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Thread: Best 6-volt battery

  1. #1
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    Best 6-volt battery

    I keep thinking about whether to convert my '51 Champion to 12-volts, but if it happens, it isn't going to be anytime soon. In the meantime, the battery that came in the car is 4-1/2 years old and does kind of a lazy job cranking the engine. I'd feel better with a fresher battery.

    Are there any feelings on the best source for a reliable 6-volt battery? Are there 6-volt gel batteries? The battery now in the car has only a paper label calling it a Super Start and claims it has 800 cold cranking amp at 32-degrees.

    Any suggestions?

  2. #2
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    Mainly look at the ampere rating of the battery. Get the highest that physically fits your car. Go with a brand that you are comfortable with and has good consumer ratings and guarantee. Do not buy a battery that is not fresh (these six volt batteries do not exactly fly off the shelves). Many places only stock basic models that are enough for old VWs. Yes, there are six volt gel batteries (I do not see the need to go to the expense of them for the use that it will see).
    Gary L.
    Wappinger, NY

    SDC member since 1968
    Studebaker enthusiast much longer

  3. #3
    President Member BobWaitz's Avatar
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    The best 6 volt battery is 8 volts.

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    I'm no battery expert, but I hear folks say Interstate is a good battery manufacturer. So I got my 6 volt battery from the local Interstate battery store. Not sure if it is the exact original size, but it fits the battery box just fine. If yours does a lazy job cranking, check your cables too. I put heavy duty Ford tractor cables on and starting issues are gone.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by fh4ever View Post
    I'm no battery expert, but I hear folks say Interstate is a good battery manufacturer. So I got my 6 volt battery from the local Interstate battery store. Not sure if it is the exact original size, but it fits the battery box just fine. If yours does a lazy job cranking, check your cables too. I put heavy duty Ford tractor cables on and starting issues are gone.
    I thought that Interstate did not manufacture any batteries. They just rebadge batteries from the few companies that actually do manufacture batteries.

    EDIT:
    Interstate Battery System of America, Inc., a.k.a. Interstate Batteries, is a privately owned company that markets automotive batteries manufactured by
    Exide Technologies
    ,
    Johnson Controls
    and others through independent distributors.
    Last edited by studegary; 12-20-2018 at 09:21 PM.
    Gary L.
    Wappinger, NY

    SDC member since 1968
    Studebaker enthusiast much longer

  6. #6
    President Member tsenecal's Avatar
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    Optima makes a good quality 6 volt gel battery. They are a narrow bank of three cells, and two would fit side by side, wired parallel. They are a bit pricey, but I have used them in my older pickups, with good results.

  7. #7
    President Member j.byrd's Avatar
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    dstude, I have one of the little 6 volt Optimas that we used for about 4 years in our Anglia. They are kinda' funny looking, but seem to be excellent batteries. I sold the Anglia over 2 years ago and the battery is still holding voltage ! Guess I'm waiting on another 6 volt car, ha !

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    With respect, I don't agree with the 8 volt suggestion. Clean connections and proper size wiring create a fine electrical system, just like they did 70 years ago. We have many large eight cylinder cars that start fine at the California Automobile Museum in Sacramenti.
    Perry
    \'50 Business Champ,
    \'50 Starlight Champ,
    \'60 Lark Convertible,
    \'63 GT R1,
    \'67 Triumph TR4A

  9. #9
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    My (6v) Optima has been great.
    Sat for over 10 months last year...(with no charging) turned the key, hit the starter switch, electric fuel pump on, spun plenty fast enough to start the engine.

    Mike

  10. #10
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    Optima batteries are very good but check their warranty!
    You have to return a failed battery to the dealer you bought it from.
    No good if you are 2000 miles from home on vacation!

  11. #11
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    I do not recommend going to an 8 volt battery as the voltage regulator will have to be turned up to at least 9 volts to charge the battery putting a severe over voltage on everything electrical in the car. If the battery cables are of the correct size, the electrical connections are clean and tight, the charging system and battery are in good condition, there shouldn't be a need for an 8 volt battery or converting the electrical system to 12 volts. I also agree with everyone that says an Optima battery is a good choice as they have a higher cold cranking amp rating than a lead acid battery. Bud

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    My 41' Commander started without problems for years in single digit temps. One time, in Maine, in January @ -6 degrees, after 3 months of sitting, it cranked just as slow as summer and started fine. Keep the charge up with a tender...

  13. #13
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    Go to a specialty battery store that sells batteries for everything, and buy the heaviest duty, highest amp 6 volt they have which will still fit your battery tray. It will crank great and last a very long time even if seeing just occasional use. The ones stocked by auto parts stores (the ones who still keep the 6 volt ones) are only marginally serviceable and not so much for the long run. You'll be doing well if you get 2 years of service out of one of those.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobWaitz View Post
    The best 6 volt battery is 8 volts.
    I disagree. Fix the system to work as it initially did for decades.
    Gary L.
    Wappinger, NY

    SDC member since 1968
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  15. #15
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    I'm an Optima believer. I've told the story before about the battery in the "Red Rooster" (1931 Four Season that some of you may have seen in the ACM). The story should be available in the archives. The short story is that I finally pulled the Optima that I had in the car since 1996 (26) years, and replaced it with one that was only 16 years old, out of one of my 1937 Presidents. I said oh well I guess I got my money's worth, but I hate to give up on anything that has served me well. So I put a charger on it and it's now in the 1950 Champion. How long will it last, hell I don't know, but I intend to find out!

  16. #16
    Speedster Member nwi-region-rat's Avatar
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    I got a forklift battery from NAPA for my 49 truck ...upped the battery cable size and doubled the grounds.....turns over like my buddy's 259 12v....

    https://www.napaonline.com/en/p/NBP7264D 1200 amp 975 CCA

  17. #17
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    Hated to doit but if I were to ever take 49 Commander out of the driveway it was necessary. Have a Case "400" which starts every time and it has a big CIH 6v battery. I put one in the Commander and it makes a big difference. Those little ones just do not hold any 'juice' If you can find a 8v batt it is worth a try. Or 12v conversion.

  18. #18
    Speedster Member GTHawk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobWaitz View Post
    The best 6 volt battery is 8 volts.
    New 2-0 wire and 8 volts in 54 capri V 8 and it turns over like 12 volts. Use the heavy battery cables.
    don

  19. #19
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    I did something somewhat different and hooked up two 6 volt batteries independent from each other the other battery is in the trunk with both connected to the starter through independent solenoids through the key switch and push button. They both charge off the generator. The V8 starts with gusto on six volts.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by GTHawk View Post
    New 2-0 wire and 8 volts in 54 capri V 8 and it turns over like 12 volts. Use the heavy battery cables.
    My sister had a '53 Capri that sat outdoors. I do not remember any starting problems with it.
    Gary L.
    Wappinger, NY

    SDC member since 1968
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  21. #21
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    Sure a fresh 8 volt battery (8.4 volts actual) will spin any starter faster than a six volt battery. But, if you do not turn the voltage regulator up to 9.5 volts or so, it will never fully charge, leaving it sulphate and as worthless as any weak battery. Of course this extra wattage out of the generator will make it heat up more and wear the brushes faster, neither of which are a good idea.

    just clean the connections and make sure the cables are six volt sized (0 or 00 awg) and unless you park a six volt car in zero degree weather or run 12:1 compression, it should start fine. Remember, when the car was new the owner had to get to work on time in the worst weather, with an old battery! Who had money to replace those? There was not a line at the Lincoln dealer service department complaining their car didn’t start reliably. Well, at least for three years, typical trade in time.

    8 volt batteries were invented as a fix it crutch for systems that needed repair. “ I could spend money to fix this old car, but I only have money for a new battery, so I can buy an 8 volt and get by a while longer, then junk it....”
    Frank DuVal

    50 Commander 4 door

  22. #22
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    Yep, Interstate is just a jobber of batteries. It was started by John Searcy in a Studebaker pick up truck.
    Frank DuVal

    50 Commander 4 door

  23. #23
    Speedster Member GTHawk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by studegary View Post
    My sister had a '53 Capri that sat outdoors. I do not remember any starting problems with it.
    I usually rebuild the engines in my car however this car is a little rough has lots of miles but we like to drive now and then. It just will seldom start with the 6 volt battery . For me the quick and simple solution is an 8 volt battery. To each his own.This is one way of many.
    don

  24. #24
    President Member Silverplate's Avatar
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    image.jpg

    Red Top Optima's in our Packards. Want a little boost go with two wired in parallel. Cranks and starts so much faster. Battery tender keeps them both up to full charge. I made the battery cables from scratch.
    Mike
    Fort Worth, TX


    1964 Avanti R2 #R-4986

  25. #25
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    Just to clarify the claim about the Optima warranty, I called Optima. They said it's true that you do need to return a failed battery to the company that sold you the battery, but not necessarily to the same store in the case of a company with a chain of stores. So, if you bought it at a NAPA store, you can return it to any other NAPA store. If you bought it from an Auto Zone store, you can return it to any other Auto Zone store. Same for O'Reilly's, Pep Boys, Wal-Mart or any other chain dealership that sells Optima batteries. Doesn't sound like a major problem.

  26. #26
    Speedster Member Charlie D's Avatar
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    dstude,

    I was tinkering with the idea of using an optima 6 volt in my '55 President State Sedan. I looked up the measurements on line and cut out a piece of cardboard the same dimensions. I was surprised to find it would not fit in my battery box. I did not want to modify the box so I dropped the idea. I do not know what make and model you have but you may want to double check one will fit without any modifications. I may have been off with the measurements because I did not try to find one to trace around the bottom.

    Charlie D.

  27. #27
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    I have a 6 volt Optima in my 3R6 pickup. The battery will fit in the truck box, but only diagonally.

  28. #28
    President Member raoul5788's Avatar
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    Carquest makes a 6 volt battery, available at any Advance Auto, that is 850 ccas. Should be enough for just about anybody.
    Chip
    '63 Cruiser
    '57 Packard wagon
    '61 Lark Regal 4 dr wagon
    '50 Commander 4 dr sedan

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by dstude View Post
    Just to clarify the claim about the Optima warranty, I called Optima. They said it's true that you do need to return a failed battery to the company that sold you the battery, but not necessarily to the same store in the case of a company with a chain of stores. So, if you bought it at a NAPA store, you can return it to any other NAPA store. If you bought it from an Auto Zone store, you can return it to any other Auto Zone store. Same for O'Reilly's, Pep Boys, Wal-Mart or any other chain dealership that sells Optima batteries. Doesn't sound like a major problem.
    It would be if you bought it from a chain that has no store in the area where you had your problem.

  30. #30
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    Got a Bi Mart 6volt in well worn 49 Champion. Starts at 5 degrees, use big cables, short as possible with good connections. When cranking see if any connections are getting warm. That's a sign of resistance in that place.

  31. #31
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    I have installed a second 6 volt battery in the trunk of my 54 sedan and it is connected directly to the starter independent of the main battery both batteries are relay actuated with separate toggle switches to be able to check each system independently. The 6 volt battery in the trunk is connected to the starter motor via a 1/0 welding cable about 11 feet long with the ground directly on the frame. This battery is cranking a 63 259 V8 that was originally set up for 12 volts. It starts in less than one revolution from the rear battery even with the 11 foot cable. To say a cable should be as short as possible doesn't really matter as long as they are clean and tight. I have seen 16 foot custom jumper cables and they work just fine. Size matters, clean and tight, length not so much. It is also good practice to connect the ground terminal(s) directly on the starter bolts.

  32. #32
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    I have a traditional 6 Volt battery in my '48 Starlight Coupe. It sat disconnected for 8 1/2 months until I returned to Arizona for the winter. It was obviously very dead (2 Volts) but persistence with a new electronic charger from Princess Auto (Viking 6/12 V) resurrected it and it is now sitting at 6.5 V. It started on the first revolution which I thought was commendable for how much 6 Volt systems get trashed. I ran it dry when I left in March on premium fuel, no ethanol. Cables as mentioned are all up to snuff which helped. I should mention this Viking unit was less than $30.00 and automatically selects the correct voltage and charges at 4 Amps. I consider it a very decent buy.
    Luck to all.
    Bill

  33. #33
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    1951 Champlon - all 6 volt system, new NAPA 6V commercial battery (the only one they sell), new solenoid (same canister and connections as for old John Deere, etc) and new hot cable from battery to solenoid, sanded and clear-varnished all high current connections...cranks and starts and charges beautifully. Even peeled off the NAPA decal and replaced it with a Willard decal (the supplier of the day).

    Prior to me the PO had a cut-out clamp switch and a solenoid that were limiting/draining current constantly. Work through the high-draw circuits before considering 8V, etc.

    (Final million dollar tip...get a Battery Tender Jr and “plug” your car in when not used. These $40 smart chargers are the best thing for your vintage 6V ride. Amazing. I also use it on my ‘50 WIllys battery in storage, alternating 1 week Studebaker, 1 week Willys, etc.)

  34. #34
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    I laud Don on his willingness to consider something other then a conventional battery. This tells me that he has a respect for his car and doesn't want to see it deteriorate prematurely. If all one wants is an inexpensive battery that will start his Champion, really any conventional battery will do. IMO the real concern should be how much potential peripheral damage to the battery box, fender, underside of the hood and even suspension parts is he willing to risk. For the first several years of the life of any battery damage is apt to be minimal. It's when a battery begins to age that things begin to change. Conventional batteries begin to sulfate and produce more hydrogen gas much faster then do AGM batteries. The result: corrosion, potential explosion and ultimately the need to change out a battery more often than with an AGM.

    To be clear I use both, but I know the limits of a conventional battery, and treat it differently then an Optima. I care about all of my cars, but the chances that I take with some of my cars, I would never subject my best cars to. For those cars it will always be an Optima.

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