Cub Magneto VS Distributor

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Kyle Delong
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Cub Magneto VS Distributor

Postby Kyle Delong » Tue Feb 22, 2022 5:27 pm

Hi, Im currently restoring my 48 cub. Im debating on whether I want a magneto or a distributor. Which one is better? Pros and cons to either one?
Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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Re: Cub Magneto VS Distributor

Postby Bill Hudson » Tue Feb 22, 2022 5:56 pm

Kyle, either one will work fine when properly maintained. Likewise, either one will not work well if not maintained. The magneto system will work without a battery, the distributor will not. There are financial considerations, the magneto repair costs can be significant while the distributor not so much. I've used both systems and was happy with them.

Your question is similar to:
Which oil is best?
Which spark plug is best?
Which antifreeze should I use?

I don't know that this helps you much.

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Re: Cub Magneto VS Distributor

Postby inairam » Tue Feb 22, 2022 6:17 pm

Also a consideration is what type of restoration you are doing. From the factory, your Cub probably had a mag. I have a late 49 and a 50 both with mags.

I like mag mostly because they are different. I see no real difference in performance or ease of stating. As Bill said both will serve you well if maintained.
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Re: Cub Magneto VS Distributor

Postby Greenthumbfarms » Tue Feb 22, 2022 8:12 pm

I was against magneto's until I learned how they work. I have come to appreciate the fact that they work without a battery or with a drained battery. If you have a mag for it, or means to get one that would have my vote.
On top of that the tractor can be updated to 12-volt electrical system without touching the Mag.
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Re: Cub Magneto VS Distributor

Postby Gary S. » Tue Feb 22, 2022 8:16 pm

Back in the early 70's our mag quit on the 49. Dad went to the dealer and found out they had a kit to put the distributor in it. Dad could not afford the down time so he bought the distributor kit rather than mess with the mag. Our dealer right or wrong had said there will be enough charge in the battery to crank by hand to start. All these years I have never had to test that out......

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Re: Cub Magneto VS Distributor

Postby tmays » Tue Feb 22, 2022 8:59 pm

Gary S. wrote:Back in the early 70's our mag quit on the 49. Dad went to the dealer and found out they had a kit to put the distributor in it. Dad could not afford the down time so he bought the distributor kit rather than mess with the mag. Our dealer right or wrong had said there will be enough charge in the battery to crank by hand to start. All these years I have never had to test that out......

Dealer could very well have been right. Powering the distributor does not take as much juice as turning a starter over. I have started distributor tractors before with a hand crank when the battery didn’t have enough juice to turn starter over. Saved me from walking :lol:
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Re: Cub Magneto VS Distributor

Postby SamsFarm » Tue Feb 22, 2022 9:22 pm

With a mag, you do not even need a battery!

Good to go with the hand crank! :)

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Re: Cub Magneto VS Distributor

Postby Eugene » Tue Feb 22, 2022 10:05 pm

What ignition system do you currently have? Most likely cheaper to repair which ever one you have.
I have an excuse. CRS.

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Re: Cub Magneto VS Distributor

Postby Gary Dotson » Wed Feb 23, 2022 8:28 am

You’ll find members here, who are staunch mag fans and those who are big fans of the battery ignition. I agree with Eugene, the best one is whatever you already have. If you plan to, some day, convert to electronic, that can not be done with a mag.

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Re: Cub Magneto VS Distributor

Postby k hutchins » Wed Feb 23, 2022 10:04 am

I'll weigh in on the side of the mag. The original '48 that l grew up with had a mag and l was taught at an early age how to crank it by hand. We didn't always have the extra money for a new battery when one died. So cranking was the only option. Even as an adult, l found myself in similar circumstance. Nice to know that if the bettery is dead, and there is work to be done, you can still start and run your tractor.
I bought another '48 a couple years ago, it came with a distributor. I bought a mag from one of the site sponsors and changed it out. Then sold the distributor, making back about 1/2 of what the mag cost.
As stated by others. It's personal preference. I personally prefer to have options.
Why is there never enough time to do the job right, but always enough time to do it over. :?:

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Re: Cub Magneto VS Distributor

Postby Eugene » Wed Feb 23, 2022 12:33 pm

Bill Hudson wrote:There are financial considerations, the magneto repair costs can be significant while the distributor not so much.
In event of a coil failure, a magneto can be converted to battery powered with the installation of an external ignition coil, and a few other changes. That is if you have a generator and battery.
I have an excuse. CRS.

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Re: Cub Magneto VS Distributor

Postby JoeB » Wed Feb 23, 2022 5:23 pm

The correct 16° advance battery ignition distributor with working weights and springs will run better at all rpms in between full throttle and idle than a magneto will. This makes a larger difference on the bigger tractors than it does on the Cub tractor.

If I am going to have to hand crank one, I would much prefer a magneto with a functional snap coupling.

The dealers installed a lot of the kits to bring them up to date with the battery ignition distributors in the 60's and 70s.

I would suggest repairing and using whatever you currently have. Parts are available for both, and there is plenty of information on the forums on the how to.


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