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specialedduluxe

1949 Plymouth electrical issues

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I stepped up and traded my prized 1969 Buick Wildcat conv for a 1949 Plymouth Special Deluxe Cpe. I know its worth more than the Plymouth and don't care! The 49 was converted to 12 volt. It has an alternater and working lights. The starter spins like wild. The horn blows like a tractor trailer. No gauges work. No interior or dash lights. The heater blows like insane fast. I am worried that the 12 volt will ruin all my components. I have 2 generators I got from junkyard, and could rebuild. Should I convert back to 6 volt, or continue down the path of 12 volt sin? What is easier? What is better? What else do I need to go back to 6 volt? I know of course the bulbs and battery. What do I need to make 12 volt work right? I want the least long term painful option! I ABSOLUTELY LOVE MY 1949 PLYMOUTH. The wildcat burned rubber for half a block, but there is something way cooler about the old 218, and 3 spd. Plus, it aint bad on gas. Help!

Edited by specialedduluxe
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The 49 Plymouth is a fun car and fairly scarce nowadays. It will end up more dependable 12 volts and stuff is more readily available too. You really need a 56 six cylinder starter which is 12 volt and a direct fit. If you don't do this, you risk ruining your flywheel gear. Also, use a resister for the fuel gage. The temp, and oil press are mechanical and the amps is fine without a resister. Put a resister on the ignition coil and also on the heater blower. 12 volt bulbs and you are set. Oh, and I forgot you need the 12 volt 56 starter solenoid. That sounds like alot but it is not that bad and is a good upgrade. I did it on two cars and never looked back.

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Back in the day these were very reliable cars, even with the 6 volt system. My advice is to stay with 6 volts, the way it was built. Just be sure to use the right size battery cables, 1 gauge or heavier, clean all connnections and grounds and it will run just fine. Conversion to 12 volts requires a fair amount of work and replacement of certain components to get everything to work correctly. At the minimum, you will need to deal with the radio, heater and defroster motors, fuel gauge and possibly others, generator, regulator, all the bulbs, starter, clock, and starter solenoid. If you are not going to install air conditioning or some other power hungry accessory but use the car as it is, then I would leave it at 6 volts.

My $0.02.

Joe,BCA 33493

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Amen Joe, keep in original. They ren just fine the way they came from the factory, starting those old MoPars at -15 F was a chore though.

If the car is left 12V the one thing that does not require a resitor is the starter. The wipers are vacuum.

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Thanks gentlemen for your input. I am definitely leaning towards taking it back to original. Just trying to line up all the parts and figure out how. Have two rusty 6 volt generators and two rusty regulators. Pulled a spare motor, out of junk yard today. Practically killed myself unloading it myself. How do I make the vacuum wipers work?

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Hi specialdeluxe, I see that you got several comments urging you to leave your car 6 volts. I certainly understand where everyone is coming from but do not totally agree with them. I grew up with these cars including Chevys and Fords. All of them are good as long as everything is in tip top shape but as soon as something begins to get a little weak you have trouble starting quickly. My experience was that the Chrysler products were the worse of the big 3. They turned over pretty slow and if the compression was at all low they start hard. Also, the starter can rob the battery voltage so that the ignition is weak. You could push the car 6 feet and it would start. Flathead fords the same way when they got some miles on them. The manufacturers didn't change to 12 volts for no good reason. If you want a show car or if you are simply against modifications then leave it alone but I still believe it is a simple useful upgrade that you would not regret. Thanks Richard in NC

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...My experience was that the Chrysler products were the worse of the big 3...

Not necessarily — my 1947 Canadian Dodge is still 6-volt positive ground and is an excellent starter. We drove it up to the Arctic last year and without plugging in it would start just fine at 15°F and OK at 0°F. When plugged in it started just fine at -30°F (10-30 oil, fresh engine). Yes, your battery, cables, starter and engine tune have to all be good, but surely you would want to have that anyway, and much less work than all the work of changing the car to 12-volt.

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I can see merit on both sides of the coin, keep in mind the manufacturers switched to 12 volt and never looked back. The main reason dad used to switch old stuff to 12 volt was to start better in real hot or cold weather. some 6V starters would stand it , some would actually break the mounting housing! I don`t remember what we did on the charging end of things. Had to change all bulbs. I rember things allways started better and had better headlights.

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