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53 Belair electrical question

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by bdr1, Feb 3, 2010.

  1. bdr1
    Joined: Jun 20, 2007
    Posts: 129

    bdr1
    Member

    Car: 53 Belair - stock - converted to 12V long ago

    I am trying to chase down an intermittent brake light failure. Switch is good, grounds are good, bulbs and sockets are good.

    Apparently, everything on this car runs through the headlight switch. This car was converted to 12V prior to my ownership. Can the OE headlight switch handle 12 volt? (orig. 6 volt). My dash lights are intermittant as well. I don't want to start chasing down a switch if it's repairable or not the problem.
     
  2. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 45,315

    squirrel
    Member

    the 55 model chevys have a circuit breaker built into the light switch, might see if yours has one? could have dirty contacts. They would be exposed where you can see them...

    Or a loose wire somewhere.

    If it has turn signals, the TS switch could be the problem too.

    If your switch looks like this

    [​IMG]

    the circuit breaker is the thing kind of in the middle, towards the back. The contacts are at the back end of it, the round thing at the rear end of the narrow strip of metal.
     
  3. bdr1
    Joined: Jun 20, 2007
    Posts: 129

    bdr1
    Member

    It looks just like that one. The car only has 30K miles on it and was parked for 35 years. I ran new wires to the tail lights and replaced the switch on the pedal.

    I found a few replacements at Autozone and NAPA, but they are all 6V. I don't want to keep putting 6V's in there if the 12V system is going to murder them.

    where is the Turn signal switch? in the column I presume. the signals don't work, but are not required in GA.

    thanks for your assistence squirrell....
     
  4. from my experience, the brake light gets its power separate from the light switch. The wire you might be chasing is the taillamp power. Brake lights are typically powered from a fuse box or circuit breaker under the dash (not very clear with early chevy) and fed to the 2 prong swich on the master cylinder via the tail lamps.

    What I have seen with the older switches is the inside gets corroded and the contacts become bad. One way is you can 'brave it' and take it apart and clean it or pick up a replacement.

    Yes your 6v switch should handle the 12v change.

    As for your dash lights, the coil thing on the end of the switch controls the dash lights and is very thin. over the year, it can rust and break off or get thinner causing an intermitten light on the dash when you touch or shake the switch. Typical. Dash lights normally feed from the screw terminal all the way forward on the switch on the right side (see picture above)

    I have a glass bead cabinet that I put my switches in and lightly blast them clean, that usually does the trick, if something falls apart, I suppose it wasnt meant to be. :)

    Hope that helps.

    Oh...grounds have be be good!
     
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  5. bdr1
    Joined: Jun 20, 2007
    Posts: 129

    bdr1
    Member

    Oh, it's been a cussing, throwing stuff, smoking, screaming, re-grounding festival over here this week.

    I work for an automotive lighting co., I will never hear the end of it if I get popped for having a brake light out.
     
  6. waldo53
    Joined: Jan 26, 2010
    Posts: 838

    waldo53
    Member
    from ID

    Some good advice has been given already on this problem. Actually sounds like 2 seperate issues, the stop lights are "hot" all the time, they should be fed by a fuse, or breaker. I suspect since the problem is intermittent that the problem is in the turn signal switch.

    The dash lights are fed off the light switch through that wire-wound pot you can see in the picture someone posted above. Sometimes you can reach around there and spray that pot with some good contact cleaner (Radio Shack should carry it), then wipe it back and forth several times. These things live in a dirty environment and that's usually the problem with dash lights.
     
  7. bdr1
    Joined: Jun 20, 2007
    Posts: 129

    bdr1
    Member

    Is the TS switch in the column then?


    Yes, you guys are a wealth of information on this site. I greatly appreciate it. I am the son of an old street rodder/drag racer from back in the day. I can tune the heck out of fuel injected, twin cam, techno cars all day long. However, the older cars are so "foreign" to me. It's a learning curve compared to newer cars.
     
  8. terd ferguson
    Joined: Jun 13, 2008
    Posts: 3,646

    terd ferguson
    Member

    Make sure your brake pedal is not hitting/smashing/cutting either wire coming from the brake switch. If the wires are not routed properly or have moved around over the years, the brake pedal rod that goes to the master (near the brake switch) will cut the wire and short to ground, causing brake light and dash light problems. I just went through the exact same thing in my '55 chevy pickup. It may not be your problem, but it was mine with very similar symptoms.
     
  9. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 45,315

    squirrel
    Member

    If the car has turn signals, it will have a round "cup" behind the steering wheel, with a lever on it (or a hole where the lever used to screw in). The switch sits in the cup.

    The way the turn signals work, power from the brake light switch goes into the turn signal switch,and gets routed to the two separate brake lights. When you turn on the turn signal one way, it leaves the brake light power connected to the opposite side, and connects flasher power to the side you switched on.

    If the switch or wiring is flaky it will cause the brake lights to act up, because they are wired thru the turn signal switch.
     
  10. 302GMC
    Joined: Dec 15, 2005
    Posts: 6,030

    302GMC
    Member
    from Idaho

    Most '53 - '54 Chevs w/ factory turn signals have a problem with the switch housing coming loose. When the wheel returns to center after a turn, the cancelling cam doesn't center the switch as Squirrel pointed out. Go to your hardware store & buy an allen head bolt same thread & length as the Phillips screw that's in there now, pull the steering wheel, clean & lube the switch (you may have to disconnect the wires from under the dash for working room), then raise the front wheels from the floor & adjust everything. Consider replacing the switch with a '54 pass. or '55-59 7 wire truck unit - plastic wiring is much easier to work with than the cloth & rubber '53. Keep the '53 for parts - these switches can be taken apart for repair.
     
  11. bdr1
    Joined: Jun 20, 2007
    Posts: 129

    bdr1
    Member

    You guys are AWESOME.... thanks Squirrell, 440 Roadrunner, and 302GMC......

    the turn signals do not and have never worked. The TS switch is probably the cause I would guess. Do I need a puller to get the wheel off?

    I see NAPA still carries an Echlin OE HL switch for the 53, nobody has the TS switch.

    The car has been sitting since 1974 in a barn. It had low miles and everything is in great shape, given the age. This is the last piece of the puzzle keeping it from being my daily driver.
     
  12. onlychevrolets
    Joined: Jan 23, 2006
    Posts: 2,307

    onlychevrolets
    Member

    converting a system to 12 volts will not harm a switch designed for 6 volts. In fact it will be carrying half the amperage. There will be less heat made due to that point. As Squirrel said I'd clean the contacts on top of the switch.
     
  13. 53 2DOOR
    Joined: Jun 24, 2009
    Posts: 13

    53 2DOOR
    Member
    from Mn

    Just bite the bullet and put a new 12 volt light swutch in, I switched over to 12 volts. Went to the local parts store 35 bucks later, new switch. Everything works fine.

    nuffsaide
     
  14. bdr1
    Joined: Jun 20, 2007
    Posts: 129

    bdr1
    Member


    Everything I am finding locally is 6V (NAPA/Advance/Zone)
     
  15. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 45,315

    squirrel
    Member

    What's the difference between a 12v light switch and a 6v light switch?
     
  16. wvenfield
    Joined: Nov 23, 2006
    Posts: 5,049

    wvenfield
    Member

    Make sure the collar up against the steering wheel is as snug up against the wheel as possible. There is a lock on it but it generally doesn't hold very well and the collar will slide down grounding out the system.

    My 54 used to do this. I got lucky and found the problem by luck. No brake lights. I was fiddling with the column and slide the collar up tight. Everything worked. One day someone told me my taillights weren't working. Sure enough, the collar had slid down.

    There is a notch on the underside just about perfect to slide a penny in. It didn't matter how hard I tightened the lock screw, it wouldn't hold. The penny slid in the notch held it tight.
     
  17. bdr1
    Joined: Jun 20, 2007
    Posts: 129

    bdr1
    Member


    I am not sure, but it is spelled out in the descriptions though.

    For future reference to others:

    O-Reilly Auto Parts has the BWD #S138 for $42.99
    NAPA has the Echlin #HL6123 for $45.89
     
  18. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 45,315

    squirrel
    Member

    The current load on a 6v switch, used in a 12v system, is half as much as it is designed for. So there's no problem there.

    The resistor for the dash lights is probably different, since 6v lights draw twice as much current for the same brightness as 12v lights.

    The wiring method changed in 1955 when chevy changed to 12v. The 6v cars had screw terminals at the light switch, and the 12v ones had spade terminals.

    (yeah, it was a rhetorical question)
     
  19. Rockit53
    Joined: Aug 4, 2005
    Posts: 115

    Rockit53
    Member

    I replaced the turn signal switch in my '53. I bought it from chevs of the 40's or obsolete chevy parts, don't really remember which one. I had the same problem with the tail lights. Replaced the turn signal switch, it fixed the problem and as a bonus, my turn signals now work.
     
  20. THE BRONSON
    Joined: Jan 14, 2008
    Posts: 338

    THE BRONSON
    Member

    Anyone have a wiring diagram for the light switch pictured above.
     
  21. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 45,315

    squirrel
    Member

  22. waldo53
    Joined: Jan 26, 2010
    Posts: 838

    waldo53
    Member
    from ID

  23. bdr1
    Joined: Jun 20, 2007
    Posts: 129

    bdr1
    Member

    Does anyone know if I need a puller to get the wheel off?
     
  24. engine138
    Joined: Oct 5, 2007
    Posts: 1,315

    engine138
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Commack NY

    Anyone know on napas HL6123 switch where does the wires hook up? no directions with switch
     
  25. my friend has a 53 belair he just switched over to 12v he says check the greound behind the amp guage , he had alot of the same problems your having his car sat for a long time as well
     

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