It has been said that it takes a lot of money to restore a vehicle. There is a lot of truth in that statement, but it is not the final truth. I have found that patience is money! The most obvious item I needed was the '52 grille. That grill has eleven (11) pieces to it. The park light mounts are water traps so they rust out fast and thus are hard to find. A good rear bumper is another allusive item. Few trucks were sold with bumpers so there are not many available and most of those that are are not usable.
So I decided I would look for the hard to find parts early, before I needed them. If one impatiently buys these parts the price of rebuilding a vehicle skyrockets. So when I discovered these were very expensive (on ebay, for example) I just kept my eyes open.
One day someone posted he was looking for a rear bumper, a forum member in the San Jose, CA. had one he was willing to give away because it was 'damaged', that is, it was not pristine. The seeker turned down the offer so i put my name it. Since I have an original patina finish, this bumper was ideal for me. In short I got the bumper free. I have a friend who does a lot of business in the San Jose area and he put the bumper in his pickup and I even got it home freight free.
One evening someone posted a '52 Dodge Logging truck for sale. If no one was interested he was going to torch it and sell it for scrap. I offered him $200 clams for the grille and anything else I needed from the cab. He agreed and I got my grille, the headlight buckets, dash knobs, and one windshield glass.
Now I must regress a bit, In an earlier post I showed a red hood. My garage opens to an alley and I made the mistake of leaving my upper hood out and it grew legs. I found the red one in the Lodi, CA area for $100 clams. When I got it home and removed the paint, underneath was the same color blue as my truck. So I changed grit numbers and took it off slowly. Some of the red was stubborn so I left it, "patina flame!".
Now back to the grille. It was white when I found it. I took it home and put a high pressure steam cleaner to it and underneath was RED. Now that matched the red 'flames' on the hood so I left that paint on and the red grille fit into the paint scheme.
My point is, look down the road shop ahead of your need and you may well find those hard to find parts at a reasonable price and thereby significantly lower your resto investment.
I bought a '56 Plymouth engine in Fresno, a 90 mile round trip. WIth the 3:73 differential, that 800# engine did not slow down the old truck one iota on the return ride home it ran very smooth at 65 mph. Stopped for a taco at a roadside 'kitchen'. One of the best taco's I've eaten. The owner/cook liked the truck. Found out he was born in 1952 so same age as the truck, neat. Another one of the priceless intangibles of driving an old vehicle.
I showed our Comcast serviceman my car project. When he walked into my shop, which had become quite cluttered because I have three projects going, his first remark was "Wow,what a man cave!" When I told my wife I showed him my shop, she said to him, 'I never go out there, he cleans it periodically but it's usually cluttered again". The serviceman, a young man of mid 20's said, "a man cave is not cluttered as long as one can walk through it". Now that is a smart young man.
I'm currently working on a '54 Plymouth Suburban. He really thought that was a cool car. He had never seen a 50's two door wagon. By the way, everyone likes this car. I will keep it close to stock. I will put in a '56 Plymouth engine, overdrive tyranny, disc brakes up front, 3:73 differential, 87 T-bird bucket seats, slightly modify the dash, shave the hood, add AC, and go 12 volt wiring to name a few 'upgrades'.
With overdrive and a 3:73 rear axle it should get 22-24 mpg on the highway and cruse at 70 mph. This will then become my daily driver and replace the B3B
Aristotle's instructions for a complete exposition starts by stating that background information is prerequisite to a full understanding or a full explanation of said topic. So a brief bit of history is in order.
Some eight years ago, a friend and I were returning from scoping out a couple of lakes for potential fishing holes. On the return, via a different route we saw this truck sitting on the side of the road. We turned around out of curiosity to check it out.
It had sat in that spot for 17 years, and the lady at the door wished someone would haul it off. I offered to do so for $200. 00 and she liked that. So the following day we returned with a trailer and took it home. It then sat for another three years. Little by little I worked on it, doing simple things first because I have never worked on cars. I decided that I could remove, fix or replace, about anything so that became my mode of operation. Below is what I hauled home.
Then I found the p15-d24 forum and started to learn a few things. Greybeard was a patient, knowledgeable teacher. He became my first mentor. With his guidance I restored the engine.
I found the head and manifolds in the bed. So when I got it home, I pulled it and put ATF in the cylinders, as it seeped down I would add a little more. Finally I got it started, then I tore it apart and rebuilt the top, pistons, rings, valves, head, etc and ended up with this.
And now it looks like this.
To be continued
This was my first test run with my truck. I took my grand daughter along. She loved every minute of the ride. The park is about 50 minutes from our house. Our house is about 500 ft above sea level; Sequoia National Park is just above 6,000'. I figured if the truck could pull that hill it was good to go and it did.
At the park a visitor and his son, from Germany, came to my truck. They were all excited to see it. The son said he had seen pictures but never a real one and to see one out of a museum was even more exciting. I took their camera and took a picture of them by the truck. They were thrilled.
Will keep adding stories, stay tuned.
My 1948 Plymouth convertible was finished just enough today for a test drive. We checked the fluids and temporarily wired the radiator into place so it wouldn't hit the fan then hit the road. Drove about 5 miles. The engine runs strong! The tranny shifts smooth! Success!
Well my convertible is sitting on the side lines for a bit. A new addition has been added to our driveway. ITS A GIRL! 1960 Ford Thunderbird.
When my husband was young the carcass of a car arrived at his family home. Over the next few years he played in it with his older sister, kid stuff. Later his Dad started rebuilding the car and he was part of it. The car was finished after a few years and the family drove it. When my husband was 16 the car was sold, for unknown reasons to him at the time, teenage stuff. The sale broke his heart and he was angry. In 2002 he decided to start searching for the car. Unfortunately, with no success but has been searching ever since. One week ago today he received a call that there was a possible sighting of this beloved car in Durango! Thinking nothing of it he decided to go check it out anyway. Upon arrival he saw the car and still wasn't certain. He called me to come help check it out. The confirmation on the identity of this car was laying in the locked trunk, he said. We found he keys and unlocked the trunk. When the lid was lifted and I was sure my husband was going to his knees. To our surprise, there was an outline of a Thunderbird emblem made by his dad out of thumbtacks so many years ago. After over a decade of searching the 1960 Ford Thunderbird is back in the family, forever.
There is a lot more to the story but I don't want to bore anyone. Please ask questions if you have any ;-)
As an owner of a B1 truck with an original 4 speed crash box (aka non syncro tranny with compound low) one story you hear is you can shift without using the clutch. Having learned to double clutch to avoid the "grind them till you find them" syndrome of shifting I have to say I was always intrigued by the myth of clutchless shifting. For our owners who always lived in the world of fully synchronized transmissions, double clutching is the technique used to shift a transmissions with "straight cut gears' or no synchronizers. Internally the transmission is pretty simple and very reliable in service.
To double clutch you use the clutch normally to get rolling and when you are ready to to shift your depress and release the clutch once to take it out one gear and a second time to go into another the next gear. The process basically slows down the shift so the gear speeds match and allow them to slide into the next gear. Downshifting is similar except you have to remember to bring up the engine revs as you go into the lower gear.
But what about clutchless shifts? Well, as professional OTR drivers know it is not a myth but a useful technique to drive your truck with less wear and tear on the clutch. Success is all about getting the engine speed right and feeling the gears as you slide them in the gearbox. Again use the clutch normally to get rolling. As you near the shift point lift off the gas slightly and slide the shifter into the gate for the next gear. As the speeds match the shift will smoothly drop into the next gear with no grinding and no clutch needed! Don't be frustrated if the first few times you miss and grind the gears. With a little practice you will be able to tell with engine speed and feeling it in the shift lever when it is time to shift. Downshifting is also possible but requires a little more finesse with engine speed and shift lever. Remember since your are going down in gears you need to raise engine rpm to match the the gear when you downshift. So instead of a slight lift off on the throttle you need to give it a little bump up. Again with the gear speed and engine speed match you can fell it in the gearshift lever as it will easily slide into gear without a grind.
And what about the compound low (AKA, granny gear)? It's function is to help you get moving when you have a big load on board. A while back I had half a yard of sand loaded in the bed. When I started to pull out of the loading area in first it was immediately evident I would have to slip the clutch quite a bit to get rolling. Dropping into compound low we just pulled out like a normal start, just slower. Once we got past the the initial start up resistance from a dead stop it was easy to drive.
Have any of you mastered the art of clutchless shifts?
I like to race. The 1950 Dodge Pilot-House Truck I built for myself allows me to do that. I took a stock frame, gave it a 1985 Dodge Diplomat front-end, a 1997 Ford T-bird IRS, a 408 stroker with a 850 dbbl pumper with mechanical secondaries, a 904 tranny, and a rollcage. It's a fast old truck.When I dust it off and check the equipment...I sometimes wonder why I do it. Why does anyone like to race? And I'm not talking about those who make a living at it, or those who make money off of others. I'm talking about the guy who spends his "free time money" on going fast. There really isn't anything heroic about it. It's hard work and when things break, it gets even harder. In my case, it's not a bucket list deal, I've raced plenty. It's not pride, or a need to get back on the horse. So maybe I'm asking myself a deeper question? I have always believed it's Fear. When I get to that point whenI feel like I can't control it anymore, I get afraid. It's not a vehicle anymore, but a place to challenge my nerves and self-preservation. I respect my truck. It can kill me, and it can kill others. It is not a toy. Any vehicle has that risk attached to it. But when you put yourself in a position to "see what will happen"....it seems different.I've asked other racers why they do it, and the standard joke is, "it's a disease." But I've found lately, that the best guys to talk about speed and fear with are vetern war pilots. And that's really what I wanted to share.
I've been fortunate enough to work in an area where a lot of pilots trained during WW2, Korea and, to a lesser extent, Viet Nam. My favorite pilot is my Uncle of course. I remember speaking with him about his experience as a fighter pilot for the Air Force. He flew a F-104 Starfighter. A fighter jet capable of going Mach 2...twice the speed of sound. He told me the most fear he ever experienced was not even during a flight, but rather sitting on the runway, ready to end the world during the Cuban Missle Crisis in 1962. He had been a pilot for 2 years and was 25. He liked flying, but wasn't concerned about the speed so much as getting his job done right. We talked about a lot of things, but when we talked about racing, he said it's amazing. He didn't know how I could do it, because it looked so dangerous. I laughed and said, "I've never gone Mach 2," and he replied, "I don't know...a hi-tech jet vs. a chopped up car with roll bars..." We laughed, I got his point. He gave up his wings in 1984 "to let the younger guys handle it". He retired as a Colonel. Another pilot I spoke with was a radioman/bombadier/gunner of a TBF bomber, who fought in World War 2. If you don't know the TBF/TBM Avenger, it has 3 in the flight crew. The radioman sits on a bench in the middle with the navigation/radio equipment, and would crawl through a "tunnel" to operate the rear "stinger" gun. The turret gunner and radioman had no access to the pilot. Talking with him I said, "diving out of the sky, getting shot at, and having no chance to recover the plane if the pilot got injured?" Now that's scary. He said two things that stuck with me. First, being in the TBF was realitive to his stituation. At his hieght of 5'7, he was worried he'd either be put in a tank or a ball turret of a B-17. He was more than happy with his assignment. Second, he entered the war at sixteen....no one checked his age. In his words, "Through the whole war, I was to stupid to know I should be scared." He is a vet of the Guadalcanal Campaign, and many others. Both those guys shared kind words about my love of racing, and I thanked them for preserving the freedom that allows me to do so. The thing I learned most from my uncle is that fear is an excellent co-pilot, and should be respected. And my friend who flew in the TBM? He cherishes the long life he's had so far, and studies philosophy as a hobby, to find maybe even a little bit more to the meaning in life. What he shared with me, was his understanding of balance and perspective. Something I try and do everyday now. So why do I race? Maybe I really don't know why, and maybe I never will....but lately, I've used the question to start some really great conversations, with some really great people.
I have often said women love big dumb animals. You know, like horses, and see men pretty much the same way. In the begining, for me, trucks were like that. A tool a guy needed to move the real vehicles in this world, muscle cars. And I mean real muscle....1/4 mile muscle....straight liners and roundy rounds...cars you didn't drive on the street, but cars that tested your ability to deal with fear and become one with the machine. In 2001, I came across a 1948 Dodge truck sitting on the side of the road. It was for sale. I was surprised how much I liked it, considering how rough it was. I don't want to focus on the passing of my wife, so much as how she brought me into this wonderful world of old trucks.
I love muscle cars and the power they demand, but my wife wasn't so interested in that. She liked things a little slower. She never liked the idea of racing and looked forward to when I would stop fooling around with it. I decided to buy the truck in hopes of narrowing that gap between us. She didn't exactly see it that way, but humored me.
She passed away in 2004 of pneumonia in a matter of 3 days. The truck sat a few years after that...
I believe it was 2006 that I decided that I had bought the truck for myself, and had I been the one to pass away, she may have only kept my helmet. I was her big dumb animal, that's what she bought into. So the truck was going to be my project, with a hint of my past somewhere in there. As I dug into the truck with a surprising passion, I eventually found this website I love so much. And as I found friendship here, I also found a need to bring together those of like minds in a celebration of the old Dodge trucks. I'm so thankful for the Clements Tailgate BBQ, its one of the things I look forward to every year with great enthusiasm.
That first truck. That one on the side of the road. She slowly became a parts truck and lost much of it to a 1950 truck that would become "The Brick", the one I race at Bonneville. But as many things do, the truck found a niche, a place in my life, and my friends too. That old truck on the side of the road became the B-1-BQ.....a beautiful old parts truck, that turned into the best BBQ ever.
I've never written a blog before, but I do have the ability to share what's on my mind to those who will listen. So I guess this is the same thing, only different. To be a blogger, I can see a need to be somewhat entertaining as well as informative. In other words, make sense and don't turn it into a dang lecture about what I think is right or wrong. Yet, to do that, it might be helpful to have an artist's "eye" to create something people can enjoy, without feeling patronized. Lord knows I'm not starting my entries out with opening lines like "Dear Diary" or "You know"....I just can't put that kind of pressure on myself. I will do what I can with "the writer" I might be, "the thinker" inside us all, and the artist I actually am. I can only share how I see things.....really....that's it. I'm not an analyst, reporter, or anchorman. I am the man on the street who never got his interview. So here I am. This is my marker. I'm gonna go think of stuff, try and create an idea, then write it down.......should be fun.
This is my attempt on a run down of the work done so far on the interior.
1. The seats were reupholstered from a maroon-color vinyl to a black/grey leather-like vinyl. The back seat was out of a 1980 something blazer. Perfect fit and with new fabric looks perfect! Also notice the maroon carpet trim. I used VHT black plastic/vinyl spray paint. Saved the expense of resewing the trim :-D
2. If I would have been on top of my game I would have taken before pictures of the gauges. They were Dakota digital and green. Not a good combo for a convertible. The sun is most always on top or behind you, so it was always a guess as to how fast I was driving. I chose Autometer gauges and an aluminum dash insert. The dash was disassembled and removed. My husband and I debated on painting it with an automotive glossy black. A few months later we decided powder coating was far more durable and not too expensive. The local company we use gently sandblasted the dash, glovebox and windshield frame then powder coated. They look great and will not scratch as easily as paint!
3. The steering wheel was a task. I originally chose a Grant three-spoke wheel that the company rep said would work with my steering column (1970 Imperial with tilt and telescoping). SHE was incorrect. In my 13+ years dealing with the automotive industry I have learned that just because a girl can answer the phone or stand at the parts counter does not mean she knows her **** (pardon the language). So, the grant kit does not accommodate telescoping steering and there is no way to "rig" it to work. The husband did some research and found the Lecarra company. They made an adapter kit for my steering column and carried lovely steering wheels. I chose one that looked more retro and decided not to paint in because I'm going for a more "ratrod" look.
4. My biggest achievement was the driver's side door trim. There was not one on the door and none to be found anywhere. I contacted a few local metal workers until I found one that had experience in fabricating parts on older cars. Luckily, the passenger door had the trim and the guy said he could make one to fit the driver's side. $200 later I have NEW door trim that looks original and fits. Hazah!
Stay tuned for my next update on the exterior (we put in the engine/tranny today!)
First off, I wish I would have started this when we started on the car (how many folks have said that?!! hahaha). I am a young lady with some experience with cars. Never have I redone an older car. When my father-in-law said he wanted to give us a 1948 Plymouth Convertible that he redid in the 1980's we jumped on it. Luckily my husband is an extremely knowledgeable hobby mechanic and we have a garage full of professional tools. The car was not in perfect shape when we got it, but not rough either. Primer purple with fairly decent interior and a canary yellow engine bay. We started in February 2013 and knew the first task was to start disassembling and pull out the transmission (needed to be rebuilt). Oh, I forgot to mention it has a Mopar 360 with a 727 Torque Flight. After the engine and tranny were pulled the cleaning began. The 360 was so clean you could eat off it and received a few coats of Grabber Green to suit the car's new color scheme. Next we tried to decide about attempting a home-garage tranny rebuild. No decision was made so the trans was set on aside. I started body work on the firewall after the husband welded a few holes (neither of us have done any body work before). It turned out beautiful for an amateur job! So, I continued with the rear fenders. In between body work we had the front and back seats reupholstered and ripped out the dash to paint/rewire. Poor car had it's heart ripped out and interior stripped! Blah, blah, blah. We did a bunch of stuff and sent the tranny off to get rebuilt at very reputable local shop. 6 weeks later it came back. Now it's sitting the back of our truck waiting to be stabbed back in (hopefully this weekend **fingers crossed**). Sorry for the lack of details. I'm not much of a gabber or blogger. Please ask questions if you have any. I will do my best to answer them promptly. I am excited about this awesome car! :-)
We actually have it pretty easy when it comes to getting our projects back on the road. Even though we are working on 60 year old technology original factory documentation is readily available. Original and reproduction shop manuals, parts books, factory technical training material are available from many parts suppliers. Think about how difficult it would be if you didn't have any reference information and everything was passed by word of mouth (or the internet)!
So what should you have in your garage library? First two purchases should be a factory service manual and factory parts book for your vehicle. The factory service manual typically has wear limit specifications so you can determine when service is needed, general maintenance and tune-up specs and the the proper process for different repairs. A careful reading of the service manual before you start a repair is recommended as many times tips are provided to make the job easier or expose some less than obvious service procedure. The proper replacement of valve guides (they don't all go in the same way) or the correct process for lubing rear axle bearings comes to mind. It should be at your side when you are working on a repair.
The gold mine for me is the factory parts manual. It answers many, many questions about what is the right part, what will interchange (mopar factory part number), how does this go back together (exploded diagrams) and what options were available. When I took ownership of my first P15 their was a steel bracket in the trunk. It was about 5" long, couple holes drilled in it with some angle cuts. No idea where it came from or it's purpose. Years later when I finally discovered a factory parts manual I figured it out. It was the bracket that held the spring so the clutch rod would fully return. (bracket 6-27-6 in the illustration) It held the spring that kept the rod (6-24-1) from falling out of the lever to activate the clutch! Because the lever had fallen out many times I had ended up taking a throttle spring and wrapping it around the clutch shaft to hold the spring in place. Many of us are the victims of the actions of previous owners and the results ending up in the trunk. A parts book is like having a native guide to find the path back to way the factory originally put it together. The parts book also lists factory mopar part number. This is critical for finding parts with many vendors that stock their inventory by factory part number, not application. With a factory parts number you can use a site like PartVoice.com to search many suppliers at once for a part.
Another really helpful book is a Hollanders Interchange manual. They cover different years (I use a '40 to '56 version) and are a wealth of information you won't find anywhere else. Originally targeted for garages and junkyards they basically list what parts will interchange with other cars. Will a club coupe rear window fit a sedan? What ignitions can I swap? What are the bearing numbers I need for the front wheels? I would also add an owners manual to the list of must haves. It provides basic operation instructions, maintenance and care information for a driver unfamiliar with '40s-'50s technology.
To finish out the library I would add sales literature for my vehicle, paint chips and some third party reference info. For example, Bunns B Series book is a fantastic resource for truck owners loaded with factory pictures. For more wrench turning support a Chiltons or Motors manual provides practical "how to" information. Stockel's Auto Service and Repair is also a great reference guide.
To help you get started building out your garage library three of our site sponsors, Andy Bernbaum Auto Parts, MoParMall.com and Vintage Power Wagons have extensive in-stock inventory of factory manuals, part books, owners manuals and associated literature. Check them out now!
Now it's your turn. What have you added to this list as a must have book for your shop?
Going to start a new blog regarding my B1 project instead of posting to the WIP page on the "About" section. Just a lot faster and easier than editing html web pages!
A little history, I purchased the truck, a B1C, in early 1999 from the son of the original buyer. The truck had spent it's entire life working on a farm in the Dunbar, Nebraska area. It even came with a copy of the January, 1949 Certificate of Title! I had the truck shipped out to California and the seller had been honest about the condition so I knew I had some work ahead to get it road worthy. Carb rebuild, brake overhaul, radiator flush, tires and tune up and I was back on the road. About two weeks after putting it back into service I was coming back from a dump run and suddenly had no power to the rear axle. Tow truck home and dropped the pumpkin to get out the piece of broken axle in the third member. Probably from metal fatigue from all those years of hard work on the farm!
I drove the truck as is for about six years. It did have some bigger issues I knew I would need to address in the not to distant future. Had a crack in the water jacket but stop leak seemed to keep it under control. Smoked badly and needed an overhaul. And I was having to replace the head gasket about once a year. Around 2005 I acquired a B1D parts truck, no engine but full drive line and running gear. After investing this model a bit more I decided to "upgrade" to a 1 ton, with the optional dual 20" rear wheels and a rebuild 230. This model is listed in the factory brochure as a D-116 Code 75
Like all projects life sometimes gets in the way and it is still not finished. Good news is I have all the parts, either acquired or fabricated. Now I just need to get it finished and back on the road! I be posting updates as I reach a new milestones but for a starter I will post a some pics to get your interest. More to come in the months ahead!
One of the quickest ways to get a quick health check on your electrical system is watch your ammeter! It will tell you all kinds of valuable information if you know how to read it! Most modern cars now use a voltmeter to provide limited information about your electrical system. Or even worse just a warning light to let you know your alternator has failed. Because voltmeters are now the norm the skill of interpreting the information the ammeter provides is becoming a lost art. Let’s walk through a driving sequence to understand what the ammeter will reveal about your electrical system.
Entering the car your the ammeter should be reading "0", straight up. You may see a quick defection to the minus side if your have an interior light that comes on with opening the door. It's at "0" because you are not using any or generating any current (engine is not running). When you turn on the ignition you will see the needle move slightly to the minus (discharge) side indicating a discharge of a couple amps. This means your ignition system is getting power. When you hit the starter the ammeter will deflect sharply to the left (minus 20-30 amps) as the starter spins. The energy for the starter is being drawn straight from the battery. As the engine fires the ammeter will quickly move to the plus side (charging) of the gauge in the 20-30 amp range. The energy that was drawn down from the battery while starting is quickly being replaced by charging current from the generator. As you start driving the voltage regulator will manage the amount of charge needed to go back into the battery. After around five minutes of driving typically the battery will start to approaches full charge and you will see a reduction of charge rate down to 1-3 amps on the plus side. At this point the battery has fully recovered from the starter discharge and now the generator is putting out only enough current to maintain the charge. The voltage regulator manages the on-going charge rate.
While your driving night time is coming and it is getting cooler. You turn on your headlights and start up the heater fan. Immediately you see the needle momentarily jump to the minus side, then come back to 1-3 amps on the charge side as the regulator manages the generator output to meet the increased demand. As you come to a stop sign and the engine speed drops, the ammeter will move sharply to the minus side, often 15-20 amps down. You notice the lights dim and the heater motor may slow. Right now your generator is not creating enough power to offset the increased load of the headlight and heater motor and is drawing backup power from the battery. This lack of sufficient power generation can fully discharge a battery if allowed to go for a long period. The short stop at the stoplight however, is not harmful. In fact, you can always bump the manual throttle to bring the idle up enough to stop the discharge. As soon as you accelerate from the stop the generator will again start generating sufficient current to replenish the energy pulled from the battery (expect a jump to 5-10 amps charge for a short period) before settling back to a trickle charge of a couple amps while driving.
So how can you use if for some basic troubleshooting? When you first get in and step on the break pedal, the ammeter should deflect slightly to discharge as the brake lamp lights. This lets you know the battery has some charge. No deflection? Battery is probably dead or disconnected. Also when you turn on the key if you don't see a slight discharge indication your ignition is probably not connected or functional. If when turning on the key and immediate your have a full discharge (minus 35 amps) you have a dead short that needs to be repaired. Immediately turn off the key and begin trouble shooting to find the electrical short. Otherwise you risk the very real danger of a wiring fire. Might start your troubleshooting at the headlight switch as they have historically been trouble spots due to corrosion resistance in the connectors. If you are running and suddenly see a continuous discharge usually this indicates a voltage regulator issue. Try tapping the regulator case with a screwdriver handle to see if a relay is sticking and it starts charging again. On teh other hand if you see a continuous rate of high charge (> 20 amps) that never goes down you may have a battery starting to fail (it's not taking or holding a charge) or a voltage regulator failing. Either way it's time to troubleshoot the generator and regulator charging circuit.
By watching the action of your ammeter your can easily tell if your electrical system is functioning correctly. It will tell you if you have a short, your battery is full charged, how fast it is charging and how much current your are consuming while driving. Compared to a voltmeter which simply gives system voltage, ammeters allow you active monitor your electrical system.
Share what on the road lessons have you learned by paying attention to your ammeter!
Many site visitors appear to arrive with the pre-conceived opinion that some technologies because they are old, are outdated, obsolete and functionally replaced by newer technology. Case in point are two common forum topics, oil bath air cleaners and bypass oil filters. Both these technologies have been around for many decades and in fact perform better than the "newer" technologies of full flow spin-on oil filters and paper air filters. Let take a closer look at both.
I ride and wrench on dirt bikes and quads for fun. I mostly ride in the California coastal mountains, noted for dry, hot and very dusty conditions. All my machines use oil soaked foam air filters because they are more effective than paper filters. When our cars and trucks were first sold dirt roads were the norm, not the exception. Chrysler used the most cost effective solution of the day, oil bath air cleaners. They provide very effective cleaning and unrestricted air flow. They are easy and cheap to maintain. So why would you want to change to a less effective and more expensive paper air filter? Most common reason is they are a lot of maintenance and the oil spills out of the pan and into the carb. Both reasons are not very good! Back in the 40's and 50's vehicle owners drove on a lot (including the occasional oil/pcp waste oil covered) on dirt roads and you needed to maintain oil bath air filters on a regular basis. Today we just drive on pavement. I personally have seen the air filter oil go two years in service and still have clear clean oil in the filter pan. The extra maintenance argument doesn’t hold for today’s use. I have driven mopar flatheads since 1968. I have never seen a properly serviced oil bath air cleaner leak oil into the carb or on the engine. If yours puked oil over the engine then you overfilled the air cleaner oil pan. Pretty simple solution to that problem! And don't forget oil bath air cleaners do a better job of feeding your engine clean filter air than a paper filter while being cheaper to maintain. One for old tech!
Now lets move to often maligned bypass filter. This is the source of so many incorrect internet myths the conversation becomes funny. "They only filter part of your engine oil..." or "Look at how small the piping is, how can it clean all the oil" and "It take forever for all your oil to go through a bypass filter". The best myth is full flow spin on filters do a better job of filtering than bypass filters. None of the above statement are true. First a brief explanation of how a bypass filter works. Your oil system is a closed system under pressure created by the oil pump. Oil circulates through the engine in the oil gallery. You can see the galley running along the driver’s side of the engine. This pressurized oil flow provides lubrication to main, rod and cam bearing so the journals actually "float" on a thin film of oil so they don't overheat and fail. This pressurized oil system also has a safety valve in case oil pressure gets too high, the oil pressure relief valve. The bypass oil filter taps into the oil gallery and dirty oil is piped to the bypass filter under pressure. (The same pressure your see on your oil pressure gauge). It is then filtered and readied for return to the oil pan. Bypass filters actually filter much smaller particles than full flow spin-on filters. Full flow filters are plumbed to directly feed oil to the mains and they have to pass high volumes of oil or the bearing will fail. As a result they can't filter to the same degree as a bypass filter. When the clean oil exits a bypass filter it goes back to the oil pan via the pressure relief valve. The pressure relief valve acts as an oil traffic cop, that is, if the engine oil pressure is high enough the pressure relief valve opens and clean oil flows back to the oil pan. If oil pressure is low, like at idle, the valve stays shut maintaining minimum safe engine oil pressure bypassing clean oil return from the bypass filter setup. Now lets address a couple of the myths. Think about how often your engine runs with minimum oil pressure. That is the only time clean oil is not returning to the oil pan from the filter. Basically anytime above idle and your bypass filter is working. What about those skinny oil lines, they can't move much oil, right? Wrong! The oil in moving under 20-60 pounds of pressure. On my B1 I once had a cracked (not broken) oil return line. I lost over 3 quarts in about 45 seconds. Based on that measure I thing it is safe to say all engine oil is being filtered every couple minutes the engine is above idle.
Modern full flow filters for modern engines must be able to pass large volumes of oil to provide full lubrication for mains and rods, plus have a bypass when the filters are dirty and clogged. They just don't filter dirty oil as well as a bypass filter. Bypass filters are still used extensively on long haul trucks, plus their are many aftermarket kits to add a functional bypass filter setup to modern engines. Why? They do a better job of filtering then a full flow filter!
Lastly, what about those remote mount kits for using a spin-on filter instead of the stock bypass system? They basically replace the bypass filter with an easier to change spin-on filter. My question is why would you want to replace a very efficient bypass filter with a spin on that typically allows particles 3 times larger to be returned to the oil pan? Like I said, old technology doesn't always mean obsolete technology! And if your engine doesn't have a bypass filter setup we have used units for sale in the P15-D24 Store. They also show up on eBay all the time.
I'm sure you have seen the build adventures on the Fast & Loud series at the Gas Monkey garage in Texas. Their "restorations" are actually a pretty good example of how some fast and shady car guys work and take the unsuspecting for quite a restoration ride. Make it look pretty but skip the details.
Pretty much every restoration or build is quick paint job, air bags, disk brakes up front, new seat covers and maybe a new front end. When you see the prices they are asking and wonder what happened to the detail stuff like brake lines, wiring, dash and chrome restoration or engine rebuild, it's no wonder they often lose their shirts at auction. A detailed pre-auction inspection should leave any potential buyer wondering why the job is half done at a full boat asking price. I pity the poor fool who buys one of these one week wonders and I'm amazed they doesn't go up in flames on the drive home.
And don't start with "You just don't like modded rides". Yeah, I'm old school, that is, if your going to do a job then do it right. If you do the job right the quality of the build is clearly evident. These cable show "builds" are just how fast can they turn them. WIthout the attention to detail for safety (or aesthetics) the objective is just find a buyer who doesn't know better. The problem is the growing proliferation of these programs (Desert Kings, Texas Cars Wars, et al.) is people actually accept this as the way the job should be done! Just reminds me of all the classic tricks used car salesmen use to use to move a lemon off the lot!
Your thoughts and comments?
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