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55 president troubleshooting generator

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  • Electrical: 55 president troubleshooting generator

    I finally got the carb rebuilt. It runs much better now. The rear float valve was completely clogged, the accelerator needle was seized closed and everything else was very dirty. Still only idles smooth down to about 900 RPM, under that and it gets unhappy so I still have some fine tuning to do. Right now I'm trying to figure out what's going on with the Generator though. I had a good feeling it wasn't charging. Tonight I hooked up the multimeter and here's what I got. I wedged the neg lead of my multimeter in the neg terminal of the batt and the pos lead to either wire coming off the Gen and got 7+ volts. If I touched the pos lead to ground I got the 6.5 volts of the batt. The two wires from the gen lead into a module to the left of the radiator that has a third wire running in front of the rad into the harness near the batt. That third wire showed no voltage. Does this mean that module is bad? What is it? If it's bad should I try to fix it or replace it? Other thoughts?

  • #2
    Your post is a bit confusing when discussing a 1955 Studebaker. Makes me think you have more experience working on later model foreign or american cars. Not many of us discuss electrical systems in these old cars as having "Modules."

    The only thing I can think of that resembles the "Module" you are attempting to describe is either the voltage regulator, a relay, or starter solenoid. Pictures of the module would help. Did you ever get your shop manual? It should help.

    As far as the engine idling rough below 900 rpm...you could still have a small amount of "tweaking" to do on timing. If the timing is causing the ignition to fire a bit early, that could cause the rough running at lower RPM. You have a great car. Stay at it and you'll get there.
    John Clary
    Greer, SC

    SDC member since 1975

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    • #3
      That "module" is the voltage regulator. It's an electromechanical device, and it can be opened and serviced if it goes bad. Try that with modern "modules."

      When testing voltages, reference your voltage readings to ground, or you can get lost in a big hurry. Speaking of grounds, the battery should be installed with the positive terminal grounded. '55 Presidents were built with a six volt, positive ground electrical system. If you have the battery in backwards, that could be your entire problem.
      Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

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      • #4
        Thanks guys. It is setup properly pos to ground.
        Jclary I am more familiar with modern cars and I also work in engineering design and fabrication of industrial equipment. Without knowing it's purpose module was the best term I could think of. Regulator did seem likely but like I said I am unfamiliar with these old 6 volt pos ground generator systems. I would be much more comfortable diagnosing fuel injection or a large piece of equipment with advanced hardware and software. I'm starting to get the hang of it though. I do have a manual but didn't get the chance to look at it on this. I will look into it and see if I can get that regulator working.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by yoshimitsuspeed View Post
          Thanks guys. It is setup properly pos to ground.
          Jclary I am more familiar with modern cars and I also work in engineering design and fabrication of industrial equipment. Without knowing it's purpose module was the best term I could think of. Regulator did seem likely but like I said I am unfamiliar with these old 6 volt pos ground generator systems. I would be much more comfortable diagnosing fuel injection or a large piece of equipment with advanced hardware and software. I'm starting to get the hang of it though. I do have a manual but didn't get the chance to look at it on this. I will look into it and see if I can get that regulator working.
          In that regard...you are way ahead of me. Five or six years ago, I bought a book on modern automotive electronic systems. How obsolete do you suppose that book is already?
          John Clary
          Greer, SC

          SDC member since 1975

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          • #6
            Originally posted by jclary View Post
            In that regard...you are way ahead of me. Five or six years ago, I bought a book on modern automotive electronic systems. How obsolete do you suppose that book is already?
            Really most of it's going to be pretty similar. There will be small differences between years makes and models that can throw anyone off but the basic principle is the same. You have inputs that go into an ECU and it changes outputs based on those inputs. They keep adding sensors and more advanced components and making the computers bigger and smarter to improve performance and economy but when you break it down to the individual systems most of them are pretty simple.

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            • #7
              So the far left contactor on the regulator is fried

              I looked around a little and these things don't look easy to find. Any suggestions?

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              • #8
                Any of our Studebaker vendors should be able to fix you up. Or, they are almost always on eBay. Not real expensive, either.

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                • #9
                  A couple other questions.

                  This thing is spitting quite a lot of oil out the fill cap/breather.
                  If I take the cap off there is a bit of air blowing out but it doesn't seem terribly excessive but it is flinging a good bit of oil up with it. Is this common? Is there something I am missing or an easy fix or is this a sign of too much blow by? I did a compression test when I got the car and I remember being pretty impressed for it's rated compression but I don't remember the numbers and I also don't remember if I did all 8 cyls. Prolly should just to be sure. I also am pretty sure it's been rebuilt but I don't know if they tried to up the compression. I know I would have if I was in there.

                  I noticed last night the heater system had been bypassed. Living in CO and standing under the hood for a couple hours in below freezing temps made me think having heat was a pretty high priority. I hooked it back up and instantly the thermostatic temp control started leaking. I took it out and the rubber seal on the piston is toast. I might be able to fix it but it looks like more trouble than it's worth if there is an alternative. I would be fine with something purely mechanical.
                  I bypassed that for now and it looks like the rest of the system is working as well as I would expect any 56 year old system to work. The fan is a little weaker than I'd like but at least it appears to hold water. I noticed two switches though, one says defrost and that one makes the fan come on. The other one says air or something like that. Is that another fan or something? Nothing appears to happen when I switch it. I assume there is no fan on the core under the seat, that's just radiant heat right?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by whacker View Post
                    Any of our Studebaker vendors should be able to fix you up. Or, they are almost always on eBay. Not real expensive, either.
                    I looked on Ebay and didn't find any exact matches. I'll look through the vendors here. I'd love any sugestions if anyone knows where to look or who to ask.

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                    • #11
                      Where do I even find vendors?

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                      • #12
                        Where do I even find vendors?
                        Look here:
                        http://www.studebakervendors.com/

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                        • #13
                          After you install the regulator it has to be polarized. See your shop manual, "electrical system" Pg 7.
                          You have had the car running but just as a reminder it is POSITIVE ground 6 volt.
                          It's surprising how many parts are available at local parts stores. NAPA and Carquest here are great sources.
                          South Lompoc Studebaker

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                          • #14
                            Yes there is a heater motor for the under seat heater. It is located in the wheel-housing area of the passenger side. It connects to the vent door metal housings. Close the inner door and open the outside for fresh (albiet cooler) air. Close the outside door, and open the inner door for recirculated air.
                            Make sure the 4" flex hose is in good shape and well sealed from the vent door housing duct work to the motor, and from the motor to the under seat heater.
                            The switch has two posistions for two speeds, and has a resistor built into the switch. The motor is single speed (one wire) and the switch controls the speed.
                            Bez Auto Alchemy
                            573-318-8948
                            http://bezautoalchemy.com


                            "Don't believe every internet quote" Abe Lincoln

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                            • #15
                              I didn't catch this last night. Still getting used to the pos to ground.
                              The only way to get a reading from the gen is if I hook the multimeter neg lead to the neg batt terminal and the pos lead to gen or F.
                              I disconnected the wires going to the regulator just to eliminate variables with no change. Next I turned the car off and still got voltage from the neg batt terminal to the alt so I suspect something is very wrong. I also got voltage from the neg terminal to the gen housing.
                              I checked the number on the gen and it's 9205. This isn't the number in the manual but from some searching it does appear to cross reference as the right generator. It seems like it's charging as a neg to ground generator would.
                              One thing that was unusual was last night I was getting 6-8 volts out of the gen depending on RPM but tonight it was staying right around 6.2 v. This doesn't really seem here nor there though since it seems to be charging neg to ground.
                              I think I want to switch to a 12v system anyway especially if it needs attention already. Unless someone sees some fault to my logic or has any ideas for cheap easy fixes. I was hoping to take it for a cruise this weekend but it doesn't look like that's likely.

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