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Delco and other Low Voltage DC Light Plants Antique Generators, Light Plants, Typically 24, 32 or 48 volt although some are 110 volt. DC Lamps, Motors and appliances.

Delco and other Low Voltage DC Light Plants

Delco light 850 restoration


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  #1  
Old 12-23-2016, 03:08:39 PM
Merv C Merv C is offline
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Default Delco light 850 restoration

Tucked away in the back of one of my sheds were two Delco light 850's, neither complete.
In all my nearly forty years of the hobby I had only seen one other at a show. I knew they weren't rare but nobody seemed to be interested in them.

I had decided to have a reshuffle of the engines and get them all together in one shed so out they came. After having a good look at them I found that together I had one complete unit. At the same time another collector phoned me about another engine and it turned out he had two as well but was missing an armature on one. This got me interested to restore one of mine and help him as well.

I now very little about electrics. The engine came apart easily except for the flywheel and the key. The gib key won't come out with a normal key extractor but I got around that but the key snapped off inside the flywheel and had to be drilled out then a puller was made up to get the flywheel off. The engine internals were in good shape except for the main roller bearing which had collapsed, the bearing in the other unit was in good order so it is being used.

After everything was cleaned up and repainted and the valves lapped in it was reassembled. On the generator side it wasn't looking good, mice had built a nest in it. all the wiring on the stater was in bad shape and some had been cut, the spare was in good shape so that one was used.

The stage I am up to now is that the unit is completely assembled and ready to go. I used the best control board, even the writing on the back is readable and that is a big help.

The first step for me was to see if the batteries would turn it over, fortunately they did, so I know that part is right. the next step is to get a spark, so far I haven't. At this point I don't know if the condenser or the coil is good or if I have the wiring correct on the coil.

I will take some photos and post them so someone may be able to tell me it I have it right.

I have another unit too, a Delco 752, the engine looks to be in good shape but I don't know if I can do much with the control box. That is now next on the to do projects.

Merv,
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Old 12-23-2016, 04:51:54 PM
George Andreasen George Andreasen is offline
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Default Re: Delco light 850 restoration

It's been said many times, but don't run your Delco Light without batteries. The circuit diagrams from this website:

http://delcolight.com/24.html

were a big help to me. Note that each circuit is explained individually, so it makes it pretty easy to follow....just follow the arrows. The workings of the starting switch seem a little mysterious but once you follow it out a couple of times it becomes clearer. The Delco Light ignition coils seem to have a habit of going open, but if so a modern coil can be substituted.

If you get spark, get it cranking over, then firing but it won't run.....contact me. The starting switch is supposed to become an electromagnet and hold the starting tab up for ignition. Usually it's the inner coil of the starting switch that goes bad and I can make a replacement that works quite well.

Once it's running you'll need bulbs so try here: https://www.jamestowndistributors.co...t.do?pid=11744
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Old 12-24-2016, 04:08:33 PM
Merv C Merv C is offline
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Default Re: Delco light 850 restoration

G'day George,
Thanks for the help.
during my research I had found that web site and have printed the wiring diagrams off, as I do with a lot of engine stuff and and file them in clear file folders for future reference.

From the diagrams I believe I have the wiring correct but still no spark so it looks like a new coil and a condenser. I do have another coil but that I will try That one has had an external condenser fitted so I am not confident that it will work.

I will not be running it without batteries. I have been in contact with another owner that I have only just found out has a runner. He uses two twelve volt batteries and tells me that works good.

I should be able to find 32 volt bulbs here but I have wondered three 12 volt bulbs in series would work. if so it probably be advisable to run two banks in case one blows and sets the other two off.

I have taken some photos so I will post them when I get a minute or two spare.

Merry Christmas,

Merv.
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Old 12-26-2016, 04:51:15 AM
Merv C Merv C is offline
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Default Re: Delco light 850 restoration

Well, I got some life out of the Delco. I tried the coil from the other unit without any luck. So I fitted a condenser in the points compartment and got a big spark. Now the second stage worked so all that was left was to see if the engine would run and generate. IT DID.
At point I am not sure if the electro magnet is working. as the batteries are full it just may be dropping out.

The gauge seems to be working and was only charging a few Amps. I don't think I can find out if the magnet is working until I can get a load on it. I only ran it for a few minutes by holding the starter up so I think the governor was cutting out the spark making erratic running.

The next job it to set it up on a base complete with Battery box and permanent wiring along with enough lights to give it a good load, and a muffler, then it can be fine tuned and set the spark timing. At the moment it is slightly advanced.

The wiring diagrams I printed off has given me a good understanding of how it all works.

Here are some photos.

Merv.

[IMG][/IMG]

[IMG][/IMG]

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Old 12-26-2016, 07:48:46 PM
joebiodiesel joebiodiesel is offline
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Default Re: Delco light 850 restoration

If you run two 12V batteries, you really run a risk of overcharging them once the plant is able to generate a good charge. Delco 32V plants will easily make 50V if the load drops enough. Running three 12V batteries in series gives you 37.8 static volts (12.6 X 3). Your 850 will charge them easily, and it will be less prone to boiling the electrolyte out of them.

Running three 12V bulbs in series will work just fine. When I have run mine at shows that what I use them to discharge the batteries, then run the plant again when the voltage gets low. Over the years I've collected a 32V scroll saw, a 32V clothes iron and assorted light bulbs.

You are right about very few appearing at shows. They generate very little interest among the engine collector crowd.

Joe
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Old 12-26-2016, 09:53:41 PM
George Andreasen George Andreasen is offline
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Default Re: Delco light 850 restoration

Merv if you have a volt/ohm meter, check the fine winding inside your starting switch. There are two windings, a coarse outer coil and a fine inner coil. That inner coil, along with the ignition coil, seems to cause 99% of Delco electrical problems.

Remove the cover and locate the inner coil (fine wire) winding ends. They should be on the left side of your switch. Disconnect ONE end by loosening the screw, then place your meter across the leads. You should get a reading of approximately 300 ohms or so. No reading indicates an open coil and the electromagnet portion will not work and the tab will never stay up by itself.

Let us know how it goes. If that coil is indeed open, contact me.
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Old 12-27-2016, 06:03:27 AM
collector b collector b is offline
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Default Re: Delco light 850 restoration

Hi Merv
I also got a complete one
I am taking it to Edendale next month If you like to know some I am happy to pop in
Hans
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Old 12-27-2016, 02:17:45 PM
Vanman Vanman is offline
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Default Re: Delco light 850 restoration

About the battery voltage, don't the controllers on these have a voltage sensitive relay that cuts the engine once a certain voltage is reached, corresponding to fully charged for 16 cells? So if you have too few cells the set will never shut down, and boil the battery. And too many cells and it won't run for very long?

8 volt golf cart batteries can be had, allowing for 32 volts with 4 of them. And, being deep cycle, are ideally suited to this service.
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Old 12-28-2016, 04:32:03 PM
Merv C Merv C is offline
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Default Re: Delco light 850 restoration

Thanks for the advice. Last night I spent quite some time trawling through this section about Delco 850's. I think there is some conflicting information, but I think I have sorted out what I need to do. My best option is to use three 12 volt batteries and I think I will be able to source something appropriate from car wreckers or from an auto electrician company where good second hand batteries are available. It may be possible to find golf cart batteries but people who play golf here walk while playing and rarely use carts.

I won't try running the unit until everything is wired up permanent. George, I will see if I can test the starting coils. Of the two I have one is defiantly no good so I will get in touch with you. I have the hour meter on this one and on the spare one but the second one is not in good shape, so I have yet to find out how that works.

Hans, by all means call in on your way to the Edendale Crankup. It is very unlikely I will go as Margaret is now disabled and I can't leave her on her own.
Your unit is the only one I have seen at rallies, Matt has a running unit and I talked to him, he was helpful, What is the 1200 unit like that Graham passed on to you? it would be good to have a working pair.

Merv.
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Old 01-07-2017, 02:59:44 AM
Merv C Merv C is offline
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Default Re: Delco light 850 restoration

I now have the unit on a base and with three batteries temporally wired up and all the wiring sorted it runs. the starting coil it stuffed as well as the spare. Apart from that it does all it is supposed to do.

I do have a question. how does the hour meter work?

All I have to do now is to find three batteries that are the same, then make the battery box and mount the lights I have three 12 volt 40 amp bulbs in series, they work good.
Here are two photos.

Merv.

[IMG][/IMG]

[IMG][/IMG]
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Old 01-07-2017, 10:52:43 AM
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Tim B Tim B is offline
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Default Re: Delco light 850 restoration

Merv, looks really nice and beautiful stand too. When ever I take my lightplants to a show, I take batteries out of my lawn tractors. They are the cheapest and smallest ones that I have. I get them for $20-25 at Walmart. I use them in my Farmall Cub and Cushman Truckster too and they call for the larger car batteries but work just fine.
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Old 01-07-2017, 01:54:09 PM
George Andreasen George Andreasen is offline
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Default Re: Delco light 850 restoration

Morning Merv!

I'm explaining the meter operation from my 850 manual, so bear with me.

The meter is designed to be set by the operator in order to charge the batteries correctly. I believe the idea was to take some of the guesswork out of charging which was mysterious to most people back then, and understanding a hydrometer was like voo doo.

Starting with a fully charged battery bank (gassing, bubbling) the meter should be on the "full" marking. If the meter reads "full" and the batteries are NOT fully charged, you remove the glass cover and set the hand back to about 1/5 of the entire scale. You then restart the plant and watch the batteries. If they become fully charged and gassing, the hand should be on "full". Note: Some models of the 850 had an external resetting device so you didn't have to remove the glass. The whole purpose of the meter was to tell the average owner the charge condition of their battery bank. At least it was a little easier to understand than a hydrometer.........

If there is an ammeter that is part of the meter assembly, it basically tells you how much current is going into the batteries and how much is going to the load. The side of the meter labeled "in" shows current to the batteries, while the other side "out" shows the current to the load.

All of the above is from my 850 manual, however my 1918 850 only has a simple ammeter on the panel board. I suspect that the complicated meter described above became too expensive to manufacture, especially when a simple ammeter (and watching the batteries for gassing) worked just as well........so at some point Delco Light changed their design.
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Old 01-11-2017, 09:42:27 AM
George Andreasen George Andreasen is offline
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Default Re: Delco light 850 restoration

Merv, I responded to you via a PM. Please let me know if you received it. Thanks!
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Old 01-15-2017, 12:17:33 AM
Merv C Merv C is offline
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Default Re: Delco light 850 restoration

I did Receive your message George, and replied a few days ago. Looking forward to hearing from you again.

Merv.
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