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1940 light questions

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  • 1940 light questions

    Ely has a common problem that I guess I never noticed before. When the engine is at high RPM, the lights are bright. When it idles, they go dim. I can still see what I need to see and can tell where I am going, but is there a way to fix this?
    The other thing is I never have though the speedometer was that well alluminated. Even when the light is bright you can see the numbers, but the needle not so much. Can one of the other '40 Champion owners here post a photo of what the speedo is supposed to look like at night, or is this typical?
    Chris Dresbach

  • #2
    The headlights are a matter of degree, Chris. Every old vehicle with a generator charging system is going to exhibit that trait to some degree. Whether yours is acceptable and normal would have to be seen.

    You can test the generator and see if it is putting out what it is supposed to be putting out at a given rpm. If it is, you might set the voltage regulator up a little, per the Shop Manual. Or at least the engine's slow idle speed.

    But you'll always have that characteristic to some extent no matter what you do, so it's probably not worth fooling with.

    The dash lights are another matter. I'll let a prewar Champion owner address that concern as I have no experience with it. BP
    We've got to quit saying, "How stupid can you be?" Too many people are taking it as a challenge.

    Ayn Rand:
    "You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."

    G. K. Chesterton: This triangle of truisms, of father, mother, and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it.


    • #3
      Thanks, Bob
      I knew that this always happens, but that's why I said I never really noticed before, I guess I'm used to it. However tonight they seemed to go dimmer than normal, almost dark.
      Chris Dresbach


      • #4
        I think the generator will only put out in excess of 6 volts at around 1200-1500 rpm. Below that is less than 6 volts which is why your lights are dimmer at idle. I could see the digits on my 51 Champion speedometer but not the needle, I painted the needle white and it is an improvement but still not great.


        • #5
          First check ALL connections. Clean [no rust, dirt, grease, oil, paint, etc.] and tight.
          NEW headlights. Old bulbs get dimmer as they get old, just changing out the bulbs will make a big difference.
          In fact change/replace ALL the old bulbs for convenience and safety. Clean the sockets and connections.
          Check all wiring for corrosion, the outside may look good but INSIDE may be all growdy with the wire corroded and weak.
          Check the terminations on the wire, same thing.
          Check the switch and its connections. Same thing.
          Check the generator brushes, springs and commutator. Possibly have it rebuilt.
          No matter what you end up doing to the electrical you should do all the above FIRST
          THEN it's time to decide.
          Stay with the generator if the lighting is acceptable.
          Go with a 6 volt positive ground alternator. Quick and easy, they are fairly cheap, cheaper then having a generator rebuilt. Very simple wiring change.
          My 55 is still 6 volt with an alternator. Lights are bright all the time, but then they were even with the generator.
          Or. Change out to 12 volt with all the little niggly things that have to be done to get stuff working that was originally 6 volt. P. I. A.
          South Lompoc Studebaker


          • #6
            Oh, forgot to mention the car has a 12V electrical system. (not my doing)
            Chris Dresbach


            • #7
              FIRST check all the connections ETC ETC ETC
              12 volt ain't a fix.
              It's just a change.
              South Lompoc Studebaker


              • #8
                Add a ground strap from engine to frame, and another one from body to engine or frame.
                So.....if I'm 'pre-approved' why do you want me to fill out an application?