Will changing electrical system to 12v devalue the car?

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Vincent H
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Will changing electrical system to 12v devalue the car?

Post by Vincent H » Sun Jul 05, 2020 6:10 pm

Hi everyone,
I have 1925 roadster that I am starting to restore. I'm considering changing the electrical system to a modern 12v system for better reliability.
I am afraid that this might change the character of the car an devalue it. Would it actually do that?
Any advice would be much appreciated.
Thanks


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Re: Will changing electrical system to 12v devalue the car?

Post by Norman Kling » Sun Jul 05, 2020 6:19 pm

The 6 volt system is reliable. The coils are reliable especially if the magneto works. To change to 12 volts you need to change the generator. I realize some people have adapted alternators to fit the gear drive, but they don't have the cooling fan built in and also the gear seems to be a weak point. To convert, you would need to do the generator, battery, and light bulbs. The only benefit I can see from going to 12 volt is being to use modern electronic equipment which is made to use 12 volts.

It would be easy to convert back to 6 volts for anyone after you who wants to do so. It has been my experience after joining in many tours during my 30 years as a club member, that a very good percentage if not most breakdowns happen to cars running alternators, distributors and other non-Ford parts. The sad thing about it is that most members have a spare coil or two, a spare timer, and a few spark plugs along. But if you go to non Ford type equipment, you will need to carry your own spare parts, because rarely do two T's have the same modifications.

Anyway, that's my opinion. Your change might not lower the value of your car, but I don't think it will raise it either.
Norm

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Re: Will changing electrical system to 12v devalue the car?

Post by TRDxB2 » Sun Jul 05, 2020 6:50 pm

Vincent H wrote:
Sun Jul 05, 2020 6:10 pm
Hi everyone,
I have 1925 roadster ..... changing the electrical system to a modern 12v system for better reliability.
....
"a modern 12 volt system" is a bit ambiguous", not sure what your electrical system demands are and what your concern is about reliability. If you can really think you have facts that would convince a potential buyer that you have made it more reliable - do it. Norm mentioned just about everything that you might have considered related generator, battery, wiring and bulbs. Not sure if leaving your 6 volt starter to run on 12 volts would make it reliable. The only issue I see with a 6 volt system is battery charging - setup voltage regulator, battery charger or magneto battery charger.


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Re: Will changing electrical system to 12v devalue the car?

Post by Kerry » Sun Jul 05, 2020 7:09 pm

Why change the generator, all that is needed is a 12v regulator or cut out and check/reset amps and done, and easy to change back.
Bulbs.
Many a T have 12v on the original starter but can be hard on the Bendix spring.


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Re: Will changing electrical system to 12v devalue the car?

Post by Humblej » Sun Jul 05, 2020 7:30 pm

Keep it 6v, to me a 12v alternator looks out of place in a stock T.


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Re: Will changing electrical system to 12v devalue the car?

Post by Jerry VanOoteghem » Sun Jul 05, 2020 8:32 pm

"I am afraid that this might change the character of the car an devalue it. Would it actually do that?"

It certainly would for me. That being said, if I wanted to buy a car that had such a conversion, I would still go ahead and buy it. I would then make it my first order of business to put it back to 6V. But, that's just me. Others wouldnt mind it. To each their own, it's all good. ;)


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Re: Will changing electrical system to 12v devalue the car?

Post by Vincent H » Sun Jul 05, 2020 8:51 pm

Thanks for the responses.
The general consensus seems to be keep it 6v. I don't know much about electrical unfortunately. A friend who is an electrician suggested 12v would be easier to maintain and more reliable. Could someone possibly explain to me why that isn't true?

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Re: Will changing electrical system to 12v devalue the car?

Post by Squirrel » Sun Jul 05, 2020 8:55 pm

Because the fellow who recommended it, is not familiar with Model Ts?

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Re: Will changing electrical system to 12v devalue the car?

Post by JohnH » Sun Jul 05, 2020 9:11 pm

12V more reliable? LOL. Just about every American car, and plenty of European ones too, from at least 1919-1954, used a 6V electrical system. How many millions of cars was that? Lots of them great big V8's too. If 6V was so unreliable it wouldn't have been so common for 35 years.
No, the problem is people have 'discovered' that putting a 12V battery into a vintage car covers up all the problems that should have been fixed, like dirty connections, wiring that has been replaced with too small of a gauge, and starter motors that should be rebuilt.
When I see a vintage car with a 12V battery in it, its stands out like the proverbial. Yes, it would devalue a car, since I have to think of the cost of buying all the 6V parts to put it right.

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Re: Will changing electrical system to 12v devalue the car?

Post by Charlie B in N.J. » Sun Jul 05, 2020 9:25 pm

What I'd suggest to you is first off is "run what you brung". That is get to know the car for what it is and what modifications (if any) have been done to it. Sounds like it has a 6 vt. system in it now. If that's so it's a perfectly relyable set up. All you have to do is learn how it works and ask questions here just as you did now. You asked and for the most part you've been told by folks who know that the 6 vt. set up is fine. No need to spend $ to fix what ain't broke. As to why a 12 vt system would be better? It wouldn't mean beans as to improving the car's performance. Would it devalve the car? To some yes. No question about it.
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Re: Will changing electrical system to 12v devalue the car?

Post by aDave » Sun Jul 05, 2020 9:35 pm

Vincent,

I see that you may be new to the hobby. .....your question was the 1st post by you on this Forum.
You should ask yourself "Why did I acquire the roadster?" Think about that.

If you acquired it because you are intrigued by things old...especially Model Ts, it would behove you to restore the car as it was made. In that fashion you will experience the complete joy of making the old girl purr again.

The experience of a Model T is best gained be keeping it as it was made....in my opinion.

As others have said, you will be most likely to have more (AND BETTER) help along the restoration way if you keep the car as it was...6 volt.

In my opinion, there is nothing more satisfying than having a good running 6 volt T with those coils singing away!

By the way, I'm sure that you have recognized that there is one coil for each spark plug. Interestingly, "modern" cars have come full circle....many of them now have on coil per plug....AGAIN. Could it be that the cars are "more reliable" that way?
Your car...your game...you make the rules. I do believe that you will enjoy the game more with 6 volts. Of course, you may decide differently.
Good Luck!
Dave


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Re: Will changing electrical system to 12v devalue the car?

Post by Norman Kling » Sun Jul 05, 2020 9:51 pm

Kerry mentioned something I forgot to say. The bendix on the starter will hit the flywheel very hard if you use 12 volts. Some have tried a coil in series with the starter wiring, such as an old bendix spring. It might cut down on the current after the starter is engaged, but it will do nothing about the hard hit when the bendix hits the flywheel. In order to prevent this from happening the starter should be altered to use 12 volts. This is done by wiring the field coil differently. If you want to use a distributor instead of the original coils and magneto, you can get a distributor coil made for 6 volts and you won't need to change to 12 volts. Anyway, I don't see a big reason to change. The 6 volt battery will last just as long as a 12 volt battery, and you can buy a 6 volt battery charger to keep the battery charged when you are not driving the car. The 6 volt batteries are available at Auto Zone, Tractor Supply, and Napa. Probably at other auto parts companies if you order it.
Norm


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Re: Will changing electrical system to 12v devalue the car?

Post by otrcman » Sun Jul 05, 2020 11:30 pm

Change to 12V for better reliability ? Hmmmm...

Model T's were designed to run on 6V. Every component in the electrical system is optimized for that voltage. When you install a 12V battery, then you begin to run a daisy chain of components that also need to be modified for 12V. Some of the modifications are well understood, while others are a bit subtle.

In thinking about it, there are a couple of things that require more maintenance on 6V. First would be keeping all the wire terminals clean and free of corrosion. The 6V doesn't cause any additional corrosion; it's just that voltage loss has a greater impact with a 6V system.

The second item is the Cutout. Model T's don't have any real voltage regulation, the cutout is just a reverse current relay that disconnects the battery from the generator when you stop the engine. So your battery is subject to wild variations in charge rate depending on whether you drive slow or fast, whether your headlites are on or off, etc.

If you drive the car for an extended period with the lites off the battery may be over charged and eventually boil away its water. This means checking and refilling the battery regularly. And it also means buying a new battery more often. So this is one example of greater maintenance with a 6V system. But it's not the 6V that's the culprit; it's that primitive Cutout. Today, you can buy a true voltage regulator that performs the job of a cutout and also maintains the charge current very precisely regardless of engine speed. I'm not sure about the present availability of the solid state regulator, but you can read more about it by searching "Fun Products Regulator".

The other thing that I believe to be deficient is the lack of a fuse in the electrical system. That's a safety issue. You can learn more about that and the simple fix to install a fuse by searching the archives.

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Re: Will changing electrical system to 12v devalue the car?

Post by Steve Jelf » Mon Jul 06, 2020 12:20 am

There is a persistent superstition that you need to "spin" a Model T engine fast to start it, and you need twelve volts to spin it fast. Granted, if you're starting with the hand crank and no battery you need to turn the magneto fast enough to buzz the coils. But starting on battery, with or without a starter, you have to turn it this fast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pv6HWWOGYA
And just to beat the dead horse: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5ycpdfIjDo

I believe the only reason to run twelve volts is to accommodate a lot of modern accessories. But I use a converter to run my phone charger and Garmin off my six volt battery.

Will a twelve volt conversion hurt the car's value? It will for some. Others won't care.
The inevitable often happens.
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Re: Will changing electrical system to 12v devalue the car?

Post by TRDxB2 » Mon Jul 06, 2020 12:23 am

I also agree on the primitive solenoid cut-out, points prone to sticking. But an easy fix is to do a DIY upgrade and replace the solenoid with a diode (or buy diode cut-out) while waiting for a voltage regulator's to be available.

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Re: Will changing electrical system to 12v devalue the car?

Post by Quickm007 » Mon Jul 06, 2020 5:06 pm

Thank you Steve, Very nice 2 videos.
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Re: Will changing electrical system to 12v devalue the car?

Post by thom » Mon Jul 06, 2020 6:38 pm

I will not/would not buy a Model T that had been changed to 12 volts. I also don't want a T that does not have the original 4 coil ignition system, no distributors for me. I like 'em the way Henry intended. My '21 has a water pump but I have the parts necessary to remove it eventually. :)
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Last edited by thom on Tue Jul 07, 2020 9:59 am, edited 1 time in total.


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Re: Will changing electrical system to 12v devalue the car?

Post by Mark Osterman » Mon Jul 06, 2020 8:19 pm

I would urge you to keep it as designed. Sure play around with the three basic timers but run it with six volts. I drive my 23 runabout nearly every day and about 100 miles a week until the city lays down salt in December. There are times in the winter if we don’t have snow for a stretch when I drive it too ... down to six degrees here in Rochester, NY. It’s six volt and works great.


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Re: Will changing electrical system to 12v devalue the car?

Post by Original Smith » Tue Jul 07, 2020 12:00 am

The best thing you can do for that car is to make sure you have a good starter switch, and all new wiring. Of course, rebuilding the starter and generator is a good idea too. If you do all those things, your car will turn over really good with the six volt system.


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Re: Will changing electrical system to 12v devalue the car?

Post by Gonenorth » Tue Jul 07, 2020 7:04 am

Along with all those things that have been suggested, if you really feel the need for more starter rpm, get a Optima 6 volt battery. They have 800 CCA as opposed o a standard 6 volt battery's 600 CCA. Have one in mine and it really rolls it over. Only caveat I have is that you need to have a regulated charging system. Either an alternator or generator with the Fun Projects voltage regulator are a good idea since the Optima is a sealed battery. Also, not cheap but worth the expense.


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Re: Will changing electrical system to 12v devalue the car?

Post by John kuehn » Tue Jul 07, 2020 9:42 am

As others have said and agreeing with Original S the best thing to do would be to replace the original wiring with new including the battery cables. Clean and inspect the cable grounding surfaces and make sure you have a good starter and generator.
Ford had a good 6 volt system it just needs to be kept in good shape as in any auto electrical system.

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Re: Will changing electrical system to 12v devalue the car?

Post by Quickm007 » Tue Jul 07, 2020 10:24 am

Vincent,

You must trust Steve, Original Smith and John, go ahead with replacing wiring and cleaning up all cable grounding surfaces etc. A good Generator is more important than the starter itself because you could start the engine like Steve did. You also need to time correctly the car with the 15 degree after TDC as well.

If you need help, I'm leaving in Quebec City and my son will be back at Seneca college in January, I could stop at that time if that help you.

Good luck,

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Re: Will changing electrical system to 12v devalue the car?

Post by John Codman » Tue Jul 07, 2020 10:35 am

I have seen the cranking videos before and they are great, but my T has "free started" twice in the last two weeks without being cranked at all. As to 12V - if my magneto had a major failure I might be tempted to go the distributor route, and if I was going to make a major departure from stock I might go to 12 V, but otherwise no. I have never had any significant trouble with my 6-volt T. If I was purchasing another T, I would deduct what it would cost to put it back the way Henry intended it to be from the sales price.


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Re: Will changing electrical system to 12v devalue the car?

Post by tdump » Tue Jul 07, 2020 10:47 am

To me,It would not hurt the value if it is done neatly.As in a new regulator instead of a gaudy alternator.
I convert to 12 for the ease of jumpstarting if needed,accessorys are easy to hook up and so on.
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Re: Will changing electrical system to 12v devalue the car?

Post by Mark Gregush » Tue Jul 07, 2020 11:56 am

Nothing that would be changed that could not be changed back, so no in my OP would it affect the value to many of the people out there looking to buy. :D (esp if it had a converted starter)
I know the voices aren't real but damn they have some good ideas! :shock:

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Post by Novice » Tue Jul 07, 2020 12:45 pm

DONT FIX IT IF IT AIN'T BROKE. But add a 20/25 amp in line fuse in the wire going from starter switch to the firewall terminal strip and make sure all the terminals screws are tight but not too tight they will strip out. Make sure the battery to starter switch cable is the large gauge 6 volt type and not the smaller gauge 12 volt cable many old Ts have been changed over to. also good clean battery cable clamps and make sure starter switch terminals and cable lugs are bright,clean and tight. Check battery ground wire or strap for good frame connection. as has been said 6 volts works fine but there is little tolerance for lose terminals or poor connections. The T was designed in 1908 to be hand cranked without a electrical system. So six volt system added in 1919 works just fine if cables and connections are correct. I don't think 12 volt conversion will make any difference in value to most folks unless it is a high dollar trailer queen.


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Re: Will changing electrical system to 12v devalue the car?

Post by George Hand » Tue Jul 07, 2020 1:13 pm

I have to say NO to changing the model T value, of the 3 licensed T I have, the 1912 is still a hand cranker, it uses a small automotive 12v battery that lives in a wooden running board tool box for ignition for starting then I switch over flywheel magneto for coil voltage. The 1920 was build as a non electric that had been converted to all Ford components for lighting & starting. The 1925 when I bought it last year already had a 12v battery in place of the 6v & an inoperative generator & flywheel magneto, I have left it 12v, added a one wire alternator along with turn signals & other lamps. I have been thru the starter but may replace the stock starter field coil with a modified unit. All of my T's run on timers & coils. Here is a question for you- How many of you that are concerned about the value of you Model T's still have the original engine in place?? How many of you that have a factory non starter car that has been converted to a starter or later engine ?? How do you feel about that having an effect on it's value ?? How many of you worried about a 12v conversion affecting your T's value are using a VW style distributor. A 12v conversion will not devalue a Model T, granted the six volt system has it's own curable faults & most home mechanics do not know how to do a component voltage drop test to help diagnose starter issues in the cranking system. Generators have there own repairable issues, now if only someone would reproduce the former Fun Projects voltage regulator.

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Re: Will changing electrical system to 12v devalue the car?

Post by Tim Rogers » Tue Jul 07, 2020 2:24 pm

"I am afraid that this might change the character of the car an devalue it. Would it actually do that?"

Yes, It will most definitely change the character and value of the car. If your car is unreliable it's not because of the 6 volt system. Fix what's broke or worn out and you will have restored the incredible reliability that the Model T is known for...


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