Mun24ster

Update 6 volt to 12 volt on my 1940 special

Recommended Posts

39 minutes ago, Morgan Wright said:

 

If it's not same as from the factory, it's not a Buick.

 

 I believe George would disagree.

 

  Ben

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


Benefits of AACA Membership.

Posted (edited)

It hardly matters, vehicle being on the road is what counts. To each his own, I’m just saying that for 40 some years all I ever heard were the glowing ‘sales pitches’ (thank you HMN) for it and I appreciate it anytime someone is generous enough to point out some of the possible drawbacks.

It’s a real risk to do that with some of the nitpickers trolling around here....

Thank you.

Edited by Ben P.
Clarity (see edit history)
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

I almost always recommend staying with the original electrical system in a car. Now that's not due to my purist point of view, because I agree that driving is the point and whatever gets you on the road is OK with me. I say it simply because few 12-volt conversions actually make sense. Most guys assume that 6-volt systems are inferior and there's a persistent myth that old cars were always hard to start and that changed when 12-volt systems were introduced. Not true, but I bet if you ask 10 guys at any local cruise night about 6-volt electrical systems, you will get 10 guys telling you that they're crap. So part one of the problem is this myth that 6 volts doesn't work. That's BS, but persistent myths in this hobby are not a new thing.

 

Now that I've had, oh, 3500 cars pass through my hands, I have come to realize that trying to out-smart the factory engineers is a dicey proposition. At best you get something that works, but it is merely one guy's idea of how it should work. If it works, that's fine. But if it doesn't work or needs replacement parts, it can be extremely difficult to diagnose the problem and figure out what parts that one guy in his home garage used to do his work. Repairs become significantly more difficult at that point because the factory shop manual, with its detailed diagnostic procedures, is completely worthless. Now you've got to figure it out for yourself without the assistance of the really smart guys who built the thing in the first place. You're pretty much stuck with us yahoos on the internet shooting darts in the dark.
 

I know I've mentioned the 1946 Mercury convertible I had where the previous owner had converted it to 12 volts. It worked fine except the entire car was wired using red 12-gauge wire. EVERYTHING. Should something go wrong with that car, how the heck do you fix it? It worked, but it was a recipe for nightmares for future owners and had a significant impact on the car's marketability and value. Nobody wanted to touch that thing, even though it was ostensibly operational.

 

The conversion can be done without a lot of difficulty, but it's never as easy as it seems and it never really solves any problems without adding a bunch of new ones. Everything electrical in the car will stop working and will need to be altered somehow. Most guys don't bother making the original gauges work and just slap some Summit Racing gauges under the dash and call it done. They figure they only drive in the summer so they don't need the heater or defroster fans to work. Clocks never work anyway, so they skip that, too. They wire up a modern stereo system in the glove box and cut holes in the doors or side panels for speakers or remove the original radio and chop up the dash to make a new one fit. I guess that's all fine and dandy for a car you're going to just drive, but it always screams amateur workmanship and laziness and ultimately the car probably doesn't drive any differently. And the next guy is going to look at your workmanship and strt discounting the car immediately.

 

What most folks don't seem to realize is that most of the problems people have with 6-volt electrical systems can be fixed with cheap, easy repairs: good battery cables, clean grounds, strong battery, rebuilt starter, healthy ignition components. I find that more often than not, a 12-volt conversion is used as a band-aid for sub-standard electrical components throughout the car and the guy doing the work figures it's junk rather than solving the actual problem. There's that myth again.

 

So while I'm not necessarily a purist, I am practical. I am of the opinion that making the original equipment work properly is not only better for values, but also for serviceability and functionality, and simple repairs will typically cost less than a 12-volt "conversion." You can change and upgrade and alter all the parts that need to be changed and upgraded for 12 volts, or you can simply use what's already there and save time and money without taking any steps backwards in terms of service or functionality.

 

 

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
  • Like 10
  • Thanks 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

^^This is the truth.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Matt,  as you can see from the pic of my resurrected "find", where it was resting peacefully until I found it......I am basically starting from scratch.   So I decided to make it twelve volt,  I don't think I ever used the word "upgraded", but may have used the term "converted".

 

 

IMG_20190409_220458_891.jpg

 

Maybe the most frustrating thing will be there is no ground wires to alot of things,  relying on a ground path through body panels etc might be interesting given this thing was in pieces,  current has to flow regardless of 6 or 12 volts.

Edited by 1937McBuick (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1937, you are good. This subject ALWAYS brings out the differences of opinion.  The only one right for your car is you.  I am content with mine.  Never have a problem.

 

  Ben

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why don't you split the difference and go with 9 volt? Then everybody will be happy.

  • Like 2
  • Haha 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I suspect a lot of the negative comments around 6v is because there are so few well sorted systems out there, my Cadillac’s 6v system is all originally and will fire instantly (as long as the timing/throttle/enricher is correctly set) easily as well as a modern car. Our 26 Buick is a different proposition in that it can be slow to start, but that’s got nothing to do with electrics and all to do with the bowl on the carb running dry and it having to build a vacuum to suck in fresh fuel - if you didn’t know what’s going on you’d probably assume it’s slow cranking because that’s what you have to do if you want to get fuel into the carb without manually topping up the gravity tank.

 

Lighting is also similar in that it’s rare to see 6v systems that the silvering is still in good condition or has been done properly, when in new condition they actually quite reflective with no globe even in them

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

I probably shouldn’t admit to this, but my 1st car was a post-war Studebaker. 6 volt, when I first got it we put a tractor battery in it. The thing wouldn’t hold a charge and died within a week. Replaced it and the new 6volt battery wouldn’t hold a charge for very long and it too died within a week.

After that I never put a battery back in it and just parked on a hill - got it rolling with one foot out the door and popped the clutch (to this day I can still spot a slight slope even in the flattest of parking lots). Except there was one time when for some reason I decided to jump-start it off the battery cables from a modern 12volt car. Somehow in the starting process I accidentally bumped the horn — it was really LOUD (and I’m sure someone is going to tell me this is impossible, but I’ll tell you it was many times louder than normal. Headlights got brighter than I had ever seen them before or since too.) Never did that again.

Since there was no battery in it, when I took my foot off the gas at stop signs the headlights would dim right out. I mean right out - could just barely see the filaments glow even after dark. Other kids asked how I got it to do that and at the time I really didn’t know. Rev the gas a few times and the headlights would brighten in synch. Really was rather cool (if that is what reckless insanity is considered).


30 some years later I gave the car to a coworker who expressed an interest in it. He didn’t have it very long when I went over to help him with something on it and noticed a battery in it. I asked if it held a charge and if the generator kept up with it and he said, “Oh yeah, you know it wouldn’t start one day so I took the generator to a shop — there were 2 worn brushes. That’s all it was. Replaced them, and it’s started ever since.”
 

I can’t remember if it had amongst the first self-adjusting brakes, or if they were Studebaker’s first self-adjusting brakes, but they were known to be ‘pretty good’. Well, to a reasonable point... You really don’t want to know how I stopped the car, or adapted to stopping rather, but I can also say that to this day, I am one of the few people on earth who know what the real purpose of curbs is — and how to use them. Soft shoulders too.

Bias ply tires might have helped there. Not sure I could’ve done that with radials. (I really should be dead.)

Boy I wish I still had that ratty old car.

 

3FAF274F-DB08-4E56-B3B5-1EA6A20740B1.jpeg

Edited by Ben P.
Typo (see edit history)
  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Go 24volts, twice as electrifiy as 12v and 4 times as 6v....🙄

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I did mine,  I used Rhode Island Wire.   They sell partials such as 'Dash to engine' wiring.       My 35-57  and my '38-46s' wiring needed help.    Their kits are well documented,  labeled and easy ( ?) to  understand and install.    Is your wiring is decent shape ?      Both My '38'  and '35' needed help 'safety wise'.     One thing in the conversion is '12 volt systems are common'.   for those who are not electrical talented.      Jay at Vintage is a fair guy but I suspect he bought a system that someone put together for resale.     Converting to 12 volts is fairly easy.    All lighting bulbs are replaced with 12 volt bulbs.   You did the correct upgrades to the  ignition coil to 12 v.    The original  6 volt starter / solenoid assembly works nicely on 12 volts.   BTW,   removing  the regulator removed the built-in ground for the starting circuit.    That system was designed to use a coil in the regulator to keep the car from trying to start again after the engine is running by disconnecting that part of the start  circuit.      One of the two wires going to the starter solenoid goes to the regulator..    by running that wire a good engine ground will fix  - eliminate that factory  generator safety circuit as you use the much better alternator.   The other wire leaving the solenoid goes to the vacuum start circuit.   I really hope you installed a 3 wire alternator.   The single wire alt does not put out until you get going.      Google '3 wire alternators' for a good education on them.    By wiring a normally open push button across the original vacuum start circuit - by passing it so it cannot work,    that lets you start the engine ONLY when you push the button.    Now if you have a solenoid issue - that is a starter / generator repair shop fix.    They have the instrumentation to check out and repair problems.      Study your Buick provided service manual  (you have one right  ? )  and they have a pretty good electrical diagram.    Remember,   their diagram is electrical circuits and a "not as actually wired" diagram..  electrically wired per the service manual when chasing problems but  - well, get your buddy to explain just how.   You will become a good fixer of their fairly simple designed electrical ...     much is duplicated year to year with minor improvements for increased complexity. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Over the last 50 years, I have solved MANY "carburetor" problems, as well as hard starting ignition problems, on both 6v and 12v systems. The solution: first scrape off the 92 coats of engine paint that the "restorer" placed on one of the head bolts; then connect a heavy-duty jumper cable from the ground terminal of the battery to this particular head bolt. Paint is not a particularly efficient carrier of electric current.

 

Jon.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now