|Here's one for the guys still
riding the older Iron, specifically older XL'S, Knuckles, Flatheads,
Panheads or swap meet specials that are running 6-volt charging
If you're starting to have trouble seeing at night or
are worried about getting run over (because that 6-volt bulb lighting up
your tombstone can't been seen from more than 6 feet away) Maybe
you ought to give some though to swapping over to 12-Volts. I
changed both my Pan and Servi-car to 12-volts a couple years ago, and
the difference is unbelievable. I'm still wondering why I waited
twenty some years to do it.
On top of the obvious benefits of brighter lighting,
there is also the facts that your bike will start easier and 12-volt batteries
will be much easier to find. Interstate quit making the old H-2 a couple
years ago, so if you still run that tall square battery you usually
end up with some Taiwan piece of shit. While a 6-volt 2-brush
generator will usually keep some resemblance of a charge in your
battery, If you have a 6-volt 3-brush, you are probably use to shutting
off the lights and trying to make it home in the dark with no lights
before the battery goes dead and the 'son of a bitch' just up and dies in
the middle of nowhere..
So if you are ready to go to the 12-volts, but are
afraid of the cost or work involved, cheer up! It's not that bad....You
will have to change the battery, all the light bulbs, generator,
coil, regulator and do some minor wiring to complete the job...The
65A 12-Volt 2-brush generator will bolt right in anywhere a 6-Volt
came out of.
On all Knuckleheads, most Flatheads and Pre-1958 XL's
and Panheads, you will have to drill the mounting holes in the cover and
cases out to 5/16". The old gear usually can be made to work, but
there are some exceptions, especially on Sportsters.
If you have any doubts, pull the cover and check the
mesh. You can change the horn at the same time if you want to, but a
6-Volt horn won't die immediately from an occasional 12-Volt jolt.
If your down on your bucks, instead of paying for a
new horn, you can go to the junkyard and get one from a junk car for a
lot less. Old GM horns are pretty much the same as the older
Harley horns. You'll have to do some fabrication to get the Harley
chrome cover to fit, but other than that, it will work fine. The only
drawback to converting to 12-Volt is if you are using a stock type 36-64
horseshoe oil tank. This type of oil tank was built with an H-2, 6-Volt
battery in mind. The only 12-Volt battery that fits this oil tank is a
12N5.5-3B battery. While the length and the width are fine, this battery
is a lot shorter than the 6-Volt it replaces. It is also kind of shy in
the amp-hour department. Expect to go through these batteries a lot.
If you want to do it right, V-Twin makes a battery
extension box (part#42-9916) that really works great and will even let
you use the stock cover. The battery needs to be checked for a water a
lot. In fact a lot more than most bikes, because it is really too
small for the job and is constantly being overcharged. There is a
solution for this also.. Cycle Electric makes generators and regulators
for Harley-Davidson. They make a special regulator just for this
horseshoe oil tank/small battery 12-Volt conversion. They have lowered
the charging rate just slightly enough to keep the battery from
cooking.. Actually they make this regulator in two different styles.
They make one type that resembles an Accel electric type or late model
(70 up factory regulator) They also make one that bolts to the end of
the generator. This type resembles the old "Electric Franks"
units...This regulator (V-Twin #32-9282 for $123.00) really works. It
comes with a one year warranty. They also make a combination
generator/regulator unit in standard or the reduced output version. One
drawback however, it won't clear the clutch pedal bracket on a 45
Flathead. The generator by itself is about $200.00. Add another hundred
and you can get the combo. Cycle Electric will warrant generators and
regulators for 1 year, but if you buy the generator with the built-in
regulator they will cover the whole unit for 2 years. ..They will even
Red-Label you a loaner if your stuck on the road somewhere during
the warranty period.