Was driving today and started getting smoke from inside the dash - not much, just a bit. This still made me nervous because that is where the gas tank is! I was running it on battery and the smoke stopped when I switched to magneto. When I got back to the house, the switch was hot. Any ideas before I start digging?
Sounds like time to rewire, buy a new harness from one of the vendors. Also add a fuse no more than 15 amp to the system somewhere, I added a fuse on the small feed wire at the hot side of the starter switch. I should add more fuses to the system sometime , at least that one is more than Henry allowed. Check with Jim Golden he has witnessed the results from more than wiring fire!
George, the wiring looks fairly new. I have suspected that this was set up positive ground - could this be a symptom of having it negative ground now? i.e. the generator is not in polarity? The switch was new 15 years ago, but it has set for that many years, so could also be bad, I guess. Fishing for answers.
You probably need to replace the smoke, it doesn't need to be Ford smoke, any brand will do in a pinch.
if the smoke stopped when you switched it to mag, it sounds like the problem is in the switch on the battery side. I would pull the back off of the switch and look for a charred spot.
Agreed Steve. We all know that electrical systems run on smoke. When you let the smoke out, the system will not operate properly. The smoke came out of my Dodge's AC compressor clutch and it hasn't worked since.
Terry, my mind was focused on the wiring, if the switch was warm it may be time to switch out the switch. I still would add a fuse.
Steve, that LUCAS brand smoke may not be any good, none of the rest of their products are. At the GM TRAINING CENTERS where I went to the instructors told us that LUCAS electric was called "the Prince of darkness", would that have anything to do with "negative earth ?" ha-ha.
You guys know why they drink warm beer in England, right? Lucas made their fridges.
But seriously Terry, take a look at the switch. They come apart with four little tabs on the back and rebuild kits are available.
Somewhere in in the system you are getting high resistance. High resistance generates heat. High resistance can be caused by corrosion or dirty contact surfaces. Since the switch was hot, that is the likely culprit. If you disassemble the switch and clean up the contacts you may solve your problem. CRC makes an excellent contact cleaner that may help you. If you still have a Radio Shack nearby they make a contact cleaner and lubricant. The lubricant part may help prevent future corrosion.
I had smoke come out from behind the dash switchplate when I was driving. It ended up being a wire that had come loose from one of the terminals on the back of the switch.
Not easy to poke your head under there, but you can use a mirror and see if that's your problem.
Ahhh, found the Ford smoke. This should fix you up ;-)
A little smoke and fire next the gas tank is not good -
unless you have a paid up insurance policy and your wife needs the money for a trip to Hawaii with her boy friend.
Twice have had that smoke too from under the dash.
First time was frayed worn out jump wire from the ammeter to the battery terminal on the switch. Second time was a frayed dash lamp wire contacting the metal dash.
Now all T's have the Fun Projects "Fuse Holder and fuse" mounted at the yellow positive hot battery wire on the footswitch terminal.
Don't drive without a fused wiring system in your T, if not, then keep a fire extinguisher handy
Just remember that if you are running on magneto, the car will keep running but you will have no lights etc. Not sure how the modern cutout will handle the load, the original style has a shunt wire that might be ok so the gen does not melt down. But then I guess a melted gen would be a cheap price to prevent the car from burning up.
Spot on post by Dan (as usual).
Tim, there are at least 3 types of switches, the clip type w/4 fold over tabs (as far as I know replacement parts are on back order) and 2 three pin types (the one made by Klum has no service parts available) and one more that has some repo parts available.
Found it. Loose wires on the ammeter AND on the switch. Can't say that is where the smoke was coming from, but at least everything is tight now. One of the ammeter connections seemed a bit scorched, but not too bad. Hope that fixes it. Dan - will install a fuse soon - have to get on some other projects now - I have spend the last 3 weeks doing nothing but Model T stuff.
You guys know an electrical short that melts your car wiring into a useless lump and destroys all the electronics in your car IS NOT COVERED BY YOUR INSURANCE if the harness does not flame up? There MUST BE a verifiable FLAME involved for your fire comprehensive coverage to be valid. A nice large short won't be covered. That is considered OWNER MAINTENANCE. Just a little tidbit from my past insurance estimating experience.
Rarely does anybody install the fuse until after a bad thing happens. Human nature I guess but needless heartache since the fuse is on guard all the time. More than one fuse in a T is redundant and does not make the car any safer since the wiring in the T can stand the momentary peak current it takes to blow the fuse regardless of where the short is in the car. The wiring is so simple that you really only need the thing to act as a watch guard for something that goes wrong unintentionally. Extra fuses just cause more intermittent connections since any extra connection is a potential new problem. The single main fuse itself can cause problems but you really cannot be safer without it so one makes sense.