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Contributed Article

Ford N-Series 12 volt Conversion Kits (Early)

Here are some common questions and answers related to one type of 12 volt conversion kit sold for the 9N, 2N, and early 8N. This particular kit is designed for the front mount distributor using the square coil.

Q. Where can I purchase a kit?

A. Kits are available in our store. Click Here to see the list of kits that are available. All kit parts are covered by warranty.

Q. Do I need to run the engine at full throttle to make the Alternator charge the battery?

A. Absolutely not. The first time you start up your newly converted system, you may have to run the RPMs up to help the self-exciting alternator/regulator begin to charge. The characteristics of a generator are such that they do not charge at low-idle and the charge tends to fall off at high-RPM. This is not so with an alternator and indeed was the reason that alternator became the standard in the 60s. The alternator will deliver a healthy charge throughout the RPM band of your tractor.

Q. Why is there a resistor in the kit?

A. The square 12-volt coil (Part Number 9N12024-12V) in the Kit requires a the resistor to reduce input current. This is similar to what you must do when you use a 6-volt coil in a 12 volt system. This reflects the design of the coil and is required to extend the life.

Q. The instructions specify hooking up a resistor but my kit did not contain one.

A. This is because the resistor is needed for certain coil part numbers and not others. If in question, check the part number on the coil. If it is 9N12024-12V, you should have a resistor, Email us and we will resolve it for you. Since these kits are often drop-shipped from the manufacturer, we don't always get the opportunity to check the contents to verify that the resistor is there when this coil is provided. Interestingly, the manufacturers description of the kit does not include a resistor but it is required.

Q. Do I have to use the 12 volt coil? There is nothing wrong with my 6 volt coil and I prefer the original.

A. No. As with most automobiles manufactured in the late 50s and 60s, picking up a cheap resistor at the auto parts store will allow you to use the 6 volt coil. This will also be your easiest fix if you ever burn out the 12 volt coil. The 6 volt coil is readily available while the 12 volt version is less common.

Q. I have the inductive style ammeter. How do I connect this into the kit?

A. I must provide a personal opinion and yours may differ. The inductive style ammeter is valuable and should not be tampered with if functional. Using an inexpensive replacement costs very little (approximately $14) and allows you to save your original component should you or a future owner decide to restore the machine for show. That said, you can use the existing ammeter if your existing wiring will allow it to be incorporated without cutting the wires. By now, most machines will likely not have the inductive coil due to replacement. The kit instructions say to remove the original wiring and discard. The temptation is to simply cut out the old wires. We recommend that you carefully remove them and save them unless they are totally beyond repair. In a future restoration, even non-functional components can help to reconstruct what the original equipment was like.

Q. Can my system keep using positive ground?

A. Absolutely not. The instructions are clear on this point. The alternator diodes will fry instantly if you run reverse polarity. The ground cable to the battery must connect to the minus side. The confusion here comes from the old generator systems where the polarity was not important and the system could run either way. The reason for the difference is that the both generators and alternators by nature generate Alternating Current (AC) which cannot charge the battery. To get around this, the generator has one brush grounded to allow the output to be pulsed DC while the alternator uses diodes to perform this function. The diodes cannot be operated in reverse and in addition will burn out if you try.

Q. Do I polarize the alternator?

A. Absolutely not. This will burn it out in the same manner as trying to run a positive ground. Polarizing is needed only with generators.

Q. How do I excite the alternator?

A. You almost assuredly don't need to since raising the RPMs after installation will cause self-exciting. If, for some reason you do need to, carefully start the engine and run a jumper momentarily between the R or #1 terminal and the battery. This will cause the Alternator to say "hey, I am supposed to be charging" or in reality get the regulator functioning. The reason you have never seen people do this with an automobile is that it is nearly impossible for a car's alternator to sit long enough to require re-exciting.

Q. Why does my ammeter show discharge when running with the lights off and less discharge when I turn the lights on?

A. The leads to your ammeter need to be reversed. On the other hand, if you show little or no discharge with the lights off and more discharge with them on, it probably means you are not charging and something is wrong with your system. In this case, your battery is most certainly going dead.

Q. My kit didn't come with a regulator?

A. The regulator is built-in to the alternator. This is why you only need a single wire to the alternator. Field control and cutout functions are internal to the alternator case.

Q. There are other terminals on my alternator but no wires are provided to connect to them. What do I use them for?

A. They are not used in this application. This type of Delco-Remy alternator can be found in applications other than the Ford N-series tractors.

Q. What am I supposed to have in the box?

A. The box should contain
  • Instruction sheets, one for the wiring and one for alternator connection
  • Wiring harness
  • Alternator
  • Coil (square 12 volt)
  • Resistor
  • Mounting bracket
  • Mounting bolts and nuts (3) with washers

Q. Is there anything else I need that is not included in the kit?

A. Yes, the kit does not have a battery. You will need a 12 volt. If you are using lights, the bulbs will need to be replaced. If any non-standard electrical items have been added to the tractor (such as a horn), they will likely need to be unhooked or replaced.

Conversion Kits can be purchased in our Store

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