Pretty Simple – More out than in!

65 Mustang Coupe

65 Mustang Coupe

That’s the reason the 65 konked out the other night

Well, sometimes a problem can be there for a long time and you just don’t know it.

What Happened After a day of cruising Woodward it got to be evening so I decided to do a big loop [8 Mile Rd. to 15 Mile Road and back]. Well things were cool for the most part. i made it to 15 Mile and turned around and headed back. Now about half way back I decided it was dark enough to turn on the headlights. So I pulled the switch and on we went. Everything was cool till I got to 9 Mile and went to turn onto 9 Mile. She just quit. She wouldn’t key start so a couple of guys got me push started. Cool to have a stick some times. I got a couple of more blocks pulled the headlight switch and instantaneous shutdown. After having Faye Dean come to me and bring a jump battery I managed a few more blocks before another shutdown. So I said time for some road service. They were there and got me back home safely. It was after 11PM so I called it a night and  retired to tackle it in the morning

In The Morning – I attacked the problem early. I yanked the battery and the alternator and toted them a couple of miles over to my local Advance Auto at Shaeffer and 8 Mile to get them “blessed”. Both checked out GOOD. Excellent! Now what?! So I got a new voltage regulator and I already had a new start solenoid in stock so back to the shop.Back at the shop I went ahead and replaced the start solenoid and the voltage regulator. While I was rummaging around a checking things out I went ahead and redid the battery cables and start cables. Not really needed but you know what they say “If it ain’t broke don’t mess with it!”. Well, its broke so I took the opportunity to  freshen things up a bit.

The Diagnosis from Dr. Bob -Then it was crank it up and grab the ole’ meter and looksee at what’s going on power wise. Sitting raw the battery was 12.3 volts, good for a surface charge. Started it bumped up to 13.3 volts. Good again. Alternator is online and crankin. Now I started turning stuff on. Wipers , no biggie. Radio, no biggie. Parking lights, minor draw. Headlights, Crapola! Dropped all the way down to 12.3ish and started to slowly fall off. Revved the motor and it kicked back up to the 13.3 mark! The key to this phenomenon is that many years ago I did a halogen headlight upgrade complete with a dual relay system for better lighting. This car was originally equipt with incandescent lights. So the relays are needed to get around the headlight switch limitations to keep them from “winking out” when the switch overloads. Never had a problem before this time. And in 18 years of the Dream Cruise I have been OK. Well, not this time!

Houston! We have a problem. And it goes something like this. Sitting still and idling is not a problem. Idling with the lights on is a problem! And anyone who has been to the Woodward Dream Cruise knows that it can be one gigantic 5 mile long parking lot! And I had to deal with about 2 miles worth the other night in the darkness and that was the end of my power. So at this point what it comes down to is that while I have never done a whole lot of headlight driving but when I did it was at posted speeds NOT zero! Not a problem. Zero is a problem. 2 hours of nearly zero is a definite problem!

Everything is actually working as advertised. Which is a good thing. I didn’t really have a failure. Unfortunately I simply forced the power draw issue like never before. So there is a power flaw here and now that I have a handle on it I will be paying attention to the headlight thing for the next few days at least and in the mean time I will be looking for a reasonable alternative alternator to embed that gives me a bit more at idle.Might be a tough one.  Unfortunately with the old school externally regulated alternators they really don’t kick in till 1000-1200 rpm. This may take some looking but I will find a solution. I will also be mounting a voltmeter in an inconspicuous location to keep a better eye on things.Well, at least I will know when it gonna konk out! Stay tuned.

Just a side note. Thankfully I have only had to use this service twice in 10 or so years but I want to thank Hagerty  Insurance and their roadside assistance team for getting me out of a jam in a timely and professional manner. Two thumbs up to you! The phone response was super and the tow service provider was very aware of the needs of a classic car an treated it with the utmost of care. It was brought home safe and sound. Once again two thumbs up to them too! Actually a very good ending to a traumatic event. If you don’t have Hagerty Insurance for your classic / collectable you may want to check them out. These are car people!

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