I Am Building A Great Wall Around My Classic Boat Ignition Parts. READ COMMENTS!

, ,
Reg 2


Son of a B! GD,F’n regulator. Ok, Calm down, go to your happy place. MY F’N HAPPY PLACE IS GOING OUT ON MY BOAT! OK, breath in, breath out. All week I have been looking forward to going on at least ONE friek’n boat ride, Last week it was all ready, ran perfect, this week, go down to the boat and dead. Deader than a ..a..what ever some southern farmer can come up with dead. The battery is new this spring, don’t risk it I said, DEAD. So, we charge it, and it starts, Purs like a kitten.

reg 3


Dam she runs fine, go to the gas station the long way, charging through the generator and fine. Go to restart the engine. DEAD, Deader than ..than.. another thing some southern farmer thinks off. So? Now we start to sniff around, and it appears that when the ignition is off, the regulator is hot.

REg 6

Is this normal? Ignition is OFF!

MMMMmmmmmm. Could that be? Its NEW! So, then run it for a couple hrs, jumped started, and see if it starts. Yes! but I disconnect the regulator, and guess what? She holds her pathetic charge. SO. Conclusion. Bad NEW Regulator?  Is it in the wire?

Reg 10

Need to find a NOS Correct Regulator.. From Merica!

This is two critical parts that keep the engine from running, SAFETY ISSUE, and they break after about 20 hours. These are simple parts that should be bullet proof. What gives?

Reg 1

Even the ebabe boat cushion was mocking me! Yup, she is going to the storage area for a while. I know she just laughs at me.. NOT WITH ME! I never trusted her anyway.

Having a part to just fill a space, isnt useful or a part. Its just a piece of crap, filling a screw hole.  Is it to much to ask from a company to at least make a product that doesn’t fail so quickly?  We had many comments from before, on the failed Condenser, Points, Coils etc all going bad quickly. Wow, is it that bad out there? And if so, is there an opportunity for someone to have a boutique co that makes small custom amounts of these parts?


For now, she is un connected. Maybe its the wire? Further testing today.

The good news is that we will get another regulator, and possibly new battery just in case and run.. run like the wind..

38 replies
  1. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    I have been asking the question for years. Who is really to blame for the low quality crap that is being passed off across the this great country as quality?

    Is it really the CEO with his cost cutting spread sheet, or is the consumer with their Walmart mentality who wants everything for a buck less and does not want to pay for service?

    I could turn this into a very long “Paul Harrison” rant, but I will save you the anguish.

    • floyd r turbo
      floyd r turbo says:

      I’ve thought the very same thing for many years Troy. Maybe its the marketing plan? Do we know anyone in that field who can address our concerns?? lol

  2. Jack Schneiberg
    Jack Schneiberg says:

    Well, take some comfort in it being the early portion of the season and knowing that you’re getting all the bugs out so at some point you will enter the rest of the season “trouble free”. Right! in an old wood boat with simple parts. This is why this knowledge “board” exists: To point the rest of us in the right direction when we’re sitting at the dock speaking unspeakable murmurs and searching for WTF is wrong now. Hey, Mon, turn to your friendly “Woody Boater” trouble shooting guide index. Smith knows because Smith has been there. Hey! Somebody’s got to do it!

  3. Matt
    Matt says:

    Thats the only comfort I have in this. Some stuff I have found out on this little journey. Marinas dont have 6 volt jumpers. Local auto parts stores dont sell large 6 volt batteries. Do NOS correct regulators do the job? I will admit, I was thinking about a 12 volt conversion in my low point yesterday. But its not that to blame on this. It just would have been a easier fix.

    • Jim Staib
      Jim Staib says:

      When you need 6 volt parts think “Farm supply” old tractors used 6 volts also. And lots of them are still in use. Locally we have “Farm and Fleet, Big R, and Tractor supply” all have 6 volt products on the shelf.

      • floyd r turbo
        floyd r turbo says:

        Jim knows all, sees all. Thanks for that very valuable tip. Tractors are very collectable in middle ‘merica and the rural south.

  4. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    Matt, you have had way to many challenges in your quest for the WoodyBoater life style this year. I hope Wecatchum starts to treat you better. Good Luck!

  5. Bradford
    Bradford says:

    As they say on the internet–long time lurker, first time poster. Maybe this information will help–I have the same issue! Picked up my rebuilt K from Van Ness on Friday and spent a fantastic day on the water yesterday. Runs like a dream… When I went out last night to torque the head….the generator was smoking and melted plastic was dripping from the regulator! Thinking I’m headed to NAPA when they open…

    • Matt
      Matt says:

      looks like a bad patch of Cut outs. Been on the phone with Dave. We are installing a master cut off switch to the boat.

  6. Jim Staib
    Jim Staib says:

    The difference between the correct CUT-OUT and an electronic one, besides $100, is when the original one fails it fails with an open circuit. The electronic on fails closed and create a short circuit, melting the cut-out, and draining the battery. Oh and a slight fire Hazzard.

    • mike s
      mike s says:

      Everyone, Listen to Mr Staib.
      He knows what he’s talking about and has what you need. He hasn’t spent all his time and money accumulating his inventory for no good reason.
      Also, with original cut-outs, most times when they don’t work, they’re not junk. They consist of a magnet and set of contact points. Usually the points need to be cleaned or the spring tension adjusted to make them close according to the generator output. Or possibly the generator needs to be turned up a bit to accomplish the same thing. As Jim said, the cost difference is the driving factor. Good used ones can be sold for double what that electronic unit costs new. And new original cut-outs are north of a hundred bucks, but isn’t it worth it? Makes me wonder where those used original cut-outs are ending up.
      I sure hope we don’t see Jim post a picture of those original Zollner W pistons up here again……

      • David VN
        David VN says:

        Mike in the 1960’s points were being replaced with solid state ignition at the same time vibrating point regulators
        were being replaced with solid state regulators. Most mechanical relays were being replaced with transistor switches, This all let to greater reliability of our cars and boats.
        By the way my friend Jims pistons were a 1/16 of an inch to short to use in Matts engine.

  7. Dan T
    Dan T says:

    Your certainly not alone. I have a W with all new or rebuilt electrical systems thats been converted to 12 volts and drains my battery when it sits. Rebuilt generator, rebuilt starter, new voltage regulator, new wires, the works. Haven’t figured it out yet. Find the answer for me, will ya? I’m stumped!

  8. Matt
    Matt says:

    After reading Jim Staibs comments and talking to Dave. Its not a regulator, but a Cut Out. Its two wires. Is it a faulty batch from China? Oh the internet. THe good news is we are talking about it and Dave is all over it.

    • mike s
      mike s says:

      If an engine has a functioning original cutout when it goes in for a rebuild there is no reason for it to have an electronic unit on it now. Typically when a generator is sent out for a rebuild, the cut-out or regulator is sent with it so they can be tuned so they will play well together. Generator output adjustments, contact point gap adjustments, spring tension adjustments need to be correct. Lots more going on here than just bolting on shiny new parts.

    • Jim Staib
      Jim Staib says:

      The stock 6 volt generator has one wire coming out of it going to the “Cut-Out”. It charges by rpm. If all is well When the engine hits a certain RPM the cut-out closes and the battery charges. The photo shows a generator converted to 12 Volts with a regulator. It was internally modified and charges when the battery needs it.

  9. Dan T
    Dan T says:

    Excuse my ignorance, but isn’t the cut out inside the externally mounted regulator on a 12 volt system and how do you do a test to troubleshoot the problem?

  10. David VN
    David VN says:

    This type of generator is called a three brush internally regulated type. The output current is adjusted by the third brush inside the generator.
    The purpose of the cut out is to disconnect the generator from the battery when the engine is not running or running at idle when the generator voltage is below the battery voltage.
    The original style cutout was a set of points pulled in by an electro magnet They failed also and one mode was to weld the points closed producing the same symptoms as Matt is having. The New type is a a blocking diode the same as you would fine in an alternator. This part is commonly used now in marine ,automotive and the industrial world
    By the way Bradford who posted earlier does not have a defective cut out but needs to adjust the output on the generator. These generators should not produce more than ten amps continuous duty.

  11. Chug-A-Lug
    Chug-A-Lug says:

    Sometimes,if the battery connections are corroded or less than perfect,you will use up battery charge, but the charging system won’t recharge the battery.

  12. Don Vogt
    Don Vogt says:

    Welcome to the wonderful world of antique boats, Matt. **** happens. Part of the experience.

    One point in response to the cut-out discussion. Since the old generators do not charge the battery at low rpm, if the battery is low and one is doing extended idle type cruising, the battery can run out of charge. something to keep in mind.

    • floyd r turbo
      floyd r turbo says:

      Exactly Don, i took my ’24 Hacker (with original 6 volt system) to Naples, Maine boat show and idled back to Sebago Lake via the Songo/Crooked River (supposedly the longest crookedest river) and tied up to mooring. Next morning found battery completely discharged (no, the bilge pump didn’t do it-boat has new bottom) and had to put on the charger. Removing a heavy battery from a runabout on a mooring standing in an aluminum rowboat is another story for another day.

  13. Gary
    Gary says:

    First off that is techically not a regulator or a cutout. The device simply allows for power or voltage to be delivered by the generator to run the WB when it has greater output voltage than the battery side.
    Second, that new electronic regulator is one device only a diode. I opened one up a few years ago and was pretty appalled by the choice of diode chosen. It didn’t meet voltage and currrent carrying capacity nor did it support any thermal loading. Just really bad design. I went to a tractor supply outfit and got a real cutout not an diode. Incidentally the diode was less than 50 cents at radio shack.

  14. Gary
    Gary says:

    After further thought my guess is they potted that regulator so you wouldn’t see that the only thing in that regulator was a CA diode not meeting the voltage carrying, reverse voltage and thermal requirements. And not to mention they are making money off of it.
    If the proper diode had been chosen you wouldn’t be frying your generator or killing the battery or burning up the wiring. And it could be used for both 12 and 6 volt systems.

  15. Eddie Albert, Green Acres, USA
    Eddie Albert, Green Acres, USA says:

    Time to rename that Chris Craft an “International Harvester” and/or get a John Deere cap for $5 at Farm & Fleet. I see a new marketing program with Woody Boater ads in Farm Country Life magazine. BTW, doesn’t Matt own a tractor already? um, parts source for the CC.

  16. Tom stock
    Tom stock says:

    I’ve been using a 10 amp diode with a car 1157 light bulb in series . The light acks as a current limitter and if it was to short the light would light up . Been using this for 18 years on my W’s with no problems.as the battery charges the light gets a little dimmer.

  17. Larry Forget
    Larry Forget says:

    Our 1947 Chris Craft was original when found and actually built as a six volt POSITIVE GROUND system.! New members might want company litature. When we went shopping for the regulator ,it was very cheap $$. THe owner said I have not sold one of those off the shelf in 25 years.!!. NOS part , but still old mfg. IMO

  18. Daniel Smith
    Daniel Smith says:

    In the interest of full disclosure I want to say at the beginning that I know Dave VanNess and his work. He is one of the most conscientious and qualified people that I have met in your industry. His answer addressed one of the possible underlying problems and another poster mentioned the possibility of Positive ground.

    As an auto electric re-builder with 43 years experience with generator circuits and antique wiring circuits I would like to chime in on this post.

    First and foremost the part depicted is not a regulator it is an electronic battery cutout. The purpose of a cutout is to “cutout” the battery wire from the generator when the generator output is less than the voltage of the battery. The diodes used are equivalent or better than those in a typical 100 amp alternator in use today.

    As Dave stated this is a 3 brush generator and the output is set and fixed by adjusting the third brush.

    Regulators typically have 2 or 3 circuits, one being a cutout, the others are for voltage control and current limiting. The discussion on regulators could go on forever so I will stick to the cutout circuit.

    A couple of points to remember. Every battery has different internal resistance and generator outputs can change considerably with only a small movement in the third brush. The generators on these old boats are normally very low (10-20 amp) units. It is important to know the top amperage that an individual generator is designed to output. Most all can be adjusted higher than what it is rated for but never should be.

    Whenever a generator is serviced the output needs to be set with the battery that will be in the system. This can be done on the boat or on the bench but it is important to be done with the battery that will stay in the system

    The generator is a battery maintainer not a battery charger!!! Be sure that the battery is fully charged when installing a generator and cutout. Running a generator on a heavily discharged battery or adjusting the output above the generator rating can result in overheating that will burn out the generator.

    There are pros and cons to both the original point type cutout and the newer electronic cutouts.

    The pro of original point type units is that it will function in a positive or negative ground system without any changes to the wire hookup. The cons are that the points are subject to wear and sticking requiring routine service, these cutouts are voltage specific and not very well sealed against moisture.

    The pros of the electronic type are that they can work positive or negative ground, they are not voltage specific, no service is required as they do not have any wear components and they are usually fully potted eliminating the possibility of moisture infiltration. The con is that even though they will work in a positive or negative ground system they are polarity sensitive and so care needs to taken to insure that they are installed on the generator with the current flow set to match the system on the boat.

    The original poster did not specify if the boat is positive or negative ground but when I blow up the picture it appears that this one is set up for negative ground. It would be nice to know the system ground of the boat.

    Installing an electronic cutout reverse to the system on the boat will cause the battery to discharge through the generator at rest and will block the generator output from getting to the battery when running. The by products of this are heat, melted potting material, internal damage to the generator and possible fire. Additionally if the battery is installed or charged reverse to what the boat and generator is wired for the AMP meter will show charge when running when indeed it will be discharging all the time. The statement that ran OK and charging but immediately dead when stopped for gas would indicate to me that most likely the battery is connected reverse, just plain junk or charged backward.

    It has been my experience that most times when these electronic cutouts are damaged it is because something has been installed backwards or someone had hooked jumpers up reversed. This is exactly the same damage that would happen in an alternator system if the battery were installed or jumped backward.

    I hope this proves helpful and maybe saves some of you future frustration.

    Dan Smith

  19. Matt
    Matt says:

    Thanks Dan, between you and Dave its clear. To be clear, its all wired right, and has been running well all spring since lake Dora in March. I am starting to suspect that in deed the 3rd brush was not adjusted right. Dave had mentioned that this may need to happen since about a month ago I started noticing that the charge on my gage was a little high beyond normal. I will be honest, I am not sure if its neg or pos grounded. I am assuming its negative since thats the ground on the battery and always has been that way.
    Here is my thought. The generator brush was over delivering, it caused the condenser to go, and now the Cut off switch. Not sure if that chain of events could happen that way, but to be fair to the entire country of China, it could be that simple thing. We are going to replace the Cut off, and dial back the genarator and see if its OK. Thats the plan at least. I agree with you btw on Dave. Not only has he done an amazing job on the engine, he has been there 24/7 and walked me through the dumbest things, since of course, me and Jethro Bodene have a 6th grade education!

  20. Jim Staib
    Jim Staib says:

    I checked the D-100 electronic units I have in stock. None of them say “Made in China”. Closest I found was “Assembled in USA”. I assume with imported parts. This issue is long standing. I have seen the D-100’s melt down 20 years ago. I bought this crate of mechanical cut-outs before I even knew Matt!!

  21. Ronald Ford
    Ronald Ford says:

    Right after you install that Pertronix ignition, go down to Advance auto/Autozone or your favorite auto parts store and purchase a new 1 wire GM style alternator, get Jimmy to mount it. convert all to 12 volt and if your are embarrassed by all this keep your engine cover down and go boating with out worry.

  22. Dan T
    Dan T says:

    I don’t see how ya could do an alternator with the water pump connected to the generator? I have a set up just like yours on the W I’m messing around with. It has a 12 volt Auto-Lite generator. Must be an early conversion because the hull card says 6 volt. The plate on the generator says “external full voltage generator” and “external current control”. I’d look for the 12 volt generator, not an alternator, if you do the conversion. It would still look original.

    • Troy in ANE
      Troy in ANE says:

      The WBR’s in AB came through as 12 volt from the factory. I wanted to be able to charge the batteries not just maintain them so I had an Alternator added to the Starboard engine. It is mounted on the side and is run off a belt. The water pump generator is now gutted and is just a drive unit for the pump. No it does not look original, but works great.
      In the words of John in VA Go Boating!

  23. Walt
    Walt says:

    Look on the bright side Matt. You may have a crappy electrical systems but you’ve got the correct zippers and snaps. Oh, and nice period correct cushions. So all is not lost.

Comments are closed.