On my way back from Indiana, I pulled in for gas in my 23. When I went to restart it, hit the starter and got nothing. No lights either. Tried to crank it on battery...no luck. It DID start on mag with some heavy cranking. Got it home, the next morning, hit the starter and got one turn and then nothing...no lights..nothing. That's after 24 hours on the trickle charger. So is this a starter switch problem at the floor, an ignition switch issue? Today everything works great. Gotta love electric gremlins.Thoughts?
How old is the battery? Sounds like it's on its last legs.
If the battery checks good, start looking at all of the heavy wiring connections (including ground) for tightness and cleanliness. Be sure that you have good connections to bare metal, paint is a good insulator.
Two weeks ago I was taking my T to a cruise in. The battery had been on a trickle charger. I hit the starter button and nothing. I removed the battery and took it to Auto Zone to be checked. They will do it for free. It showed 100%. The tech said the battery posts were corroded or oxidized. They were gray and not shiny. I cleaned the battery posts until they were shiny using a knife and sandpaper. The T started right up and I made the cruise in. Check your battery posts and if they are not shiny, clean them. I don't know, but it might help. Of course, your problem could be different.
The 6 volt battery was bought new this spring.
Not sure if T's are the same but every time I have the same problem with my Model A its from connection issues at the ammeter. So far no issues with my '20's elec. system.
Ammeter readings have nothing to do with cranking speed of the starter unless the starter is not powered from a foot switch and is powered by a solenoid.
Batteries typically do not go from totally dead to normal working by simply having them sit for overnight. What usually is the issue is dirty cable connections at the battery or ground or at the foot switch or even the starter cable connection point on the starter. Those all need to be bright and tight. If you have a master battery disconnect switch then check it as the first item ahead of those just mentioned because if on the car they are generally the issue. They are nothing but trouble and serve no real purpose of value.
Had the same experience once; dirty connections. Cleaned everything like John Regan says and it fired right up and was fine. Now I periodically check my connections a couple of times a season to make sure they are in good shape.
Once you get the connections clean and shiny, (both or all items at/on the connection), a little dielectric grease will do a great job at keeping them clean much longer than not using the grease. It should be available at most auto parts stores. It is used on distributors most most often. All other electrical connections will benefit also. Get a small tube, it will last a long time.
Yes, I know dielectric means; does not transfer electricity. The grease prevents the corrosion while protecting the contact between the items in the connection. Great for battery terminals.
John, I'll be the first to admit when it comes to the electrical system you're a lot smarter at this than me. But what I experience is with my model A is that when there's no lights, horn and the engine won't start (it does turn over), I pull the dash, clean and tighten the connections at the ammeter, and voila! everything's back to normal. Have had to do it twice now in the last four years. Don't know why it does, it just does!
I believe in the KISS principle - Keep It Simple, Stupid. I would check the battery - there is such a thing as "new defective", then ALL of the large cable connections. The ground cable to frame connection being one of them. In a 90+ year-old vehicle one should take nothing for granted.
Simple stuff first: Check battery first, then cable connections, then check for a good ground and etc.
Could be as simple as a bad ground. JMHO
While it could be the battery when everything goes out what you describe can very easily be a faulty, loose, dirty connection The starter draw causes it to open or lose continuity. Generally it's connections at the battery itself or the frame ground. You said you lose everything (lights, ect) so you're losing power somewhere from the batt/main feed connection at the starter switch back to the battery.