Battery Cable Intermittent Problem

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2013: Battery Cable Intermittent Problem
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dan B on Sunday, May 05, 2013 - 09:58 pm:

A couple weeks ago, I went to start the car and the coils wouldn't buzz. I figured out that the repro Ford battery cable was to blame, so I took off the crimped battery lug, cleaned the cable and the lug since there was oxidation, recrimped it, and reinstalled it which did not solve the problem. I can jiggle the cable or move it to a slightly different position and get the coils to buzz. When the coils were not buzzing, I put a multimeter on the hot terminal of the switch and there was not any voltage which should rule out a switch problem. The insulation does not appear to be worn anywhere and it's properly routed. The battery is new.

What am I missing? I'd like to save $30 by not having to buy a new one.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ricks - Surf City on Sunday, May 05, 2013 - 10:27 pm:

For those of us who don't know you, it would help to describe your car, whether it has a self-commencer, etc.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Walt Berdan, Bellevue, WA on Sunday, May 05, 2013 - 10:33 pm:

OK, the obvious, did you check and clean the connection at the other end of the cable? If jiggling the cable causes it to make a connection, it's fairly easy to presume that it's either the cable or the terminal at one end or the other.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dan B on Monday, May 06, 2013 - 06:11 am:

Ricks - Check out my profile

Walt - Yes, both ends are clean. It's a stranded cable so hard to figure that the connection is that bad that its an open somewhere...


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ricks - Surf City on Monday, May 06, 2013 - 06:55 am:

Dan, I see a 1923 with sidelamps. That says the car doesn't have a starter. But it may have been modified in unseen ways.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dan Killecut on Monday, May 06, 2013 - 07:07 am:

Dan, I ran into this with my 20. It was the repro ground cable where the cable went into the terminal end.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By RJ Walworth, New York on Monday, May 06, 2013 - 07:25 am:

There is about 5 companies that make the battery cables. Call the place where you purchased it from and complain about the product.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dan B on Monday, May 06, 2013 - 07:49 am:

Ricks - Look a little closer and you'll see headlamps as well. When I got the car, it had sat untouched since the 1950s and had side lamps installed at some time prior. Would love to know the story behind that, but its a starter equipped car from original.

Dan - Good thought. I'm going to check the ground strap as well.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rion Schulze on Monday, May 06, 2013 - 08:10 am:

You could run a good jumper wire to bypass the ford cable. Sounds to me if you wiggle the cable and it works, then you found the problem.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Roger Karlsson, southern Sweden on Monday, May 06, 2013 - 09:12 am:

Dan B - the 1919-1926 Fords sold without starter did also have headlamps visually similar to the starter cars of the same vintage, the unequipped cars got their electrical supply from the magneto.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bud Holzschuh - Panama City, FL on Monday, May 06, 2013 - 09:15 am:

Rion has the right idea. If you don't have a starter or don't use it, you can jumper with a piece of #12 or #14 wire (if your just running coils).

Its rare that a factory cable is bad if the connections going into the terminals look good. Rare but possible.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John F. Regan on Monday, May 06, 2013 - 09:55 am:

Dan:

Since you mentioned the word "switch" and the main power to the car comes from the battery side of the foot operated starter switch and the supply of current to the coils comes through the ignition switch - I got lost as to which switch you were referring to when you stated that there was no power to the switch which would then rule out a switch problem. I would assume you mean the ignition switch but since many people have added a "master switch" to disconnect the battery - I also wondered if you might be talking about that one. If one end of the wire needed recrimping or seemed to - why not the other end too. I have seen several repro harness' that have ends that are not soldered onto the wires even though they are advertised as having all terminals soldered. What they actually have done is to dip the twisted ends of the wires in solder and then when cooled those ends were then crimped to the terminals and that is then actually about as classic example of a cold solder joint as one can create "on purpose".

I have a 23 touring car. If the car was a "cheap car" then it had no starting or battery operated lighting system. It would still have had headlights and those would have been magneto powered. Many people add the oil cowl lamps to starter equipped cars because it makes the car look more antique. Done that myself but strictly speaking if your T came with starter, generator, and battery then it would not have had any oil lights on it anywhere. They are easy to add.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dan B on Monday, May 06, 2013 - 08:05 pm:

Thanks John. You're right, I should have been more specific. I am specifically talking about the battery cable that goes from the positive battery post to the hot terminal of the starter foot switch. When the coils did not buzz, I measured zero volts to ground at that foot switch terminal (with a new battery). By moving the cable, I was able to get approx. 6V. I removed the battery terminal lug from the cable, cleaned the connection and recrimped it. Cleaned both terminals. But I still have an intermittent problem. No worn through spots on the cable (which I can see). It is covered by the original cloth type insulation. It would be interesting to do an insulation resistance test.

I didn't think to check the ground strap, because the intermittent problem seemed to go away by moving the cable. . If the connection to the frame is oxidized, that would also produce the same results.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Peter Claverie on Monday, May 06, 2013 - 08:24 pm:

On occasion, a connection inside the battery case can become loose. This could manifest itself by a problem that could respond to jiggling the cable, which would also jiggle the battery post.

This can be dangerous!! A spark inside the battery case can cause the battery to explode.

Unless you find positive proof that the problem is elsewhere, I would recommend being very, very careful working around the battery, and replacing it as soon as possible.

At the very minimum wear goggles, and be sure to have a water hose handy. And never lean over the battery and jiggle things with any load on it - that's when sparks will most likely occur.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Doug Money - Braidwood, IL on Monday, May 06, 2013 - 11:34 pm:

I found a cable doing that very thing on a tour years ago. The gentleman went to start the car and nothing. We traced it to an intermittent cable. Lang's was on site so we swapped it out and no more problems. I was the one testing it and I couldn't believe it was bad, but it was.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John F. Regan on Monday, May 06, 2013 - 11:46 pm:

If the battery ground strap were connected to a well painted place on the frame the test results would be the same as a bad positive cable as far as coil buzzing. While wiggling the cable would seem to prove it is the positive cable intermittent battery cables might take only a very slight wiggle of the battery itself to move the ground cable enough to fool you. Been there. I don't like any crimped connections and won't have them anywhere in my T. I solder all wiring terminals and electrical connections that were crimped. A properly crimped connection can work OK but it cannot be done haphazard fashion. It must be done very carefully so that the connection is hermetically sealed but to me it is just too easy to solder all the terminals and cables before I put them on the car. Incidentally if you should opt to solder anything electrical as I have - use only rosin core solder and as soon as it is cooled you can use lacquer thinner to easily wipe off the sticky residue but don't delay since once it gets kinda hard then it is much more difficult to get it off of things.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dan Killecut on Tuesday, May 07, 2013 - 08:08 am:

I will elaborate on the problem I had with the ground cable of my 20. I was driving the car to NH, it was intermittent just like you are having Dan. I ended up making it to a garage and asked the owner if I could work on it out in his yard. He was very helpful and asked if he could be any assistance. We cleaned all connections, including the ground strap to the frame. Finally we figured it was the positive cable, because like on yours, we could wiggle it and get power again. He had an old 51 Ford pick-up that he remembered having a repair battery connection on it. We cut the end off my cable, got it all back together and I had power again. Thought we had found my problem, a few minutes later, no power again. Took the ground strap off again, cleaned the frame a second time, put it back on, and had power again. Wiggled the cable and again no power. At the time this was a new repro cable. Took that off the car, and tossed it. When back out to the old Ford pick-up, took the other cable off of that, installed it on my T, it has been on there ever since with no problems.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mack Cole ---- Earth on Tuesday, May 07, 2013 - 11:10 pm:

Without seeing the cable I aint sure it is like I am speaking of but some of the cables will get corrosion between the wire and the crimped section on the cable end.You wont see it but wiggleing will get past it once in a while.
I find this alot on the lawntractors I work on that have had new starters,batterys and such installed and still wont start.It is the first thing I check for now.
IF it is a problem inside the battery on the terminal,take the battery back soon!
Dangerous as in blow up and make big mess at the very least.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dan B on Wednesday, May 08, 2013 - 09:32 am:

Since it was brought up a couple times now, the problem existed before I got the new battery. The reason I replaced the battery was because it was over 10 years old, not because of this problem.

I guess based on the feedback here that I'll have to get a new cable. Although I'm reluctant to buy a new one without knowing what caused the old one (about 10 years old) to fail. I like the original style insulation so I do not want to replace it with a regular cable.

I guess I'll try to dissect the faulty cable and see what I can find that might be causing it.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ted Dumas on Sunday, May 12, 2013 - 11:32 pm:

If nothing else, you should be able to put new ends on your old cable and use it. Keep it simple.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By James A. Golden on Monday, May 13, 2013 - 07:31 am:

If nothing else, the supplier could put the correct ends on the correct size cables.

I have bought cables from four major parts supplies and found them to all be the same 12 Volt 2 Gauge cable and not the correct original 6 Volt 0 or 1/0 Gauge cable.

Evidently one supplier makes those cable for all the parts suppliers.

A few years ago, Coilman found the correct size in the Ford archives and it was the 0 Gauge cable. 00 Gauge cable is 10 % larger and offers a little more current capability.

Here is a photo of a correct 0 Gauge cable next to a modern 2 gauge repro cable.

Cables

Note the small 2 on the repro cable. Each cable size has different standard size terminals and bolt holes. The bolt hole has to be drilled larger to fit the Model T terminals and that leaves a very small contact area around the hole.

The 0 Gauge cable has the correct size bolt hole in the cable and that leaves more contact area for current flow.

The repro cable has a correct cloth covering, but somewhat thicker than original, perhaps to help hide the smaller cable size.

The non-standard 0 or 00 Gauge cable has a thinner plastic covering that is very durable.

The repro cable does not have the sleeve that would keep out dirt, water and corrosion.

The repro cable does not have a copper terminal that is easily soldered to a copper wire for a better contact and current flow..


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By RJ Walworth, New York on Monday, May 13, 2013 - 08:33 am:

Here's a chart of the cable sizes.
We use 1 or 0 for the 6 volt cables we manufacture. We do carry 00 gauge but hardly used.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Willie K Cordes on Monday, May 13, 2013 - 11:12 am:

Dan, I don't know if you have a TSC (Tractor Supply Company) near you, but they handle some larger gauge battery wire for the larger six volt older tractors.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ted Dumas on Monday, May 13, 2013 - 12:00 pm:

James, if its not right, send it back. You should be able to buy 6 volt cables locally. As Willie suggested, try Tractor Supply. If you need a cloth wrapped cable, you might be out of luck.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By ROBERT J STEINER on Monday, May 13, 2013 - 12:25 pm:

Langs sells battery cables 1 & 1/0 gauge, so does RJ&L Automotive Fasteners They make them up custom with the braided coverings. Don't forget if you buy the cables from TSC. you might have to solder and crimp the terminals on yourself. they probably don't have the exact length you need.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ken Todd on Monday, May 13, 2013 - 12:25 pm:

If you're re-doing the cable ends it would be better to solder them besides crimping them.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jerry VanOoteghem on Monday, May 13, 2013 - 04:48 pm:

Sometimes parts go bad and need to be replaced. Your cable is one such part.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By James A. Golden on Monday, May 13, 2013 - 05:46 pm:

Tractor supply sells some 1 Gauge cables.

I have not found any 0 Gauge cables at Tractor Supply.

Snyders catalog says they are correct, but they are 2 gauge.

The last cables that I bought from Langs and Snyders were the same manufacturer's incorrect 2 gage cables.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dennis Seth - Ohio on Monday, May 13, 2013 - 05:56 pm:

I get my large cables from my local welding supply dealer. They have the ends too.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By ROBERT J STEINER on Monday, May 13, 2013 - 06:08 pm:

Langs does carry 1 and 1/0 battery cables.2 gauge is not correct for 6 volt. Call steven at Langs
Some of these guys thing 2 gauge is 2/0(00)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By James A. Golden on Monday, May 13, 2013 - 07:10 pm:

Snyders does anyway.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By ROBERT J STEINER on Monday, May 13, 2013 - 07:35 pm:

Snyder does know the difference between 2ga, & 2/0 (00)ga cable


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By R. S. Cruickshank on Monday, May 13, 2013 - 08:16 pm:

Dan,I'm far from an expert on electrical issues but I do have some .02. Have you disconnected the cable at both ends and tested for continuity. If you have continuity even when you bend and otherwise move the cable, I would think you could eliminate the cable as a problem.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mike Stitt-Southern Oregon on Monday, May 13, 2013 - 09:11 pm:

Sounds like a cable. In as much as a voltmeter was mentioned they can be a handy tool looking for open or high"Z" connections.
Connect the VM to the battery's lugs. Should read about 6.3V. Now keep one probe on the battery's lug the other to the cable's clamp. Try to start the car. If the voltmeter falls to a couple of volts or less, it will be between the clamp and the battery's lug. If the VM doesn't fall repeat on the other lug. This will work thru' out the entire system. Pierce the cables jacket past the clamp to determine if the crimp is bad and do the test again. Remember one probe will always be on one battery lug (source). By hooking your probe to say the lug and the other to the frame the VM will detect voltage drop. It seems complicated but is quite simple.
Once isolated repair or replace.
Coat the terminals with syrup.
Last note, while your probes are on the lugs and an attempt to start the car results in a very low voltage reading say under 3V or worse less than 1V look at the battery. Typically trying to pass high amperage thru' a poor connection will cause the voltage to break down or heat.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By James A. Golden on Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 09:40 pm:

Robert, that cable in my photo with a 2 on it was ordered from Snyders, a few years ago, after I got their new catalog with the 2/0 cable listed as correct and it is 2 Gauge.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By ROBERT J STEINER on Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - 07:33 am:

James I called to confirm and they listed as 2/0 (00) and it is 2 gauge battery cable wire (1/2" dia). I explained to them that 6 volt battery cable wires should be 1 gauge min. or 1/0 (0) better cable. 2/0 (00) (.625 dia)is really never used. We had 300' braided for our application on the manufacturing cables and it just sits there . We use this cable on the diesel tractors.


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