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Recently I purchased a 1940 Packard 180. It is a very original car and as befits a car of its status it has many accessories including radio, foglights, heater and defroster backup lights and numerous lights in the dashboard and courtesy lights. It runs like a champ most of the time, but the charging system seems to have a hard time charging up the battery; admittedly I have not driven it a long distance (over 100 miles) yet. At some point a previous owner had the voltage regulator tuned to accept a 8 volt battery instead of the original six-apparently he was having an issue with it as well. I recently had a friend inform me that there is a company on the west coast making a device called the GenerNator. I just wanted to get some feedback from people that may already have this setup.

1940-packard-super-8-180-touring-sedan.jpg

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They build an alternator inside of a generator case. I read up on it but was dissuaded because of the price. Zeke 

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https://www.gener-nator.com/default.htm
 

6 volt 50 amp. Alternator insider your generator housing. I’d love to have one but I have no accessories and therefore no need for that much current. Sounds like you could benefit from it if you’re  willing to part with $1,000. 

Edited by stvaughn
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I purchased one 5 years ago & installed for better lighting on a 1931 car.  The generator & alternator are driven off the timing chain.  It has an internal voltage regulator rather than a cut-out.  I still charge the battery when it sits for a couple months.  Works best on 2 amp over 10 to 18 hours.
 

People who try using 8 volt batteries should use double 00 battery cables & a 6 volt battery  This usually happens when they use 12 volt battery cables.  The parts store people will not know of using heavier cables with 6 volt systems.  Most restoration shops can build the cables needed.

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While never a Packard owner, I dont recall any shop comments about any being weak in the battary system...

It's true that if you're put-putting around town at night, lights on, radio going, heater on high, the generator might not keep up ,but a good battery should cover relatively short overloads...Before spending a lot of money, be sure the generators up to snuff, your wirings not deteriorated and your battery has ample capacity and''s in good shape.

More detail re' how the generator doesn't 'keep up" ---when/how it occurs, driving environment etc might be helpful...

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3 hours ago, Michael C Wauhop said:

many accessories including radio, foglights, heater and defroster backup lights and numerous lights in the dashboard and courtesy lights.

 

And if these accessories were on the car when new, the car worked, as in it took the owner to the store, it took the owner to work, it took the owner on vacations, it started in 0 °F weather,  etc. I do not recall stories of how Packards were terrible cars because the generator couldn't keep the battery charged.😉

 

OK, maybe since it is a 180, it got the chauffeur to the store....😄

 

Keep the car 6 volt, do make sure connections are good with the proper sized battery cables. Adjust the voltage regulator to produce 7.5 volts and the 6 volt battery will charge just fine.   Now if the regulator will not go to 7.5 volts, then maybe there is an issue with the generator or wiring. In which case, slapping new systems onto the car will just be a Band-Aid fix. Properly repaired the car will perform as it did when new.

 

I will say, if you are driving the car in ONLY city traffic at night in the winter, then yes, the charging system will not keep up too good, and an alternator would be the correct solution. But I HIGHLY doubt this is the case of your use of the Packard. A simple 6 volt battery minder will suffice for storage and keeping the battery up to snuff.

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Well like I said I do not really drive the car on a regular basis so it sits from time to time. The previous owner had installed a 8-volt battery and set up the voltage regulator to support it but I find I usually have to charge the battery up the day before I start it up and take it out on the road; and that is even after installing a disconnect switch on the battery which resembles a knife switch which I almost always throw to the off position before leaving the car in the garage.

Edited by Michael C Wauhop (see edit history)

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If the battery is discharging while disconnected, it is either bad or you are just letting it sit too long. Good batteries do self-discharge over time. I would get a good strong battery, some 00 cables, set up the regulator properly, and see what happens.

 

It is true that a car with all the accessories you mention may exceed the capacity of the charging system, often does. When you use the car do you drive a lot at night in the rain with the heat, defrost, radio, headlights, and foglights running? If so it may not keep up.

 

Some people put 2 optimas in where a 6 volt was. This gives a whole bunch of reserve. Just remember battery capacity boils down to amps and hours, and a higher capacity battery takes longer to charge. If you run it low, and you know it, put it on the charger after you return home.

 

One if the first things I would do is get it a battery maintainer. It doesn't cost a lot and might solve the problem. Even if it doesn't, it will prevent battery damage. When left discharged, batteries go bad VERY quickly (hours, not days).

 

 

 

 

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The generator you have may just need a tune up.

 It mat need the commentator turned and under cut!

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Just a thought some of those knife disconnect are not good at high amp 6 volt, remember the basic rule, cut the voltage in half this doubles amps.  I suspect these switches work ok with 12 volt. I would suggest the Cole- Hershey switch they are standard issue on Caterpillar equipment.  Michael it would also help if you could tell us if your car does not spin over fast when it has been sitting for a day or 2 or how about after a long drive with all the accessories on ? If it is consistently slow, besides the cable size as has already been talked about how about checking the ignition which may be to far advanced, just a thought

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How old is the 8v battery?  If over 4 or 5 years it is probably on the way out.  Replace it with a 6v battery.  With an 8v battery all accessories will work with no problem, but are 25% faster or higher at 8v.   That means you gas gauge is 25% high.

 

I think you are looking at the amp gauge and seeing it swing way over to the charge side.  This is normal.  By the 1970's car manufacturers were switching to volt gauges, which don't tell you much compared to an amp gauge because customers were concerned about the amp gauge swinging over to the full change setting and moving when the turn signal was on.  This is all normal and just shows that the charging system is working, not that the system is over taxed.  It takes about 25+ highway miles to recharge a battery after a hard, cold start.  I bet you are not driving that far.  If the car starts immediately, then the amp gauge should return to normal in 5-10 miles of driving.

 

I think your charging system should be ok and that you are not familiar with the way an amp gauge operates.

 

BTW, if they increased the settings on the voltage regulator for 8v you may need to reset it for 6 v.

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2 hours ago, 61polara said:

How old is the 8v battery?  If over 4 or 5 years it is probably on the way out.  Replace it with a 6v battery.  With an 8v battery all accessories will work with no problem, but are 25% faster or higher at 8v.   That means you gas gauge is 25% high.

 

I think you are looking at the amp gauge and seeing it swing way over to the charge side.  This is normal.  By the 1970's car manufacturers were switching to volt gauges, which don't tell you much compared to an amp gauge because customers were concerned about the amp gauge swinging over to the full change setting and moving when the turn signal was on.  This is all normal and just shows that the charging system is working, not that the system is over taxed.  It takes about 25+ highway miles to recharge a battery after a hard, cold start.  I bet you are not driving that far.  If the car starts immediately, then the amp gauge should return to normal in 5-10 miles of driving.

 

I think your charging system should be ok and that you are not familiar with the way an amp gauge operates.

 

BTW, if they increased the settings on the voltage regulator for 8v you may need to reset it for 6 v.

 

At least on a few cars I've looked at in detail the fuel gauge is designed to be pretty voltage insensitive. Some work by measuring the difference in current going through a reference resistor versus that going through the sending unit. I am not as sure about the thermostatic type dash units but since the automotive electrical system suffers from pretty big voltage swings it would not surprise me if they were relatively insensitive to voltage too.

 

With respect to the switch from ammeters to voltmeters, I suspect that it was cost. By the 1970s there were enough electrical stuff in cars (power windows, power seats, etc.) that higher currents needed to be handled. Cheaper and easier to put a voltmeter in that to put a much more expensive high current ammeter. And those cars that still had ammeters, like the '82 Plymouth I once had, started putting the ammeter on a shunt. In that particular case the connections on the shunt were prone to corrosion so after the car was a few years old the ammeter ended up measuring 0 regardless of what the alternator was actually doing.

 

All that quibbling aside, I agree with you that a 6v car does not need and should not use a 8v battery.

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Big 00 cables on both positive and negative terminals, new 6 volt battery, voltage regulator adjusted to 7.5 volts going down the road. Remove that knife switch, unless it is stamped it will  handle 400 amps.

 

Remember, it worked when it was new! No need to redesign the car! 

 

8 volt systems are just Band-Aids. Ever see a new car that came with an 8 volt system? NO! Fix the issue, not cover it up and hope it goes away!😉

 

And get a battery maintainer designed for 6 volts.

 

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I find that six volt batteries seem to go for weeks without a charge, and still start the car when required. A fuel pump equipped car (like my '40 Packard) takes quite a bit of cranking over to start after sitting a while, but the 6 volt battery (a Delco) is always up to the task.

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2 hours ago, J.H.Boland said:

I find that six volt batteries seem to go for weeks without a charge, and still start the car when required. A fuel pump equipped car (like my '40 Packard) takes quite a bit of cranking over to start after sitting a while, but the 6 volt battery (a Delco) is always up to the task.

 

My '33 Plymouth with a 6v electrical system and mechanical fuel pump will start reliably after being parked months. It can take a while if it has been parked a long time for the fuel to get pumped up to the carburetor, but it will start.

 

On the other hand my 2017 with its fancy keyless locks always listening for the correct FOB to be in range and other always on electronics will drain its 12v battery in a couple of weeks of being parked.

 

So if I'm going to be gone for a couple of weeks I put a battery tender on the new car and don't worry about the old car. Isn't that backwards of how it is supposed to be?

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If a solar flare or a North Korean dirty bomb fries all our electronic gadgets, guess who's still going to have mobility (for a while at least).

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8V batteries are, as Frank said, a band-aid approach to solving a problem that either isn't really a problem or is caused by something else. 6-volt electrical systems get blamed for all kinds of faults, but I've been driving my 1941 Buick daily now for about three weeks and it has been between 25 and 45 degrees every day. It always starts within about five seconds without any problems in the morning, and after sitting outside all day, fires up easily. I drive home at night with the headlights and heater on without issues, and it still starts in the morning. '40s Packards with the 356 engine such as yours are notoriously slow crankers, which is why so many of them get "upgrades" like those on your car. Slow cranking isn't bad, it's just how the Packard 356 engine is. Just about the time you think it won't catch, it does. That's pretty normal and you shouldn't expect an old car to crank over like a new one. Slow still gets it to fire, don't worry. I suspect this is why the previous owner switched to an 8-volt battery--it's more not understanding what's normal than fixing a "problem."

 

Having said that, what, exactly, is the problem you're seeing in use? Is it the slow starting, low battery voltage, permanently seeing a full charge on the ammeter, or the generator's inability to keep up when you're running accessories (showing discharge on the ammeter at all speeds)? These are separate problems with separate causes and solutions. If the generator isn't keeping up with a full load of accessories at night, bear in mind that it is trying to crank out 8 volts and it may not put out sufficient amperage at that higher voltage level (remember Ohm's Law). Taking everything back to 6 volts might actually help your generator keep up. My Buick can run headlights, fog lights, radio, and heater and just about run at 0 charge/discharge at 30 MPH. At idle, yes, it's going to show full discharge, which is normal. Is this what you're seeing in your Packard? Generators don't put out much juice at low speeds and most were designed to have full output (usually 25-30 amps) at around 25 MPH driving speed. That varies with temperature and the hotter they get the less they put out, but it should still cover the basics. Is it possible that you are seeing normal operation of a charge while you're driving and discharge at idle and low speeds? That's nothing to worry about and if your battery is healthy, it will handle those brief periods of discharge without an issue. The generator should top it off once you're moving again.

 

It's also possible that your battery is never fully charged and the generator is trying to top it off. However, since it's 8 volts, the ammeter might not be reading accurately. Or maybe it's not putting out 8.5-8.7 volts but only, say, 7.8-8.0, so it will never fully charge the 8V battery and will always show a charge on the ammeter. Just another reason to take it back to 6 volts so that all the ancillary equipment can do its job properly.

 

Put in a good 6V battery, recalibrate the regulator to put out the voltage specified in your service manual, and I bet things start to work better even if the starter cranks a little slower. Let us know more details and specifics about what, exactly, you're seeing as a problem and we can probably add more suggestions.

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And if the slow cranking really bothers you, install a pair of Optima red top 6V batteries wired in parallel (still 6 volts, will fit in your box).  You'll also have almost double the reserve capacity to carry the car through those pesky discharge-at-idle periods.  I say "almost" because each Optima has 100Ah reserve capacity or 200Ah for a pair, and a single wet cell 6V battery will have about 140Ah.

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