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Thread: positive ground battery system??

  1. #1
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    positive ground battery system??

    can someone explain to me exactly what a positive ground battery system is? Does it mean the positive cable on the car goes to the negitive terminal on the battery and neg cable goes to positive terminal? Ive heard some talk about it since coming on here but i guess ive really never looked into it.
    Zach Hall

    1939 Dodge D11 Luxury Liner Deluxe
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    1983 Chevy C10
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    2001 Dodge Ram 2500 Cummins Turbo Diesel
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  2. #2
    Senior Member mrpushbutton's Avatar
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    Re: positive ground battery system??

    Positive ground means that the cable attached to the positive post on the battery (the big one) attaches to GROUND (the engine block, and a smaller braided strap to the chassis/body) on the other end and the NEGATIVE cable runs from the negitive post on the battery (smaller) goes to the starter solenoid, where that current is distributed to the starter when the solenoid is engaged, and the various tap-offs that terminate at the starter soleniod.
    When you install the battery you still hook the large terminal to positive and the small terminal to negitive.
    A lot of old cars are monkyed with re: positive ground because it hasn't been the standard for 50+ years and some folks just can't get their heads around the basic idea.
    Trace where each cable is connected.
    John

    The real pity in America is that the people who really know how to run the country are all tending bar and cutting hair--George Burns

  3. #3

    Re: positive ground battery system??

    Essentially it means the battery is installed "backwards". The positive terminal is the ground and the negative terminal is the live.

    Many cars were set up this way. All Ford, Chrysler and Hudson cars and all English cars for a start.

    It makes no difference at all to the car, except that certain parts are polarity sensitive such as the radio and the ammeter. These parts are made to get their power in a particular way. So just put the battery in the way the maker intended.

    In the beginning when they first started making cars someone had to decide which way round to put the battery. Some chose one way, some the other.

    There is only one good reason I know to prefer one over the other. If you notice, on your cars the positive terminal always gets nasty and corroded and covered in icky green guck first.

    They figured if one cable was going to get all corroded and rot off it better be the ground because it was easiest and cheapest to replace. So they made the battery positive ground.

  4. #4
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    Re: positive ground battery system??

    Don't forget about having to polarize the generator. When I got my DA the previous owner said that there was something wrong with the charging system, as it would read a discharge as the engine RPM was increased. Everything in the system checked out fine, polarized the generator, no more problem.

    And not "all" Ford cars were positve ground. They built more than a few between 1919 and 1927 that were negative ground, the model T.

  5. #5
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    Re: positive ground battery system??

    Don't forget about having to polarize the generator. When I got my DA the previous owner said that there was something wrong with the charging system, as it would read a discharge as the engine RPM was increased. Everything in the system checked out fine, polarized the generator, no more problem.

    And not "all" Ford cars were positve ground. They built more than a few between 1919 and 1927 that were negative ground, the model T.

  6. #6

    Re: positive ground battery system??

    not all English cars were either , i have owned Austins .Morris, Vauxhall and Landrovers and they were all neg ground . although there were some years of landrover that were positive ground.

  7. #7

    Re: positive ground battery system??

    not all English cars were either , i have owned Austins .Morris, Vauxhall and Landrovers and they were all neg ground . although there were some years of landrover that were positive ground.

  8. #8

    Re: positive ground battery system??


    Just as in North America, most of the British cars up through the 1950's were positive ground, although 12-volt was more common. And, just as in North America, Britain switched to negative ground.

    To show how things changed over the years :

    1930 : positive ground -
    Auburn, Cadillac, Chrysler, DeSoto 8, Dodge, Erskine, Ford, Graham, Hupmobile, LaSalle, Nash (except 6-450), Packard, Studebaker, Willys, Willys-Knight

    1930 : negative ground -
    Buick, Chevrolet, DeSoto 6 (switched to positive 1931), Durant, Essex, Hudson (switched to positive 1934), Marquette, Nash (6-450), Oakland, Oldsmobile, Plymouth (switched to positive in 1931), Pontiac, Reo


    1950 : positive ground -
    Chrysler, Crosley, DeSoto, Dodge, Ford, Frazer, Hudson, Kaiser, Lincoln, Mercury, Meteor, Monarch, Nash, Packard, Plymouth, Studebaker, Plymouth
    British - Austin, Ford, Hillman, Humber, Jaguar, MG, Morris, Riley, Rover, Standard, Sunbeam-Talbot, Triumph, Vauxhall

    1950 : negative ground -
    Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Willys


    1965 : positive ground -
    Austin, Datsun, Envoy, Ford (GB), Hillman, Humber, Jaguar, MG, Morris, Riley, Rover, Singer, Sunbeam, Triumph, Vauxhall

    1965 : negative ground -
    Acadian, BMW, Buick, Cadillac, Checker, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Citroen, Dodge, Fiat, Ford, Ford (German), Honda, Isuzu, Imperial, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, Mercury, Meteor, NSU, Oldsmobile, Opel, Peugeot, Plymouth, Pontiac, Porsche, Rambler, Renault, Simca, Skoda, Studebaker, Toyota, Valiant, Volkswagen, Volvo


    The last of the positive ground cars switched to negative -
    Austin - started switch in 1971
    Datsun - 1966
    Envoy - 1967
    Ford (GB) - 1967
    Hillman - 1966
    Humber - 1966
    Jaguar - 1967 to 1969
    MG - 1969
    Morris - dropped
    Riley - dropped
    Rover - 1969
    Singer - 1966
    Sunbeam - 1966
    Triumph - 1967
    Vauxhall - 1967

    Bill
    Vancouver, BC


  9. #9

    Re: positive ground battery system??


    Just as in North America, most of the British cars up through the 1950's were positive ground, although 12-volt was more common. And, just as in North America, Britain switched to negative ground.

    To show how things changed over the years :

    1930 : positive ground -
    Auburn, Cadillac, Chrysler, DeSoto 8, Dodge, Erskine, Ford, Graham, Hupmobile, LaSalle, Nash (except 6-450), Packard, Studebaker, Willys, Willys-Knight

    1930 : negative ground -
    Buick, Chevrolet, DeSoto 6 (switched to positive 1931), Durant, Essex, Hudson (switched to positive 1934), Marquette, Nash (6-450), Oakland, Oldsmobile, Plymouth (switched to positive in 1931), Pontiac, Reo


    1950 : positive ground -
    Chrysler, Crosley, DeSoto, Dodge, Ford, Frazer, Hudson, Kaiser, Lincoln, Mercury, Meteor, Monarch, Nash, Packard, Plymouth, Studebaker, Plymouth
    British - Austin, Ford, Hillman, Humber, Jaguar, MG, Morris, Riley, Rover, Standard, Sunbeam-Talbot, Triumph, Vauxhall

    1950 : negative ground -
    Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Willys


    1965 : positive ground -
    Austin, Datsun, Envoy, Ford (GB), Hillman, Humber, Jaguar, MG, Morris, Riley, Rover, Singer, Sunbeam, Triumph, Vauxhall

    1965 : negative ground -
    Acadian, BMW, Buick, Cadillac, Checker, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Citroen, Dodge, Fiat, Ford, Ford (German), Honda, Isuzu, Imperial, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, Mercury, Meteor, NSU, Oldsmobile, Opel, Peugeot, Plymouth, Pontiac, Porsche, Rambler, Renault, Simca, Skoda, Studebaker, Toyota, Valiant, Volkswagen, Volvo


    The last of the positive ground cars switched to negative -
    Austin - started switch in 1971
    Datsun - 1966
    Envoy - 1967
    Ford (GB) - 1967
    Hillman - 1966
    Humber - 1966
    Jaguar - 1967 to 1969
    MG - 1969
    Morris - dropped
    Riley - dropped
    Rover - 1969
    Singer - 1966
    Sunbeam - 1966
    Triumph - 1967
    Vauxhall - 1967

    Bill
    Vancouver, BC


  10. #10

    Re: positive ground battery system??

    My '22 DB touring was definitely 12-volt negative ground from the factory. I looked it up in the instruction book.

  11. #11

    Re: positive ground battery system??

    My '22 DB touring was definitely 12-volt negative ground from the factory. I looked it up in the instruction book.

  12. #12

    Re: positive ground battery system??

    They built a few (million) Model Ts that were 24 volt AC too.

    I was trying to answer the man's question not write an encyclopedia. But thanks for the information guys.

  13. #13

    Re: positive ground battery system??

    They built a few (million) Model Ts that were 24 volt AC too.

    I was trying to answer the man's question not write an encyclopedia. But thanks for the information guys.

  14. #14
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    Re: positive ground battery system??

    Model T running on magneto, yes AC, the voltage depends on engine RPM and strength of magnets. Model T running on battery, 6 volt.

  15. #15
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    Re: positive ground battery system??

    Model T running on magneto, yes AC, the voltage depends on engine RPM and strength of magnets. Model T running on battery, 6 volt.

  16. #16
    Senior Member 1930's Avatar
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    Re: positive ground battery system??

    I was trying to answer the man's question not write an encyclopedia

    Now thats funny
    ____________
    Jason Anderson

    Looking for early Dodge Bros/Desoto/Plymouth/Chrysler/Fargo/Maxwell Tool info, primarily 14-38

    Looking to share any early Graham/D.B truck info, lets swap info
    If you really want your car to be unique restore it back to original
    4 cyl tech advisor in training ;)
    Lifes too short for a dog and pony show
    Forgive the criminal but not the crime; if you rod a car you should do time

  17. #17
    Senior Member 1930's Avatar
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    Re: positive ground battery system??

    I was trying to answer the man's question not write an encyclopedia

    Now thats funny
    ____________
    Jason Anderson

    Looking for early Dodge Bros/Desoto/Plymouth/Chrysler/Fargo/Maxwell Tool info, primarily 14-38

    Looking to share any early Graham/D.B truck info, lets swap info
    If you really want your car to be unique restore it back to original
    4 cyl tech advisor in training ;)
    Lifes too short for a dog and pony show
    Forgive the criminal but not the crime; if you rod a car you should do time

  18. #18

    Re: positive ground battery system??

    Bill-W The Vauxhall's i have owned were a 1948 J model which i owned for 12 yrs and a 1969 PC cresta 17yrs both were neg ground , my austin was a 1936 AUSTIN 7 about 5 yrs, it was neg ground , my Morris was a late 60's morris 1300 also neg ground. i dont live in the US perhaps the North American export models were different than the British domestic models and those exported to Australia ,New Zealand ,India etc

  19. #19

    Re: positive ground battery system??

    Bill-W The Vauxhall's i have owned were a 1948 J model which i owned for 12 yrs and a 1969 PC cresta 17yrs both were neg ground , my austin was a 1936 AUSTIN 7 about 5 yrs, it was neg ground , my Morris was a late 60's morris 1300 also neg ground. i dont live in the US perhaps the North American export models were different than the British domestic models and those exported to Australia ,New Zealand ,India etc

  20. #20

    Re: positive ground battery system??

    When I say "all Fords were + ground etc" please don't take me too literally. By all Fords I mean all Ford made cars including Mercury and Lincoln.

    American cars standardised on 12 volt negative ground starting in 1955 or 56. Some did this earlier. I have heard of a 1953 Cadillac limousine that was half 6 volt, half 12 and it supposedly came that way from the factory.

    English cars adopted negative ground in 1969 although not all cars changed over in 1969. Most had been 12 volt + ground for years although there were exceptions.

  21. #21

    Re: positive ground battery system??

    When I say "all Fords were + ground etc" please don't take me too literally. By all Fords I mean all Ford made cars including Mercury and Lincoln.

    American cars standardised on 12 volt negative ground starting in 1955 or 56. Some did this earlier. I have heard of a 1953 Cadillac limousine that was half 6 volt, half 12 and it supposedly came that way from the factory.

    English cars adopted negative ground in 1969 although not all cars changed over in 1969. Most had been 12 volt + ground for years although there were exceptions.

  22. #22
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    Re: positive ground battery system??

    ok thanks, i will trace cables in a week or 2 when i get it out of storage!
    Zach Hall

    1939 Dodge D11 Luxury Liner Deluxe
    Stock with the exception of a few parts

    1983 Chevy C10
    Pro Street drag truck in process

    2001 Dodge Ram 2500 Cummins Turbo Diesel
    chipped and fast for 8000 lbs

  23. #23
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    Re: positive ground battery system??

    ok thanks, i will trace cables in a week or 2 when i get it out of storage!
    Zach Hall

    1939 Dodge D11 Luxury Liner Deluxe
    Stock with the exception of a few parts

    1983 Chevy C10
    Pro Street drag truck in process

    2001 Dodge Ram 2500 Cummins Turbo Diesel
    chipped and fast for 8000 lbs

  24. #24
    Senior Member DodgeKCL's Avatar
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    Re: positive ground battery system??

    Just as a final thought you all seem to forget the most prevalent 6 volt,positive ground, car ever made: the Volkswagen Type 1 Beetle. I think there was more Beetles made than Model Ts.
    Also ALL British Vehicles imported after WWII were 12 volt positive ground. I owned several Rootes and BMC types and all were positive ground. I remember distinctly having to flip jumper cables while trying to jump start any of my cars during the 50s or early 60s.By 1971 my new MGBGT was 12 volt negative ground. MGs had two 6 volt batteries,one on each side of the drive tunnel under the rear seat,hooked in series for 12 volts but negative ground. I remember that very well as I bought and installed one of those Bell transistorized capacitve discharge ignition systems.
    I do not know when the change over took place in British cars but no Hillman or Morris or Sunbeam I ever owned had negative ground.

  25. #25
    Senior Member simplyconnected's Avatar
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    Re: positive ground battery system??

    Amphicars, German-built during the mid 1960's, all had 12-v pos gnd. They featured an 1145cc Triumph Herald engine. It was underpowered for the road, but overpowered for the dual plastic props.

    My '55 Ford was built with 6-v pos. gnd., as was a host of other cars.

    Not to say any system is better than another, thank God '55 was the last year Ford used both 6-volt AND positive ground. Trying to sell my old 6-v parts is futile. The same parts in 12-v brings much more money (like a heater motor).

    Standardization proved essential for the entire industry. ...ever try finding a decent radio (or anything else) in either 6-volt or positive ground?

    "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
    --Lee Iacocca

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