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Technical Is it my generator?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Charles MacEachern, Apr 8, 2019.

  1. Charles MacEachern
    Joined: Mar 18, 2019
    Posts: 44

    Charles MacEachern
    Member

    Hey guys, seeking a little guidance.

    My 1954 Chevy 3100 is a 6 volt. Shortly after I bought her, I took her out for a drive in the evening. I (maybe as an idiot) used both lights and the heater. Had a lovely little 45 minute trip but after getting some gas before her long winter hibernation, she wouldn't start. Just that long drone of a 6 volt struggling to turn over. The sound of a dead battery. After speaking with the previous owner he informed me that because she was only a tiny 6 volt, he never used lights or heater. She was a sunny day, daytime only driver. Made sense.... But part of me was suspicious of the generator. The big old original Delco kind.

    Fast forward to her life in the garage over the winter, I got her a great GENIUS trickle charger, and for the most part, she would start right up. In the spring now I've had great success. Especially after an oil change, and the last few days I've had lengthy drives and then park her without a trickle charger. She's been good.....

    Until today!!! This is where I need a guiding eye.

    I decided to take her for her longest trip yet... to the firehall (my work) about 30 minutes away. I took alternate roads to keep her steady and not overworked on the highways up here... And the journey was great. As I got hear the station, I realized I had some time for a coffee... So I pulled off to grab a quick Tim Hortons. As I role into the parking spot, and take my foot off the gas... Kerplunk! She dies!!! After all that! Warm and having just done a big trip, she dies?!... Worse part, as I got to turn the ignition... That SAME 6V struggling to turn over drone from the gas station back in the fall.

    So what would YOU think is the issue here? Generator not working?... But I had great drives this week with no overnight trickles!
    6V?... Didn't use the lights at all!

    Is it just time to go 12 V and make this girl Miss Reliable? Go as step further and just do all the electrical. Electronic ignition, Flamethrower etc. ?

    She's not perfect, and thata what I love about her. Just want to be able to count on her a little more.

    Any tips, directions you'd go, look into?

    Thanks a million!
     
  2. theboss20
    Joined: Dec 30, 2018
    Posts: 208

    theboss20

    Based on your information you could have a bad battery. I would charge the battery and then take to have it load tested...has to charged first or it will fail the test. After you determine if the battery is good or bad then you can test the output of the generator...it should be charging at 7.2 volts. Make sure the belt is not slipping by pushing on the fan of the generator with engine off and make sure you can’t turn the pulley by pushing on the fan...


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  3. Charles MacEachern
    Joined: Mar 18, 2019
    Posts: 44

    Charles MacEachern
    Member

    Thank you! The battery is good I believe. I only say this cause after that first incident in the fall, I bought a brand new one! I'll get on testing the generator over the next couple days. Thanks again.
     
  4. You might have the starter tested if the generator/battery test OK. A marginal starter can when warmed up become more marginal. That's the thing with a 6V system; you don't have much 'margin' in the performance window...
     
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  5. theboss20
    Joined: Dec 30, 2018
    Posts: 208

    theboss20

    Don’t be fooled by a defective new battery...have it load tested...6v batteries are slow movers in all stores and tend to get sulfated sitting on the shelf.


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  6. rusty valley
    Joined: Oct 25, 2014
    Posts: 1,505

    rusty valley
    Member

    6 volt systems work fine if all is in good working order. 1st, many folks go to wallmart and buy new battery cables, do you have big cables the size of your little finger? if so, lets move on to grounds. its old, clean the location of the ground cable. on the frame, on the block, whatever, take it off, and make sure its a clean connection. again, its old, so no such thing as too many grounds. put an extra cable from frame to motor, motor to cab etc, never too much. 6 volt systems have less volts, but twice as many amps, thus the bigger wire requirements. so, if only starting out with 6v, you dont want to loose any thru bad connections. if your battery is good, and the starter is good, i would clean all connections and try again.
     
  7. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 26,890

    Mr48chev
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I learned to drive in a 54 3100 driving my drunk ass no long time ex step father home from the taverns. It isn't the 6 volt battery unless it is bad. The generator may not be putting out enough amps to run things and charge the battery back up or the starter may be dragging when it gets hot.
    As the guys said 6 volt systems don't like skinny little battery cables. they want a bigger pipe to push the electrons though. Real similar to a water hose you can move more water with less pressure with a bigger hose. or pipe. Pressure being volts. the 12 volt batteries have the pressure to push the electrons though small wires but the 6 volt don't have the pressure and need bigger wires.
    Still it is go though the whole starting and charging systems inch by inch. There has to be something that is not right. Maybe something that the PO installed without giving it much thought.

    Have the battery tested by someone with proper equipment. at the same time they should be able to check the output of the generator. Starter, it is under 10 bucks for brushes and bushings and two hours work start to finish from disconnecting the battery to starting the truck if you don't piddle around. I've lost track of how many I have redone in the past 55 years. Beats the hell out paying for a rebuilt that may be suspect.
     
  8. Time for 12 volts, use a group 26 battery, it will fit under the floor with no trouble. Use a 10 SI GM alternator and a Pertronix ignition system. This way is just one less thing to worry about when driving your truck.


    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
     
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  9. belair
    Joined: Jul 10, 2006
    Posts: 8,405

    belair
    Member

    This is kind of like the disc or drum argument, but not quite. 6 volts worked great when everyone used them, understood them, and didn't monkey with them. But 12 volts do spin the engine faster, (I know a well tuned engine will start just fine with 6 volts; I've had them), the lights are brighter, (I don't care if you don't drive at night), and is just a better way to go. You can soldier on with 6 volts and eventually, probably have no issues. But i would go to 12 volts- easy to replace a bad battery, help someone with a dead battery, never wonder if it's going to start, etc. And just to save me another post, and stir the pot, YES, you should convert to disc brakes.
     
  10. kbgreen
    Joined: Jan 12, 2014
    Posts: 337

    kbgreen
    Member

    It took the auto industry 50 years to discover that 6-volt systems don't work, so don't expect to solve your problem overnight. Wait, that doesn't make sense.

    I've got the same issue with a 12 volt 60's car that is driven infrequently. I'd give @rusty valley another read.
     
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  11. What is the history of your 6V system? It never hurts to get an old generator rebuilt and also use a new VR. Then polarize it correctly. The cables have to be good, sometimes they turn green under the insulation and not be obvious. If the battery is more than a few years old, think of a new one. Batteries that sit outside in winter and don't see any usage don't last as long as one that gets used all year and sleeps inside on cold nights.
     
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  12. 37 caddy
    Joined: Mar 4, 2010
    Posts: 322

    37 caddy
    Member
    from PEI Canada

    Have your timing checked too,if it is off that will make them hard to start when hot.i run the original 6 volt setup in my old caddy,if timing is off it is real hard to start when she gets warmed up,also everything has to be in top notch working order to make it all click. Harvey
     
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  13. alchemy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2002
    Posts: 15,515

    alchemy
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    As you are cleaning each ground point and all the connections of the wiring in the charging system, put a dab of dielectric grease on the terminal upon reassembly. It will help prevent corrosion.

    Pull the cover off the voltage regulator and check if the points look corroded or burnt. Sitting in a humid environment can allow them to corrode. Sitting a whole winter can do this. Buy a point file (special item, not found at Walmart but a good auto parts store should have one) and gently swipe it between the points to remove only the corrosion. Don't go crazy or it will change the gap.

    Also I'd clean the heck out of the generator and starter while you have them on the bench. Pull the cover off them and you will see the brushes. Do they look worn? Replace if needed. Blow the dust and grit out of them with compressed air, and use electrical cleaner to wash them out. A couple drops of oil on any endplate bushings, or a fingertip of grease on bearings is nice when you can.
     
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  14. jimmy six
    Joined: Mar 21, 2006
    Posts: 6,357

    jimmy six
    Member

    Thru out the early 60's I drove a 49 Chev pickup everywhere, nights, heater on, etc and never had a problem. My battery ground was one of those woven ones and a large wire to the starter as mine was a foot plunger. I added a ground wire from the engine/frame on both sides, a recommendation from my dad. 6 volts works fine. Later in the 80's I bought a 50 Chev sedan for my son, it too was 6 volts and we got it cheap because it wouldn't start. Put large cables and real good connections. It too never failed to start.
    As I remember both amp guages would go up to 30 right after starting and the settle back to a few needle widths over center. All my generators were open and needed the COM's cleaned ever 6months or so with sand paper and I kept new brushes each time so the spring pressure on them was up.
    Old cars need maintenance and most guys have no idea want a real service lube job is on a 50's car....
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2019
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  15. alchemy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2002
    Posts: 15,515

    alchemy
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Go to your local Harbor Freight store and buy a bunch of those toothbrush size stainless steel brushes. They work good for cleaning the crud off of wiring terminals and studs. And don't be afraid to take things apart to get at the place where the terminals touch. You can't just scrape the gunk off the outside and expect it to have a clean connection.
     
  16. 30dodge
    Joined: Jan 3, 2007
    Posts: 427

    30dodge
    Member
    from Pahrump nv

    Test the battery first. It could also be worn brushes, it would not hurt to clean all the connections.
     
  17. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,152

    Rusty O'Toole
    Member

    Some good advice here (except for the 1 about the alternator). Your 6 volt system worked fine when the car was new, people drove them all over the country with the heater blowing, lights blazing etc. It will do so today if everything is right.

    Suggest you start with a general inspection. Look for loose, frayed or corroded wires, bad ground, loose fan belt, too small battery cables etc. If the battery will take a charge and hold it overnight it should be OK but you can have it tested if you like.

    Incidentally is your amp gauge working? It should drop into the - when starting then come up to even or close to it at idle, and rise as you rev it up. At 30 MPH it should be charging well, and the rate of charge should diminish as the battery charges up. This can take quite a while if the battery is low or the car has been out of commission for a while. I have taken a car out of storage and had it charge on the high side for 30 miles before the battery was fully charged and the meter slowly came down. But, it should always show a charge when running, if it is revved up above an idle. It may show a deficit at idle especially with lights and heater going.

    With those details taken care of all that is left is the generator or regulator. If you run a jumper wire from the Field terminal on the generator, to battery power, it should charge like mad when you rev it up. Don't do this too long, just long enough to check the generator. If the generator is good that leaves the voltage regulator. It may need the points cleaned and adjusted. You could also have a close look at the generator, if the brushes are worn to where they are below the top of the brush holder it is time for a rebuild. Otherwise you can give the brushes and commutator a shot of contact cleaner or brake clean spray and work them up and down a bit to be sure they aren't stuck.

    It's probably something minor, since they system seems to be working, just not up to peak efficiency.
     
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  18. when you were driving the truck, did you look at the amp meter? what did it show? is it charging?
    I've got two 6V cars one '37 Cadillac that sits in an unheated garage and a '46 International pick up that sits outside both will start any day of the week. Got no problem running the heater with the lights on and in the Caddy I can even run the tube type radio with no problem. Sounds to me like the guy that sold you the truck knew the charging system was under performing, that is why he told you not to run the lights and heater at the same time. Check the amp gauge on the dash, and get a cheap volt meter (under $10) and see what the voltage is at the battery with the motor running. No need to remove the generator yet.
     
  19. Charles MacEachern
    Joined: Mar 18, 2019
    Posts: 44

    Charles MacEachern
    Member

    May have found the issue... Jesus! haha... Stand by.
     

    Attached Files:

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  20. Doublepumper
    Joined: Jun 26, 2016
    Posts: 607

    Doublepumper
    Member

    One other thing to check is the relay points in the regulator. They can get crusty and make intermittent contact or no contact at all.
     
  21. KenC
    Joined: Sep 14, 2006
    Posts: 406

    KenC
    Member

    Once that cable is changed: charge the battery. test the battery. check voltage at the battery, with the engine running about 1500rpm, note the amp guage reading and report back.
    with a solid cable and the above info, we can help more, if needed
     
  22. theboss20
    Joined: Dec 30, 2018
    Posts: 208

    theboss20

    This system is “A” circuit...the field is ground activated...jumping the field wire to battery will cause a dead short! Grounding the field terminal will make it charge maybe if everything else is good but not the best way...


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  23. Truck64
    Joined: Oct 18, 2015
    Posts: 4,056

    Truck64
    Member
    from Ioway

    Those weren't good cables ... not even for 12 volts. No way.

    Inside the voltage regulator are mechanical contacts. These need cleaning once in a while. Every year wouldn't be too often. It's tricky not to ruin them, though if this isn't done, eventually for sure the cutout relay will stick, guaranteed. This means the battery is backfeeding into the generator windings and will burn it up. Can use a diode to prevent this, but any diode has a built in voltage drop. A crisp dollar bill and some lighter fluid (naphta) is good to clean and burnish the relay contacts. Trike might work, they used to use Carbon Tet, long banned.

    Get yourself some "00" double-ought cables. Keep connections, grounds and commutator shiny bright and check brushes once in a while.
     
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  24. Charles MacEachern
    Joined: Mar 18, 2019
    Posts: 44

    Charles MacEachern
    Member

    Okay! New cables, and redone grounding is making this truck turn over FAST!! Sounds great, honestly 3 times the pace of cranking!

    Now we got all the cranking in the world but no ignition. Headed to the shop to redo the plugs while we're at it! The journey continues! Doing this all in a parking lot.
     
  25. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,152

    Rusty O'Toole
    Member

    You are correct about the field being a ground. In that case you can run a jumper wire to ground and rev up the engine to test generator output but be careful, when you do this your generator is running wide open. Don't rev up too much or too long, just blip the throttle and watch the ammeter.
     
  26. Charles MacEachern
    Joined: Mar 18, 2019
    Posts: 44

    Charles MacEachern
    Member

    "Chevy 3100 54 Stuck in a Parking Lot" continues:

    At the end of the day here, we've stumbled on what we believe might be the cuprit... FUEL! There doesn't seem to be fuel coming out at the top of our fuel line (carb end). Would make sense. Getting good spark, killer (fast) crank now, but nothing happening. I'm curious why this would suddenly begin today (after a few days of good driving)... but who cares. Gotta fix it!

    I've just done some research and if I have to, fuel pump replacement doesn't look too hairy. Quick question for you hambers. Does an inline fuel filter prefer being in a location close to the tank (before the pump) or after the pump up top next to the carb? I've seen both and mine currently has it underneath closer to the tank. Any tips for going through my fuel system? Seems straight forward enough.
     
  27. 302GMC
    Joined: Dec 15, 2005
    Posts: 6,143

    302GMC
    Member
    from Idaho

    In the inlet to the pump … and when you buy the replacement, make sure it's compatible with ethanol if you folks up there have to use the stuff ...
     
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  28. oldtom69
    Joined: Dec 6, 2009
    Posts: 479

    oldtom69
    Member
    from grandin nd

    Didn't see anyone mention-that system should be a POSITIVE ground system,and yes they will start and run hooked up wrong-but you end up with problems about like you describe loops someone just screamed chevys were negative ground even when6 volt?been around old fords too long
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2019
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  29. rusty valley
    Joined: Oct 25, 2014
    Posts: 1,505

    rusty valley
    Member

    good point old tom
     
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  30. s55mercury66
    Joined: Jul 6, 2009
    Posts: 3,980

    s55mercury66
    Member
    from SW Wyoming

    Make sure your fuel lines are clear, and that any rubber hoses are in good shape, without any cracks or breaks in them. The fuel pump has to pull a vacuum, and any leaks will make that impossible to do. Also be sure the gas cap is vented, and it is always a good idea to put the filter before the pump, as mentioned earlier, to keep trash out of the pump. One after the pump is a good idea also, in case the pump is shedding some debris, to keep that out of the carb.
     
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