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Where is it?

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  • Electrical: Where is it?

    Hey all! I was driving my '63 lark about a month ago after dark. we went out for ice cream and a cruise. As we returned home after about an hour of driving, we stopped to talk to our neibor. Suddenly all the lights went out, including the dash lights. Since I havn't owned this car for very long, this was the fist time I have driven it at night. I think that it has had this problem before, because it has a new headlight switch. Could it be a weak circuit breaker? I bought one from the local NAPA store, for around seven bucks but I haven't got a clue as to where it's located. Any and all help welcome to solve the problem. Thanks, Brian

  • #2
    I will kinda take a swing at this. My experience is more with Hawks so here goes. On a Hawk light switch, the circuit breaker is on the side of the light switch. I had the headlights fail on my 61 Hawk going up to Ruidoso New Mexico in the dark. I was like 18 or 19, and I thought I would not see my next birthday. It turns out that water dripping from the windshield wiper shaft fell on the circuit breaker, and rusted out a washer on the circuit breaker. Long story short, high resistance anywhere can cause the whole system to go down. So when you said that you got a circuit breaker from NAPA, are you sure that you don't have double circuit breakers? A or 2 bad grounds could be part of the problem. Also, people have changed headlights on Studebakers to ones that draw a lot more amperage. This has been known to cause problems, also.

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    • #3
      I haved had that same experience with most of the Hawks I've owned, including the 56J in high school in the late 1960s. Back then I had no clue, so learned to be careful driving at night, as I never knew when it would happen. Knowing it would probably do it again took some of the scare out of it though (you gotta remember I was 16-17 years old).
      I also experienced it in a 1962 GT during the late 1980s, zipping thru the mountains on I-15 up around the Nevada & Utah borders. Instant darkness at 70-75 MPH, on a curvy road in the middle of nowhere is not a good thing.
      I have fixed it each time by replacing the stock 18-20 amp CB with a 30 amp. Only takes a few minutes, and is cheap insurance on any "new" Stude acquired.
      I have also read articles how to rebuild the OEM circuit breakers, replace wiring harnesses, etc, but the 30 amp cb has always done it for me.
      ALso, to get you home, keep the lights on dim. Usually when the CB first begins to fai it will be with the high beams on.
      Joe

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      • #4
        Hi Brian,

        On the '63, there are two breakers, one for the headlights and one for the heater. If you are laying in the footwell looking up at the underside of the dash (as I usually am!) you will see the fuse and flasher panel bolted to the dash frame just to the right of the steering column. Use a flashlight and you will find the breaker in a little sheet-metal holder, clipped to the dash frame very near to the door post. The leads are just push-on connectors - pull them off, slide the old breaker out of the clip, slide the new one in and replace the leads.

        The procedure for the heater breaker is similar, except it's on the other side of the steering column.

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

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        • #5
          This topic is addressed by Service Letter J-1963-13 "Light Switch Circuit Breaker - 1963 Lark and Cruiser Models" Some cars had 15 amp. breakers installed when they should have been 20 amp. I have also found than 20 amp. breakers can get "weak" over time and replacing them with a new 20 amp. breaker cures the problem. I would advise staying with a 20 amp. breaker.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by brian6373 View Post
            Hey all! I was driving my '63 lark about a month ago after dark. we went out for ice cream and a cruise. As we returned home after about an hour of driving, we stopped to talk to our neibor. Suddenly all the lights went out, including the dash lights. Since I havn't owned this car for very long, this was the fist time I have driven it at night. I think that it has had this problem before, because it has a new headlight switch. Could it be a weak circuit breaker? I bought one from the local NAPA store, for around seven bucks but I haven't got a clue as to where it's located. Any and all help welcome to solve the problem. Thanks, Brian
            Circuit breakers can get weak or fail, but far and away the best solution is to install a headlight relay system, especially if you are using halogen elements. There is just too much juice flowing through your headlight switch. Probably just about anyone who has driven a four-headlight Studebaker at night has experienced the thrill of sudden darkness (ask Joe Wherry about driving at night on a winding West Virginia highway going over a steep mountain his '64 Daytona convertible).
            Paul Johnson, Wild and Wonderful West Virginia.
            '64 Daytona Wagonaire, '64 Avanti R-1, Museum R-4 engine, '72 Gravely Model 430 with Onan engine

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            • #7
              Thanks all for the help! I've had to replace the ignition switch and the inst. cluster(a different issue/story) and I wasn't looking forward to another safari up behind the dash. I found the breaker for the windshield wiper and with the color wiring diagram determined that it had nothing to do with the headlights. Come to think of it, I did have the high beams on when this happened. I really like the idea of putting in a couple of relays for the headlight circuits. I'm pretty sure I can find an out of the way and hard to get to place to mount them so they'll look stock! lol. Anyway, thanks again for the help, I knew I could count on fellow Studebaker people to help me out of a jam! Brian

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              • #8
                If you're going to do relays, start here:

                http://www.danielsternlighting.com/t...ys/relays.html

                Guy knows his stuff!

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

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                • #9
                  Thanks for the link, I printed it off so I could refer to it when I do the job. I replaced the breaker yesterday, and it was located about where you said it would be. The holder was clipped to a seam back under the insturment cluster. I might have eventually found it with an inspection mirror, but I just reached up in there and felt around, and there it was! I found a 30 amp. duel relay on ebay that is NOS., made of metal. Kinda looks like a voltage regulator with glass fuses for each circuit. I don't know what the original application for this unit was, but it looks very "in period" for this car. I'll post some pictures when I get it installed.
                  Thanks again! brian

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                  • #10
                    Hi all! Well, i'm going to install the relay in the headlight circuit tomorrow, I was planning on using 12 ga. wire from the relay to the headlights to minimize the voltage drop and allow for better current flow. Anyone out there know what it takes to remove the wires and install the heavyer wire in the headlight recepticle? Would it be better to get new recepticles rather than fight to get the old wire out?

                    Thanks, Brian

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                    • #11
                      I'd use new receptacles if you're going to do this, but I don't think it's really needed. Just installing the relay circuit will be a tremendous improvement of several magnitudes. The short bit to the lamps themselves will not impede the flow of electricity! I would, however, order new headlamp wiring harnesses from SI. Your old ones are probably pretty crusty by now (I know mine were).

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

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                      • #12
                        Hi everyone, I just got finished with everything except for installing the headlight assy. here's what I did. I first removed the headlight bulbs and buckets to see what the recepticals looked like. Studebaker used 14 ga. wire from the receptical to the plug, so no need to replace that. However the ground wire they used is 18 ga. I cut off the old ground wires at the pin on the receptical and soldered in 14 gage and ran the wire out the back of the bucket. I decided that the relay would work mounting it to the right inner fender. I cut and removed the old tape from the wireing harness and added a 12 ga. wire from the batt. side of the starter solinoid to the relay. I also spliced the 16 ga. headlight wires (Black & Red) to legnthen them to reach the switch side of the relay. I cut off the headlight plugs and spliced them to the new 14 ga. wires coming from the relay. Taped it all up, and it looks like new. I was very lucky that all the wires in the harness looked new. Maybe a former owner already replaced the harness. I'll post some pics in the next day or so. I was thinking of adding a ground strap between the frame and the body @ the right front body mount, think that will help?

                        I'm sorry, but I don't know how to post pics. I'm not the best with computers!
                        Last edited by brian6373; 09-01-2011, 10:31 PM.

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                        • #13
                          You might also think about replacing the high beam switch. I had one short out the head lights on the free way in downtown LA in my 57 Golden Hawk one time.

                          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!


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                          • #14
                            Is this a problem on 6 volt?---Jim Ayling recent owner(55 Commander)trying to learn about my car.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by 52 Ragtop View Post
                              You might also think about replacing the high beam switch. I had one short out the head lights on the free way in downtown LA in my 57 Golden Hawk one time.

                              Jim
                              But do not buy the Chinese replacement parts from yer FLAPS - get the real ones from a StudeVendor. The overseas knockoffs have the screw mount bosses in the wrong location to fit the car floor. (I learned the hard way.)

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

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