I'm going to add a starter to my 1917 Model T. No generator, just a battery which I'll charge with a "intelligent charger" when near an outlet. I did the same thing with a 1946 airplane and it has worked well for years.
Since I have to buy a starter, I can get a 6 or 12 volt version so that isn't an issue. My question is -
If I decide to go with 12 volts and for some reason decide to start or run on "Battery" instead of "Magneto," what would 12 volts do to the coils & ignition? Out of curiosity, just how much voltage does the magneto put out?
I know people have strong opinions concerning 6 vs 12 volt and "keeping it original" but putting a starter in a '17 isn't original anyway. I'd like to hear what others think in order to help me make the decision as to which way to go.
I will let others answer the question about the voltage to the coils. I know the mag puts out about 15 volts AC.
12 volts is handy for running a GPS or charging your cell phone or running 12 volt LED tail lights including turn indicators. As far as the starter goes, 6 Volts is OK as long as the battery cables are the right gauge.
There are kits you can buy to charge a 6 volt battery with the magneto.
12 volts will operate the coils better then 6, faster rampup. On the other hand, 6 will work too but may not get up to speed as fast. Running 6V, I could tell the difference between running on mag and battery when I forgot to switch over, just less oomph. No issues the coils will be just fine. A good magneto should at speed put out about 2X's+ that 15 volts. By the way, the coils do not care if AC or DC.
Pulling the engine to fit all the starter parts needed usually doesn't work out cheap or straight forward, you find all sorts of internals that need rebuilding or replacing. This sort of conversion is best when doing a full re-build of engine, mag and trans.
As for the coils, they run fine on higher DC.
12 volt won't hurt the coils as long as you don't leave one buzzing without the engine running.
And like Frank said, unless you want to expect more than you bargained for you may want to hold off having an electric starter until you're ready to do other work. Found i don't really need an electric starter, although stalling at traffic lights can be a tad annoying when i get out of my car at a green light to crank it.
Does the hogshead have a place for the starter to mount to? Also flywheel, battery box and battery, if it has never had a starter it's a project to get there. Jim Derocher, AuGres. MI.
Unless you have a bad back or other physical condition that precludes hand starting, adding a starter is a waste of money and effort. As Frank says, it's a major operation requiring the removal of the engine and transmission and replacement of the flywheel and hogshead, plus the expense of a starter, ring gear, and their attendant hardware.
If you do go ahead with it, a six volt system is perfectly adequate. For charging a phone, GPS, or other modern impedimenta you can install a 6-12 volt converter. That's what I did recently for charging a phone in my 1915 runabout. You can also use the magneto to charge your battery. Six volts is fine for starting on BAT, with or without a starter.
Not a big deal, but 12 volts will toast your 6 volt light bulbs. All you need to do, of course, is replace the 6 volt bulbs with 12 volt bulbs.
If the hogs head is for starter and/or the flywheel has ring gear, great. If not as was said before there is a lot more work involved then just an easy swap. It would be like starting from scratch. I suggest you buy the engine book and read up on flywheel setup at least.
Henry's point assumes that you're also converting your lighting system from magneto to battery. The magneto lights currently in your car are intended to use 9 volt bulbs.
From what I understand, applying 12 volts to a T starter will, in time, cause a problem with the Bendix. If you do decide to go the 12 volt route, you should install a voltage divider to drop the voltage applied to the starter to close to 6 volts.
Don't be so quick to make such a decision. Own the car for a while.
My advice - don't do it.
Also, your Ford hasn't had a starter for 101 years. Why add one now? It just adds a bunch of ugly stuff to a 1917 Ford.
Here's Royce Peterson's 91 year old father cranking a Model T. (He started working on Model Ts when he was a kid.)
In his first post, he is going to ether go with a 12 or 6 volt starter depending on which he goes with.
Tim, your main issue will be the flywheel. If you already have a ring gear then your install will be pretty easy. If you don't then you have a major time and expense. I assume you need a starter because of health reasons? If not then Erik's advice is good.
!2v will not hurt the coils unless you let them buzz for a very long time. I don't have a starter but have heard guys use 12 on a 6V starter I guess with luck and careful starting.
You can charge your battery from the Mag with a simple charger.
There's no doubt but that adding a starter will require some major surgery to your powerplant, but your question seems more concerned with the effect of 12-volts on your coils and such. -Eight years ago, my '15 Touring was retrofitted with a full 12-volt system including a starter and in that time, there have been no ill effects. -My starter is a 12-volt unit and so, is engineered to handle the extra power. -It gives the engine an authoritative spin, certainly fast enough for me to have the ignition key in the "magneto" rather than the "battery" position. -In that way, of course, the coils are not being powered by the 12-volt battery. -Still, my coils haven't suffered any harm from starting with the key in the "battery" position, either. - Either way works just fine for my car.
As to the question of whether an electric starter is necessary: Well, without a doubt, it's safer not to make a habit of hand-cranking the engine. -If you forget to retard the spark, you can be very badly injured by a crank that kicks backward. -The other issue would be your particular traffic situation. -If you're going to traffic-jam with modern cars on busy streets, stalling the engine can be very hazardous because it requires you to get out and start a wrestling match with the crank while other traffic is whizzing by at close quarters. -That will make you feel very exposed, indeed.
Boy! I bet if I asked this to all of you guys around a campfire at some tour it would make for a spirited discussion! I really appreciate your advice and opinions but maybe I need to explain more.
The T I'm getting hasn't run for at least 15 years, maybe longer. I won't say it can't be made to run without a lot of work, but it's coming to me without history so I have no idea what has been done to it in the last 102 years. I plan to drive it a lot and hope to take it on tours, both in and out of state. In short, I want a reliable car.
I have been in contact with a reputable rebuilder and plan to pull the engine and transmission first thing and take it to him to be overhauled and in some cases, upgraded. Everything will be apart, so if I ever wanted to add a starter, this would be the time. The rebuilder replaces the coil ring (new one has a notch)and disassembles the flywheel as part of the process so again, a good time. I have a line on a hogshead with the starter mount, and the newer-style flywheel and ring gear are readily available at prices that won't break the bank.
Why add a starter? Three reasons: 1.) Safety in case of a stall in a poor place 2.) The wife wants to drive the T but doesn't want to crank it & 3.) I'm not getting any younger and don't want to be sidelined down the road because I can't start my car. Case in point, I haven't been able to get in my old airplane to fly it for much of the summer because of a bum knee (I see the doc today to get the verdict...)
Why consider 12 volts? 1.) I can get a starter configured for either 6 or 12 so don't have to worry about the bendix issues. 2.) The ready availability of compact, high performing modern batteries 3.) Compatibility with just about everything else battery powered. 4.) Can get same power with less current (P=IE) allowing for less loss and smaller cables if I place the battery in the back of the vehicle. 5.) Either 6 or 12 volt batteries can be charged using a magneto charger. 6.) More options when it comes to modifying or adding lights.
In conclusion, my '17 T will not be the show car that some of you drive but on the surface will look like a car of that vintage should. I will do my best to disguise these little add-ons but if my goal is to come up with a reliable car for touring and the like, I think taking a few liberties with the original design is warranted. 100 years ago T owners did things to their cars to make them their own and what I'm thinking of doing is in that same spirit while not damaging the essential character of the car.
Whew! Sorry for being so long-winded...
Tim- the fact is that a 6 volt system works perfectly and is very reliable. 6 volt batteries are inexpensive and readily available.
SANDUSKY, MI 48471
This is what I use in both my homebuilt aircraft and M38A1 Willys Jeep (converted to 12 v from 24).
Odyssey PC625 - sealed, vibration resistant, a lot of power for it's size. Will hold charge for two years. I'm considering it for the T.
Tim R, I should have added that I take no issue with the fact that six volt systems have worked admirably in the T since before I was born...the thing is, I do have a choice since I'm starting from scratch so I'm simply weighing the pros and cons. To look at my finished system, no-one will know if it is 6 or 12 volts unless I show them the label on the battery.
Is that a deep cycle unit?
Appears from your last post you have a plan, so go for it. A little rear floorboard work will be needed to add an access cover. And drill the frame to mount the Ford battery tray...but that is easy work.
And IMO, use the new battery technology ...... forget watering those lead acid 6v storage batteries for ever!
Red Top Optima....
I have these 6v in all my T's You can get a 12v Optima too.
I have started 3 of my 4 cars after sitting for 20-35 years. The 4th was a runner when I bought it. Two have cast iron pistons and one has aluminum pistons. The one with aluminum pistons had sat for 35+ years and after 8 days of work rebuilding coil box, coils, carb, and new gaskets, and soldered gas tank, the car starts on mag.
I will tell you this: far to many T's get rebuilt engines for absolutely no reason other than the new owner didn't know the history...running or not. I believe in most other hands, all 3 of my cars would have gone straight to the rebuilder, when in fact all 3 are in good enough shape to cross the US, and 2 of them have logged many thousands of miles doing local and regional tours. My most recent one will likely do the same after I get the wheels rebuilt (the clincher rims are sliding off the fellos due to wood shrinkage).
Strongly consider getting your car on the road before you commit MANY thousands of dollars for a new engine.
And as for 6 vs 12V, one will probably last the rest of your life, and not sound like a Mitsubishi when starting. The other will cost you a bendix or two, over time, and possibly a ring gear over the long haul. Whenever I hear a T start on 12V, the safe bet is that the owner had been coached by experts that had never owned a T in their lives.
Seriously...look at the YouTube video Erik posted. You do not need 12V to spin the engine. Six is fine...and if not for the wife, by hand is just fine, too.
Tim, I am no expert, but I just rebuilt a 6 volt starter for my T. One thing I understand with the 12 volt starters, they kick in fast and hard, which bends the loooong armature shaft, and the 12 volt starters tend to break the Bendix spring more frequently.
Personally, I would recommend the 6 volt system if you are going to do it, as your long term maintenance will be a lot less. Just make sure to have good clean ground connections between the starter and the battery ground. I added star washers to ensure a good bit between the various connection points.
12 volt starters have a different wiring that reduces the torque and makes them more like 6 volt starters. If you use a 6 volt starter on 12 volts it will kill the Bendix.
So when is the bendix on my speedster going to fail? 12 volts on a stock sterter, high compression pistons and a Fronty head. Many years now and the last bendix I killed was when I was briefly running 6 volts and forgot to retard the spark. I'm not saying that 12 volts is a great thing on a stock starter but it isn't a major problem either if you remember to retard the spark. And yes, I drive the heck out of it, no barn queen, over 2,000 miles this year and that is typical for me.
Holy smelly stuff -- here we go again.
Everyone has an opinion and everyone is absolutely right!
My preference is -- if I had the teeth on the flywheel and a hogshead that will take a starter I would to have a 12 volt battery and starter. This would allow me to use easily available battery chargers, LED light, my cell phone etc.
I mounted a 12Volt battery on the running board of my 19 and use the 6 volt starter with my fingers crossed. I have Big LED stop lights on the rear.
My model A is a different story. I have a 6 volt battery and use a cheap transformer to go from 6 to 12 volts for the LED stop lights.
But those are what I do -
It is obvious other have varying opinions!
I'm confident that your chart is correct Ron, and as shown, those who want to run 12 volts would encounter less wear and strain by running the modified starter rather than stock on 12 volts. My comment was out of some frustration with the idea that running 12 volts to a stock starter will cause the sky to fall. If I had to replace or rebuild my existing starter today, I would most likely rewire it for 12 volt usage. In the mean time, I'll stay with what works for me (and many others).
Just trying to interject some facts into this opinion based discussion.
"interject some facts"
...a bold move sir!
Scott. There is a U Tube video of a T being started after a 60 year nap.
If two Optimas 6 volt batteries will fit in the stock model T battery box. You could have Your cake and eat it too. 12 volts for charging and running the lights and accessories and 6 volts for the starter, Seems like someone here on the forum said that's what they were doing.
Tim Rogers - this is part of the battery description:
"The characteristics of two separate batteries are combined in one box. It can deep cycle as well as provide enormous cranking power - The 5 second cranking power of Odyssey batteries is double to triple that of equally sized conventional batteries, even when the temperature is as low as -40°C (-40°F)."
I'm still absorbing everyone's comments - I will say this, I have no plans to run a 6 volt starter on 12 volts unless I can drop the voltage to it. I think the evidence of potential damage is a compelling argument.
I really want a sealed battery with no chance of spillage or out-gassing. Such batteries are very pricey in 6 volts.
Scott - you obviously have more skills than I do when it comes to engine and tranny work. Unfortunately, I don't have 20-30 years ahead of me to acquire such skills. I've a friend who has owned T's for 60 years (currently has 12) whose advice is that I can go from breakdown to breakdown or try to get ahead of it by going thru the engine right off the bat. The latter is more expensive in the short run, but who is to say if it is not the better choice? My wife insists on adding a starter, so the engine is coming out anyway. It's my choice to open it up and see what I've got. I also plan to go all thru the running gear and not wait for the differential to come apart or a wheel to fall off.
Some of you will say, "If he wanted a starter, why didn't he buy a later T?" Good question - it's probably stupid, but a '17 has great appeal to me because the first car my family ever owned was a '17 Touring, similar to the car I'm buying. Through it I feel a connection to my dad and grandparents who've been gone for a long time. I will be able to share an experience with them, albeit 100+ years later.
Here's one more look at how fast you have to "spin" a Model T to make it start.
I guess I'll add to the mix, Many years ago I used 6 volt with the mag. I kept losing the generators, At $300 a pop I got real tired of replacing generators. Then my mag stopped working and the coils just didnt sing right on 6 volts. Then I met Larry Becker at the AACA fall meet. I bought two of his 12 volt starters and two of his alternators. Iv been running them ever sense trouble free. About 7 years ago I had Brent Mize redo my coils and I installed a FP modern coil box kit they have been singing ever sense on 12 volts. I run 12 volt halogen headlights and have installed a USB and cigarette lighter ports to run my GPS and what ever else I choose. I have two yellow strobe lights flashing in the back so folks can see me a long way off. She's not %100 as Mr Ford made it but you have to look real close to see the add on's. That's my 12 volt story.
have seen your video before, but it's always fun to watch! Thanks for the link.
Any well maintained Model T will operate fine on a 6 volt system. Adding a heave gauge ground return cable from the hogshead to the battery negative connection just makes it work that much better. Brad.
I agree with Dan Trace, that a 6 volt Optima battery is a really good choice. With a careful installation with good cables and terminals, it makes a totally maintenance-free installation that you can totally forget about,....(no corrosion). Yes, they are expensive, however, if you divide that expense by the total number of years you can expect the Optima to last, not really expensive at all. And you might consider this,.....we won World War Two on 6 volts!
By WWII most aircraft were 28 volt and some on board systems used 120 volt A/C 400 cycle power. Some command vehicles used for communications used 12 volt. other army vehicles used 6 volt. Tanks and heavy equipment unknown. Some German diesel tanks used a wind up starter with two men turning a crank to wind up a gear driven high speed flywheel and then popped the clutch to start the tank.Dead Battery "No Problem"
I just added 1/0 battery cables to my 6 volt 24 touring. Spins like I have never seen before. Good battery and good connectors are the secret. It did as well if not better than another T set up on 12 volts.
My 15 touring car has a 23 engine with starter in it. You could switch out the engine and save the 17 engine for the next guy who just might want the stock 17 engine in the car. I run 12 volts with a 12 volt starter.
Jim Davis - Ref. my WWII comment,.....there was a lot of equipment and machinery besides aircraft, vehicles and vessels involved in WWII,....such as pumps, air compressors, generators, etc, etc, not to mention "The War Effort" by the general public, right here in the U.S.A., including "Rosie The Riveter" who was just one of millions who drove back and forth to work in something like a Ford, Plymouth, Chevrolet, or whatever, ALL with 6-volt batteries! (:^)
My Willys M38A1 Army Jeep was designed to run on 24 volts. If six was so great, why didn't the military stick with it?
Six volt systems do not have the cranking power of 12 volts which is why they made the switch when higher compression engines came along. That said, six volts is perfectly adequate for a Model T engine. As Tom pointed out, the higher current draw with six volts requires properly sized cables to perform properly. This becomes even more significant if you put the battery under the back seat with it's resultant longer cable run.