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Delco Light Plant - need help


I recently bought a delco generator and need some help in identifying it. The tag says. Delco light
600 watts
32 volts service
Patent. 1918
I have attached photos. I have a million questions but the most important are:
1. What model do I have?
2. Does anyone have a schematic for it?
3. Why is the exhaust in a tee?
4. Is there something missing from the top of the cylinder shroud? I can look down and see the valve rocker arms.
5. Is there a source for parts out there. The handle on the double knife switch is broken. The muffler is missing.
6. The engine turns over pretty freely and the valves are opening and closing. It almost feels like there is little or no compression. Is this typical?
7.is it a four or two cycle engine.
8. Does it need a perfect seal on the top and bottom of the tube running from the carb to the crankcase?
9. I am planning on putting 30 weight oil and straight gas in it to start it. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
If you would take the time to answer any of these questions I would appreciate it. I am sorry to say I couldn't t find a way to add my photos. A little more info to help identify.the control panel has the double knife switch in the upper rat corner. To the left is a fuse and to the left of that is the ammeter. ( 0-30). Below it on the left is the starter mechanism and to its right is an alum cast cover for a relay. The gas tank is underneath the gen portion. Thanks
I'm a little jealous......been looking for one of those for awhile. Congrats!

I'm surprised no one has answered your questions! I can't answer them all but I can help......

First, NEVER start a Delco without being wired up to batteries. In a pinch, three 12 volt cells will work. Most guys use two 12's and one 8 volt battery. Some use four 8 volt golf cart batteries (me).

For model identification go here: http://delcolight.com/index.html

It sounds like one of the model 600's (fuel tank underneath). I believe member FDChief has manuals. There's a model 600 running on youtube by the way.

The exhaust usually went up from a basement. The tee was for periodic draining of condensed water.

The cylinder shroud had a sheet metal cover with a flower petal shaped opening on top. Not necessary for running the engine though. EDIT: That top may have a simple circular opening, not petal shape as I described.

You'll have to fabricate a knife switch handle from plastic or wood. Any small engine muffler that will thread on will work.

Low compression on a Delco Light is normal, however you can almost count on having to at least lap the valves, just to be sure.

Four cycle engine (it has valves, right? :))

That tube from the crankcase to the mixer is a primitive form of positive crankcase ventilation. Delco put that system in place to prevent fumes from accumulating in basement service. There is a simple one way valve with a leather face and light spring on top inside the tube that allows air OUT but not IN. (DON'T take it out and reinstall it backwards...oil everywhere) This creates a slight vacuum inside the crankcase and keeps the oil inside. Any fumes that DO make it past get sucked into the mixer for another trip through. Air for the mixer is taken in through the holes around the tube. The tube seal should be fairly tight, using felt washers. The mixture control....if it's like an 850...is a simple butterfly type rotating valve. Remove the screw at the top of the tube where it fastens to the mixer and that will show you.

30 wt. oil is correct. Regular gas in the tank.

Do all your regular old engine checks first. Look for obvious bent, broken or missing parts, smoothness of motion, etc. If it's like my 850, you have to pull the flywheel in order to get access to the engine end plate. Removing that plate will get you access to the inside, which is a great time to clean out the 70+ years of accumulated crud and check the rod bearing for slop.
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I don't see any of the photos, maybe something is wrong with my computer tonight. I just picked up a very nice 600 watt manual start delco. I'm missing the coil and I think maybe a few parts from the control panel. Can you take photos of the front and back of your control panel and post here? I'll post my photos also, maybe we can help each other.


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Mine has brass cooling fins, around the cylinder, I've been told that newer models had cast iron fins. What does yours have. I've also been told they suck cooling air in through the top and it exits through the bottom. Just FYI.
The early Delco plants had copper sheet fins, the later ones went to cast iron (cheaper, no doubt).

Yes, the plant draws air in from the top, through an annular space around the crankcase and is expelled through the flywheel. Don't run it without that sheet metal shroud around the cylinder!


thank you all for taking the time to answer my questions. at this point I recognize the unit as a model 600. I am going to contact the person you recommended to try to get a schematic. I have attached pics of my unit. I will follow up on another post to give updates on my cleaning up/starting the unit. thanks


Steve Wright

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That top looks like it came that way with the large opening. Never seen one like it.
The model with cast iron fins was a 601. Would like to find one as I don't have one of those.
They run just fine with no compression. When you shut them off they just coast and coast.
I use 3 - 12 volt batteries with all of mine and they work just fine. I have a 32 volt radio that I won't run on 36. I intend to build a 32 volt regulator in it for protection.
Talk about finds: I went to a sale of an old appliance guy and I bought a whole pile of 1/4hp motors from old washing machines. There were nine 32 volt motors in there.

Have fun with that.:O

Elden DuRand

In Memory Of
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"I have a 32 volt radio that I won't run on 36. I intend to build a 32 volt regulator in it for protection."


Anything below about 39 volts won't hurt the radio because it was designed to be operated off of a fully charged (or charging) 32 volt battery bank is approximately fully charged when they are at about 37.5 volts.

Remember that 6 volt tube type car radios did fine at a little over 7 volts and the 12 volt ones were fine at around 14 volts.


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The very early overhead valve Delco‘s were all cast-iron heads and cylinders. The copper cooling fins came about in the 30s with the automatic start plants. The last ones to be built used an L head design and they went back to cast-iron possibly with an aluminum head.