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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 gods help!


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  #1  
Old 08-11-2016, 08:18:47 PM
abowman89 abowman89 is offline
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Question Delco gods help!

Hello gentleman,
I need some help. I got my first band new(to me) delco light plant. I think it's an 850 can someone confirm this? I'm going to upload pictures on here. I wired up a 32v battery and got it started after cleaning the tank and changing the oil, but it's not running well. It would run slow and then fast and then almost die and bearly keep going and speed up. Now it won't run at all and I think the original coil went bad. I've got an open circuit on every terminal. Can anyone give me a close up picture of the left and right side starting switch? Also when this starts should the electromagnet hold the top lever up?
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Old 08-11-2016, 08:22:30 PM
abowman89 abowman89 is offline
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Unhappy Re: Delco gods help!

Ok I'm having trouble with the uploader
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  #3  
Old 08-11-2016, 10:16:35 PM
George Andreasen George Andreasen is offline
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Default Re: Delco gods help!

Check the secondary of the coil by disconnecting the spark plug and using a multi meter. Set your meter on the 1000 ohms range and touch the leads on the coil's spark plug terminal and one of the coil mounting screws (ground). If it's good you should have a reading. If it's open your only path is to replace it with a standard 12 volt coil. If you have to do this be sure to remove the resistance unit on the end of the old coil and wire into the primary circuit of the new coil. This will knock the 32 volts down to around 4. Bear in mind that the primary circuit runs from the source of DC, through the points and back to the opposite source of DC. In other words the points are not grounded......they're a simple switch turning the primary off and on. Oh, the value of the condenser (capacitor) is .5 microfarads. I'm using a .47microfarad on mine, capable of withstanding 600 volts. A lawnmower or auto condenser rating is not high enough. Any electronic supply house should be able to help you for about four bucks or so. Edit: I forgot to mention that I wired a small, hidden toggle switch into my primary circuit so as to shut it off completely. My Delco stopped TWICE with the points closed and caused the resistance unit to glow red. If I hadn't have seen it, the coil might have burned up so the switch prevents this.

The starting switch consists of two coils....an inner coil with many turns of fine wire and the outer coil with just a few turns of heavy wire, and yes, they act as an electromagnet to hold the starting tab up inside the switch. The terminals for both are easily accessible on each side. I'd check the inner coil first. Disconnect those leads and CAREFULLY remove the ring terminals from the posts. Set your meter in the 100 ohms range and test the coil......you should get a reading of around 300 ohms. If you don't, that inner coil is open which is the normal problem.

I MAY have a solution for you, as I've started winding replacement coils for Delco owners. It consists of 2500 turns of 37 gauge wire on a pvc spool form and is a little more rugged than the original. I wound one for myself and it worked quite well, so I sent a second prototype to another member for his evaluation. He should be getting back to me within a week or so with an evaluation and suggestions and I'll make them available at that time.

Last edited by George Andreasen; 08-12-2016 at 07:41:04 AM.
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Old 08-12-2016, 09:56:28 AM
abowman89 abowman89 is offline
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Default Re: Delco gods help!

Ok I removed the starting coil and the ing coil. In the starting coil the inner coil checks at 292 and the outer at .4. So the inner is good, but is that ballpark on the outer. Ing coil was 1.988k from the primary to the mounting bolt. Thoughts? Also another question, on the fuel mixer what is the open hole in the top?
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Old 08-12-2016, 11:44:25 AM
George Andreasen George Andreasen is offline
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Default Re: Delco gods help!

Sounds like your ignition and starting switch coils are both good. Congratulations....many are not! The outer starting switch coil is pretty beefy, not much to go wrong there, but when reinstalling the inner coil leads be careful. That wire is REALLY easy to break and difficult to repair. I'd also verify the ignition coil by holding the plug wire about 1/8" from the spark plug while cranking, just to make sure you're getting spark. That should verify the ignition coil. Insulated pliers are your friend here!

That hole in the top of the mixer was for priming with gasoline when running on kerosene. It is supposed to have a thick felt disc in there, held in place with a metal press fit ring on top. I grabbed two pieces of felt from the wife's sewing basket and sandwiched them, then filed the perimeter of a 5/16" steel washer until it was a tap fit on top. This provides a "priming point" as intended but doesn't allow massive quantities of air to get in, leaning out the mixture. By the way, the fuel tank is positioned so that hot air from the engine is blown over it in order to keep the kerosene warm. Pretty clever engineering!

I should also mention that there is a small gauze screen under that nut on top of the mixer......where the gas line goes in. If that screen is clogged with gunk it will restrict the fuel and cause erratic running.

Any of the above will prevent the Delco from "getting up to speed" and providing enough power to keep the starting switch electromagnet energized. Delco's usually run between 1200-1400 rpm.

When operating correctly, your Delco should crank over briskly with the starting switch held up while you hold the mixer tab to the left, which chokes it. Only do this for a moment as it will flood. Move the tab to the right until the engine begins to fire (a little less than halfway on mine) and be sure to give it a chance to do so. My Delco usually takes a few seconds to respond before firing. Once it starts to run, keep holding the starting lever up until it runs evenly then let go. It should keep running as the starting switch coils should function as an electromagnet, keeping the inner tab up.

You can shut it down by pushing the mixer tab all the way to the right until it leans out so much it quits......but that's why I installed a toggle switch in my primary ignition circuit. Just like shutting the key off in a car.

Edit: I forgot to mention, member FDChief has excellent reproduction manuals and information on most of the Delcos. Here's a link to the circuits involved: http://delcolight.com/24.html

Last edited by George Andreasen; 08-12-2016 at 12:12:21 PM. Reason: Further information
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Old 08-12-2016, 04:01:59 PM
abowman89 abowman89 is offline
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Default Re: Delco gods help!

Is there suppose to be a check valve somewhere in the mixer or fuel pipe?
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Old 08-12-2016, 05:34:48 PM
George Andreasen George Andreasen is offline
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Default Re: Delco gods help!

Same question I asked when rebuilding mine........nope, Delco didn't think it was necessary.

So I installed one anyway.

I bought a BRASS Briggs and Stratton check valve (about $8, for the older engines) and ground the bottom screen until it would fit through the threaded fuel fitting on the Delco tank. This removed the screen entirely but since there's a screen on the mixer, no problem. I then measured very carefully and cut off the Delco fuel line the exact length of the Briggs part but left it about 1/4" longer. I cleaned the end of the Briggs check valve stem with emery cloth, fluxed both parts and soft soldered the end of the check valve inside the 1/4" Delco fuel line. It's a nice close fit and soldered easily. I then blew through both ends to make sure the check was working and reinstalled everything. The result was the check valve sits about 1/8" above the tank bottom, but can be adjusted by bending the fuel line if necessary.

Now, having said all that, was it worth it? In my opinion no. The factory line picks up the fuel just fine without it and the engine only has to be cranked a few revolutions while choking to get the fuel moving up the pipe......so I wouldn't bother. If you really want to keep fuel in the line, it would be easier to replace the fuel line with a longer one and use a one turn coil to keep some fuel in there.
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Old 08-14-2016, 03:19:16 PM
abowman89 abowman89 is offline
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Question Re: Delco gods help!

Ok guys I'm working on putting together a new battery pack to run my delco and making a new copper switch arm. Can someone post a picture of the left side of there starting switch on their model 850? Mine had a spring under it and I question weither it's suppose to be there.
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Old 08-16-2016, 01:00:56 PM
George Andreasen George Andreasen is offline
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Default Re: Delco gods help!

Sorry about my slow reply.......been out of town for a couple of days and haven't checked back on this part of the forum.

Yes, there is a coil spring behind the contacts on the lower left side of the switch. It's purpose is to make sure the contacts return to position. If the spring looks rusty or questionable, most ACE hardware stores have a good selection of individual springs so a close match shouldn't be hard to find.

Keep us up to date on your progress.....the more of these old Delco Lights we keep running, the better!
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Old 08-18-2016, 09:11:20 PM
abowman89 abowman89 is offline
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Default Delco gods help!

Well, we're on a slippery slope here. This is almost my favorite engine. I've got it running really well but there's a kink with this that I found out by accident. If I wire it to 32v it pops but won't run hardly at all. If I run it on 12v (I wasn't watching when I wired the battery's) it starts right, runs great, and charges at 15v. I'm lost for the moment. I'm going to remove the generator cover and see if I can find anything wrong. The starting coil still does not hold like it should either way..... Any ideas?
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Old 08-19-2016, 07:20:31 AM
George Andreasen George Andreasen is offline
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Default Re: Delco gods help!

The engines themselves are pretty simple. The electrical circuits are fairly easy to understand, but if there's a hidden ground to the frame or an open wire, nothing will work like it should. If your batteries are already charged the relay may be sensing that and deliberately disconnecting. A 32 volt load on it would keep it running, assuming everything else is good, but let's take a look inside just make sure there aren't any problems.

I removed my entire generator and found lots of mouse chewed, oil soaked, grounded wires along with mouse nest material. I'll bet I pulled a coffee can full of plain junk out of there. At least one of the shunt wires had actually been chewed in half! The result was some bizarre electrical performance to say the least. I cleaned everything with brake degreaser and then attacked it with solder repairs, shrink tubing and liquid electrical tape finishing off with a spray-on insulating lacquer. As soon as I finished and reassembled everything, it settled down and started charging batteries as designed. As I mentioned in another thread, pulling the generator section off should be the first thing you do. Mice love to get in there and really screw things up!

A few tips for removing the generator section (note, you may want to remove the control panel as it makes it easier. Be sure to tag any wires!):

1. Remove the ventilated brush cover (two nuts).
2. Punch two witness marks in line with each other, one on the main casting and one on the brush ring. This will guarantee correct reassembly if it slips.
3. Wire the brushes back away from the commutator (loosen the brush ring screws and run the wire from the brush holder around the loosened screw, pull back the brush and hook it).
4. Place a strap sling under the generator and use a shop crane to provide a slight lifting force. You can also remove it by hand, but it's heavy.
5. Remove the two nuts that are holding the generator section.
6. If the section refuses to move, use a heavy soft mallet or piece of 2x4 to whack the joint until it loosens.
7. Pull the generator section straight off the armature and lower to the floor. This is where that shop crane is useful as it lets you control the load. Without it you risk smacking the generator armature against the pole pieces.

Now that you're inside the beast, you can get a good visual of what's what. A VOM meter will allow you to check various circuits for ground faults and opens, going by the schematics.

Edit: Forgot to mention....the 850 does not have oil seals as we know them. It relies on a close crankshaft to housing fit, along with a groove machined around the inside that catches oil and returns it to the crankcase. They rely entirely on a partial vacuum to keep the oil in and that's why the crankcase vent is so important. If you look at the bottom of your generator shell there is a hole, about 3/8' in diameter, and its purpose is to allow any "splash over" oil to exit the generator and collect on the base outside. In other words, it keeps the generator clean. If that hole is plugged with debris the oil is trapped and will soak the wiring.

Last edited by George Andreasen; 08-19-2016 at 09:02:16 AM.
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Old 08-27-2016, 09:09:46 PM
abowman89 abowman89 is offline
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Lightbulb Re: Delco gods help!

Ok, I finally got around to working on my delco again. I slipped the brush cover off and did a good inspection. It was nice and oil free. There was however a strand of copper wire around one of the brushes that someone placed there. Nothing was broken or out of place so I removed it. I cleaned the connections and also had one brush that was stiff. So I cleaned all this and lubed it. I'm going to fire it up on my next day off and do some testing. If it still isn't doing well then I'll disassemble the whole generator and start testing all the coils and connections. Fingers crossed
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Old 10-15-2016, 10:56:01 AM
abowman89 abowman89 is offline
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Default Re: Delco gods help!

Ok so I've got news, the 850 is running so so but I need to make a better battery setup before I can continue to trouble shoot it. How ever I went to another auction and another 850 and what I think is a 8C3 come home with me. The 850 is going to afriends 8yr old son, he wanted his own engine in the worst way. The 8C3 I'm stripping down the electric panel an repairing things to maby run again. Anybody have good pictures of one? There's a large threaded hole in the carb and idk what screws in there.
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