12v conversion

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2014: 12v conversion
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Robert Mclellan on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 10:49 am:

Thinking about it............

This T already has a distributor and I'm thinking about adding a few more amenities that may need the extra juice.

Looking to hear from those who have done a 12v conversion and what they think when comparing the two.

I've also heard that the #1 issue can be the 6v starter prematurely burning out? Has no one figured a 12v starter replacement?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rick Goelz-Knoxville,TN on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 10:57 am:

Robert, i have one car with 12 volts, i purchased a 12 volt starter from L.D. Becker, i to have a distributor and lights, it runs as good as the car with magneto but has more spark adjustment, but car had no magnets , a broken mag ring and flywheel when i got it so a distributor was the way to go.now the fun begins.

Rick


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Charlie B actually in Toms River N.J. on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 11:05 am:

Rick has what I'd consider a prime candidate for such a conversion BUT it isn't strictly necessary either. A good operating 6 vt. system will perform as well as a 12 for a lot less $ spent. Especially if the 6 vt. system is already in place and you have to change everything associated with it. What I mean is if you're expecting a huge improvement in some area forget it. I remember reading (here) that coils have slightly better running characteristics on 12 DC than 6 DC but I doubt it's anything noticeable.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Henry Petrino in Modesto, CA on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 11:06 am:

There are 12V replacement starters available from some of the vendors (generators and alternators too).

I used 12V in my TT simply because I thought, probably in error, that since I would not have a starter the 12V ignition would be a help when cranking. On the other hand, when my grandfather had the truck he'd always crank start it (the starter didn't work) on the 6V battery and it worked just fine. Note that on this truck the magneto works fine, so the battery is used for starting but as soon as it starts it's switched over to mag.

If I had it to do again, I think I'd stick with 6V since the advantage, IMHO, is minimal and you must change out starter, generator, and lights. Of course, if you're going to add modern stuff that requires 12V, then that's another story.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Will Copeland - Trenton, New Jersey on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 11:19 am:

All my T's have been converted to 12 volt. My 23 TT because I got tired of buying 6 volts batteries and my 1919 Touring because I do a lot of road trips and it makes it easier to hook up modern gadgets, ie> GPS, Phone, and anything else. I get all my 12 volt alternator and starter from Daryl Becker. His e mail is > mralternator66@yahoo.com he has the very best craftsmanship and warranty anywhere.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Pat Kelly on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 11:26 am:

I changed my '26 roadster over to 12v last fall. It came with a 12v battery for ignition but all else was 6v. I wanted to add lights and turn signals and the generator was bad. I put a 12v alternator on it and changed the light bulbs out. I went to 12v stop/tail lights and turn signals. I left the 6v starter. I've used 6v starters many times on tractor conversions and VW builds. The mag was dead so I recharged it and now have mag ignition to. PK


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By G.R.Cheshire on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 11:53 am:

Robert if you are going to switch to a 12V system and keep the original cloth covered wire invest in a disconnect switch for your battery My roadster had a 12V system and I went out to the garage one night and smelled something "HOT" found the main cable to the started had a slight rub on it and it looked like it had been rubbing for a while a disconnect switch is cheap insurance!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Will Copeland - Trenton, New Jersey on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 12:17 pm:

GR is right about the disconnect switch, I have one on both my T's. I should have added that the other reason for changing to 12 volt is I got tired of replacing the original 6 volt generators at close to $300.00 a unit after shipping.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bob McDonald-Federal Way, Wa. on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 12:33 pm:

I think that changing to 12 V or to a distributor
is up to the owner and the happiness of if it runs better or not depends on how many people will make negative remarks about it. Do what you wish, enjoy what you have and toughen your skin because remarks will be made.

my 2 cents worth
Bob


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Robert Mclellan on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 01:29 pm:

Thanks for the advice, my skin is pretty thick as one of the greatest lessons I learned early in life (fortunately) was to Not be easily offended.

People are entitled to their own opinions, and I never forget, that weather it's me answering or stating something or anyone else, that's all it is.....my or their opinion.

Also why I stated that I was looking to hear from those who have Done it, as people's Real experience is what makes the most difference to me while debating anything, not personal opinions.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Robert Mclellan on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 01:36 pm:

I should add, that this T will have full running lights and signals, and stainless bumpers for that matter, as it's going to be a Driver, and needs to have as much safety and properly working accessories to conform to driving on streets today.

This is one of the reasons I was thinking 12v, + what others have already confirmed, 12v is just easier IF your replacing stuff anyways, because it's more commonly used everywhere.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dave Wells on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 01:37 pm:

If you change an original, collectable, vintage car to 12 volts and a distributor, you better get used to negative remarks because they will never go away. If you succeed at reliable running with a correct, stock system, people will congratulate you wherever you go. That's the way it is. Get used to it.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Charlie B actually in Toms River N.J. on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 02:10 pm:

My comments are directed at the fact that I'm a cheap SOB. Distributors are common enough and have been around long enough (in my book) to be an acceptable T mod. I wouldn't add one to a car with original equipment coils. Refer to line 1. I understand both systems and can repair either one so it's a wash for me. Whatever's there. Going to 12 vts. when there's a working or repairable 6 vt. system is out too. Again, line 1. There's no shortage of 6 vt. bulbs, flashers, sockets, ect. available at the same cost as 12 vt. so building on a 6 vt. system is the cost effective way to go if it's already there plus I can think of no real advantage of converting. Your car, your cash, whatever you want and for the most part, except for the distrib & coil nothing shows. Bugger the nay-sayers. With the possible exception of a show judge with a bug up his nether regions.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By mike_black on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 11:35 pm:

I have distributors in both my speedsters--one is 12V and one is 6V. Just because the mag doesn't work doesn't necessarily require a distributor. I also have a hack that has no mag ring but still runs on coils on battery. I switched it to 12V as an attempt to fix a problem that turned out to be vapor lock that was fixed by moving the fuel line.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dave Huson, Berthoud, Co. on Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 01:40 am:

Robert McLellen:

I am always glad to hear guys around here that they are switching to 12 volts because I always have a large supply of BENDIXES. I had one guy come back 3 times. He swore he would never change another T to 12 volts.

By the way I carry a supply of Model A bendix springs. I would recomend that you get an A spring from someone. You will have to install model A bolts to hold the spring because the A spring is thicker. The T spring is the most common break in the Bendix when 12 bolts is installed that is why you may want to install a Model A spring. Another common break is the counter balance, but not as common as the spring.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dave Huson, Berthoud, Co. on Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 01:40 am:

Robert McLellen:

I am always glad to hear guys around here that they are switching to 12 volts because I always have a large supply of BENDIXES. I had one guy come back 3 times. He swore he would never change another T to 12 volts.

By the way I carry a supply of Model A bendix springs. I would recomend that you get an A spring from someone. You will have to install model A bolts to hold the spring because the A spring is thicker. The T spring is the most common break in the Bendix when 12 bolts is installed that is why you may want to install a Model A spring. Another common break is the counter balance, but not as common as the spring.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Cary Abate on Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 08:43 am:

Robert,
There was a reason to change to 12V. Smaller wiring, better connections, brighter lighting, and etc. I have 2 12V and 1 6V. The 6 volt has original coils. One 12 has a Bus DIST. And the last Depot Hack is 12V with True-fire. The True-fire is being converted back to Coils from John Regan and TW Timer. The change is to avoid non-service issues. I like the idea that I can carry a spare coil and timer. If you change, use a much smaller wire to the starter. It keeps the bang to a low roar when starting and is better on the starter. Now comes the nay Sayers.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By G.R.Cheshire on Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 10:36 am:

Cary I agree with you on doing something about the bang but I was shown by my "T" mentor that a 10 foot section of 4 gauge copper wire coiled around a broom stick (About 8 inches) and then sealed (with heat shrink) makes for one fine resistor when placed between the main line and the starter.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Robert Mclellan on Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 10:42 am:

Dave Huson, Thanks for the post, I think that's some good advise for anyone who's thinking about converting to 12v and keeping a 6v starter.

From what I've read (and I'm not saying it can't be done with 6v starter) I would suggest anyone who's thinking about a 12v system should be thinking about a HD 12v starter as well.

One of the reasons I'm thinking about converting is for Reliability. So doing the conversion and leaving anything out that Could make the system Less reliable, makes no sense to me.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Gary Tillstrom on Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 12:07 pm:

Converting will do nothing for reliability. A properly working Generator and Starter will often be proven less reliable when applying higher voltage (or asking of in case of a generator).

If both components are 100% up to snuff the 6 volt system is fine. The starter like 6 volts much better than 12.

The reason many convert is the starter or something in the system won't start the car worth a crap. I would in all cases suggest a voltage drop test and fix the offending issue. I will give it this, a 12 volt battery will very often mask the problem and allow the car to start.

You have to ask yourself, do you want it fixed or to start? Once its fixed with will start so why spend needless money that will in all likelihood hurt reliability.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Grady L Puryear on Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 12:26 pm:

FWIW - Back in the Day, everything came with a 6 volt system, no matter the engine size and etc. I struggled along with everyone else, with all manners of Farm Machinery and other equipment on 6 volts. Finally, began to convert the charging systems to 12 volt, left the 6 volt starters on, and went on about our business. I had several Jeeps that I converted with nary a problem, if I remember right, the Jeeps we had in the Service were 24 volt. As far as burning up a starter, if you just sit there and grind away, yes, but if it doesn't start pretty quick, get off the starter and let it cool off. I still have a few pieces of old iron I converted, and am going to convert my 1925 if I can find someone to convert my 6 volt alternator to 12 volt, yeah, I do lot's of weird stuff.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John Semprez-Templeton, CA on Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 12:36 pm:

I have no dog in this hunt, however Ohms law would dictate that there is no difference between a healthy 6V and 12V system. Certainly not reliability.

The only advantage to a 12V system would be if the resistance of poor wire connections and switch contacts are not dealt with. I would clean up all terminals and switch contacts then reinstall with a light smear of silicone grease.

The described "electrical" tune up will do more to improve the reliability of a 6V or 12V system than a conversion... for a whole lot less cost.

Just the opinion of this old Electrical Engineer.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Hal Davis-SE Georgia on Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 12:59 pm:

I don't get the part about checking your old cloth covered wiring when converting to 12 volts. 12 volts will draw less current than 6 volts, so the load on the wiring is actually less, but the fact is, bad wiring is bad wiring. If it's bad it needs replacing no matter what the voltage. I don't see why 12 volts would require one to replace bad wiring but it is somehow OK on 6 volts.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John Semprez-Templeton, CA on Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 01:24 pm:

Well said Hal. "Bad wiring" is likely "bad connections" unless the insulation is damaged. I would also re-solder the terminals in the tune up I described in my post.

A few years ago I purchased a new loom and found that none of the terminals had been soldered (just crimped)and the wiring showed high resistance with an Ohm meter. I soldered all the terminals and the resistance dropped to what one would expect to see for the gauge and length of copper wire used.

A wiring tune up will do wonders for dim lights and poor running!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Gary Schreiber- Santa Isabel Ecuador on Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 01:29 pm:

The OP would like 12V for accessories he's planning on adding. Those that are posting 6V is as good as 12V need to reread his first post.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Walt Berdan, Bellevue, WA on Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 01:39 pm:

Two 6 volt cars, one 12 volt. For now, 2 distributors and one set of stock coils (soon to be 2 on stock coils). OK, my opinion - 12 volt is far better for lighting and gives more options for modern accessories as well as slightly better availability of replacement parts (bulbs & ignition bits). I happen to use a stock starter on 12 volts and while I have bent some bendix springs when forgetting to retard the spark, I've not had any other problems there. 12 volt versions are available and if my starter dies, I'll certainly get one designed for 12 volts. I really like my tachometer, GPS and halogen lights on the speedster, don't really care what folks think about it.

Your car, your money. I hope you enjoy it.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Gary Tillstrom on Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 01:45 pm:

The OP didn't mention what voltage the "additions" would require. He stated "adding a few more amenities that may need the extra juice". The words "may need the extra juice" indicates ultimate load (wattage output) not voltage requirements.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bob Coiro on Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 01:47 pm:

Robert,

I started out with a 1915 Touring that had no electrical system whatsoever, so the decision to go to 12-volts wasn't so much a matter of conversion as addition. The entire system, now, is 12 volts, from the belt-driven alternator to the Optima battery to the 12-volt starter and there's plenty of juice to operate all the added-on lights, turn signals, GPS, etc.

If you're firm on your decision to add the electrical amenities, you might, in my humble opinion, benefit from going the whole nine yards with a completely new 12-volt system.

Now, the idea of making major changes to a horseless carriage is something I really don't like, but depending on your locale, the safety issues of traffic-jamming with modern cars and trucks can make brake lights and turn-signals an absolute necessity. You can either equip your Model T as an authentic show car which can occasionally be driven on lightly-traveled country roads, you can equip it for hard-core touring as a "driver," or you can go somewhere in between. Whichever the case, the equipment decisions you'll make really do need to match the type of driving you're going to be doing. When it comes to safety, these old cars need all the help they can get.

Send me a PM with your e-mail address and I'll e-mail you a Microsoft Word file on how I hid my safety equipment.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John Semprez-Templeton, CA on Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 02:19 pm:

Since this forum is viewed by many who have no desire to add modern electrical amenities, my point of view is this: A 12V conversion does not inherently improve the reliability of the STOCK Ford electrical system. Not lighting, not starting, not running. My point is that a healthy 6V system will provide a robust, reliable car.

If one wants to convert their Ford's electrical system to 12V to add modern amenities then by all means do it!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Robert Mclellan on Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 02:47 pm:

Some very good points and views across the board!

For clarification;

I will be replacing ALL the wiring, so a complete re-wire for the whole T. Nothing will be left out, which is another reason I'm considering the 12v conversion Now.

When I said "more reliable" I'm talking about the difference in the inherent flaws of the original 6v starters vs not having any of those issues with a newer style 12v starter. I've read as many or More posts about the issues with Bendix springs/ bad repop hardware ect ect.

I figure If I'm going to replace the starter or have it completely reworked, why not upgrade and make it better/ more simple while I'm at it.

Bob, thanks for the post, PM on the way!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Cary Abate on Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 02:50 pm:

John,

How about the choices and availablity of 6 volt maintenance free batteries Vs 12V.
The lower the voltage the higher the maintenance necessary. The 12volt cars provide more free time.

Cary


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By mike dixon on Friday, March 21, 2014 - 03:48 pm:

robert

I just bought a model t speedster, converted to 12 volts, cant keep the starter bendix on, sound familier? Do you have any model a springs and bendix available thanks, mike 618-401-5977


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By David Dewitt on Friday, March 21, 2014 - 04:07 pm:

My car will be 88 years old this year. The 6 volt system has work for all these years.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Martin Vowell, Sylmar, CA on Friday, March 21, 2014 - 05:04 pm:

I ran coils on my car for about a month until I got so disgusted with them that I threw them on the bench and built my own distributor from some VW parts I had laying around. That was in 1978...now I'm really considering going back to the coils, mainly because of Fun Projects coil box rebuild kit. I don't for a moment think it'll run better with the coils than with my distributor, but as Hal Davis once told me..."no one is suggesting that distributors aren't good, we just think that the original coils is the best way to run a Model T"...it took 2 or 3 years, but I'm beginning to agree, lol.

I've seen what a 12V system does to ring gears, unless you contrive some way to slow the current down that goes to the starter and even though you get bright lights and there are more toys that work with 12V (GPS, Cell Phones, radar detectors???) than with 6V, I don't think it's worth all the trouble you have to go through to get any of those benefits. 6V works fine, and I'm not sure but wouldn't converting your T also amount to modern modification with the DMV...they might also want you to include seat belts and turn signals and better braking what not (well turn signals is a really good idea)...sorry I'll stick with the 6V system.

What does anybody think of those Halogen 25 watt bulbs for 6V...are they brighter than 50/50 CP's?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dave Wells on Friday, March 21, 2014 - 07:46 pm:

Martin, I found the 25 watt halogens to be nearly twice as bright and have worked perfectly with the stock 6 volt system. 25 watts is the key and not getting greedy by going for even higher wattage.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Tony Bowker on Friday, March 21, 2014 - 09:07 pm:

The work to rewire a Model T starter for 12 volt operation is quite simple and usually takes me between 2 to 3 hours.
Basically the two stator windings are changed from parallel to series connections. This reduces the inrush current by half and solves the Bendix problem. The instructions can be found on the internet, can't quite remember where, but if you need the instructions drop me an email.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Kevin Whelihan on Friday, March 21, 2014 - 09:33 pm:

I agree with Tony. Re-wiring the standard 6 volt starter to 12 volts is no big deal. If you are reasonably handy and mechanical work and decent at soldering, it is not hard to do at all.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Gary Tillstrom on Saturday, March 22, 2014 - 08:38 am:

Re-wiring the starter to 12 volts does not make it more reliable than a properly maintained 6 volt starter. I'll give it the fact that it will solve the problem of tearing up bendix springs and bent shafts (so would keeping it 6 volt). One of the original posts mentions improving reliability. Is everyone of the opinion that the electrical system as built by Ford was unreliable? Some of the most reliable cars on the national tours are well maintained and as delivered from Ford. If I found a new unused model T stored away someplace I would have no issues with adding gas and a 6 volt battery and setting off for whatever distance trip I wanted to. In most cases when cars are converted to 12 volts it is because some component isn't up to the task on 6 volts. It's really a shame that so many don't know how to do a voltage drop test to find the offending item and correct it.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dan Treace, North FL on Saturday, March 22, 2014 - 09:53 am:

6v is the stock T system. Lots of years and lots of T's for me haven't ever wanted or desired 12v.

Reliable is 6v with easy to find stock parts. Of course starters and generators need to be right, same with wiring , connections , etc. As for lights your lamps need shiny reflectors , with re-silvered the only way . Add the 6v Halogen bulbs and proper bends on the headlamp posts to align the beam will get you home in the dark.

Last tour one T ran out of oil , bad news . Cause was Bendix cover bumped open and let oil run out. 12v on the starter.

When I hear a Ford starting, and hear that high wind pitch of whirling Bendix on 12v I get a cringe! The T should start with that famous 'arrura...arrura....arrura' you just know that reliable ole Ford is going to get going just fine on 6volts! :-)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dave DeYoung ......... Stoughton, WI on Saturday, March 22, 2014 - 01:40 pm:

The one thing that has not been noted is the fact that most plug-in toys will work just fine on 6V. I have run my GPS and cell this way for years. Check the specs on your toy and see what its operating voltage is. Most car chargers/power supplies clip the unneeded voltage.

As for reliability, the T starter is nearly bulletproof when operated on 6v. If there is a weak link, it would be the generator. Most of my gen failures have resulted from me setting it to close to the max. The charging system only needs to cover the needs of the headlights. Over charging can be solved with the use of a Fun Projects regulator and will protect the gen should the circuit go open.

Dan covered the lighting issue when mentioning the properly silvered reflectors. Properly focusing and aiming per the Ford manual goes a long way in putting the light on the road where you need it. Remember, candle power is the same whether it is 6 or 12v.

IMHO, the use of 12v is up there with using a water pump. Both are implemented to cover an underlying problem. Treat the problem, not the symptom.


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