Well I bought this item on T-bay because it looked neat and now I'm wondering if I can get it working. I'm on my iPad and haven't figured out how to post pictures or a link for it. The item number is 161693616429. My questions are around the double Secret Chemicals used in the glass jars, If anyone has one that is working and last but not least how can I get the warp out of the lid. As always forum members your expertise will be invaluable. Best Regards John
John the secret chemical can be baking powder. It is just a chemical to act as a resistance electrolyte. You want the jars to change the 110 volt coming in to about 36 volts going out. I started with clear water and started adding baking powder till I got the proper resistance and proper output reading. Im by no means a proper electrical guru, but when I first got my "Coplin" charger years ago all my research and electrical Gurus told me to use baking soda. Maybe there is someone else who can give a good technical answer for us. I saw it on e-bay. Hope it works out for you...
The glass jars look like electrolytic rectifiers to me - a common method of obtaining DC before such things as copper oxide rectifiers and Tungar bulbs.
In my opinion, it's a dangerous device as the output is not isolated from the mains. Having the car connected to one side of the mains is a deathtrap.
John, I would not call it a death trap, but it is dangerous. I just use three 12 volt batteries hooked together to give me 36 volts DC. It does the same thing as this machine. Ill post some pics of my machine and try to get some decent pics of the instruction sheet inside the lid.
Wow, $58 bucks. Not a cheap toy in its day.
I had one of these about 7 years ago and sold it on ebay when I couldn't figure out how to get it to work. Here are a few photos. Jim Patrick
The electrolytic rectifier was fairly common from the turn of the century
through the twenties. A large portion of them were used in communications,
i.e. telegraphy, telephony, and radio. It was replaced by the more robust,
maintenance-free selenium rectifier and vacuum tube rectifier. The other
"tin-like" electrode you mention is aluminum. As far as the electrolyte
(secret liquid) goes, several things will work. I used ammonium chloride (sal
ammoniac) in my 'B' radio supply. The following is a quote from a 1943 Coyne
Electrical School text:
"The electrolytic rectifier is also limited to small capacities, due to its
low efficiency and general tendency to heat up under load because of the large
resistance losses which take place within the rectifier itself. This type of
rectifier consists of a jar containing a strong solution of ammonium
phosphate, sodium phosphate, or just a mixture of water and common borax. In
this solution are immersed a plate of either lead, carbon, or iron, and one of
aluminum. The electrolytic action which is set up between the surface of the
aluminum electrode and the electrolyte solution will allow the current to flow
from the solution into the aluminum, but will immediately build up a very high
resistance film when the current is reversed and tries to flow from the
aluminum into the electrolyte."
A common substance that will also work in solution is sodium bicarbonate
(baking soda). I've never tried it so I don't know how efficient it is.
Ammonium phosphate might be available at your local Agway sold as fertilizer.
(Tri)sodium phosphate is a common cleaning agent and is somewhat caustic.
Borax should be easy to find. If you fire that thing up, be careful not to
overheat the jars -- it doesn't take long under high-current conditions.
Forum members thank you so much for your feedback and the information you provided it now looks like I have a beautiful display piece to put in my shop so that when younger folks come by they can look at it and say what is it and I can say dangerous. On a serious note I am going to refinish the machine and use as a display although I would like to see it work at least once. Thanks from Hot Coffee, Mississippi just a little below Cream.
I should've added a famous quote from the movie outlaw Josie Wales "dying ain't much of a way to make a living"
John, since you were unable to post a picture, I'm not sure what condition your Colpin is in, but if the Antique Roadshow and Pawn Stars have taught us anything, it is that antiques retain their value more, if they are left in their original, unrestored condition (unless they are Model T's, LOL!). Jim Patrick