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6V Starting and Charging Issues on 1954 Windsor


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I figured I start a fresh topic to get some help with my 54 Chrysler Windsor. Some intro: This is my first classic. Bought it few weeks ago. Drove it home and while driving around the town car died at a stop light. While troubleshooting I figured out the following so far:

  • Car is originally 6V positive ground
  • But last owner had a 12V battery on it with negative ground setup. but no 12V conversion. Generator is still the original 6v, so are starter and starter solenoid.
  • I bought a compatible 6V battery from autozone and tried with negative ground setup since the car started and ran with 12 volt negative ground for a day. But car didn't crank but i can hear the solenoid clicking. Put my 12v booster on it and starter cranks but no start.
  • Upon further investigation realized that voltage regulator is shorted and so is generator. Bought new positive ground voltage regulator and now i am getting the original generator rebuilt.
  • Also found that car has 6V ignition coil and is wired for negative ground. WTH! So thats probably why when i hooked up battery on positive ground starter cranked but no start.

 

In few days, I will have rebuilt 6V generator, fully charged 6V battery and brand new 6V positive ground voltage regulator. I plan to change the coil wiring so that negative will see 6v negative and positive will see the 6v positive ground. How ever I am a bit confused on the positive side. See the pic attached. The small box is the positive terminal of the coil that's going to a part underneath inside the big red box. What is that?

20180315_180638.jpg

Edited by Arun Nella (see edit history)
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Do you mean (the rectangle red box) its going to the distributor? If so, yes that is where it should go. Inside the distributor it should be wired up to the points contact. 

If the -ve of the coil is coming from the ignition switch then the +ve from the coil should be going to the distributor. This is a positive ground setup.

 

Negative ground would be the other way around.

 

What is inside the distributor, points or electronic ignition module?

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On your 54 Chrysler... 6 volt factory positive grounded car...

+ side of coil connects directly to the distributor

- (negative) side of the coil is the 6 volt power supply (hot wire) from the Ignition switch.

That's the way all 6 volt Mopar flathead cars are wired up for the coil and distributor.

Make sure the points are not burned from the 12 volts. Was the key left on?  

Warning... Modern new distributor Chinese condensers and points are no good! NAPA parts too.

Just check for spark with the coil tower lead pulled out of the dist cap and held 1/4 to 1/2" away from the block while the car is cranked over... should be a audible snapping bright blue spark.

If so and the rotor and cap look good the engine should fire. All that as long as the plugs are not soaked in gas and black.

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2 hours ago, c49er said:

On your 54 Chrysler... 6 volt factory positive grounded car...

+ side of coil connects directly to the distributor

- (negative) side of the coil is the 6 volt power supply (hot wire) from the Ignition switch.

That's the way all 6 volt Mopar flathead cars are wired up for the coil and distributor.

Make sure the points are not burned from the 12 volts. Was the key left on?  

Warning... Modern new distributor Chinese condensers and points are no good! NAPA parts too.

Just check for spark with the coil tower lead pulled out of the dist cap and held 1/4 to 1/2" away from the block while the car is cranked over... should be a audible snapping bright blue spark.

If so and the rotor and cap look good the engine should fire. All that as long as the plugs are not soaked in gas and black.

@c49er, Just to clarify the negative side of the coil should see negative from the battery right? regardless of positive or negative ground setup?

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The coil always grounds thru the points in the distributor. This means if the car is positive ground, + goes to the distributor. If the car is negative ground - goes to the distributor.

 

The other side of the coil  is connected to power through the ignition switch. On positive ground cars, the power side is -. On negative ground cars, the power side is +. Hope this is clear.

 

The box is the horn relay. It should have a big wire from the battery, a big wire to the horns, and a small wire to the horn button. The horn button grounds the relay, throwing an internal switch, which makes the horn blow.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)
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Thanks @Rusty_OToole. It's clear now.

 

Over the weekend I learned that, since the last owner rewired (half ass) for negative ground, if I flip the connections just at the battery to make the car positive ground as it originally was, then my negative terminal at the ignition coil will see positive voltage which is not good. This is because coil's power is daisy chained from horn relay which is coming all the way from ignition switch. So I will have to change the feed power at ignition switch to correct this. What a pain!

 

Or should I just leave things the way he had connected with negative ground setup! I am a bit lost. I was motivated to bring the car to factory style positive ground but seems like last owner or someone rewired it for negative ground. So it may take several changes to make the car positive ground. Now what do I do with my brand new positive ground voltage regulator!!! Any way to use that in a negative ground setup!

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Get a factory wiring diagram and make everything the way they did it. Same wire sizes, and same color coding if possible. When someone half asses a car especially the wiring you never know where they will stop. So fix what you can find but if something doesn't work be aware the wiring may be messed up especially at the ends.

 

It is possible Mr Half Ass just took the wires off the coil and changed them around. If so you can change them back.

 

Break it down to its simplest form. Take the ignition system first. Trace from key switch to coil to distributor. First be sure the switch is wired correctly. Chrysler did not use a fuse panel, they used the more expensive but superior circuit breakers. There are a couple of circuit breakers in the wiring up behind the dash, they look like little gray boxes.

 

Check wiring to the battery first. Then the charging system. Then the ignition system. Then any other system that seems to be altered. Just put everything back to original. If something doesn't work, fix it right. Don't half ass it. If you have any questions, ask. In the end it is usually easier and cheaper to fix things right than it is to half ass them and chase gremlins forever.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)
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So, got the rebuilt generator back. Installed it. Didn't wire yet, I wanted to measure the voltage first. Hooked up a 6volt battery and started the car and yes it started. Slow crank but def started. Noticed two things:

  1. Measured 0 volt across generators ARM and Field.
  2. I am measuring continuity between the body of the generator and the ARM/Field pins! Is that normal?

The rebuilt shop said they tested generator and it was working fine. I am gonna call them tomorrow. Any tips will be appreciated. So the car now starts on 6 volt battery but this generator deal!

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It won't work until it is hooked to the voltage regulator and it may be necessary to polarize it. Looking at a wiring diagram it does appear the field goes to ground and so will one side of the armature. Do you have a manual?

Voltage is controlled by the voltage regulator. You can't tell anything without it.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)
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Thanks. It was polarized by the rebuilding shop.  I will hook it up to the regulator and see. With regulator hooked up, I should be able to measure voltage from the BAT terminal right?

But, I am surprised to measure zero volt at the generator. Usually voltage is provided/controlled by the source which in this case is the generator, isn't it?

 

I have a manual but it's missing pages from electrical section after batteries.

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It will make little or nothing until the field is energized. You could stick a hot wire to the field but then it would run wide open possibly making enough voltage to damage something. This is a test you can do to see if a generator or regulator is faulty but only for a few seconds. I don't know why you can't just hook it up right. The generator and regulator work together, neither is going to work without the other.  Here is a wiring diagram, if you want to check your regulator wiring.

58e72aca20b17_51Chryslerwiringdiagram002.thumb.jpg.62d267cc9df0cd52cc247cee14e36b64.jpg

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)
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Could be the  the solenoid  copper contact disc to the  two studs resistance is too high from high wear. Easy to fix by someone competent with automotive electrical work.

The two copper bolt studs and copper disc need to be removed to clean file or rotate to provide a clean flat new electrical connection surface.

The pinion gear to solenoid plunger adjustment is critical too. If not right the starter motor will not spin over... just click.

Solenoid Chry DeSoto Misc 1941-50 (7).JPG

Solenoid Chry DeSoto Misc 1941-50 (9).JPG

Solenoid Chry DeSoto Misc 1941-50 (12).JPG

Solenoid Chry DeSoto Misc 1941-50 (13).JPG

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You need good power to the starter, good battery and good cables and good connections. I believe you already took care of this. Then you need good solenoid as others have said. It may be time to have the starter rebuilt by a good local rebuilder or auto electric shop. Then have no more trouble for 10 years.

 

Hard starting could be a lot of things. Is your compression good? Is the engine in good tune? They require regular attention to clean points, spark plugs, set point gap, timing etc. this needs to be done every 10,000 miles or 20,000 miles. If you have good compression and engine is in good tune check the Sisson choke is working correctly. The wire can get frayed or broken and they can get out of adjustment. If it is very old the bimetallic spring may have lost its tension. New ones come up on Ebay now and again.

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  • 5 weeks later...

I am back with another starting issue. Whenever I drive on the highway for a while (30 mins usually) and stop the engine somewhere, usually at a gas station, the car doesn't wanna start anymore. This happened this morning. Started fine at home, drove for 30 mins, stopped for gas and then it doesn't wanna start anymore. But I hear the click. Battery measured 6.3V which is good for a 6V system. Charging system was working fine before I left home at around 7.3V.

 

This had happened to me once before too but now I am wondering if this is somehow related to driving at highway speed and heating the car up!

 

I then had to put a 12V booster to start the car which I hate to do but what else to do when u are stranded! Any thoughts?

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If all you get is a click you should be able to troubleshoot with a simple test light.

It sounds as if you have a voa meter and that would work as well.

You want to be sure to check the ground side of things as well.

Edited by JACK M (see edit history)
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Ground was recently cleaned with sand paper. This issue is only after driving for more than 30 mins. Then once i don't use the car for say 6-8 hours, I can start the car again.

 

A wild thought, could the battery be going bad. I ready 6.3V when i see this issue (6V car) but could the cell be going bad inside  due to overcharging somehow and isn't giving enough amps to the starter solenoid?

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1 hour ago, skyler said:

i had the same problem with a Cadillac and it turned out to be a battery cable. it had corrosion that creeped up into the cable.  dennis    

 

I've wondered about that - the insulation jacket may look good on the outside, but what does the cable look like on the inside. Thanks skyler for posting this, it validates another potential hard starting cause.

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I took the battery to Autozone and had it checked out good on the load test!

 

So now i am back down to the starter solenoid. I am gonna try to clean the connections at the solenoid and see how that changes anything. Then will try try a better cable and then possibly rebuilding the starter/solenoid combo.

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  • 2 months later...

Wanted to post an update here. All starting problems were due to bad connection, really old coil wires for starter relay etc. When ever i had issues, I always measured low voltage (less than 5V at the starter solenoid).

 

Cleaned most connections and upgraded some wiring in starting circuit. Problem is almost gone. Still have the wire from ignition to the relay which i need to trace and upgrade.

 

Thanks for everyones help.

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