Wooden spark coils have always been part of the charm of Fairmont engines. They are also called buzzer coils or buzz boxes. Perhaps surprisingly, these coils were available as late as 1998 both from Fairmont and directly from the manufacturer in Michigan, Pontiac Coil. The model that Fairmont has specified since July 1, 1941, for most 2 stroke engines is Fairmont part number F7996. These coils use an F4166 vibrator.From 1941 until 1954, F7996 spark coils were made by the Detroit Coil Company. The one shown here is a thing of beauty - still in perfect shape after 50 years with all brass metal fittings. Pontiac Coil, Inc. was founded in 1954 by Phillip Moody as an off shoot of the special coil winding division of the Detroit Coil Company. Its primary product was spark coils for Fairmont Railway Motors. Two models were produced, both numbered F7996 but one requiring a 6V input and the other 12V. Coils were boxed and shipped out in cartons of twelve. It's safe to say that in the glory days, thousands were made every year. In 1979, the company was purchased by the founder's son, John Moody. Today, Pontiac Coil, Inc. has expanded to include the design and production of coils and solenoids for the hydraulics industry and electro-mechanical devices and clutch coils for the automotive industry. They opened a new winding and encapsulation facility in Searcy, AR. to complement their facilities in Michigan. They have also opened a clutch coil facility in France.
Towards the end of F7996 production, making
these wooden coils had become a labor of love rather than a profit-making enterprise.
Employees were making some parts in their garages, 200 coils at a time being the batch
size. Click here to see a receipt from Pontiac Coil. When
the person who was most involved in the manufacturing retired, the company decided to call
it quits. As you might guess, selling a trickle of these coils to speeder enthusiasts at
$40 each wasn't even breaking even. The one shown left is from the final batch. You can
see that the design never changed in 57 years. Efforts were made to buy the special
winding equipment used but this was not possible and the equipment is now dispersed.
Thus, there are no new F7996 coils being produced today. However, for a peek at a very
rare sight - an unopened spark coil box from Fairmont, click
Used spark coils can sometimes be found for sale in speeder hobby forums or on ebay but buyer beware - 50% of the coils I've bought on ebay didn't work or worked too poorly to use. Coils can sometimes be fixed but the fact that most components are buried in tar can make for a time-consuming and delicate repair job. The good news is that wooden spark coils made for early Ford cars can be used in a Fairmont after modification to their terminals Click here for one source of spark coils. Some people use a 6V Pontiac coil in a 12V electrical system without causing a problem. You can add a dropping resistor in this circumstance. The 12V ones have "12V" stamped above F7996 on the wooden case. There are still a few spark coils made by Detroit Coil still out there but these are now 50 years old or more. Click here to see how to test spark coils
The coil on the right in this photo is an unusual one made by Pontiac Coil. It's a 6V type W 1. On the left is an F7996, to show how much larger the W 1 coil is. The two terminals on the end are for the battery and timer. The two terminals on the top are to power two spark plugs. I'm guessing that there are two coils inside this box. This particular one is in perfect shape. It doesn't look like it was ever used.
If you are having problems with your spark coil, go to the following page on the NARCOA web site: http://www.narcoa.org/info/how_to/how_to.htm
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Last Edited 11 January, 2004