Can anyone recommend a decent but economical volt checking meter with which to check the various voltages on a Model T with a 6 volt system and where to get it? I am totally unfamiliar with auto electronics and need to familiarize myself with it so that whenever you guys discuss it on the forum, I will have an idea of what you are talking about and can benefit from the discussion. What are these testers called: Voltmeter? Multimeter? Flukemeter? See. I don't even know exactly what the device I am asking about is even called. Help! Thank you for your help. Jim Patrick
A voltmeter measures only voltage, whereas a multimeter measures multiple electrical parameters such as voltage, current, and resistance. Buying a voltmeter alone would be difficult these days but some do exist. Many multimeters measure even more parameters such as capacitance, inductance, semiconductor properties, etc. For a T guy a basic multimeter which measures voltage, current and resistance is all you'll ever need.
Fluke is a brand name of a manufacturer who makes a very high quality multimeter. Its a excellent meter but quite expensive and maybe overkill for the basic measurements you need for a T.
Now I have to whisper this as many will disagree, but for a beginner you can't beat the multimeter sold by Harbor Freight for under $10. I own a Fluke but keep 4 or 5 of the harbor Freight meters around and have gotten good service from them. They may not be accurate to the 4th decimal place but good enough for what you want to do.
Sooner or later all beginners set their multimeter for a current reading and then put it across a source of voltage. This usually destroys the meter or a least the current measuring section. If it is fused and the fuse blows quickly enough, it may be OK. One more reason to start with a cheap meter.
The library usually carries a book on basic electricity and using a multimeter.
Go to Radio Shack, they are selling everything in the store for 30 to 60 % off. Bankruptcy sale
For a T, get an analog meter, not digital.
I agree with Bud. For working on a T you can't beat a cheap analog multimeter. There are times that an expensive digital meter are not the best tool for troubleshooting as they do not show real time information due to the sample rate of the meter. A cheap analog meter is perfect for a model T! I have 2 Flukes and a Simpson 260 but there is a cheap Radio Shack meter under the back seat of my T.
Two very high quality analog multimeters are the
Simpson Model 260
Triplett Model 630
Both are available on eBay and can be had for less than $40
I bought a Simpson 260 on Tbay and use it all the time. It is what I grew up with in the military and it is analog. Works great for me.
For a beginner., I would recommend a cheap digital meter. Much easier to understand. An analog meter is necessary to check the capacitor in a Model T coil but unless you intend to start rebuilding coils you don't need one. Your meters that cost a little more just require setting the switch to DC Volts or Resistance. Be careful checking Amps. Unless that circuit has a fuse, you can ruin the meter by trying to measure to high a reading. Most meters will measure up to 10 amps. Good to start with an inexpensive $10 meter than a $200'plus Flute meter.
I use my Simpson 260 more than the Flukes. I have owned it for more than 25 years. Due to the size of the Simpson meter I usually keep a cheap Radio Shack in the T.
My old Sears Roebuck meter died, so when to Tractor Supply, and got the cheap $10 Gardner-Bender. Works fine.
Didn't come with a little case, so kept the old Sears vinyl case for storage.
Just used it today on the irrigation controller, to check its 24VAC output.
I picked up a Simpson 240 very cheap at a garage sale. What's the difference between a Simpson 260 and a Simpson 240,...?
And, will a Simpson 240 be usable for Model T purposes? Something I read leads me to believe that the 240 is designed more for radio type electronics,......???
Try Harbor Freight for about $6.00!
The Simpson 240 is the kid brother of the Model 260. It should serve you well.
The Simpson 240 appears to be similar to the 260, but smaller. I'm not familiar with them, but here's some info on the 240:
Like John A, I used a 260 in the military, where I was an electronics technician. I searched eBay for several months a few years back to find a nice one. I scored a Series 2 (made in the 1940's) in like-new condition which had belonged to a ham radio operator. It's beautiful! And BTW, Be-Zero-Be, I paid more than $40 for it.
Nostalgia is expensive. I used a TS-352 boat anchor in the Army. I can't bring myself to own one.
Use an analog meter for a model t. A digital meter can't help being affected by transient voltage from the magneto.
In 1960 I was trained on the TS-352...when I got to the field we used the 260. I have been using a 260 regularly ever since.
The Simpson 260 is a good durable general purpose analog meter for Model T work. I have two of them in my shop. There are currently over 100 of them listed on eBay at various prices. Of course you would want to make sure you got one in fully working condition.
Ron the Coilman
Thank you Bob C. and Mike W. The 240 that I got for $20 is in perfect shape, still in the nice leather Simpson carrying case and with the little manual that looks like it hasn't been removed since the factory put it there. The only problem I need to solve is what to do about the red & black leads that are intact but with hard, brittle and cracked insulation. Probably wouldn't take much to drill the rivet out of the male ends, attach new wire leads and re-rivet them back together, and the alligator clips on the opposite ends will be no problem at all.
I'm sure somebody is going to suggest Craig's List or E-bay, but I've never used either, and frankly, I'm just barely computer literate,.....(on a good day). I'd rather just try to "rebuild" the original leads that came with the meter. Perhaps the problem with that nowadays might be to find good enough quality wire, huh?
I just bought a 19 range, analog, Radio Shack Multimeter for $20.99. Looks, feels and works great, at least to this point. Radio Shack will be selling off their complete inventory until May 31. Then, I was told, everything goes to a liquidator, As the end nears, prices will probably come down.
Thank you Bud H for your very helpful tutorial. I am going to print this thread and file it in my "Useful T info" file and thank you to everyone who responded. What a GREAT Forum and GREAT members. I'm going on ebay now to check out analog type multi-meters. There seems to be a consensus that the Simpson 260 would be my best bet so that is probably what I will settle on. Thanks again. Jim Patrick
I just went to ebay and it appears there are several types of Simpson 260 analog multimeters:
Series 2, Series 6, series 8, 260 6XLPM, 260 XLP, 260 XL, etc.
Are these all basically the same?
Thanks again everyone.
All are the same basic meter. The Simpson 260 has been around since the 1940's and has been improved over the years and has had features added. Any one of them will serve you well.
Get a Simpson meter with the overload breaker. It will have a white reset button on the front panel. It will save you from killing the meter and having to buy another one.
Okay. I was the high bider on ebay for a Simpson 260 6XLP multimeter with overload protection and the owner's manual. The seller says it works great and is in great condition and as Garnet recommended, it has a white reset button. Here is a picture of it. I'm looking forward to learning how to use it. If anyone has any tips that would help me or shorten my learning curve, I will welcome the advice. Thank you all for your valuable help. Jim Patrick
Remember to always select a range higher than your anticipated outcome. For instance, if you want to check a 110 V outlet, select 250 on the range selector and not 100. Same rule for lower voltages such as with batteries. 10 V is ok for a 6 V battery but select 25 when trying to read a 12. Also, make sure to have the meter selected for AC voltage when trying to read AC
One thing you will find useful (and they may have come with your meter) are insulated alligator clips that screw on to the end of the probes. This allows hands free readings when making an adjustment on something.
Most of these meters that are bad are because of battery leakage. Go today and place a note on your smoke detector to "replace meter batteries also". Best of luck. With a little practice you'll be proficient in no time. Gary
I just got a free digital meter at Harbor Freight yesterday with a super coupon that they sent me in the mail, on their flyer.
That meter will not work with your Magneto voltage, but it has many uses.
My new house smoke detectors have 10 year lifetime guaranteed batteries.
My neighbor lady called me last month, and she was rather upset, her smoke detector was going off and she could not find a fire. It was beeping 3 and 5 beeps every few seconds.
He smoke detector was purchased 2 years ago and was just like mine with 10 year batteries in it that can not be replaced.
Removing the unit shut it down and the new one is working fine in the same fixture.
Thank you Gary and James, for the tips. Every piece of advice helps. Jim Patrick
I have this Meter, It is inexpensive and has many great features. It comes with a Temp probe, two test leads, and a induction clamp. It is also useful for its dwell function when messing with distributors. It has both an AC voltage function and DC voltage function.
You did ok for a meter.
And you are lucky you have the easy to find banana plugs for the test leads.. The 260's I have use reverse banana plugs and are hard to find.
Jim and others:
When you get a "new to you" meter purchased new or used - make sure to immediately remove and replace the battery or batteries inside it. These are used on the OHMS scale and often will leak inside and wreck your nice meter. Replace them only with alkaline type batteries and put a date on the back of your meter with a sticker that tells you when the batteries were replaced. Generally you can tell when the battery needs to be replaced because you cannot set the meter to ZERO on a particular ohms scale when shorting the test leads together. If you find you cannot zero the meter on a scale - it means the battery is dead or near dead so remove it immediately even if you don't have a replacement yet. The meter can still be used on voltage scales without the battery but do NOT use the current "amps" scale at all unless you have some electronic background since that will end up wrecking your meter. Just DO NOT USE or ever switch to the amps scales unless you are being directed by someone you are sure knows what they are doing. That white knob circuit breaker is really the neatest item and it really really works to save your meter when you are a beginner but even saves us that are supposed to know better since we can make mistakes too. Now have a cup of coffee and READ that booklet that came with your meter.
Thank you John. Your battery advice regarding dating the battery with the date it is installed is good advice for any battery operated item. Thanks again to all who helped. It feels great to finally have a multimeter that will enable me to keep the electrical system on my Model T in good running order. Jim Patrick
John - Showing my ignorance again as usual, but does my "new-to-me" old Simpson 240 meter have a battery in it? If so, it's not like it's obviously designed for quick battery replacement. (???)
If it measures resistance then it will have at least one battery. Check the back for small screws for access.
Well, I answered my own question in my previous post by reading the manual per Mike Walker's post above,.....duh!!! The meter has a 1.5 volt battery. I had not read the little manual that came with the meter as it is so old, yellow and brittle that I was afraid to even open it up! So I need to open the meter up as per Mike Walker's manual instructions (which I will download from this thread,....thanks Mike) and (hopefully) find an old battery that has not ruined everything near it from corrosion! Perhaps I'm about to find out why I got what I thought was a "good buy" on this meter. Hopefully, a bit of baking soda water and a few Q-tips will clean things up if necessary. I just hope that years of corrosion has not eaten up any metal parts past "the point of no return"! Will advise!
Well, this is a bit strange. As I removed the first of four inch and a half long screws from the back of the meter, it was obvious that the screw was corroded, as flakes of white corrosion were flaking off of the screw as I was unscrewing it. I thought, oh, oh,......this does not bode well,.....corrosion already and I don't even have the thing apart yet! The other three identical screws had similar corrosion, however, surprise, surprise! As I slipped the bottom half of the meter out of the case, all of the circuitboards, transisters, wiring solder joints, etc, etc, were bright & shiny! And lo' & behold,.....there was the 1.5 volt Copper Top Duracel which looked just fine, and even the battery holder contacts were bright & shiny with no corrosion at all! I cleaned up the four corroded screws, dated the new battery and put it in anyway, but what a delightful surprise! Still glad I bought the meter; all I need to do now is do something about the old dried, cracked and brittle red & black test lead wires and learn how to use what appears to be a pretty good tool that Bob Cascisa says "should serve me well"! Later,......harold
Contact me. I have a set of non-crispy test leads I will sent to you.
Sent you a "PM" Bob, that is if it actually went,....ha,ha.......
I'm about as sharp on the computer as I am "electrically"!