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1950 Champion electrical issue

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  • Electrical: 1950 Champion electrical issue

    Hi all, new to the forum.

    I have a 1950 Champion convertible that has been in the family for over 20 years. Recently it started having an electrical issue and am not sure what is causing it. When the battery is connected, whether the key is in the ignition or not, the ammeter is moving and the battery drains. About every 4 seconds the ammeter indicator shoots to discharge and then comes back to the middle. I have included a link with a video of what it is doing. As mentioned previously, the car does not need to be turned on or the key in the ignition for this to happen. I have to disconnect the battery to get it to stop. A little back story... I recently had the car at a mechanic for some brake work.... drove it there with no issue and it came out of the shop doing this. One of the employees, when speaking to me about it, seemed a little 'fishy' and stated he noticed the battery was a little weak and he wanted to charge it but then realized it might not be a 12 volt system so he didn't... wondering if he attempted to charge it as a 12 volt only to realize he was making a mistake. Anyway, I'm not a mechanic and would appreciate any suggestions. Maybe the voltage regulator?

  • #2
    Voltage regulator is my guess, too. Isolate it and I bet it stops.


    • #3
      As Jeffry said; disconnect the armature and field wires from your voltage regulator. And let us know hat happens.
      With the discharge showing up every 4 seconds; seems to be acting like a circuit breaker opening and closing on a short. The only thing that I can think of that has a circuit breaker are the head lights.
      Do the lights and the other accessories work; including the directional signals.



      • #4
        IF the brake mechanic DID try to charge a 6 volt negative ground system by doing what he always does: 12 volt positive to positive and ground to negative, he may have messed up the polarization of the system. I think you have to remove one wire from the regulator and touch it to ground to get the polarization correct, but I don't remember which wire, think it is the Armature wire.
        Hopefully someone with the correct info will chime in here. I just know it needs to be done when a generator or voltage regulator is replaced.
        sigpic1966 Daytona (The First One)
        1950 Champion Convertible
        1950 Champion 4Dr
        1955 President 2 Dr Hardtop
        1957 Thunderbird


        • #5
          So i disconnected the wires to the voltage regulator as suggested... still keeps doing the same thing. All lights, turn indicators work as they should... they do flicker when the ammeter jumps.


          • #6
            I think the only things in a '50 Champion that should have power with the key off are the headlight switch (which feeds the courtesy lights, too), the stop lights, and the horn relay. Possibly the overdrive relay hot terminal, too. Not sure of that. Given that it is cycling every 4 seconds, it sure sounds like a circuit breaker is involved, because, feeding into a short, they act like a flasher unit. You may be able to hear the breaker cycling; it ought to make a faint "boing" sound each time it opens. Given that the brakes had work done on them, I would be looking first at the stop light switch. It's possible that a short to ground was created there. The stop light switch is a small (about 1" by 1") cylindrical plug screwed into a fitting on the brake hydraulic line. Either right at the master cylinder, or at the tee where the lines splits to go to each front wheel. Find the switch, and follow its wires back into the harness to look for damage. If no damage is evident, unplug both wires at the switch, and see if you issue stops. That would indicate a faulty switch.

            Note: if you can find the circuit breakers, which are usually under the dash either on the back of the headlight switch, or on their own bracket nearby, the one that is cycling will feel warm to the touch, if it has been allowed to cycle that way for a few minutes.
            Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands


            • #7
              The Horn Relay is always HOT, if it is shorted there is no Fuse to stop it, but I don't see how it would short intermittently, it would just burn up the harness.
              Second Generation Stude Driver,
              Proud '54 Starliner Owner


              • #8
                My money is on the stoplight switch, or the wires leading to it.
                Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands


                • #9
                  The clock would also operate on a set of points, but they should only close every four to five minutes.
                  And the 'clicking' in your video does sound like a circuit breaker.
                  "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.
                  '33 Rockne 10,
                  '51 Commander Starlight,
                  '53 Commander Starlight "Désirée",
                  '56 Sky Hawk