I was going to participate in the St. Louis Veterans' Day Parade tomorrow as part of our local Model T club contingent. Since my generator isn't working, I charged the battery for 3+ hours yesterday. Today, after the veteran ceremony at my grandkids' school, I decided to drive over and fill up with gas.
As is customary when it's cold and the car has been sitting for a long time, it didn't want to start at first. It finally began doing the cough-almost start thing that it does when it's about to come to life. Then suddenly the coils stopped buzzing and the starter doesn't respond. The battery still seems to be good, so there is an electrical connection problem somewhere. By the time it happened, it was too dark in my carport to attempt any troubleshooting.
Note: electrical problems and I have never been friends. We don't even have an uneasy relationship. It seems likely that I will not be in the parade tomorrow, but I'd like to try, at least. Any suggestions of simple things to look at when it gets light tomorrow morning?
Dick, check the screws on the terminal block to make they are tight. Our '25 coupe has died twice with no "electricals" working. First time, I turned on the lights and it died just like I shut the switch off. Just from dumb luck, I tightened the screws and away we went. Next time, I honked the horn, same deal. These two incidents were about eight years apart. Every thing was working just fine before. Just a thought. Dave
Along the lines of what Dave said, I had a dying problem because the terminal block was cracked so the screws wouldn't stay tight.
Check your battery clamps and frame ground also....
You don't mention lights so I'll assume they are out too. It sounds very much like a bad feed connection. That is at the battery itself or the cable ends. IE: ground cable to frame or pos cable to the starter switch. In other words power isn't getting to the starter or the ignition switch. The terminal block wouldn't affect both these circuits. It might affect the ignition (coils) and/or lamps but not the starter. It's not in that circuit. You're losing juice before the ing. switch and the starter both.
Well, there are about a hundred different places (do you doubt that? Want me to demonstrate and count?) that could cause that problem. I love my volt/ohm (multi-meter), even the el-cheapo I use most (I keep my like-new Simpson 260 for when I need accuracy). First test should be the battery voltage, on the posts themselves (to make sure that something inside the battery has not failed, there are actually about fifty places inside a battery itself that can fail). Next, follow out to cable clamps, other cable ends and contacts, looking for an obvious loss of voltage.
For some of this testing, turn on the headlamps. If they do not light up, that tells you the problem affects them as well as the ignition, it also puts a load onto the circuits which is what often is needed to make the failure show itself. Cold "no load" voltage measurements are not always trustworthy.
From there, meter use gets more and more complicated, and difficult to explain.
But, that leads to one of the best ways to find the trouble point. Situations vary. If lights or starter work for a few moments, and then stop working? Usually it will be a high resistance connection somewhere. After the car has sat for several minutes, leave the lights turned on, or run the starter for a few seconds. Then run your fingers over all the wires, connections, claps, and devices they connect to. However, be VERY careful. Quite often, the high resistance connection will become hot to the touch. Maybe just warm enough to identify it? Maybe hot enough to leave a mark on your fingers.
Hopefully, some day before very long, I will get back to going out and seeing friends, attending tours and swap meets etc. I would love it if somebody would have read this, and ask me about the burn on my finger. Nearly ten years now, and I can still show the scar on the side of my left index finger. That one was HOT! But the starter worked consistently after that, because once found, I was able to actually fix it instead of just shaking things till it went back to working for awhile.
I have found a lot of poor connections just by feeling for the heat.
Good luck Dick L! I hope you make it to the parade.
Check all the above. Most likely corroded connections at the battery which need to be cleaned up. Use some baking soda and water then take course sandpaper to the posts and the inside of the cable connections. Next would be the connection at the starter switch where the battery and wire to the terminal block are connected.
This will probably fix the problem with the starter and coils, but unfortunately running the generator with an open connection to the battery will quite often fry the generator, so that might also be the cause of the generator failure.
If you have a working magneto, I would suggest that you use the battery for the coils and crank start then switch to magneto. That will give the least drain on the battery until you can repair the generator. Also take the wire off the cutout and tape up and then ground the post in the generator, that is the post which is connected to the cutout. That will save the generator unless it is already fried.
Thank you all. This is basically a good news message. After reading all the posts from yesterday, I went to bed. I am a believer in the idea of "sleeping on it." Still fairly pessimistic, I nonetheless went to Ace Hardware first thing this morning and bought a multimeter (my old one didn't survive the move) and a sheet of sandpaper. Starting at the two battery terminals and moving outward, I found that I did not have six volts between the battery and the chassis. Disassembled the ground strap where it was bolted to the chassis and sanded every point of metal-to-metal contact. Coils began buzzing, starter worked and the engine even fired fairly quickly. I think that my to-do list for spring includes a close look at all electrical connections in the car. Too cold now. Parade was successful (if a bit chilly). Will post some pictures in a separate thread.
Thanks to ev
should be "to everyone who helped me think."
Many years ago I learned that it was best to sleep on a bed.
I tried dancing, jumping, and eating on a bed they didnít work very well so I tried sleeping.
It was great!
I also have a Simpson 260 that is 100 times better than any of the new digital VOMs except it lacks the buz for continuity.
Fred, I think the operative phrase here might well be "I'm not going to go there."
With Fred, you have to be very, VERY careful where you go. Grape jelly winds up where you'd least expect it!