Hello, I am having a minor issue with the ignition / light switch on my 1923 touring/pickup. I'm pretty sure it is not an original switch (looks too new), it is one of the "pin" type reproduction switches.
I've noticed that I have to jiggle the light switch to get the lights to come on in the "bright" setting. Also, the other day when the car was running in the garage, I switched the headlights to "bright" and the engine immediately died, like the ignition got switched off.
I removed the switch panel from the dash with the wires still attached (after disconnecting the negative cable from the battery) and tried to rotate the back of the switch to disengage it from the housing, but it's jammed in there too tight. Do I just need to apply more force, or is there a trick?
I'm attaching a picture of the back of the switch. The jumper wire with the aftermarket blue terminals jumps the battery and mag settings of the ignition switch together (the previous owner removed the magneto and installed a Truefire ignition system).
I see a terminal on the back of the switch for a ground wire, should I install a separate ground wire there, or is it optional?
If all was working before the problem an additional wire isn't needed. From personal experience: Most repo switches are trashy. The kits are worse. I've re-built 2 and didn't use all the new parts provided in either case so I'd look for a reputable switch supplier. I don't know if Fun Projects has them but I'd definitely start there.
Thanks for the reply. The "jiggle" issue has always been there for me (I've only owned the car for a couple of months), but the ignition switching off when I turn the lights on has only happened once (may possibly be the first time I tried turning on the headlights with the car running).
It's just a minor nuisance right now, since I currently don't plan to drive the car at night.
I'll check to see what Fun Projects offers.
The switch guts I got from Lang's years ago proved excellent, better than the original, but I've seen enough gripes to tell me that the quality of the repros varies widely. Last spring I fixed an original that was making intermittent contact because the body of the thing, some material that looks like a piece of super-thick cardboard, was warped. All I had to do was rub the inside surface against sandpaper on a board until it was flat. That did the trick.
Straying from Mark's problem a little, I had good luck taking the warp out of an original back plate by soaking it in lacquer thinner a couple of days and then clamping it between two pieces of Maple for a couple more days. It took about 90% of the warp out. It was a crimp type switch. I annealed the tabs while it was apart and it has worked very well since. Don't know if the thinner did any good or if water would have worked. Some of the chemical experts may have a better fix.
The picture shows one piece of maple with holes to clear the terminals.
Thanks everyone for all the responses!
I found this earlier thread where someone else had the same wierd symptom I had (engine died when they turned lights on), and they fixed their problem by tightening loose connections.
So, I went over the switch, ammeter, and terminal block, tightening every connection. Nothing was floppy loose, but almost every screw could be turned an eighth turn or more. We'll see if that helps.
Say Mark, I just had a thought. Were you running on mag? If the mags out put is low the addition of the lamps could have cause the motor to stop because of no (very low) voltage to the coils.
Thanks for the suggestion, but no, my car doesn't have a magneto, the previous owner removed the magneto and installed a Truefire ignition system.
The repo switches have worked for me. I bought one from the guy who is supposedly the best at restoring ignition switches. He uses original parts to build them. It works OK but I have to say it wasn't any better than the repos I have bought from Snyders and Langs over the years.
Just being honest.
That Ground terminal would need a ground wire attached to it, if you were using a High Voltage Magneto to provide the sparks, like many early tractors and hit and miss engines used.
The blue/yellow wire would go to a Magneto terminal and when the Ignition switch was moved to OFF, it would ground the Magneto and kill the sparks from the Magneto to stop the engine.
That jumper link would be removed and there would be no wire required on the Mag post.
We make a good replacement back for the tab, and pin back ignition switch. Langs has them, and Ben Martin even uses them!
Sometimes the spring contacts need a little tweaking to work as intended. I took a few tries to get my switch working as it was designed. Press in on the switch back when you attempt to turn. Lift up the spring contacts to get more spring pressure. I even had to put a slight twist in the center spring (ignition switch part) sweeping arm to make good contact with a repro back. Just having continuity with a meter isn't reliable, the car and road induced vibration can impact the switch performance.
I do what Steve Jelf does, only I use a belt sander. Take off just enough to flatten it and shine up the contact points.
If the original switch back is not real bad, I find an area that isn't warped and measure it with a caliper. I use Krazy Glue to fill in the cracks, and pin area. I have to repeat this operation three times, for each pin. After I put the Krazy Glue in a bad area, I clamp it in my bench vise to the exact thickness of the switch back, and let it set for awhile. I then sand the inside with 120 grit on my drill press table. Been doing it for years with success. Even Ben Martin approves.