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mystery object in engine bay 52 buick

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by big hugh ness, Nov 11, 2011.

  1. Guys, I am at it again., Sorry about this, but I think this is the last of the "oddities" that I cannot figure out for myself. I have asked my friends on ozrodder and nobody there is 100 percent sure what it is, either.
    Closest we came was that it is a relay, but for what we don't know. Anyone give me some clues on what this device was used for in the 52 buick super?[​IMG]
  2. nofin
    Joined: Jan 7, 2010
    Posts: 321

    from australia

    Definitely looks like a relay. Why not chase the cables to the other end to see what they are attached to?

    Cables look too small for a starter, maybe headlights?
  3. Yeah, done that. Unfortunately not much help, I'm afraid. The centre cable goes to ignition. The one on the left heads towards the front of the car (suspiciously near the headlights) and terminates to a round crimped joint. The other wire is spliced half way up. One of the splices goes to a crimped terminal (again, just hanging there) and the other half of the spliced joint heads into the main harness and connects to another round crimped terminal. I think you are right about headlights. That is my suspicion too. The starter has its own piggy backed solenoid, as well.
  4. TheLogLady
    Joined: Jun 16, 2011
    Posts: 180


  5. ottoman
    Joined: May 4, 2008
    Posts: 309

    from Wisconsin

    my guess is its the horn relay
  6. Maybe somebody had an accessory horn on the car, like the one that plays Dixie in the Dukes Of Hazzard, a wolf whistle or bullhorn or that sort of thing. It certainly looks like a Ford type starter solenoid, at any rate.

    The stock Buick setup is different from most GM cars in that you turn the key on, then press the gas pedal to the floor to crank it over, there's a switch in the throttle linkage. So it may also be possible that someone had it wired up to bypass that deal, and did it using Ford type wiring.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2011
  7. mattfink
    Joined: Jun 1, 2009
    Posts: 107


    voltage regulator?
  8. Sir, I think you might be onto something there. Explains why there was an auxillary start button under dash....maybe the carbi starting mechanism became faulty some time ago...
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2011
  9. 51 MERC-CT
    Joined: Apr 5, 2005
    Posts: 1,594

    51 MERC-CT

    Definately looks like a Ford starter solenoid/relay but with the size wire attached to it, I doubt that it was being used to start the car. Probably being used as a relay for some other device.
  10. My dad had that exact same setup that ran a set of Per-lux fog lights (the ones with the louvers inside). Any extra mounting tabs along the front bumper?
    Joined: Jun 3, 2005
    Posts: 8,222


    That's not a relay, it's a solenoid. If it were installed as a relay it would burn up because it's not designed to remain energized. As said above, it was most likely wired in there to bypass the foot start. Why some of the wire goes to the front is a mystery, unless that's where they tapped for a "hot" lead.
  12. 51 MERC-CT
    Joined: Apr 5, 2005
    Posts: 1,594

    51 MERC-CT

    It appears to be a solenoid that is being used as a momentary relay.
    When the center tap is grounded it then sends power to the starter or whatever device you want to operate.
  13. lurking luddite
    Joined: Feb 6, 2011
    Posts: 11

    lurking luddite

    I think it was used as a starter relay, especially if the original stater switch was by passed.

    The original starter switch working off the gas pedal had a vacume switch on the carb but also had a relay on the firewall that sensed when the generator started producing power. This relay backed up the vacume switch [if the ball stuck] and cut power to the starter. The original relay looked just like the horn relay but has one wire more or less [cannot remember].
    My 51 hardtop has a similar solanoid hooked up now. [in relay location].
    If anyone has a source for an original relay I would be interested.
  14. Offset
    Joined: Nov 9, 2010
    Posts: 1,700

    from Canada

    Hey Big, glad to see you finally got your car. Followed the last thread on the custom and the joys of importing a modified car into Australia. I guess I missed the thread on the acquisition of this one.

    What are your plans for it? Good luck with your Buick.

    That cat avatar is still creepy!!
  15. nukeman
    Joined: Mar 17, 2007
    Posts: 131

    from Michigan

    Actually, this is the best clue so far. It was something that came on whenever the ignition was on. That pretty much rules out horns. My guess would be the "autotronic eye" but I don't think that was an option in '52. (could have been added at a later time). The only way to know what it controlled is to keep looking at where those wires go and figure out what was there.
  16. bobwop
    Joined: Jan 13, 2008
    Posts: 6,099


    definitely starter solenoid to eliminate "stomp" starter.

    we have seen similar more than once.
  17. nukeman
    Joined: Mar 17, 2007
    Posts: 131

    from Michigan

    As for "Relay" or "solenoid", it has absolutely nothing to do with momentary or continuous ratings.
    A solenoid is a current-carrying coil of wire that acts like a magnet when a current passes through it. It can be used for any mechanical function.
    If it only operates an electrical switch, the whole assembly can be called a relay, (that is operated by a solenoid.)
    If it also operates the bendix gear in your starter or any other mechanical function, it is more accurately called a solenoid.
    If it operates a valve, like in your washing machine, it is also more accurately called a solenoid.

    What is pictured is a relay. It is an electrically operated switch that performs no other mechanical function.
    Duty rating should be considered when re-purposing solenoids or relays.
  18. budd
    Joined: Oct 31, 2006
    Posts: 3,478


    doesnt look like the cables are heavy enough for a starter, maybe to charge a second battery in a camper?
    Joined: Mar 30, 2010
    Posts: 3,253


    Don't know but the wiring color code is screwy. Any help !
  20. Ebbsspeed
    Joined: Nov 11, 2005
    Posts: 5,531


    Does that relay "click" when you push the auxiliary start button under the dash? That's going to be a pretty good clue as to whether or not it's part of the starter circuit. I think you'll have to make sure the relay is bolted to a good ground, as I suspect one end of the solenoid coil is connected to the case.
  21. Thanks mate. Yes, I picked this one up about seven months ago from Queensland....where the heck has THAT time gone? She is a pretty honest old girl. Still haven't got it fired up yet but getting mighty close now. Definitely a long term project. I just want to make it into a cool cruiser without changing it too much. It's pretty original. When I first got it I had these grand ideas of hotting this up and that up, but then I really started noticing how cool this thing is just the way it is.
  22. Thanks for the great feedback, guys. It's pretty close to having a battery hooked up to it, so, I guess we'll see what it does from there. Will let you know the verdict as soon as we do. Also those wires are pretty thick buggers. Might be a bit hard to tell by the picture, but they are about the heaviest gauge used in the harness.

    The car does have a horn relay which is still attached. Just to make things easier/harder.
  23. 55chevr
    Joined: Jul 12, 2008
    Posts: 956


  24. R Pope
    Joined: Jan 23, 2006
    Posts: 3,309

    R Pope

    That solenoid wouldn't need bigger wires if it was wired to energize the one on the starter. The full current wouldn't pass through it, just enough to "kick" the original. Though why they didn't just hook the button up to do the same thing is beyond me, that's how I did it on our old Buicks back when. If it was a "ground to energize" solenoid it would make sense, just a simple grounding push button.
  25. Ebbsspeed
    Joined: Nov 11, 2005
    Posts: 5,531


    It's a relay. A relay is an electrically operated switch. A solenoid is an electromagnet with a moving armature.
  26. krooser
    Joined: Jul 25, 2004
    Posts: 4,583


    Could be a solenoid that was used to carry an added heavy amp circuit used with some old fog lamps, big horn or ???
  27. I think it's the starter relay for athrottle depressed starter, like on my 50 when it wqas original. Rags
  28. tommyd
    Joined: Dec 10, 2010
    Posts: 11,350

    from South Indy

    Smart money is on this idea^^^^^^^^

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