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Thread: High voltage oil burner transformer

  1. #1

    Default High voltage oil burner transformer

    Completely non-radio related, but I thought I would probe the minds of the elders here.

    My electronics history starts at 5 years old with my first soldering iron burn on my foot. Many destroyed toys later, I was given a HUGE oil burner ignition transformer at the age of 16. This thing was the size of two paint cans stacked on top of each other, 110v input, 3 inch arc output, and had a beautiful hammered green finish with ceramic insulators on top with contacts very similar to automotive spark plug tops in the recessed ceramic. Anyhow, after several Jacob's Ladders and a shift toward microwave transformers, someone decided to make it vanish (likely for the better, even though I knew to keep one hand in my pocket back then ~ but I still should have been dead many times!). Countless years later, nobody seems to know where it went (or that I even had it) and I cannot find any photo even close to it online. Does such a ridiculously large transformer ring a bell to anyone? I'd love to have another just like it but can only find small square ones. This thing resembled a power pole transformer, but roughly 1/4 the size.

    Thanks! KE0KOY

  2. #2

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    Is this similar to what youíre looking for?

    https://www.gordonelectricsupply.com...SABEgL8BfD_BwE
    73s, God bless and good day. KD9KVS
    I have a brain injury.
    I am not my brain injury.
    This does not define me.

  3. #3

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    No. Im thinking the one i had was from the 60's. It might have been a Westinghouse because when i see the color and the labels on their motors, something about it stands out. It was a cylindrical housing with a radius'd bottom edge. The top had a slight lip to it and it had smooth dark colored (perhaps black) insulators protruding from the top, one off centered. The finish was finely hammered texture dark green paint. If i had to guess, it weighed roughly 20 pounds.

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    From your description this seems like what youíre referencing. This is obviously a cut away, but is a single phase transformer.
    73s, God bless and good day. KD9KVS
    I have a brain injury.
    I am not my brain injury.
    This does not define me.

  5. #5

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    Close, but not quite. Ill fire up solidworks and create a 3D part from memory and get it posted. Shouldnt take long.

  6. #6

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    transformer.jpg

    I forgot to add the screw heads on the electrical cord plate and there are two metal ears on the top surface for bolting it into the side of the furnace, but this looks very close to what it was.

  7. #7

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    Good job on that! Iíve not seen any, but whenever I log in and see this conversation I look again. One day Iíll find it.
    73s, God bless and good day. KD9KVS
    I have a brain injury.
    I am not my brain injury.
    This does not define me.

  8. #8

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    Many thanks! I remember a scratch in the black finish on the top of one if the insulators looked brown so maybe the top was bakelite. Hopefully you happen to cross paths with one, I've spent years looking and will be very excited if I get my hands on another!

  9. #9

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    This is not what youíre looking for, but pretty awesome.
    73s, God bless and good day. KD9KVS
    I have a brain injury.
    I am not my brain injury.
    This does not define me.

  10. #10

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    That does look awesome. Ive used automotive ignition coils and microwave transformers before. I used to drive 12v ignition coils using 120v mains with a triac dimmer switch in series. On low, the dimmer sends short pulses with sinusoidal rising edges and square falling edges and really makes those coils shine! There was a large capacitor in that setup too, fried my share of dimmers! Not saying it was smart to do, but it sure worked good! Another favorite of mine was a "wooden box with strange connections" the science teacher had in a display case and gave to a friend when the school was rebuilt, she didnt know what it was. It ended up in my possession and disappeared about the same time as the green one. Anyhow, i had fidured it out. Turns out, the funny looking hardware sticking out of the resin-filled box were dc input, hv output and the mechanism in the middle was the relay contacts. The smile on my face when 12vdc made 6 inch arcs was surely priceless!
    Last edited by brandon lind; Tue 4th Aug 2020 at 00:48.

  11. #11
    gnuuser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brandon lind View Post
    That does look awesome. Ive used automotive ignition coils and microwave transformers before. I used to drive 12v ignition coils using 120v mains with a triac dimmer switch in series. On low, the dimmer sends short pulses with sinusoidal rising edges and square falling edges and really makes those coils shine! There was a large capacitor in that setup too, fried my share of dimmers! Not saying it was smart to do, but it sure worked good! Another favorite of mine was a "wooden box with strange connections" the science teacher had in a display case and gave to a friend when the school was rebuilt, she didnt know what it was. It ended up in my possession and disappeared about the same time as the green one. Anyhow, i had fidured it out. Turns out, the funny looking hardware sticking out of the resin-filled box were dc input, hv output and the mechanism in the middle was the relay contacts. The smile on my face when 12vdc made 6 inch arcs was surely priceless!
    the wooden box you are describing was probably a model t magnacoil ( ignition coil) and could belt the crap out of you if you weren't careful
    they were used in a lot of the old cars

    oil filled igniter coils used in furnaces (I cant find any images for them) would have needed 4 contacts on them or 3 contacts and can as ground.
    voltage in, ground, ignition cable, and flame sensor
    i can't remember if those devices were equipped with safety to shut them off if the flame was not detected.
    newer ones would recycle the ignition sequence about 2 or three times and would shut off after 3 failed attempts.

    looking at the one you designed in the pic looks to be an old ge igniter coil!
    center terminal was to the igniter and the outside would have been the input
    do you remember if it made a clicking noise when you applied power to it?

    if so it functioned like a point contact magneto on lawn mowers using a dpdt relay inside to rapidly and repeatedly switch and short the point contacts on the primary winding causing the rapid collapse of the magnetic field and inducing one hell of a charge on the secondary winding ( generally several thousand volts)

    similar function of the old car ignitions
    Last edited by gnuuser; Mon 21st Dec 2020 at 01:53.
    Im so old dirt was my apprentice

  12. #12

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    The one I had the input of 120v was into the little box on the side and the high voltage was out the two insulated posts on top. Definitely no clicking on that beast, pure transformer action. No relay, no condenser. Straight up death if you put your hand in the wrong place! The wooden box one I had was of the model T variety, although not off a model T (worked on a few of those - very similar). The one from the oil burner was scary compared to the wooden buzz box!

  13. #13
    gnuuser's Avatar
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    probably a 150:1 or 200:1 step up transformer then
    yes it would be damn dangerous to mess with
    200:1 is a 24,000volt output.
    some of the early condensor testors used those murderous transformers.
    Im so old dirt was my apprentice

  14. #14

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    I think you are spot on with 200:1. I recall sticking coat hanger wires in the top electrodes to make a jacobs ladder and the bottom had to be about half an inch to start it. That just about lines up with that voltage. But, at a half inch, that arc was FAT and HOT. If my memory is working today, i remember about 3 inches at the top was needed for it to self extinguish. If it didnt have wire to travel up, it would make the coat hanger wire red hot. Anything i put in that arc rapidly lit on fire! Sure miss that thing

    I know i could just get an old power pole transformer and the proper PF capacitor, but i have no use for it other than nostalgia seeing it sit on the shelf. Some day ill see one in the scrap yard while part hunting...
    Last edited by brandon lind; Tue 22nd Dec 2020 at 16:11.

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