If you aren’t ready to overhaul your antique tractor yet, try using an 8-volt battery
IN THE SHOP with Rachel
By Rachel Gingell
Is your antique tractor getting tired? A tractor that’s cranking slowly and generally worn-out is probably a great candidate for a 12-volt (12-V) upgrade (or a complete engine overhaul). But, before you jump to that expensive and time-consuming step, try this quick trick: plug an 8-V battery into the 6-V system.
An 8-V battery has enough extra power to make your starter spin a little faster, giving a tired tractor just enough of a boost to start quickly. Tractors from the ‘40s and ‘50s that have cut-out systems are ideal candidates for this quick fix. Examples include the Farmall Cub, A, B, C or H, the Ford N-series, the Case SC, and the John Deere Model A and B.
Compared to a complete 12-volt conversion, making the switch to an 8-V battery is a breeze.
In most cases, the rest of the electrical system can remain in place. You don’t need to swap out the generator (or alternator), voltage cut-out (or regulator), or coil. Typically, even the headlights and lightbulbs are compatible.
Most major brands offer 8-V batteries, and they are easy to order if your local store doesn’t have one on the shelf.
Upgrading the battery isn’t a cure-all, though. If the tractor’s charging system isn’t working at all, a stronger battery won’t fix it. You’ll need to track down the problem and replace the relevant parts. For help with this process, you can watch my tutorial belowwhich reviews four common troubleshooting steps.
If your tractor is cranking slowly and is generally worn out, an upgraded battery is a “band-aid” for a larger problem. However, if you need to get a few more years out of your tractor before you’re ready for a complete overhaul, an 8-V battery might be just the ticket.