My ’15 Touring was retrofitted with a modern 12-volt electrical system when I bought it. This included an Optima battery in a Model T-type battery-holding bracket under the rear-seat floorboards.
Back when the system was being installed, I had the option of having a battery-access door cut into the floorboards, but the wood was original and in beautiful condition, so I decided against it. Well, turns out my well-intentioned decision to preserve historical accuracy has come back to bite me on the butt.
You see, now that my battery is a few years old and could benefit from an occasional handshake with a charger, I’m unable to get at the stupid battery terminals.
Now, I was planning, instead, to clamp the charger’s red cable to the hot terminal of my battery disconnect switch, but that thing is in the underseat fuel tank compartment and it’s been pointed out to me that raising sparks right next to a metal vessel containing several gallons of fuel and gasoline vapor, in an enclosed space, is an idea right up there with Betamax and leisure suits.
Hubboy, okay—so the plan, at this point, is to use a circular, doorknob-saw-bit to drill a pair of half-dollar-sized holes in the rear floorboards so as to create just enough access to grab the terminals with charger clamps, while removing the least possible amount of structural beef. To do this properly, I must first get the battery out of the way, which will first require disconnecting and lowering the Model T battery-holding bracket, which will first require getting the exhaust pipe out of the way.
Now, is it better to disconnect and remove the muffler and then “fudge” the battery bracket and exhaust pipe out of each other’s way, or should I disconnect the exhaust pipe at the manifold and pull it forward out of the muffler?
Or, should I disconnect the exhaust pipe from the manifold and unbolt the muffler brackets, thereby getting the whole exhaust system out of my operating theatre? Oh, my eyes are already glazing over with dread. Is the know-nothing newbie about to get in over his head?
If you look at the side of your battery you will notice a red & black twist off cap or plug these or for side charging or power.
You can use them for a charger port.
Wouldn't it be easier to bop on down to Autozone and pick up a pair of side terminal bolts and install them on the battery?
You'll have to slide under the car to hook up the battery charger, but that seems like a simple solution for now (and a good excuse to buy a creeper if you don't already own one).
Charles and I think alike but his idea is better - hook a charger port to those two side terminals. The bolts may already be under the caps.
Yeah, I was looking at those side terminals, but they're within an inch of the car's frame and I'd need that much room to screw in a bolt. Then, when El Klutzo (yours truly) tripped over the charger cable, the battery might shift 1/8th of an inch and weld itself to the frame. Nope, I need an answer that doesn't involve nuzzling up too close to trouble.
Simple,use the mag.With a grin Bud.
That battery eventually will need to be replaced. How will that be done?
How about this:
1) Remove the battery
2) Install two terminal bolts
3) turn battery 180 degrees and reinstall
4) the two terminals will now be on the opposite side - now will there be room to hook up a charger?
Beat me to it, Bud. I was gonna ask what the bad decision was...adding the battery?
Is the disconnect switch in the ground lead, as it should be, or in the hot lead? If it's in the ground lead, it won't do any good for charging, anyhow.
Even if I spun the battery 180 degrees, the terminals would still be too close to the metal bracket.
The disconnect switch is on the positive lead. Not the way I would have hooked it up, but so far, so good. It actually came in handy that way for charging a few times, but I see that as an unhealthy habit.
Maybe an in-line fuse on the battery's positive cable that can be disconnected and leave me with an end to which I can clamp the charger?
Can you get rid of the 2x4's under the battry which would lower same and give acess to the side post? A few zip tyes to hold it and your done?
Could you move the switch down under?
Make sure it can do no harm when you forget to disconnect before pulling it out of the garage when a sweet young thing asks for a ride, and your blood drains down out of your brain.
Suggest you get a trickle charger. Since these are usually limited to 1 amp, you can connect it anywhere where there is 12 volts. I connect mine up at the firwall. You will need to leave the disconnect in the on position though.
Bob here's my simple answer. Follow your Positive cable to the Starter switch for instance and hook up your battery charger there. Take your Negative Charger clamp and hook it to the Frame or the Engine for the ground. There's no need to fuss with finding your Battery terminals for now.
Fred beat me to it! I use that method all the time on some of my tractors because it's easier than taking panels off to get to the batteries.
I would remove that 2 inch board,replace it with a 3/4 board,and install 2 bolts in the side post and go with it.
IF I aint bad mistaken,the bolt thread is 3/8ths.
I know it is standard size.
ANyhow, 2 regular bolts with flat washers would not stick out far from the battery ,giveing more distance from the frame as well.
Here is a Battery Charger that fits easily on early models, You know I had to at least mention the option
oops sorry , here are all the brackets needed for early system
For years, when my A battery needs a charge, I just open the hood and connect my 10 amp charger to the terminal on the starter switch and any place I find bare metal. This way, I don't have to remove the floor boards. The starter switch is connected to the positive terminal, and the frame to the negative terminal. The A is a positive ground and connected just the opposite.
I would cut out the 2x4 under the battery, then with it lowered, maybe add a 1/2 plywood base and the you would have room for terminals. You might be able to lie the battery on the side, the battery will take it but details of how to hold it escapes me right now.
A 12-volt alternator puts out a maximum of 14 amps, right? Okay, my charger can put out 12 amps, which is less than the alternator's maximum output.
Does that mean I can temporarily disconnect this wire from the alternator and clamp my 12-amp charger to it?
I hooked one of these to the terminal block. When I get home and feel the need, I plug in my charger to it.
Thank you Daryl for posting that photo sir.
That is the motivation I needed.
I can mount me a 12 volt generator in a similar fashion on my speedster engine!
You must mean volts, an alternator puts out more than 14 amps, if asked for by the system, and yes you can hook your charger to the wire,
Mack, Yes You sure can
You hook up a battery charger under the hood on early Model T's. The + terminal is the lower passenger side terminal on the coil box. The - terminal is one of the exhaust manifold bolts.
You don't have any reason to hook the charger directly to the battery terminals.
I'm no sparky but I'm sure that particular hook up would only apply to a trickle charger. right?
No--any 30 or 40 dollar charger will work. Just have the key in the off position.
Only Automatic chargers or trickle chargers are less than dangerous. A cheap six amp charger, if left long enough, can make the battery explode. An automatic charger reduces the charge to a trickle as the battery arrives at full charge.
"A cheap six amp charger, if left long enough, can make the battery explode."
Well, don't do that then.
Bob, I do like RDR has done with a cig lighter outlet hidden behind my rear license plate. You could also use a pigtail like Doug showed. I check the voltage and hook up a trickle battery maintainer when it sits for a long time. Run a couple of wires to those side terminals towards the rear or front where it's convenient to your power source. Piece of cake?
Oh, you guys aren't going to believe this.
After all the head-scratching and beard-stroking over how to gain access to my battery's terminals, I looked under the floormat and discovered that my rear floorboards were only held in by a couple of wooden corner-strips and a few wood-screws. I unscrewed the corner-strips and the floorboards lifted right out.
Guess I couldn't see the forest for the trees. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go hide somewhere and concentrate on feeling foolish. Egad!
LOL Bob. At least it's easy!
I still don't understand why you think you need to hook the battery charger to the battery terminals. Why not just pop the hood and hook up the clips? No tools, less time, same result.
I also don't understand why you would go to the trouble of unscrewing your floor board when you can do like Royce showed you. I always charge all my early T batteries that way. On my newer Ts I charge the batteries by way of the terminal blocks. On my Ts with the terminal block I install a terminal end under the hot wire and bend it out then its real easy to hook to.
Royce and Dave,
My car is equipped with an Optima red-top, AGM battery, which is kind of a neat type of technology. They're extremely low maintenance (which figured in with an inaccessible location), supposedly last twice as long as liquid acid batteries, hold a charge longer and... well, they're just supposed to be really good batteries.
So I figured I'd get an Optima-brand charger that was designed for use with the Optima battery. The charger has all kinds of safety features and neat, whiz-bang gadgets, and it'll recover a deeply discharged AGM, which can otherwise be tricky. Also, the Optima chargers received great consumer reviews.
But the disadvantage (as I understand it) of Optima batteries is that, because they have a big capacity, it takes quite a while to charge them with a standard 4 or 6-amp charger and even with the 12-amp current of the Optima charger, it's going to take several hours. So, trickle-charging that monster battery through skinny little wires would take forever.
Or, the know-nothing newbie fell for some Madison Avenue advertising and bought a pig in a poke.
Take a look at the wire leading away from the generator
You should keep the battery as close to a fully charged state as possible. Charging it should draw no more than an amp or two if you charge the battery every month. I am assuming you just use the battery for starting and for occasional night driving to power the headlights, and have no generator. If for example you make an 8 hour drive at night with the lights on then you should recharge as soon as possible to ensure good battery life.
I have Group 24F battery in my '15 which is a very high capacity battery. These batteries typically last 10 years for me. Your Optima battery - or any lead acid battery - will not last long if you let it discharge fully between charging.
My technique is to hook up the battery charger in the evening, then unhook it the next morning. You should do the same and have no issues regardless of where you connect the charger.
Your comment has me thinking I've been attacking this problem from the wrong direction.
Back in May, when my battery was close to dead (and I believed that was from an inactive winter), I took the car to my local mechanic and he hooked up his professional charging equipment for about 45 minutes and pronounced the battery "fully charged." I'm now wondering whether it's possible to do that so quickly.
That aside, the battery soldiered on through May, June and July, and then needed another handshake with a charger. Considering my Model T has been retrofitted with a modern, belt-driven, 12-volt alternator, maybe that shouldn't be the case. My ammeter does show an approximate 2-amp discharge when the engine is idling, so, while waiting at traffic lights, I usually remember to open the throttle to the point where I see the needle swing over to the "+" side of the gauge.
Now, somebody on the forum told me that it's normal for an alternator to consume a few amps just to energize its electromagnets and therefore it's also normal for it to need to be revved up a bit. Still, my modern Olds Intrigue idles at a slow 600 RPM or so (with the stereo, GPS and all kinds of other electrical equipment consuming juice) and doesn't run down its battery, so why should this be different in my Model T? I'm thinking maybe my Flivver's alternator needs some kind of adjustment. Uh... are alternators equipped with some kind of output adjustment dial?
Bob, The fast charger, places like Autozone have is simple to describe, Its like cooking a potato in a microwave or an oven, yes a much better charge to use a slow trickle charger for sure. the amp consumption you say you have heard is up to debate, and yes sometimes certain alternators need a tad throttle to engage charging BUT then should keep charging until shut off, so your idle speed then should be no problem. am also curious as to what model alternator you have on your car
I have a Delco 10SI 6 volt, negative ground alternator on my 14. I actually fabbed up brackets exactly like what you posted before I saw anyone do something like what I have. Mine are just flat steel without the nice curves your upper braket has. But I found that using the water outlet and then putting the lower bracket behind the fan made everything line up perfectly. I have an Optima 6V battery that needs zero attention. Now that I'm going to a front plate magneto I won't even be using the battery to start the car, just operate my horn and lights.
As long as you're in the thinking mode:
"Royce, Your comment has me thinking")
Is your T alternator belt slipping?
A simple fan belt (only) can be "fairly" loose, and still turn the fan while remaining on the pulley...not much resistance to fan blades moving thru the air.
However, I seem to remember reading posts stating that alternators, when charging, provide some amount of resistance....a HP loss maybe? - in any event, your Intrigue's alternator belt is a lot tighter - no?
Yes the belt slipping can be a problem, simply push on fan when off lol and if it turns without the belt , it is too loose , I wouldn't be concerned with this horsepower loss as exaggerated by some . minimal. Definitely check the belt.
I've not heard of good results with lead acid batteries after they come into contact with a start charger. I bet your battery is damaged from being discharged and then overcharged.
Optima batteries are very expensive, and very picky about how they are treated, just like any other lead acid batteries. Any lead acid battery can last a long time if kept in a fully charged state.
The Optima in my humble opinion offers no advantage to most people. It is more expensive, and looks special.
Bob, you have just described one of the problems with alternators on a model T - when mounted as the original generator.
The amount of power (watts) delivered out of any electricity producing device is the rate of variation of the magnetic field in the coils that produce the electricity.
The upper limit of amps are determined by the thickness of the wire used in those coils.
The main difference between a generator and an alternator is, that the power producing coils rotate in the generator and are static in the alternator.
That mean that you can make the power producing coils of much thicker wire than a generator. If the wire is to thick, it will be slung out of the apparture when the rpm's gets to high. So that also sets an upper limit for how fast it can turn.
On the contrary - you can gear the alternator to run twice as fast as the crankshaft so that the alternator runs up and beyong 10.000 rpms. That alsi means that when idling at 600 rpm's it goes 1200 rpms and do charge quite a bit.
In your T the alternator runs at approx same speed as the engine and 600 rpms is just to little for it to charge.
As testified By anyone using a alternator, especially the latest productions of them , at the worst case scenario, a VERY SLIGHT increase with rpm , may be needed to activate the alternator BUT then after this SLIGHT rpm increase the alternator continues to charge until shut down