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57 President Classic headlight switch issue.

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  • Electrical: 57 President Classic headlight switch issue.

    Happy Father's Day to everyone.
    I have a question about the headlight switch for my car. On Friday I was driving home after our annual Studebaker Night at Cruisin' Grand in Escondido, CA. As I was driving home I had my headlights on and started to smell what I thought was someone's brakes. As it turned out it was my car, and as I neared my exit I noticed smoke coming from the drivers side dash. I got home, reached under the dash to feel a a very warm wiring harness and smelled burning Bakelite and paper odors. Pulled into the garage, turned off the car, disconnected the battery and put a small fan on the floor blowing up under the dash, Oh! and panicking like all heck.
    After calming down and thinking about the situation I deduced that my headlight switch was the source of all my anxiety. About a year ago my relay started to click and cause my headlights to blink on and off, and I replaced that faulty relay, with a 12V/20A I sourced from NAPA. The OEM relay was 12V/18A. Would the 2A difference have caused my switch to overload and burn up, or do I just attribute it to the switch being 62 years old? I noticed that Stude Intl. has that switch, part #1542263/1544272, but it does not state the amperage of the attached relay. Thank you for any input/suggestions on this issue. Ken

  • #2
    Correction! What I thought was a relay is actually a circuit breaker (OEM Type FASCO 1110 12V/18A)

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    • #3
      All I can say is; by far the most common Headlight failure issue in these Cars seems to be in my opinion and many others here, the Dimmer Switch on the sometimes rusty and wet FLOOR!

      But the smoke and heat coming from the Headlight switch on this Car does indicate a dead short in it, not caused by the Breaker unless the breaker just failed to trip.
      StudeRich
      Second Generation Stude Driver,
      Proud '54 Starliner Owner

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      • #4
        Thank you StudeRich, do you think that the 3A difference could have caused the switch to overload? I am considering ordering a new switch from Stude Intl. over a used one.

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        • #5
          Are you running Halogen Headlights? Some people say they draw more Amps and a few say they don't.

          I do not know, but it makes sense to me that it would be more.

          No, I do not think it was caused by a 2 Amp. higher Breaker, there is either too much load on the switch (Resistance) from poor connections, corroded contacts in Bulb Sockets, Headlight Plugs, Wires, Terminals at the Hd. Lt. Sw. etc. OR in the Hd. Lt. Sw. itself.
          StudeRich
          Second Generation Stude Driver,
          Proud '54 Starliner Owner

          Comment


          • #6
            Kenny, I'd agree with Rich and surmise it's the switch itself. If it were me, I'd:
            - Replace the switch
            - Wire-brush all lamp sockets fore and aft and anoint them with a smidge of dielectric grease
            - Check your wiring harness for any leads that may now be damaged by the heat of the overload and replace any melted or scorched connectors or wire segments

            Clark in San Diego | '63 Standard (F2) "Barney" | http://studeblogger.blogspot.com

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            • #7
              A loose connection can cause arcing and over heating. I had a similar issue with my head light switch and I suspect it was from the factory, where as the main hot wire terminal was loose and over the years caused the terminal screw to rust and the entire assembly was rusted including the nut on the bolt. The previous owner said the car was in the shop many times and was two - bitting him to death and the problem was never fixed while he owned it. When I bought the car I stumbled across the problem when the wipers and heater started to run at half speed and the head lights were very dim. The rusting condition of the terminal took a long time to reach the condition that it was in, therefore I believe it was most probably from the factory. When wiggling all the wires everything was tight except the main lead was rusted tight. With a thorough buffing of the threads and a stainless nut reinstalled tight every thing came to life.

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