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New 6V Starter Solenoid

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  • Engine: New 6V Starter Solenoid

    As the lucky new owner of a well-known SDC '51 Champion Regal 4-door, I was saddled with a very sluggish 6V starting system: very slow cranking speed but still in keeping with the foot-switch.

    Working through the very few things it could be, I changed out the decent 6V battery for a fresh one, decided to pull what appeared to be the OEM foot-switch and drained out the heavy engine oil for a modern 5W-30. With heavy jumpers and the solenoid bypassed I made sure the starter was healthy, and thank goodness it was.

    Finally was the solenoid. The contacts seemed to have intermittent contact health, and when tested on the bench, there was more continuity from the low-current post to ground than should have been there. The battery was being allowed to drain enough to deplete itself between deep chargings.

    Fast-forward to last weekend and with a new 6V replacement solenoid in-hand, I was ready to complete the repair and enjoy the car in Spring weather. Problem: this new starter-mounted solenoid looks exactly like the Auto-Lite that came out, but the low-current post is not in parallel to the high-current supply. That is, while the new solenoid case IS grounded through the starter case to chassis, etc,, it needs to get a 6V supply from elsewhere.

    This meant I had to supply it with key-ready 6V nearby (chose the supply to the OD relay). This was sent down to the footswitch, then the original wire back up to the solenoid goes back into the side post, just like original. Unlike the OEM wiring where the footswitch grounds the currrent from the solenoid post to close the contacts, the new switch is simply to close the loop down and back up to the solenoid.

    Now works like a dream, and can't emphasize enough how the Battery Tender Jr is going to make keeping a 6V car a more reliable and enjoyable experience.

  • #2
    Welcome to the forum, David.
    With regular use and clean grounds you should never have any problem starting a well-tuned 6-volt system.
    "All attempts to 'rise above the issue' are simply an excuse to avoid it profitably." --Dick Gregory

    Brad Johnson, SDC since 1975, ASC since 1990
    Pine Grove Mills, Pa.
    sigpic'33 Rockne 10, '51 Commander Starlight, '53 Commander Starlight "Désirée"


    • #3
      Agree completely, especially w.r.t. clean grounds.

      In general, these 6V cars need to be driven - rather than stored - as much as possible.


      • #4
        I recently purchased a 6 volt solenoid/relay to find that the small terminal is only a ground terminal not a power terminal. When I powered up the terminal nothing happened until I grounded the terminal. I questioned the vendor and he said they are all that way to day. I don't know the reason or rational.


        • #5
          Before the key Start Systems were used, Studebaker used GROUNDING Starter Switches and Solenoids, so that short circuits do not melt down the entire electrical system.

          In 1955 that all changed when the "Key Start" System was implemented, with the Batt. Power right there at the Ign. Switch, it simply connects the Batt. Term. to the Start Term./Wire that goes to the "Start" Terminal of the Solenoid.

          So NOW, Dave's Car is all backwards, which will confuse the heck out of anyone who understands older cars because it is not correct.

          And now unless that O.D. Term. is Ign. keyed, there is Live, always Hot, Power through the vulnerable, UNDER the Car wire to that Floor Starter Switch.
          Second Generation Stude Driver,
          Proud '54 Starliner Owner


          • #6
            Not to worry - I made sure the hot 6V supply was a keyed supply. Thanks for the follow-up.

            Having the OEM wiring diagram was invaluable as well. It helped me navigate other previous owner "fixes" as well.


            • #7
              N.b.: the original wiring had a "hot" supply down to the starter switch 100% of the time. Check the wiring diagram drawn for the '51....the old solenoid had a 6V supply in parallel with the heavy lead from the battery. This then exited the solenoid case via the side stud, and down to the switch, to be grounded to the chassis. Both the old and the new used the case grounding to close the lo- and hi-current circuits.

              The new replacement solenoid does not have a hot supply to the internal coil, and no chassis corrosion is a risk for the foot starter switch, so in some respects this (John Deere) version is a much safer alternative. Just wanted to set the record straight should anyone be needing to spruce up their starting circuit.