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Thunderjet 500 And Compatible Pancake Motor Magnets

Working hand-in-hand with the armature, this is one of the biggest performance decisions you can make. If you just keep trying different magnets you will eventually find a set you are happy with, but making an informed decision will net much higher performance. Generally speaking, the stronger the magnet the better the acceleration - too strong and your car won't roll (coast) as far when the trigger is released. This is one of many places where your driving style can be 'synced' with the power of your magnets, armature choice and track design & layout. The most important thing about your cars magnets is that they are Matched. Matched magnets are a pair that have generally equal strength. If they aren't matched, even a Balanced Armature will be rendered ineffective because the stronger magnet will always pull the closest wind harder to that end of the chassis, creating vibration and potentially unstable operation.

There were many different Aurora magnets made for 'The Fabulous Pancake Motor'. The only way to determine the origin is by their colors, or lack of them. One thing we've learned is you can always be surprised - magnet colors that that are historically "supposed to be weak" can sometimes turn out to be stronger than you would guess! We know this through measuring with both our own home-built Analog tester, an FRHO Gauss tester & a BRP comparative tester. Lets take a look at some different magnets by strength - We'll rate their strengths from 1 to 5 (5 being strongest) since that's how our Analog meter rates them.

  By the way, only tall (White/Red) & (White/Black) magna-traction & X-Traction Magnets rate a 5+. Before you get any wise ideas, cutting or sanding a set down will reduce their strength slightly. Also, a pair of MT or XT Magnets may be matched before you cut, but may not be matched when you are done. Keep this in mind if you decide to go that route, re-matching if necessary. Remember, actual gauss will vary from meter to meter, so our rating is a comparative rating based on our analog gauss tester.

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  • Johnny Lightning X-Traction (Playing Mantis)
  • North: White
  • South: Red
  • Rating: 6.0-6.1
We know these aren't Aurora, but they are also plentiful and so powerful that they have to be recognized. The following 'Factory' Magnets are listed from Strongest to Weakest, so we put the JL X-Tractions first. If you want strong magnets for your magna-traction, get a pair of these. We've have tested over 10 pair and they have consistent measurements as the strongest ceramic Magnets for the MT/XT you can get. They are basically matched out of the box. We haven't 'cut' a set down for T-jets yet to see if the strength is any better than their JL 500 little brothers, but will report our findings here when we do.

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  • Johnny Lightning T-jet 500 (Playing Mantis)
  • North: Light Blue
  • South: White
  • Rating: 4.7-4.8
If you want strong magnets for your T-jet, get a pair of these. We've tested many pairs and they have consistent measurements as the strongest non-polymer, non-neo magnets you can get. These too are basically matched out of the box and are becoming more common in most Fray racing classes. They have a slightly different shape than Aurora magnets and fit a little snug in an Aurora chassis. If you think you are going to re-paint a pair and sneak them into an event, a good tech inspector will spot them immediately - don't try it. However, if rules allow for them, use them!

Depending on the Rules, sanding or grinding the small rectangular 'end faces' will not only produce a nicer fit (resulting in less chassis 'twist'), but also bring the magnets just 'that much closer' to the armature.



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  • Super II "Fully Oriented" Magnets
  • North: Yellow, Black
  • South: Blue, Green
  • Rating: 4.5-4.7
Also known as "turbo" magnets, these are the strongest magnets Aurora ever produced. Available in the ill-fated A|FX Super II cars and on the aftermarket, these magnets are easily identifiable by both color and a little "dimple" cast into the center of each magnet. The "magic" of the dimpled magnet is the "full orientation", meaning that manufacturing tolerances were such that these magnets should have a consistent strength across the entire face.

Some or all Genuine Super II chassis's came with fully oriented pairings sans dimples! I don't currently own a Super II (it's been many years since I have) so I can't confirm or deny this, however it went uncontested in the usually spirited discussion list. It was also reported that there were 'carded' Black/Red pairings offered by Aurora that also displayed the 'dimple'.

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  • Xlerator (Later Clamshell Style)
  • North: White
  • South: Orange
  • Rating: 4-4.5
We've only ever had 2 pairs of these in our hands. They came in the Xlerator slotless racing cars that have the 'clamshell' tops and were also available (though not readily) in the Aurora aftermarket. They can also be identified by the dimple. There is speculation that these were simply Super II's with a different color combo. That's probably correct, but of the 2 sets I've had since building my magnet tester, they measured just a hair below Super II's in strength.

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  • Tuff Ones & XLerator (Early T-jet Style)
  • North: White
  • South: Green
  • Rating: 3.0-3.3
These were probably the strongest non-dimpled true T-jet magnets ever offered. We have a few 'untouched' 'Tuff Ones' and have tested the magnets, so we're am pretty sure about my findings here. Green & White could also be found in most early XLerator chassis's as well, with strengths in the same range as the Tuff Ones. It had been suggested previously in the HO DL that 'Aurora wasted nothing', and I believe it. As was probably the case with the White/Orange dimpled magnets, the White/Green XL magnets were possibly the same 'batch' as White/Green Tuff One magnets.

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  • AFX Non magna-traction
  • North: Light Blue, White or Green
  • South: Green or Orange
  • Rating: 3.0-4.0
This is where things get muddy. if you have a bunch of A|FX parts that got intermingled with your T-jet stuff over the years, then you can't be assured of any type of match without performing measurements. The strengths varied wildly during the A|FX years with colors that matched T-jet colors. Some were designed for 'Blue Arm'd' Specialty Chassis's, while others were for first, second or third generation A|FX cars - strengths vary wildly.

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  • Open Rivet Copper Thunderjet 500 (T-jet)
  • North: Green
  • South: Orange, White
  • Rating: 2.0-3.1
These are probably the most common magnets you'll find in the 'used' T-jet market, due to the remaining NOS chassis's available being (for the most part) outfitted with these. The strengths aren't bad, but they can vary. The Green & White combination has been reported to be a little stronger than the Green & Orange t-jet combo - supporting evidence can be found on the VHORS site, specifically the results pages. we did find 1 pair of the Green/White combo in our collection of magnets and they did score towards the upper end of our rating system at 3.0.

Be careful when choosing these by color alone due to these colors being available as A|FX too - Pairing a rating 2 magnet with a rating 3 magnet can actually yield lower performance than 2 magnets with a 2 rating. Did you catch that?

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  • Solid Rivet Copper Thunderjet 500 (T-jet)
  • North: Black
  • South: Black, Black with White Stripe
  • Rating: 1.5-2.2
Now someone may disagree with us, but this is what we've found. The earliest T-jets had multi-colored armatures, like the Christmas Tree Arm. Later early models had Copper wire / Grey tipped armatures. Christmas Tree Arms came from Aurora with Black / Black magnet combos and they are the Weakest of All Magnets.

The Grey tipped Arm magnets came with Black / Black as well, but the rear magnet had a white stripe on it. The pairs with the stripe were stronger than the pairs without - so - again, chance for mismatch... due to the front magnets always being unpainted black coming in 2 strengths! Without measuring, chance for mismatch is high.

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Thanks to Vincent Piazza, as he contributed much information during his extensive research and personal information gathering. Slugger, as he took the time to snap a photo of his collection of Pancake Magnets and provide it to us for this article. Much of the information about 'out of production' pairings was gathered from members of the HO DL.

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