Smokstak Bulletin Board

Magneto Prices
Am I crazy?

Has anyone checked out the prices that magneto's are going for? Am I crazy? I guess with more people getting into the old engine business, there is a big demand for mags. It's unreal the prices some of the mags are going for. Anyone else have any opinions on this subject? -- Pat

It's sad when a magneto can cost more then the engine it goes on. With the price of some magnetos I'm surprised the Chinese haven't started making them and selling them cheaper. – Vernon

Seems like I've bid on hundreds of Wico EK mags and I'm always outbid. Some people are paying close to $200 for mags that are "untested". I don't get it at all. – J.O.

Time is money and I can go to work on my day off, make overtime, come home, and buy a mag on eBay for $200. Or, I can wait four months, turn down the OT, pay $30 for gas, drive 3 hours, go to an engine show, walk around 5 hours, and maybe find one for $160 and then drive home 3 hours. If all I wanted was the mag, or I need it fast, eBay makes a lot of sense. – Bill

I paid $225.00 for my EK, but it was guaranteed by a noted mag guy. It seems like it was a decent investment, but by this time next year they will probably be bringing $300.00 -- Eric

Well, I agree, time is money and if you are looking for a deal you probably aren’t going to get it on eBay, but, if you want a mag you can most definitely find one there. I would rather find and pay for one (OUCH) even if it is painful, than waste my time looking all over Hell's half acre for one. Anybody who thinks this is an inexpensive hobby had better give their head a shake. There are some serious dudes involved in this hobby with some serious green in their pockets. I guess that is what makes it interesting for those of us that are financially challenged. You’ve got to keep your wits about you and get a lucky break now and again and then you can do okay against the BIG boys. Besides that, after awhile in this hobby, it isn't really about having all the engines that you can get your hands on because you can never have them all. It's about meeting a lot of good people and having some fun along the way. I'd have to say that this is my 2 cents worth, but I don't want to waste the 2 cents. I might need it for that next mag! – Alex

Before I got my first engine I went to an engine swap meet just to learn what I could. There were maybe 15 guys selling and no vendors. There was this man with Wico EKs for sale at $90 a piece. Although new to this, I knew this was a heck of a deal. Of course i had no engine and no need for one but it brought to my attention that there are still real good deals out there. If there is a man out there from WA who was at the Volo County Fairgrounds this past summer with 3 engines for sale and a few Wicos cheap, thanks for offering a fair deal. It is not too common that this happens. – Mac

It’ not my intention to tick everyone off here, but if these mags were lying everywhere you looked they'd be less expensive. (NOT cheap --there is rarely a CHEAP mag that will stay cheap very long!) If people were not willing to PAY the price they'd be SELLING for less. By the way, have you ever tried to repair these things? I hope your time isn't very valuable. A proper job on most mags is at least a half days work with the right tools. If you want it to look pretty, that'll be extra. -- Craig

If you're buying a magneto on eBay, you'd better get two because you may need to combine them to get one that works. And don't break off a screw when you're taking it apart- things can go downhill fast! If things go okay, maybe you'll have a good one after a week or two of your spare time. Some eBay mags are sold by children who don't package very well. If it gets broken in shipping, good luck! – Kid

I gave up on eBay mags. Marks magneto and a few others like him sell their mags with a warranty for about the same price as an eBay mag that might be junk – Kris

I can tell you these are normal prices. You are lucky to live in the States where there are plenty of mags around. When I need a mag it will cost me an average $35 for shipping and when the mag needs a 100% repair, I have to go to one of the few mag repair places here in Holland. Parts and labor cost around $200-240. How much will my mag cost? – John

Just remember, there's no shame in running a buzz coil, or a battery/igniter system on your engine. That's what the farmer did when the mag went belly up. True it may not be original, but it is a heck of a lot cheaper. Save the mag money and buy another engine, (maybe 2 depending on the cost). If nothing else, it will buy you time to look for a cheaper mag. – Vernon

I am not irritated by the prices, because I choose not to pay them. What I am irritated by are those individuals that have many more Wico EKs than engines. I have seen comments like, "I've got 8 or 10 on the shelf, maybe I should sell 'em.” and they don’t ever part with them except at the ungodly eBay prices. I know we have all seen good running engines sold without the Wico EK, because the buyer could get more for the engine and EK separately than together. This is what bothers me. The high price of mags is causing engines and mags to be separated and its all about the $$$$. I am not in the league of many of the engine people that read this list that have or have had 40, 50, or even hundreds of engines. I only have 3. Two run and the other will soon. One is running on the battery and coil because I cannot find a Wico EK that is reasonable to me. The engine is a Stover CT-1. Cute little engine, but it was a basket case when I got it - head cracked, trip bracket cracked, trip finger cracked, gear teeth missing, no EK so it cost me $100 (last year). I got it running and I would love to put an EK on it, but $200-$300 for the EK seems unreasonable to me. To each his own, but if everyone stopped paying the high prices, the price would drop. Demand does drive the price. Anyway, I'm off my soapbox now. Oh, and if anyone has an EK they would sell me at a good price, let me know. Thanks. – Bob

What does everyone feel is a fair price for a EK right now this year? I say about $175 for an un-rebuilt working mag. – Jon

$175 sounds like a good deal to me, but it would have to be the all brass case and probably a little less for one that has the zinc cover plates. --- Frank

A person's "fair price" is generally based upon prices they have seen an item selling for. If all EKs were selling for $300, a "fair price" would be $300. I guess my gripe is that the cost is being driven by some unseen "demand", despite the fact that all parts are still available to make one-either one or two coil, brass covers or not! It's not like EK's are a vanishing species. Maybe I can't find a working original, but if I can find most of one and fix it with replacement parts, has its value diminished or increased? I can understand certain mags being high where parts must be machined, cast, etc, but an EK? As stated earlier in this post, you don't need an EK to run the engine. But you need it for originality. What would people say if sparkplugs were $200-the engine won't run without them either! Anyway, perhaps I live in a fantasy world and wish people would treat each other like they like to be treated-fairly, and honestly, and without trying to maximize profits. These engines are great fun and I love 'em, but they are just stuff. In the long run, my happiness does not depend on owning an EK for each engine and having 10 spares on the shelf. Let's ask how many people have more EKs than engines? I think you would be surprised at the number still around or being created. Why the high cost? I still don't know. Engines are being taken apart so that more $$$ can be made. Like I said, I have a working Stover CT-1 without an EK. I've got it right at $145 plus my time in it. If I buy a $300 EK, I now have $445 plus my time in the engine-Could I sell it for $450-$500? Maybe, but if I want to make money for my time, I would need to sell it for $600-700. Could I do it? Maybe if I wait 10 years. I just don't see why the high cost of the EK's. In the meantime, my $$ goes mostly to making sure that my children have the best I can afford for them. I'll pay $300 for something they need without flinching but refuse to pay that much for an EK. I may not have much money, but am quite content - for I am building up my treasures in heaven, not earth. I realize I may be ranting and raving to some, and I apologize. But the price of EKs is a bur in my saddle and has been so for a while. It started several years ago when I was talking to a fellow that said he bought "common engines like the Cushmans for $100-150 to take off the EK and scrapped the rest of the engine" He said he was making good money selling them. I don't like to hear of engines getting scrapped I guess. -- Bob

I talked to Mark from Mark's Magneto's while at the Coolspring show and he is manufacturing completely new EK's. I ask him about it and he said he could build a new one cheaper than he could repair some of the junk sent to him for repair. As I recall he was asking about $300.00. – Keith

I do on occasion sell Mags, I don’t do it much because the price for “Barn Fresh” Mags of all types make it impossible for me to purchase one and then put the time and parts into making the mag a piece that I will warranty. Just for the sake of argument though, let’s say I pay $150 for a eBay/swap meet EK, it is advertised as “Hot” and sure enough it will shake the devil out of me, but on further testing I find that the left coil is in fact open and both need replacing. For your information, this is very common because a bad lead side coil will not stop an EK from sparking, but it will just keep it from starting and running an engine. So, I am out $150 for the Mag, now I am out $60 for a set of coils and another $20 for the rest of the rebuild kit. The tag looks like junk and the front and rear are zinc, so there goes another $30. Plus, the armature pin and bushing is worn so there’s another $15. Lets not forget the 3 hours of shop time (the US small business administration lists electrical repair as a $25 an hour business), so that $75 labor. Add $10 for postage and the $150 plus $105 for parts and $75 for labor. Let’s see, that’s $340. How much of a loss do I need to stand to make this a fair deal? – Ted

My original post was in amazement at the prices some mags are bringing, as barn fresh. As Ted stated, you can sink good money into making a mag a piece you can sell with confidence. Been there and done that. My amazement was at the price that is paid for something that may need much more work or dollars to make it dependable. Obviously, some folks just happen upon mags, don't need them and truthfully advertise them on E-bay. It's the prices that they bring not knowing fully what it will take to make them dependable. I think what the mag people charge for a rebuilt mag, is very reasonable, considering their time and parts. They must sell a mag for an advertised price. Some mags they probably don't break even, and some they make a buck on. My point is, if they had to pay the eBay prices for a core to rebuild, the mag prices would be ever higher. If I see a mag on E-bay and look at it, normally I see the same 3-4 people bidding on it, which leads me to believe mags are being hoarded up, for profit purposes and not because they need that mag for their engine. The reason I started looking on eBay for mags was hunting a bargain. I, too have seen people buy an engine, take the mag off and sell the engine without it. It's a good possibility that one day, I'll see and engine I want, less mag. or have a friend in the same shape. What few I have are saved for the avid collector or friend, who I can help get their engine running. I'm not in this hobby for the money, just fun and the satisfaction of seeing someone and their engine be a part of our hobby. – Pat

Well said, Pat. I have actually had people look at rebuilt (to like new) EK's that I had priced at $225 with a warranty, walk down the isle and pay $175 for a barn fresh one and then pay me $150 make it work. This is what I just can't figure out. – Ted

I also work on early (pre 1969) Harleys. If you price a Joe Hunt mag for a Harley, it’s $1100. Yes you read that right one thousand one hundred dollars. And this is a very simple mag that uses the Fairbanks-Morse head (common part). Check the price on a mag for a V-8 Ford from Vortex roughly $2000.00. Mags are expensive! $350 for a mag that is out of production (EK) is CHEAP!!! – Patrick

I bought two Webster “AL” mags, both with brackets on eBay one month ago one for $137. There were two on there and I was only going to buy the one but no one was bidding on the other one so I bough the other for $125. I did not need two but at that price I could not pass it up. I have a friend that needed an AL mag so I just gave it to him, I figured that I bought the first one for about half of what it was worth so I did not loose any money. I am in this hobby for the engines and the people. I have made some great friends and perhaps some one will help me out some day as well. – Kris

My turn, although as long as this thread is, no one will likely read it! Face it. As time goes on, the prices of ALL engine/tractor parts are going to go up. I know a man who was at Waukee years ago, and was offered all the NEW EK mags he wanted for $25 each. They were leftovers from the Ottowa Engine Works that a man had bought after they went out of business. Don has told me many times how he wishes he had bought them all, but that was over 30 years ago! No, I won't pay the eBay prices for mags. NO WAY! I'd go to Ted and get one from him that I know would work. He is a good friend and an excellent mag/igniter man, and I know I'd get a good part for a fair price. Everybody finds good deals now and then, but don't complain when you must pay a price for the part you need, be it a mag, igniter, flywheel, etc. I wish I could buy EK mags that work for $75 or $100 too, but if I did, I'd just sell them too, for a profit. I have also given mags to people that I could have sold, but felt it was better off with them than me, since I didn't really need it. I have been lucky enough to see some of the work Ted does in his shop, and you would be amazed. I think you’re better off to get one from him (or someone like him) than to buy one barn fresh every time. -- David

As someone said earlier, value is what the market will bear. Beyond that, eBay hasn't created the phenomena of the feeding frenzy. Have you ever tried to buy an engine at an auction? I mean of course a real life auction. It's no wonder auctions are so popular among sellers. You can put a nice engine up for sale at a show for a reasonable price and get no lookers much less takers. Meanwhile the same thing but rough as a cobb brings twice as much at auction. I'm not putting down auctions either because I still like them, especially eBay. Heck, I would rather get outbid from my comfy chair than drive 80 miles to Beiler's Auction and stand around in the cold mud all day just to come home with an empty truck. Anyway, in a few years we will all be griping about not buying all those "bargain" $200.00 EK's. -- Lee


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