Bob's Studebaker Resource Website Six Volt Studebaker
Bob's Studebaker Resource Website
Six Volt Studebaker
Here it is, just over 7 years to the day the car was delivered and I thought this was a good time to write this....
If you have heartburn with your six volt car starting, keep reading...
Bought the 1955 President State Sedan in 2002. Original car with 52k miles, Automatic Drive. The anti-creep even worked. 6 volt, positive ground.
My story.<...br> From the beginning, not being that familiar with the virtues of a six volt system caused me to constantly attempt to upgrade things to assure the best possible performance. I based the starting system performance on what it was like when I received the car. Since everything else was in such pristine condition for it's age, I presumed that the starting system was in great condition. Even though it only cranked about 2-3 revs every 5 seconds, I though that was optimum. It got worse from there and I treated everything I could possibly think of. Even the ground situation was attended to, but it wasn't until that magic moment, when the problem was unknowingly solved, that it was realized the system had been compromised much earlier.
So, the car was purchased to make a long, cross-country trip, with our Chapter of SDC. To prep the car for the journey, everything I could think of was renovated. New radiator, exhaust system, battery, valve job, brakes, belts, water pump, suspension, dual master cylinder, rebuilt hydrovac, new radial tires, 6 volt alternator, new 4 barrel carb, (new horsehair carpets), etc. I even talked the techies at Pertronix to develop a module for the system and it took about 6 months, but I got maybe the third one they sold and it's worked like a million bucks since.
Over the years the cranking issue was tolerated, but once the car started, it ran very well and drove very nice. What was there to complain about? Others gave me advice about installing an 8 volt battery or retro fitting to 12 volts, etc. The issue was bypassed, that is, until it started to spoil the trips. The performance slowly deteriorated to the point that, a hot start was taken on with a hope and a prayer, that we wouldn't spoil the tour for the others. I installed an electric fuel pump thinking the carb was boiling dry and to alleviate the prolonged, antagonistic slow cranking.....but once it caught, we were back on the road all smiles again. (and forgotten about again).
It was in 2007, during a tour on the Eastern Shore, that the first real trouble caused me to change plugs, thinking they were worn to the point of failure. That trip was late in the year, so the car was sidelined after that and covered up in the driveway. In January 2008, I pulled the car in and took everything apart. Replaced the ignition switch, starter relay, the battery, completely renovated the starter with a new armature, brushes, springs, bearing, etc. The heavy wiring was replaced with heavier yet. Using #0000 welder cable from the starter to the relay and from the bell housing to the (+) post as a ground. The starter relay received an extra ground from the base mount, at the inner fender, to the (+) on the battery as a redundancy. All connections were sanded and treated with electrolytic grease. The result was a better starting engine, but not much better than it was from the beginning. But it was back!....or so I thought. It was taken on 2-3 trips in 2008 and sort of settled back to a strained crank around the end of the season. At the end of 2008, my Hawk was launched and the Pres stayed covered in the driveway.
The only times I started the Pres in 2009, was in the early spring to get it out of hibernation, but it reverted back to the poor groaning crank of the previous period. I charged the battery many times, but that wasn't the problem. I was thinking about the field coils being bad and was ready to take the starter to a rebuilder in Manassas. That would have to wait until the weather was good enough for the GT Hawk to be kept in the driveway, so a month or two.
June and the weather is getting better. This year there's been a lot of rain on the East Coast, so the yard and house didn't get their usual pointing up, until all this passed.
In the meantime, I fabricated a new, larger gauge 'helper' ground for the solenoid. There was a some braided 1/2" cable with a rubber sheath in my stash and this was perfect. Two #4 copper lugs from Lowes and they were soldered on. Next, a heavier yet, ground cable from the 1st exhaust manifold bolt to the inner fender below the battery. This was made by doubling the sheathed strapping and using two #2 gauge copper lugs, soldered on.
When the battery was charged, I tried the starter again and what a surprise. It cranked more vigorously than ever before and started withing 3 turns of the engine. So the answer all the time was the correct and proper grounding of everything.
My solution was the following grounding scheme;
This lesson only took 7 years to learn...