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Advice Needed: Before car burns to the ground

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  • Electrical: Advice Needed: Before car burns to the ground

    Subject vehicle: 6V + Ground Speedster

    No joke, I was terrified when I found this today:
    Picture is of headlight switch. Seems to have been developing over time.

    What would cause this? Any advice on a fix? I get that it is getting hot due to current/load (but most electrical matters are a mystery to me).
    Noted that swedged connection does seem a bit loose but no more so than the one just below (red wire with black tracer).

    Really appreciate any insights or experience to help me get this fixed -- battery disconnected and baby stays parked for the time being.

    Thanks!!!
    Jimbo
    Attached Files
    -James

  • #2
    Getting hot due to high resistance in the switch and connections probably. This is why back in the day, aftermarket headlight relays were available so the full amperage of the headlights would go thru the relay, instead of thru the headlight switch. The headlight relays have the advantage of brighter headlights too.

    By any chance, do you have halogen headlights in the car (there used to be a few sources of 6v sealed beam headlamps)? They would probably pull more amps than the regular incandescent.

    If the switch can be disassembled, you may be able to clean the contacts inside. Or get a NOS switch. Or do a search on headlight relays (a lot of info out on the internet on these).
    Last edited by r1lark; 05-07-2021, 01:31 PM.
    Paul
    Winston-Salem, NC
    Visit The Studebaker Skytop Registry website at: www.studebakerskytop.com

    Comment


    • #3
      You have a loose or corroded connection either inside of the crimped connector or the connection is is loose between the bullet connector on the wire and the terminal on the switch. Once a connection looks like that, both the wire and the switch should be replaced as there is no good way to clean up the connections once they have gotten that hot and corroded. Like r1lark says, the use of a headlight relay is a good idea as the relay takes most of the load off of the headlight switch. I have headlight relays on both my 62 Hawk and my 63 Avanti even though they are 12 volts. The use of a relay also allows more voltage to get to the headlight bulbs making them brighter and also makes the tail and instrument lights brighter due to the reduced load on the headlight switch. Bud

      Comment


      • #4
        I agree with Paul and Bud, clean the grounds and connectors, add a relay, and you might be able to clean and restore the switch, but don't be surprised if it isn't too far gone with that much heat.
        Ron Dame
        '63 Champ

        Comment


        • #5
          I see 12 volt plastic wiring. That is a good portion of your troubles. 6 volt cars take very heavy wiring as they carry twice the CURRENT as 12 volt cars. 12 volt may be more voltage, but it is less current. 55 was the last year for lacquered cloth wires.
          If it is a replacement harness in vinyl wiring, then the problem is probably too much resistance from corrosion, and lack of use, or high humidity, or salt air.
          Every once in a while rapidly switch the switches to keep the connections good. Also if you can, there is an electrical contact spray cleaner that they used to make for the old rotory TV tuners. I think they still have it at parts stores.
          try and spray the switches with the spray wand.
          Last edited by bezhawk; 05-07-2021, 05:12 PM.
          Bez Auto Alchemy
          573-318-8948
          http://bezautoalchemy.com


          "Don't believe every internet quote" Abe Lincoln

          Comment


          • #6
            I question the wires that you are using with a six volt system. It is hard to judge by looking at the size of the insulation.
            What are you using for head lights (standard sealed beams, halogen, or ?)?
            I think that your problem started at the connection (was probably loose), but may indicate other issues in the system.
            Gary L.
            Wappinger, NY

            SDC member since 1968
            Studebaker enthusiast much longer

            Comment


            • #7
              Years ago, Bud & I bought a 1963 Avanti that had a short in the regulator, burned the left front corner off as well as half of the firewall. Anyway, Bud instantly put a fusible link on my Avanti, so in addition to the relays, a fusible link will kill the power if there is a short.

              Jim
              "We can't all be Heroes, Some us just need to stand on the curb and clap as they go by" Will Rogers

              We will provide the curb for you to stand on and clap!


              Indy Honor Flight www.IndyHonorFlight.org

              As of Veterans Day 2017, IHF has flown 2,450 WWII, Korean, and Vietnam Veterans to Washington DC at NO charge! to see
              their Memorials!

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              • #8
                Jim, You're right, we did buy a 63 R2 Avanti with the left front of the car burned off due to a short in the voltage regulator. After seeing that mess, I started putting fusible links on all of the old cars I serviced including my own. The Avanti still survives and was sold at auction a couple of years ago after Don passed away. Bud

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by 52 Ragtop View Post
                  Years ago, Bud & I bought a 1963 Avanti that had a short in the regulator, burned the left front corner off as well as half of the firewall. Anyway, Bud instantly put a fusible link on my Avanti, so in addition to the relays, a fusible link will kill the power if there is a short.

                  Jim
                  I've done that on all of my Studes. It just feels so much safer!
                  Ron Dame
                  '63 Champ

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Hey guys!
                    Thank you all for the great information -- to fill in some blanks:
                    • Yes, 6V halogen headlights
                    • It is 6V wiring from a reputable Stude vendor
                    • Not yet had the chance to remove switch and inspect (priority has been to learn about relays and locate a specific solution)
                    This seemed to be the best option as far as kits go -- thumbs up/thumbs down?

                    I also want to say thanks for the idea for a fusible link at the regulator (safety is awesome). Not finding much in the way of putting one on my 6V +Ground set-up -- has anyone done this yet (and would be willing to provide pictures)?

                    Thanks again!
                    Jimbo
                    -James

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I have several 55 Speedsters. This was a transition year for the wiring. Some is cloth covered, however most is plastic. It should still be heavier guage than 12 volt.
                      78 Avanti RQB 2792
                      64 Avanti R1 R5408
                      63 Avanti R1 R4551
                      63 Avanti R1 R2281
                      62 GT Hawk V15949
                      56 GH 6032504
                      56 GH 6032588
                      55 Speedster 7160047
                      55 Speedster 7165279

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The current draw of a relay coil will be much smaller than what those headlights are drawing - as mentioned above, I would seriously consider wiring in a simple small relay to take the current/heat off the switch.

                        The control side of the relay gets powered via the headlight switch; the hot side of the relay is solely for the current to the lights. Lots of aftermarket 6V relays out there.
                        Last edited by NCDave51; 05-10-2021, 11:47 AM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Jimbo, as far as this kit, it looks complete and "plug and play" with everything you need. But I have not used anything from this company. You may want to search online to find comments from folks that have used it. I would not have an issue trying it as long as you don't find any negative comments online. Good find!
                          Paul
                          Winston-Salem, NC
                          Visit The Studebaker Skytop Registry website at: www.studebakerskytop.com

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The halogens draw too much for the original wiring size and switches. Either go back to standard bulbs or go with a relay (or both).
                            Gary L.
                            Wappinger, NY

                            SDC member since 1968
                            Studebaker enthusiast much longer

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Speedster#201 View Post
                              Hey guys!
                              Thank you all for the great information -- to fill in some blanks:
                              • Yes, 6V halogen headlights
                              • It is 6V wiring from a reputable Stude vendor
                              • Not yet had the chance to remove switch and inspect (priority has been to learn about relays and locate a specific solution)
                              This seemed to be the best option as far as kits go -- thumbs up/thumbs down?
                              Okay. This is one of those instances where we'll need to know what flavor of halogen headlamps you've got. Are they an H6006 sealed beam (40 watt low and 50 watt high), or ones with a replaceable bulb? Most of the latter use a 6 volt H4, with a 55 watt low beam and 60 watt high... and on a 6 volt system, that puts total headlamp draw in the ballpark of 18 amps on low and 20 amps on high. Relays are mandatory for that setup, and advisable for the sealed beam...

                              Your switch is barbecued; even if it still physically functions, any terminals or connections that have gotten hot enough to discolor the metal are compromised. Replace the switch and solder in a new section of wire for that crispy bit... keep cutting wire until you find shiny copper. The gauge of wire you have there is more than enough to trigger relays. I'm not sure on your selected relay kit... I don't see wiring gauge size listed, or amperage rating of relays- What you're going to need is dependent on what wattage your headlights are.
                              Whirling dervish of misinformation.

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