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How To Recharge A Deeply Discharged AGM Battery (Optima)

Posted on 7/10/17 with No comments

Optima batteries are well know for their reliability and the fact that they are a sealed battery which means no risk of an acid spill. To us that own and drive antique vehicles that is very important because the battery locations in many of our vehicles are under the floor or on the firewall, which involves lifting a battery over the fender or a running board. In the installation process it would be easy to tip a battery enough during installation to spill a little acid which would almost immediately remove some paint. It was a common event in the old days. Not Good!

I have been selling Optima Batteries since their introduction. They were originally designed by Gates of belt and hose fame. There is four feet of battery plates in each one of those cells. The 6-volt Optima Batteries like their 12-volt counterpart are a thousand cranking amps. Who could ask for anything more.

So... what happens when you deeply discharge an Optima Battery. If you connect a conventional lead acid battery charger to an Optima battery with less than 10.0 volts in the battery, the battery charger will often just "click and turn off! Your first thought is the battery must be defective. However...odds are it is not! You just need to understand a key difference between an Optima battery and a conventional lead acid battery.

The great thing about AGM batteries, like the OPTIMA, is that they have very low internal resistance. That translates to the very high cranking power that we enjoy.

Most battery chargers built in the last twenty years, have a built-in safety feature that prevents the battery charger from recharging a deeply discharged battery. A traditional lead acid battery that's at 10.5 volts or less is seen by the battery charger as being defective, having either a short, a bad cell or some other defect. Because an Optima battery has low internal resistance it too is often seen as defective.

Most analog battery chargers are binary, which means they are either "on or off". If they don’t come on, it is often because the battery charger thinks the battery is “bad.” Continuing to charge a “bad” battery is dangerous we all agree. But the Optima battery may be just fine; it has simply slipped below the minimum voltage threshold of the battery charger turn on, and because of the low internal resistance of the Optima battery, the battery charger simply doesn't know what to do, so it does nothing. Ideally you would want to connect your discharged Optima battery to an AGM rated battery charger.

But...What If You Do Not Have an AGM Battery Charger

You can trick your traditional lead acid battery charger into charging the deeply discharged Optima battery. here is how you do it...

Here's what you need...

Battery charger (under 15 amps)

Jumper cables

A good battery, preferably one with a charge of 12.0 volts or above. (It can be an AGM or flooded battery- it doesn't matter.)

The seemingly dead, deeply discharged Optima battery

A volt meter


Step One - 
Using jumper cables connect the good battery and deeply discharged Optima battery in parallel – positive to positive and negative to negative. Do not have the battery charger connected to either battery while making these connections.

Step Two - 
Now, connect the good battery to the charger. Turn on the charger. The charger will "see" the voltage of the good battery (hooked up in parallel), and start providing a charge.

Step Three -
After the batteries have been recharging for about an hour, check to see if the Optima battery is slightly warm, which is good. Batteries naturally become warm during charging, but excessive heat may be an indication that there really is something wrong with the battery. Stop charging the Optima battery immediately if the battery is very hot to the touch. Also stop the process if you hear the Optima battery "gassing (making a hissing sound coming from the safety valves). 

Step Four - 
With your voltage meter, check back often to see if the Optima battery has been recharged to 10.5 volts or above. This generally takes less than two hours with a 10-amp charger. 

If it has, turn off the battery charger, and disconnect the battery charger from the "good battery" Remove the good battery and the jumper cables from the Optima battery. Now, connect only the once deeply discharged Optima battery directly to the battery charger. Turn the battery charger back on and continue until the Optima battery reaches a full charge, or until the automatic charger completes the charge process. In most cases, the Optima battery will fully recover.

This procedure is the same for either 6-volt or 12-volt applications, but remember you cannot mix battery voltages. So if you are using this procedure to recharge a 6-volt Optima battery... the battery in the middle also has to be a 6-volt.

Battery Color Identification - 
And while we are on the subject of Optima Batteries there seems to be a lot of confusion between the red top, the yellow top, and the blue top Optima batteries and what applications they are designed for. So here is a quick rundown...


Red Top Starting Battery: Use this for normal engine starting where an alternator immediately monitors the state of charge and provides current to the battery whenever it is needed. This would include most automotive applications.


Yellow Top Deep-Cycle Battery: Use this battery when electrical loads are higher than average, or when the discharge cycle is more than typical engine starting, such as vehicles without alternators.

This also includes vehicles with significant electrical loads that may exceed the average alternator output (for example, Police cars, firetrucks, ambulances. Also aftermarket audio systems, winches, snowplows, inverters, etc.


The Blue Top starting battery (dark gray case) is to be used when a dedicated starting battery is required; it should never be used for cycling duty.

The Blue Top dual purpose battery (light gray case) can be used for both starting and deep cycling; it is a true deep-cycle battery with extremely high cranking power. Suggested applications include...

Trolling motors, marine applications with heavy electrical accessories, and RVs should use a dual-purpose Blue top (which is both a starting and deep-cycle battery).

Note: The difference between Blue top and Yellow top deep-cycle batteries is that Blue top batteries have both automotive (SAE) posts and threaded studs, while Yellow tops (other than D31T) only have SAE terminals.

Tech Tip...
If you often get confused about the colored tops, just remember: If it has a dark gray case, then it’s a starting battery; if it has a light gray case, then it’s a deep-cycle (dual-purpose) battery.

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Bluetooth For Your Antique Vehicle And Daily Driver

Posted on 7/3/17 with No comments


Finally...A Simple Bluetooth Adapter That Works...

Most of us enjoy music while we are driving our antique vehicles. Many of us have downloaded music onto our smart phones or use a music app like the Sirius XM App or other music source.

All is good until you get into a vehicle that is not bluetooth capable... then what. You can't play your music thru your in dash car radio and if the cell phone rings you have to be careful where you answer it... if your city is one that requires hands free telephone communications.

If you have called Fifth Avenue and talked to me on the telephone one of the things I always remind you..."Simple is Good!"

So when I went looking for a Bluetooth adapter device here is what I wanted...

1) Simple to install and program.

2) Would work for hands free telephone calls, both receiving and sending. (that means it had to have a built in speaker) About half of the adapters I looked at, did not have a speaker built-in.

3) Required no batteries. Many of the adapters I looked at required batteries of one size or another, and many of the other ones that went into the cigarette lighter socket offered no way to recharge your cell phone. I wanted to be able to use a Bluetooth adapter AND recharge my cell phone from the same source.

4) Use my original radio controls for volume control. Once the Bluetooth adapter was turned on...I wanted to control the volume and radio setting from my in dash radio.

5) Had to be simple to switch from music to phone calls and back.


It does not get any more simple than this...

Here is what I found that works the best by far. This device plugs in your 12-volt cigarette lighter which powers the adapter. In turn the adapter has a USB port to recharge your phone so you do not loose the ability to recharge your phone while using the Bluetooth adapter.

This device has a speaker built-in so your telephone conversations will be hands-free. You can advance to the next song or go back to a previous song with the push of a button.

To answer the telephone just push the button in the center, and to hang up push the same button. When the telephone conversation is done it will automatically switch back to the music mode.

It comes with simple instructions to show you how to "pair" your smart phone. The little short cable goes into the "Aux" connection on your in dash radio. The rest simply plugs into your cigarette lighter, which makes it portable so you can use it in your daily driver during the week and in your antique vehicle, camper, boat, motorcycle on the weekends.


Aux Extension Cable is Included

In case you are doing a motorcycle installation or some other application where the aux radio input is hidden or difficult to reach, an extension cable is also included so everything reaches. You can drill a 1/4 hole as per instructions and add a permanent easy access aux input or keep things portable.

Best of all the price is right at $45.00 each plus shipping. It has a one year warranty. I have been using one of these for about six months now and they work as designed. The cell phone conversations are clear, and the radio sound is also clear and you don't have to listen to all of the commercials. These are now available in the parts section of the website. Enjoy!

Attention Honda Gold Wing Owners...

If you own a Honda Gold Wing, especially the 1800 model, you no doubt have wondered why Honda did not update the 1800 radio to Bluetooth? Well this bluetooth adapter has proven to be a simple fix. You can listen to satellite Radio, or the music down loaded on your cell phone AND you can have hands free cell phone calls. The long cable included with this adapter will easily adapt to the Honda AUX cord. You can then make a permanent easy access Aux input location and life will be good.

Best of all this Bluetooth adapter is not permanent so you can easily move it from vehicle to vehicle and lock it in you saddle bag at night for security. All of us that ride together now have Bluetooth. Life is good!
































































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Fifth Avenue Makes Donation To McPherson College Automotive Restoration Program

Posted on 6/13/17 with No comments

Curt Goodwin Accepts Training Materials from Fifth Avenue Antique Auto Parts.



Who is going to carry on our love for antique vehicles after we are gone? That question has come up a lot recently in discussions with car club members and antique parts vender's. The baby boom generation is getting older and the first of the group are not able to work on and drive their cars like they did twenty years ago. Membership in car clubs is declining as the older generation retires and there is not enough younger generation members to take their place. So... how will we carry on the tradition and share what we know with the next generation?

We all need to do our part to insure the next generation has the same opportunities as we had. Think this does not matter to you...? Think what your restored antique vehicle will be worth if the next generation has no interest in it because they did not have any involvement in its restoration or for that matter never rode in it. You pride an joy will end up on the auction block at no reserve. It is happening now.

Here is part of my solution...

Randy Rundle owner of Fifth Avenue Antique Auto Parts recently purchased and then donated all of the educational training materials he acquired from the Cowie Electric Company (established 1917) to the McPherson College Automotive Restoration Department to be used to help students gain a better understanding of the inner workings of all types of antique vehicle automotive systems.

The Cowie Electric Company served as the regional training center location for all of the major automotive manufacturers including Delco-Remy, Autolite, Rochester Carburetors, Holly Carburetors, Wico Magnetos, and dozens more aftermarket companies from 1917 up thru the 1980’s. Automotive mechanics could attend six week long classes at the Cowie Company location, taught by the factory representatives, to become “certified” by the those manufacturers.

Curt Goodwin Associate Professor of Technology said, “The department is extremely grateful for Fifth Avenue’s donation. This kind of training material is very difficult to find in any condition, and the quality of Fifth Avenue’s donation is outstanding. We can’t thank Randy enough…!”

Brian Martin Director of Auto Restoration Projects added…” To be able to teach our students using the original teaching materials they used 70 years ago is very valuable to us, …

Randy Rundle, owner of Fifth Avenue Antique Auto Parts says…” I am happy and honored to donate these teaching materials to an excellent program. I know they will be put to good use, and there is no better way for students to learn than from the original teaching materials developed by the manufacturers during the era in which the parts were originally introduced…”





A Sample Of The Training Materials Donated To McPherson College.


I had known about this training material for about a dozen years but the current owner wasn't sure what he wanted to do with the material. The classrooms and the material were stored on the second story of a building built in about 1916.  Eventually the roof began to leak and I panicked. If the leak became bad enough it would ruin everything.

The Cowie Building was once in the same neighborhood with all of the new car dealers on what was one the busiest streets in downtown Wichita Kansas. As times changed the new car dealerships moved out along the new interstate, until eventually it was only the Cowie Company left in the old automotive neighborhood.

Business slowly declined, the older generation retired and the next generation tried to just maintain the business. Eventually in the 2000's the business closed. To give you an idea how long ago this business was established...their customer number at Delco -Remy was number 33. The current owner said they had received an invoice from that company every month since May of 1917 or for more than a hundred years.

The Cowie Collection included workbooks, filmstrips, 331/3 records, 16mm movies, large flip charts, blueprints, anything that the factories ever used for training was there. Many of the movies were still in their original boxes with the EFD (remember that company) shipping label attached. It cost 90 cents to ship one of the large 16mm movies from Detroit to Wichita in the early 1940's.

Finally I convinced the current owner to put a price on all of that training materials reminding him that with a leaking roof it soon all be lost. Once I got a price I contacted the McPherson College to see if they would be interested in the material. I tried to describe the training materials over the phone which was kind of difficult. Also I don't think anyone at the college truly believed that training material that old still existed in usable condition, especially because so much of it was paper.

I got the deal done in Wichita an spent a long day carrying material down two flights of stairs. There was actually more material there than I first inventoried, as every closet, shelf, cabinet, and desk, had materials hidden away. I had a truckload when I was done, all of it in pretty good shape.

McPherson College in McPherson Kansas is the only place in the United States where you can get a four year degree in automotive restoration. During your time at McPherson you will learn everything from shaping metal to running a lathe in a machine shop to build parts that are no longer available. You also learn upholstery, wood working,  and the proper way to research what is historically accurate when restoring an antique vehicle correctly. They literally research every nut bolt and screw to be sure the proper length, thread count, pitch, and screw is accurate. Their restoration projects have won many Concours events. The students work summers under internship programs in the top automotive restoration shops across the United States including Jay Leno's Garage. Jay also provides a scholarship to the McPherson College Auto Restoration program.





                                              A Video Tour OF McPherson College

A few months later I made arrangements to deliver to the college. They were still a little hesitant at first which I understand. Some of their donations in the past have included 40 year collections of hot rod magazines that were stored in a basement or garage and had significant water damage.

I explained this material was all in really good shape...but if they did not like what I delivered they were under no obligation to accept it. Fair enough.

When they saw what I had they were like two kids in a candy store. I could tell from the expression on their faces that neither Brian or Curt expected this and it was almost too good to be true. I knew right then that I had done the right thing and I had just made a good investment in the next generation of antique vehicle owners.

LIFE IS GOOD!



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Amp Gauges vs Volt Meters...Separating Fact From Fiction

Posted on 6/7/17 with No comments


If you own an antique vehicle built before 1965 chances are it has an amp meter in the dash. One thing you need to understand is what an amp gauge is actually telling you. An amp gauge measures the actual amount of electrical current flowing into or out of the battery. The amp gauge needle will move to the (+) when the generator output is recharging the battery. The amp gauge needle will move to the (-) when current is flowing out of the battery, such as when the generator output cannot keep up with the electrical load. 

An amp meter does not (as many car owners assume) tell you if the generator charging system is working properly. While indirectly you may "assume" if current is flowing into the battery that the generator is charging and producing an output. Just keep in mind that an amp meter does not directly measure electrical output from the generator.

In other words an amp meter measures the volume of current being used from the battery, much like a water meter measures the amount of water passing a given point. Amp meters will also show you the amount of current coming into the battery to recharge the battery. Amp meters were standard on all types of vehicles beginning in the early 1900's up thru the early 1970's.  

Before alternators were invented generators provided the electrical current and most of them did not have an output at idle and low rpms. As a result current flowed into and out of the battery on a regular basis and the amp meter simply measured the amount of current and which direction is was going. 

As a vehicle owner back in the day you knew that if the amp meter show a discharge at highway speeds or even above fast idle, that the charging system needed attention because current was flowing out of the battery when the generator should be replacing it.

To give you an idea how this worked in the old days...you needed to drive you antique vehicle ten miles at highway speeds in order for the generator to have time enough to replace the current used from the battery for one start of the engine. That explains why you always see the amp gauge two thirds the way over to charge most all of the time but the battery never seems to get fully charged. The generator, especially with a lot of town driving or short trips couldn't keep the battery fully charged. It was common even up thru the 1950's to connect a car battery to a battery charger overnight at least once a week, especially if the vehicle was only driven a short distance too and from work.



Volt meters were introduced in the mid 1960's soon after alternators became common. A volt meter simply measures the voltage or electrical pressure behind the current. It does not measure the volume of current being used. As charging systems became more reliable and were able to provide a constant output at idle and low rpms, the constant flow of current into and out of the battery was all but eliminated. That is why batteries last much longer today than they did in the generator days.

For the first time a battery, became a storage battery. It stored the current used for starting the engine, then the alternator took over and provided the current to run the electrical accessories and could replace the current in the battery in a matter of minutes. As a result in was no longer necessary to measure the volume of current flowing into or out of the battery. Only a small amount of current was used from the battery for starting which was quickly replaced by the charging system.

So a volt meter measures the pressure or voltage present in the electrical system. The assumption is that if the voltage is between 13.8 and 14.2 (a 12 volt electrical system) that the battery is fully charged and the electrical system is working properly. Alternators are built using solid state components which means less mechanical parts to wear and a more accurate charging system with better and more accurate control of the voltage output. So a volt meter makes sense for modern applications.

But for the antique vehicles we drive and build I still use and recommend using an amp gauge especially with a generator charging system. I want to know how much current is being used. With mechanical gauges and non solid state electrical accessories, the electrical load in an antique vehicle can vary greatly.

So... if your antique vehicle came with an amp gauge, leave it in there. It will work fine even with an alternator. Because an alternator charges at idle and low engine rpms you will see about 10 amps charging when you first start your vehicle then the needle will fall back to about a needle's width above zero in less than 30 seconds (most applications). That tells you the alternator has already recharged the battery. An amp gauge will get less of a workout with an alternator, than it did with the original generator charging system.

When you increase the electrical load such as turning on the headlights or heater blower motor, the alternator will automatically increase the output to cover the increased electrical load. As a result, nothing will be used from the battery so the needle will stay slightly above zero.

Is An Amp Gauge Safe...?

Absolutely they are safe. The were the standard measure of automotive electrical current in all types of vehicles for the first 60 years the automobile existed! While all of the output of the generator or alternator passes thru the amp gauge on the way to recharge the battery or to deliver battery current to the electrical system, the same amount of current is also traveling around thru the rest of the wiring harness. Bare wires and missing insulation are dangerous in any wiring harness.

Are They Safe To Use With An Alternator...?

Of course. Most original antique vehicle electrical systems used in the neighborhood of 40 amp or less, even if you turned on everything at the same time.  You can add an electric fuel pump or electric radiator cooling fan and you will seldom exceed that 40 amps, because you will not have everything turned on at the same time. Even if you do... the alternator will pickup the increased electrical load so the amount of electrical current passing thru the amp gauge will not change.

Common Sense Applies...

It stands to reason that if your plan is to add a thousand watt stereo and a 150 amp alternator to run it, in your 40 Ford Coupe, that the stock amp gauge will not be large enough, especially if the battery can't keep up while you are cruising around rattling all of the windows in the neighborhood. If this is your plan you will have to upgrade the stock wiring harness, switches and a few other things as well, to accept the increased electrical load.  Just don't drive thru my neighborhood when you are done!

A 65 amp alternator is more than big enough for the average antique vehicle application. You will have plenty of current to run all of the original electrical accessories with enough reserve to power things like electric fuel pumps and electric cooling fans. (you will also not have to upgrade the original wiring harness and switches if they are in good condition) At 65 amps you have nearly twice what the stock generator put out on a good day and the alternator has the advantage of an electrical output at idle and low engine rpms, something the generator could not deliver.

Don't get suckered in by the magazine mechanics who tell you you need a 100 amp alternator for your antique vehicle. You don't have near enough accessories nor could you add enough accessories to require a 100 amp alternator. Besides a 100 amp alternator will require a significant upgrade to the wiring harness (20 percent larger diameter wire for example) to handle the extra current. You will also have to upgrade all of the switches and related hardware for the increased current load. You would be the accident looking for a place to happen.

Your goal should be to make your charging system as SIMPLE and as RELIABLE as possible. You should work on your antique vehicle only when you want to... not because you have too. Go drive it and enjoy it...that is the reason you have it in the first place.
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Changing Your Electrical System From Positive To Negative Ground...

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Changing Your Electrical System From Positive Ground To Negative Ground Is NOT  Difficult

This is a quick lesson on changing the polarity of your 6-volt antique vehicle's electrical system from positive ground to negative ground. There is enough misinformation floating around on this subject to write a dozen books. My goal here is to teach you how to get it right the first time, and know why you did what you did.

First a little history lesson. Prior to 1955 when automotive electrical systems upgraded to 12-volts  and negative ground electrical systems became the recognized standard, some automotive manufactures like Ford build their vehicles using a positive ground electrical system, while others like General Motors (and the independents who bought their electrical components from General Motors) built their vehicles using a negative ground electrical system.

Technically, there is no advantage to either one. As an electrical engineer  you were taught electrical theory that said electrical current flows from the negative to the positive. A mechanical engineer learned just the opposite, that the current flows from the positive to the negative.

In the mid 1950's when automotive electrical systems were upgraded from 6-volts to 12 volts they also made negative ground electrical systems the recognized standard. This was done in part because of the modern solid state accessories being developed. Unlike mechanical driven  electrical accessories like heater blower motors that are NOT affected by polarity, solid state accessories like radios ARE affected and will be destroyed if they are connected to the wrong polarity.

Car radios began using solid state components to replace the old tubes in the late 1950's. Alternator charging systems (built using solid state components) were introduced in the early 1960's to replace the mechanical generators. Alternators provided increased electrical output and had less mechanical parts to wear out thus were more reliable and required less maintenance.

Most solid state devices are built using what are called diodes, which are simply one way electrical valves. They let current flow in only one direction. Without getting to technical you can imagine what happens when you try and send current backwards thru a diode in the wrong direction, things don't end up well and in some cases it causes the smoke to leak out and ruin your solid state accessory (like your cell phone).

Fast forward to today...and everything is built using solid state components. This includes your modern stereo radio, you ipod, your cell phone, and your GPS are are solid state devices built for negative ground.  I have power inverters available (see the parts section of the website) that will setup 6-volt electrical system current to 12-volts so you can power your modern 12-volt accessories with your 6-volt electrical system. These power inverters are designed to work with negative ground electrical systems, now you know why!


A Power Inverter Allows You To Power 12-volt Accessories From Your 6-volt System


UNDERSTANDING HOW IT WORKS...

When you reverse the polarity of an antique vehicle electrical system all that you are doing is changing the direction the current flows, but the current will still end up at the same place as it did before...so that means your starter will not run backwards because the current from the battery still arrives at the same battery post on the starter that it did before. It is the same for your dash gauges and ignition coil. as long as you DO NOT change the wiring connections, all of those accessories will work as they always have.

So remember....DO NOT reverse to wires on the ignition coil ( an ignition coil is a step up transformer and takes battery voltage and steps it up to 35,000 volts where it is then sent to the spark plugs.) If you reverse the wires on the ignition coil you will reduce the output of the coil by 30 percent. That will appear as an engine miss at high speeds. If you are not aware of this common mistake you can replace all of the ignition tune-up parts only to still have the same engine miss at the higher rpms, that you had when you started. It should be the first thing you check.

Remember...if you do not change any wiring on the dash gauges they will work just as they always have.  Just like the ignition coil, just leave well enough alone!

Tech Tip - 
If you are converting your electrical system to 12-volts from 6-volts be sure and keep the original 6-volt senders in all of the gauges. Remember...your original 6-volt dash gauges are calibrated for 6-volts so they require a 6-volt sender. When you install a Runtz (see parts section of the website) the voltage will be reduced from 12-volts back down to 6-volts at the input of the dash gauge so you original 6-volt dash gauges and senders will work just like they did when your electrical system was still 6-volts.



Use A Runtz to make your 6-volt gauge and sender work with a 12-volt electrical system.

Using the gas gauge as an example if you install a 12-volt sender in the tank and connect it to your 6-volt dash gauge, your 6-volt dash gauge will read full all of the time. This is because the 6-volt sender works in a range of between 0 and 30 ohms while the 12-volt sender works between 30 and 90 ohms. So the top of the 6-volt scale is the bottom of the 12-volt scale.

Light bulbs are not polarity sensitive and will work on either positive ground or negative ground. You do not have to specify the polarity of your electrical system when you buy headlight bulbs or taillight bulbs for instance. Once you understand what you are doing and why... it becomes much easier to sort out the fact from the fiction.

Now you also understand why I build my 6-volt alternators as negative ground alternators. Because all modern accessories are negative ground I try to save you the social embarrassment of changing your apple iphone into a road apple because your electrical system was the wrong polarity. It can be a pretty expensive lesson.

NOTE - 
If you stick with a generator charging system you will need to get a negative ground voltage regulator and polarize it to the generator to make your generator charging system work properly. Most everyone upgrades to an alternator with the internal regulator to gain the increased output at idle and low rpms which gives you the bright headlights and the fully charged battery for easier starting. Because everything is a bolt on it makes perfect sense.

ELECTRONIC IGNITIONS - 

Keep in mind that electronic ignitions ARE solid state and ARE polarity sensitive so if you reverse the polarity you will also need to replace the ignition module inside of the distributor to the polarity as the new polarity. Original ignition points and condenser are fine as long as you do not change the polarity on the ignition coil. When you upgrade to a 12-volt electrical system you only need to change the ignition coil to a 12-volt coil. The points and condenser will be the same for both 6-volt and 12-volt.

UNDERSTANDING HOW TO DO IT...

Reversing the polarity of your positive ground electrical system is simple! All that you need to do is reverse the battery cables (negative cable from the battery is now ground... the positive cable from the battery goes to the starter) then reverse the wires on the amp gauge or in the case of Fords...straighten the loop of wire out going thru the back of the amp gauge and you are done!

Fords used an inductive style amp meter which means that as the current passes thru the wire, the magnetism created is what moves the needle in the gauge. So you want the amp wire to come in from the opposite direction to make the needle more in the correct direction. If you fail change the amp gauge wires around...nothing bad will happen, the dash gauge will just read backwards. That's all there is too it!!

Buyer Beware...
When I first learned how all of this worked back in my younger days... there was a local shop who advertised that they would do a changeover of your electrical system from positive ground to negative ground for $150.00. They would say "have your antique car at our shop no later than 8:15 am in the morning and we will try and have your car done by 4:30 in the afternoon. With that time frame, one would assume that it was a big complicated job best left to professionals.

Now you know it took them less than 15 minutes to do the job. I have written hundreds of tech articles over the years and every time I explain how to reverse polarity, I get hate mail from a few shops who say ..."Hey...whats the big idea anyway...giving away a trade secret like that...who do you think you are...?"

Who am I...? I am the guy who explains to you...how to do it yourself and how to get it right the first time and not pay some shop $150.00 for 15 minutes work. In case you are slow in math that is $600 an hour.  OUCH! We all deserve better!

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Who Pays...?

Posted on 5/23/17 with No comments

A victim of wind damage at the December 2009 Russo and Steele classic car auction.

Who pays for damage like this when you antique vehicle is consigned to a classic car auction? As you might guess it makes a difference when the damage occurs, before or after the sale and who technically owns the car, the previous owner or the new buyer, and when transfer of ownership officially takes place. Then there are the outside circumstances like the weather, the freak storm that occurred in December of 2009 at the Russo and Steele classic car auction in Scottsdale Arizona. You might be surprised at who pays...

As a review here is what happened. A massive storm that struck the Russo and Steele auction grounds Thursday caused, according to estimates, $1.5 million in damages. That includes a massive tent protecting the classics falling, scratching and denting 600 cars. This is basically the nightmare of any classic car restorer. You spend months or years rebuilding the car, days detailing it, and have it delivered to the auction grounds before the sale. All this work and the tent it's in collapses before you sell it.

The same gale terrorizing the Russo and Steele auction in Scottsdale also threatened the Barrett-Jackson auction across town . Organizers made all the spectators and car owners move into a main tent then surround it with semi trucks, according to The Arizona Republic Newspaper.

As a car appraiser I closely followed the outcome of this tragic event. The outcome was different than many expected and who ended up responsible for the damage to the cars was also interesting. As you might imagine the lawyers and the insurance companies were heavily involved and here is the outcome.

Who Pays When Your Collector Car is Damaged?

“ If the winds were unforeseeable, they would be considered an act of God, and neither the auction nor tent company would be liable for damages…

Who would have thought that the wind could blow so hard? That was the multi-million-dollar question at the Russo and Steele collector car auction held in Scottsdale Arizona in December of 2009.

 What was called the worst storm in 40 years—with estimated 80-mph winds—blew through the area on Thursday evening and destroyed two 800-foot tents at the Russo and Steele auction site. The wind lifted the tents like runaway umbrellas. The tent fabric may have caused scratches and broken mirrors, but the major damage came from the aluminum tent poles crashing into, over, and through many of the hundreds of collector cars underneath.

According to Russo and Steele President Drew Alcazar, the company was well aware that weather forecasts called for major rains, but not the gale-force winds. Crews were on-site to manage the water flow throughout the day. But when the wind picked up and the big tents started to flutter and sway, an evacuation was ordered to get people to safety. Fortunately, everyone exited the tents in time and there were no significant injuries. Aftermath photos of the damaged cars clearly show that people could have been killed.



More wind damage from the December 2009 Russo and Steel Auction in Scottsdale Arizona

Police and firemen quickly closed the site to prevent injury, barring car owners from entering to inspect or remove their cars, or take precautions to protect them from further damage. Rain, wind, and hail continued to pelt the cars that were now exposed to the elements, some with their tops down.

The site remained closed until early Saturday morning. Clean up followed at a Herculean pace, and auction staff did everything they could to protect the cars from further damage, including wrapping hundreds of them in plastic. The auction resumed on Sunday and was extended into Monday. Alcazar said that many consignors first pulled their cars from the auction, but as the auction restarted and progressed at such an encouraging pace, many re-entered their cars.

Many of them sold at pre-auction estimated sales prices, including some that were sold in damaged condition—some with, and some without the caveat that they would be returned to pre-damaged condition as a part of the sale.

McKeel Hagerty, President of Hagerty Collector Car Insurance Co., estimates more than 300 cars were damaged, of which at least 110 were insured by Hagerty. By any measure, this was a catastrophe. Hagerty expects that the claims will “test many contractual requirements in many directions.” We will have to wait and see how all that turns out.

Who’s At Fault?
Insurers of the damaged cars took to heart the opportunity to impress their policyholders with their service capabilities. Some owners want to leave their insurance carriers out of the picture, and expect that the auction company’s carrier will handle the situation, but that isn’t how insurance works. Each owner’s carrier will administer the claim (which generally means settle with the owner of the affected car), and later decide whether to pursue claims against third parties who might be at fault.

The obvious liability targets are Russo and Steele and the tent company, and Alcazar reports that there are multiple investigations under way. If it looks like the auction and/or tent company were at fault, the auto insurers will try to recoup their losses from them and their insurers. That process will likely be handled quietly, at least as long as the coverage is sufficient to cover all the losses.

The wild cards are the car owners who didn’t carry insurance. The Russo and Steele consignment agreement, and it is very clear says that the owner is expected to maintain insurance coverage on his or her car. Alcazar said he is amazed that, in spite of that, some of the sellers actually had no insurance coverage.



Another example of more storm damage...

The only way these owners can recoup their losses would be to establish liability on the part of the auction or tent company, and some may file suit. But filing such a lawsuit is a lot easier than winning it. The owner will be on his own with respect to his attorney fees, and will have only his individual loss at stake.

In contrast, the insurers for Russo and Steele and the tent company will be at risk for all the losses, as others could use any adverse determination as proof. They will have ample motivation to defend as forcefully (and expensively) as necessary.

Establishing Liability

The auction and tent companies are not automatically liable; rather, negligence would have to be proven. The auction company’s obligation is only to take reasonable precautions to protect the cars from reasonably foreseeable harm. Adverse weather is certainly foreseeable, but would that include winds this strong? Pre-event weather forecasts will play a role in answering that question.
The auction company is not expected to be an expert in tent design, and can probably leave that to a reputable tent company to handle. The auction company does have to pick a capable tent company, and Alcazar points out that Russo and Steele used the same tent company as all the other Arizona auction companies.

The tent company would be obligated to select appropriate tents for the site, capable of withstanding foreseeable weather conditions. Once again, the question will be if these winds were reasonably foreseeable.

If the winds were unforeseeable, they would be considered an act of God, and neither the auction or tent company would be liable for the damages. If the winds were foreseeable, then either or both might be found to be negligent.

Pity The Poor Buyer

About 100 cars had crossed the block before the winds came. About half were sold to happy owners, and had been moved back under the tents that later collapsed and suffered damage. What is your situation if you were the (temporarily) happy winning bidder?

Under general legal principles, the car is sold, and title and risk of loss pass to the buyer, when the hammer falls. Most buyers’ agreements make that point quite clear.

Obviously, the buyers didn’t have time to call their insurance agents and buy coverage. Will their insurance carrier cover them anyway?

Consumer auto policies generally provide automatic coverage for new cars that you buy. That’s probably easy enough for a $45,000 Porsche 993, but might be tougher for a $25 million Ferrari 250 GTO.

Hagerty explains that their policies provide automatic coverage for new collector car purchases for 30 days. Jim Fiske, U.S. Marketing Manager at Chubb Personal Insurance, confirms that their policies do the same, as will those of most “true” collector car insurance companies. Both caution that various consumer insurance companies have entered the collector car market with less sophisticated policies that must be individually reviewed.

The critical second question is the amount of your coverage. Hagerty says that your purchase price will almost always establish the value of the car, reserving doubt only for highly unusual or suspicious situations. But if you have an actual cash value policy, your insurance adjuster will be well within his rights to suggest that you paid too much for the car, and they won’t make the same mistake when they compensate you for your loss.

No-Sale Equals Tough Deal

Say your car failed to sell because the bidding didn’t reach your reserve, or you offered it at no reserve but bought it back because the bids were too low (yes, that’s illegal), then it suffered extensive damage. With an actual cash value policy, the insurance company is free to debate the value of the car, and you may be surprised to find that your reserve or buy-back can be a ceiling, but not a floor, to the value of the car when it comes time for the insurance company to write a check. After all, the market spoke about the “correct” value and you chose not to listen. Similarly, since you were willing to sell at your reserve, that can be an admission that the car was not worth more.

Agreed Value Nightmares

Many times the agreed value policies are the way to go, but be careful that they accurately reflect the value of the car. “Auto insurance is one of the least scrutinized transactions people enter into. Most people know more about their cell phone contracts than their insurance contracts.”

Many people simply don’t remember what the amount of their agreed value policy is, as they often set it when they bought the car, sometimes many years ago. That can really come back to bite you. Say you have a Series I E-type Jaguar that you insured for $50,000, under an agreed value policy, when you bought the car. You expected it to sell for $75,000 at the auction reflecting the restoration work you had done to the car. But before the car has a chance to cross the block, it suffered $25,000 in damage. Later, you discover that your agreed value is still the $50,000 amount you originally paid for the car.


Still more damage from the storm.

Under an agreed value policy, there is no negotiation about the value of the car—it is conclusively deemed to be the agreed value amount. You get a check for $50,000, and the insurance company now owns the damaged car. They sell it to someone for $25,000, who then spends $25,000 repairing it and making it back into a $75,000 Jaguar.

In effect, you are sharing the loss with your insurance company; you lose the $25,000 of uninsured market value, and the insurance company loses only $25,000 after reselling the salvage. That loss sharing could have been avoided if you had been careful enough to adjust the agreed value as the car’s value changed.

Diminished Value

Several of the damaged cars appeared to be excellent unrestored, original examples. When they are repaired, they won’t be unrestored any longer, and they may suffer from diminished value, which many insurance policies exclude. In those situations, damages from the diminished value can be recovered only from the auction and/or tent company, and only if legal liability can be established.

That is an avenue you would have to pursue on your own at your own expense, unless your insurance company does not exclude diminished damage. In many cases the cost of an attorney and the related legal fees make it cost prohibitive to try and recover any diminished damage compensation. Establishing legal liability on behalf of the tent company and or auction company is difficult time consuming and seldom successful.

No-Sale No-Coverage

Say your car sold but the buyer refuses to pay for the now-damaged car? Your insurance company could take the position that it owes you nothing because you didn’t own the car when it was damaged—after all, ownership and risk transfer to the new owner the instant the gavel falls. If the sale price is greater than your insurance coverage, you might be in a real tough spot. You can either cancel the sale and “reinstate” your lower insurance coverage, or spend the time and money suing the buyer to pay up.

Recommendations

Obviously, the best answer for every one of these situations is insurance. The seller should have an updated agreed value insurance policy in force at all times. The buyer should be sure to have a policy in place before the auction that will cover any purchase. In both cases, it is best to place your coverage with a specialty carrier that knows collector cars and can provide proper assistance in making sure that you are properly covered.

Copyright 2010 Fifth Avenue Antique Auto Parts 415 Court Street Clay Center Kansas 67432.

Fifth Avenue Antique Auto Parts does not sell insurance. This information serves no legal purpose it is provided to act as a reference guide and to provide examples of common situations where collector car losses can occur and what to expect. Hopefully this will help you to ask the right questions BEFORE you suffer a loss. Most important of all know what your insurance does and does not cover before you have a claim.

I include a copy of this explanation along with all of my appraisals. As an antique vehicle owner we do not think of the worst happening but it is good to plan ahead just in case and as an antique vehicle appraiser is was good education for me as well. I hope none of you reading this ever have to deal with something like happened in Scottsdale Arizona in 2009 but at least now you will be better prepared and you know who is responsible for what.

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A Simple Fix For A Common Problem...

Posted on 5/18/17 with No comments

By now most of us have had first hand experience using modern gasoline in our antique vehicles. We know from experience that the gasoline we buy today is not near the quality the gasoline was when out antique vehicles were new. If you have read my book "The Official Guide To Modern Gasoline And Oil for Modern Vehicles"... you know why that a quality gear driven electric fuel pump with the same working pressure as your mechanical fuel pump is almost a necessity.



This is our 92 series electric fuel pump taken apart so you can see how it is made...



A 30 micron fuel filter is included with every 92 series electric fuel pump

One other thing the modern fuel systems do is circulate the gasoline between the fuel tank and the fuel pump via a return line. This helps keep the gasoline cool, keeps the gasoline from turning to vapor and blocking the flow of fresh gasoline to the carburetor (in our case), and any extra volume of gasoline can be returned to the fuel tank.

Ok...fine you say, "but how am I supposed to make the fuel circulate in my antique vehicle fuel system...?" There are a couple of way to do it but at Fifth Avenue we believe "simple is good!" I have prepared cars for the Great Race for close to thirty years now, and the one thing I always find interesting is how a group of 100 antique vehicle owners can come up with so many complicated solutions to a simple problem. Building a recirculating fuel system is a good example.


                                       You could do it the hard way like this...

This solution, while good in theory makes the job a lot more difficult that it has to be... and there are a few flaws in this design. In this example the by-pass portion of the fuel system that is closest to the underside of the car ...those 90 degree elbows will prove to be a restriction to the fuel flow as will the check valve installed in the fuel line, and we all know from experience, the more joints there are...the more places you can expect to have a leak. It is just Murphy's Law.




Or you could accomplish the same thing using this...

This is the simple solution. This is a special application fuel filter that works with our 92 series electric fuel pump. This special application fuel filter has 5/16"  inlet and outlets, so it will work in the same fuel line you are using now. It has an extra 1/4" outlet so you can run a 1/4" return fuel line back to the fuel tank to circulate the fuel. You want to install it on the output side of the electric fuel pump. It is a simple installation and do not have to add a bunch of plumbing to complete your mission.

I know what you are thinking...but this filter needs to go AFTER the electric fuel pump so the electric fuel pump can help push the fuel thru the system. If you put this filter before the electric fuel pump it will be difficult for the electric fuel pump to circulate the fuel. With the alcohol in the gasoline today you can not have too many fuel filters... Simple is Good!

This filter is part number 17415DOF and is available in the Parts section of the website.


ONE MORE THING...as Lt. Colombo used to say, this concerns check valves in fuel systems.



Example Of An In line Fuel Check Valve

You might be thinking about adding a fuel system check valve like this one in your fuel line to prevent vapor lock. While that might sound good in theory if you understand how a mechanical fuel pump works and how a carburetor works then you will know that is NOT the answer to your problem.

A mechanical fuel pump works (in simple terms) with two valves, one on the inlet and one on the outlet. The inlet valve opens to draw fuel in using the vacuum created from the diaphragm. Then the inlet valve closes and the outlet valve opens and the fuel is forced out the outlet side of the fuel pump to the carburetor. If one valve is open the other valve is closed.

What this means is...there will always be one valve closed in your mechanical fuel pump, so there is not much chance of fuel draining back to the tank thru the mechanical fuel pump. The same thing happens in the carburetor. The fuel travels into the inlet of the carburetor and the fuel bowl fills with fuel. Once the fuel bowl is full the needle and seat close off the incoming fuel supply thus preventing the fuel from draining back into the fuel line. It works that way (at least in theory) so there is always enough fuel in the carburetor to start your antique vehicle. So there is not much chance for the fuel to leak back towards the fuel tank from the carburetor either.

SO...Where does your fuel go and how come your car takes so long to start after it sits for a week in the garage...?

One of two things is going on. In most cases the fuel in the carburetor is simply evaporating. Modern fuel has a low boiling point to help with emission standards, which is fine for modern cars with high fuel pump pressures. It is not fine for our antique vehicles that have four pounds of fuel pump pressure or less.  So a simple explanation is the fuel simply evaporated out of the carburetor while your car was parked,  most likely out the air horn vent.

The second thing that happens is that the fuel turns to a vapor while in the fuel line. This is common if the fuel line runs next to an exhaust or if there is a lot of heat under the hood from exhaust headers (for example) which will help speed up the evaporation process. That under hood heat will also boil the fuel out of the bowl of the carburetor as well.

When the fuel turns to vapor in the fuel line it will expand and block the flow of fresh gasoline to the mechanical fuel pump. This is common after you have driven you antique vehicle for an hour or so then shut it off.  The heat soak from the exhaust manifolds and it being a 90 plus degree day will help the problem along and make it worse.

The fix of course is an electric fuel pump mounted back close to the tank so it can force the fuel to the front. Most always... the vapor lock will occur between the fuel tank and the mechanical fuel pump. The mechanical fuel pump simply cannot pump the fuel after it has turned into a vapor.

Besides an electric fuel pump and the dual outlet fuel filter shown above you also need to add a pint of diesel fuel to every ten gallons of gasoline. It will do two things. First it will raise the boiling point of the gasoline so it will not vaporize so easily, and the diesel fuel will lubricate the gaskets in the carburetor to keep them from shrinking. (the alcohol in modern gasoline will dry carburetor gaskets out causing them to shrink)

So now that you understand how your fuel system works and what is causing your vapor lock, you understand that adding a check valve into the fuel line going to the carburetor will NOT solve your vapor lock problem...and more important you also know why.

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Since 1987, Fifth Avenue owner, Randy Rundle, has been making antique, classic and special interest vehicles more reliable and fun to drive.