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Old 03-02-2012, 01:46 AM
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54 Pickup Electrical Mess

Hey everyone,
I have a '54 Chev pickup restored frame off, 6V the works. Anyways my problem is it has a terrible time starting, some times it will fire right up, crank over extremely slowly then cease to crank at all, other times it won't even make a sound. It's not the battery as it has a full charge/new/8V. Today when I parked it I shut it off and tried to restart it and it wouldn't even groan. My next issue is that power is being drawn off of the headlight switch. I pull out the switch to turn on the lights and the truck shuts down.
I'm basically wanting others input as to the root cause before I go out replacing everything that is a possible cause and I don't have a heck of a lot of experience with this truck. I've narrowed it down to a few things.
Generator (Rebuilt)
Starter (Rebuilt)
Volt Regulator
Wire from the headlight switch grounding out

I believe it's a combination of two or more issues causing the trouble.
If anyone has any input I would love to hear it!

Cheers,

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Old 03-02-2012, 07:05 AM
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wiring

i really believe its time for a new wiring harness.. u got some goffie problems.. unless u've made some major mod's its not a biggie... get a wiring harness from pain"full" or another.. i say painfull cause they don't make a good sys for a t bucket. i helped a friend do his and it was a nitemare. but u'r tk should be fine...
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Old 03-02-2012, 07:14 AM
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chevs of the 40s as well as others sell a factory wiring harness. Not a bad price ither. it's like $200 for any 1 of there kits.. It does seems like you have some issues.. However, the voltage regulator does have somthing to do with the headlight switch IIRC. It's actually available over the parts counter for about $60. might be a good idea to replace it.
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Old 03-02-2012, 08:29 AM
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Also. If your voltage regulator is not set for 8v, than your charging it to only 6v which is under capacity and part of the problem
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Old 03-02-2012, 03:32 PM
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The battery is holding 8.3 volts.
I also pulled off the cover of the voltage reg. it seems fine, no signs of arcing or scorching as well as the contacts are all free and clean. I was told by a family friend that in some cases the cores of the regulator can pile up without showing much for visual signs.
The wiring harness is pretty much brand new, it was installed 7 years ago, but the truck has always been indoors, covered, and only a couple hundred miles on it. I have also had a few electricians fix some grounding issues in the past.

I'm considering just spending the 60 bucks on a new regulator and see how it goes. I'm also planning to get the starter rebuilt again as I'm sure it's not 100% either.

Thanks for the tips guys, anyone else have any other solutions?
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Old 03-02-2012, 04:30 PM
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What size are your battery cables? Cables designed for 12V systems will be woefully inadequate for a 6V system. The 6V system will pull a lot of current when starting. With battery cables, size does matter and the bigger the better. If you have trouble locating good ones, try a Tractor Supply Co. store, or your local welding supply shop can make them up for you with welding cable.
Do you have a good low resistance ground connection between the battery and the engine? If not, you need to provide one. Preferably directly on the starter or engine block, and another from the engine block to the frame/body.
Obviously, all your connections ideally should be clean and corrosion free. And installing a star washer between the terminal and its termination point will help to ensure a good connection.
If you have a multimeter, you can see for yourself if voltage drop is your problem (like from too small battery cables). Place one test probe of the multimeter on the hot battery terminal, and the other at the starter, or the starter solenoid. If you have practically no voltage present when you are cranking it over, then you're OK. If you get a reading of a couple of volts or more, that's how much less the starter has to energize it. The voltage loss can be significant if the cables are undersized, or deteriorated. Good luck, and let us know what you find.
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Old 03-02-2012, 10:31 PM
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Try replacing the headlight switch, NAPA should have one for your truck. The power to your ignition runs through the headlight switch in that year and the switch is probably cooked.


Wiring diagram here: http://www.54classicchevy.com/1954-c...ng-diagram.pdf
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Old 03-02-2012, 11:49 PM
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The battery cables are good, I'll head over and see if I can get a new headlight switch. I won't get a chance to work on the truck till Monday/Tuesday but I'll keep you all posted as to how things go.

Cheers,
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Old 03-03-2012, 07:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VIChev
Hey everyone,
I have a '54 Chev pickup restored frame off, 6V the works. Anyways my problem is it has a terrible time starting, some times it will fire right up, crank over extremely slowly then cease to crank at all, other times it won't even make a sound. It's not the battery as it has a full charge/new/8V. Today when I parked it I shut it off and tried to restart it and it wouldn't even groan. My next issue is that power is being drawn off of the headlight switch. I pull out the switch to turn on the lights and the truck shuts down.
I'm basically wanting others input as to the root cause before I go out replacing everything that is a possible cause and I don't have a heck of a lot of experience with this truck. I've narrowed it down to a few things.
Generator (Rebuilt)
Starter (Rebuilt)
Volt Regulator
Wire from the headlight switch grounding out

I believe it's a combination of two or more issues causing the trouble.
If anyone has any input I would love to hear it!

Cheers,
I have a '54 Chev pickup restored frame off, 6V the works.

1 Check the ground to the block, make sure you have one.

Anyways my problem is it has a terrible time starting, some times it will fire right up, crank over extremely slowly then cease to crank at all, other times it won't even make a sound.

2 is the solenoid clicking, or total dead no sounds, check for a block ground, the ignition switch and wiring


My next issue is that power is being drawn off of the headlight switch. I pull out the switch to turn on the lights and the truck shuts down.

1 Will the head lights engine off, turn on.. HI or LO beam ...NO
2 Example: If LO beam lights normal and HI beam is dim or out
3 Leave the LO beam selected, shut off lights and fire the motor, turn on the lights, motor still runs, while the motor is running select the HI beam motor could die.
4 Means a short grounded/pinched wire in that circuit.
5 Disconnect the wire on the dimmer switch that feeds the HI beam circuit... start motor, pull head switch , motor die? YES
6 dimmer switch has internal short
7 With the head lights on HI and LO side, and one looks dimmer then the other, but works. The side that is dim is suspect.

It looks to me that you have just two separate problems to solve, a total rewire IMO is more trouble then it is worth. Are they need yes if a car has had a fire or the wiring was hacked, but even a hacked harness can be repaired, easier the total rewire.


Well we know these at are good so move on.

Generator (Rebuilt)
Starter (Rebuilt)
Volt Regulator


I believe it's a combination of two or more issues causing the trouble.
If anyone has any input I would love to hear it!

### Solve ONE problem at a time, one may fix the other. I cannot think of how in this instance, but I would not think on the road that the two are related. One is a starting problem the other is a head light problem.

Good luck it does not sound like you have a major problem. This is very common when restores are done, taking a car apart is way easier then putting it back together and stuff works as it should. Body men are great mud slingers and painters but horrible mechs, and visa versa, generally speaking.
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