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1949 Panhead

how to switch from 6 volt system to 12 volt system

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cm72241972
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1949 Panhead

#1

Post by cm72241972 » Mon Jul 09, 2018 6:22 pm

I am a newbie to this site but trying to get information on how to switch from 6 volt to 12 volt on my old 49 panhead and what advantages it may have. I am riding it on a regular basis but am having some issues with the generator and regulator currently. I have been told that it is to my advantage to change over to 12 volt if I am going to ride it on a regular basis. Thoughts from any of you that have been this route with this old of a bike.
Thanks in advance for comments and suggestions
Carrie ;)



john HD
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Re: 1949 Panhead

#2

Post by john HD » Mon Jul 09, 2018 9:54 pm

Carrie,

First, welcome the forum! You are in the right place to get information and help with your '49.


A properly maintained 6 volt system will work for a bike ridden regularly, so you may need to look into your current set up and find out what is going on. The only downside to 6 volt bikes is finding lamps and old style battery availability. Both are available online but can be hard to find if you are on the road.


A couple of things i have done is to stock up on the common lamps you will need and keep some with you if you are far from home. Wet cell batteries are a pain in the butt, they don't take well to overcharging by spraying acid on your bike and don't hold a charge well. The solution is to find a replica battery shell and install a 6 volt 18 amp/hour 6V gel cell from an exit lamp. They are available at most battery stores and very inexpensive, the 3 i have have held a good charge on seldom ridden bike for over a year and seem to work well with the stock charging system.


If you do decide to go to 12 volt be prepared to change the lamps, horn, coil, regulator/relay, generator and the battery.


Good luck and have fun, we are here to help you!


John

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Re: 1949 Panhead

#3

Post by blewcrab » Mon Jul 09, 2018 10:35 pm

If you don't care about "stock" then get a Cycle Electric generator with the regulator built in and AGM battery .......u can slide them in sideways to your battery compartment .

Excalibur
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Re: 1949 Panhead

#4

Post by Excalibur » Tue Jul 10, 2018 1:15 am

Some thoughts..

I went with a Cycle Electric generator on my '61 and run the existing horn on 12v. I'm mindful not to over-use it though.

You'll need to get the so called "low voltage" generator to suit the relatively small battery that fits your battery box.

There's a better range of 12v batteries available but all need to be adapted to fit and held securely. I went with a Motobatt AGM. Pics and mounting details are on my blog if you wish to see. (Click the link in my signature and head to the electrical page).

My CE has been completely reliable since fitting however it's only done a few thousand miles. It has a built in voltage regulator.

For me is came down to the charm of having something original versus riding something that is more practical.
My bike isn't very original so I went with what was most practical.

Hope some of this helps.

Lowbikemike
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Re: 1949 Panhead

#5

Post by Lowbikemike » Tue Jul 10, 2018 1:37 am

I would not change to 12 volt. I would fix what you have and it will work just fine.

No need to worry about finding a battery that "fits", new bulbs, coil, etc. 6 volt worked just fine in the day and will work the same now.

For the record I have 2 vintage bikes that are 12 volt (converted before they came to me) and 1 6 volt and just don't see the reason to go thru the trouble of converting.

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Re: 1949 Panhead

#6

Post by hplhd » Tue Jul 10, 2018 1:50 am

if you retain the 6v and fix the problem I would also look into converting to 2 brush with a regulator.

awander
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Re: 1949 Panhead

#7

Post by awander » Tue Jul 10, 2018 3:10 am

I'd keep it 6V, with the original cutout(no regulator). My '52 has been going strong for a long time this way.

Excalibur
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Re: 1949 Panhead

#8

Post by Excalibur » Tue Jul 10, 2018 4:40 am

You can have better a headlight on 12v. Many more choices of bulb.

FL54
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Re: 1949 Panhead

#9

Post by FL54 » Tue Jul 10, 2018 1:28 pm

+1 on retaining 6v system. Some drawbacks as previously noted in particular the relatively dim headlight. My night vision has declined and I consequently don't ride much at night so not an issue for me but maybe for others.

Excalibur
Posts: 258
Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2015 1:01 pm
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'74 Trident
'29 Norton
'25 Harley
'13 JAP
'12 BSA,
'11 &'12 New Hudson
'08 Triumph
Location: NZ

Re: 1949 Panhead

#10

Post by Excalibur » Tue Jul 10, 2018 11:57 pm

In the interests of getting all the advantages or disadvantages noted I should point out a few more points.

With my 12v system I now habitually ride with my headlight on during the day. OK it's a LED bulb with a low current draw and I suppose you could fit a LED to a 6v system however I think there's a better chance of success with 12v. I regard this as a safety issue. There's a lot of crazies on the road. Please ride safe folks and come back to chat another day..

Another bonus of 12v which I haven't actually utilized yet is my cigarette lighter socket. I can put in a USB adapter and charge my cellphone. I don't ride anywhere without my cellphone!! It's my lifeline in case of breakdown. I've used it once when I got a flat tire. In defence of a 6v system with USB, there must be a way of getting it to work as USB is 5v however I've not tried. Usually I charge the phone before I leave home but there's always that one time...

For someone riding a 6v Pan a lot, typically you'll find yourself as the only one in the group on 6v. If you're unfortunate enough to suffer a flat battery as Murray did at a recent bar stop nobody can jumper your battery (he left the ign on). In Murrays' case his 6v battery had just enough left, the engine started and the crisis was averted.

If a bike was really original, I'd be doing whatever I could to keep it that way. Who doesn't admire a totally stock original bike? If however a bike has seen decades of changes, repop bits and customizing then a 12v upgrade seems a bit more appealing.

cm72241972
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Re: 1949 Panhead

#11

Post by cm72241972 » Wed Jul 11, 2018 3:25 am

Thanks everyone for all of your input. This helps a lot. I am currently in the process to changing the 3 brushes in the generator and putting in a new regulator and hopefully this will do the trick for getting the bike to run better. Currently I am unable to ride with my headlight on due to the draw on the battery. I may eventually convert to 12V but maybe not if it run good. No need to. I am not riding this old girl long distances but I do need all the lights to work. If I have more questions I will definitely come here. Lots of knowledge here.
Thanks all,
Carrie :D

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