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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

Why 32 Volts


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  #1  
Old 01-21-2002, 11:09:59 PM
Tom Jamboretz
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Default Why 32 Volts

Why where many light plants made in 32volt output? Was it AC or DC?
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  #2  
Old 01-22-2002, 08:30:32 AM
Gus Simms
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Default Re: Why 32 volts

Although it could be AC, the32 volt plants are DC. Reason being they were battery charging plants. The plant would be run mostly to charge the batteries and that would usually be once a week or so depending on electrical usage.Some plants were sold stripped down (no batteries or regulator or auto start feature, these were called direct running plants. The battery charging plant would be hooked up to 16-2volt cells. Each cell would be a glass jar with plates and acid. Depending on the size you bought, they could get very expensive. The 32 volts was a compromise between wire size and battery size. The light systems could very well have been 6 volt, but the wiring to the house and the barn might have ended up being double ought cable. If one opted for a 110 plant, and they were often offered as an upgrade, the cost of your light plant set up would more than double from what at the time was an awful lot of money.The 110 volt plant needed 55 cells plus a 7 or 8 cell reserve. When your batteries wore out in a few years time, you'd have to start over with what was the approx. cost of a 32 volt set to replace them. Being that you could buy almost anything in 32 volt that was offered in 110 volt at the same price, most farmers choose the more frugal 32 volt sets. You don't see a lot of 110 volt battery charging plants out there.
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Old 01-22-2002, 02:20:11 PM
Don C. Wiley
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Default Re: Why 32 volts

Tom;

Gus did a very good job of answering your question. I might be able to add a little to it.

I have a Mongomery and Ward catalog that lists a 16 cell set of 180 amp glass jar batteries for $89.50 for five year and $106.75 for the 10 year set, plus shipping. Shipping weight was 855 pounds for the 5 year and 875 pounds for the 10 year set. multiply that times 3.5 for 110 volt. You can start to figure out why most folks stayed with the 32 volt system.

That was a good bit of money for the time. The folks I talk to at the shows tell me that the farmer that had a Light Plant was a wealthy farmer.

I still wander myself why the 32 volts. "They" could have just as easy have made it 28, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, or 40 volts. As Gus says the higher the voltage the less the line loss and I guess 32 was kind of a "happy" medium. If any one else has a real good reason for the 32 volt I would like to hear it.

Thanks Harry for providing the opportunity to be of some help to others.

"DELCO DON"
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Old 01-22-2002, 11:06:52 PM
Jim Tremble
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Default Re: Why 32 volts

Don

Is there a way I can get a copy of that add ??? I have a 32V. Matthews Powerplant (1919) and would love to have any info that may go with it. What year is your catalog ??

Thanks,

Jim
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  #5  
Old 01-23-2002, 10:03:28 AM
Gus Simms
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Default Re: Why 32 volts

This is a page from the 1927 Graybar (Western Electric) Catalogue. By the way, if anyone knows where I can pickup the 8V plant give me a holler.


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Old 01-23-2002, 07:05:45 PM
Kid Dynamo
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Default Re: Why 32 volts

A buddy of mine stumbled onto a deal for a pallet loaded with those Lexan clear cased single cell lead acid batteries. They were not particularly old but they look cool. They weighed in at about 75lbs each and he sold them off cheap. I noticed the same batteries being sold in ads in Home Power magazine. Each cell was your standard ~ 2.17vdc and had a boatload of ampere-hours. Several 110vdc banks, 24vdc banks and 12vdc banks were assembled from the palletload. They were originally used as an emergency power supply for some power substation circuit breakers. That' what I was told. A guy could at least make a big battery that looked old!

How you come up with the antique generator seems to be the real trick. Some of you guys can really do that, too!!Kid Dynamo
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Old 01-23-2002, 10:20:28 PM
Russ Hughes
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Default Re: Why 32 volts

It really kind of makes one wonder about how the different voltages were standardized on. It is initially all related to the nominal 2 volt lead acid wet cell, and multiples of 2 volts.

Most automobiles were originally 6 volt. Then they went to 12 volt. Farm electric systems were generally 32 volts DC. Railroad locomotives were 64 volts DC. Aircraft were sometimes 14 volts DC and military aircraft were 28 volts DC. The 14 and 28 volts DC were the operating voltage with the generators on line, not the aircraft battery voltage.

Power substations used 110 volt DC battery banks for operating the switchgear. Even though they had lots of electricity at the power substation normally, in the event of a power outage, they required some means of resetting the switchgear that was independent of the AC power mains, before the power could be restored.

The distance the power had to go, probably had more to do with the voltage chosen than anything else. In the aircraft in particular, the weight of the wire required for any given voltage had to be balanced with the weight of the battery for the same amount of electrical power. Think of the starter motor power leads from the center of the aircraft in the fuselage where the battery was, out many feet to one of the outboard engines on the wing on a four engined aircraft. The starter and generator wire sizes were large enough as it was on a 28 volt DC system, let alone what they would have had to be for a six volt system..

The farm system may have had the generator and battery bank out by the barn. The house was usually some distance away and 6 volts just couldn't cut it. The cost of a 110 volt DC battery bank speaks for itself as others have already accurately stated.

As to exactly how the early designers came about picking their operating voltages, beyond usually being some multiple of 2 volts is open to debate.
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Old 01-23-2002, 11:55:39 PM
Franz
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Default Re: Why 32 volts

According to the inflation calculator, $106.75 in 1921 would be $902.56 in today's money.
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  #9  
Old 01-24-2002, 11:49:01 AM
art
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Default Re: Why 32 volts

Don ; Just picked up a DELCO gen set .not sure of the number but it was hooked up to 16 glass batterys with auto start and a return flow to the gas tank. problem is the exhaust valve is stuck in half open position. How do i remove the head and repair? Also what is the best way to clean the cooling fins? Are they removeable from cylinder wall? I am looking for a wireing diagram so i can hook it all up again . Thank you. Art
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  #10  
Old 01-24-2002, 01:57:47 PM
Don C. Wiley
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Default Re: Why 32 volts

Art;

Delco-Light made some where around 80 different models of generators. Most of them that had a fuel pump returned the excess gas to the fuel tank.

I am only guessing that it is a Model-752. If that is the case the copper cooling fins are fused to the cylinder and can not be removed. There are several ways to clean them. The best way would be to remove the cylinder. The Model-752 hada blind cylinder and you will have to remove it any way to get the valves "refreshed". Once the cylinder is removed you can clean them pretty easy, by using solvents, high pressure soap and water, or if you know a garage with a cleaning tank that would work as well.

Again if it is a Model-752 I have a reprint of the wiring diagram and a owners manual. All Model-752 Delco-Light generators had a wireing diagram clued to the inside of the control panel. However some of those haven't survived the past 74 years.

E-mail me and I can arrange to get you that information.

If yours looks like this picture it is a Model-752.

"DELCO DON"


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