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Chevrolet Six Volt Charging Question


John348
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I am visiting my son this week and he has a stock 53 Chevy 150 Sedan. He was complaining to me that the gauge does not indicate a charge at idle, regardless of throttle, and it miraculously will start working as normal once he begins driving and remain that way for the rest of the use.  I know it is normal for these cars to show no ar a slight charge at idle. I drove the car about 1/2 mile and everything began to work as it should, gauge indicates charge when rpm's are up, discharge at idle with lights on at idle  I shipped him down over the winter 2 working regulators, and 2 generators (one I rebuilt) he swapped out the working units and same situation.

 

At idle I am getting 6.2 volts and regardless of RPM until it "jumps to life" and then it is 6.5- 6.8 volts. I just never experienced this sleepy charging system before, I checked the wires and everything seem to be good. Anyone ever encounter anything like this before? The harness was replaced with a Rhode Island Harness about 10 years ago.

And the belt is adjusted correctly...

 

Thanks

Edited by John348 (see edit history)
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Sounds like the voltage regulator is set a bit low, but that is probably a separate issue. The cut in voltage of the cutout could be set too high also? You could try to measure the voltage at the armature terminal and then raise rpm extremely slowly, maybe with the idle screw(?), and see how high you can get before it cuts in.

 

Other than that, make sure both the generator and the regulator are well grounded, and that the pulley is the right size. Generators are famous for not keeping up at idle. That may be all you can do.

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I'm curious as to what happens when he turns the headlights on while going down the road? Or the heater motor? My 6 volt Ford has no gauge but only an idiot light. I've completely rewired my car and put in all new electrical components including generator and current/voltage regulator. I'm actually on my third regulator since owning the car. Anyway, my idiot light stays on after starting and doesn't go off until I'm going down the road...that is until I turn the headlights on sometimes, then it can go back on, sometimes slightly.

 

I've checked the voltage years ago but can't remember what it was. I'll check it again. The truth is, the battery never dies even after many years of use, so I ignore the idiot light under the conditions that I mention. If it's on all the time while I'm going down the road (without the headlights on) then there's probably a problem that needs looking at.  As low brow as that seems, that would be my suggestion for anyone else encountering minor anomalies. BTW, I'm of the opinion that new 6 volt regulators are pretty cheaply made...either they fail in short order or have issues out of the box. I should also mention that there are 6 volt alternators available, or were when I rewired my car, and I'm pretty sure that application works for Chevies, too. Pretty sure that would improve the charging system, and as I recall they make them to look a lot like generators.

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10 hours ago, john hess said:

Open voltage reg and clean contact points with a matchbook cardboard soaked on carb cleaner... cheap, easy starting point...

I'm with this one John, although I would use a point file first ( electricity likes to jump off "clean" and "sharp" items ) and check the adjustment of opening and closing. Strange you say " jumping to life at 6.5 or 6.8 volts".  I have two 6V. cars and when the generators kick in they are supposed to be at 7.5 Volts according to the service manual. If all is ok I would voltage check the system and watch for a lazy ammeter on the dash at the same time to prove-disprove a resistant laden amp gauge. 

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3 minutes ago, Pfeil said:

I'm with this one John, although I would use a point file first ( electricity likes to jump off "clean" and "sharp" items ) and check the adjustment of opening and closing. Strange you say " jumping to life at 6.5 or 6.8 volts".  I have two 6V. cars and when the generators kick in they are supposed to be at 7.5 Volts according to the service manual. If all is ok I would voltage check the system and watch for a lazy ammeter on the dash at the same time to prove-disprove a resistant laden amp gauge. 

I forgot to mention a friend of mine has a pair of 40 Merc's. When he got the second one he found the charging system was a low performer ( a no performer up to about 1,000 rpms ). He started swapping parts between the two cars and found that the generator pulleys were different in size.    

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The part that is crazy was both the generator and the regulator come off of my car and everything was fine.... I pulled the regulator cover and did some cleaning and the same lazy problem existed, drove about a 1/2 mile and the gauge started working like is should. Walked away and started it up and it worked fine... I am heading back home tomorrow it is working now.... we will see

Thanks for all of the advice

John

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Old age causes havoc on many things when not used regularly (cars and people).... my 53 pontiac had issues for awhile when first brought back to life after 37 years.... most of my electrical issues were a result of bad grounds, dirty contacts, paint on some repaired parts not making contact.... like yours, it was sporadic charging with no consistency.... here in SE PA when the weather cycles with snow on the ground (cold nights, warm damp days) everything sweats...... this resulted in the brushes sticking in my generator... not much, but just to give the same symptoms you are describing.... cleaned them with air, wd40 and alot of wiggling and all has been fine these past two months...... drive often, it's good for both.. (car and driver)..... John 

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I wonder if it’s a grounding issue.  When ground isn’t quite ground the extra resistance can make a voltage drop which might require the generator to overcome before the internal relay in the voltage regulator kicks in.  A body to frame or engine ground strap connection might be a good place to look.

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2 hours ago, TerryB said:

I wonder if it’s a grounding issue.  When ground isn’t quite ground the extra resistance can make a voltage drop which might require the generator to overcome before the internal relay in the voltage regulator kicks in.  A body to frame or engine ground strap connection might be a good place to look.

 

I agree, the problem lays within the car, not with the component's. I just had to head home so next time we will look a little closer. it sure was strange, just when I thought I had seen everything....... 

Edited by John348 (see edit history)
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