Well, my hardheadedness has finally come home to roost! Despite all of the warnings about not converting to 12 volts, I converted my 26 touring shortly after I got it years ago. Since then,I have fixed or replaced the bendix 4 times , 2 for broken springs, 2 for other reasons ( one bolt had loosened on it's own and leaking cover(these damn slotted screws are not exactly easy for my fat fingers to get at either!)EverytimeI opened her up, I checked for damage and did not find any, but this time I finally got the message and will absolutely convert back to 6 volts and learn to manually crank start her as much as possible! I am sorry that I doubted the naysayers!!!!!LOL, Heres a couple of pics FYI, I am STILL kicking myself over this!!
Dennis, it is difficult to seen in the pictures but, is your ring gear damaged? Personally I don't understand why so many people convert to 12 volts.
Unless your starter is. 12 volt like the ones. Larry Becket used to sell your better off not putting 12 volt to a 6 volt starter. 13 volt make them spin to fast and can destroy the Bendix. The 12 V starters that Larry Becker sold spun a lot slower thus not jamming into the ring gear as hard. I'm replacing a ring gear for friend right now just because of the 12 volt into a 6 volt starter. My personal touring car I have one Larry starters on and I have never had a problem with it. It does not slam in to the ring gear.
Ring gears wear out on 6 Volts just the same. Yours is worn from nearly a hundred years worth of starts. Once you replace it, there will be another hundred years of use remaining. The voltage isn't what caused it to wear out. It's just old.
I am shocked at how many bendix repairs you have done. Perhaps the timing is not set right? Something other than the voltage is causing the problem.
Dennis - Thank you for your post which will no doubt be of benefit to those who have the temptation to "improve" on "Henry's" and his engineers original electrical designs. Nobody enjoys admitting mistakes and your courage is admirable indeed!
Anything electrical is one of my "downfalls" for sure, however, your post has done much to strengthen my very basic beliefs regarding basic Model "T" electrical and starters in particular:
Besides the obvious, which is a properly rebuilt starter and starter switch, a good 6 volt battery, good quality proper 6 volt battery cables, clean & tight connections, and good ground between battery and frame and frame to engine!
Also, I believe that the one "improvement" that might make sense is a good quality 6 volt starter solenoid due to the continual arcing of the original starter switch which eventually burns it's copper contacts up. That original type switch will last almost forever if it only has to energize the solenoid instead of having to carry the full current to energize the starter. FWIW,......harold
Don't they still make the voltage splitter? It was for splitting 12 volts down to 6 volts. You could run all your lights on the 12 and then use the 6 volt side for the starter. I remember Snyders, Sacramento Vintage and JC Whitney's used to sell the back in the late 70's, they were the hot set up for the "brighter lights" crowd. Me I just never saw the need, I was driving a Model A everywhere back then and 6 volts worked fine. My Model T has a starter and I never use it. I always crank it, mostly because the public doesn't expect you to have a starter in a Model T. They always want to see somebody crank a car, hell most times they want to try cranking the car too, lol.
Stephen, Yes the ring gear is damaged, i'll post a couple of more pics. It is the original starter, When I converted it to 12 volts, I changed the cable to the 12 volt cable for a little resistance but I probably should have soldered in a bendix spring to the starter button like some recommend to slow decrease it even more. Whenever I had to pull the cover off, I would check for damage and did not notice any until this last time! I noticed that recently, the bendix would seem to get stuck or something where the starter would spin without turning the engine like the old starter drives used to do when they were worn. I would have to get out of the car and rock it back and forth till i heard a "clunk" and then she would start. I had some time the other day and decided to pull it apart and see what was going on and noticed that the spring was intact this time, but when I took it out, saw the damage to the gear. I have a gut feeling that the bendix has been "slamming" into the ring gear too hard because the face of some of the gears that are not damaged seem to be have scrape marks on them!
I had previously noted when check out the leaking cover, that the repro bendix bolts that I replaced the spring with at one time, were hitting the inside of the cover knocking it loose so I put the original ones back in after getting advice from a thread on this board. On another note, I have been using the hand crank until I can replace the ring gear this winter and have noticed that she is very difficult to start when she has been sitting a day or two, but usually will start with a couple of cranks when warm, I will do a search on tuning her up better, but any thoughts would be appreciated, don't want to get a heart attack trying to crank her 6 or 7 times if possible!!!!!!LOL
I had a starter ring gear with a really bad spot on the ol' brass picup, so I sawed it in half and removed it, then cut the replacement the same way. So far, so good.
If teeth are worn enough to hang up the bendix, you can rotate the ring gear 90 degrees to give fresh teeth where the starter hits every time.
I modified the starter for series stators, instead of parallel, and it is quite happy on 12v.
I have said this a thousand times and no one listens. A starter wound for 12 volts has the same cranking power a 6 volt starter does so you gain nothing. A six volt starter will have 4 times the cranking power when run on 12 volts because power goes up by the square of the voltage. That is why the bendix gets jammed into the ring gear so hard and breaks everything in sight. Putting a resistance in series with the starter does not help. The starter sees the full 12 volts until current starts to flow. The applied voltage does not drop until the current is flowing so it is too late and does not protect the starter. Stick with 6 volts and make sure you use heavy gauge cables otherwise you will get a voltage drop with 6 volts. Never use 12 volt cables as they are a smaller gauge wire.
The main reason people use 12 volts is not because it turns the starter faster or better, but it is because coils work better on 12 than on 6. It is usually because the magneto doesn't work so they change to 12 volts.
The other reason is to run modern equipment on the car and 12 volt lights.
For my cars I prefer to keep them running on 6 volts and magneto. But if someone does use 12 volts they should rewire the starter for 12 volts or use 2 batteries. You can use the 6 volt for running the starter and lights, and 12 for the ignition. It doesn't take a very big 12 volt battery to run the coils and it can be charged before setting out on a trip and the charge will be enough to run all day.
Did I just saw a post from Royce advocating FOR a modification to a Model T?
I "converted" my first T to 12v 20 years and broke 3 bendix springs in quick succession. In fact broke the first on the same day I made the change. Later, while on tour I met a fellow who had the same experience but he told me how he solved the problem. He showed me how he had used a bendix spring as a dropping resistor, in line, battery cable to the starter electric contact post. He said it dropped the starter voltage to 9v and had never broken a spring since. Well, I'll believe just about every thing I'm told so I made the change. Have never broken another spring...on any of my 4 T's. I'm a believer. I know there are "experts" who tell me it won't work. OK. I'm just passing on my experience for what it's worth.
I have successfully used a 12 volt battery for 20 years. Following the advice of Royce's dad I use a 6 foot "12 volt style" cable on one leg of the two battery cables. This combination with the original starter does not slam the Bendix. On one of my cars I used a 6 foot "12 volt style" cable on both legs. My thought is that since there is no back emf until the starter armature begins to turn,that with the initially higher inrush current, the loss in the cables drops the voltage enough as to not slam the Bendix.
I am happy with a 12 volt system. Others are happy with a 6 volt system. To each his own and the more the merrier.
Another thing I failed to mention in my earlier 12v Epistle was that I reduced the gauge of the battery to starter cable hoping that in some small way it would help to reduce the inrush current to the starter. What ever...something is working. The name is Davis....Haven't figured out yet how to make the correction.
I have a poor mag. I simply put a 12v battery in the trunk to run the ign coils and a brake light. I made a battery charger out of the mag for the 12V battery. Otherwise the car is all on 6V.
The 12v battery is hooked to the ign switch in the mag position. Quickly done. If I pull the engine I'll fix the mag.
Now an update, because of the mag issue I went to a distributor (what a difference)and the 12v battery just runs the brake light. I do start using 12V to the coil and switch to 6v once it fires. Pretty simple fix for now.
HEY don't dicourage these guys from switching to 12 volts, I sell bendixes and bendix springs to them. One guy broke enough T springs that he bought a model A spring. I never did ask him how it worked. Model A springs are of coarse a lot heavier So maybe he broke something else and was too ashamed to come ask for other bendix parts. He did tell me that he would never switch to 12 volts again. I hope he has not told any of my local walk in customers!
Model T starter drives do not like being slammed with 12 volts. Not only are there problems with the drive itself, it causes the armature shaft to flex, to the point where the drive touches the bendix cover every time the car is started. After a while, the cover comes loose and pours out your oil. Then you must call me for new bearings. Not good. We have dealt with this several ways. First, by making the six volt system work properly. Second, by reworking the T starter to operate on twelve volts, a very complicated job requiring parts of two starters. Third, the Becker twelve volt starter, such a great product for the price that option number two is no longer worth the effort. Unclear if that product is still available. Other strategies have been used to tune down the starter for twelve volts, involving some kind of resistance in the circuit, to varying degrees of success.
thank's for the advice and input guys! I got such a sick feeling when I saw those teeth all messed up like that and knowing how much work is involved in getting at that ring, that I think I am going to convert back to the 6 volts, I originally converted it so that I would have brighter lights and a few more cranks when the weather gets a little colder here in the fall, but it is just not worth the headaches! Just looking at those teeth tells me that the gear had to be getting smacked pretty hard! I remember changing out starter drives on some of my cars back when I could not afford a whole starter and seem to recall that only the starter gear got worn out, not the flywheel, i seem to also recall that the starter drives would cost about 5 bucks, and usually last for the remaining life of the car back then!
I feel bad for ya there Dennis, I stick with my
good ole 6vts. I got bright lights and as fast as
I step on the starter its running. Maybe cause I
grew up with 6vts= always started below -0- although
heaters were shakey even going to school there was
more ice inside windows than outside on the bus
but we servived all that.
Anybody ever put an ohm meter across a bendix spring "Resistor"? Just how much resistance does one offer anyway? If a bendix spring is such a good resistor, it's a wonder any current ever makes it through the engine block and frame and back to the battery.
We measured the voltage drop when a Bendix spring was installed in series with a Model starter a few years ago. Here is the video:
I measured current difference comparing the effect of installing a 10 foot long 2 guage positive cable. Here is that video:
Here is the same car with 0 guage battery cables and a 6 volt battery:
All that was 5 years ago. I rarely use the starter. The car always starts with one or two pulls on the crank. Like this:
Guys, be aware of using model A bendix springs. Did that, unaware that with out some mod's the anchor bolts will rub against the can cover as the bendix spins, loosing up the can to the point that your oil leaks out. This is the point at which I found out about using the coil as a dropping resistor. I'm not advocating using the spring as a resistor, just saying what works for me.
Here is a dropping spring getting hot enough to burn the tape. It dropped 2.5 volts.
Closing a switch creates an extremely high frequency leading edge. The small inductance of the bendix spring will slow the rise in current, slowing the engagement. I never measured to see if it was significant.
You just don't get it. Sure, a Bendix Spring or 12 volt cables will drop the voltage, but it drops it too late. The damage has already been done. For the voltage to drop, current must flow. If current is flowing, the starter is turning. The candle power of 6 volt and 12 volt headlight bulbs is the same so you gain nothing by using 12 volts. Coils work just fine when operated on 6 volts as long as they are adjusted properly.
"I have said this a thousand times and no one listens."
And, they're still not listening. How come you just don't tell them what they want to hear? ;>)
Here's something I've stated many times as well. I have run on coils with 6V for many years. Never noticed any reduction in performance. On top of that, I adjusted the coils for amp draw only without the use of a hand cranked coil tester. The car ran as fast & smooth as most folks would want and never missed a beat.
Will the coils perform better on 12V? Probably, but would you really notice it? I never did.
Also, not trying to say my coil adjusting method was satisfactory. It was however the only method available to me at the time and it worked well.
I have to admit, it has more resistance than I would have thought. However, I believe Glen is correct in that the damage is done before there is enough current flow for the resistor to do much good. I have no experience with Model T's on 12v, but I do have some experience with a Farmall H on 12 volt. Expensive experience. Note that was "Expensive", not "Extensive".
I've pulled apart T engines that were inoperative since before WWII that had ring gears with folded over or missing teeth. They were not damaged by 12 volts.
On the other hand we've had dozens of T's in our family and friends T's over the years with every starters operating on 12 volts. It has not been an issue. Bendix springs get damaged if you have timing set wrong when starting. Otherwise they last a very long time. Ring gears wear out on 6 or 12, it doesn't seem to matter at all.
I too was surprised at how much voltage (and thus current) is dropped by a bendix spring on the negative battery terminal.
If you are running on magneto, as you should, what difference does it make if you have a 12 volt battery?
Hey guys, forgive me ,but It just dawned on me that I had rebuilt the starter a few years ago, (memory must be fading, I can't remember why I rebuilt it ) ,but I wonder if that had anything to do with all of these problems! There were a number of reasons that I initially wanted to try 12 volts, I remember one of them being that sometimes when it was cold here, the 6 volt didn't seem to give me a whole lot of cranks before dying and having to be recharged! Anyway, I will go most likely go back to the 6 volts after I attempt to replace the gear this winter. In the meantime, i could not get her started yesterday after cranking her about 10 times by hand and then giving up!(I now appreciate the starter option much more!) She kicked over a few times but didn't start so she must be out of tune, maybe the carb, and I will go over it to see what the problem could be! She seems to run fine once running, and will start on a couple of cranks all day after that initial morning difficulty! I have noticed that she always seems to run better immediately when I switch to mag. I really don't put many miles on her as she is in my garage most of the winter, (which is quite long and usually harsh) I just run around locally during the summer! Had the coils done by Ron a few years ago so I know they are like new so I never mess with them!
Times when I had to crank start cold, I would open the throttle and squirt starting fluid on the air cleaner for a couple of seconds.
Since it kicks over and kills, I would recommend opening the throttle just a bit more and enrich the carburetor setting 1/4 turn. As soon as it starts advance the spark. Incidentally, if you crank with the left hand it saves your hand in case the car backfires, but you will also be facing toward the spark lever so that you can get there quicker to advance it.
For those of you who are not "Purists, I started running 8V on my last two Ts. Installed as follows: Distributor from Lang's, 6V Coil, 8V regulator, 8V Battery from O'Rielly's. They start easy, and have no trouble with bulbs or starters. Everything basically runs 6V except when starting and the regulator keeps the battery charged. Even installed a starter solenoid with push button start. Great system if you don't mind it not being original.
I'm with you Fred. I run 8 volt batteries in my cars with no problems. Spins over a bit faster without causing any damage and the GENERATOR and lights don't care. You can't get them at Sears or K-Mart, but my NAPA store usually gets one 6 volt and one 8 volt battery with each battery restocking, so I was able to get mine right off the shelf! You usually can get one on order in 1-2 days. I also like getting the extra 2 volts for the same price as a 6 volt battery, at least in my recent purchases.
I don't really care who runs what, but my question is for those running 12 volts, how many revolutions does the engine have to turn over to start? Mine is 1-1/2 cold. I guess I can wait the extra fraction of a second the 6 volt takes to turn.
I run my car on 6 volts, with coils and a magneto. Car runs well enough that I've never had any interest in swapping it over to 12 volts. Just used really heavy welding cable and a solenoid in the starter circuit. It just seemed easier to go with Henry's design, then re-engineer the car. My two cents worth!
FWIW I ran a T for many years with 2 each 6 volt batteries wired in series. The starter was fed 6 volts from the first battery. The lights and coils were fed with 12 volts from both. It worked for me. YMMV