troubleshooting than the magnetos installed on an IO-550-A. Provide as
    much exact information as possible including the prefix, engine number and suffix, such as O-
    320-D2J, O-470-R, TSIO-550-C.
    Additionally, some of the Kelly Aero Technical reps are experienced A&P mechanics with deep
    knowledge of specific engine and airframe applications. If a customer calls in with what seems
    to be a magneto operation issue, a bit of discussion may lead to other known areas of concern
    unique to specific engine models.
    What is make and model of magneto?
    Simply referring to a magneto “a Kelly mag” or maybe as a “Bendix” or “Slick” usually is too broad of a
    description. No surprise, but Kelly will need the exact magneto part number details to put the known
    service history or troubleshooting techniques into perspective.
  3. Is the OEM manufacturer of the magneto Bendix or Slick?
    While Kelly takes it as a compliment when a customer says, “it’s a Kelly Aero mag”. While Kelly is
    an OEM for replacement parts, we are also a service provider to overhaul OEM magnetos. The
    magneto data plate may be labeled with Kelly Aero, but the magneto it is attached to is Bendix
    or Slick magneto, but overhauled by Kelly Aero.
  4. What it is the magneto model series? Bendix makes the 20 series, 1200 series, and Dual D2000
    and D3000 series magneto. Slick mags will be either a 4300 or a 6300 series. Drilling deeper,
    the part number of the magneto is critical as this identifies the configuration of the magneto. As
    an example, the Bendix 20 Series 10-51360-37 and the 10-500514-1 are approved for the same
    engine applications, but very different in the details of how the magnetos are mounted to the
    engine and how the ignition switch p-lead attaches. But, these seemingly small details can add a
    lot of time and expense to an otherwise simple installation if a mechanic has to alter a P-lead or
    order different mounting clamps and gaskets.
    What is the magneto serial number?
    The new data plate that Kelly Aero affixes to all Bendix and Slick overhauled magnetos has lots of
    information that the Kelly Aero product support representative will need to know. Most important will
    be the serial numbers stamped on the data plate.
    The Kelly Aero data plate will display both the OEM issued serial number and the Kelly Aero issued serial
    number. The OEM serial number is important to track any OEM specific service issues or compliance to
    OEM Service Bulletins. The Kelly Aero assigned serial number links the overhaul of the magneto to
    records maintained by the Kelly Aero Repair Station quality management records. The Kelly Aero serial
    number is required to confirm compliance to Airworthiness Directives, certain manufacturer Service
    Bulletins and the general timeframe when the magneto was serviced.
    When was the magneto installed? Calendar date and hours, please…
    Hours of operation and calendar time are two different ways to measure time in service for magnetos,
    and each tells a story independently, and together to put the magneto service history into perspective.
    For example, calendar time frames the reference for the type of parts or service issues known to be in
    effect during a particular year or month. Hours in service provides a view of how quickly, or slowly,
    hours were accrued on the magneto.
    The relationship of calendar time and hours is very important for the Kelly Aero product support
    specialist to assist with customer questions. For example, a customer may comment that they have a
    question regarding a magneto with 100 hours. However, was that 100 hours accrued over two months
    or ten years? Low magneto time is one story, but low magneto time over many years tells a different
    story.
    Harness Nuts and Spark Plug Type. Let’s have this discussion again…and again…and again…
    Search through Kelly Aero ignition system articles and ignition harness selection has been a topic more
    than once. Ignition harnesses have a few options and do required the buyer to do some homework as
    part of the selection process. Virtually all customers are able to determine which custom fit harness is
    required for their engine using Kelly’s Ignition Harness Application Data by clicking on this link:
    http://kellyaerospace.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Aircraft-Harness-Application.pdf.
Aircraft-Magneto-Engine-Replacement-Parts2

But, there are also many, many times that customers, typically private owners who are learning the
process to buy their own parts, who need a bit of guidance on selecting between ignition harnesses that
fit Bendix or Slick magnetos. As always, the most confusing part is the difference between 5/8-24 or
3/4-20 spark plug nut connections.
Sorting out the difference between spark plug nut sizes is usually the substance of most phone calls.
The 5/8” and 3/4” refers to the diameter and thread pitch of the spark plug barrel, not the wrench used
to remove the nuts. The easy way to determine nut size follows:

  1. A 3/4” wrench is used to remove 5/8”-24 spark plug nuts used on REM style spark plugs
  2. A 7/8” wrench is used to remove 3/4”-20 spark plug nuts used on RHM style spark plugs
    Who is asking the question: an A&P mechanic….or an Owner?
    Let’s be realistic: Aircraft owners are more deeply involved in the maintenance process of their
    airplanes than ever before. Owners provide important operational information used by mechanics and
    product support representatives. Owners research and purchase parts used on their airplanes,
    consulting their mechanic, parts supplier, and manufacturer sales and support teams. Internet owners
    groups can be useful, but very often lead to some good answers. The same groups also generate
    answers that may not be completely accurate or even completely incorrect. Ultimately, owners are
    going to have to spend their hard earned money and the educated owner is motivated to do research on
    the products that they own or want to buy.
    By no means does this imply that Kelly Aero does not want to talk to aircraft owners. In fact, we
    encourage and support aircraft owners to contact us to work through product selection or product
    operation questions. But, calls can become frustrating when the owner is speaking in terms which are
    not aligned with standard industry terminology used by trained mechanics. Additionally, Kelly Aero
    product support answers may overwhelm an untrained caller with all sorts of terms and references that
    will make no sense. It usually require a lot of repetitive discussion to explain terms and concepts that
    are easily understood, with no further explanation, by an A&P mechanic.
    From the technical support perspective, Kelly Aero can be less technical, use or explain more of the
    specific terms that an owner may not understand. In effect, Kelly Aero can tailor our conversation with
    the customer to speak with terminology useful to the caller. The end result is a much better experience
    for both the customer and the Kelly Product Support representative.
    Kelly Product Support does not replace required reading material!
    When working on a critical process, such as ordering internal components to the magneto, completing
    magneto assembly, or performing magneto to engine timing, the Kelly Product Support Representative
    will ask, “Do you have a manual?”
    To be blunt, working on a magneto is not the same set of skills as required to change the light bulb
    inside your refrigerator. The magneto and ignition harness are components critical to the safe operation
    of the engine. It only makes sense that anyone who plans to or is working on an item critical to safe
    operation would have a set of instructions in their hands. It is reasonable and obvious that a properly
    rated individual should have access to and use the service manual. Nevertheless, it is also a good idea

for an educated owner to read the service manual to have an idea of the work required for a particular
component.
While Kelly Aero is eager to assist our customers, discussions with a Kelly Product Support
Representatives do not replace the need- or FAA requirement- to have a service manual for the
component that will be serviced. Copyright laws restrict Kelly Aero from sending copies of OEM service
manuals to customers, but Kelly can distribute our own documents freely.
A brief note regarding Kelly Aero manuals: Keep checking the Kelly Aero web page during 2021! We are
working on new product application manuals, product service manuals, and supplementary Service
Letters to make it easy for users of Kelly Aero products to service all of the parts and assemblies that we
manufacture.
Are you ready to make the call?
Get your notes ready and give Kelly Aero a call at 334-286-8551!

Cessna Air Conditioning

Cessna Air Conditioning

Congratulations, you just purchased or have owned for some time, one of the most successful designs in aviation history.
The problem is in the heat of the summer it’s sweltering waiting as you find yourself #3 for departure and it’s 102 degrees on the tarmac.
For most pilots, air conditioning is a creature comfort, with the vast majority of the GA fleet not having this as an option, Kelly Aerospace decided to change that.

Now STC’d for Cessna 172, 182T, T182T, 182S, and 206. Kelly Aerospace Thermal Systems provide​ an all-electric solution to the summer heat that we all hate.

This system has zero effect on engine performance and keeps you cool and refreshed as you fly about for enjoyment or travel for work.
Our system was designed to be fully electric and not affect the performance of your aircraft whatsoever.

To receive a free quote or schedule and time to see one of our systems in person, call Walter Dodge at 334-224-0313.

Walter is our personal Renaissance man and is the VP of Operations for our Thermal Division.

500hr Magneto Inspection/Overhaul

500hr Magneto Inspection/Overhaul

So your prized aircraft is down for an annual and your A&P says it’s time for your 500hr inspection.
Some pilots choose to overlook the importance of the inspection.
However, the 500-hour inspection is the single most important magneto service event.

Whether you are an owner, flight school, commercial operator, or engine overhaul shop, you can ensure continuing trouble-free and safe service of an aircraft magneto.

The 500-hour magneto inspection is critical to the safe operation of magnetos. While not a required service action as an airworthiness directive, it is considered critical and
mandatory by magneto OEM’s and is considered a good, common-sense maintenance practice by aircraft mechanics.

The 500 hour is scheduled preventative maintenance and to avoid expensive unscheduled maintenance. If a magneto is not inspected every 500 hours, then the risk of an unplanned component failure that can cause inconvenient and unplanned maintenance at a location far from an aircraft owner’s home airport is certain to occur.
The cost of one or more nights of hotel, car rental, meals, missed work, lost flight revenue will easily be offset by the relatively small cost of a 500-hour inspection.
The inspection is not limited to magnetos which have accumulated 500 hours in service. A 500
hour inspection can be accomplished at any hours of magneto total time in service. In some cases, some magneto and engine combinations may result in the need to perform magneto maintenance more frequently than 500 hours. Pressurized magnetos used on Continental and Lycoming engines operate in demanding, high altitude environments and require more maintenance than other types of magnetos.
Dual contact, or retard breaker magnetos that use the Shower of Sparks starting system typically require more frequent maintenance. Magnetos used in Shower of Spark applications require frequent
inspections to ensure that fuel-injected Lycoming and Continental engines do not experience hard
starting problems.


To begin the 500-hour inspection process, an inspection return form is downloaded from the Kelly Aerospace website. Complete one form for each magneto that is returned. Before boxing the magneto, remove the drive gears attached to the magneto. Return the complete magneto, with the drive gears removed, and do not forget to include the completed 500-hour inspection form. The magneto is returned directly to Kelly Aerospace, 1400 East South Blvd, Montgomery, AL 36116 with Attn
500-hour inspection marked on the box.
When the magneto is received, work starts within 24 hours of receipt. Plan for four working days to complete the inspection, plus shipping time to return to the customer. Kelly Aerospace ships via UPS or
FedEx and can ship worldwide. Check your shipper delivery zone time chart to determine the duration of shipping time to and from Montgomery AL.
The magneto is disassembled by a magneto technician so that the parts can be inspected and cleaned.
The magneto parts are cleaned and polished as needed. Magneto frames and housings are not repainted but can be repainted if the magneto is upgraded to an overhaul. The magneto parts are
inspected by visual and non-destructive testing, and must meet the criteria established in the Bendix
and Slick Maintenance and Overhaul manuals.
The 500-hour inspection for Bendix magnetos includes new replacement hardware, new contact points,
oil slinger, oil seal, (2) ball bearings, carbon brush, o-ring, felt strip, felt washer, and impulse coupling spring. The 500-hour inspection for the Slick magnetos includes new replacement hardware, new
contact points, and cam, oil seal, (2) ball bearings, carbon brush, distributor gear to comply with

Champion Slick Service Bulletin SB1-15A and impulse coupling spring. An FAA Form 8130 will be provided to document the 500-hour inspection.
Depending upon the condition and service history of the magneto, extra work or parts may be required.
Some of the extra parts would include worn distributor gear, worn distributor block, faulty coil, faulty
capacitor, worn impulse coupling, worn rotor shaft, or parts affected by airworthiness directives.
If any other parts are required, the customer will be contacted for additional charge approval prior to work
being completed.