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60ragtop
11-25-2008, 12:12 PM
I'm not very knowledgeable about automotive electrical problems and could use some advice/opinions from you guys. Here's the situation:

I pulled my 56 President out of a 3 week hibernation last week to give it some exercise. It starts and runs normally, but with the engine RUNNING, 1) the discharge light stays on, 2) there are no directional signals, no heater blower, no radio, and no temp or gas gauge (not sure about the oil light). When any of the accesories such as the radio, fan, and directional signals are turned "on", they don't work but the discharge light gets brighter. The headlights, interior light, glove compartment light and brake lights all work fine. With the engine running, the discharge light occasionally dims, with a click from somewhere up front, I think from the voltage regulator.

With the engine OFF and the key turned to the accessory position (either left or right), everything works--fan, radio, gauges, etc.

Here's some other info that might, or might not, be relevant: (1) sometime this summer I dropped a screwdriver across the battery and grounded the terminals. The result, besides the ZAP!! was symptoms as descreibed above, but they self-corrected after a restart. (May have been a couple of restarts). (2) The wipers have only worked intermittently since I bought the car a little over a year ago. A new switch didn't help and leaving the wiper on results in smoke curling out of the wiper motor, so the wipers stay OFF. Correcting this problem is scheduled for this winter. (3) The horn doesn't work. Well, actually it does work when the horn ring and sponge thing is off and I ground it manually. Another winter project. (4) Finally, a couple of times this week, the problem seemed to fix itself, i.e., the light went out and all accessories worked normally, but shutting the car off and restarting it put it in the failure mode again.

Since all this started, I read through the relevant sections of the shop manual; checked for loose connections at the ignition switch, generator, and voltage regulator; repolarized the generator as per the shop manual; and cleaned the points in the regulator. Before I start replacing parts willy-nilly or just take it to a shop, maybe you guys could give me some advice. Might it be something simple like generator brushes? Maybe the problem is at the ignition switch since the accessories are wired through it? A short somewhere? Generator? Voltage regulator? As far as I can tell, all parts except maybe the wiper motor are original and 52 years old.

Any and all advice appreciated.

Frank Philippi
Ocean Pines, MD

Roscomacaw
11-25-2008, 12:20 PM
Sounds like the ignition switch is bad. I know exactly the scenario you're facing here! Pete's switch will start the engine just fine and if I simply release the key, the truck still runs, but the discharge lite is glaring.:( And there's no turn signals and no heater.
But as long as I'm careful to nudge the key just a bit further after releasing from the start position, out goes the discharge lite and everything electrical works fine.[:I]

I've just been too lazy to replace the switch. It's easier to just assist it to where it needs to be.[B)]

1957 Transtar 1/2ton
1963 Cruiser
1960 Larkvertible V8
1958 Provincial wagon
1953 Commander coupe
1957 President two door

60ragtop
11-25-2008, 02:02 PM
quote:Originally posted by Mr.Biggs

Sounds like the ignition switch is bad. I know exactly the scenario you're facing here! Pete's switch will start the engine just fine and if I simply release the key, the truck still runs, but the discharge lite is glaring.:( And there's no turn signals and no heater.
But as long as I'm careful to nudge the key just a bit further after releasing from the start position, out goes the discharge lite and everything electrical works fine.[:I]

I've just been too lazy to replace the switch. It's easier to just assist it to where it needs to be.[B)]

1957 Transtar 1/2ton
1963 Cruiser
1960 Larkvertible V8
1958 Provincial wagon
1953 Commander coupe
1957 President two door




Mr. B, just tried your approach. Jiggled the switch, etc. No dice. The ignition switch seems nice and tight, not loose like on my Hawk before it was replaced. I guess this won't be easy.

john grady
12-16-2008, 04:00 PM
i agree, ign switch or loose wire on it,as some items are not getting powered when in ign position, but are powered in acc. In IGN, acc is also powered if switch works . so from that, without seeing it, switch is it, or ACC wire is loose, but i doubt that if it always works on ACC. Almost has to be switch; it is not powering ACC when you put it in IGn ,(engine on) as it should do. Check w voltmeter, at switch terminals . Battery short has nothing to do with this ; horn is dirty place where contact is made, clean up 360 degrees, where disc grounds out. Wiper may not be getting park signal, but not familiar with that park function in this model . Power may be applying to armature brushes but not to field..it won't turn then, no field magnetism and brushes and armature start burning from heavy draw, does fuse blow/is right size? I'd look for open field wire