Hello everyone. My dad has just passed his 23 T down to me and I am attempting to get it running after about 7 years. My dad attempted a 12v conversion with a distributor. Since it was so long ago the details of what he switched are fuzzy.
I have an original T wiring diagram, and I was wondering if I can follow that?
My dad said he thinks he replaced the starter, horn, lights, and battery.
I think I would like to stay with 12v for now because it seems easier to get her fired up and start driving.
Any help would be greatly appreciated because I do not know anyone else who can help.
The coil needs to be a 12 volt version. The coil will need a resistor in the circuit when running, any auto part store can supply the resistor - ask for the ignition resistor for a 1985 Dodge 1500 pickup with 318 engine.
The resistor needs to be bypassed when starting. This is easily done using a start solenoid. Ask for a start solenoid for a 1970 Ford F100 pickup, 302 engine.
I've added references to vehicles that obviously are not Model T Fords because most parts guys are too dumb to give you anything without very specific instructions.
Will it start now? If it does, it might not need any changing. The battery cables are slimmer on 12 volt. The distributor would be connected directly to the ignition switch so that the switch connects the 12 volts to the ignition coil. One primary connection on the coil goes to the ignition switch and the other goes to the distributor. If the small connections on the coil are marked + and - the + goes toward the ignition switch and the - toward the distributor. The large secondary terminal on the coil goes to the center terminal of the distributor. The firing order is 1 2 4 3 You need to find top dead center of cylinder #1 and turn the crankshaft just a few degrees so that the piston starts to go down. That is where you set the spark for cylinder #1. The other spark plugs are then connected in the order that the rotor turns when you turn the crank of the engine. If you have compression, fuel and spark the engine should start. Be sure to put oil and coolant in it. It will start without oil and coolant, but will not run long without them.
Be advised that if the car has a generator on it - you must not run the engine and spin the generator without a load on the generator or it will be destroyed. If your dad installed an alternator in place of the generator then you don't have to worry as much about that but the generator on a Model T will easily work at 12V so he may have just decided to advance the charge setting on the generator and use it at 12V. Lots of folks do that but you need to know for sure about that because the results of doing that part wrong can be troubling to the generator.
Thanks for your time and advice.
Royce: the coil has been changed. I looked at the car tonite and I have to assume it is 12v. I do not believe there is a resistor or solenoid but I will be able to take a closer look tomorrow night.
Norman: the car would not start for my dad and that's why my dad gave up. I just started tonight to try to trouble shoot. Thanks for the very common sense advice because I am not used to starting a vehicle without water in it and I would hate for my ignorance/inexperience to destroy this car.
John: there is what looks like a new alternator on the car but I could not tell the difference between an alternator or a generator. I have to assume that Snider's told my dad to purchase these parts over 5 years ago.
I can't seem to post a pic of the wring diagram I am using but I believe it is an original t. So everything except the exceptions you mentioned should be the same?
You can also use a 1967 VW ignition coil that has an internal resistor. That way, an additional resistor mentioned above is not needed. I have been using this set up on 12 volt distributor system for several years with no problems.
Matthew, I know that you said that the car has a distributor, but T's with stock timers and coils can be made to run on 8 or 12 volts. After all, a T magneto puts out well over that; about 18 volts if I remember correctly. My Dad and I ran our 27 coupe first on 6 volts; then changed to 8 volts; and finally went to 12 volts. The 12 volt conversion was the only time we used an alternator. If using a distributor, you'll have to use a single 12 volt coil as others have suggested. As to your father changing the starter to 12 volts; that depends on when he did it. The only one making a 12 volt T starter is L.D. Becker. I don't know how long he has been making them but if your Dad says he changed it prior to L.D. Becker making them; I would doubt it has been changed to 12 volts. A T starter will handle 12 volts, but only for shorts hits on the starter button. If held too long (as in grinding the starter), the starter will spin so fast on 12 volts that it will ruin the starter bendix. I had on blow the bendix cover clean off the motor.
I meant to say that I had a Bendix to blow a Bendix cover off of the motor from spinning to fast; too long.
Terry: I believe he installed a new single coil. Obviously I have a lot to learn about T's and cars in general. I took some pictures if you think that would help you guys I can figure out how to post them. I believe my dad commented on how he felt that the starter hitting to hard which would make me think it is a 6v starter. I will try to confirm some things with my dad tomorrow. Thanks for the info on the 12v starter. I might have to get one of those.
He was having trouble starting the car and that's what made him decide to switch to 12v. I am guessing the original ignition was wearing out and that is what was making it hard to start.
What you are saying is a misconception shared by many. The fact is, there is really no operational advantage to changing the car to 12 volts. A 6 volt system is perfectly reliable. Starting is no easier with 12 volts.
Anything ignition related that you change to something that is not the equivalent of the original Model T ignition decreases reliability. A distributor can be functional and reliable, but it depends on the talent of the installer / operator to keep it operational. Distributors have points that need to be adjusted or replaced every few thousand miles. Condensers need to be replaced regularly. Distributor caps and rotors wear out, or corrode just from sitting in your garage.
Why not learn how to set up and maintain the original, 6 volt system? I find it works perfectly all the time even with the most minimal maintenance. With all the correct 6 volt parts available these days, you can have an authentic Model T you can be proud of. I rewired my car, rebuilt my coils and replaced my timer which was all so dead easy with the kits you can buy today. I also replaced my cutout with a voltage regulator and put new capacitors in my coils, both which are undetectable. My car looks totally correct, fires up faster than any new car and can drive all day anywhere with lights on or off. I think too many people switch to 12 volts thinking it will solve their problems. It might be a good idea for a 1950's car that is loaded with electrical goodies but, how much juice does a simple Model T need?
The superstition persists. Twelve (or eight) volts is the cure for hard starting. Bullfeathers. Royce is correct on this one.
Royce, Dave, Steve - I've seen this numerous times on the forum: Somebody asks a question for help on what they've got and everyone piles on with a completely ridiculous answer.
Like this: "Hey, I want my touring car to go faster, what head do ya'll recommend?" and then people answer with stuff like "Well if you really want to go faster then build a speedster" and they completely ignore the original question. We've really got to be nicer as a board to newer folks and work on helping them with what they've got, THEN educating them on what is original, THEN educating them on what the other tried and true options are.
Based on the information he provided the man is THIS close to having a running, driving car with a 12 volt system. He didn't ask "How can I swap it back to 6 volts" he wants to know what's left to get it going the way it is.
Matthew - on the one hand I can say that they ARE technically correct: your hard starting is not a 6, 8, or 12 volt issue. Even though you need to complete your ignition and electrical system before you can worry about how well it starts or not.
Posting pictures will go a long way towards everyone helping you identify exactly what you have now and what you need moving forward, whether you stay with 12 volts or go another direction. There are certain things to consider in order for everything to work correctly whether you have a 12 volt system or a 6 volt. If you'll post some pics we can probably tell you "Hey, you're 1 part away from being ready to be full 12V and then we can help you figure out the hard starting" or "Actually, you're not as close to converted as you think, probably easier to get these two 6 Volt parts." or whatever.
Convert it back to stock, 6 volts. Your troubles will be over.
Let's go back to a few basic's; How is the compression? Do you have it wired in the correct order, 1243? Are you getting fire at the plugs? Are the points clean? With the points open are you getting 6V on the hot side or if you short across the points with them open do you get a spark? Is gas getting to the cylinders? Have you tried priming with a little gas to each cylinder? Is it timed to fire just after TDC? What gap are the points set at, as I recall should be .015?
Timing the distributor is trial and error. You need to find the lobe that will be the one to cause the points just be ready to open at the just past TDC. Which means taking the distributor off and on several times, they are not indexed like a modern distributor. Which ever lobe and contact that lines up becomes No1 then wire from there, 1243.
That should put you in the ball park. You might want to read through this, it's a good primer on starting and running a T.
try contacting a MTFCA member or club in Indiana for assistance. I'd give you a hand not just advice but I'm too far away
Once you get the car running, there will be other questions you'll have.
It is true that a picture is worth a thousand words, but an "up close and personal" visit by a knowledgeable T person is even better. Perhaps now is a good time to reach out just a little further... go to the MTFCA site:
and find a chapter close to you (Indianapolis looks the closest in IN, but perhaps an Ohio chapter even closer), and see if you can connect with the contact person. Perhaps there is a roster of members near his/her phone, and the contact could give you the name and number of one of our members.
As you have seen from the answers to your initial question, folks are very willing to help out....sometimes folks give answers to questions that you didn't ask....you have to decide which one you want to follow!
Your problem might be a very simple one to solve - (maybe the timing or firing order is not correct) - see if there is a fairly nearby T person that can come visit you. (If he/she does, offer him/her some ice cream, and you'll have a friend for life!)
Welcome to the hobby...and best wishes for a soon to be purring T.
Seth: thank you. I tried posting pics to no avail last night but after work I will figure it out. I have done a bit of reading on 6v v. 12v and I was trying to avoid a debate on the issuse. First, I just want to drive this car. Then I can work on making it OEM+, which is my ultimate goal. But I am sure I will forget all about that jive as soon as I am behind the wheel puttin' down the road.
Try resizing your pictures. I don't recall the max file size, but most cameras easily exceed it.
Pictures need to be about 196 KB or smaller in order to be put on the website. It's technically 200KB, but I've been rejected for ones that say they're 198.
Matthew - if you hit preview/post, verify that everything is the way you think it should be in the post. If you don't see a picture in the preview, you won't see it on the actual post. Also, sometimes when I have 2 or more pictures on the same post, they don't show up on the preview, even though they're definitely the right size. Just hit preview/post again and usually that will solve it.
If you have a Mac, changing picture sizes is absurdly easy and you can do it and see the end result KB on the fly. If you have a PC, I've found that the easiest thing to do is open the picture in Paint, go to Image, Stretch/Skew, and then put 99% in the horizontal and vertical, save it, and then right click the file to see what the new size is. Often times the procedure in Paint will resize the KB significantly. If it's still way off, then try 90% and see what you get, and keep going from there. Just remember every time you save it and go to size it again, you're resizing an already smaller picture. So don't try 99, then 90, then 75, or you'll have a tiny picture.
Thanks for the info guys. I am doing everything from an iPhone and I found an app to resize my photos.
That looks like an alternator to me but there no pulley or v belt. So generator or alternator and how can you tell?
This is the coil correct?
That's a new alternator. Right underneath and behind that oil filler cap is the gear for the alternator itself, going further in towards the center of the engine is the camshaft gear. The camshaft gear is inside the cover directly behind the base of the distributor.
The crankshaft gear in the center turns the camshaft gear which turns the alternator gear. The only belt involved on the engine should be the crankshaft to fan belt.
A generator is a lot longer and almost touches the intake, plus it has another cylinder on top of it for the cutout (or Fun Projects regulator).
See if you can make the pictures slightly larger, I can work with this last one but it's tiny size is hiding some details.
And yes, that is your coil.
That is the usual way for the generator (and many alternators) to be mounted. It is driven directly by the timing gear - no belt needed. One difference between an alternator and a generator is the alternator requires battery voltage to build the magnetic field needed to generate electricity. Charge your battery up before trying to start and it should work.
You should be able to get this running as it is. Changing back to "factory" is an option for later, if you wish.
Remember the basics of gasolene engines:
1. Fuel - any decent regular unleaded should work
2. Air - Some like to use a "stove" air re-heater to help vaporization
3. Spark at the correct time. Be sure to retard your spark before cranking by hand or starter. Advance spark after it starts running.
4. Fuel / Air ratio is set by the dash control on top of your carburetor. Most Model T folks suggest closing it to a gentle closed position and then open about 1+1/4 turns. Some cars require more open at start and then you can adjust it back when running. You can tell the best position for your car by adjusting it open and close while running to get the best, smoothest, performance. Don't run too lean (closed) as that will tend to cause overheating. (don't ask me how I know!)
Please keep us informed on how it is going.
Is that better?
Today my dad said someone told him he wired the coil backward and fried it. I am not sure if wiring was corrected. So first I need to check that and then figure out how to test the coil. I am hoping to make that happen tonite.
I just want to say thanks to everyone for going down the rabbit hole with me. This forum is great!
Matt, the green wire from your distributor should hook up to the negative side of the coil. From your photo it does not look like it does. The coil won't burn out if polarity is reversed.
Charlie: thanks I will check that out first.
I am about 10 miles north of Louisville and it doesn't look like there is chapter close to me.
Do you know how to quote another member to respond directly to them?
I do not have a compression tester but the car ran ok before the 12v swap.
"Do you know how to quote another member to respond directly to them? "
Do you mean that you want to respond off the Forum to them?
If so, click on the person's name, and you will see prompts how to do that on the screen that is displayed.
Good Luck !
Is the white thing to the right of the coil a resistor?
The distributor is wired into that then into the negative side of the coil. But the wires are just twisted together.
I did say that but what I meant was how do I put quotes around what someone says and respond in the thread?
use the quote key (") on your keyboard...
whoops - sorry - I left out a couple steps...
1) Copy what you want to quote (normal highlight and copy procedure, then
2) put in the beginning quote mark "
3) then paste what you copied
"how do I put quotes around what someone
4) put on end quote mark
"how do I put quotes around what someone "
5) then click on the review/post message button below to check for errors, and if all OK, click on Post
and if you want to take it a step further, look at all those buttons on the top of this page....the 6th one, from right to left, is labelled formatting. Click on that, and you can see how to do all sorts of neat tricks...italics, underline, color, etc.
And sometimes I don't know my left from my right !
The 6th button from LEFT to right is the formatting button.
Sorry for the mistake.
Haha thanks Dave. I am airing out my newness to all things that this forum encompasses.
Typically, a 12 volt coil runs on about 9 volts. 12 volts continuous will burn it up, hence the resistor. In a normal configuration, theres two feed wires on the coil. One is direct battery power, (12 volts) for starting, and when the key is released, it is now fed off the "run" circuit with either an in line resistor, or as G.M. used to use, a resistor wire. HEI stuff in the 70s used 12 volts continuous. ws
To directly address your questions:
"I have an original T wiring diagram, and I was wondering if I can follow that?"
If you have the correct diagram for you car, yes you can follow it. 6V, 12V, or whatever the wiring remains the same. Since your going from 6v to 12v the wiring sizes will probably be adequate.
"My dad said he thinks he replaced the starter, horn, lights, and battery."
And also, obviously, changed the generator to an alternator. The coil wiring is simple. Connect the terminal on the distributor to the negative terminal on the coil (should be marked
" - "), connect the positive terminal of the coil to either terminal of the resistor and the remaining terminal of the resistor to the ignition switch. That's it.
"I think I would like to stay with 12v for now because it seems easier to get her fired up and start driving."
Your car, your choice .... but if it has already been converted to 12V, and you aim is to get it running ASAP, stay with the 12V. That's what I would do. Later, after you've had some driving fun, you can decide if you want completely original.
Good luck and keep us posted.
PS you can enlarge those pictures even more.
It does appear that there is a mid 1950's - mid 1980's Chrysler product family resistor next to the coil. That tells me who ever installed the distributor had a decent plan and that there is a good chance it would be reliable.
There's nothing inherently unreliable about distributors or 12 volts. If it was my car I certainly wouldn't convert back to 6 volts.
Troubleshooting why the car doesn't run is the same as for any car equipped with a points distributor. Very few auto technicians know how to do that these days.
Basically you need to find out if voltage is present at the coil when the key is turned on. If so, then you need to find out if the points are opening and closing when the engine turns. Both checks are done at the coil terminals using a volt ohm meter.
If you don't own a volt ohm meter you can buy one at Sears or Harbor Freight for about $20.
First off thanks again for all the help and information, I have already learned alot(which is easy because I do not know anything).
I am devoping my plan off attack:
1. Test battery and get one in there that's got a good charge.
2. Main wiring looks good but I need to sodor some wires for a better connection.
3. Figure out how to use my multimeter and see if I have voltage to the coil.
4. Get compression gauge and test compression.
5. Figure out how to set the timing with the distributor. It looks to be wired up in the correct firing order.
I have a couple questions. I have been following this wiring diagram:
It looks like the horn is wired wrong. Should it be wired to mag or batter terminal?
Also wire #6 from gen on ammeter to gen on terminal block is missing.
Would either of those cause the car to not start?
The way the horn is wired depends on the type horn and the way the car came from the factory. If you have a mag horn it would go to the mag terminal. If you have a battery horn, it would go to the battery terminal. If the horn has been changed, it would go to the battery terminal. If you have a mag horn but your magneto doesn't work, you will need to change the horn to a battery horn. I do not know whether a T horn will work on 12 volts. The T battery horns were made to work on 6 volts. Maybe some else who has converted their car, can tell you what to do to the horn, perhaps a bypass resistor or a dropping resistor would make it work.