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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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  #21  
Old 11-20-2017, 06:51:11 AM
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GeneratorGus GeneratorGus is offline
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Default Re: Why 32 volts

Yes there was 110 VAC, and plenty other voltages AC or DC. The reason for battery charging plants was you didn't have to run the unit every time you wanted to turn a light in in the milk house. The generator only ran when the battery set was low, maybe once a week. Keep in mind, the average farmer didn't have all the bells and whistles that we all have these days.
I can imagine a lot of them were thankful just to have a light bulb in the room rather than the bother of a kerosene lamp.

Later offerings had "Flip of the switch" technology that started the unit when a demand was needed.
GUS
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  #22  
Old 11-20-2017, 08:24:25 AM
Grape Grape is offline
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Default Re: Why 32 volts

Kohler started selling a 110V DC plant in 1920 that was a demand start set with a 24V starting battery. Flip a switch and it sensed the load and fired up then shut down when the load went away. I'm in the process of restoring a 1922 model of this set 110V DC 1500 watt. Right now I'm looking for the vacuum fuel canister that mounted next to the Carburetor. I've also got a 600W Delco manual start that I'm looking for a control panel for. So many projects, so little time...........
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  #23  
Old 11-20-2017, 09:10:30 AM
BHoward BHoward is offline
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Default Re: Why 32 volts

I have one of those vacuum fuel tanks off an old Kohler that I saved. Don't know exactly where it is, but it,s here somewhere . Ceres Bill H.
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  #24  
Old 11-20-2017, 11:41:09 AM
Heins Heins is offline
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Default Re: Why 32 volts

I have a 32 V 250 amp DC welder, I bet that would check your batteries out!
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  #25  
Old 11-20-2017, 02:00:06 PM
Ronald E. McClellan Ronald E. McClellan is offline
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Default Re: Why 32 volts

Another very good reason is that 32 V will not electrocute or even shock you. The voltage has to be above 50 V to even feel it. Selling a 110 V system to people who know very little about electricity and doing the wiring them selves , sometimes in damp and dirty places , and then telling them that it (110 V) can kill you. 32 V was a great idea. Ron
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Old 11-20-2017, 04:59:36 PM
Andrew Mackey Andrew Mackey is offline
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Default Re: Why 32 volts

Grape, is your set a model C or D? The main difference was engine RPM and watts output You are looking for a Stewart Vacuum Fuel Pump. They were used on many engines but the ones on the early 4 cylinder Kohlers were specific to them. An auto unit will not work wel on the Kohler due to low manifold vacuum and small engine displacement. If you have to, you can rig a gravity feed to the carbureter. Kohler sold the sets with both systems. The fuel tank only needs to be about 3" above the carb inlet, to the bottom of the fuel tank The letter series Kohlers were 110 DC. The 21 series (1M-21 & 1A-21) were 110 VAC units. The M was a manual start, the A automatic.

As for voltage - the 32 volt systems were also used by maritime (ships), and trains. This made parts, machines and bulbs readibly available to the public, without added costs. The equipment was already out there, ready to use. The biggest problem with DC was power distribution. Lower voltage meant heavier wire, and there were limits on distance as well (resistance). 32 volt systems were popular well into the 1920s. Then 110 DC started to become popular as well. For the most part, conversion from 110 DC to AC was relatively simple. Most resistive devices (bulbs and heaters) needed no alteration. For the most part, DC motors with brushes will work on AC too. In fact many motors were marked AC-DC. In todays environment, you have to be careful. Most non-incandescant bulbs will NOT work on DC, and most AC motors will not either. Modern brushed motors like drills and saws, with electronic speed control wil not work on DC either. For the most part 32 VDC items will fry on 110. Don't try it!
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Old 11-20-2017, 08:10:41 PM
Grape Grape is offline
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Default Re: Why 32 volts

Mr Howard, If you can find the vacuum tank and have a reasonable price plus shipping I'll take it off your hands. Just PM me here when you find it.
Thank you.
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  #28  
Old 11-20-2017, 08:23:16 PM
Grape Grape is offline
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Default Re: Why 32 volts

(is your set a model C or D? The main difference was engine RPM and watts output You are looking for a Stewart Vacuum Fuel Pump. They were used on many engines but the ones on the early 4 cylinder Kohlers were specific to them. An auto unit will not work wel on the Kohler due to low manifold vacuum and small engine displacement.)

Andrew, my unit is a 4 cyl. model B built in 1922. I'm attaching a photo of the dataplate. It has a fuel pump with a built in manual primer and it is currently plumed right into the carb so no fuel return line. I'm assuming the vacuum tank was just the way gravity fuel system could be used with a larger remote located fuel tank right? Mine is auto start and 2 spool type resistors under the power box. I was told one was to feed 1 amp to charge the battery and the other was part of the power control but I'm still learning.
Thanks for your info. I've started a restoration thread on the low voltage generator site.
-Phil-
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  #29  
Old 11-21-2017, 02:01:51 PM
Andrew Mackey Andrew Mackey is offline
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Exclamation Re: Why 32 volts

I had a 1920 model C with the Stuart pump. S/N was C - 119! The vacuum pump could lift about 5 feet. It originally pulled fuel from a 250 gallon tank, remotely mounted. Operation is as follows: As the engine runs, it creates a vacuum in the intake manifold. On the Stewart Vacuum Fuel Pump, there is a float and internal switching device that controls the vacuum and admission of air. To begin use, when new or if the engine was run out of fuel, the Stewart reservoir needed to be filled with approximately 11/2 pints of gas, thru a 1/4" pipe plug on top of the pump. The gas would then gravity feed the carb. As the engine runs, it uses the fuel in the reservoir, which in turn lowers the float. When the float reaches a pre-determined level, it closes a vent port and opens the reservoir to the vacuum in the intake. This vacuum then draws fuel into the reservoir, raising the fuel level. At another pre-determined point, the float then closes the vacuum port and dumps the remaining vacuum to atmosphere. Gravity then refills the fuel bowl, and keeps the engine running. Not a bad system but has challenges. 1 - It cannot lift very much beyond 6 feet total, on a good day! 2 - if the generater engine is heavily loaded, it may not create enough vacuum - thus decreasing lift. The higher the pump has to pull fuel, the worse the situation becomes - the engine will starve for fuel, and stall. Then the owner will have to re-prime the pump, AND reduce load on the unit. On my C, I had a lift of about 3 feet, using a 3 gallon tank as a supply. It would run fine unless loaded to about 80% throttle, then would empty the carb, as the engine vacuum would not be high enough to lift the fuel. The tank was about 10" in diameter, and at low level, would also cavitate on the draw cycle. You could tell when the engine was on the draw cycle, as it would slightly speed up. If you had low fuel, you would hear the engine change speed as bits of gas reached the carb. As the pump cycled, you would hear an audible 'CLICK' as it opened and closed the vacuum port. On my C unit, there was an in line sight glass, so you could actually see when the pump was drawing fuel! At a normal load, the pump would cycle about every 5 minutes, and fuel draw only took about 30 seconds to refill the reservoir. When the reservoir in the pump was filled, and the vacuum dumped, fuel in the inlet returned to the tank. This doesn't sound right, but it helped keep the filter in the tank from being clogged with debris. The backwash would blow most of any debris clear of the filter. The sight came in real handy, when the fuel level got low, you could see the air from cavitation being drawn into the pump! My C unit was 110 VDC, with the auto-start. I used to run quite a few things with it, like a water pump, sheep shears, an old drill, a load of bright lights, and my favorite -a weed wacker my grandfather made in 1917. Too bad he never patented the idea! The generater is long gone, but I still have the weed wacker!
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Old 11-21-2017, 04:48:21 PM
George Andreasen George Andreasen is offline
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Default Re: Why 32 volts

Regarding the original question......32 volt D.C. was already in extensive use in both the railroad and maritime industries prior to the 1920's. It had proven itself by being able to handle "real" work and still be safe enough for people to handle.

You could successfully use 6, 12 or even 20 volts to light your farm or home, but why? The higher voltage required smaller wires and could run more powerful, useful motors. The rule of thumb was.....and still is.....the higher the voltage the more work you can do with less current.
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