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Thread: New Willys Jeep owner

  1. #1
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    New Willys Jeep owner

    Hello, I'm Doug. I recently purchased a nice restored 1952 M38A1 at the annual Turkey Run Car Show held at the Daytona Speedway.

    I've discovered some minor issues - 1) oil leaks. I tighten a few bolts that has slowed the leaks. I'll be replacing some gaskets soon, to include the rear differential. 2) charging system. I don't know that much about it, but I believe it has a 24-volt generator with a step-down 12-volt voltage regulator (that appears new). However, when tested with a meter, it shows 17+ volts going to the battery which I don't believe is good for the life of the battery. I'm also considering a 12-volt alternator conversion kit. I need some assistance for that one!

    Otherwise, I'm finally enjoying my new toy.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator gmwillys's Avatar
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    Welcome DougL,

    Please post some pictures of your new purchase. We will help out on any information you may want to know. An alternator swap will be pretty easy in execution, the wiring will be the trick if your original military harness is complete. It is tough to splice into the original harness, and retain all functionality.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator LarrBeard's Avatar
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    M38A1 Wiring Harness

    Quote Originally Posted by DougL View Post
    I'm also considering a 12-volt alternator conversion kit. I need some assistance for that one! Otherwise, I'm finally enjoying my new toy.
    The M38A1 had the 24-volt system to allow it to be set up quickly as a communications Jeep. In addition to just 24-volt power, the electrical system had a lot of shielding and filtering to keep electrical noise out of the on-board comm gear. A lot of the harness is shielded and doing anything but a patch job 12-volt conversion involves a lot of work to tear out things back to a good starting point. Lights, lamps and gauges and sensors will need to be changed.

    I have to wonder if the starter has been changed to a 12-volt starter as well?

  4. #4
    Super Moderator bmorgil's Avatar
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    Sounds awesome. Post some pictures.

    One of the things that drives the value of the Military Jeeps is a working 24 volt system. In 12 volt form an M38A1 becomes a majior step closer to a civilian CJ3B. I think if it is all there, I would be hard pressed to remove or cut into the original 24 volt system. I think you will find between Pelago, gmwillys and Larrbeard you have the original system covered. You may want to get some good pictures of all the components and wires on the vehicle. In particular a picture of the "step-down 12-volt voltage regulator (that appears new)". These guys have seen enough of the 24 volt systems to possibly spot something that will help.

  5. #5
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    Yes, I would be glad to see a pic of that jeep. I am working on my own civilian model right now and I can tell you the water just keeps getting deeper.

  6. #6
    Super Moderator bmorgil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by okiemark View Post
    the water just keeps getting deeper.
    Haha, I love that quote! The good news is unlike a lot of restoration projects, the water can only get "so deep".

  7. #7
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    Thank you for your posts, however I seem to have some difficulty posting pictures.
    I did learn (told you I was new) that the charging system consists of a 6-volt starter (Prestolite Part #MCH6207) and a 12-volt generator (Unit Parts Co - OKC, OK Part #GJC7012). Now how these work together is beyond my expertise. I do know via a meter that the system is supplying 17 + volts to the battery, which I was told will burn the battery over time. Personally, instead of trying to fix this, I am more inclined to convert it over to a 12-volt alternator system and be done with it! Thoughts?
    Attached Images Attached Images

  8. #8
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  9. #9
    Super Moderator bmorgil's Avatar
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    The 6 volt starter seems to perform nicely with 12 volts. There are some posts here about that. Many use the 6 volt starter on 12 volts. I was trained by LarrBeard and gmwillys to give it a try. It works well! The 6 volt starter has heavy wiring and contacts. It handles the current. It will not handle the heat of the current generated at 12 volts very well. So if you use the 6 volt starter with 12 volts, try to "stay off the key". A long cranking session will surely burn it up. It spins my motor up quickly. I think it reduces the cranking time because of the speed.

    I am not at all versed in that 24 volt system. We need the boy's to jump in here, and they will I am sure. I think what you are seeing is the 24 volt system might use 2 12 volt batteries in series. This creates the 24 volts. I might be wrong but that would explain the 12 volt generator.

  10. #10
    Super Moderator gmwillys's Avatar
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    The starter is a 6 volt starter, and as Bmorgil said, leave it in because it will live just fine on 12 volts. The regulator may need some attention, because 17 volts is high for a 12 volt, (single battery). The regulator can be adjusted to where the voltage should be. LarrBeard has put together a presentation on how to do it, but I can't link items from out in the garage.....Or at least I haven't figured out how.

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