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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 850 71v 1300 rpm... Why?


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Old 01-15-2018, 04:35:34 PM
Mike Cushway Mike Cushway is offline
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Default Delco 850 71v 1300 rpm... Why?

I am hoping someone will chime in on this one. With a 600w load on the Delco 850 @1300 rpm, I am getting 71v across the load terminals.....why? The load is a pair of 300w bulbs on a dual floodlight fixture. Slight adjustments to the air lever make no difference on rpm, nor does unscrewing one bulb. Looking for suggestions to slow it down a bit. I would love to see 1000rpm or so.
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Old 01-15-2018, 07:00:02 PM
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Mike Schweikert Mike Schweikert is offline
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Default Re: Delco 850 71v 1300rpm... Why?

I think your issue is that there are no batteries in series with it. It was not meant to run without them, as they provide the resistive load to govern the speed of the plant properly. That plant should be putting out about 38V at the right rpm about 1200. That diagram of hot shotting the coil was to get it started by hand crank with a very low battery bank hooked to it, not to use it as a generator for just output loads only. This model did not work like that, it was a battery charging plant.

Most folks don't have 4 8 volt batteries or 2 12s and an 8, so hook 3 car batteries in series to the batt terminals and see how it performs. It wont hurt it at 36 volts, as it runs at 38 anyway.
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Old 01-15-2018, 07:40:53 PM
Mike Cushway Mike Cushway is offline
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Default Re: Delco 850 71v 1300rpm... Why?

Thank you Mike!

With so little information available, I am still trying to understand the intended use/function. Bear with me on this....I realize the plant is meant to start on the 32v battery. In actual use were the fused load terminals(dual knife switch) meant to be utilized only while the unit was charging? If so, this seems a bit primitive even by old standards. Afraid of burning something out, I temporarily intalled a 6v tractor coil and am using a 6v battery thru the Delco points. The engine starts very easily with this system. What if, using this method, I put the another resistive load on the boards marked battery terminals?
My ultimate goal with this whole adventure is to charge my 12v battery bank thru my Morningstar charge controller. I can go weeks at a time without sun up here... rendering the solar array almost useless. I currently charge in this scenario with an old 40's Kohler 1500w 110DC switched to the controller, which works beautifully with the engine rpm set to put out about 70-80v. I run a full tank of fuel thru the Kohler which is about 2 1/2 hours runtime, during which it doesn't miss a beat. I have a lot of time on my hands and just love to play with these old genests. I like the idea of making the Delco work instead of listening to the whiney little Kohler.
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Old 01-15-2018, 09:28:42 PM
Mike Cushway Mike Cushway is offline
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Default Re: Delco 850 71v 1300rpm... Why?

Mike, let me pitch another option.

Lets say I reconnect all back as factory intended with (3) 12v batteries and start the plant as normal. Thru a 2 pole/ 3 position switch, can I switch off the starting batteries and onto a resistive load to keep the plant "charging" while I utilize the load terminals to power the charge controller? I have (10) like new Eaton PWHR12280 Batteries that I eventually want to keep charged with this system to power an inverter for use in the garage. I dont really want to jeopardize (3) of these batteries to use as "starting" batteries but until springtime have no other option. Thoughts?
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Old 01-15-2018, 11:29:44 PM
Vanman Vanman is online now
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Default Re: Delco 850 71v 1300rpm... Why?

If I'm not mistaken, these Delco engines do not have a governor, correct?

Therefore the generator voltage (via the load on it) determines the speed.

What is the voltage of the battery that you'd like to charge with the Delco set via the Morningstar charge controller?

Whoops, reread and found 12 volts. That would indeed be too low to charge directly with the Delco. It would be running terribly slowly.

The likely problem with the Morningstar is that it is going to be looking for the maximum power point. For the ungoverned Delco, that will likely be too fast, although you could try it and see.

Aside from possible engine damage from running too fast, you run the risk of burning out the field winding in the generator. It is designed for 40 volts, and the power dissipated in it varies as the square of the voltage. IE 80 volts would be four times as much heat!

One possible, but certainly not elegant, solution would be to add additional load to the generator along with the Morningstar until the voltage stabilizes at 35 ~ 40 volts.

Last edited by Vanman; 01-15-2018 at 11:40:30 PM.
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Old 01-16-2018, 08:34:05 AM
Mike Cushway Mike Cushway is offline
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Default Re: Delco 850 71v 1300 rpm... Why?

Thanks Vanman
I have no issue with loading up additional wattage on the Delco to get 35-40v. Does my last post have any merit?
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Old 01-16-2018, 09:32:17 AM
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Default Re: Delco 850 71v 1300 rpm... Why?

The unit charges all the time it is running. the knife switch is for line power to lights etc. The oldest version of that plant had a hour meter that cut the ignition when the batteries were up. The newer ones, just got manually shut off.

You would charge the batteries until full, then shut the plant off and use the knife switch to power the lightbulbs etc, till it wore down, then repeat the process. Folks only used 25 watt bulbs in many cases, so it would last a while. When using a 32V well pump or something that drew a strong current, you would run the plant and have the knife switch closed to handle the drain.

You could just charge 3 12s at a time with the original setup. Just don't power anything through the knife switch. Again you would have to monitor manually. Probably not the most elegant solution, but could be done.
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Old 01-16-2018, 09:54:05 AM
Mike Cushway Mike Cushway is offline
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Default Re: Delco 850 71v 1300 rpm... Why?

Now we are gaining! I really appreciate you guys taking the time to explain this. I am starting to better understand the intended function. That said....is there an accepted way to parallel (3) sets of series 12's using my Eatons?
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Old 01-16-2018, 02:06:49 PM
Andrew Mackey Andrew Mackey is offline
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Default Re: Delco 850 71v 1300 rpm... Why?

You would set up a series/parallel circuit. 3 batteries in series + to -, + to -, + to -. Then parallel the sets. All 3 + connected together and all 3 - connected together. This will triple available amps while maintaining 36 Volts. One word of note - all 9 batteries must be in the same condition and have the same amount of charge, in order for this to work properly. If all batteries are not equally charged, then the stronger batteries will be discharged by the weaker ones. As for the 10th battery, that will have to be charged on its own. Rotating it in and out of the battery pack will cause an imbalance as the charge condition will be different. Here is another thing to consider. Some batteries will charge faster than others. When I worked on a 48 volt Gamewell alarm system for our fire department, I found that some batteries had to be shifted in location in the battery pack, to maintain equal charge in the entire set. I learned this from an older fireman who worked at Bell Tel. (Thanks Willy) By rotating battery position, we could maintain optimal specific gravity in all cells. (the Gamewell used 8 - 6 volt batteries in series).
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Old 01-16-2018, 02:09:07 PM
Mike Cushway Mike Cushway is offline
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Default Re: Delco 850 71v 1300 rpm... Why?

Well, my excitement was short lived. I reconnected as factory intended (with the exception of three 12v batteries at 39.1v) and cleaned every terminal on the board. I was very happy to see that the plant started. I had to hold the lever up until the ammeter jumped to keep it running. When it ran under its own power, the ammeter showed 20a. I checked voltage right away and had 51.4v. Thru the lamp sockets, I added a 300w bulb into the load which made no difference on output. Is the high voltage because I started out with fully charged batteries? I did not have time to check rpm but when I pulled the neg battery terminal fuse it started to speed up right away. Guessing it was 1250 under what little load there was. What should I try next?
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