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53 Commander - intermittent gauges

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  • Electrical: 53 Commander - intermittent gauges

    I had the ‘53 out last night and another weird electrical problem showed up.

    Both the temp gauge and gas gauge stopped working at the same time. They went off and back on a few times and finally came back on and stayed on for the rest of the 30 mile drive.

    Electrical circuits aren’t my strong point but I’m assuming that both of these gauges either receive power from the same place, or they share a common ground.

    Any ideas of what I should check?

    I did install a rear sway bar just before this happened, but I’m pretty sure that’s unrelated.


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  • #2
    "Any ideas of what I should check?

    I did install a rear sway bar just before this happened..."
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The enormity of electrical problems I've seen on this venue since joining leads me to believe that the ONE decision which had to come from the highest levels at Studebaker (at least in the later years) was to NOT waste any money on anything having to do with electrical design, as Studebaker's self-perceived impression of its over-riding technical excellence lay in the mechanical, rather than any other area (electrical engineering and design--really was the "high tech" of that day, just as today--but not in Studebaker's perception).
    This same type sentiment is rampant today, also in today's "high tech" society as a whole: why else do you think you get extremely sophisticated devices with no manuals or schematics, and which can't be repaired because they are glued together and/or the manufacturer will not legally LET you repair them; and software which can only--charitably--be described as "crap"?

    Given what I've seen here since joining, I'd have to say--and ONLY mildly facetiously, mind you--that your electrical problems are just as likely to be due to the installation of that sway bar as to anything else.

    Studebaker's extremely inordinate dedication to aeshetics and mechanical excellence (the sole exception being the total, complete lack of any attention to rust-prevention. "Out of sight; out of mind" Studebaker?) to the exclusion and the ignoring of the importance of anything else reminds me of the story of the Italian designer of absolutely outstanding, excellent race cars, but who was raked over the coals because his cars had thoroughly miserable braking capability--almost to the point have having none. His response to all the totally-universal criticism?---

    "I make cars to GO; not to STOP!"
    --------------------------------------------------------------------
    ["...Electrical circuits aren’t my strong point..."
    Studebaker's either.]
    Last edited by jcharlestc; 11-27-2022, 09:28 AM.

    Comment


    • #3
      Ooh, totally separate gauge housings; weird.
      Nonetheless, and especially on a 6V car, I always chase grounding issues first.

      Comment


      • #4
        Matt, try jiggling your ignition key. It might have internal contact issues. Of course your other accessories would be equally affected.

        Comment


        • #5
          Issues that cause on and off reactions and then seem to resolve themselves are almost always related to the ground connections. All the plastic in dashboards require a secure and clean ground point. Should be an easy fix.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by E. Davis View Post
            Issues that cause on and off reactions and then seem to resolve themselves are almost always related to the ground connections. All the plastic in dashboards require a secure and clean ground point. Should be an easy fix.
            What plastic?

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by jcharlestc View Post
              "Any ideas of what I should check?

              I did install a rear sway bar just before this happened..."
              ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

              The enormity of electrical problems I've seen on this venue since joining leads me to believe that the ONE decision which had to come from the highest levels at Studebaker (at least in the later years) was to NOT waste any money on anything having to do with electrical design, as Studebaker's self-perceived impression of its over-riding technical excellence lay in the mechanical, rather than any other area (electrical engineering and design--really was the "high tech" of that day, just as today--but not in Studebaker's perception).
              This same type sentiment is rampant today, also in today's "high tech" society as a whole: why else do you think you get extremely sophisticated devices with no manuals or schematics, and which can't be repaired because they are glued together and/or the manufacturer will not legally LET you repair them; and software which can only--charitably--be described as "crap"?

              Given what I've seen here since joining, I'd have to say--and ONLY mildly facetiously, mind you--that your electrical problems are just as likely to be due to the installation of that sway bar as to anything else.

              Studebaker's extremely inordinate dedication to aeshetics and mechanical excellence (the sole exception being the total, complete lack of any attention to rust-prevention. "Out of sight; out of mind" Studebaker?) to the exclusion and the ignoring of the importance of anything else reminds me of the story of the Italian designer of absolutely outstanding, excellent race cars, but who was raked over the coals because his cars had thoroughly miserable braking capability--almost to the point have having none. His response to all the totally-universal criticism?---

              "I make cars to GO; not to STOP!"
              --------------------------------------------------------------------
              ["...Electrical circuits aren’t my strong point..."
              Studebaker's either.]
              You lost me completely. What does this have to do with solving an electrical problem?

              If you don’t like Studebakers, this site might be the wrong place for ya.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Son O Lark View Post
                Matt, try jiggling your ignition key. It might have internal contact issues. Of course your other accessories would be equally affected.
                If it were the ignition switch, wouldn’t the engine stop running too?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by mbstude View Post

                  If it were the ignition switch, wouldn’t the engine stop running too?
                  Matt,

                  I am kinda with Barry on this. As a key wears ever so slightly, the internals can be affected. This has happened over 50 years(am I that old?) of not only Studebakers but others as well. As I recall, in the late 80''s early 90's GM issued a recall as the switches would fail due to the number of keys weighing on the switch.

                  Try this next time: when you see it, touch the end of the key in the ignition and see if that fixes it. If that does fix it, maybe you can get a NOS switch so you can cross that off the list.
                  As I recall, the yale switches 47-54 that were worn you could turn the switch without a key but just a thin metal in the key slot.

                  Bob Miles
                  Keep driving your Studebaker (everyone)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Matt, your temp and gas gauges are on opposite ends of your dashboard gauge cluster. The common denominator is the power source for those two gauges. If all connections are clean and tight, trace it back to your switch. IIRC, the ignition power has it's own source off of your switch.👍
                    Last edited by Son O Lark; 11-27-2022, 12:44 PM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      If the wiring on a 53 is similar to 55, then the acc terminal on the ignition switch powers 4 items.
                      1 gas gage
                      2 fuel gage
                      3 OD relay
                      4 WWiper switch

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                      Connection at switch
                      or
                      contacts within switch
                      or
                      sumpthin else
                      Last edited by Craig; 11-27-2022, 01:13 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thanks for the explanation guys.. That’s why I posed the question.

                        Craig, the switch wiring is slightly different than your ‘55. The ‘53 has a 2 position switch with a starter button under the clutch pedal. Your ‘55 has a 3 position switch. But I don’t know if that makes a difference as far as what’s tied into the ACC post, and I’m not near a shop manual right now to look at the wiring diagram.

                        The ignition switch was NOS when the car was restored and it doesn’t feel worn, the car doesn’t have a lot of miles on it. But we do have NOS Hurd ignition switches in stock so replacing it wouldn’t be a big deal either way.

                        When the gauges went dead, the overdrive was still functional. If the overdrive relay is tied into the same terminal on the ignition switch, wouldn’t that rule out the switch? (Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong).

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Just checked and the fuel and temp are both powered off the accessory terminal of the ignition switch. I'd get up behind the dash with a 3/8 nutdriver first and make sure the nuts were tight on the back of the ign switch. There are a raft of things powered off that terminal and I've frequently seen multiple layers of connectors there separated by nuts--one of which could be loose.

                          Oh, and for what it worth, I don't see a scintilla of difference between the way Studebaker, Nash, Hudson, Packard or Mopar wired up their cars in that era. Pretty much no one had fuse blocks and critical items like lights and wipers, if electric, were protected with circuit breakers. Everything that was an accessory had an inline fuse. And it worked just fine with the exception of protecting bizarre expectations. My 50 Champion has exceeded its normal service life by a factor of seven and all of the original electrical system is present and functioning except for the bits the mice ate.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Ross, thanks for the confirmation.

                            I’ll have to drop the AC evaporator out of the way before I can access the ignition switch. I’ll report back when I have a chance to dig into it.

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                            • #15
                              Where is your Climatizer temp pull?
                              I see the OD pull.
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                              Maybe this causes gage intermittent?

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