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Convert to 12 volt system

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  • Convert to 12 volt system

    I want to convert my 1955 Champion to 12 volt system. What is the best approach? Will new wiring be needed?

  • #2
    Have you tried the search function? Many, many discussions on 12V conversions.

    Short answer; wiring no, all lights, yes, fuel gauge, yes.

    Since you said, "want to" there is no argument. If you'd said, "need to" or "have to" then we'd be having another discussion. I drove a '55 with 6V for thirty years with no problems.

    jack vines


    • #3
      If your wiring is in good shape it is fine as is to use. 6 volt wiring is larger diameter than 12 volt so is more than capable of handling 12 volts.
      Frank van Doorn
      Omaha, Ne.
      1962 GT Hawk 289 4 speed
      1941 Champion streetrod, R-2 Powered, GM 200-4R trans.
      1952 V-8 232 Commander State "Starliner" hardtop OD


      • #4
        Thanks PackardV8, I will convert over to 12 volt, redoing my engine and it will have a higher compression and I want more starting power as well as seeing better at night. Good suggestion on searching and see what other people have to say.


        • #5
          Thanks 41 Frank, I really did not want to replace all the wiring.


          • #6
            Make a point of keeping your starter and flywheel gear ring. The 6 volt starter won't be harmed by 12 volts and it will really spin the motor. If you go to a 12 volt starter you will have to change the gear ring on the flywheel, they are different.


            • #7
              this may help with the bulbs


              you'll need a Runtz for each of the fuel gauge and temp gauge, reverse the wiring on ammeter (6V stuff is +ive ground, 12V is -ive ground)

              you will also likely want to change the wiper motor and the two blower motors (1956-? motors are a bolt in)

              I don't know any good way to make your stock radio work

              good luck

              55 Commander Starlight


              • #8
                I used a 55 Harness and converted my 53 to 12V. First off, be sure you don't have cloth covered wiring.
                I have heard some 55's do. However I have never seen one. If you have cloth covered wires, REWIRE.
                Are you using a generator or alternator? You have to change the starter switch, and the polarity changes.
                I used a generator on my car. You can simply use your wiring and use a 56 wiring diagram to change the
                necessary wires, such as the amp meter. Of course you already know the bulb and accessory thing.
                The amp meter will work and the oil pressure guage is mechanial. The temp and the fuel will have to be
                reduced or changed. It's a piece of cake.


                • #9
                  Tom B, N8N and Tom B thanks to everyone. This is the type info I was looking for. Any other helpful hints will be welcomed.


                  • #10
                    If you have 63-up lark type gauge cluster, you can use those gauges to change over quite easily. Disassemble the lark cluster and transfer the individual gauges to the 55.
                    I have done this on a 54 champion, and a 53 commander.
                    Bez Auto Alchemy

                    "Don't believe every internet quote" Abe Lincoln


                    • #11
                      I am in the process of restoring (resto rod) my 55 Speedster and converting to 12V. I am keeping the original 259 engine but installing a 700R4, Ford starter, Vintage heat, air & defrost, EZ wire harness and 10 SI alternator. I converted the original AM radio to 12V but it will it will not fit behind the dash because of the evaporator so I am installing an aftermarket stereo. The original gauges were round SW so I will use new 12V round gauges, I replaced the ammeter with a voltmeter. I used the original switches but dissassembled and cleaned them. Brakes are original, hydrovac and anti-creep removed but dual MC installed. My point is that when I removed the original 56year old wire harness I discovered how bad it really was, frayed harnesses, bare wires, brittle terminals ect. I highly recommend a complete new harness, guage conversion in your champion is a different problem.

                      34 Studebaker Street Rod (completed)
                      55 Speedster (in work)
                      63 Lark R2 (completed, 63K miles)
                      64 Daytona CNV (completed, 63K miles)
                      64 Avanti R2 (completed)
                      85 Avanti(blackout trim, 10K miles)
                      89 Avanti CNV (19K miles)


                      • #12
                        Randy Rundle has been a friend of Studebakers for many years. He has written a complete guide to the 12-volt conversion and supplies the Runtz reducers.
                        Check out his web site.
                        "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


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by rockne10 View Post
                          Randy Rundle has been a friend of Studebakers for many years. He has written a complete guide to the 12-volt conversion and supplies the Runtz reducers.
                          Check out his web site.
                          I have this guide and it's jammed packed with everything you need to know, I recommend it.


                          • #14
                            I also recommend Randy Rundle. I converted a 50 Champion. Randy was always there to answer questions. Good Guy.



                            • #15
                              bezhawk, thanks for suggesting Lark guages, this gives me another option
                              Jackson, I have considered an entire rewire with the EZ Wire kit for I have done it twice with earlier projects. I will decide after I check out the condition of my present wires.
                              rockne10 and 53 commander I will contact Randy Rundle if I need the Runtz reducers or further info.
                              Thanks to everyone who responded to my question.