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Ford Tractors Discussion Forum

Why switch to 12 volts?

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09-06-2004 22:39:43

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I honestly don't understand why so many people are interested in switching from a 6V to a 12V system. Ford cars through the '55 model year had six-volt systems, and had nifty options like heat, power windows, power seats, and air conditioning...even an electrical overdrive servo. All this ran on six volts without a problem.

So why are so many people interested in switching Ford tractors to 12V, especially when the biggest power draw was optional headlights?


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09-07-2004 21:32:47

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 Re: Why switch to 12 volts? in reply to PatsPOS, 09-06-2004 22:39:43  
You could just have easily asked, "Why did all automotive manufacturers abandon the 6v systems in favor of 12v systems. I'll leave it to you to answer that one for yourself. And when you do, you will have answered both questions at the same time.


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Rod F.

09-07-2004 18:40:04

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 Re: Why switch to 12 volts? in reply to PatsPOS, 09-06-2004 22:39:43  
From my point of view, the main reason to convert a working tractor to 12v would simply be the addition of an alternator, and dump the old generator. I've never converted from 6 to 12 v, but I have fired generators, and never regretted it. It doesn't take long to get sick of buying regulators, batteries and booster cables and cleaning commutators when the whole problem can be solved by delco.... That's just my take on it, but for an old toy or resto, then I would leave well enough alone.


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09-07-2004 09:22:50

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 Re: Why switch to 12 volts? in reply to PatsPOS, 09-06-2004 22:39:43  
I have a related question. I have read repeatedly to keep the 6V connections clean and shiny. Is there anything that can be applied to these clean and shiny connections to keep them clean and shiny?
Does dielectric compound serve this purpose?
If so are there good brands to get?


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John O

09-07-2004 09:18:05

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 Re: Why switch to 12 volts? in reply to PatsPOS, 09-06-2004 22:39:43  
Well, others have summed it up well. Generally, the switch to 12V is for improved cold weather performance. Yes, 6V is capable of doing the job if maintained, but not everybody maintains their equipment. Equally neglected, the 12V will be better.

Additional reasons might be to stay common with other equipment. I use my tractor to jump start other trucks that tend to have dead batteries more often.

Most people already have a 12 volt charger as well, whereas 6V is hit or miss. I already need 12V and 24V chargers, so the lack of 6V is not missed.

I wouldn't necessarily convert a tractor from 6 to 12V, but I'm happy with my 12V setup (converted by a previous owner). To each their own I guess...


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09-07-2004 10:15:01

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 Re: Why switch to 12 volts? in reply to John O, 09-07-2004 09:18:05  
I changed to 12v and am happy with the results. However, I am not sure I have the proper instructions and also have questions about changing from a negative ground to a positive ground.

Any simple instructions for the change over? Any help would be appreciated.

Thank you.

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john in la

09-08-2004 05:49:23

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 Re: Why switch to 12 volts? in reply to rngno, 09-07-2004 10:15:01  
Start a new post at the top. ask specific questions so I do not need to right a book by telling you something you already know and I will try to help you.

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09-07-2004 04:17:10

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 Re: Why switch to 12 volts? in reply to PatsPOS, 09-06-2004 22:39:43  
It's late in the evening, snowing and you need to plow it. Or it's a holiday like yesterday and you are trying to use your tractor and it won't turn over. All of the auto parts and the tractor dealer are closed. Go to Wal-Mart (it's the only place open) and try to buy a 6 volt battery.

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09-07-2004 05:36:39

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 Re: Why switch to 12 volts? in reply to awhtx , 09-07-2004 04:17:10  
Closest Walmart is 33 miles away. Local farm supply store is open until 9:00pm, 6v batteries are cheaper than 12v 'here'. Doesn't matter, as I have 4 tractors with 6v batteries so easy to swap, and a 10/40/200 (or some such) 12/6v battery charger/ booster/ starter is sitting in the shop.

Actually, I think the 6v is easier for me to deal with that a 12v. Most of those are cobbled together & who knows what polarity, wiring, etc. is the problem? Ick.

As to cold, I live in MN, a well maintained 6v system is more reliable in the cold that a poorly maintained 12v.

I think most folks just get lazy on the maintenence, and so the 12v pushes through a little more corrosion than the 6v did, & they think wonders how much better it is. Just my humble opinion. Don't mind if people convert, but I've never understood why either.


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Dave H (NY)

09-07-2004 03:52:10

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 Re: Why switch to 12 volts? in reply to PatsPOS, 09-06-2004 22:39:43  
My main reason is here in NY the winters can be very cold and the extra power provided by the 12 volts turns the engine over quicker and if the tractor needs to be jump started if the battery should die it's easy to just hook the truck up to the battery posts to jump it instead of jumping at the starter and bypassing the safety of the starter button, and the replacement 12 volt batteries are cheaper then 6 volt (at least around here) Just my reason for the conversion.

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Matt VA

09-07-2004 08:29:44

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 Re: Why switch to 12 volts? in reply to Dave H (NY), 09-07-2004 03:52:10  
When I got my first tractor, an 861 a few months ago, if it didn't catch and start in the first 3 cranks it wouldn't start, it would only give one good crank after that then nothing and it would need a jump. I guess it was a 6-volt as the battery that was in it was a 6 volt. So thinking the battery was bad, I have no test equipment, I got a new 6 volt battery, but got no improvement, it was still doing the 3 cranks thing. If I was lucky and got it started it would only run for about 20 or 30 minutes then the engine would sputter and die. Trying to restart it was frustrating to say the least. Jumping it meant hooking it up to my 12 volt pickup.

The wiring was so gunked with gobs of grease and oil, spliced and held together by electrical tape every few inches, who knows if it's a 6 or 12 volt harness at this point?

Apparently the starter is 12 volt cause that's what's stamped on the side of it. But I didn't see that until I had nearly completely disassembled the front of the tractor cleaning, repairing, or replacing all sorts of worn out parts.

Trying to get the tractor running to do some work with it I got some degreaser and cleaned and tightened the electrical connections, no improvement.

I guess the 12 volt starter is the reason I got only 3 good cranks out of it?

The generator, I can't tell if the genny is a 6 or 12 volt? I got to thinking that some previous owner probably changed to a 12 volt system/generator because of the 12 volt starter, it's just a guess. But why would the guy I bought it from put a 6 volt battery in it? Beats me.

This was suppose to be a work tractor. Well, all I've been doing is working on it since I got it in April 2004.

I've got nearly $2,000.00 in repairs and replacement parts, I would gladly left the electrical alone if it had worked.

I just want a system that works reliably, and from all that I've read I figured the 12 volt was the way to go.

Sorry for the novel.


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09-07-2004 16:51:53

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 Re: Why switch to 12 volts? in reply to Matt VA, 09-07-2004 08:29:44  
My understanding of starters is that it doesn't know or care whether what's coming to it is six or twelve volts. It will turn with either, but faster with twelve volts. Stands to reason. Properly done, a twelve volt conversion is a practical and efficient ingnition system. Using an alternator instead of generator and a 12v coil eliminates the use of the resister and voltage regulator. Put a diode in the line from alternator to battery and you eliminate run on feedback and you have a good system. A 12 v conversion can be very simple and workable. I have it on three 8n's, two 80l's, and one jubilee. Mine always crank no matter what the weather or temperature.

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