1926 Model T 6volt vs 12volts

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oldironpeddler
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1926 Model T 6volt vs 12volts

Post by oldironpeddler » Tue May 18, 2021 12:19 pm

I recently purchased a 1926 Ford Model T Touring and really do not know much about it except I have always wanted one. I am sure everyone here understands that. The mechanics part of it I get. I have restored many old tractors and cars. I am in the process of rewiring it. It did not have an alternator, but did have 6volt battery. When I went to order one I found they have a 6volt and 12 volt option. My experience with 6 volt systems is they under preform are unreliable and batteries do not last long. So I want to convert it over to 12 volt. I know the coils should be fine. I use them on my hit and miss engines with a 12 volt battery. Other than replacing the headlight bulbs, is there anything else I need to do or is it best to leave it 6volt? Since I am new to Model T's. I thought I would ask those who are more experienced with them. Thanks
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Re: 1926 Model T 6volt vs 12volts

Post by speedytinc » Tue May 18, 2021 12:34 pm

A good 6v system works well. An 8v battery is compatable with all 6v equipment & lights. You get better cranking & it can hide some electrical issues. A 12v conversion can be done. However, generator/alternator must be set for 12v. Problem is starter. A new 12v replacement starter or proper 12v conversion should be done. 12v to a stock starter tears up the bendix drives & possibly ring gear. If you go this way carry all the stuff to replace the bendix & hardware for WHEN it fails.

BTW neat patina! Love it as is.


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Re: 1926 Model T 6volt vs 12volts

Post by Scott_Conger » Tue May 18, 2021 1:57 pm

My 5 year old 6V battery just started my T for the first time this year. Started fine.

To be fair, I have but to pull up on the crank and it will start, too. This particular T has cast iron pistons and has never been rebuilt. My other cars range from quite early to later...all are 6V.

Going to 12V is a personal decision that is based on the desire to run a car on battery if the MAG is dead (which is valid), or usually a complete lack of understanding of the technology in the car combined with the help and advice from a local "expert" who can't make his T work on 6V either. It made it to your hands with 6V, so it worked for at least a few years for a few people.

You will be well served to study, and understand the car thoroughly before you begin down the path of "improvements". At least then your decision will be based on experience and not conjecture.
Scott Conger

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Re: 1926 Model T 6volt vs 12volts

Post by jiminbartow » Tue May 18, 2021 2:10 pm

I would advise against converting to 12v, but having experienced both, that is just my opinion. Others here are just as satisfied with their 12v conversions than I am against it. As John said, attempting to use a 6V starter with a 12v system will almost certainly destroy the bendix, the ring gear and possibly the starter itself. Since the ring gear is steel, if the teeth are sheared off by being slammed into by the bendix gear, the steel teeth can destroy the transmission. Jim Patrick

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Re: 1926 Model T 6volt vs 12volts

Post by Tim Rogers » Tue May 18, 2021 3:02 pm

Michael,

You have fallen for the myth that 6 volt systems are "unreliable and don't preform well". The original 6 volt system in a Model T works extremely well and is very reliable. I have two 6 volt batteries that are 6 plus years old.

12 volt conversions do nothing for a Model T.
<o><o><o><o> Tim Rogers - South of the Adirondacks - Forum member since 2013 <o><o><o><o>

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DITTO 6 VOLTS

Post by Novice » Tue May 18, 2021 3:11 pm

DITTO. Jim. Scott and John. 6 volts works just fine with good clean electrical connections. and reliability is good as a 12 volt system. connect a cheap 6 volt battery maintainer to the battery when not in use and it will last many years. get the car running first and then like Scott said make a decision on changes. 8 volt battery is a good way to boost starting power without major changes to the electrical system but with good clean connections and properly sized cables for 6 volts You should have not a problem. Ford did not go to 12 volts until 1955 or 56. 12 volt operation will hide electrical problems that should be repaired. Good luck with Your NOS Model T


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Re: 1926 Model T 6volt vs 12volts

Post by Erik Barrett » Tue May 18, 2021 3:27 pm

Next you should ask about putting a distributor and water pump on it. That will keep this forum going a while longer.


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Re: 1926 Model T 6volt vs 12volts

Post by TXGOAT2 » Tue May 18, 2021 3:35 pm

A 6 volt system in good order works great. I'd be in no hurry to change it, unless someone has changed it to 12 volts, in which case I'd want to change it back to 6 volts.

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Re: 1926 Model T 6volt vs 12volts

Post by TRDxB2 » Tue May 18, 2021 5:16 pm

6 volt systems technology used contact point voltage regulators, which were unreliable, then hooked up to generators all pointing the blame on the dead battery. Reflecting on our experiences with 12volt systems using electronic voltage regulators and alternators makes that choice more attractive.
Apples and Oranges comparison. Automobile manufactures switched to 12volt starter motors system because of more powerful engines and bigger generators to power the added electrical systems: radios, clocks, cigarette lighters, HVAC blower motors etc. Then there was the alternator - but that's another story.
As you noted it is the "system" that must preform. The weakest link for a Model T is the lack of a voltage regular to properly keep a battery charged and/or operate the ignition system and headlight/taillight system. Starters need AMPS to turnover an engine, using voltage as a reference is misleading. Ask yourself this: Why is spinning the starter faster helping to start the engine? Might it be that that sending more voltage to the coils and getting hotter spark is what causes the car to start more quickly and make the headlights brighter (like running them on Mag does till they burn out).
Starter batteries are used to start your vehicle. They are designed to provide a lot of power for a short period of time before being recharged by your car, rated in Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) their primary use is for starting your engine.

Fact: 6 volt batters have thicker plates than 12 volts one and therefor can take more deep recharging than 12 volt batters with thinner plates - Golf Carts, RV's, Marine utilize deep cycle 6 volt batteries for that reason.
Ways to connect 6v to get 12v https://www.rvwithtito.com/articles/how ... tery-bank/
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oldironpeddler
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Re: 1926 Model T 6volt vs 12volts

Post by oldironpeddler » Tue May 18, 2021 5:23 pm

Thanks to everyone who commented. I now know how to proceed. I will order the 6volt alternator and get a new battery. I must admit I completely forgot about the electric starter. That was a point well taken along with all the others. I'll let you know if I have any other issues. Michael.


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Re: 1926 Model T 6volt vs 12volts

Post by Norman Kling » Tue May 18, 2021 5:36 pm

I agree with all the above. I also use the original generator. They can be re-built, or even bought for a low price at swap meets and if lucky they work or you can swap parts between several until you get one which works.
They look original and work just fine when all the contacts are clean and the commutator is clean with good brushes. I have seen many alternators on tours and personally they look ugly to me. Also many cars on tours have had problems with alternators. The gear either comes loose from the shaft, or the unit overheats because to make the alternator work on a T you must take off the pulley and install a gear. The pulley has a fan behind it which cools the alternator, but when it is removed it gets too hots and burns out.
You can also get a voltage regulator to work with the 6 volt generator and the regulator looks just like an original cutout. I personally use a modern diode in my cutout instead of the relay. If you do a lot of driving with lights on, you just set the generator to charge at driving speed to keep the ammeter at 0 with the lights on. If you do most of your driving during the day with lights off, you can set it to charge about 5 amps at driving speed.
The only reasons I can see for using 12 volts would be if your magneto doesn't work and you want to drive on coils, you will get a hotter spark. But you will also need to change all the light bulbs and also rewind the starter for 12 volts to make everything reliable.
Norm


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Re: 1926 Model T 6volt vs 12volts

Post by speedytinc » Tue May 18, 2021 6:13 pm

Agree with Norm. I have also added a generator kill switch with an idiot light. If I am running on a long tour @ speed, I can stop charging the battery & if I see It not charging , I can stop possibly burning the generator up if a cutout or diode fails.


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Re: 1926 Model T 6volt vs 12volts

Post by Allan » Tue May 18, 2021 7:32 pm

I was interested in the comment about running on battery and that needed 12 volts. My barn find buckboard will run on magneto at higher speeds, but runs more evenly on battery, and it is the original 6 volt system. The only 12 volt Ts I have are 12 and 17 models and they run a 12 volt battery at constant loss. I can't say which is better.
About the only problem I have with 6 volt systems is sourcing 6 volt festoon bulbs or the indicators I use.

Allan from down under.

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Re: 1926 Model T 6volt vs 12volts

Post by JohnH » Tue May 18, 2021 7:52 pm

I've had nothing but good results with the 6V electrical system in my 1926 Model T. In fact, for the nearly 19 years I've owned it, I've only had one electrical fault, which was the battery terminal on the cut out shorting against the generator. But not once ever found the 6V limiting. And, my car did not have a working magneto either. The coils run happily on 6V with the car cruising at 75km/h on the freeway.
The batteries typically have given me about 8 years of life, but now that I have a Red Top Optima, that may be extended.
If 6V systems were so unreliable, then how did just about every American car made between 1919 and 1954 ever become mobile?
The problem is a terrible misunderstanding of things electrical. Yes, 12V will appear to 'fix' a poorly performing 6V car, simply because of the brute force factor - the higher voltage overcoming the high resistance of all the corroded connections, and the higher current 'forcing' the starter motor in poor condition to work.


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Re: 1926 Model T 6volt vs 12volts

Post by Scott_Conger » Tue May 18, 2021 8:35 pm

Under the assumption that you bought an antique car because you WANTED an antique car, I'd think that you'd want to keep it an antique car. That said, the original generator gave service for many years, and a properly remanufactured generator will outlast you, if you're in your 40's or older. That's what the car came with and that's what will look "right" when installed.

An alternator will provide huge amperage capability which you do not need. Purchasing one will keep someone in China employed.

A remanufactured original generator set to 5A will replenish the battery after starting, in about 10 minutes. Purchasing one will pay an American about $75 for labor, and the suppliers about $350 in parts (generator remanufacturing is not a particularly financially rewarding endeavor, but thank goodness there are folks who do it).
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Re: 1926 Model T 6volt vs 12volts

Post by Norman Kling » Tue May 18, 2021 8:37 pm

I ran a T on 6 volt battery for about 10 years after the magneto quit. It ran fine except it was a bit slower on hills. At least I did, however at the same time I fixed the magneto, I also replaced the timing gear with one I got in a pile of parts I had on hands. I have no idea whether the timing gear was the same as the one I had before, but the car went from one of the slowest cars on tours to one of the faster ones. Some others have said the T runs better on 12 volt battery with coils if not using a magneto. The magneto increases voltage as the engine speeds up, so it is actually a partial automatic spark advance, but with battery, the only way to advance is with the spark lever.

Norm

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Re: 1926 Model T 6volt vs 12volts

Post by varmint » Wed May 19, 2021 10:42 pm

We have a 1950 Ford F1 and a 1953 Chevy which we converted to 12v. The main reason being to be able to get a jump start from someone else since we drive these things all over the place. However, with the '26 T, we got a 6v battery and if a jump start is needed, I'll just grab the handle on the front and jump.
Vern (Vieux Carre)

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Re: 1926 Model T 6volt vs 12volts

Post by Cambin » Tue May 25, 2021 5:19 am

Hi there
I maybe wrong and maybe right
But in Australia my experience is that our 6 volt battery’s don’t stand up as good as they should
That’s why I converted to 12 volts
The other reason why is we run a 12 volt uhf ( CB Radio )
For safety and communication between our big groups
As we are on country roads with big trucks and so on
As for the starter they have one big battery connection pin that puts 6volt down through 4 sets of heavy windings in parallel
So I cut two of and run 2x2 in series
And this slows the voltage down a little and isn’t as hard on the bendix and I have two vehicles like this
For over 6 years
Sorry for stepping on the 6volt toes

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Re: 1926 Model T 6volt vs 12volts

Post by Steve Jelf » Tue May 25, 2021 9:45 am

Advantages of 12 volts over six volts: Yes or no?
More reliable — No.
Easier starting — No.
Modern appliances (radio, Garmin, etc.) — Yes. I've installed a 6-12 v converter for those. A phone will charge on six volts.
More available — Yes, but any farm supply will have six volt.
Longer lasting — No.

These are my opinions based on personal experience. Others may have different opinions based on different experiences. My experience has been that my six volt tractor, truck, and cars start instantly and easily if I keep them in good condition.

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Re: 1926 Model T 6volt vs 12volts

Post by jiminbartow » Tue May 25, 2021 12:53 pm

Cameron, you began your post by saying you “may be wrong”, so, in your mind, you must believe the possibility exists that you are. I hope you will reconsider your decision to convert your T to 12volts and will change it back. I have personal experience with a 12v system destroying my bendix and ring gear and feel strongly about this. All I can do is relate my experience and hope the warnings are heeded. I sold my T to a friend in 1996 who, for whatever reason, converted my (his) T to 12v, because it ran great when I sold it to him.When he passed away in 2000, I bought it back from his widow and immediately converted it back to 6V. The below photos are of the bendix spring, which was misshapen and distorted from being slammed by a starter that was powered by double the power it was designed for. The first 2 photos of the destroyed spring shows the screw holes on opposite sides. The last picture is of the new bendix replacement spring with the screw holes on the same side.

Whether a battery holds a charge is based on several things, the most Important being age. Batteries should last 4 years. As the battery gets older it does not charge as fast or keep a charge as long and if a car is not run as often, the battery will deteriorate faster. One way to maintain a battery at full capacity is to keep it on a trickle charger. I have three of the Black and Decker 6/12v Trickle chargers, available for around $20.00ea that I keep on my 6V Model T, my 12v mower and my 12v 1990 Nissan 300 ZX Twin Turbo, keeping the batteries charged at all times.

To choose to convert a Model T whose electrical components was designed and engineered for 6V to, 12v, which I believe is detrimental to the Model T’s 6v components, because you want to use your 12v radio to communicate on infrequent tours can be remedied by designating a 12v battery for the radio, keeping it maintained by keeping it hooked to a trickle charger between uses. Jim Patrick

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Re: 1926 Model T 6volt vs 12volts

Post by JohnH » Wed May 26, 2021 9:59 pm

Cambin wrote:
Tue May 25, 2021 5:19 am
But in Australia my experience is that our 6 volt battery’s don’t stand up as good as they should
I usually get 8 years out of Australian supplied 6V batteries in my T. Now that I have a Red Top Optima, I would expect even longer. As for using 12V appliances, I use a 6-12V converter to run my car fridge and tyre compressor.

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