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Old 09-27-2010, 05:27 PM   #1
Big Kevin
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Default Battery drain and starting questions.

Hi there. Lately I've been having trouble getting stranded at my destinations . See, I think that my battery is getting drained from somewhere, or maybe it's something all together different, and I'm looking for some help or direction. Here's what I have:
-1930 Model A coupe
-Kind of stock 6 volt system. Includes FSI distributor.
-New battery, positive ground.
-Newly rebuilt generator with only about 20 miles on it.
-Good new wire throughout.
-Fresh re-built starter about 100 miles ago.
Here's what's happening:
-Charge battery up overnight and sometimes longer...drive to work (6 miles), ammeter shows good charge all the way there. After work, get in car and no start. Put battery charger on there and it shows fully charged, but no start. Switch charger to "start", wait ten minutes, and she fires right up. Seems very weird to me, and maybe for starters I have a bad battery charger?
Are there charging/starting issues that are fairly common amongst 1930 A's?
I've checked all of the grounds and all seem solid. Any thoughts or leads? Thanks so much for the time here.
Kevin
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Old 09-27-2010, 05:39 PM   #2
BRENT in 10-uh-C
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Default Re: Battery drain and starting questions.

Kevin, thinking about this, if it starts fine (spins over properly) in the morning, THAT eliminates the idea that the starter is faulty. I would disconnect the battery after arriving to work to see if there is a electrical drain such as a bad cut-out. That may help you isolate the culprit.

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Old 09-27-2010, 05:43 PM   #3
Dennis L Oberer
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Default Re: Battery drain and starting questions.

Try this: When it doesnt want to start...put a voltmeter on the battery and check it.

After you are sure the battery is charged....disconnect the battery and see if there is ANY spark at the terminal as you touch the negative cable to the post (with the positive post still connected).

ANY spark means something is "on" that is draining down the battery.

Usual culprit is the brake light switch...so do the test above in the garage at night and then also turn off the garage lights and see if you can see if the brake light is still "on" even though you are out of the car.

A sticky/interfered with brake pedal is a common occurance on the A...floor mats, felts, floor boards...all can contribute to a brake pedal not returning all the way.

So will brake rod anti rattle springs or weak brake shoe springs.

Just some thoughts you may want to try.


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Old 09-27-2010, 05:43 PM   #4
Gary WA
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Default Re: Battery drain and starting questions.

Also if you remove one of the battery connections and touch the terminal and it sparks you have a short some where! Start looking!Good Luck..! as stated above slow typist!
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Old 09-27-2010, 06:35 PM   #5
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Default Re: Battery drain and starting questions.

If you use a volt meter as mentioned above and get a good reading of 6 + volts, then double check your ground cable on your battery. Just yesterday I tried to start and nothing! Messed with the ground cable on the battery, and it took right off. I thought I had made that cable as tight as I could when I installed it but that was the problem. Maybe when you go to work it works loose and when you put on the charger, it made contact again. Just a thought.
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Old 09-27-2010, 06:50 PM   #6
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Default Re: Battery drain and starting questions.

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Besides cleaning the battery ground terminal, an equally important connection is where the ground cable attaches to the frame. It is out of sight and out of mind. This is probably the most neglected electrical connection on a Model A Ford.

Remove the floor boards and the battery. Disconnect the cable from the frame and clean all the rust, corrosion, crud, paint, and powder coating from the raised boss on the cross member until there is bare metal. Wire wheel the end of the cable and the nut and bolt. You need to do this at least every ten years.

A poor connection at the frame can cause dim headlights, difficulty in starting, and could allow the generator to run wild if the connection is bad enough.

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Old 09-29-2010, 11:12 AM   #7
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Default Re: Battery drain and starting questions.

Thanks you for the help here guys. I tried taking one of the cables off of the battery to see if I could get it to spark and it didn't, so today I'll double check all of the ground straps and change out the cut out to see if this helps. Updated coming soon!.....
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Old 09-29-2010, 11:24 AM   #8
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Default Re: Battery drain and starting questions.

Is your brake light sticking on when you park?

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Old 09-29-2010, 11:25 AM   #9
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Default Re: Battery drain and starting questions.

When the starter won't work, do the lights and horn still work OK? If so, that would seem to indicate a good battery. Is the starter switch pushing all the way in OK?
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Old 09-29-2010, 01:51 PM   #10
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Default Re: Battery drain and starting questions.

Well, the battery charger says that the battery is fully charged, yet the horn just barely honked (and only once), and the lights are super dim. Wife just got back in our truck that has the spare re-built generator with new cut out sitting on the back seat, so I'm about to put that guy on and clean the two ground straps I have. We'll see what happens here in a little while.
Oh yeah, and the brake pedal/rod is not sticking. I'm pretty anal about that once I lost the tension spring I had on there and have yet to get another one. Every time I park I pull the pedal all the way up and look at the light as I'm walking away. And it's a good A&L switch too.
The starter switch is good too. Nice clean contact in there.
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Old 09-29-2010, 02:34 PM   #11
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Default Re: Battery drain and starting questions.

Sounds to me like your battery is gone. I had similar problem. Charged the battery, checked volts-over 6 + but later it was down to 3 volts. Put in a new battery, everything is fine now.
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Old 09-29-2010, 02:45 PM   #12
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Default Re: Battery drain and starting questions.

I like your pet rooster.......things really are bigger in Texas.

I agree with Fred. Have you checked the battery with a hydrometer?

Charger the battery for 8 hours using a charger of 3 to 6 amps, then let the car set overnight without the charger on and see if it starts OK.
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Old 09-29-2010, 03:10 PM   #13
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Default Re: Battery drain and starting questions.

Well, I put the re-built generator on there (with new cut off), hooked the charger on there (set to "Start", not "Charge") for ten minutes and it started right up. Before that I checked my two ground straps and they looked great.
This battery I have on here right now is brand new and was checked before I left the store. Every time I hook my charger up to it it says that it's at full charge but doesn't get the starter going.
Anyway, I let him run for about ten minutes at idle. Ammeter shows slight charge at idle of maybe one or two and up to ten when I step on the throttle.
We'll see here in a couple of hours if anything has drained the battery and if it will start again under it's own power and not hooked up to a charger. Just a thought though fellas....there's no way that all of the sudden after all this time that I need to upgrade to a higher amp battery, right? Naw, there's no way. I think I just answered my own question. I'll let you guys know how it goes in a little while here. And if this doesn't work, Im off to the auto store to get a hydrometer! Thanks a whole bunch for you time and advice here.
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Old 09-29-2010, 04:26 PM   #14
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Default Re: Battery drain and starting questions.

My Galaxie would do something very similar, it turned out to be a battery cable issue, I would clean the cable and battery post alot, still would not start, I put a volt meter on the battery and I didnt see any voltage drop when I was cranking, Id take the cable off , put it back on try to get it tight and then it would work. The cables and battery looked really clean too, but for some reason it wouldnt get the power to the starter. I think when you hook up the charger to "start" its pumping so much juice it gets past any barrier ( corrosion ? ) between the battery cable and the battery post and it starts fine. If you dont have a volt meter I can bring one on saturday for ya. Good luck with it.
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Old 09-29-2010, 04:52 PM   #15
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Default Re: Battery drain and starting questions.

I'm also thinking it may be a battery cable issue. I've seen a couple cables where the lead end seemed to be tight on the copper cable, but yet it wasn't making a good connection. On one I pulled the cable right out of the lead terminal without too much effort.

Putting a volt meter between the connection in question will find the fault. If you put the negative volt meter lead on the center of the negative battery post, then put the meter positive lead on the other end terminal of the negative battery cable and take a reading while cranking the engine. Have the meter on the lowest volts DC scale. You should show less than one volt drop in the cable.
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Old 09-29-2010, 05:46 PM   #16
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Default Re: Battery drain and starting questions.

54 Bomb, I think that you may have something there. Tom, that's a good way to test it too and thanks for the direction.
Come to think of it, this makes a lot of sense. Especially considering that the battery is in the back jumpseat now. AND that the cable I used is 2 GA, but it was quite old. I think that I bought it in 2000 for a project and then the section that I used on this project, I remember it not being in the best of shape. I'll get some bigger stuff tomorrow and run it to see if it's better.
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Old 09-29-2010, 05:50 PM   #17
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Default Re: Battery drain and starting questions.

I've never seen a Model A with a jumpseat, but what's the battery doing in the back seat? Start by mounting it where it belongs and buy the new correct heavy shorter cables and you may have solved your mystery start problem.
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Old 09-30-2010, 08:09 AM   #18
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Default Re: Battery drain and starting questions.

The battery is in the back Rumble seat floorboard area because the brackets under the drivers floorboard are rotted away. It's worked back there fine for quite some time, I just think I need to get a proper cable run from there to the starter.
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Old 09-30-2010, 08:28 AM   #19
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Default Re: Battery drain and starting questions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Kevin View Post
The battery is in the back Rumble seat floorboard area because the brackets under the drivers floorboard are rotted away. It's worked back there fine for quite some time, I just think I need to get a proper cable run from there to the starter.
I agree, that a #2 cable from that distance is too small. I'm surprized it worked well for some time though. Maybe the connection inside the lead terminal finally gave up the ghost.
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Old 10-01-2010, 03:49 PM   #20
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Default Re: Battery drain and starting questions.

Well, that's what it was. Wimpy battery cable. I went up to the welding store and got a big old piece of 2/0 welder ground wire and put it from the neg post of the battery straight to the starter switch, and without having a charger on the battery for the last two days, it started right up. This cable is twice the diameter of the 2 GA that was on there before and I think that it'll work awesome. Thanks for the troubleshooting help here fellas. I'm really happy today!
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